Thursday, August 15, 2019

A (Lack Of) Gold Rush!

Well, here we go. Looks like it's time for a gold rush in podcasting. I've received an astounding number of "we'll help you monetize your podcast - no matter how small the listenership!!!" emails, and new audio-related podcasts are popping up on an almost-daily basis. For example, in the above image, we have Insights From The World of Pro Audio, brought to you by Focusrite (via Tape Op - hey, don't those guys hate digital?).

I doubt that the CEO of Focusrite is going to hang out with dudes from the local Guitar Center, and I'll bet that Jack White will somehow be involved. That's about all I can come up with.

I'm also sure that I'll listen to the first one, scratch my head, and move along. I don't think stuff like this has the 'Long Run' in mind at all: podcasting is the groove of the day, so AdMen say "Let's do it!" Something else tomorrow? "Let's pivot." It's simply not the kind of thing that sustains itself on a purely-commercial basis.

Wanna make a million dollars on a podcast? I don't know if that's even possible, but if it is, it probably involves getting the exclusive story of someone's murder, serializing it in a lurid way, then dripping it out as part of a major publicity campaign, probably somehow including a Kardashian in some way. It's not going to come about by talking about frequency response curves.

Maybe I just love the dusty corners of the internet - and I'm waiting for podcasting to become a dusty corner again. I still read several email newsletters, blogs, online magazine and other No Longer Sexy media. Soon podcasts will become No Longer Sexy as well. Then we will be back to dedicated (maybe obsessed???) people talking about the stuff they love to the small audience that really, really cares.

And the Make-A-Million folks will go back into real estate and cosmetics where they belong.


Sunday, August 11, 2019

Ode to the Ansible

I'm in the middle of a re-up of all my systems, and I decided to give something a try. See, I've been a monome-fan for a long time, and particularly in love with the Earthsea module, since it performed a sequencing function unlike anything else in my arsenal. I also played with the White Whale module a bit, but would always gravitate back to the Earthsea - until I needed the White Whale again.

In my new updated studio system, I decided to try the Ansible; I thought it was cool that it would allow me to switch between an Earthsea variant and a White Whale variant (the Kria app), and it would also host a MIDI keyboard when I needed it. And it was only 6HP, which was about what I had to offer.

Hooked it up on Friday, and spent some time yesterday getting into it. I started with the Kria/White Whale app, and ran into a lot of problems; it is different enough from the White Whale module that I couldn't transfer much of my previous knowledge, and some of the documentation was a little jibberish-ish, so I was having trouble following. Eventually, I figured out the loop function, the context switching, and yesterday (Saturday) I was doing some fun banjo-like breakdowns with the Mangrove. Fun!

Today (Sunday) I switched over to the Earthsea app and fell in love. First, the implementation is somewhat simplified, but it all feels completely like the Earthsea module. Secondly, they created a "Runes" key that changes the weird fingershapes into button presses, which immediately made me want to use 'em. Finally, the use of the front-panel buttons to move sequence-to-sequence is just plain fun to work, and hit me with the joy stick.

I'm going to keep playing around with this (next up - how does it work with a MIDI keyboard?), but it looks like it has earned its place in the studio system. Whee!


Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Digitalis V3 (the Living Room Modular)

Well, today I finished up "Digitalis V3" - the third version of my Living Room Modular. The idea was to make a laptop-comfortable modular that would allow me to do complete compositions - and to be robust enough to survive multiple day's of on-again-off-again attention.

Things are based around a pair of 1010 Music's modules: The Toolbox (in FlipUI mode) and Bitbox (in Normal mode). These two give me an amazing set of options, with tons of LFO's, note and gate sequencers, sampling and synth functions. To add some further modulation sources, I have a Xaoc Zadar with the NIN expander (which is critical, since I can fire off one-shot envelopes with the expander's buttons) and the Intellijel 1U Noise Tools. Mixing and routing are handled by a pair of buffered 1U multiples and a 1U Quadratt, and visualization from a 1U oscilloscope.

But key to this system's sound is the backend. I've always - since V1 - had a WMD Overseer filter, which is now one of my favorite filters in the world. This used to feed into a Grayscale Supercell, but I traded that out for a Microcell, which gave me enough room for a DSI DSM02 (which I continue to love...) and a Pico Input. The whole thing is in my 4Ux104HP case, which fits nicely in my lap.

