adventures in dysthymia

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

UPDATED equipment list for Que Linda Music at the Peanut Road Studios:
(taking inventory -- some of this stuff, of course, is junk and I certainly have enough to do the job -- at this point, getting the room together is my concern)

Channels:

Mixers:
Carvin S16 – 16 channel
Behringer MX602A – 6 channel (used mostly for monitoring)

Preamps:
Presonus MP20 – 2 channel
M-Audio DMP3 – 2 channel

Computer Interfaces:

M-Audio ProFire – 34 channel
Presonus Fire Pod – 10 channel
M-Audio Quattro – 4 channel

Stand-alone Recorders:

Alesis ML9600 MasterLink
Fostex VF160
Fostex VF80

Monitoring:

JBL LSR25P reference monitors (2)
JBL ‘Platinum Series’ speakers (2)
Realistic 8" hi-fi speakers (2)

Harmon-Kardon TA600 stereo receiver

Audio-Technica ATH-M40fs headphones

(won't count the old Crate PA sitting here...oh wait, I just did...)

Microphones:

large condenser:
Oktava MC319 (2)
CAD M177 (2)
CAD GXL3000

small condenser:
Audio-Technica AT4049 (2)
sE Electronics SE2 (2)
CAD GXL1200 (3)
Sony ECM-330

dynamic:
Heil Heritage (2)
Heil Classic Pro
CAD TSM411 (3)
CAD KBM412
Audio-Technica MB2000L (3)
Shure SM48
Electar SR-5800
Realistic Highball (rebranded Shure588)
BSR “Echo Microphone”

Software:

Recording, Editing, Composition:
Adobe Audition
PG RealBand
PG Power Tracks Pro Audio
PG Band in a Box
Reaper (trying it out)
Finale Print Music
Audacity
Waveosaur
Nero Wave Editor

Effects and Virtual Instruments:
A variety of VST and DX effects and instruments are
available -- the list changes.

Miscellany and Utilities:
Voxengo R8 Brain

Hardware:

Art SGX LT instrument preamp/effects processor
Boss NS50 gate
Behringer Autocom compressor
various and sundry guitar pedals from Arion, Rockman,
Ibanez etc.

Instruments:

Keyboards:
Grand 'Nancy Hart' upright piano
Yamaha DGX-230
Kawai X120
Yamaha SHS10
Kimball Sensation organ
Casio CT640

Sound Modules:
Roland SC7
Roland DR5

Strings:
Aria six-string banjo
Nechville 'Banjovie'
Gibson LG2 acoustic guitar
Alvarez RC20SC classical electric guitar
Ovation Celebrity acoustic guitar
Kramer D418 acoustic guitar
Hondo H308 classical guitar
Epiphone Riviera electric guitar
Valley Arts/Samick BCP4 electric guitar (tele-style)
Carvin DC120 12-string electric guitar
Valley Arts 4-string bass (pre-Samick, pre-Gibson)
Maestro A-style mandolin

Percussion:
Various hand drums and percussion are on
hand. We do not at this time have a studio
drum kit.

Amps:
Dean Markley DCM40 stereo guitar amp (your basic imitation of a Roland JC120)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Another repost from Peanut Road, the last of them from 2007, with a few new remarks:

Cheap Junk part II: M-Audio

I pulled my old M-Audio Quattro interface out a couple days ago and hooked it up to the computer. It works well, despite being 'only' USB 1 and therefore not the fastest way to get audio in and out of the PC. The Quattro does have pretty decent AD conversion (the same as in M-Audio's Delta series, I believe) and I'm only using it as a two channel input, although it can theoretically handle up to four in and four out. Also, I'm working with the MME drivers and ignoring any ASIO at this point -- my Power Tracks software does not really work that well with ASIO.

So I'm not exactly tasking the unit. Eventually I'll see just how much it can handle. I've actually used this interface in the past mostly for its midi capabilities and never really took the time to explore it as an audio device. And then I got myself (supposedly) better equipment and it ended up on the shelf. But I think I'll try using it more, if only for the simplicity of its plug-and-play aspect. Firewire can be such a pain to get working properly at times.

Yes, it is sort of obsolete. But then, so is a lot of the other stuff around this studio!

M-Audio (as with Behringer, mentioned in the last 'Cheap Junk' post) has a reputation for not having the best quality control, though their equipment is well enough designed. The company, these days, is part of Avid, which also owns Digidesign, creator of Pro Tools. I've had okay results with the M-stuff I've owned or used. At Artists and Vagrants Central, the 'sister studio' in Tennessee (this was when I was still trying to use A&V South as my studio name), they use a pair of their Luna mikes regularly. They're not at all bad and I prefer their sound to the 'typical' Chinese microphone -- not so shrill.

