My journey as an Audiophile

By February 15, 2022 No Comments

From paintings to videos, visuals dominate our perception of the world, but for an audiophile, it’s sound, from a metallic one to a baritone. Through my journey as a music buff, then a drummer, and finally audio engineer, I went through this thought like a broken tape recorder. Sight has its advantages. It is way easier to detect the different shades on their mobile screens than finding the audio frequencies that give the bass in Drum & Bass an extra thump. But that’s Audio’s charm, elusive like God but divine for those who finally make sense of it. Playing for a band at different venues made this point very evident. Bad micing, room modes & wrongly placed speakers showed me how tricky it is to get good sound, a letdown, primarily when you practiced for hours trying to master the challenging transition from the bridge to the chorus and back to the verse.

But when the sound guy did work his magic, it made me fuzzy inside, becoming good memories, surviving the ravages of time. The few instances of good sound inspired me to shift from working with CNC machines and machine drawings to audio engineering. Audio also took me to the UK’s metropolis: London. I was living alone for the first time away from my family.

I took in the sights of London’s lush green parks and also the sounds of people saying “ ain’t, I dunno.” My listening skills sharpened over the next year. Cables that previously stretched along the floor became more nuanced, with terms like TC & TRC entering my dictionary. But these learnings paled in comparison to the realization that some of the most extraordinary skills are acquired by doing mundane, repetitive tasks. Ear training can be a drag, especially if the old classic “ Girls just wanna have fun” is played over and over again, refreshing at the start, ear overload by the time you’re done. But the upside is that you focus more on tweaking sound rather than humming the melody or tapping the rhythm.

I told you audio is godlike, making audiophiles philosophers! The benefits of ear training were immediately clear during my first recording session, tuning drums, micing & equalizing. In hindsight, it is clear that I learnt more than the link between Girls and fun! Learning about placing microphones and signal flow was easy, but how do you deal with quirky musicians? Well turns out the starting point is again audio. Most budding musicians bring a lot of love for audio. As an audio engineer, you bring the love and building blocks of good sound. So if you can keep the jargon to a minimum and dial up the favorite artists and the epic aphorisms of Ravishankar or the Beatles, then it usually works out. Finally, you hit record and listen to the honey that pours out of the speakers after hours of buzzing around from microphone to microphone, checking the cables & signal levels.

A year whizzed by, and I was back in Bangalore. I was in the city of startups, not the City of Dreams, a mecca for audio engineers. But with a light nudge from my grandpa, I opened Decibel studios and started teaching audio to the few schools sprouting in Bangalore. From living in the Ideal, I moved to the real. What was the deadline? How to price our services? I also had the luxury to move back into my audio dream world through my lectures. Playing songs that I grew up on. Asking the young minds to critique the technical aspects of the songs instead of just saying, “ I like the guitars.” As an engineer and then audio engineer, I got to teach the more complex parts of audio like physics and acoustics. This matured my love for beautiful music to beautiful music spaces, i.e., acoustics. I took on a very tough course on Acoustics from the University of Salford. From just breaking audio into Hertz, I analyzed speaker design & Fourier transforms. Suddenly audio didn’t feel like it was a small aspect of life. I worked from convention centers to audiology labs, analyzing their acoustic properties and running simulations to predict how these spaces would sound even before the final coat of paint was applied. I’m excited to see where audio will take me next!

Sriram is an audio engineer and has an MSc in Acoustics from the University of Salford. He loves reading books and has a craving for sweets. He is based in Bangalore and his love for music is infinite. Apart from reading, he has authored a book titled Indogene: Stories of Indians Across the Globe. He is also interested in the German language, Anthropology, and Philosophy.

Click here for my Social media handles

InstagramTwitter  & FB

Leave a Reply