Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Although I most certainly possess no great degree of techie-ness I have fooled around with a soldering iron on occasion, wiring guitars and such. Actually, built a handful of electric guitars at one point -- enough to convince me I hadn't the patience for the woodworking aspect of instrument making. Wiring together capacitors and potentiometers and watchamadoodles can be fun, however. Sometimes the results actually work!

Anyway, I decide to finally tackle a diy modification of my Oktava MK319 mikes this past week. These Russian-made microphones were, at one point, one of the best deals around -- I got my pair for only a hundred dollars total, brand-new, from Musicians Friend. I lucked into getting two decent mikes; there was a lot of trouble with quality control back six years ago when I got them. MF finally stopped carrying them altogether. Now they cost more but are still a good deal and a lot more dependable.

There are those who will mod Oktavas for a reasonable fee and it does take them from being a pretty good microphone to one that borders on being great (a la multi-thousand dollar Neumanns and such). Ideally, this includes rewiring and adding new transformers; I may someday go for such (on a new mike or two) but on my existing units I went with the simple diy 'mechanical' mods. First, took off the head basket and removed one layer of wire mesh. This is the easiest thing to do for this mike and does 'open up' the sound (at the cost of increased sibilance). I'd already done this a while back.

Then, removed the plastic 'resonator disks' on either side of the diaphragm. It's not hard to do, just remove the little screws, but one must be careful not to slip and poke a hole in the diaphragm! Also, on one side there is a ground wire going through the disk so the plastic has to be clipped to slip it out. The result is a more natural and neutral sound but at the cost of possible undesirable resonances, so other damping must be added. Some glue in a bit of foam but this can come loose and/or deteriorate over time so I preferred to add a dab of silicone or acrylic on the 'floor' of the head basket. Whether I've used enough or will need to add more, time will tell. Easy enough to do later on.

Now, I'm eager to not only use the mikes in the studio (when I'm finished with the ceiling -- it's coming along) but also for live recordings of choirs, pianos, etc. That's what I originally bought them for (more on that below). They were my first good microphones back then and still among the best I have on hand.

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I think I need to stop turning on Ellen DeGeneres' show in the afternoons. I found myself dancing like her this morning...

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I rarely mention my on-again-off-again girlfriend (for want of a better word) here, save for the occasional oblique reference in a poem or something. She was the reason I bought those above-mentioned microphones a few years back, when she asked me to record one of her piano recitals (she teaches music at the university level). Lately, we haven't been maintaining contact very well, both being somewhat self-absorbed and having a lot on our agendas, not to mention not living particularly close to each other.

She rang me up on Sunday evening and asked if I could come and record her concert this coming Sunday. This is all too typical of her, but that's okay -- I know what to expect! Unfortunately, I had another commitment this weekend and had to turn her down. I really don't know if I'm going to do much live recording for a while anyway, with my obligations here. It's too bad, I haven't missed one of her recitals before; I may or may not be able to get up there (Tuskegee) for their Christmas Concert in early December. At this point, I don't know if I'll be requested to record it but, if I am, I just might have to turn it down this year.

a btw, later in the day: decided -- sort of -- on a color scheme for the studio/music room and ordered some burgundy insulated curtains for it today. These will fill the large arched passageway between the room and the rest of the house and, I hope, be a partial barrier to noise as well. My original plan was bright and airy, maybe a light green, but it looks like I'll be going more earth-toned instead. The walls are somewhat of a pale mud color now so I can live without painting for a while; will have to remove the remaining dark blue curtains as soon as practical i.e when I can afford more burgundy ones.

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