Streaming Edges Out Broadcast

EdisonResearch-SOEYou’d think this would’ve happened earlier, but according to Edison Research and their blog The Infinite Dial, it was only recently that streaming audio slid past broadcast audio in the 18-24 year old demo.

No matter the numbers though, Audio-Only advertising (formerly known as Radio) is still a very strong medium. It’s the only place where you can play with a listener’s imagination. And that’s important.

Check out all the findings from The Infinite Dial here.

Imagination & Memory

Session Notes squareWant your client’s advertising to be remembered? Use imagination. But not yours—theirs!

The word Imagination gets thrown around a lot in our industry. But nobody really stops to break the word down. It’s about images. More to the point, it’s about the human mind’s ability to create images. And brain science proves that imagination is key to the creation of memories!

When a human brain imagines—or digs up a memory—it all goes through the same brain circuit—the hippocampus. In fact, most memories begin with what’s called a “memory trace” (which is really nothing more than a vague image.)

  • Think about skydiving.
  • Think about winning an Oscar.
  • Think about driving fast on the open road.

Each of those thoughts brought up a vague picture in your mind. That’s the memory trace. Now, let’s relate that to advertising.

If we want to create a memory, we first have to require a person to imagine. In Radio, the concept of Theater of the Mind is the best way to accomplish this. Using SFX and copy to drive a listener’s imagination has long been the highest form of Radio.

The reason that such vivid Radio works well is that it utilizes the pictures that already exist in the listener’s mind. Every listener’s recalled images are unique to them. That’s why imaginative Radio sticks with people. It works just as well today as it did when Orson Welles presented War of the Worlds. It’s human nature.

In Video, the pictures are presented to the viewer, so where’s the room for imagination? It occurs off-camera. When you use the trick of off-camera action (preferably with SFX to support it) you leave a vacuum of visual information. Humans always fill information vacuums with something, and if you do it properly, that something will be images—imagination—then, memory.

Imagination has always been thought of as an important attribute of a creative person. But it’s a far more powerful tool if we creatives think of imagination as something we can trigger in the minds of our target audience. Make them imagine, and they’ll always remember.

—Brent Walker

A Gift of Quiet

WorkingTrying to find some quiet at work can be next to impossible. Noise is everywhere—co-workers yammering on the phone, office equipment whirring, Wayne from Accounting with that same stale joke…

The answer is to grab some headphones, download these lovely nature loops, and slip away.

 

Soundscapes’ Brent Walker takes a digital recorder whenever he goes on vacation, and has put together some really pleasant recordings to help you find some quiet time in the middle of all the noise.

big-thompson-riverFirst is the Big Thompson River, a mountain stream in Rocky Mountain National Park. Its musical gurgling over rocks can screen out anyone’s noisy conversation, and put you in a peaceful place.

DOWNLOAD HERE

 

 

lake-woodsNext, a short trip to the quiet woods, just off Greer’s Ferry Lake in Central Arkansas. Miles away from anything. Sit here long enough and you can hear your muscles relax.

DOWNLOAD HERE

 

 

thunderstormFinally, an early springtime thunderstorm. Gentle rolling thunder, and an oddly sleety beginning with a quiet finish of gentle rain.

DOWNLOAD HERE

 

Slide these into your library, set them to loop, and slip away into some welcome quiet.

Thank You for Another Great Year

Around Christmastime, Soundscapes was so slammed with work (thank you for that) we didn’t have the time to put up this post.

We wanted to say thank you, so in honor of the work you do with us, we gave a substantial gift to The One inc. and its owner Aaron Reddin.

Aaron personally seeks out homeless camps in our area and provides far more than blankets, tents, water, clothing, and all the other things needed by the Homeless. He gives them hope and friendship. Aaron has been wanting to buy a drone in order to find homeless camps where his van can’t go. So we helped him with that.

His story is a remarkable one. Please listen to the story by clicking above…and again, thank you so much for trusting Soundscapes with your work.

A Super-Helpful Guide to Audio Formats

Given the confusing number of audio formats out there, you’d wonder if someone just spilled a bag of Scrabble tiles and went from there. Since our expertise is audio, we thought we’d offer you a list of audio formats and what they mean.

Uncompressed formats:

Uncompressed means that absolutely no data is lost in creating the audio file. (This will mean more when we explain compressed audio.)

AIFF

Full-quality audio, available at several different bit depths* and sampling rates*. Whenever you get an AIFF file, you’re getting a large file at its highest quality. At 16 bit/44.1kHz—CD quality—AIFF files are 5 megs per mono minute. So a sixty-second stereo file will be 10 megs. The AIFF format was originally developed by Apple. If Steve made it, we love it.

WAV

Another full-quality audio format, originally developed for the Windows platform. WAV files are essentially the same as AIFF. The only difference is the linear order in which the data is put together. (This is meaningful only to your pocket-protector wearing friends.) It should be noted that practically all platforms—(Mac/Windows/Unix)—are able to play both file types these days.

*Bit Depth—This refers to the word size (number of 1s and 0s) of the data chunk. 16bit is standard CD quality, 24bit is higher quality, 32bit is what God uses. There’s also 8bit, primarily used for phone message systems. Listening to 8bit audio is like looking through really dirty glass. The higher the bit depth, the more detailed the audio information will be. At 24bit, you can hear a pin drop; at 32bit, the pin draws blood.

*Sampling Rate—Think of digital recording as a computer taking snapshots of the sound really quickly. That’s sampling. The higher the sampling rate, the more high frequencies you get. (The highest frequency available is ½ your sampling rate.) So, a CD-quality 44.1kHz sampling rate can’t record anything higher than 22,050 kHz. This is of concern only to dogs and freakishly sensitive recording engineers (guilty!)  CDs sample at 44.1kHz, but most video editing programs sample at 48kHz.

Compressed formats:

Compressed audio (in terms of computer file size) means that a full-quality audio file has been run through a program (like an mp3 encoder) that actually removes audio information it deems irrelevant. This “lossy” encoding creates a much smaller file. Some detail is missing, but not many people can tell by listening.

mp3—This is the most commonly used file format for the web. An mp3 can be encoded to stream at different data rates—the higher the rate the better the quality. Soundscapes sends 128kbs mp3s for approval files because they’re small & quick for your client to download. For Radio masters, we provide 320kbs files—the highest quality available for mp3.

mp4—This format is typically used for compressed, streaming video; although an unofficial audio-only version (m4a) is available. (In an effort to provide a common file format for iTunes, Apple is responsible for creating the unofficial extensions, so platform issues occasionally arise with mp4 (“…why won’t this play on my Windows laptop?) Because of this, we recommend sticking with mp3 for compressed audio.

8-bit µ-law (mu-law)—You will rarely encounter this, until your client specifies a format for their antiquated on-hold message system. Sounds really, really bad…unless you’re on hold.

Savvy Producer’s Bottom Line:

  • Radio approval files should be 128kbs for easy client downloads.
  • Radio master files should be 320kbs for best quality in a lightweight format.
  • mp4 is for video, not audio.
  • Voice tracks, as well as other elements for video post, should be provided in full-quality AIFF or WAV. Why? Because it’s going to be encoded again for distribution, and you never want to encode a compressed format twice. Things get real ugly real fast.

So, if you’ve scrolled all the way down to here, fly your geek flag proudly! And if you ever have any questions about anything audio, just call.

Brent Walker