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Archive for the ‘Gear’ Category
Thursday, June 13th, 2013
This week one of my neighbors left his unwanted Ikea bed frame in the alley. Among the parts of the bed was a set of SULTAN LADE slatted base. In other words: 20 3/4″ pine boards for free. Keep an eye out for these because they can be used for a ton of simple DIY projects.
With these, I decided to make some super simple diffusors to cover up the bare wall around the closet at the back of my studio. The goal was to use the least amount of materials, hardware and effort. This design accomplished that and I didn’t even need to use a saw.
Each diffusor is made of 5 boards in a wide V shape. I used extra boards to get the spacing right, then held it firm with a pair of C-Clamps while hammering. The clamps were a huge help to prevent the boards from shifting around. I had just enough nails of the right length to build two diffusors, I would have built 4 if I had more nails. These aren’t very heavy so for now I have them mounted with a single drywall screw and picture hanger.
I’m sure an expert will disagree with the design as an effective diffusor. QRDs these are not. However, just holding it to the wall I could hear it was doing something far better than a bare wall. Unpainted soft wood like pine is porous and I could hear it softening the highs a little. Not sure if it scatters the sound at all but surely it is doing something more than the drywall was. QRDs are complicated, heavy and extremely labor intensive to DIY.
There are two downsides to building with free/salvaged wood like this.
1 – needing to remove staples, screws or nails before you can build.
2 – Sometimes the wood is warped which is hard to fix.
These don’t sit as flush on the wall as I’d like because of some warping.
I’m undecided whether I will leave these natural or stain them. If you’re looking for a simple wood stain, vinegar and steel wool left in a jar for a few days will give you a nice grey aged fence/barn wood look. Toss coffee grinds in the jar too and you can get a pretty dark almost chocolate brown stain. Teas, cocoa or spices can give you different colors. Steep longer and apply repeatedly for darker color. Again, super simple and practically free, but also it doesn’t stink up your house for days with toxic fumes.
I have some more ideas for diffusors which I will explore at a later date. One idea is to use the curved SULTAN LUROY bed slats and symmetrically staggering them at a few different heights and depths. Would probably look really nice and modern in a live room especially behind a drum kit.
Have you made a DIY diffusor? I’d love to see it, leave a comment and link below.
Friday, June 7th, 2013
I stumbled across this interesting construction diary of an impact isolation platform for Electronic Drums that uses a couple layers of MDF and tennis balls to float the kit. This is a genius idea and it came out looking great and probably very effective.
This looks like a very inexpensive and effective solution for acoustic drums or on a smaller scale, loud guitar amps or subwoofers. I wonder how ‘squishy’ it feels to walk on this, it might be a good non-permanent solution for floating a small live room, or at least a toddler bedroom.
Click this link to read the build instructions and discussion.
Monday, June 3rd, 2013
I am the proud new owner of an EHX 16 second Digital Delay. This thing is big, complex, and capable of some pretty crazy sounds.
I bought the pedal for a steal from an artist at the Mini Maker Faire in Vancouver this past weekend, to help fund a trip to Europe. The original MSRP in 2004 was $995, you can find them on ebay for closer to $400. I paid a lot less.
Electro Harmonix 16 Second Digital Delay Pedal
This is a delay and looper pedal with three modes. Continuous loop, single loop, and short delay (up to 1sec). The short delay mode actually allows for 4 minutes of recording. The looping modes have a 4 beat count in before starting. Continuous loop continues to overdub after the first loop. Single loop stops recording at the end of the set loop length. Once a loop is recorded it can be reversed, pitched down or time stretched without changing pitch. It also has built in Chorus/Flanger, input, wet, dry faders, footswitch jack and MIDI clock out. This is a ton of features, but unfortunately missing some ‘modern’ features we’re now used to, such as tap tempo, stereo i/o, loop undo, and double-tap loop setting. Setting specific loop lengths and delay times is a little tricky but the “Clix” audio click helps a bit.
Another interesting note about this pedal is it’s use of ‘magna-storage’ which can store the loop long term even with power disconnected.
