Pipeline! Playlist 7-26-2005

Jon Nolan “Waiting”
Tree by Leaf “Melancholy Chorus”
Casey Dienel “Tundra”
27 “Downfall of the Upright”
Boy in Static “Bellyful”
Soltero “Fight Song For True Love”
Mobius Band “You’re Wrong”
Apollo Sunshine “Magnolia”
Chris Weisman “Flow Glows/ Peace Park”
Ponies in the Surf “Little Boy Lost”
Little Wooden Men “Lay on the Tracks”
Mike and the Ravens “One of These Days”

Reports LIVE

Micah Blue Smaldone “Sporting Sorrow Blues”
Texas Governor “Leave Your Life Behind You”

Reports INTERVIEW

Ten Years Old “Product of Environment”
Big Bear “Track 1”

I Have Insomnia (book-learnin’ inside)

I haven’t been able to sleep for the last two days, so I decided to make myself useful and write up an in-depth breakdown of the automatic pop filter circuit I posted the link to previously. It’s a little bit hazy on some details (it’s been awhile since I dissected a complex active circuit and a lot of the math seems to be gone), but I think I’ve got most of the essentials there. Tried to avoid lapsing into jargon when possible, so not too much electronics knowledge is required. Questions, comments, and snarky posts pointing out any blatant factual errors it may contain are welcome.

Bag End – Take 2

Just had my first real stab at mixing on the Bag End system last night (Shore Leave on Pipeline). My impressions aren’t really too much different from Ramsey’s, but I’ll reiterate them for posterity here:

– Mains are unbelievably clear blah blah blah. They’re $1K apiece; you apparently get what you pay for. They’re about comparable in clarity to the Dynaudio mains (Ramsey likes these better, I like the Dynaudios; I think it’s really just a matter of personal taste). Interestingly, the imaging on the Bag Ends is much more noticeable than on any other monitoring system I’ve used; you really get a sense of the room whatever you’re listening to was recorded in, which applied to the reference CDs I was playing with as well as the actual live recording. I’m assuming the concentric-cone design of the mains has something to do with that (no phase difference between the highs and lows when they reach your ear), but I’m not enough of an acoustician to prove it.

– The subwoofer is godlike. It rolls off somewhere way below my low-frequency hearing threshold and exhibits detail in the sub-200Hz regime that I didn’t even know was possible. While there are some unfortunate side effects to such a complete low-end response (the sub actually managed to hit the resonant frequency of a few metal objects in the room and cause them to vibrate and rattle annoyingly), it adds a whole new degree of freedom to mixing.

– My ear for matching a mains/sub combo still isn’t very good. I kept the sub where Ramsey had it during the last mix and dropped the mains about a notch on the Gemini power amplifier driving them and the translation is a little bit off; my recording sounds just a touch too bassy in my Sennheiser HD270 headphones (which are kind of crap on the low end, so it might be even worse on a decent stereo). Unfortunately, the digital nature of the amplifier controls is a limiting factor here; the notch above where I had it seems to give a weak bass in the final recording, while my settings result in a hyped bass. The sub has a volume knob that we haven’t really played with though, so maybe we can find a happy medium.

– We had a near-disaster during soundcheck when the right monitor started making weird hissing/clipping noises and generally acting like it was blown. It turned out to just be a bad speaker cable, fortunately; we should probably at least use better extension cords to tie it to the amp if we’re not going to buy a spool of actual speaker wire.

I’ll probably spend some more time trying to match the sub and mains with reference CDs before my next mix (something garage-y for Gorilla Got Me next thursday) and hopefully get a better sense for these things after I’ve done at least two on them.

