Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Studio’ Category

25
Apr

The Fabulous Blue Wabbits

After a long hiatus of not jamming with another person or playing in a band, I decided to look up some of the guys in my original 1960’s band, The Mariners which then became The Blue Diamonds.

Mariners

The lead guitarist (I was the rhythm player) was on assisted living, scooter bound as the result of a stroke many years prior. While he longed to play, it wasn’t in the cards for him to do so. In 2010 he left the earth for what I hope for him will be rock heaven. I didn’t find out for four months he’d even passed away.

Next up was the drummer. He’d also had a heart attack years previous and moved to the interior of BC.

Lastly was the bassist. As the youngest member of the original band with a unique name, I started looking on the internet and I suspect purely by accident, found him. Turns out he also had some health problems that he’d survived and was still sort of playing for his own enjoyment. A quick contact email and we hit it off after all those years. It was 2006.

We started to jam every month or so for fun, playing a lot of the tunes we used to play in the 60’s. Which was pretty tough because, first and foremost, I am not a lead player. I was the rhythm player in the band, I’d spent most of my playing life in rhythm. Usually singing along with something.

Mel Fred Oct06 1

To address this shortcoming since it was unlikely we’d find anyone our own age who’d be remotely interested in playing 60’s instrumentals, I started to build up a shoe string recording setup. I could lay down some rhythm, use a Casio keyboard I had for a simple drum track and away we’d go. Lot of times I’d find a MIDI track of a song we’d played in the past and I’d mute out sections and they we’d play along with it.

Lead and bass with a backing track.

The dining room in the house became the temporary music studio. I was 55 at the time.

As time progressed, my wife suggested that we vacate the dining area and move to a spare room upstairs in the house. And not exactly a large room at that.

The rule of houses are that you will expand to fill all given space. This was no different…

In the new room, there was, of course, more room for recording equipment. Hence, I rose like a bass to a lure and started to fill it.

Mel being goofy

Of course, I was filling it with recording equipment that I could afford at the time. This seldom ever equates to what you want, or need, or understand what you want for that matter. School of hards knocks is a good education though.

Studio Console

It didn’t take long before the short comings of the gear started to rear it’s ugly head. It will be sufficient to say that once you start down this road, the guitar side of things starts to look pretty darn cheap. A decent multi-channel audio interface will run $2,000 pretty easy.

MelFred2007

But since when did that deter anything for me… I admit it, anything I do, I tend to really OVER DO. Or at least do it to the maximum of my ability. My wife, bless her heart, has always been 100% supportive of my craziness.

The computer office where my software company, Wabbit Wanch Design, was run out of in the house, is one the largest rooms and has a bay window. Since the wife and I were doing less software, she suggested we swap rooms so I could “expand” properly. Of course I agreed before she could come to her senses.

During the move, Fred and I attended a “mixing” seminar put on by Tom Lee Music in Vancouver with guest Eddie Kramer. Imagine my shock when I won the door prize. An autographed Martin acoustic. I still have it and play to this day.

Eddie  Mel

I’m not sure at what point I started to get better at leads, of which I readily admit I am still not a lead player, but I also started to write original tunes. Probably ones that had been bouncing around in my head for years. No idea. But I started to lay down proper drum tracks (using E-Z Drummer and then Addictive Drums) and then full rhythm tracks.

My go to rhythm guitar is a Godin XTsa.

Mel 2008 04 11 01

I couple it with a Roland VG88 for fills as well and it works very nicely. The only drawback to the XTsa is that it’s only 5 lbs lighter than my SUV. Heavy. And I’m on of those guys that can’t play sitting down. I have to have a strap and I have to stand. That’s how I played in the 60’s, that’s how I practiced, that’s still how I play. So, as a word of advice, if you play 90% of your time sitting down and you want to be in a band, get used to standing up and playing. It does feel different.

The new studio is different than most computer based studios because mine is external mixer concentric. I do a combo mix in the box and out of the box. A SoundCraft LX7ii and Apogee Ensemble are the audio I/O. I like the sound of both of them over the a plain audio interface into a computer.

