TrainYourEars 2.0 (TYE) is a clean, simple application for Mac and Windows that can teach you to listen for EQ adjustments in sound, to help you zero in on your frequencies as you’re mixing.
It’s a simple one window affair, easy on the eyes, with 3 steps to training.
1) Decide where the music will come from. You can either drag and drop tracks onto the audio player window, you can use two different types of noise (pink and white), or you can use it in a live mode, where it plays whatever’s going through the sound card (you can choose devices, channels, levels etc, and there’s a tutorial if you’re not too sure how to go about it)
2) Check your sound card is set up right, decide what shortcuts to use on the keyboard if you don’t want to use a mouse, route the software through any monitor plugins you might be using (Headphone emulators, or room correction, if you’re using that), choose from a list of preset tests, or design your own (more on that later)
3) Start training!
Once you begin your training, it’s just one test at a time, and you reset. TYE keeps a tally of whether you’re correct or not, and gives a percentage score of the last 50 tests, so you’ve got a good idea of how good you are/how much you’ve improved.
TrainYourEars comes loaded with 13 example tests, which are perfect to get you up and running. Starting at the top is the simplest; guess basic band boost and cuts, where the sound is played, and one of 7 EQ bands shown is boosted or cut.
You can flick between the original sound, and the EQ’d sound, and gradually hone in with your ears on what has changed. raise or lower the band you think has changed, and hit solution. You can see with a graphic EQ image in the top right hand corner the correct solution and your answer.
Once the answer is up, you hit ‘reset’ button, and away you go again. TYE logs every test, and the percentage will change accordingly.
That first test is straightforward; the boosts and cuts are a massive 12DB, and the frequency bands are widely spaced from 125 to 8000Hz. You log your guess, and done. The second test is the same, but you have to correct the signal back to the original source, so if it’s cut at 125, for example, you need to boost to bring it back. Slightly harder…
And so on. Not only does TYE test simple frequency band boosts and cuts, it tests shelves, band pass filter, resonant filters (like on a synth), and also the way an entire 5 or 7- band graphic EQ would affect the sound. It quickly becomes apparent that TYE has the potential to upset anyone who thinks they can hear the slightest eq adjustments! If that’s not hard enough, you can quickly find your listening weaknesses, and then design and save your own tests to improve those skills. With the test designer, you can choose what parameters are going to be altered, and can make it as simple or as difficult as you like. At the most difficult end, you can be trying to decipher up to 10 changes from 28 different frequency bands from 20Hz to 20kHz, 12 different volume levels (+3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18 and the same levels in the opposite direction), 6 Q-factors, and 6 different filter types, all in the same test. I would suggest that would be nigh on impossible for anyone to get 100% right. So there’s room for everyone to grow!! At the simplest end, you could select two bands that are adjusted either 18DB gain or cut. Once you’ve edited your exercise, you simply save, and start training yourself. TYE does the rest.
Using the built-in audio player, I particularly liked the various options available within it. You can add a bunch of music at once, loop specific sections, randomise which song comes up and even play it in mono. All very useful. Here’s a video from the makers showing you exactly how it works:
As a mix engineer, it’s important to keep learning; keep improving on your skill set. EQ is one of the most important skills a mix engineer needs to dedicate time to master. And it’s extremely fast with TrainYourEars 2nd version.
TrainYourEars is simple to use, but much more flexible than other training software I’ve used, coming with different variations and complexities of ear training which is both useful for the beginner and the expert.
I love the fact you can design your own exercises, so once you’ve mastered the beginning set of 13, you can devise your own test, and make it as devilishly hard as you like. I used it half an hour a day for a week solid, and I was shocked at how improved my listening skills were at the end of that week. Whether it will ruin my ability to just listen to music for enjoyment, we’ll have to see! But as a mix engineer it’s an incredible tool.
Highly recommended. If you’re not convinced by my review, take it from the dozens of prestigious universities that use it to train their students.
The price has just been reduced to 49 euros, roughly $50. For more information, see here.
Composer/Producer, and keyboard player. He has written and recorded soundtracks for a wide variety of media and co-owns DOsounds.com with Jake Owen, a music production company that gives him an excuse to buy more analog gear.