The Future of Home Studio Mastering
By Chris Burnett, MusicDish.com
Mastering is usually the final process in bringing
a recording project to life. Many artists have often experienced
the negative consequences of having their final mixed tracks mastered
incorrectly. Incorrectly mastered musical recordings result in extremely
unpleasant sonic experiences for the listener. Poor mastering detracts
from the actual music and often negates the glorious sounds that
were originally produced during the countless hours usually devoted
to perfecting the final version of each track.
Har-Bal Harmonic Balancer (www.har-bal.com)
is software that has solved this dilemma for the masses. Here is
an economical solution that also takes any guesswork out of the
complexities of frequency analysis with regard to recorded music
mastering. Another technical consideration that the software solves,
involves the inherent physical limitations of most mastering engineers
to physically detect certain tonal imbalances in certain frequency
Introduction To Harmonic Balancing
It is pretty well documented that prolonged periods
of listening to improperly mastered recordings usually leads to
hearing fatigue that ultimately takes the pleasure out of the listening
experience. Harmonic Balancing provides a reliable means of correcting
and removing the tonal imbalances inherent in any song, thus producing
a more naturally pleasing and agreeable sound to the listening ears.
Users of the software report that this new process has demonstrated
itself time after time in producing a harmonically balanced sound
from one that was wanting. When a song is Harmonically Balanced
they state that the effect can be phenomenal.
As an example of what sounds can be impacted by Harmonic
Balancing, consider this question: Have you ever been in a club
and found yourselves having to literally scream to talk to someone
sitting right next to you? Contrast this experience with those times
when the music is being played just as loud in volume as the first
example, and you never have to strain to speak or be heard.
The question presented in this situation is a typical
example of hearing mastered musical recordings where frequencies
exist that are in conflict with the natural sound spectrum. Listening
to a song that is improperly mastered is often an ultimately irritating
experience. Most of the time, in cases like this, the average listener
is totally unaware of the cause of such irritation.
How Harmonic Balancing Software Works
Har-Bal Harmonic Balancing software gives any mastering
engineer the unique ability to actually see these types of frequency
conflicts and initiate the proper steps to correct them. Harmonic
Balancing simply brings out more of what an artist wants to present
on a final record, without changing the overall song - this is also
the same goal for which the process of conventional multi-million
dollar studio mastering strives. Har-Bal
software simply brings this ability to the home studio engineer
as well, and at an economically affordable price.
Many artists today have access to recording production
tools and equipment. There are also countless artists who create
music that is on par with any being heard in the mainstream music
market of today. However, due to deficiencies in the quality of
most final mastered recordings, the music of many new artists is
often passed over for potential opportunities. An artist, whose
technical musical craft is developed to a professional quality,
may now consistently produce a recorded product that is technically
in keeping with the highest of standards in the recorded music industry.
With its ease of use (and integration) into most of
today's popular computer operating systems, Har-Bal
can quickly add the vital professional's touch to home studio produced
recordings, making the best possible sonic impression. With Har-Bal
you can literally create a harmonically balanced sound of unparalleled
quality one hundred percent of the time. With this software you
will be able to create original and re-mastered recordings that
rival the best mastering studios the world has to offer.
About the Software
is a commercial shareware software product. Being shareware you
can try out the software before you decide to pay for a registered
version. Trying out the software allows you to determine whether
it suits your needs and whether it runs correctly in your specific
environment. The shareware version of Har-Bal is a feature-restricted
version of the registered version. The functionality is identical
with the exception that no record function is provided and playback
is limited to 8-bit resolution. Har-Bal has been specifically designed
for use with the Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Me, Windows NT,
Windows 2000, and Windows XP operating systems.
FREE - Har-Bal™ Demonstration Version
About Har-Bal International
The current software is the result of a consolidated
effort from Paavo Jumppanen (Developer) and Earle Holder
(Engineer). As with many good ideas, Harmonic Balancing has its
origins in a number of life experiences leading up to seminal realizations.
However, the initial seed of the idea was planted by related research
work being done at the University of Tasmania. That research specifically
involved using homomorphic signal processing techniques in the analysis
of laser schlieren signals in transitional combustion flows.
The primary reference book on the subject of homomorphic
signal processing techniques (Digital Signal Processing by A. V.
Oppenheim & R.W. Schafer ISBN 0-13-214107-8) had a particularly
interesting section (10.7.3) giving an overview of homomorphic deconvolution
applied to the restoration of acoustic recordings. More specifically,
they were using the technique to remove the frequency response of
the recorded horn sounds from certain recordings of the noted singer,
The concept of Harmonic Balancing eventually developed
from the work done during this and other research. The concept proposed
to measure the mean spectrum of a recording in order to test the
quality of the sound through its spectrum and a listener perception
of the song; and if the quality is found to be lacking, construct
an equalization filter to correct for any of the sonic deficiencies.