Studio Feb 2012

The majority of the audio components are high grade now. And you can tell compared to some of the budget gear I used to have. Although I’d like to say that there’s no difference between a low cost mixer and a higher end one I’d be kidding you. There is a difference. What you have to figure out is what the break point is for the difference. It feels like the law of diminishing returns. I.e. spending 10 times the money doesn’t give you 10 times the quality.

After writing 40+ songs that we’ve recorded since 2007 (and made into some “fake” CD’s for friends) we finally decided to do a full on proper CD and see if we could get it into something like iTunes. Getting a publisher is pretty easy, recording, mixing, master, producing a full CD, isn’t. It’s a whack of work let me tell you.

April 13th, 2014 we finalized it.

TFBW Cover

Wait a minute…that should be the Blue Diamonds right? Yeah, well, except for the fact there IS another band called the Blue Diamonds in Holland. How’d that happen? Turns out our original drummer was from Holland, he I suspect was a fan of the Blue Diamonds there and when he emigrated to Canada and joined our band he suggested it, innocently enough I hope. So 40+ years later, with the internet we find them. Nope. We had to have a new name.

We had many suggestions, some so off beat you’d never think there was another band in the world with the same time. Yeah, well, surprise. There was. So we looked at what we had and since Wabbit Wanch Design has been around for a long time, we’d be Wabbits. So that’s how The Fabulous Blue Wabbits came to be. You can stop rolling your eyes now.

At this point now we’re on iTunes, Amazon world wide and a host of other places. And if you’re thinking we’re going on tour to promote the music, think again. This was more of a bucket list task than take over the world with instrumental music.

If our music did go any where, I’d love to hear it used for movie backing tracks, in commercials or something along those lines. That would be simply awesome and I think largely based on the sheer luck of someone in a position to use the tune actually hearing it and wanting to use it.

Me, well, I think I’ll keep writing tunes and recording them.

20
Apr

Speakers and shipping…don’t mix

I ordered some replacement speakers for my PA boxes. Two 400watt cast aluminum speakers that arrived today. By courier. FedEx.

Now I’ve always had fabulous service from Fedex and they’ve delivered some fragile stuff before, but this time, I have to give them a fail. My first big clue was the outside of the box. Looks like the baker tried to crawl out of the cake…

Box_Outside

When I unpacked the speaker, well, it was obvious that cast has no give to it at all. At least I don’t think the frame is supposed to look like this…

Broken_Woofer

The second woofer had some edge damage. I didn’t even bother plugging it in to see if it affected the sound. It’s not right, it needs to be fixed. The broken frame one needs to be replaced.

Cone Damage

Kind of puts a damper on the day when I was going to swap out the speakers. On the brighter side, I played the best round of golf I ever played. Shot +1 (73) on the NorthView Canal.

18
Feb

Genz Benz 60LT Acoustic Amp

Having an acoustic guitar and several guitar amplifiers means that I could plug in and use the built in pickup in my Fender Sonoran SE.

What I’d noticed in testing out electric/acoustics was that they used different amps than what your standard Tele or Strat might use. Initially, I was thinking “marketing ploy” but when I started to try some, yeah, they sounded a lot different. The idea of an acoustic amp is to make it louder without colouring your sound. So as usual, talk to a bazillion people, read reviews, and try out as many as I could to see what i liked the sound of.

Most of these amps are quite small, i.e. no Marshall stack (Marshall does make an acoustic amp though)…speakers range from a couple of 4″ to a single 12″ and anything in between. Almost all are stereo, which is interesting considering the guitar is a mono source. Wattages range from 15 to over 300. Yea, 300 watts through a pair of 10″ speakers (with tweeters).

Fishman acoustic amps are first and foremost, every friggin’ where. If there were any more, you’d have to start a spraying program to stop them breeding…I tried several different variations of their Loudbox Artist and Professional. Attractively priced. Sound did bupkiss for me.

From that point, I worked my way down the line…and happened to be out at SurfSide Music. Noticed they carried Genz Benz in a solid state series called “Shenandoah”. They went from 45 watts to 300 watts with various speaker compliments, effects and input/outputs. The king of the hill is the Shen ProLT or the 300LT. Loud doesn’t adequately describe these things. Deafening would be closer. None the less, I didn’t care for the sound of either, nor the price…

Then I tried the Shen LT60. Bingo. First amp that I tried that didn’t change the sound of the acoustic guitar. Just brought out it’s natural sound. I wondered what could be making all this wonderful sound and…a pair of 6 1/2″ speakers and matching tweeters. 30 Watts driver each pair for a 60 watt amp. Who’da thunk.

