Friday, June 15, 2007

educating the snob

Okay, I'll fess up that my knowlege of current low-end "pro" audio is somewhat limited. I've never owned a Mackie product, my attitude about Soundcraft is based on their mid-end stuff from the 90's like the Spirit Studio (which I do indeed like) and I bought my Ramsa so long ago.

As I have looked at solutions to my dead mixer issue I have been stupifide by the dumbing down of equipment, the lack of real world logic in design and the simple fact that one can't just can't find a reasonable choice of analog products in this range.

So let's review my needs...

1. A couple of ins for computers (minimum 2 stereo)
2. A couple of mono ins for me to dangle 1/4" cables out of (minimum 2)
3. 1 monitor out
4. 2 stereo "mix" outs
5. good sound
6. cheaper the repairing trusted Ramsa (under $400)


1. No built in effects
2. Nothing made by Behringer
3. something that could be re-souced to serve another function if I end up with another project studio with a real console.

As much as I have always loved mixers I am almost tempted to try working with the Mackie Big Knob because it will do most of what I need, take up little space and have a possible use later on.

I would like to know which inputs one uses if one integrates it with a mixer. I am dreading going to 48th Street and having to deal with the "sales dudes" that seem to never be able to answer my questions but are sure I need some other thing. This is a rare thing for me to feel like I should actually check out products in person. I am rarely wrong and because I'm unsure I figure I'll hedge my bets.

Plus for shits and giggles I can make them use their demo gear to run the experiments that I wouldn't want to try at home.

random, smart and automated music

In the early days of my Max (later Max/MSP) usage I was very interested in things like machine listening and software generated music. Somewhere along the line my experiments ended with minimal conclusions.

I was engrossed enough that I read through all the David Cope, Robert Rowe, Marvin Minsky, Phil Winsor and a number of others. I asked a lot of questions and was amazed at how generous these people were with their time, especially considering I was not an academic.

Now some folks at my old research spot IRCAM (of course) have come up with Omax. This looks like the software I wanted to full fill my dreams of mutant robot bands and creating the ultimate fake band.

I would say that this software looks good enough that I should probably just ignore it and just continue my fantasies.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

the reviews aren't clear

It's amazing that if one searches the interwebs for gear reviews and opinions one is likely to find some gay fan site extolling the virtues of some shitty company like Toa who make products that could very well be rugged (and even that I'm not betting on) but sound like cold hairy bum ass.

Why is it too fucking much to ask rational questions about lowend, semi pro and prosumer products made by Mackie and Soundcraft?

I look at specs and photos and it seems like they are designed for idiots. For example, why the fuck does it specify on the equipment it's self what each input is supposed to be used for yet doesn't make any remark in the specs as to whether there really is a difference or not?

From Soundcraft: "zero-latency monitoring"on an analog mixer I should fucking hope so. Do we have to question their target market when the only linked review on their site is in Polish?

Back to the Mackie...
This 2005 Sound on Sound review here does the product more justice then the user forums, or at least it's a more confident sell. I get nervous when I read shit like "you can even plug in your drum machine" -what the fuck does that mean? It can handle line level sound, oh good! maybe I can use it in a real application.

One thing that hasn't been made clear is which one I should buy. I lean towards the Mackie because I am under what may be a deluded sense of belief that it could be useful beyond my current state.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

This old Mixer is fucking doomed

I am not one of those new jack techs who can or wants to do it in the box. The mixer is not just an organizational tool, it's a musical one. That being said, I struggle with what to do with my current set up.

When I closed my project studio and wrapped up my Soundcraft I dug out the old Ramsa which is fine sturdy and quite usable for basic stuff. BUT after a few months it developed a nasty bug which causes it to go into solo mode, thus knocking out anything that isn't soloed (IE probably everything). Theoretically one could have everything soloed BUT then you would be in mono too and I am not Phil Spector.

Now as much as I don't want to just buy something like a Mackie Big Knob I want to open up and repair the Ramsa even less. Now I'm more or less settled on the Mackie because it's the least wack, smallest thing I have seen that can function in the two most vital ways that I currently need, those being 1. controlling volumes from multiple in & out sources and 2. being an object that I can have a quarter inch cable hanging out that I can just grab and plug in. Though being a snob I have never owned anything with the name Mackie on it, not that Ramsa is any better.

I know this doesn't sound like an emergency situation but I am not using any amps here and would like to be able to play music without having to turn on my computer in order to monitor myself.

I am considering another option which is the more traditional Soundcraft Compact 4/10 It's in the same price range and probably doesn't sound bad though I would be a liar if I didn't say it looks pretty toy. Either way, we are looking at about $250 in order to actually plug my bass into something and adjust the volume. I was half way tempted to just wire up a passive thing and just run my powered KRKs which I am quite happy with but I just don't think I'll be happy with that.

So is the easy solution a small mixer or some sort of switching interface thing? A tough choice for sure since I have not real idea how long this home studio thing is going to work for me and I do have my old board which I am still happy with.

The little I am clear is I'm going the cheap route but not the sleazy one. In other words, I may not know much but I know I won't go Berhinger (who suck so bad I won't link em)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

DVD-R part 2

I am now thinking that this is a bad batch of DVD-R's which has me really worried about any disks that still work. I guess I may have a ticking bomb on my hands.

I sent an E-mail to the manufacturer because it's total bullshit to have 100 or more disks go bad.

I still have no idea how the disk went bad and because of this whole ugly situation I am wondering what the point of DVD burning is if one can't count on it holding.

I need a OS X app that can inspect these disks. So far all I can do is watch my computer spit them out.