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Jay Rose

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About Jay Rose

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    Boston US
  • Interested in Sound for Picture
  • About
    Sound designer and industry author. Member CAS and AES. Humor, articles, and studio info at www.dplay.com.

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  1. Jay Rose

    Laurel v Yanni explained!

    What a horribly inefficient way to do that, particularly since different people heard different versions of the 'carrier'. If someone wanted to bury subliminal messages, they could use the same masking algorithm that Nielsen uses to bury computer codes under songs on the radio, so their sample ratings listeners can wear devices that ignore the music and track the codes. The code -- if you strip away the music -- sounds like a fax call. But nobody hears it that way. If it's turned up high enough that it actually competes with the music, people hear it as distortion on the song.
  2. Jay Rose

    Laurel v Yanni explained!

    Well heck, if we're doing conspiracies: What if Dictionary.com deliberately munged Jones' original recording through a vocoder, and told the high school student to try it, as a way to build buzz and brand recognition! Or what if the CIA secretly replaced every computer audio app with dual-channel capability, and both are being broadcast. Then a randomizer in the client computer determines what mix will be sent to the speakers! Or what if... it's... ALIENS!!!* --- * That would explain the extra head resonances that don't exist in a human.
  3. Jay Rose

    Laurel v Yanni explained!

    Okay. I got today's recording of Jones saying "Laurel" and "Yanni". In fact, he said "Laurel" twice... once as an announcer, and then again in conversation. The results are what... ahem... I said earlier in this thread: It's not a faithful representation of Jones' (or anyone's) voice. It's a non-human distortion added either by Dictionary.com's compression, or by their speech synthesizer (which if they're using, they do seem to have trained with Jones' recordings). The proof is in the spectrogram. First, the ambiguous "Laurel/Yanni" from Dictionary.com, as widely reported. Then Jones' studio interview on NPR, where he says "Laurel" as a narrator... then also says both words in conversation during the interview. The ambiguous computer version has strong activity above 1.5k, which doesn't appear in either of the Jones "Laurels". There's a bit of activity up there in his "Yanni", which is normal... but nowhere near what the computer is doing. The computer also has very little around 200 Hz, even though it's present in both Jones' "Laurels" and not in his "Yanni". Bottom line: the computer version has some sonic characteristics of both words, and is missing others. The brain is left with no alternative but to guess what the actual word is. And anyone who claims that the Dictionary.com version is supposed to be Laurel is wrong... as demonstrated by the actor they claim recorded it. Attached is the file I used to generate that spectrogram. Feel free to try your own experiments. DictComJonesNPR.flac
  4. Jay Rose

    Laurel v Yanni explained!

    UPDATE: I just downloaded the NPR story, and Jones is on a studio mic (either at NPR or via ISDN; it doesn't matter). So I'll process the clip and post. I'm leaving my original request up for completeness. Hi, all. This is a request for help... NPR and some other media are reporting that the laurel/yanni voice is Jay Aubrey Jones, who was an out-of-work actor when Dictionary.com first set up, and took a gig saying thousands of words for them. (Interestingly, the NPR story says he didn't recognize his own voice, and had to be told by a Dictionary.com producer that it was him. Which possibly suggests he was replaced by a speech synthesizer, which would be a lot more efficient on their servers... but I can't blame the site for wanting to milk the story and create more buzz. It's been very good for them.) In any event, NPR hasn't posted audio yet. Nor has anybody else. What I'm looking for is Jones being interviewed now, and inevitably asked to say "Laurel" for the mic. Then I can isolate it, normalize to my other samples, and compare his spectra with the meme version. It would be very interesting, particularly since I can't even imagine how an American English speaker would create the combination "Laur / Yann" syllable. Too many different simultaneous resonances. If you can find a clip, please post it here or email me with it. If the Jones interview is via POTs line, we should still be okay: a lot of the ambiguous energy is under 3.5k. I'll treat the meme to match. If the Jones interview is via a modern cell, it might be dicey... most cells now use vocoding, and I don't know if the number of formant channels is limited. We'll see. I do know that modern cells go nuts if they try to carry two people saying different things simultaneously. Anyway, if I can get the sample, I'll post the results. Maybe we can shut down another shoot like osa did. 😊
  5. Jay Rose

    Laurel v Yanni explained!

    Obviously, Twitter's Laurel doesn't like a certain new-age musician...
  6. Jay Rose

    Laurel v Yanni explained!

