Har-Bal 3.0 Guide

Har-Bal 3.0 Guide

Postby har-bal » Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:46 am

Har-Bal 3.0 Guide


Har-Bal version 3.0 is the next release of Har-Bal which introduces the new paradigm of track splitting and unique filtering applied to the splits. It is a release to illustrate the power of the approach as the filtering aspects of the application are functioning correctly.

Using Har-Bal version 3.0
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1) When first run make sure you select an output device and output channels for the output device. Do so by opening the Driver Options dialog box by clicking on the Options/Driver menu item.

2) Open a track you wish to work on. Har-Bal will then do a comprehensive analysis of the track and display the full track spectrum and time line on completion.

3) Play the track through with real time trace active and listen for strong resonances. They should be obvious from the real time trace. Also pay attention to the structure of the track.

4) With knowledge in (3) create splits for the track along track structural lines. To create a split click and drag the time line cursor to the point you wish to split at and then press CTRL + S while the mouse button is still depressed. Doing so will create a split marker in the bottom bar of the time line display. Don't worry about being too accurate at this stage as you can move the split points later.

If you want a more detailed view press and hold the SHIFT key down while dragging a selection box on the time line (i.e. dragging the time line cursor) over the region of interest. When you release the mouse button the time line will zoom into that extent. The top bar schematically shows the region of the track in view. You can drag the blue bar left or right to move the track view to a different region accordingly (behaves like a scroll bar).

I find a good way to find the right split point location is to set the track playing and scroll the timeline cursor to the location you think it should be and then release it. On releasing it playback will continue from that point. By hearing how the playback sounds you can easily figure out if you have the right location. If you do, then just add the CTRL+S to your click to create the split point.

If you need to move the split point click and hold the left mouse button down on the split marker. The split marker will initially show as selected and then switch to "move" mode where the track cursor synchronizes with the split marker. Now move the marker by dragging the mouse left or right. When you release the mouse button the split point is changed to the new location.

If you need to delete a split point select it and press the delete key. If you have selected a split point and want to deselect it click it again or press the escape key.

5) Now that you have the split point chosen, take a look at the average spectrum for each segment in your track. You do so by simply clicking on the segment you wish to view on the bottom bar in the time line control. When you do so, the timeline will zoom in to the range of that segment and display the spectrum for that segment. It will also display the selected bar in blue to indicate it is selected. To go back to the overall view press the "double arrow" zoom all button on the right hand side of the time line view.

6) Design appropriate filter responses for the selected segments to obtain the desired sound. Do so in the same manner as with Har-Bal 2.3. A particularly useful technique is to re-use responses. For example, a track may have a structure verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, verse. It is advantageous to re-use the filter for the verse sections and chorus sections to get a consistent sound. This can be easily done using the New Filter dialog box.

First design the filter response for the first verse. Then select the first verse as a reference segment. Do so by clicking and dragging the mouse from the "R" button on the right hand side of the timeline to the desired segment. Then select the next verse filter for editing and press the "new filter" toolbar button and select the "create a filter for the selected segment based on a reference segment" option.

7) When you've completed filter designs for all segments try playing it through. You'll probably find you need to fine tune your design to maintain a consistent tonality to the track. If there are inconsistencies they will be obviously audible when transitioning from one filter to another. It is useful to use the frequency response view and segment referencing to determine why transitions are poorly implemented. Another useful thing to consider is where the split is located. Moving a split slightly one way or another can help mask and obvious transition.

8) When the individual splits sound consistent you can apply overall fine tuning to the track with the "outer" filter. Doing LF shelving is one obvious use for the outer filter. The outer filter is also useful for adding some air. Try adding some and see what effect it has. The effect is subtle but pleasing though I'd recommend not going over about 30% as it will start to detract from the sharpness of the imaging in the recording. The extra capacity in the feature is there for "effects" usage.

9) Other things to note is that each segment has four filters - left, right, mid and side, all of which can be adjusted independently. You select which one you are going to adjust by the drop down list box just below the time display. Be aware that Air and Gain settings are common to all filters in a given segment.

Out of interest, the Air feature is implemented with a cross-coupled filter that synthesizes a diffuse diffusion response in the Haas zone (i.e. 50ms or less impulse response duration).

The histogram view shows the probability of a given level within a time frame for the track. Time frames are nominally 50ms duration. The peak histogram applies to the peak levels in each time and the average is the RMS level for the time frames. The bin width is 1dB. This view is particularly useful to figure out how much gain you can apply to a track without unduly clamping down on the dynamics. You see this in the space available between the peak in the peak level histogram and the right hand side of the graph.

Finally, you should also be aware that the complexity of the filter design makes realizing the filters computationally taxing. As such, it takes a significant amount of time to realize a filter change before it becomes audible. The status bar has an indicator that indicates whether the filter is up to date or not. If green it is up to date, if red it is being updated.


PS – Har-Bal 3 creates a number of different files for a given track. They are:

.hba - analysis file
.hbf - filter file
.hbfb - base filter file (basically a blank filter)
.hbfs - filter spectrum file
.hbfr - filter realization file
.hbir - impulse response file

A filter design is encapsulated in the .hbf file. All other files may be deleted without losing the design and they will be re-created when needed.

Har-Bal Player requires the .hbfr file to play a track. It is generally a pretty compact file so it is good for "internet transfers".
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