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How to get "involved" with the mastering community?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1
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How to get "involved" with the mastering community?

Hey guys!

I'm a 16 Y/o High School Senior from Asia, so yesterday I paid a visit to my college counsellor, over 75 ivy league admits last year, and while we were discussing my profile, he asked me about my EC's and "Out of the box skills"

I told him about my audiophile hobbies and about my tendencies of being a wannabe mastering engineer

He was very impressed by the things and said he's never heard about a student doing things in audio, still he said hobbies are not enough, you'll need something big to prove you're actually good at it because just saying it would raise a red flag to colleges

I was convinced, he said I should get involved with "organisations/clubs/societies" if they exist for audio, and all that came to my mind was NARAS and AES, both out of my reach since I am not a college student yet and nor do I plan to study music in college

He also said that doing this service for small clients in the city won't matter much as no one knows any of these people outside our city, forget the admission officers in US, and nor would the recommendation of any big-name ME work here since they're not a household name

So very confused about this, I love this hobby, It ain't easy at all, I spend hours everyday trying to learn new skills and keep polishing myself by working on new songs everyday, but still cannot prove myself at the moment, how to do so? how can I be involved?

Please guide!

Thank you so much
-Darkalex
Old 1 week ago
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Old 1 week ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkalex View Post
He also said that doing this service for small clients in the city won't matter much as no one knows any of these people outside our city
Bull****. Do it because you love it. If you do good work then other work will follow. That's how it starts. Where it goes is up to you.

School can be very valuable for many reasons, and I think everyone should spend some time in college to learn how to learn and to better understand the world, but it's not necessarily a gateway to an audio career.

Don't put too much stock into what a counselor tells you. Did he follow his dreams??
Old 1 week ago
  #4
Quote:
I told him about my audiophile hobbies and about my tendencies of being a wannabe mastering engineer
Just keep at it. What i can tell you is that most engineers start as audio engineers and have vast experience as an audio engineer in recording and mixing. They usually have years and years of experience in those niches before going into the mastering side.

I would first gain years of experience in the recording and mixing side. Without the experience in the recording and mixing side, you can struggle as a mastering engineer.

I would not worry about your location,. you have the internet box in front of you and you can access anyone form anywhere with your finger tips.
Quote:
So very confused about this, I love this hobby, It ain't easy at all, I spend hours everyday trying to learn new skills and keep polishing myself by working on new songs everyday, but still cannot prove myself at the moment, how to do so? how can I be involved?
There has to be some kind of studio near you within driving range. I would research and see if you can sit in on sessions in exchange for doing grunt work, cleaning errands etc etc.. There are no secrets groups for ME's, Try Facebook and research online for groups also.

You are 16 years old. It will not come fast. I do not know what you expected, but you need to spend years and decades at it. If you are looking for a fast rise. Forget it and go into something else. You need to be patient and work your butt off and spend years and decades, not just a few hours a day.
Old 1 week ago
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I’m a little unsure as to what you are after. Are you hoping to leverage your interest in audio for college applications? If so, what would be the downside of simply not doing this?
Old 1 week ago
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If, as you say, you don't plan to study music in college then what's the point of emphasizing your interest in mastering music? Even with some kind of community membership it will never be more than an interesting side note on your application, so why not just mention it in your self description and move on to emphasize your academic achievements? You're a senior at 16. That's a great start!
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
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Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
What i can tell you is that most engineers start as audio engineers and have vast experience as an audio engineer in recording and mixing.
QFE

As a mastering engineer, if one does not have a thorough understanding of the skills and techniques required for recording and mixing, one will simply not be capable of understanding and fixing the mistakes that occur in those processes nor will one be able to know when to leave well enough alone.

Put another way:
One has to be an M.D. before deciding to specialize in cardiac surgery and the road to being an M.D. itself is a long one.
Old 1 week ago
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While having knowledge and experience of the other stages of production is certainly helpful, I think there are enough successful MEs who didn't come to the profession via that route to show that it is by no means essential.

If you know where your passion is, I say follow it. Don't waste time with other things. Reach out to some MEs you respect for some mentoring. This can be extremely helpful, even from a distance.
Old 1 week ago
  #9
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For my whole life I had always wanted to be an audio engineer. I started college as an electronics engineer student. I had already had three years of electronics in high school. I decided after six weeks that a EE degree was not what I wanted (too much repetition of what I had already studied) and switched to RTV (Radio/Television) because what I really wanted to be was an audio engineer.

