mdlbear: (audacity)

On the way back from an appointment at Kaiser Campbell on Tuesday I stopped at Guitar Showcase and found a Peavy 8-channel line-level mixer in their consignment shop for $50. Score.

That, spliced in on a Y connection between an 8-channel preamp (which I have yet to acquire) and one of my 8-channel soundcards, will give me a monitor mix. It's a 2U rack mount; at some point I'm going to want a rolling rack for this stuff.

Did I mention the plan to set up a permanent rehearsal space in the small arm of the L-shaped living room? (Yes, briefly.) This would, of course, be part of it.

mdlbear: (ccs)

Just after Baycon [ profile] cflute and I listened to the album on my livingroom stereo and Callie noticed that the bass was exceptionally boomy. The effect largely went away on my high-quality headphones or my studio monitors (which, admittedly, don't have a whole lot of bass).

Giving it another listen in the livingroom, I finally realized why: It's not that my speakers are particularly bass-heavy, it's all the junk piled in front of them. In particular, piled right in front of the tweeters. It's not that they have a lot of bass, it's that the treble is being attenuated. A lot.

I feel much better now that I understand it.

mdlbear: (flamethrower)

The little LG UP3 music player I bought Saturday worked fine yesterday, but as of this morning it would turn on, display the current title, and turn itself off. It's behaving like the battery won't hold a charge.

Well, I'll take it back to Fry's tomorrow. I have other devices I can play music on. Or maybe I'll get one of the super-cheap ones. In any case, whatever I get will not have rechargable batteries -- I've had too many rechargables crap out on me.

update after deleting all the old files and putting one back in just to see if the problem was reproducible, it now seems to be working. I still don't trust it.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

Don't know, but it's going pretty well so far. After some recording, some editing (I'll post about those separately), a stack of mail that included the CD I ordered last week, some lunch, and a nice five-mile walk, the Bear went shopping. The main targets were a a cheap MP3 player (Fry's has several on sale this weekend) and a pennywhistle in A. I started with Guitar Showcase.

GS often has woodwinds in their consignment shop, but no whistles today. What they did have was an M-Audio Delta 1010, for $115. Since this has a list price of $500 and a street price of something like $400, and since I'd been thinking about buying a Delta 44 for a street price of around $150, I snapped it up without thinking twice.

Next stop was Fry's. They did indeed have cheap MP3 players, at prices all the way down to $15, but the one I ended up with was an LG UP3 for $60. It has a sharp-as-a-tack little OLED display, 2GB of flash, plays OGG as well as the more usual formats, and lists Linux on the box under supported systems. When I got it home (getting a little out of order here) I was a little puzzled by the lack of a USB cable until I discovered the knob that slides out the connector that makes it into a USB stick. I was also puzzled by the fact that my box wasn't seeing it, until I traced the USB extension cable back and discovered that it wasn't connected. Duh. Only thing missing is FM, but I can live without that. Especially in these days of ubiquitous podcasts.

The final stop was Starving Musician. They had whistles in C and D; but not A. I bought a cheap little Yamaha descant recorder instead -- I had one, but can't find it. Probably lent out to somebody's kid. For $8.25 I can afford another one.

So all-in-all it's been a pretty good day. Happy Bear.

mdlbear: (audacity)
Headphones to Shut Out the World - New York Times
PANASONIC RP-HC500 The pleasantly smushy-edged earcups on this new model do an excellent job of isolating your ears. That may be one reason the noise cancellation works so well; all but the highest frequencies are subtracted. Better still, the music reproduction is stellar, especially in the crisp, clean higher registers.

I waited to look up the prices for these products until after I’d tested them. So I was astonished to discover that you can find these online for $100. You get quality that’s nearly indistinguishable from the Boses — for a third the price.
The Panasonic phones look like the best of the lot for the price. Pogue seems to like headphones that sit on your ears instead of around them. I can't stand them, which eliminates his other low-cost favorite, the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7.

Since there's air travel in my near future, ...
mdlbear: (audacity)

Added reverb to the vocals on "Someplace in the Net" (which improved it considerably); last night I also did some mixing on "Programmer's Alphabet" and "Paper Pings". Ran into some mysterious bugs in Audacity last night working on "Net", so I pulled down the latest updates from the CVS tree and rebuilt it. Several stupid mistakes (you really do need cvs update -d if you want to get all the new subdirectories) and a number of apt-get's to fetch missing libraries later, I had a shiny new Audacity 1.3.3 -- the bugs appear to be gone, and there are some welcome improvements in the UI.

In other news, my left leg isn't hurting, and the infected big toe on my right foot seems to be improving. These are both Good Things.

Happy Bear.

