Here is a suite of recordings from the Pando aspen clone in central Utah. The recordings were made in July 2022 by Jeff Rice as part of an artist residency with the non-profit group Friends of Pando.

Recordings — Ecosystem Sound


I saw this new offering from Ableton: SPAT

Use SPAT’s audio localization technology to transform your mixes into binaural and transaural soundscapes. Create realistic-sounding spaces for your sounds to inhabit, or experiment endlessly with advanced panning algorithms and convincing psychoacoustic parameters.

SPAT Stereo | Ableton

On their website they have a couple of impressive examples of mixing with SPAT – always seems like the past tense of spit to me – India Song and En Mis Recuerdos. Have a listen! The sound stage is pretty amazing, especially on headphones. To me it sounds more immersive than my experience with Dolby Atmos on headphones. 

The SPAT software was developed at IRCAM, the famous French institute dedicated to the research of music and sound.

While I sometimes use Ableton Live I don’t ever mix with it, so I looked for a SPAT plugin for ProTools, which is my platform of choice. I found a website called Flux Audio that offered such a plugin. SPAT Revolution Essential looks like it could work for me. Have you had any experience with either the Ableton pack by Music Unit or the plugin by Flux?

I see there is a thirty day trial offer. That’s what I should do. 

Let me know if you have a bad reaction to the two song examples I linked to above. Some humans can’t stand Noise-Cancelling headphones, for example, and these convincing psychoacoustic sound spaces are no less head-tripping algorithms than noise-cancellation is.

I am listening to En Mis Recuerdos again in the morning, with fresh ears. I remember how awful some of the earliest algorithmic processes sounded. At least, I assume that’s what they were. Those buttons on a Sony boom box with a cassette player that would say Space or some such. Late Eighties, early Nineties, if I remember correctly. Sounded truly awful. This SPAT sounds different, much more interesting. 

Background Electrical Noise

Wow, this is some seriously impressive forensic work. Steve is going to dig this… :-)

Three men were accused of selling firearms to South London gangs. At their 2012 trial in Croydon Crown Court, the prosecution played the jury a recording, taken undercover, of the trio allegedly arranging a sale. But the men’s lawyers claimed that the recording was a fake, and that the police had fabricated it by splicing together clips taken at different times. To prove that the evidence really was authentic, the Metropolitan Police turned to a technique called electrical network frequency (ENF) matching.
How to date a recording using background electrical noise | Robert Heaton

Sound Mind

I have been listening to Of Sound Mind, by Nina Kraus. The subtitle is How Our Brain Constructs a Meaningful Sonic World. I borrowed the audiobook because it was readily available while there was a considerable waiting list for the ebook. The audiobook is read expertly, but with a little too much drama for my taste, and I wonder whether I would have enjoyed reading the book more.

Link to a NPR piece.
Link to an 8′ audio piece on the book, also on NPR
Link to Brainvolts, the lab Nina Kraus leads.

In my opinion this book establishes beyond any doubt that music needs to be taught in every school. Playing music, with or without talent, improves everything, from motor control to visual correlation, to sound and speech decoding, group action etc. etc.

One remarkable story followed a group of Benedictine Monks who, after a Vatican edict, were ordered to stop chanting. They became unhappy and physically unwell, and some became sick. When the edict was overturned, and the monks started chanting again, these effects were reversed.

I found especially fascinating that the pathways between the ears and brain are two way streets, something I had long wondered about. This means that the pathways don’t just transport information gathered by the ears to the brain, but that the brain also sends instructions to the ear. The brain can for examples turn the volume down, by literally telling the tiny hairs that collect the sound to be less excited, or tune the ears to particular frequencies.

Highly recommended book.