I will be presenting a demo with the title ‘Perceptual evaluation of reverb in music production’ at the 60th International Conference of the Audio Engineering Society on Dereverberation and Reverberation of Audio, Music, and Speech (DREAMS) in Leuven, Belgium.
On Thursday 4 February, I will present tools and methodologies used in my doctoral research on mix engineering, during the demo session between 14:30 and 17:00.
On Friday 5 February, I will also give a talk and present some results from the work with an emphasis on reverberation and its effect on the perception of a mix. This takes place between 11:10 and 11:40 in the main Auditorium.
Reverb is an important mixing tool, but one that lacks a standardised parameter space maintained across devices and plugins – much less springs, plates or natural acoustics. While subjective terms (‘big’, ‘clear’, ‘bathroom-like’) are effective to convey artistic vision or critique a recording, they have no clearly defined relationship with readily extracted audio features or parameters.
We present a framework to gather subjective assessments of the use of reverb in mixing. A number of different mixes are compared side by side in a multiple stimulus listening test, with rating scale and free-field comment boxes. Using both manual annotation and natural language processing, we establish relations between descriptive terms (‘roomy’, ‘warm’, ‘church’) and the corresponding low-level parameters and audio features.
This is illustrated using over two thousand ‘mix reviews’ from experiments at six different educational institutions, where up to ten different mixes for each song were perceptually evaluated using this system.
The perceptual evaluation tool developed for this purpose, the Web Audio Evaluation Tool, is available to the public and feedback is most welcome.
Web Audio Evaluation Tool: example interface
Most of the audio used in these mix experiments is licensed under Creative Commons and can therefore be shared freely. Raw audio tracks, mixes and even DAW session files can be found on the Open Multitrack Testbed.
After this conference I will return to London for the 61th International Conference of the Audio Engineering Society, on the topic of Audio For Games!