thoughts and decisions for a creative edge


The Frequency Of Fear – A Mythbuster Test

We’re big fans “Mythbusters”. Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman filmed a segment called “The Haunted Hum” during their “Fright Night” Halloween episode. The two test an urban legend that claims that there is frequency around 19 Hz that can produce feelings of discomfort, dread and, yes, even fear. But the thing is, 19 Hz is below the threshold of human hearing, so these feelings are produced without anyone being able to hear the note.

The Mythbusters recruited sound scientist Dr. Roger Schwenke from Meyer Sound to help test the myth, and Schwenke brought quite the setup to a remote area in Northern California. That setup? A group of nine Meyer Sound 11000-LFC low-frequency control element speakers that produce about 40,000 watts of power.Meyer Sound Speakers

Here’s how it worked: a group of subjects were spread out among four cabins, one of which had the group of speakers behind it producing the alleged fear note.

“One cabin was subjected to infrasonic sound while the other control cabins had no sound,” Schwenke said. “Although the cabins were essentially identical, the idea was to ask the participants if one cabin seemed more eerie or frightening than the others.”

Schwenke also described the specifics of the set up.

“We used the U-shape to get the 1100-LFCs as close together as possible,” he said, “and to direct any higher overtones away from the cabin so we could get the infrasonic level as high as possible without anything being audible… We had to be careful with that level because, at around 95 dB, we started rattling the cabin walls. That would have been a dead giveaway.”

The episode aired on October 28, but in case you haven’t seen it yet, I won’t give away whether the myth was confirmed, busted or deed plausible. However, I do have Schwenke’s thoughts on the unheard note.

“I did feel a sense of unease,” he said. “You could tell when it was on even though you couldn’t hear anything. It was more of a whole-body, change-in-the-air sensation, an undefined ominous feeling.”


This isn’t the first time audio myths have been put to the test on “Mythbusters.” Previous episodes have tested whether a human voice can actually break glass, if sound can extinguish flames and if there is really something known as the “brown note.”

If you haven’t heard of that last one, we’re going to leave it to you to check out on your own time.


Dark truth on how the Dutch got their cycle paths.

The Netherlands have the world’s largest cycling community.It’s also one of the safest place in the world to cycle. But how did they get this high quality cycle culture going? Many unethically assume that it’s always been there.

Like other bustling countries, cycling was marginalized in post WWII during Dutch economy boom. But with the sudden economy rise, comes increase in road-builds with heightened use of automotive vehicles. It is during this period that the Dutch paid it’s price with the loss of pedestrians and cyclists. In 1971 alone 3300 lives were lost, over 400 of which were of children under 14. This figures outraged its citizens and protests demanding a stop to this slaughter was carried out in major cities. “Stop Kindermoord” meaning Stop Murdering Children being the slogan. Consequent rise in oil pricing during economic crisis in ’73 meant that they had to change the way they do things and be less dependent on automobiles. The cycling culture in which the Dutch demanded for fitted perfectly.

Looking at the problems that the Dutch had to tackle back in 1970s makes it a good model for other developing countries who want to adopt the same solution in tackling traffic congestions.

When I was a kid, I cycled to school in Singapore and this was a rather daunting thing for any parents. And when I moved to New York City, the bicycles I own emigrated with me. It is without doubt a liberation when coming to live in the Netherlands later. The cycle facilities is incomparable to any other countries that I’ve seen. It is however a growing consciousness for many countries in Europe to weave in the cycling awareness in its bigger cities. In fact there are bicycle rental companies that is available in these countries’ capital in Europe. Do take note the next time you wanna have a zippy travel.

Chech, Paris, London, Barcelona, Netherlands ANWB.

Tom Petty said, “You gotta turn it up to hear it.” #HiResAudio.

