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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Peer-To-Peer File Sharing Drastically Decreasing

Peer-to-peer file sharing is falling out of favor quickly, according a new report from Arbor Networks, a network-management firm used by more than 70 percent of the world’s top ISPs. In fact, it's falling out of favor so fast that the report declares that P2P is just about dead to ISPs.

“Globally P2P is declining and it is declining quickly,” said Craig Labovitz, the chief scientist at Arbor Networks in a preview of a paper of findings from data collected by Arbor Networks from its customers. Arbor’s Atlas net monitoring tool analyzed traffic from 110 different ISPs on nearly 3,000 routers for a total of 264 exabytes of traffic (an exabyte is about a billion gigabytes). The company’s insight into the net’s core is probably only rivaled the data dug up by the spooks at the NSA, but they're not talking, of course.

According to its sensors, peer-to-peer traffic still accounts for about 18 percent of all net traffic, but was as high as 40 percent in 2007, according to Labovitz.

So what's replaced all that P2P traffic? Streaming video from sites like and YouTube, and download sites like RapidShare and MegaUpload that offer simple download hosting for files of all kinds, with premium and ad-supported accounts now make up the difference.

The fact is, it's easier than ever to get music on the Internet without having to resort to P2P and the possible litigation from the RIAA that using it might bring. Sites like GrooveShark get you just about any song that you want for free as a stream, and as subscription services like MOG and Spotify edge ever closer to mass acceptance (not to mention the threat of a future iTunes subscription service), P2P for downloading music will soon be a thing of the past.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

How To Find The "Sweet Spot" - The Ideal Microphone Position

How do you find the ideal position to place the microphone on an instrument? This position is sometimes called the “sweet spot”, and it means different things to different engineers. For some, it's the spot with the most balanced, natural sound. For others, it's the spot that sounds larger than life, but not necessarily lifelike. Either way, finding it is actually a pretty simple process but surprisingly not taught that much. So here's the simple way to find the sweet spot on virtually any instrument with any kind of microphone.
  • To correctly place an omni-directional microphone, cover one ear and listen with the other. Move around the player or sound source until you find the spot that sounds best for your tastes and needs. Even though omni’s aren’t really used that much in modern recording (especially when you’re just learning), you’d be surprised at the results that you can get from them since they have a lot of positive properties (like no proximity effect and flat response). I was once consistently hired by a producer to record vocals because he loved the vocal sound I was getting for him. My secret - I always had the mic (an original Neumann U-87) switched to omni!
  • To place a cardioid microphone, cover one ear and cup your hand behind the other and listen. Move around the player or sound source until you find the spot that sounds best. Your cupped ear simulates the way a directional mic hears. You’ll notice that the frequency response is altered somewhat, so keep in mind that’s usually what a directional mic is hearing as well.
  • To place a stereo pair, cup hands behind both ears. Move around the player or sound source until you find the spot that sounds best.
Before you start swapping gear, know that the three most important factors in getting the sound you want are microphone position, mic position and mic position.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

New Study: Adult Women Love Their Online Music

In a new Nielsen NetView study, women made up 56.1% of the traffic to music sites in August, which was about 42.5 million unique female visitors.

What was surprising, though, was that the female traffic was not just teenage girls like in so many years past. The study shows that women age 35 to 60 now comprise about 1/3rd of the visitors to music sites, with women ages 35 to 49 making up the largest group. More than 14.5 million women within that demo visited online music sites in August or 19.2% of all male or female visitors to music sites during the month.

Surprisingly, only 15.6% of females in the U.S. 18 or older said they purchased music online within the past six months, but another 16% said they bought music offline during the same span, according to the Nielsen@Plan Fall 2009 Survey. What was even more of a surprise, only a bit more than 8% of women watched or listened to music online.

Their choice of sites was also a surprise. The top two sites visited by women for the month of August were AOL Music (11.8 million unique visitors) and Yahoo Music (9.9 million), while MSN Music was a distant third with a unique audience of 3.9 million. Where was iTunes, I wonder?

What these surveys really tell us is that the age of consumer measurement is truly upon us, and as that measurement becomes more mature, we're seeing trends that never could have been predicted. The old advertising adage of "Only 50% of advertising works - you just don't know which 50%." may become a thing of the past as Internet measurement comes into its own.

Monday, October 12, 2009

JamHub - A Revolution In Rehearsing?

As I've said in previous posts and in some of my books, some of the best rehearsals I ever had when I was playing in bands were done acoustically in a band member's living room or bedroom. The only way that you can successfully pull this off is if the band has been playing with each other for enough time so that they're pretty tight. But now comes a new product that could make these types of rehearsals a lot easier to do and a lot more efficient as well.

The product is called JamHub "The silent rehearsal studio" and it provides each band member with their own headphone mixer so that each player and/or singer can hear a mix of the other players that he controls himself. Each band member plugs into JamHub either by an XLR or phone input jack or both (the drummer would have to be on electronic drums or a miked pad), and then creates a personal mix of up to 7 players (depending upon the model). What's especially cool is that each player can plug in both their instrument and vocal mic at the same time. There's even built-in effects and an input and output for recording on the $299 (street price) model, with the $699 model additionally has a built-in solid state recording complete with a click!

This is pretty much a new musical device category since there's nothing on the market exactly like it, so it's exciting for a lot of different reasons. It's the first really new type of product to come around in a long time, and it should have the same effect on rehearsing that personal mixers had in the recording studio. Up until the use of personal mixers like Aviom and Hearback became widespread, headphone mixes derived from the control room were the bane of everyone in the studio. The players usually hated them, and producers, engineers and assistants were driven crazy because the players hated their mix and the sound of their phones. You rarely hear a peep out of players in the studio now that personal mixers have become a studio standard.

I expect something like that to happen with JamHub. The unit should make it easy for a lot of bands to get in a great rehearsal without having to actually crank it up. While you still have to play at stage volume from time to time, with JamHub there's no longer an excuse for not rehearsing because you can't book the rehearsal room. And because you can set up your own mix, everyone's performance should improve as well.

While I haven't actually played with a unit yet, I can really see the possibilities. I'll be happy to report if the JamHub lives up to my expectations when I get my hands on one.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

An AES Show 2009 Overview From Afar

While I wasn't able to attend the AES convention in New York City this year, I did get multiple reports on what's hot.

This looks to be one of the smallest attendance in recent memory although it appeared crowded because the show was limited to only 8 rows of exhibitors and few demo rooms. There were almost no large sound reinforcement speaker demos because it's just too darned expensive to ship large arrays these days. And DAW powerhouse Digidesign (now Avid) didn't even exhibit, choosing instead to take a couple of suites in a hotel across the street (much to chagrin of AES).

Most veteran attendees of the show seemed to be disappointed, while the new to the business marveled at all the gear. Everyone seemed to like the various panels and sessions, with the ones with Kevin Killen, Chris Lord Alge, Bruce Swedien and recording The Beatles garnering the most praise.

As has been the trend of the last half dozen years, there hasn't been a product or technology that was the overwhelming hit of the show. Everything was evolutionary instead of revolutionary once again.

That being said, the Novation Launchpad seemed to get the most interest, followed by new ribbon microphones by Audio Technica and Shure. Another trend that actually looks to be a good one is the fact that the 500 series lunchbox format has now become a standard, with more and more manufacturers releasing modules for it. Everyone seemed to like the 8 channel SSL X-desk, as they did the new Korg Wavedrum.

So if you didn't make it the show, you probably didn't miss much product-wise that you couldn't see elsewhere. If you really wanted to network or see the sessions, that's another story.


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