    For completeness, here's the audio file I used to generate that spectrogram. You can open it in Audacity if you don't have any other flac software. (And you can generate a spectrogram in Audacity as well, though I used BlueCat.) LauralLaural.flac
  7. Jay Rose

    Laurel v Yanni explained!

    That's precisely my point. The computer wasn't pronouncing "Laurel". It may have been asked to do that, but it was pronouncing a jumble containing parts of both words. This spectrogram is, left to right, the computer's pronunciation (courtesy of NY Times, which I'm pretty sure they got from Twitter), then a human saying Laurel and Yanni. The human is me, at my desk just now, wearing an E6 with no processing. The clips were pretty much normalized (as ref the fundamental ~ 100Hz). Note how the computer's Laurel has stuff around 2k - 3k that isn't in the human version but is in the human Yanni. Note also some Yanni-like harmonics (formants) in the computer's Laurel ~ 500 Hz. I'd guess the student who discovered this actually found a bug in the speech synthesizer, but a fascinating one in terms of speech perception. Of course I can't guarantee it's a bug... it might have been a feature, or possibly a mistake in the dictionary software that was calling the synthesizer.
  8. Jay Rose

    Laurel v Yanni explained!

    Hobbiesodd, thanks for the link. It's an interesting article. I take issue with the reporter's claim that the file actually says "Laurel". According to the spectrogram, what it says is what one particular (IMHO malformed) piece of software synthesized for that text... not the sound a human would (or even probably could, without re-engineering the vocal tract) create when speaking. But I'm glad Wired and the NYTimes (and late night comedians) are calling attention to actual speech science. Phonetics is, as far as I'm concerned, both a theoretical basis and a fast, efficient strategy for dialog editing.
  9. Jay Rose

    Laurel v Yanni explained!

    Dalton, it sure is. Unlike Shepard Tones and MaxxBass and stuff like that, though, this seems to be an issue of language perception... and how unexpected combinations of formants can drive the mechanism crazy, The spectrograms are particularly revealing. Thought experiment: Today's audio tech relies on masking for things ranging from mp3 to Nielsen radio ratings to Dolby Digital. But is it a psychoacoustic phenomenon or an chemical/time characteristic of the mechanism? Does it happen in the mind, or in the impulses that get to the mind?
  10. New York Times has an excellent technical explanation of this week's acoustic 'blue dress / gold dress' meme, with an interactive tool that lets you simulate different listening/auditory conditions. https://nyti.ms/2L4DQJO The original issue is, I believe, due to a badly implemented speech synthesizer. But there's a lesson in there for all of us, about the importance of accurate recording / equalization / monitoring.
  11. Jay Rose

    Department of Uselessness?

    Thank you, Dutch. That's a great picture! Dfisk, I had to provide online content with my book, but mostly because of Amazon. My previous books included a Redbook CD with tutorials and diagnostics, and then Amazon (with the publisher, but without telling me) decided to release a Kindle. No CD, no embedded audio files, nothing. And there are references to the tracks throughout each chapter. So on this one, I put all the files on the web: hi-bit mp3 where appropriate, lossless APPL where needed. But I maintain the website, not the publisher. And the key for each directory is an easy-to-locate word or phrase from the relevant chapter... so it's usable whether the book is print or Kindle, new or used.
  12. Jay Rose

    The "Less Suck" Fader

    Wasn't Les Suck the guy who invented overdubs?
  13. Jay Rose

    Department of Uselessness?

    No, but since you're a frequent buyer and former editor, I'd be glad to give you free bloviating consultation on any sound problems that come up in your productions. Which, somehow, I don't think you'll have.
  14. My publisher has just released Producing Great Sound in a hardcover edition. Apparently the paperback been popular enough at film schools that their libraries are asking for more rugged versions. The text is exactly the same as the paperback and Kindle editions, and it has the same online tutorials and diagnostic files. But it costs about 5x as much. (It's a very nice binding, and they kept the glossy cover photograph of G. John Garrett CAS holding a boom on the Alaskan tundra.) I'm not sure how I feel about this. It's flattering, but textbooks are too expensive already. That's why I specified a reasonably priced paperback and electronic edition when we negotiated the contract. If you feel really compelled to buy the hardcover, I'd suggest you buy five copies of the paperback and give them to friends... unless you're a library or institution, and need the more rugged binding.
  15. Jay Rose

    Favorite Plug-Ins for Post

    Oh yeah. The dialog isolate module uses a new principle for audio software, Neural Networks. It can do things that multiband expanders can only dream about. Also check the winter CAS Quarterly. I've got an article on what these things are doing under the hood.