Genz Benz 60 LT.JPG

Specs:

• Lightweight 29 lb design
• Stereo 60-Watt Power (30 Watts per side)
• Stereo 24 Bit DSP w/ 16 Preset Digital Effects
• Two Channels w/3-Band Active EQ w/Sweepable Mids
• XLR and 1⁄4” Inputs
• Headphone Jack
• All Input Signals Mix Together
• Dual 61⁄2” Woofers and Bullet Tweeters
• Compact Monitor-shaped Cabinet Design
• XLR Direct Outputs (Left and Right) w/Ground Lift
• Phantom Power for Condenser Mics
• Speaker Stand Mountable
• Protective Metal Speaker Grille

Coming from a world of BIG 4 x 10 or 4 x 12 cabinets, it’s hard to explain how much volume/tone this little amp can pump out…with the mic input I can even caterwaul along with myself…

I recently checked Genz Benz for the LT60 and it would appear they don’t make it any more. They have an LT80 now.

If there’s one annoying “feature”, it’s that the designer(s) overlooked the fact that the amp thumps when you power it up and when you power it down. It’s a solid state amp, it has a DSP. When the DSP comes online, it thumps the speakers. Turn down the “effects” gain before power up and it doesn’t do it. I emailed the company and they suggested doing just that, turn down the gain, power on the amp, turn the effects gain back up.

Which is like saying: get in your car, turn the radio volume down to zero, start the car, turn the radio volume back to where it had been. Every time.

So Genz Benz, lovely little amp, good sound, sturdy but for the glaring oversight on an amp in this price range – FAIL.

Thus, I do like the sound, I tolerate the thumps because some engineer was probably polishing his resume…I hope.

13
Feb

El Sleezo MIDI Interface

If you’ve ever been surfing for a MIDI interface, I’m positive you’ve seen the likes of these ones:

MIDI Interface.JPG
They are littered all over the internet from a variety of sources from Amazon to eBay. Commonly called “USB To MIDI Keyboard Interface Converter Cable”, or some variation thereof.

Usually selling for the awesome sum of $5. If you’re wondering how they can build one of these for $5 and make a profit (when they even off free shipping), I have no idea either.

These things have peaked my curiosity for some time and since I’m not a feline, I took the bait…er plunge and ordered two of them. One from Amazon, one from eBay. After receiving both, it was obvious that they are from the same factory. There are no drivers to install, you just plug them in and..well…pray. Which is exactly what I did…

On my Mac system, they show up as “USB MIDI Cable” in my MIDI interfaces listing. Probably the most generic name in the world, but what the heck. No drivers.

Any way, I fired up my testing software and ran these through their paces. I expected the worst. I mean, what do you get for $5? A Starbucks latte? Maybe. Thus I was pleasantly surprised when the darn things actually work. Send MIDI, receive MIDI. Send SYSEX, receive SYSEX… they actually work.

Now lets stress them a little…ah ha. Hit them with a high traffic stream and…bingo. We got some issues. Our old evil friend Mr. Latency. Now the latency is not so bad that you could measure it on a calendar, but it’s there. Near as I can tell 9-15ms. Kind of varies. Probably not the largest buffer in them nor well written software (I’m guessing a PIC chip in them).

For standard low stream MIDI, you’ll probably get away with it and think they work perfect. But for multiple SYSEX messages (like doing a dump from a MIDI CPU where it sends umpteen SYSEX messages one after the other), or some really high traffic MIDI data, ah..nope. Fail.

Of course it “tries”, kind of like the little engine that could, but didn’t. You need the briefest of pauses between multiple SYSEX messages and it’s as happy as a clam though.

The reason for my testing these things out was that I wanted to see if it really needs a driver (no it doesn’t), does it actually work with SYSEX (yes it does, as noted), and is it really worth the $5 (yes it is). I wasn’t looking to replace my 8×8 MIDI interface that does routing, or even my M-Audio UNO. Just something I could toss in a gig bag or drawer, pull it out, do some SYSEX programming and toss it back in the drawer/bag.

