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Update: January 17th 2021
This section is dedicated to creating or as I call it “The Art of Creating”. I cover many useful areas and topics that should guide and assist you in preparing and delivering a quality product. The question and subject I hope to answer it the ever-present question of “What is a quality product and how do I create in such a way that permits your products to stand out?”…
This section has been structured into several useful areas of music products: file types, restoration, pre-cut modifications, and numerous different cut types that you may have to employ to cut a track in a playable format. These topics have been arranged in a manner that would follow a common work-flow or how I execute the creation of audio products. For additional references and information, please refer to the material located within "Production" section of this site.
DISCLAIMER: The information provided herein does not constitute any consent of an artist, producer, or record label, and is not to be taken as an informal or formal authorization by SilkenKitty.com to modify, produce, or release any music (outside of limited personal use) without said controlling individual or entity's ’s sole and expressed consent and approval. For official consent and authorization, it is the responsibility of the individual and not SilkenKitty.com to obtain all require Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) and licensing authorizations prior to any official releases and distributions of materials not of their original creation but under the expressed rights and control of another individual artist or corporation. All information that is discussed as part of SilkenKitty.com has been provided for educational purposes only.
Audio File Types
There are several different formats audio files come in: AAC, M4A, FLAC, MP3, MP4, OGG, WAV, and WMA are among the most popular, each possessing their own pros and cons. Because of the constraints that you maybe under as part of your creation process, we will focus on the more common types and leave the more complicated ones to be addressed another time.
Probably the most common and popular file type you will be exposed to, .MP3 files are not the most preferred source file to be working with in a creative type environment for several important reasons. Given the fact that it has a very low file size making it ideal for storage, the fact that it uses a lossy data-compression method to encode the source audio makes .MP3s very problematic. Lossy data-compression uses “inexact approximations” during the encoding process. This means that during source to .MP3 encoding, the lossy conversion (to encode to .MP3) simply discards actual parts of the original master (because of the inexact approximations the encode performs). In sum, parts of the song that may add dimension, depth, and presence are now gone as part of the lossy conversion-just to save space and compress to a low file size.
More specifically, the lossy conversion process’ inaccurate approximations may remove key parts of a song that fall just outside or at the edge of the human hearing spectrum. Now I know what you are thinking, because we cannot hear it anyway, what difference does it make? Well, in some instances audio maybe injected with sounds outside of the human hearing to create an effect. For example, infrasonics fall within the frequency range that is below human hearing (18.9 Hz). This type of signal cannot be normally heard but can be made audible by over-driving the sound’s gain levels. Infrasonics are added to a song or movie that typically falls within the horror genre. But why? Well it is a well-settle fact that exposure to these infrasonic frequencies induces a subconscious sense of uneasiness while triggering fear. Hollywood has been using infrasonics for over two decades without you ever even knowing, and they are present in such films as “The Shinning”, “Halloween”, “Nightmare on Elm Street”, “Hell Raiser”, "Paranormal Activity", "The Fifth Kind", and "The Blair Witch Project". What is the reasoning behind adding audio frequencies you cannot even here becomes the next question. Well, ever wonder why you were afraid or fearful in your home while alone watching a horror movie, or think you hear noises for no reason while you are watching the movie-answer INFRASONICS!!! So next time you are watching a horror film, and you seem to feel uneasy or afraid for no good reason, thank the movie's sound engineer because he specifically placed the infrasonics at a critical point in the movie to induce fear and add to the experience without you even knowing it.
Taking in what I just mentioned about infrasonics and applying it to what was mentioned prior about the lossy conversions discarding of “non-audible” frequencies, you can see the downside of the .MP3 file. The .MP3 lossy conversion process does offer the benefit of a reduced files size space, but at the cost of removing audio components assumed as unnecessary in its conversion process. By removing these important and unheard components (like infrasonics) deprives the listener of the artist’s original intent when the sound was recorded. My recommendations is to avoid using .MP3 files, but if you do, know that it has been altered in a state that deprives any listener of the depth and presence intended of the original artist.
.FLAC files (Free Lossless Audio Codec) is a lossless compression format, meaning that all the original audio is maintained and contained within the .FLAC file. This form of compress does permit an outstanding compression form that not only can reduce a file’s size up to 70%, but all the original sound embodied within the original is not discarded as in the .MP3 lossy process.
The .FLAC method is an ideal file format to work with, as the creator is given a sample of the original recording in its most fullest form-a 100% replica of the artist intent, suitable for creating a clone of the original without any reservations of frequency lossy as in the lossy format.
From a creative standpoint I prefer to work with .FLAC files, because they provide a full representation of the original, and any post production adjustments (such as 8D, 12D, or 3Di) are not developed with specific parts of original audio track lost in the compression process. The downside with .FLAC is in obtaining a .FLAC file. Oh, they do exists, but are typically held by the recording studio as reproductive masters. For this very reason I have only been successful under limited circumstances in obtaining a .FLAC file, however if you can manage obtaining one on the track you seek to adjust you will most surely be working with an almost identical master version of the track.