After four years I graduated as a RTV producer/director but most of my college was spent learning about audio. I did a lot of recordings, a lot of ON AIR engineering work in the radio and TV studios and bought myself a copy of the Audio Cyclopedia by Howard M. Tremaine and read it cover to cover. I built Heathkits, I assisted the radio and TV engineers in installations and repair work. I learned as much as I could about equipment and repairing it. I was also the person who put together a "campus carrier radio station" and built all the equipment (except the transmitter).

Then I spent two years in the US Army as a broadcast specialist and in my spare time put a "bedside" radio network at the local Army hospital back together that had been off the "air" for 15 years. I restored and repaired all the equipment in the studio including a Hammond B series organ. I learned so much just by doing.

Then I spent a year at the local PBS station as an audio engineer. After a year I landed a job with the local college as Director of Audio Services and Concert Sound. I recorded over 3500 live concerts in the 26 years while I was there. Then I started my own mastering, on location recording and audio restoration company here in Oberlin. To say that my life has been varied and challenging would be an understatement. I have enjoyed everything I have done and have had 45 interns working with me here over the years and another 100+ at the college. Some of them are now in the audio business and doing well.

Suggest you find a good audio mentor and work with him or her and learn all you can. There is a whole wide wonderful world out there and the more you can do the more valuable you will be to employer and if you decide to got it on your own. Best of LUCK!!!

Last edited by Thomas W. Bethe; 1 week ago at 06:04 PM.. Reason: Added two words
Old 1 week ago
  #10
Quote:
After a year I landed a job with the local college as Director of Audio Services and Concert Sound. I recorded over 3500 live concerts in the 26 years while I was there. Then I started my own mastering, on location and restoration company here in Oberlin. T
Beautiful! A perfect example of someone knowing that they want, putting in the hard work and reaping the results
Old 1 week ago
  #11
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you're 16 and your posts generally seemed very well informed. don't worry about what some boring grown up told you-- it sounds like something my dad would say! if you are this entrenched in audio at this age then all you have to do is keep going with the flow, and the right things will happen.

when i was your age i was getting deeply into electronic music and was already collecting synths and recording gear. i made completely experimental music and many adults told me it had no commercial appeal and therefore it was pointless for me to pursue that hobby. they were wrong, very very wrong.

i dunno so much about clubs, but never be afraid to reach out to people you respect, ask questions, try and develop a relationship. mastering engineers, even the most "famous" ones, are generally very approachable.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dogoftears View Post
you're 16 and your posts generally seemed very well informed. don't worry about what some boring grown up told you-- it sounds like something my dad would say! if you are this entrenched in audio at this age then all you have to do is keep going with the flow, and the right things will happen.

when i was your age i was getting deeply into electronic music and was already collecting synths and recording gear. i made completely experimental music and many adults told me it had no commercial appeal and therefore it was pointless for me to pursue that hobby. they were wrong, very very wrong.

i dunno so much about clubs, but never be afraid to reach out to people you respect, ask questions, try and develop a relationship. mastering engineers, even the most "famous" ones, are generally very approachable.
To the OP: You do have to pay attention to some people but it is, after all, your life.

I think this sums up my philosophy about life very nicely and a similar plaque sits on my desk at home. I have had this plaque since college.
Attached Thumbnails
How to get "involved" with the mastering community?-christophermorley1.jpg  

Last edited by Thomas W. Bethe; 1 week ago at 01:25 PM..
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
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i studied political science and kept playing an instrument as a hobby/out of interest - i became a professional engineer and keep working as a political analyst as a 'hobby'/out of interest...

hard to tell about options in other places/countries/cultures - nevertheless, if you have dream, i suggest following it, even if it's against all odds!
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmoothTone View Post
While having knowledge and experience of the other stages of production is certainly helpful, I think there are enough successful MEs who didn't come to the profession via that route to show that it is by no means essential.

If you know where your passion is, I say follow it. Don't waste time with other things. Reach out to some MEs you respect for some mentoring. This can be extremely helpful, even from a distance.
I started mastering at 21, it's been my only job since then and it's my first and only job in audio, and I earn around average income in the UK (I'm 33 now) FWIW/no flex and just for balance. It's possible.
Old 1 week ago
  #15
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Make music. Learn an instrument, be it acoustic, electric or electronic. Work from there. Nothing beats a musical ear and knowing how to arrange songs.

