ATC Monitors Used As ‘Vocal Reference Source in The Audio Test Kitchen

October 22 2019, 00:35
–If you’re going to properly compare 250 microphones, you have to make sure the source is identical 250 times. But because no human is capable of singing the same every time into 250 microphones, using an actual singer might cause you to falsely attribute vocal performance differences to microphone differences. With support from ATC’s U.S. Distributor, TransAudio Group, the accuracy of ATC monitors helped Audio Test Kitchen solve this problem by serving as a consistent ‘source for the human voice.

Audio Test Kitchen is the world's first online, audio product sound-comparison showroom. An idea of founders Alex Oana (music mixer, producer and marketing executive at Vintage King Audio, Slate Media, and other companies), and Ian Hlatky (studio owner, producer and audio engineer), intends to solve a dilemma that had been bugging them and their colleagues for years. The solution that emerged in February 2017 is the core of what Audio Test Kitchen is today. 

Audio Test Kitchen launched their debut equipment comparison category, large diaphragm condenser microphones, which totals more than three-hundred physical microphones, capsules, voicing settings, and virtual microphone models. The website allows audio creators to audition the sound of professional microphones in apples-to-apples comparisons. A free, unbiased sound-comparison online showroom where all the variables have been meticulously controlled — the only difference heard is between the gear itself. Sponsored by Harman, the recording sessions took place inside one of the most acoustically-controlled rooms on earth, Harman Lab's anechoic chamber, in Northridge, California.

The comparison website is now online and enables users to clearly hear the true personality of a piece of equipment and to compare it with another in the same category. The team have carefully eliminated all variables in the source and signal chain so that the only difference heard is due to the microphones in the spotlight. ’“”To accurately represent characteristics of large diaphragm condenser microphones, Audio Test Kitchen recorded singers in an anechoic chamber, then reproduced those voices through an ATC SCM45A loudspeaker one at a time into each of 250 product microphones.
“The idea to use loudspeakers to reproduce the human voice consistently every time came from the team's many conversations with the microphone manufacturers themselves who use this technique in their own R&D process,” as Audio Test Kitchen co-founder, Alex Oana explains. “They spent months developing the ideal human voice reamplification system by finding the right combination of high-resolution microphones to “bottle” the human voice and loudspeaker to reproduce the voice as its surrogate. The ATC SCM45A monitors were one of two systems able to accomplish this, and the project received the full support of ATC’s U.S. distributor TransAudio Group, whose rep Zach Winterfeld provided all the ATC speakers needed for testing over many months at many studios and an acoustics lab.”
Testing the ATC SCM45A in Harman’s anechoic chamber.  ©2019 Alex Oana
"“Thanks to the inherent sound and symmetrical driver arrangement of the ATC SCM45A and our collaboration with the research team at Harman International’'s Northridge, California testing facility, we were able to close that final 5% gap so that we could no longer distinguish which was the live singer and which was the reamplified one. Users auditioning the sound of microphones through various vocal sources on Audio Test Kitchen can be sure they’re hearing the true characteristics of each microphone," he adds.
Audio Test Kitchen will be expanding to include additional professional audio and musical instrument categories with the goal of, in the words of Oana, “establishing a new, critical information layer in the industry that empowers musicians and audio creators to make confident decisions about the gear they rely on.”
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