I really like how this delay glitches, maybe that’s an odd thing to say but it’s just so much fun to mangle audio in this way. My favorite way is to set the delay to longest, full feedback, hit something on the guitar and then mess with the Pitch/Time switch while changing the delay time. You’ll hear that a lot in the clip below, creating an infinite echo, changing the pitch, changing the tempo, dropping the pitch again, over and over. The chorus sounds really nice to me too. I don’t have room for it on my pedalboard but I expect to have a lot of fun with it in the studio.
The audio example below is guitar direct into the pedal, then into DI to Reaper. No amp or other effects.
Here’s a video demo from EH
Wednesday, April 24th, 2013
I recently bought the ART PRO VLA II Stereo Tube Compressor for my studio. It’s one of the most affordable compressors on the market and packs a ton of features in a sturdy 2 space rack. In researching this compressor I ended up at Gearslutz multiple times. Over and over I was reading that you MUST change the tubes for it to be useable in the studio. None of the pros that used it for the Tape Op Magazine review talked about NOS Unobtainium KGB vacuum tubes, but I felt I needed to try for myself before I permanently rack mounted the VLA.
I also own the PRO MPA II Reference Series tube preamp. It comes with lower noise, Chinese 7025 tubes that are also compatible with the VLA. Since I had a matched pair of 7025 and the stock 12AT7s, I ran audio through each set and recorded the results.
DOWNLOAD 24 BIT WAVES EXAMPLES
The audio source is 1kHz test tone, clap samples, acoustic guitar, and drum submix. The examples use a fairly heavy setting of about 10dB GR. Audio was going in line level and back to the daw. No other processing.
The difference between the tubes is not as drastic as one might expect. They sound very similar in either the MPA preamp or VLA compressor. The 7025 tubes from the Reference Series MPA do sound a little tighter and about 1dB hotter output, and just a hair brighter. Self noise was about the same (extremely low) for either set. For me that’s not enough to immediately go buy a matched pair to replace the stock 12AT7, or even enough to spend more time and money on other options. I KNOW that I just swapped one set of cheap Chinese tubes for another, I don’t have any other matched sets to compare with. (send me a bunch of tubes and I’ll make time for a bigger shootout)
Trying out different tubes in my gear is something worth doing but not obsessing over. I tried just two of the hundreds of compatible tubes and it feels like I’ve spent all day on it. Either way it’s not magic, but it’s a solid compressor and great bang for buck.
Friday, March 29th, 2013
OK OK! Just one more post about Tube Screamers (this week). As I was comparing the plugins in the second shootout I was thinking that some of them sounded very similar, and that some were totally different. I set up Q-Clone to see more closely what was going on with each of the plugins and my two pedals.
The plugins and pedals were each set to 0% drive, 50% tone, 50% level.
Go here if you can’t see the imgur album embedded.
Friday, March 29th, 2013
I was convinced to add all the free plugin options to the shootout. So I’ve downloaded several more plugins and ran them through the same test.
There are several free options currently available: TSE Audio TSE808, Ignite Amps TS-999, Ignite Amps TSB-01, Skreamer module in Guitar Rig 5 Player, Screamer module in POD Farm 2 Free, and Greener module in Peavey ReValver HPse (free for Addictive Drums users).
I made clips of 3 different knob settings for each:
Setting 1 is 0% gain, 50% tone, 50% level (no boost, just tighter lows)
Setting 2 is all knobs at 50% (medium clipping distortion)
Setting 3 is all knobs at 100% (lots of distortion, boosted highs and boosted ouput level)
Wednesday, March 27th, 2013
It’s pretty amazing how many different options we have for Tubescreamers these days. There’s the classic TS-808, TS9, the TS7 which I just bought last weekend, then there’s Screamer emulations in every virtual guitar amp package and then there’s the boutique and modded screamers. Ibanez even has 5 different Tubescreamers in production today. They all sound different! Every guitarist and studio engineer has one version they swear by.
A Tubescreamer can be used as a distortion pedal of course but it’s most used as a way of tightening up the bottom-end of an amp and to push an amp into distortion while still maintaining the character of the amp. The circuit includes a high pass filter which makes a huge improvement in tightness of palm mutes, it also has a midrange hump that adds clarity to picked notes. To learn more go here.
Today I spent some time shooting out my Ibanez TS7 pedal with my CMATMods Tube Slammer (a boutique pedal based on TS-808 circuit with upgrades). Since I put that effort in I figured I’d continue and run my software versions through the same tests – Amplitube, PodFarm and GTR.