Good audio flows from there not the other way around.
Old 3 days ago | Show parent
  #16
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Thanks a lot for your responses! You're right, not to put too much stock into whatever a third person says, after all it's my life

As many of our fellows said, my interest in audio is a little unusual for my age, and that's what acts as a brilliant extracurricular for college applications, demonstrating how passionate a person is for a particular thing and that they've put a little extra effort to gain an edge from competent students in their age, that's what my counselor said too, he loved this thing and said in my entire life I've never seen an audio whiz, and believe me this counselor is the best in our country, 70-80 Ivy admits every year, I got an appointment after like 6 months of emails..

He wanted me to prove this hobby with sufficient evidence, since all of us know about the "whiz kids" who apply to Ivies claiming how they cured cancer at 12 or how they are the best entomologists...

Therefore all the colleges think of such unusual extracurriculars as full BS and put red flags, thus I wanted advice on how to prove my self, I agree I should follow my passion, but single-handedly this extracurricular of mine is one of the most powerful on my resume, if not the most powerful

Not to brag, but I know quite a lot of "mixing and mastering engineers" in my city, and I can single-handedly compete with them and outperform them by miles, even in mastering I can make their product sound better than a entire remix of the record, not bragging but their work shows it all, these are the snake oil people using multiband compression just because "the pros do it" while they don't even know what a crossover is... and they're doing this for 20 years..

That's why it's not worth for me to go to any such studio, I won't be able to gel with them, and obviously, I cannot outperform them or even try new things at their place out of respect, their ego's gonna be hurt severely and I'm gonna be in trouble or vice versa I get a brilliant recommendation but again I can't put it anywhere since no credibility..

As for why I wanna put this on the app, I've told you why, but this activity also gives me an explanation for my interest in electrical engineering, especially because audio revolves around electronics and is actually I reason why I fiddle with PCB's and try cleaning the circuit by replacing caps, correcting solder joints, reducing wire lengths etc.

Thus wanted some actual fact-based evidence to prove that I ain't lying about this hobby, but I guess there isn't some way to prove... or is there anything I can do to accomplish this?

Once again, thanks for your awesome replies!

-Darkalex
Old 3 days ago | Show parent
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkalex View Post
(...)I guess there isn't some way to prove... or is there anything I can do to accomplish this?
i guess there is: if you have access to the original audio files of a production which is regarded as being well engineered and you can catch up with it or even 'beat' it, open-minded, unbiased experts should recognize...

Quote:
Not to brag, but I know quite a lot of "mixing and mastering engineers" in my city, and I can single-handedly compete with them and outperform them by miles, even in mastering I can make their product sound better than a entire remix of the record, not bragging but their work shows it all, these are the snake oil people using multiband compression just because "the pros do it" while they don't even know what a crossover is... and they're doing this for 20 years..

That's why it's not worth for me to go to any such studio, I won't be able to gel with them, and obviously, I cannot outperform them or even try new things at their place out of respect, their ego's gonna be hurt severely and I'm gonna be in trouble or vice versa I get a brilliant recommendation but again I can't put it anywhere since no credibility..
wondering though whether the assement of your merits is correct?! if so, get out of school and try to compete with pros you admire, not with folks you seem to have not much respect for (the latter of which shows a dubious attitude btw)...

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 3 days ago at 12:56 PM.. Reason: edited
Old 3 days ago | Show parent
  #18
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Trakworx's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by darkalex View Post
Thus wanted some actual fact-based evidence to prove that I ain't lying about this hobby, but I guess there isn't some way to prove... or is there anything I can do to accomplish this?
Put up a website and include a link to it on your application. Almost all MEs have one. You can put audio examples of your work and links to released projects that you've mastered. That's about all the proof that any of us have beyond our credits on Discogs, AllMusic, etc.
Old 3 days ago | Show parent
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkalex View Post
Thanks a lot for your responses! You're right, not to put too much stock into whatever a third person says, after all it's my life

Not to brag, but I know quite a lot of "mixing and mastering engineers" in my city, and I can single-handedly compete with them and outperform them by miles, even in mastering I can make their product sound better than a entire remix of the record, not bragging but their work shows it all, these are the snake oil people using multi-band compression just because "the pros do it" while they don't even know what a crossover is... and they're doing this for 20 years..

That's why it's not worth for me to go to any such studio, I won't be able to gel with them, and obviously, I cannot outperform them or even try new things at their place out of respect, their ego's gonna be hurt severely and I'm gonna be in trouble or vice versa I get a brilliant recommendation but again I can't put it anywhere since no credibility..

Once again, thanks for your awesome replies!