Instead of Pono hardware that Neil Young’s been tossing about as a salesman promoting HiRes music, Tom Petty is busy in the studio remixing most of his albums for HiRes export. There are affordable alternatives to be able to playback this HiRes files. It all depends on the Digital Audio Conversion hardware you have on you. Obviously a plain laptop will not be ideal to listen to this files, even those laptop speakers that says BEATS on it. No. Using some recent programs like VOX, you will be able to playback 24/192 audio but you’re still not going to get the optimized audio quality from that speaker or headphone output. Instead look out for external DAC converters, this will by-pass the default output and route the audio data through higher quality converters. I have been happy using my Fiio X3 which uses Wolfson’s WM8740 DAC chip. The X3 doubles up as a DAP (Carry around DA Player) as it can store FLAC files into its MicroSD card. The device pushes audio out through a separate amplifier AD8397 chip that doesn’t add color or noise to the sound. I’ve just started carrying DAPs with me, and no iPod or Walkman can compare with its audio playback. In fact I think it might be a good time to upgrade to a dual DAC converters, even though it’s a little pricey, but well worth the ear massage.

Well that is in a nutshell about my early endeavour with HiRes portable playback. But that’s only about the D/A player or converter. There’s a universe of choices when it comes to which speakers, monitors, or headphones you should be listening from. But the bottomline, start from the ones you can afford. And learn to listen better instead of blasting MP3s when you can be listening to the original studio mix as how Tom mixed it.

Cheers. Enjoy the beautiful spring season.

HISWA sup tocht 2015

Mind in tune. Body in motion.
Looking forward to Amsterdam HISWA Sup tocht this Saturday.
#1stMilestone #SG50SUP

Nausea like Birdman

Long tracking shots are cool.. In Birdman’s case it got me a little nausea. Instead of drawing me close, I tried to pull away from being in the bird’s vision.

And by the way how the heck did Alejandro pull this one off with no reflection of the camera rig in the mirror??


OK. So I guess they deserve all that awards for the layers of questions it’s generated. What a bizarre story though.

The only time I woke up from the zombified state of mind through the lengthy shots was when the syncopated jazz drumming soundtrack suddenly fell into place with the side street drummer who appeared into camera frame. Now that, I thought was class. I wonder how the talents were mic’d.. Must have been monitored via a remote mix somewhere in the ‘theatre’.

Technically mind boggling over the tracking shots. But it seems to lose its purpose in its classic effort to draw viewers. But hey, all done for artistic reasons. What did you think about the movie. Over theatrical you think or totally outstanding?

Recording live ammo.


I’ve had a couple opportunities to record supersonic ammo from assault rifles. Here’s what I learned from recording guns:

The best recordings we were able to get were a PZM 50′ down range; a dynamic near the muzzle; a shotgun facing 180° to the gun about 40′ away; an XY 120′ down range perpendicular to the blast to catch flybys, and a lav taped to the post with the surface of impact.

Things 200′ or more away sounded great (probably better than any other mic) but the signal to noise ratio started getting iffy.

In our recording session we had about 14 different mics set at a number of different positions, and several different types of recorders. I wasn’t able to compare the transient quality of the various field recorder used (zoom H4s, Sony M10, zaxcom max, and sound devices 722 accurately) but the self noise isn’t an issue from any of the devices until you go beyond 120′.

Don’t use the built limiters on any of the devices unless you program in very specifically what parameters you want. The release times are usually designed for vocals and cause a ton of really bad sounding pumping.

Don’t worry too much about clipping on the transients. It doesn’t sound bad. In fact, it’s a quality people expect to hear with guns (not sure about cannons)

What it really came down to with us was you’re recording the gun in the space more so than the actual gun. (you’ll hear this advice from a lot of documentaries about this) There’s a sweet spot where you put your mics based on how much noise is in the environment where you get the best decays without starting to hear things like birds wind etc. and I think that comes down to experience recording guns etc.

Biggest advice is put up as many microphones as you can (even if it’s just your phone) and make sure everything stays rolling.

GoPro Hero4 takes a new target.. Musicians.

Musicians on stage and studio, Time to shine!

Hero4 claims professional audio performance.

Featuring a powerful new audio system, HERO4 Black captures clean, high fidelity sound. Its cutting-edge microphone delivers nearly 2x the dynamic range, while a best-in-class audio algorithm ensures your recordings sound smoother and more natural than ever.* Plus, with its new, integrated ADC (analog-to-digital converter), HERO4 Black is compatible with a wider variety of professional low-sensitivity external mics*** for immersive stereo audio capture and enhanced performance, whether recording voices, an acoustic jam session or a live show.

*Compared to the HERO3+ Black Edition.
**Sold separately.
***3.5mm Mic Adapter required, sold separately. –