And I use my own DMP3 preamplifier a lot. It's a great little unit and definitely the best deal at its price (which puts it in the 'low end' category). I would not hesitate to rack up a bunch of these preamps and use them for just about anything, including a symphony orchestra. No, they would not be the 'best' by any means, but they would be more than adequate for the job, clean and accurate, with plenty of gain.

Right now, I should be getting off line, turning that Quattro on, and recording a song or two (of course, I didn't...not getting much of that done these days).

Friday, June 19, 2009

MOM THE DOM

Billy came home from the funeral,
burying his mother;
all the family had gathered there,
consoling one another.
I'll take care of her things, he promised,
not knowing what he'd discover;
later wished he'd left it to
his sister or his brother!

He looked in his mother's closet,
wondered why she had
all those shiny high-heeled boots,
why she went leather-clad.
Always thought she was a saint,
turned out she was bad;
made him think quite differently
about his dear old Dad!

Mom the Dom
had whips and chains!
Mom the Dom
dealt in pain!
She was mistress
of her slaves;
Mom the Dom
made them behave!

There was a box of riding crops,
some manacles, a mask;
Poor Billy gulped and took another
swallow from his flask.
It seemed that she was used to getting
whatever she would ask,
and woe be to the man who might
not be up to the task!

Turned out that there was a lot
he had never known --
Mom had ruled with an iron fist,
a queen upon her throne.
She had a list of abject subs,
speed-dialed on her phone;
Mom the Dom got what she wanted
and she was bad to the bone!

Mom the Dom
was hard to please!
Mom the Dom
had them on their knees!
Who was this woman
he thought he knew?
Mom the Dom...
could it be true?

Stephen Brooke ©2009

A very, very silly idea for a song...I guess 'Mom the Dom' isn't quite as good a phrase as 'I saw your Mommy and your Mommy is dead!' (by Suicidal Tendencies for those who weren't into Punk in the 70s) but everyone should write a song about mothers, right? ;)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

CHANGES at Cafe Press: We have completely revised our stores at Cafe Press, opting to move away from the all-in-one premium shop we’ve operated for the past couple years and go with multiple shops linked to our own Emporium. We feel this will better serve both our needs and those of our customers — the money we save is reflected in lower prices on the products.

Related: I was prepared to abandon my quelindamusic.com domain -- as I had peripheralvisionmag earlier -- as an economy move, mostly due to the fact that Yahoo had jumped their domain registration up to $35 a year. However, I find that I can get five years for the same price at GoDaddy, so I decided to keep it after all. Shoot, I even added an extra year and renewed for six...and here all those women said I couldn't commit...

I reckon I'll do the same for stephenbrooke.com and deadmanbay.com before they come up for renewal next year. Even if I don't really need all of them.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

CHICKEN LITTLE

When the sky began to fall,
some fell on their knees,
seeking forgiveness from their gods,
from their neighbors, from themselves.

Some cried out in despair,
covering their heads and running
to hide in caves or cellars,
while others welcomed the end of days

and the paradise promised them
in the days of their fathers' fathers' fathers
and their father's fathers before them.
Or so they had been told.

This was Chicken Little's fault,
said one, and the liberal media;
those are but acorns, albeit
large and blue and white,

and the sky will not, can not,
truly fall on we who trust
in God and country. Perhaps,
though, on the rest of you.

And then there were those
who looked about for long sticks
to prop it up, but it was crumbling
too quickly and one piece would fall

while they pushed another back
into place, and the stars and moon
rolled down through the holes
like marbles in a pin-ball machine.

It is no use, no use at all,
they agreed. We need longer
sticks, more sticks, and then
the sky would not, could not

truly fall on we who trust
in science and technology.
When the sky began to fall,
the philosophers, the theologians,

all turned poet and sang to it;
they took up brush, daubing pigment
in mad hope of catching its essence,
keeping the broken sky whole.

Who will look upon their paintings
and say That was Earth, wasn't it?
Who will read and remember
what we have written of this day

when the sky began to fall?

Stephen Brooke ©2009

Of course, a metaphor -- our skies are always falling and we do our best to preserve them before they are around our ankles.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A few moments available to goof off, so another old post moved over from the Peanut Road Blog, originally posted in Dec 07:

I've Got It Home, Now What?

Once I bring home a recording from a choir concert, recital, something of that sort (when I wrote this, I was just back from recording the Christmas concert in Tuskegee), is when the real work begins. The recording work itself, at its simplest, is pretty darn simple. Point some microphones (most usually only two) at the source of the sound and push record. Oh, sure, you have to make sure the levels are good (less important in the digital age -- you can set them way lower than we used to with tape) and the sound is decently balanced. A lot of times, the physical limitations of the gig -- there may not be many choices about how and where to set up -- prevent the need for making many decisions.