Pipeline! Playlist 7/19/2005

Northern “All I Want”
Mike and the Ravens “Oobie Doobie Do”
Ponies in the Surf “Fairy in My House”
Ashby “He Likes the Sound”
the Sterns “Just a Stain”
the Stairs “Crooked Horse”

27 “Louder Than Words”
27 INTERVIEW
27 “Heaven Owes Me One”

Brian Michael Roff and the Deer “This Thick World”
Little Wooden Men “Nothing Song”
Major Stars “Black Road”
Boy in Static “Stay Awake”
Carlisle Sound “Holiday”

Shore Leave LIVE

Casey Dienel “All or Nothing”
the Beatings “Feel Good Ending”
Satellite Lot “Hold Your Fire”

Shore Leave INTERVIEW

Coffin Lids “(You Must Fight to Live on) the Planet of the Apes”

Pipeline! Playlist July 12, 2005

Edan “Rock and Roll”
Heathen Shame “The So Called ‘Arts'”
the Texas Governor “Short Wave Radio”
Night Rally “The Birthday Party”
Milo Jones “Lifeline”
Casey Dienel “Cabin Fever”
Micah Blue Smaldone “Grim”
Little Wooden Men “Painting of a Ridiculous Girl”
Feathers “Old Black Hat With a Dandelion Flower”
Shore Leave “Relapses into Happiness”
Boy in Static “Warm Blooded”
Eilen Jewell “Head Over Heels”
Coffin Lids “One Foot in the Grave”
the Downbeat 5 “Outcast”
the Charms “Action”

the Stairs LIVE

Northern “Plum Island”
Tree by Leaf “There is a Last Time”

the Stairs INTERVIEW

Bag End Monitors: impressions

Bryan and I spent some time with the Bag End monitors that Andy dropped off for us to review.

It’s a 3-piece system, two mains and a sub. The two mains are the M6 Time-Align, which are passive, and the sub is the Infrasub 12 PRO, which is active. The mains contain a 6″ low frequency cone and a tweeter, arranged concentrically (or coaxially)–that is, the tweeter mounted in the center of the midrange cone, right where the dust cap usually is. This has been common practice in car stereo systems for many years (mostly to save space) but is uncommon in pro audio; it’s part of what Bag End calls Time-Align. Check out their explanation at the previous link; concentric speakers just a part of the system.
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New M-Audio Portable Recording Device

Our friend Ariel just sent this my way–looks like M-Audio is coming out with a dedicated portable recording device in August/September. They’re calling it the “Micro Tracker” or “Flash Tracker”, and the specs are pretty darn impressive (taken from The Sound Professionals):

Compact Flash and Microdrive Media
2x TRS mic/line jack inputs
48V phantom power
3.5mm jack mic in with 5V power for electret condenser mic
SPDIF RCA input
3.5mm headphone jack
RCA stereo out
USB 2.0
24-bit 96kHz recording

You can see specs and a picture on their site here.

Street seems to be around $400. Not cheap; you can get a high-end MiniDisc player for, what, around $300 or so? BUT, I think MiniDiscs suffer from some significant flaws as live recording devices:

–The software to interface the MD to your computer is Windows-only.

–They’re not designed to just be audio recording devices. So there’s tons of options/features/menus/junk that just get in the way if you just wanna record audio using a mic.

–For a long time you couldn’t transfer audio recorded directly onto the MD (using a mic for example) to a computer at faster than realtime. Though to be fair, it looks like you can now with the newest version of Sony’s MD software.

For a while I’ve wanted something that’s small, records audio digitally in a bunch of formats, and can be connected to any computer for simple drag-and-drop file transfers onto a computer/audio workstation. Perhaps this is it?

UPDATE: Thinking more about studio uses, could this be a good device to mix to? It’s got both SPDIF and analog inputs (TRS), can record at up to 24 bit/96 kHz, and is obviously portable. It’d be even easier to take your mixes with you… Big question: I wonder what the converters sound like? For $400 street it would be a letdown if they sounded like crap. We’ll see.

Fun with circuits (audio geekery within)

I was looking around online today trying to figure out how to design an arbitrary analog phase-shift circuit that’s constant for all audio frequencies. That didn’t go very well (short answer: it’s pretty goddamned complicated), but I did run across this page in the process. It describes two useful-sounding circuits (a pop filter and a 60Hz hum eliminator) in excellent, readable detail; it’s a good way to get acquainted with some of the basic principles of audio electronics as well as get ideas for future soldering team sessions. Basic understanding of circuits required; I might try to write up a more intuitive description of how they work later this week.