-Darkalex
\


I was with you until you posted this statement^^^. This is not a GREAT WAY to learn when you assume you know it all already. I pity your instructors in college (in fact if you already know it all why go to college at all?). I have always been humble and respectful when trying to learn new things from other people. It is amazing how much you can learn when you don't put up barriers going in. FWIW
Old 3 days ago | Show parent
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
\


I was with you until you posted this statement^^^. This is not a GREAT WAY to learn when you assume you know it all already. I pity your instructors in college (in fact if you already know it all why go to college at all?). I have always been humble and respectful when trying to learn new things from other people. It is amazing how much you can learn when you don't put up barriers going in. FWIW
Oh no, didn't want to say it like this, had no intentions of being a know it all

I'm there on gearslutz for the very reason of learning more from all of you, and believe me this platform and your knowledge has taught me the little I know

I always respect the people, but I'm talking about the people in studios who I know, who claim to be know it all's, videos like this, I know a little bit of Hindi due to my parents, so I heard this tutorial on audio mastering:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSjlO3dnC44

This man's teaching mastering with 5 plugins, not throwing him under the bus but mushy multiband compression on a balanced-ish mix, using high and low pass on the mix bus, unnecessarily ticking 4dB's of gain reduction on all frequency bands, turning the good mix into a mush

The person in this video is what represents people at my place, sir, that's why I said I can't gel with them, like rote learning all the techniques, which are meant to be used as and when required, not like a compulsion for every mix

Once again, sorry if it came like I don't want to learn, one of the main reasons I wanna come to the US is to get exposure to awesome instructors and experience it all in real life

I know nothing, there's a difference between practicing math problems by knowing the topic and actually solving one in a competition with no clue in all the heat, the former being my condition at the moment
Old 2 days ago | Show parent
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkalex View Post
Oh no, didn't want to say it like this, had no intentions of being a know it all

I'm there on gearslutz for the very reason of learning more from all of you, and believe me this platform and your knowledge has taught me the little I know

I always respect the people, but I'm talking about the people in studios who I know, who claim to be know it all's, videos like this, I know a little bit of Hindi due to my parents, so I heard this tutorial on audio mastering:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSjlO3dnC44

This man's teaching mastering with 5 plugins, not throwing him under the bus but mushy multiband compression on a balanced-ish mix, using high and low pass on the mix bus, unnecessarily ticking 4dB's of gain reduction on all frequency bands, turning the good mix into a mush

The person in this video is what represents people at my place, sir, that's why I said I can't gel with them, like rote learning all the techniques, which are meant to be used as and when required, not like a compulsion for every mix

Once again, sorry if it came like I don't want to learn, one of the main reasons I wanna come to the US is to get exposure to awesome instructors and experience it all in real life

I know nothing, there's a difference between practicing math problems by knowing the topic and actually solving one in a competition with no clue in all the heat, the former being my condition at the moment
You do not know anything about this person or their client's materials so it is hard to make sweeping statements about what he did or did not do. Sometime mastering engineers are asked to do the impossible or to make something that is "God Awful" into a Grammy winning song. They need to do what they need to do to "please" the client.

I agree that a lot of what people post about doing mastering on the internet or YouTube is not factual or is misleading. I guess people just have to be careful of what they watch and trust people who are "real" mastering engineers to give the strait scoop.

FWIW
Old 2 days ago
  #22
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I used to get calls all the time from kids wanting internships, and I always asked two questions. "Can you solder?" and "Can you read a conductor's score?" I seldom heard from anyone who could do either, and I never heard from anyone who could do both. Learn both and there are jobs.

Everybody and his brother wants to work as a mastering engineer, but nobody wants to fix equipment in the mastering room. Learn to do equipment maintenance and you will have studio jobs for the rest of your life. There are a lot of big-name mixing and mastering people who started out in the maintenance shop and moved into the studio.

There is far more competition to get into the business than there was when I started out a few decades ago, but there are also a lot more different kinds of jobs in the business out there and more things you can do.
--scott
Old 2 days ago | Show parent
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
You do not know anything about this person or their client's materials so it is hard to make sweeping statements about what he did or did not do. Sometime mastering engineers are asked to do the impossible or to make something that is "God Awful" into a Grammy winning song. They need to do what they need to do to "please" the client.

I agree that a lot of what people post about doing mastering on the internet or YouTube is not factual or is misleading. I guess people just have to be careful of what they watch and trust people who are "real" mastering engineers to give the strait scoop.

FWIW
From what that person said in the video, he was the one who tracked, mixed and mastered that record, their client was a close relative to them and the project was done with full freedom.