(9:15 reverb on "Paper Pings". 9:35 reverb on "Programmer's Alphabet".)

mdlbear: (audacity)

After looking unsuccessfully for an isolation transformer at Guitar Showcase over the weekend, I ordered a Rolls "Buzz Off" from Musician's Friend on Monday. Since the box was $60 and they have free shipping on orders over $99, I threw in a couple of other items including a mic stand bag, low profile mic stand base, and a couple of Swirlygig SwirlyBigger drink holders, which fit larger-diameter stands like guitar stands and music stands. (Added: and they even threw in a couple of free microphone cables.) They arrived today.

The Buzz Off was everything I had hoped for: with an isolation transformer on each end of the line, 100ft of Cat5 sounds, at least to my ageing ears, just like nothing at all. That means that I can leave my fast, quiet recording box in the bedroom and, thanks to X11 over gigabit ethernet, edit in comfort on the 17" monitor in the office.

In other news, much of the flinging of trash into the dumpster seems to have been done already by my hard-working, helpful (??!) kids. Or their hard-working, helpful clones. I'm not complaining either way.

mdlbear: (audacity)

As it turns out, the isolation transformer has some problems -- it gets overloaded with a full-range line out signal. (The technical term is saturated: the transformer's iron core won't transmit any more signal than it takes for it to be fully magnetized. This turns out not to be a whole lot.) So, although it blocks hum like a champ, it's worthless for line out.

Fortunately, my output mixer has a monitor output with a volume control. That appears to cut the output enough to not saturate the isolation transformer.

In other news, some of the older tracks I've been having problems with might be fixable if I apply Audacity's built-in compression tool to each part separately. We'll see. It may work on "RFC1149", "Stuck Here", and "Uncle Ernie's". I've been playing with "Wannabe", which has other problems -- I can do anything I want to the scratch tracks because, well, they're going to get scratched. (Problems include clipping on a most plosives, and a couple of horrendous "clunk"s apparently caused by banging the microphone against the guitar. Oops!)

mdlbear: (audacity)

After my walk I went back to Guitar Showcase in search of a second isolation transformer, but realized on the way over that I might not need one. Just as well, since they didn't have any on hand. All I really had to do was move the transformer from the office end of the cable to the bedroom studio end, which put a balanced signal on the entire cable run by decoupling it from ground. The result is still noticeable, but not nearly as bad. It's essentially inaudible (at least to these ageing ears) at my usual listening level.

I could do even better if the monitors had balanced inputs, but a quick look at the manual shows that they don't. I'll have to look for another isolation transformer eventually, but it's good enough now.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

Everything takes longer and costs more.

Today it was mostly "takes longer". It took much longer than I expected to put the mic stands back where they belong, clear a space for the computer, shut down and disconnect the computer in the office, and bring it back up in the bedroom studio.

Then it took a lot longer than I would have liked to get the Cat6 cable run back in operation. It didn't work when I installed it -- I figured (correctly, as it turned out) that the problem was screwed-up plugs. I ended up cutting off both ends' plugs and connecting them to a patch panel on the office end, and a modular jack in the garage attic. Naturally this required several tests, each of which meant a round trip up and down the garage stairs. Par for the course.

This freed up the the old Cat5 run I'd been using, leaving me free to use it as I'd originally intended: to run audio for editing, so I don't have to waste two hours moving the box the next time. It took longer than I expected. Surprise. And I wasn't expecting the sound quality to be particularly good, but I wasn't expecting nearly as much 60Hz hum as I ended up getting, either. Not nice

(A few minutes later) An isolation transformer (Furman ISOpatch) helps a lot. And I'll be the rest of the problem is caused by the fact that there are two independent paths for what is really the same ground. (A few minutes later) Maybe not: shorting the two grounds at this end doesn't seem to help, and I know they're shorted at the other end. I may just be stuck with it for now.

If I had real differential signals this probably wouldn't be a problem. At least now it's down to the point where it's not really noticable when I'm actually editng. So I could edit now, except that I'll need to go to bed soon.

mdlbear: (audacity)
instructables : Jackhammer Headphones
These home-made hifi headphones work as well or better than Bose noise-cancelling headphones.
Cost: $20
Time to make: one minute.
Difficulty: none.
Unlike the Bose model, these block outside noise instead of cancelling it.
Basically you just buy good hearing protectors, and install the speakers from cheap phones in them. Not as good-sounding as my $99 pair of Sennheiser HD280Pro's, but 1/5 the price and probably better blocking.
mdlbear: (audacity)

This article at Ars Technica gives a nice little overview of three open-source audio editors: Ardour, Audacity, and snd. It concludes with a few thoughts about why open-source audio apps are different from proprietary ones -- not necessarily better, but different. Along the way it introduces a few other pieces of the Linux audio toolkit.

I personally use and like Audacity, which is also available for Windows and MacOS and is undoubtedly the simplest of the three to get started with. You can download the lot as part of any Debian-based distribution; DeMuDi's live CD would be a good introduction, and I've found Debian testing (Etch) to be as friendly an install as one could wish for (see previous post).

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