Over a five-year period, the initial concepts of Harmonic Balancing
were eventually transformed from a concept into the reality of Har-Bal
Interview With Har-Bal International
Your product is another significant technological
breakthrough in the area of record production. How long have you
been offering your Harmonic Balancing software commercially?
[Earle Holder] Har-Bal
International officially went live on August 15th, 2003. Two
weeks prior, we offered only the demo version for clients to download.
The responses from our customers have been both positive and appreciative.
Earle Holder (Engineer) - HDQTRZ Digital Studios
You also have gained the respect and admiration
of your users because of the quality of your technical support.
What would you contribute to your success in servicing your software
[Earle Holder] We believe in plain old-fashioned
good customer service and providing our customers with the same
type of respect we would demand from any business. We allow ongoing
communications from our customers by way of our forums page as well
as a chat channel. This allows us to receive suggestions and provide
tips on an ongoing basis. It has been quite successful and is chocked
full of general knowledge. We try to answer all of our user's questions
regarding issues concerning recording and product use.
The software is currently available for all of
the Windows operating systems. Are there plans to expand the scope
of your product to include availability of Har-Bal to users of other
[Paavo Jumppanen] Yes, certainly. Our outlook
is cross platform and we don't swear allegiance to the Windows operating
system family. The fact that Har-Bal
began life as a Windows app is more a historical accident rather
than a firm marketing tenant. My professional background is principally
in Windows programming so it made sense to test the concept of Har-Bal
on the Windows platform. Now that we have firmly established the
concept we plan to port to both Linux and Mac OSX through the wxWindows
portable application framework. But as working with wxWindows will
be new territory for me, a port will take some time.
What is the role that each of the founders and
creators played in making the Har-Bal Harmonic Balancing software
a reality that many home studio engineers now benefit from?
Paavo Jumppanen (Developer/Engineer)
Jumppanen] Initially Har-Bal was a personal project that I commenced
to make good a large number of audio CD's in my collection that
I found very difficult to listen to. If only it was mixed and mastered
About 18 months ago I quietly made available a working
prototype of the first attempt of Har-Bal,
known as mEQ, which was available as a free beta on the web. That
version happened to be picked up by Earle some time later and he
expressed some interest in the idea. At that time, I had a complete
re-design of the concept under way and was in need of professional
input from a seasoned music industry professional, so I recruited
him as a beta tester and later as a business partner. Over the course
of a year we'd managed to transform the concept to reality.
Since formalizing our business relationship, my role
is essentially product development and customer support and Earle
handles marketing and customer support. But, along with our customer
base, we all have input into the future directions of the product
in one way or another.
Where is your company located and how can you be
[Earle Holder] We are an international company
located both in the US and Australia. This allows us to provide
immediate 24hr customer/tech support via email to everyone worldwide.
Email addresses are as follows firstname.lastname@example.org,
The telephone number is 770 469-1089, but we prefer to be contacted
via email. If everyone were calling us at once we would have to
hire full time staff just to answer the phones. We want to keep
our software costs down.
What are your current projects and goals with respect
to the Har-Bal mastering software?
[Paavo Jumppanen] We have many options in the
further development of Har-Bal. The current version is just a starting
point, not an end in itself. What it does well, EQ, will be the
central part of the software for the immediate future but although
it is pretty easy to use there is a whole lot more that we can do
to improve upon usability.
really lacks is the concept of a collection of tracks that make
up a composition, a project if you like. So a better version of
Har-Bal would have the ability to manage a collection of tracks
as a project with the filters for each track stored as part of that
project. Once you have the concept of a project with a track list
then the process of mastering an entire album can become that much
easier. Which track you will preview and design filters for will
be simple selection from your track list as would selecting a reference
from the compilation to perform tonal matching with. Once filters
are designed the entire compilation can be rendered in one operation
and the transition from one track to another can be automatically
"blended" to remove transition glitches in the case where the transition
from one track to the next is not a silent one.
the immediate future we intend to make the filter topology selectable
between linear phase and minimum phase, add a spectrogram summary
display of the entire track to visualize the thematic changes in
the track, add the ability to partition the track into its different
thematic regions so that each can be analyzed and filtered individually
and adding a live 1/3 octave display superimposed on top of the
averaged spectrum display to make it easier for users to see where
the difficult resonances lie.
These are just some of the ideas we are working on.
There are many more possibilities that I haven't touched upon too,
but that's another story.
Thank you for your time and consideration of this
article and interview.
[Earle Holder] It has been our pleasure. We
do hope our customers continue to enjoy the benefits that Har-Bal
has provided thus far and look forward to the future developments.
It has been a long road uphill and it really means a lot to us that
folks out there experience Har-Bal's fullest potential. Thank you
for interviewing us and allowing your readers to get an inside peek.
FREE - Har-Bal™ Demonstration Version
Har-Bal International - www.har-bal.com
HDQTRZ Digital Studios - www.hdqtrz.com
by the MusicDish
Network. Copyright © Tag
It 2003 - Republished with Permission