Thursday, September 29, 2011

DIY High-End Headphones

I know that "high-end" and "headphones" don't necessarily deserve to be in the same sentence, but I thought this was interesting. There's a guy who does a mode on some rather run of the mill Fostex T-50 headphones (like the ones that many studios use) that supposedly turns them into something "high-end" (there's that word again). Here's a review from Head-Fi TV about the modified T-50's with a new name - Thunderpants.

You can find out more about the mod on this website.



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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Pick Punch

I can't decide if this product is a good idea or not. It's called the Pick Punch, and it allows you to make guitar picks by punching out your old credit cards. I suppose if you had other sources of plastics, you could make picks from different thicknesses as well. It's about $40 on Amazon. You could buy a lot of your preferred picks for that amount, or even get some custom one's made, but then all those old credit cards would go to waste.

Guitar players, what do you think?

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

William Shatner Is Iron Man!

Whether you love or hate him, Bill Shatner is interesting. Here's a behind the scenes look at him recording Black Sabbath's seminal "Iron Man." He's actually singing (sort of)! The song his from his new album Seeking Major Tom.

What I really want to point here is the mic technique used by the engineer. Notice how the mic is placed above the lips slightly point down? That's the best way to prevent plosives. Also notice that the body of the mic is above the capsule. That's not so important for a condenser mic with solid state electronics, but for tube mics it's a necessity to keep the heat from changing the sound of the diaphragm.

Enjoy.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

6 Audio Products That Need To Be Invented

I got to thinking about the pro audio products I'd like to see invented after reading a similar story on home theater audio. When you think about it, we've all gotten pretty comfortable with technology that no one could ever consider as cutting edge. Even though core recording products exist in the following areas, there's plenty of room for growth. Let's take a look at a pie-in-the-sky wish list:

1. A new speaker technology. We've been listening to recorded and reinforced sound with the same technology for about 100 years now. Sure, the loudspeaker has improved and evolved, but it's still the weakest link in the audio chain. What we need is a new loudspeaker technology that improves the listening experience and takes sonic realism to the next level.

2. A new microphone technology. Something is seriously wrong when the best and most cherished microphones that we use today were made 50 years ago. Just like loudspeakers, the technology has improved and evolved over the years, but it's basically the same in that it's still based around moving a diaphragm or ribbon through a magnetic field or changing the electrical charge between two plates (that's a condenser mic, if you didn't know). There has to be a new technology that takes a giant leap to getting us closer to realism than what we have now.

3. Get rid of the wires. Studios have been pretty successful at reducing the amount of wiring in the last 10 years or so, but there's still too much. We need to eliminate them completely. Think how much different your studio would be with wireless speakers, microphones, connections to outboard gear, etc. Much of this is possible today, but the real trick is to make the signal transmission totally lossless with zero interference.

4. The ultimate work surface. Here's the problem. Engineers love to work with faders and knobs. The problem is that faders and knobs take up space, which changes the room acoustics, and which are expensive to implement. When the faders and knobs are reduced to banks of 8, it gets confusing switching between all the banks needed during a large mix. What we need is a work surface that takes this hybrid to the next level, giving the engineer enough faders and knobs to do the job, yet making it totally easy to look at the banks underneath or above. I realize that the bank concept has been implemented on digital consoles for years, but there's no way to actually view what those other banks are unless you call one up. There has to be a better way.

5. The ultimate audio file format. I've done experiments recording the same instrument at 48k, 96k, and 192k and I can tell you unequivocally that the 192kHz recording won hands down. It wasn't even close. Consider this - the ultimate in digital is analog! In other words, the higher the sample rate, the closer to analog it sounds. We need a universal audio format with a super high sample rate that can easily scale to a lower rate as needed. Yes, I realize it's a function of the hardware, but lets plan for the future, people.

6. The ultimate storage device. Speaking of the future, there are a lot of behind-the-scenes audio people that are quietly scared to death that the hard drives and SSD's of today won't be playable tomorrow. Just as Zip and Jazz drives had their brief day in the sun, how would you like to have your hit album backed up onto a drive that nobody can read? That's a more real possibility of that happening than you might know. We need a storage format that is not only robust and protected, but has a lifespan akin to analog tape (tapes from 60 years ago still play today; some sound as good as the day they were recorded). We just can't guarantee the same with the storage devices we use today.

What are your thoughts? Any other products that are needed?
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Help support this blog. Any purchases made through our Amazon links help support this website with no cost to you.

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tips For Getting A Gig

I've given tips on how to get gigs both as a studio musician and on the road as a sideman in excerpts from The Studio Musician's Handbook and The Touring Musician's Handbook. Now UK session player Bob Knight provides a bit of reinforcement during a recent interview on the excellent musiccoaching.com blog.
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"The most important thing for me, talent aside, is finding musicians that understand the music. It sounds flippant. But I’m not a fan of the gospel chops approach of playing higher, faster, louder, better. I think a lot of people don’t really grow out of that. I’ve seen so many people blow auditions by getting their chops out, because they feel that they need to prove they can play rather than just play the song. The majority of things I book are song based. So, chops aren’t that important. You need to have a  degree of facility or technique beyond the music you’re playing, but that’s kind of a given. We all studied lots of things we don’t necessarily need so they would open up our musical vocabulary.

Personally, I’m really looking for people with ears, people with a good attitude and people who go the extra mile when the paycheck doesn’t necessarily dictate that they have to. I want them to want to go that extra mile because they care about turning in a good performance. Obviously, budgets these days are a real fight. I’m also looking for people who are socially aware and know how to behave in front of an artist and with other musicians. And because I’m a drummer, I’m always looking for the feel.

From a non-musical perspective, I need people to be punctual, always. You can never be the last in the lobby. You should always strive to be the first for a bus call, a lobby call or a sound check. To turn up last, a minute before the call time and say, “I’m here on time” really isn’t good enough for me. Specific timings are set out by tour managers as the latest you can arrive, not the time you should arrive; because there’s something that can go wrong – public transport or your own private transport, etc. If people are late for me, I usually give them a three strikes option. And on the third strike, they get fired. I’ve seen it through on a couple occasions, and it’s not particularly pretty. I don’t think people think you’re actually going to do it. But in a professional environment, music can be a bit deceptive:  it feels quite social; everyone is getting on; you’re not in an office. I think sometimes people forget they’re at work, and they think they can take a lot of liberties.

Of course, maintenance of equipment and general personal hygiene, etc., as ridiculous as it sounds, are all really important. You don’t want guys coming on tour with a toothbrush and one shirt when you’re away for six weeks. But you’d be amazed."

Read the entire interview here. 
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Help support this blog. Any purchases made through our Amazon links help support this website with no cost to you.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.

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