This weekend I have a project to do that involves no sound. My mother recently gave me some 8mm home movies from my childhood days. I didn't have a projector so I bought one secondhand and on Saturday I plan to transfer them to DVD by using a video camera. Originally I thought I'd just take them to a commercial video place but at around $50 per 3min reel that would cost over $1000.
Lateral Thinking pays off
I have been enjoying my recent purchase of a DVD / CD player. The seller also had a CD player for sale so just for fun I thought I'd keep watching that auction too. Imagine my surprise to find that it sold for more than I paid for the NAD. Ok, it was a good brand (Harmon Kardon) but it was 9 years older, had a marked front, and no remote!
I bought these recently on TradeMe for $15. The brand is Tokumi and I had never heard of it but It turns out that they still manufacture headphones (somewhere in SE Asia). They have a 2ch / 4 ch switch on each side, and the seller mentioned that switching didn't seem to make any difference. When I got them it was obvious what the reason was - there was only one plug. Once the Quad thing had died someone must have decide that they were worth converting to stereo by wiring the front and rear drivers in parallel. I tried them out wired like this and they actually sounded quite good - spacious, but lacking treble. The mids are slightly honky, but I don't think damping the drivers was considered back in the early 70s. Back in the days, I was quite keen on Quad and experimented with several QS and SQ systems, as well as discrete 4 ch (on a Sony Quad tape machine, I never had a CD-4 system).
I just sourced some 1N34 germanium diodes on Trade Me. Many years ago my first fuzzbox was a Royal Fuzz and it sounded great. When I got a wah wah to go with it the two would go into oscillation so I took them both back to the shop to get the problem checked out. Imagine my dismay when they came back with a note from the tech. saying 'Fuzz is shot, wah wah ok'. I complained and got some $ off a new guitar, and eventually got another fuzz box. It never sounded anywhere as good as the Royal. So... here we are in 2010, and I have found the circuit for it, and now have some 1N34 diodes (it uses them back to back to make the distortion). All I need now is a little time and I'll have me one of dem 60s sounding fuzz boxes again.
My CD player went faulty recently (the draw sticks shut at times) so I decided to buy another one. When I was looking around I found that simply replacing it at reasonable cost was not easy. Since the early days of CDs things have changed.
These are the main options -
1. buy a brand new CD player. These are now an esoteric hifi item which sell for many hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
2. buy a second hand CD player. These either seemed to be newish and still quite pricey, or very cheap but anything up to 25 years old, so probably no more reliable than what I already have.
3. buy a DVD player. They all play CDs and a decent brand (eg Sony) can be had for $80. The problem is that the audio quality on them is poor.
Then I came across a NAD T531 second hand. This is a CD / DVD player from 2001. The difference is that it has high quality D-A converters for the audio output. Problem solved.
At this site <http://www.headphone.com/learning-center/technical/difference-graph.php> you can compare the independently tested specifications for many models of headphones. No substitute for a listening test, but valuable additional information.
Recently I have been using a pair of Ultrasone ProLine 650 headphones, which have a remarkable spaciousness to them. This is due to the drivers being offset to the axis of the ear canal to simulate the HRTFs that allow accurate localisation. The overall effect is to provide a sensation that is more like being in a room listening to speakers. Ultrasone (www.ultrasone.com) is a relatively recent German company and is the brain child of a Dr Florian Konig. Some additional information can be found here <http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/204879/there-s-something-about-ultrasone/2895#post_2821957>. Sound-wise, I wouldn't rate them up with the Sennheiser HD800 (which sell for $US1400), but Ultrasone do make a comparable model (the Edition 8, selling for $US1500). The bass is full and tight. The downside is they are fairly heavy and get uncomfortable after long periods, so I won't quit my pair of AKG K240 II just yet.
Logic Pro refusing to update
I had a problem trying to update logic Pro 9.0.0 to 9.1.1. The updater said no update was required. The problem was caused because I added to the application name (I did this because I have several versions of Logic on my computer, so I appended the version no.). When I returned the name to 'Logic Pro' the installation worked fine.
What a fine, annoying piece of software ProTools is! Logic Pro has some bug fixes in OS X version 10.6.3 (and 10.6.4 is now released), but ProTools is still only qualified up to version 10.6.2. This is typical - if you are considering getting into ProTools you might be interested in my AE & MP / ProTools page.
less is more
In the old days (ie last Century) there were quantitative limits. Limits to the number of tracks on the multitrack, limits to the number of track bounces before the noise floor gobbled up the signal, and a finite amount of signal processing and FX gear. With good rack equipment costing several thousands of dollars per rack space (btw a rack space = 1.75") a lot of sessions used most if not all of the compressors, EQs, gates, and reverb units available. Beyond that it was a case of borrowing / hiring more gear, or doing without.
Fast forward to today and using plugins on a DAW on a fast computer and the opposite applies. It is often possible to have as many as you want. Of course, there are times when lots of nip / tuck operations are useful (eg EQ before and after a compressor), but I have seen things such as two EQs in a channel cancelling out each others effect. The same goes for putting an expander directly after a compressor. So...try to stay focused and every so often step back and give your mix a plug-in reality check. Maybe you have gone too far due to being too close, and taking an effect out will actually improve the sound.