The above patch is my first full-in composition (called The Catskills), which will be part of my next release. Great fun!


Sunday, July 28, 2019

In Praise of 3HP

OK, I'll admit to being a number-obsessive. I've always preferred even numbers; as a kid, I made sure that I took an even number of steps between cracks in the sidewalk (and still do this occasionally), and like things straight-and-even.

So you can imagine how I felt about the first odd-HP modules that I came across. It was The Harvestman, and I just couldn't wrap my head around the reason that odd-HP would make sense - unless you wanted to get people to get matching pairs of modules (thus leading to an even number of HP). Grumble-grumble, I just avoided them like the plague.

As I got different cases loaded up, I'd always end up with a few HP that needed to be filled. Generally, I'd check out the offerings by 2hp, the makers of the thinnest useful modules in the land. I ended up with a lot of 2hp modules, but I never loved using them. Mostly, it was getting access to the controls - I often felt like I needed to use a tweezers in order to turn knobs or punch buttons.

Recently, I found myself needing a good input module, and nothing 2hp had would work. So I broke down and bought a Erica Synths Pico Input (at 3HP) along with a 1HP blank. Plopped it in the system and kind of fell in love. The extra 1HP made access to the shaft-y knobs a lot more comfortable, and plugging in cables (especially Stackables) was much easier and less ugly.

I've started replacing the 2hp modules with 3HP Pico modules, and I'm kind of loving it. That input module kills it, the dual VCA is simple and clean, and I just ordered an LFO/S&H and Envelope pairing that should also be cool. Takes a little more room (2 modules per 6HP, vs. 3 modules by 2hp), but I find these things a lot more fun to use. It's also opened my mind to other odd-HP modules, like the NIN expander module for the Zadar and that Roland Torcido.

But, you know, I'm going to have to double up on my sidewalk step-counts in order to make up for this!


Friday, July 26, 2019

In the Middle of Things...

Just a quick note: my new Output Platform desk came in, was assembled, and I'm almost done with wiring. I'll have a more detailed post later this weekend, but man - this thing is amazing. I've had purpose-built desks before (including Argosy consoles), but nothing seemed to fit my lifestyle as well as this.

I picked up a few things (most specifically: a Series 500 cage for audio tools) to augment the layout, but right now it seems pretty awesome. More anon!


Monday, July 15, 2019

This is what I get for my $2600?

(image left fuzzy - to give you a sense of the sound...)

Good gravy. 

I had to get an MRI on my right knee today - it finally got that bad. Alas, a 5:30am appointment to anything is never going to be good news, but at least the Minneapolis traffic wasn't too bad!

So I get in there, they set me up, then ask me "What kind of music would you like?" I asked what they had, and they said they'd play a YouTube playlist (*first warning*). I said "Try Pat Metheny" - then spent the next 10 minutes helping them understand how to spell it. It took me a minute before I realized I was talking to medical professionals, at which point I said "Meth, plus an E-N-Y". The got that.

Then they gave me these MRI-safe headphones. Given that I'd had to fill out a huge form about my lack of piercings, metal fingernail polish and embedded intestinal camera, I was wondering what these would be like. They were horrible - they fit nice, but the whole think sounded like I'd just gotten out of the pool, and couldn't shake the water out of my ears.

Combine that with the variety of bangs, whizzle-whirs a zim-zazzles that the Siemens MRI machine was making and I came up with two realizations:

1. There is a market for better sounding MRI-safe headphones, and
2. I should have chosen The Utah Saints for my MRI soundtrack.


Thursday, July 11, 2019

And a Side Benefit...

So, after putting the handle on the side of the case, I found myself swinging this thing onto my lap a lot more often - and a lot easier. However, I also started running into a hellhole - there is no way that the power supply is held into its place other than the friction of the plug.

What does that mean?

It means that there have been several times where I've been working on something, adjusted my chair - and the power unplugged, killing the unsaved work I was in the middle of performing. Piss me off? Oh yeah it did.

After the last time it happened, I found myself grumbling: "Grrr, why don't they have one of those little PS wrapper things to prevent the power from getting pulled out?" Then I looked at the handle, and I looked at the power cable.

And I ran the cable through the handle...

... and haven't had a power outage since then. Simple solution, right? But a great side benefit to the handle that I didn't expect, but has become a real treat.