Sunday, April 24, 2016

Roland Rediscovering their Mojo

That is pretty much from the second last line of the SOS Magazine review of the Roland Boutique series....

It was a pretty tough road for Roland to get back to making the Analog Style Synths and Eurorack modules in its current line up.  I haven't worked at Roland Japan for over 15 years, but it looks like they had to tear the place up to do it.
This is because the founder and original chairman, Mr Kakehashi was completely against revising old retro style products. Only a few short years after the current President Mr. Miki took over, he and the rest of the board organized a management buyout to remove Mr. K.  In the process they shut down the European factories and streamlined the management there.

Mr. K now has a new company, and Roland is doing the types of products they thought they should do for years.... the years Roland was very much in Red Ink, and under Mr.Ks thumb.

So times change....  and I think they have their Mojo back too. I would still be in Japan if I had been able to do something like these products years earlier.....

Friday, April 8, 2016

Classic Microphone Pre-amps and Channel Strips

The move to  computer based recording systems, and project studios in particular has meant you don't need a mixing desk and all that gear associated with it.

A small private studio like my own means I only ever record one thing at a time.  So apart from an Audio Interface to the computer, I have a Monitor controller on the output  to control the playback volume and a single channel DI/Mic Preamp on the input to set the gain on whatever I'm recording.

Both of these devices are actually very simple and inexpensive with current components. And modern electronics means they have such low noise and distortion that they do not impact anything extra on the sound. Your microphone, recording space, guitar, bass or whatever is the limiting factor as far as noise floor and sound quality are concerned.  The loudspeakers, headphones and environment of the eventual listener are far more significant.

But the history of Recording Studios has produced various bits of equipment that have become "Classics" and instead of being distortion free are the  opposite and distort the sound in "a nice" way.  But this distortion is rather subtle, so there ends up being a magic to some brands.

Sound On Sound Magazine did a comparison of some classic pre-amp makers gear, and produced sound files of a piano performance, such that volume differences were all eliminated.  It was then very difficult to pick any one as being any particular piece of gear.  The real kicker in all this is such gear sells for 10 times the price for me to make the equivalent.

The part that makes the biggest difference in these high end components is the transformers used on input and output.   How the transformer is driven and the core saturated impacts the sound.  The current Rupert Neve designs have a control called silk, to exaggerate these pleasant distortion components, but  all the brands have similar design concepts that make that brands "subtle" sound.

All this stuff has become the myths and legend  of "Pro Recording".....  interesting, and if you have the money to buy such equipment, maybe it does give you extra mojo, even if only psychologically.

I can actually buy audio transformers and put them in my own modern designs.  They are the single most expensive component. But I don't actually need the isolation or balancing they performed in the old single sided pre-amplifiers, in my small project studio application.  And I mentioned the cost, right?    

But in the end, what is way more important is the performance performed that is recorded. Mistakes and all.  And for the constantly most successful commercial acts (like One Direction or maybe Justin Bieber) an old guy like me would say that isn't that important either,,,,

Friday, April 1, 2016

Project Studio Condenser Microphone Dust Cover

We have an Audio Technica AT2020 Condenser Microphone, mounted in a Samson SP01 Shock Mount, on a Rode Desktop or standing mic stand, and the Traditional bent wire and nylon stocking pop filter.

But it is all a bit too much trouble to remove and replace the microphone for storage, so we leave it set up, so needed a dust cover.

We purchased some time a go a small piece of some black springy material to repair headphone ear pads and had a rectangular piece left over to make this microphone cover.
Haven't sewn much, but can pin and hand sew a  hem (so the material doesn't unravel at the edges), hand sew along the two side edges (using pins to keep the material in the right place and give you a line to sew next to) then turn the result inside out to get a very usable custom fitted soft cover.

We actually have a SE pop filter, but this stocking version just works so much better.....

The Samson SP01 is THE shock mount to put an AT2020 in. The wire pop filter is bent to fit to the external fixed shock mount frame, and held in place with 3 cable ties.