The only thing I haven’t done is plug both of them at the same time to see what happens. And I’m not going to. No use tempting fate…

7
May

The “Bridge”

The studio Mac Pro’s built in wireless airport can barely reach the main router (a DLINK DIR 655) in the office. In spite of the fact that it’s only about 50 feet. The walls no doubt play a large part in the signal strength..

Thus, I picked up a DLINK DAP 1522 to use as an ethernet wireless bridge. Not exactly a straight forward set up, but that might be because I’ve never set up a bridge before. After finally figuring it out, I got the DLINK DP1522 connected to my DIR 655 and I was..ah.. stumbling along. I checked the signal strength and I was getting about 44% for a blistering throughput of 38Mbps. Maybe. More like dial up…and the signal would fluctuate all over the place.

The problem? The DAP1522 doesn’t have external antennas:

HPIM0165-1.jpg

You can see the antenna wire is glued onto the u.fl connector and then it goes to a piece of metal that’s supposed to be some great antenna. Which it’s not. Very directional, very pathetic. I read that the glue is very difficult to get off. I didn’t find that at all. Came off in a second at the most (almost flaked off). So maybe DLINK changed the type of glue they used.

I found an eBay seller who sold an external antenna mod kit but unfortunately only shipped to the US and I’m north of that… However, my son had a four year old DIR 655 that just fried itself and he was throwing it out. Guess what’s on the DIR 655? That’s right. Antennas!!!!

I IMG_2354

Took about two minutes to get the 655 part and salvage the antennas. I even got a spare…

I drilled two holes for mounting the antennas in the back of the DAP1522, put in the connectors and snapped them on the jacks on the main PCB.

IMG_2358

Had to cut off the two posts that have screws in them for holding the case halves together, but there are still snaps around the case that will hold it together. So no big deal.

While I wouldn’t say it looks like it’s factory installed, it was a simple and neat install.

IMG_2360

I connected it up to the Mac Pro in the studio and yep, it works sweet…(it’s 192.168.1.197 line):

DAP1522 Antenna Mod

Why DLINK doesn’t put antennas on these is a bit of a mystery. Maybe they want to sell more of the DAP 1555 that does have the external antennas (I think the 1555 is really a modded 655 anyway). But really the 1522 is a nice device, just needs some signal strength to it… which I now have…

25
Feb

Studio Load-in Day…

Finally, after what seems like forever, the blinds got installed in the studio. We wired the remainder of the console, tested out all the connections in the process and found two problems. One was a bad patchbay strip. Just a cold solder joint. The other is that one of the Sends in the LX7 is not working. That would be a major repair since it has to get disconnected, fixed and then reconnected. For now I’ll just remember that strip 17 Send is not working but the return works fine. Probably another cold solder joint…

After wiring in the rest of the studio it was time to bring all the amps and guitars back in, wire them up, run cables again for recording. Here we found some problems again and it was easy to fix them because it was during the install.

The blinds are Hunter Douglas and are the double cell type (motorized as well) and the first thing we noticed was that they really go a long way to deaden the sound reflection coming off those big windows. Triple cell would probably be even better, or perhaps heavy drapes. Except drapes don’t work all that well above a baseboard heater. The blinds also insulate the windows very well. It was really cold last night 21F and the bottom 10″ of all three windows has a heavy coating of ice on it this morning. That’s one of the issues you have with baseboard heaters instead of forced air (no air movement). Might try leaving them up a bit and see if that makes any difference.

IMG_2141

And the noise maker wall:

IMG_2148

15
Feb

Studio Wiring 2

I finally got enough of the wiring connected to power the console up and tests for…ah…leaks..

Before I shut it down, the Apogee interface was giving me fits. Firewire issues abounded. When I started it back up again, I did one OS update on the Pro and everything seems rock solid all of a sudden. On different days, after a number of restarts. While I am a computer geek, I don’t exactly under stand how that would happen. Unless some driver, flag or switch was thrown someplace deep within the OS.

I’m not going to dwell on it, I’ll just use it and the first time it craps out again, it will get replaced.

