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So what do you know about masking of multiple sounds? (composing, arranging, mix, )
Old 14th December 2008
Lives for gear
So what do you know about masking of multiple sounds? (composing, arranging, mix, )

So what do you know about masking of multiple sounds?
(composing, arranging, mixing, effects, etc. )

What is masking?
When is it "good" ?
When is it "bad" ?
What kind of effects did you experience?
What do you know about it?
Old 16th December 2008
Lives for gear
I am sure, you have heard of

- multiple tracks, and you add a bass track and the energy goes away from the kick... (masking)

- single tracks that sound weak alone, but sound great together (not exactly masking, but the opposite?

- a kick track that stomps itself into the guitar and glues together very nicely

other things you know about such effects?

What exactly is happening in the masking?
When do tracks fit together very well without being separated?

How can it be used to our advantage?

Is masking always negative?
Old 16th December 2008
Never heard of the term 'masking'.
Old 16th December 2008
Lives for gear
I heard the word in a mixing & mastering seminar...

There is some information available online..

Sound masking - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sound Masking
Human Audio Perception: Masking
Psychoacoustics - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Old 16th December 2008
Gear Guru
drBill's Avatar
Originally Posted by chrisso View Post
Never heard of the term 'masking'.
Ditto. Never heard of it in 20+ years. Sounds like something that's now being taught in recording school. I must have been out on the road during that class...... heh heh
Old 16th December 2008
Lives for gear
Washington's Avatar

If I remember correctly, there is a very good explnation of the phenomenon in the Waves' Linear Phase Multiband manual, here (or maybe it was the C4 multiband, not sure):
Old 16th December 2008
Lives for gear

I believe masking is a function of our brain that filters out softer sounds at certain frequencies in favour of the louder sounds at those frequencies.

The sounds are never "not there" - summing is accurate, whether analog or digital, but we just don't hear them, or don't focus on them.

E.g. - a background AC hum that is very audible when a guitar is not playing, but seems to disappear while the part is playing. The hum is always there, and is always summing with the wanted signal, adding to the sound and creating sum & difference beat notes, etc. We say the guitar playing 'masks' the hum, but it's really still there. We don't really know how much damage it's doing until we remove the hum, and it just sounds much better. Or not. Perhaps it's adding something desirable, in some situations.

I feel it's an important distinction to make about 'masking' - never forget that the lower level signal is still there. And maybe our subconscious can decode it, even if our conscious hearing is filtering it out ...

Our brain filters a lot of audio information out all the time - think about how we can follow the conversation of somebody running around a big empty hall ... in reality, the voice is swamped in a constantly changing wash of reverb - but our brain can focus on the voice, and filter out this confusing information. But record it with a microphone, and the filtering is gone ... our brain is then focusing on the reproduction of the recording, and we hear all the changes in reverb, phasing, etc.

So I consider masking to be a psychoacoustic effect, not an electronic effect. And some people think it can be exploited for nefarious purposes. Subliminals.

As far as mixing goes - the low level stuff is energy. You have the choice of removing it, to clear a space for the louder/wanted energy, or leaving it there, because it adds to the total sound we want.
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