The person did not have any obligation on him to turn the mix into mush, disregarding the same, the mix they have in the session is good enough to be turned into a good enough smooth master

Yet he uses bandpass filters on it, applies unnecessary multiband compression and straps god knows what limiter on the mix, and in before-after comparison, he fools the listener, by not turning the limiter off and level matching them, obviously the mix with limiter will sound better due to the 4dB of gain and this tricks the viewer into thinking that this 5 plugin master is awesome and the youtuber is a whiz at audio..

Look at the comment section of the video, so many aspiring engineers, in hope asking this guy for his advice, when someone asked him
"How do you set the limiter while mastering so that the transients of the drums remain intact?"

he replies, and I quote,

"Nope. The transients are supposed to be fixed and finalised in the mix itself. While using the limiter, you just need to ensure that the output levels are in accordance with your LUFS meter..."
See the know-it-all nature here? This man doesn't even know what a transient is, yet answers so confidently that they're supposed to be finalised in a mix...

That's what I object to, and the person making the video is not at fault here imho, that's what is taught at 'institutes' in my city who claim to teach audio mastering/mixing, having sit for a few trial classes last year, I can confirm that.

That's why I am a little hesitant to work at such studios, nothing more sir
Old 2 days ago | Show parent
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kludgeaudio View Post
I used to get calls all the time from kids wanting internships, and I always asked two questions. "Can you solder?" and "Can you read a conductor's score?" I seldom heard from anyone who could do either, and I never heard from anyone who could do both. Learn both and there are jobs.
I can solder:p , I repair my amplifiers and speakers all the time, or my grandpa's record player, I don't know much about electronics, cannot make something from scratch, but replacing and repairing I can do a little ebit

As for conductor's score, sorry I don't know how to read them, I have no formal/classical musical knowledge that hurts a little, but I can judge the flow of a record or find anomalies if any in the mix, for learning this more I play with stems of classics available all over the internet

I 100% agree that mastering is not easy and should not be directly approached, to be honest I learnt this thing because I didn't have good speakers at first, I therefore wanted to hear music in it's best form for which I learnt proper equalising, I was always intrigued by EQ's ever since I found them in dad's car in grade two, cut the mids boost the highs and lows, bam the music rocks in the car

To advance this further, and learning about EQ in depth, I came across mastering and that's why so passionate about it

I single-handedly learned the concept of compression and limiting because I couldn't make things cut through on cheap speakers, compression helped me with it, limiting for transparent loudness

Now that I have a bit better speakers, I can hear the effects of what's happening to the mix with whatever I do, and it translates well, be it the phone or the car
Old 2 days ago
  #25
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yes, learn all these things:

Audio theory, both analog & digital.

Electronics, at least on a troubleshooting level or better.

Music theory, including learning many different styles of music

Play a musical instrument. read music on an instrument or two or three...

Recording and mixing with real Audio hardware.

DAWs and Plug-Ins is a given.

There are many of us veteran MEs that don’t use any multi-band hardware or plug-ins.

Be humble about what you don’t know and quietly confident about what you Do know.

When you’ve done a Thousand or more Masters, and have 10,000 hours or more of experience,

then it might be allowable to brag a little, especially when asked to toot your own horn, as they say.

best regards, jt
Old 2 days ago
  #26
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Well I read that you want to emphasize your interest in audio/mastering on your CV to raise your chances to get into an Ivy League college.

Did I get that right?

If so - and I won't judge that since I don't know anything about how Ivy League admissions work - then get 'credibility' by interning at one of the top mastering studios in the world (by name recognition. Places like Gateway, Sterling etc. and have their senior management write a letter of recommendation after your internship.)

Tough but doable.

If I didn't understand your question properly and you actually want to become a mastering engineer then there are many ways to do it.

My advice though would be to finish your Ivy League education and keep mastering as a hobby.
It's not exactly a growing industry with a bright outlook.
Old 1 day ago | Show parent
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kosmokrator View Post
My advice though would be to finish your Ivy League education and keep mastering as a hobby.
It's not exactly a growing industry with a bright outlook.
This is probably good advice, but I didn't follow it when it was given to me forty years ago.

However, I will say that you should learn to listen, and learning to listen will help you in every way for anything to do with audio, or machinery. There are a lot of ear training programs. I recommend David Moulton's Golden Ears program, but you have to be dedicated about it and do it every day.

If you never become an audio professional it will still make your life better when you identify that your alternator bearing is failing on your car because the sound of the whine has sidebands on it.
--scott
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