IMG_2102

And the spooky photo with only the console lighting…

IMG_2106

The monitors I hooked up aren’t my studio monitors. The are some poor JBL two way systems that I use when I want to check a mix out on what the average guy might have. The reason is if the mix sounds good on my monitors and the JBL’s, it should sound good any way. Course with the big empty room right now, they sound pretty muddy.

Now it’s time to write down where all those wires in the patchbays go to and come from. Then make up labels for them.

I can’t actually finish off the rest of the wiring until the blinds go in.

13
Feb

Studio Wiring – 1

Now that the console is back in one piece, I can start the long and complex task of trying to figure out where that 51lbs of wire goes to that I took out of it…

The racks already had LED lights in the back of them, so all I had to do was wire them back up to the switch panel in the front. I seen a lot of racks with those goose neck lamps for lighting and I’d have to tell you that those are pretty pathetic. The strips that I use are from RC helicopters and there is 20 LED’s per running foot. They run off 12VDC and a three foot string draws .4A (400ma). I have a 5A 12VDC power supply to run them all.

IMG_2062

Another critical area for light is the back of the speaker distribution system and the mixer. So I added a strip of LED’s in there too.

IMG_2061

While I was at it, I added two strips up under the front lip of the console. Each side is on a switch I so I have them on or off and need be.

IMG_2060

The racks has blue LED’s (we are the Fabulous Blue Diamonds after all) and again, controlled separately if the mood doesn’t strike us…

IMG_2075

So that’s the light package done. Next it was time to make the “tray” that would hold all the cables off the floor. I could have made one out of wood, but I decided to use those hooks that are designed to screw into the walls to hang ladders on. Cheap and string and worked out perfectly. It would have been nicer if the front edge had been a little higher but they’ll still work as is.

IMG_2081

11
Feb

Studio Console Installed

After messing around with pedals for two days, I managed to get back into the studio for the final fit and make sure it’s all going to work…

Surprisingly enough, it fit like a glove. The templates I made out of paper apparently helped more than I’d imagine they would. So here’s the completed desk, bolted in and waiting for the 51lbs of wiring to actually make it all work….

IMG_2052

It’s still sitting in the middle of the room because the motorized blinds going in won’t be in until closer to the end of the month. Plus there’s still a whack of wiring to do.

Dimension wise, my console is smaller than an Argosy (who make the cream of the crop when it comes to consoles as far as I am concerned) and lighter too (an Argosy this size would weigh in empty at around 800lbs). My whole setup is 36″ deep, 38″ tall, and 103″ end to end. While it doesn’t look at size in the pictures keep in mind the mixer is 31″ wide and that’s a 30″ Apple Cinema display…

IMG_2054

Next up is to start with the lighting and the power wires. Then it will be on to the audio wiring sections.

8
Feb

Console – Day 2

Seems to be either a large bug or an extra knob in the console…going to have to see if I can work that out of there..

IMG_2043

After the test fit, it was back into the shop to make the two backing plates.

One will hold the Presonus Central Station (speaker distribution controller). The other will simply sit behind the monitor. I was originally going to put in rack mounts but decided it was more work that it was worth because the mixer is far wider than a standard 19″ rack mount and the monitor covers the panel any way. So I made them out of wood and tolex’d them. Fake face plates…

IMG_2045

Back in the shop, I test fitted the shelf and backing plates. The green painters tape is to protect the Tolex from Varathane.

IMG_2049

The front “bumper” on the console is Tolex covered as well so I have someplace nice and cushy to rest my elbows…

7
Feb

Console – Construction

Once all the little bitty pieces are cut, fit, found wanting, I started to put it together. And of course, testing to make sure that the pieces still fit where they are supposed to…

IMG_2025

Once the middle part is partially done, it was time to see how it mated to the existing rack ends. Clamps were hold it in place so I could transfer the side positions and drill the mounting holes that hold the center to the sides…

IMG_2026

After drilling the mounting holes and applying several coats of Varathane, it was time for another test fit….

IMG_2040

Stay tuned for the next exciting part of this build…zzzzz

7
Feb

Console build – Plan Phase

And this is how console builds start:

IMG_2001

A 2 x 4 for a straight edge…and then some cardboard to make a template…just to see how everything might fit. Or not.

IMG_2002

Then it’s get a bunch of wood start cutting..

