Featured KRK User Dr. Daniel Levitin
Daniel Levitin's career in music is very diverse, with Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder, Santana, Chris Isaak, the Grateful Dead and Blue Oyster Cult among the musical artists he has worked with as a producer, recording engineer and sound designer. Additionally, he has also worked with artists as diverse as Mel Tormé and Sting. The soundtracks he has contributed to include Good Will Hunting, The Crow: City of Angels and the award-winning Architects of Victory. He has also served in different capacities for various record companies.
What's most interesting about Levitin's life and work, though, is that many people know him as Daniel Levitin, Ph.D., a cognitive psychologist, neuroscientist and professor of psychology and behavioral neuroscience at McGill University in Montreal. He is also a writer and an author with many books to his name, most notably the best-selling and critically acclaimed This Is Your Brain On Music: The Science of a Human Obsession, which spent 12 months on the New York Times bestseller list.
Whether he's dealing with a recording project or a musical study, accuracy is key to Levitin's work. It makes sense, then, that he uses KRK Expose E8B and V12 Subwoofer KRK monitors. Currently he is involved in two projects where KRK monitors are central. "One of the projects is to map the landscape of people's preferences for music," he says. "We're trying to understand why people like the music they like and what different factors influence that. The room where we conduct the study has been tuned by special acousticians just for the KRK monitors. We've designed a listening room in the laboratory that looks something like a living room. It's got a comfortable chair, curtains and carpeting; it doesn't look like a laboratory at all. This is a very demanding environment for any monitor because we're asking people to make very subtle discriminations in experiments that are running around the clock. The KRK monitors were more accurate and rich from 20-40 Hz and 11,000-22,000 Hz. There was no comparison between them and other speakers we had in here."
Superior-quality monitors were even more crucial to Levitin's second study. "The other project I am involved in is trying to understand more about different playback formats," he says. "In technical terms, we're looking to see if people can hear the difference between MP3s and CDs, and between CDs and some of the emerging audiophile formats. We required monitors with especially accurate response in the lowest and highest octaves. What we've found in using other monitors is that the lowest octave and the highest octave of human hearing weren't being well represented by most other products."
As Levitin explains, the KRK monitors' high and low ends lend themselves to these critical experiments. "We brought in the KRK monitors and a number of other monitors, some of which cost twice as much," he says. "Then, we took systematic measurements with our B&K spectrum analyzer. Along with using our ears, we took measurements of what the speakers were outputting. After convening a panel of expert listeners, we chose the KRK monitors."
With so many projects going on and students accessing a small recording studio equipped with KRK monitors, Levitin, his staff and students often listen to music for many hours at a time. "From having used the KRK monitors myself and from what the students tell me, the KRK monitors are easy to listen to for long periods of time without getting ear fatigue.
"With the KRK monitors, we're getting a much more accurate and rich top end and low end. Those outer ranges of music are where a lot of the life of the music is. It's where the fundamental frequency of the lowest note on the piano and the lowest note on the bass is and we weren't getting that before. We were just getting the overtone, but now we're getting the actual note. I can't emphasize enough that we weren't hearing it before. On the high end, we're hearing the overtones. We're hearing the wonderful natural overtones of splash cymbals, violins, pianos, horns: an entire octave of music we weren't getting out of other monitors."