Anyway, back in the studio (so-called), I divide the process of taking what I have from raw recording to CD-ready in four steps. First, I listen through the whole thing for problems, start and stop points, and so on, taking plenty of notes. With a long concert, that can be pretty time-consuming!

The second step is to transfer from the mobile recording unit to the computer, breaking it up into separate tracks as I go. With the stereo recordings I do with the Master Link or the VF80, I run it in through a USB interface, remaining digital all the way. No sound degradation...I hope. Actually, an artifact or two will pop up somewhere regardless of conservative settings. A loud pop, usually! Sometimes, I can edit these out but it's better just to go back and transfer the problem track a second time. Naturally, I listen through each of these tracks carefully after the transfer to make sure it all went well.

Third, a round of editing. Bringing the volume up, trimming the length or removing sections not needed, applying fades in-and-out, panning, maybe (if necessary) some limiting or EQ. Almost never compression for this sort of music. When I've got it where I want it -- which is NOT to its final loudness -- I convert from my editing program (I mostly use PG Music's Power Tracks for this task) to a wave file.

The final step is essentially what is usually called 'mastering.' Though I can do this in Adobe Audition, I tend to keep it very simple with Nero. In many ways, the editing and mastering blur into each other when working with this kind of material. The main thing here is setting the final volume for each track. This might or might not involve more limiting (assuming there was any earlier). I check them over for any problems that might have been missed earlier, make sure I'm happy with the EQ (I rarely do much there), and burn them to a CD for the client.

And if all goes well, that's it! That is, if the check is really in the mail...

Friday, June 12, 2009

So, today is the day when we finally are forced to watch digital television. I'm okay, in terms of my television sets/digital tuners, but not so good antenna-wise. I am definitely going to lose some channels out here in the boonies, stations I could pick up -- albeit often rather snowy -- via analog signal.

The closest major signal source would be the Dothan stations (25 to 30 miles), although I often pick up Panama (about twice as far away) just as well. In fact, I get Panama better on the south side of the house and Dothan on the north. The thick walls in this place are good sound blockers and apparently do the same for tv signals.

As far as Tallahassee goes, I might as well forget it most of the time. I suppose I will invest in a decent antenna eventually, maybe a big one on a tower (I'm also thinking radio here). In the mean time, viewing will be a bit restricted. I don't know if I'll pick up any Fox signal at all and two of my favorite shows, House and Bones are on that network.

Actually, I only have maybe four programs I watch regularly these days (since dropping satellite a while back and not having Food Channel anymore!). Besides the two I mentioned, there would be Fringe and Lost. I reckon it wouldn't really bother me if I couldn't get any television at all; I'd just as soon read or get online or work in the studio (if I have enough energy left by evening). When I was a kid, we were lucky to pick up one or two very snowy channels and I survived that. Black and white, to boot!

But right now, television helps give my mother something to fill her time. Unfortunately, she has trouble distinguishing it from reality at times. I try to make sure she doesn't leave her set on overnight because she's bound to have all sorts of worries about things she heard and saw in her bedroom during the night.

Mom is doing well enough, considering. She continues to decline mentally and doesn't seem to understand who I am much of the time -- she keeps telling me about things Steve did. When I say 'I'm Steve' she says, 'Oh, the other Steve.' I hope to meet that guy someday...

PS I should have added my favorite sitcom (and the only one I watch) to that list: Big Bang Theory.

Monday, June 08, 2009

CINDERELLA

She forgot tomorrow
till it was yesterday
and at the stroke of midnight
her dreams all danced away.

Her pumpkin coach had vanished;
the team, in disarray,
squeaked and fled for cover;
one slipper went astray.

Perhaps a prince, enamored,
found it where it lay
and searched the kingdom over,
her glass shoe on a tray.

Or wondering for a moment
why she didn't stay,
left it for the sweepers
like a discarded bouquet,

the aftermath of balls,
forgotten yesterday.

Stephen Brooke ©2009

Thursday, June 04, 2009

MORNING SONG

The cardinal is first; then mockingbirds join
and sometimes a distant titmouse. It is gray,
yet, outside and the fog sleeps on the fields.
Soon every bird will join to sing the sun
into the summer sky and me from my bed.

Some close windows to keep out the night
but they also keep out the new day;
I would fall asleep to the chuck-will-widow's
lullaby and waken to the cardinal's whistle,
the wren's rustling at my window.

There is a stillness of the air in this hour,
no breeze upon the fields nor business
of insects. Dawn will burn away
the fogs that cling to summer's edge;
winds will rise to finish morning's song.

Stephen Brooke ©2009