.WAV files (or Waveform Audio File Format) is a bitstream audio format that is uncompressed and in its fullest form. This process uses a form of encoding called linear pulse-code modulation (“LPCM”). This format has been popularized by its application in the CD industry, where .WAV files are the disk encoding standard and file storage areas are not a constraint factor.
The downside of a .WAV file is that is it typically limited to “two-channel” conversion (making it stereo in nature), but .WAV files possess the advantageous upside that they are easy to manipulate and work with. A standard .WAV file can easily be converted or restored to a 5.1, 7.1, or 3Di sound using almost any commercial Digital Audio Workstation (“DAW”), because of the method that the data chunks encode the file’s information.
Opinion, .WAV files are ideal when .FLAC files are unavailable. Granted not many people are willing to pass on a .FLAC file, a .WAV may be more in the cards and a suitable alternative. Once received and in your possession, you will find that under analysis within your respective DAW that the file possess a great sample rate, and although restricted two-channels many DAWs can be restored the or convert the file with only minor input information fed into the DAW. Thumbs up to .WAV files, an outstanding foundation to create your products.
.WMA (Windows Media Audio) is more or less like Microsoft’s competitive version to the .MP3 format. Similar in may respects (withstanding the codec formation) it uses a lossy like compression that like its .MP3 cousin discards assumed components as part of the compression. However, recently .WMA Pro has evolved, that does not use the lossy compression method but instead compresses a track on a low bit rate approach.
I would not recommend the .WMA format because when it is used in a freeware commercial software (probably what most are using) and given its propriety nature, some of audio is further lost it is brought in and conversions occur. However, Microsoft’s new .WMA Pro is a different story. This newer evolution is far more favorable because it does not employ the lossy compression method as its predecessor, supports multi-channel audio, and be coded in a mush higher fidelity. It is not as good as a .FLAC, but it does possess the potential and enough acoustic resolution to do some high-quality work. My advice is .WMA is a non-starter, but .WMA Pro is a winner.
The last file that we are about to discuss is the most important, the Vorbis .OGG file. This format is what IMVU requires all audio imports to conform. This format does have its benefits, but also its shortcomings, and therefore it is important to start your creation with the highest quality original you can obtain. The Vorbis .OGG file uses the lossy compression method and we know what that means, acoustic and frequency loss will occur when you prepare your final IMVU .OGG files.
Now because we are using a format that applies the lossy compression method of encoding does not mean you should simply disregard the need for a quality original because it “won’t make a difference in the end”, because this is where you are wrong. There stands old saying “Garbage in, garbage out”, and if you start with trash, further compressing it will produce concentrated trash. In the alternative, if you start your project with a file of extremely high quality, and a large range of resolution, the compression will only shave off a small amount that resolution during the conversion process.
On the lighter side, and giving the Vorbis .OGG file its deserved credit, it has been tested and proven that its quality levels are substantially higher than the .MP3, .WMA (standard version), and .AAC formats, matching in quality to the .WMA Pro file format. So with this fact out there, just think for one second, if a .OGG is of higher quality than an .MP3, .WMA, and .AAC format, why would you take a lower quality staring format, and try to stuff it into a higher quality end file, that simply don’t make sense, because you are compressing a lower grade version into a higher standard’s allowable space.
The Vorbis .OGG method can produce a quality sound, but in order to do that, you must start with a high-quality baseline. My recommendations are once you obtain a high quality original, convert it immediately to .OGG format and listen to it straight through, because you converted already, any cutting and re-saving wont reduce the quality, that is unless you lower the sample rates at the time of re-saving. Remember the rule of thumb when dealing with the lossy conversion method, "Garbage in, garbage out".
Software selection is one of the hardest parts of sound creation, because you have to take several components into consideration: (1) usability; (2) cost and budget; (3) your target area of focus; and (4) commitment. If you are a novice and simply find the cost of professional software suites to expensive, then you may decide to use a freeware that is openly available, and that is a decision that you will have to make on your own. However know this, even though freeware suites can perform the editing tasks that sound creation require, they fall short in their ability to: (1) create varying degrees of sound (5.1, 8D, 12D, Ambisonic, or Dolby Atmos); (2) limit your ability to apply and use complex VST plug-ins that permit further remastering capabilities and restorations; and (3) can only produce a product whose quality Is equal to the quality of the source file. Now by no degree and I suggesting a full fledged purchase of some DAW that will take months or longer to learn, but to start you may want to employ a freeware suite, and when you feel ready to take the next step, purchase a professional suite and advance your skills above that of fellow creators. As we all know, everything big starts out small.
For the purposes of this section, I will demonstrate and example everything using a freeware suite. The subjects, theory, and examples provided carry over into a professional DAW, but have been simplified in a freeware example (because that is where we all started) and everyone can easily follow the methods and logic of what is discussed.