IMG_2022

Get a bass player to help with a low frequency broom is always a good idea too..

IMG_2024

26
Jan

Just silly…that’s all…

What happens when you mix left over 3D glasses from the cinema, a ongoing renovation, a room crowded with gear from the renovation and a guitarist with absolutely a left field sense of humor?

Scary thought…ain’t it…

IMG_2017.JPG

25
Jan

Mon E Tors…

I had a set of Behringer “Truths” studio monitors (2031A) that I was using. Keyword, “was”.

Last summer, I went out the dinner and didn’t power them down like I normally do, so with no audio running through them, they were just sitting there. Apparently that doesn’t bode well for their life span because one of them decided to make the quick trip to digital heaven…

So there they sat, in a corner, un-used, unloved…I replaced them with something completely different. In the meantime I picked up the replacement parts for the amp board that had fried. And the longer I looked at it, the less I felt like repairing it. I mean, come on, it’s Behringer. Not like it’s state of art or something…

Then my nephew says that he fried his speakers and news ones were too expensive. Since his were passive speakers and mine were now one 1/2 active, the light went on. I picked up a couple of $5 cross overs for the speakers, and preceded to dismantle and make them into passive monitors.

So here’s the box “before”:

IMG_1544

So you take off the plastic first and you’re faced with this:

IMG_1546

Then it’s time to get the speakers out:

IMG_1547

And you end up with a box full of HEAVY padding. A box knife hardly cuts this furry stuff and they glued and staple it in there like it’s never supposed to come out…

IMG_1548

I used the existing wiring and screwed the cross over into the back of the cabinet:

IMG_1549

Added some terminals on the back for connections (what if you do this because there is a brace back there and it’s a bear to get through):

IMG_1550

Just add wire, amp and music and the “Bear Ringers” are making music once again…

22
Jan

Studio Room Completed…

Finally put all the finishing touches on the room. So the rebuild is going along nicely. THe cell curtains were ordered and they should be in Feb 21st. Then it’s time to get them installed. Thus by March 1st, maybe the whole room will be operational. Or not…

Doing reno’s takes a lot longer than I envisioned. What seems like days drags by and little seems to get done. Mainly because there is a whack of little things to do that don’t really show. The devil is in the details as they say.

So we go from this:
IMG_1902.jpg

To this:
IMG_1994.jpg

IMG_1993.jpg

IMG_1992.jpg

16
Jan

Studio Day 9 & Mixer

We finally completed the room reno today…all the wainscoting is up, the crown molding is up and it’s all filled. All that remains is some touch paint around the room. It seemed like this day was forever in coming…

Have nailer, will travel…

IMG_1969

On a different topic, every wonder what the inside of a Soundcraft LX7II looks like? Well since I am also designing a new console desk, and I wanted to build the mixer into the console, I took the ends off mine (for a better fit).

This is it with the ends removed and just sitting on the old console, on the new one, it will be desk level.
LX7 no Ends

But here is what is inside(there’s just a “few” solder connections in there… The really neat part is the boards are linked together so if they want a 16, 24, 32…they just add another board and put in the jumpers. And yes, put the whole thing in a bigger enclosure… I was surprised by the complexity of the circuit boards. An extremely well built design.

LX7 Back Inside

Now if I could only afford a SoundCraft Ghost…hey, a guy can dream can’t he…

13
Jan

Studio Day 8

Day 8? That’s right. I sat on my butt for the entire day 7. You know, on the 7th day, I rested…

Today, however, Carol and I got some more ideas for finishing, and that’s a dangerous omen in itself…but we decided to add some more molding around the window to finish the edges better. And darned if it wasn’t a lot of work and well…it looks way better.

IMG_1955

The baseboard isn’t done yet because the frame for the mural isn’t done and the baseboard has to fit around it. The baseboard heater looks ugly but what else do you do with them.

So two more pieces of trim for the mural, some baseboard and then the ceiling crown moulding and it’s done. Course at this point, we’ve turned into a couple of babbling goofs too. At the onset, I thought I was taking the easier way out rather than spend countless hours stripping wall paper and then fixing the wall. I was wrong. The fact remains that this looks far better than just painting the whole wall. It adds some character to the room.

I think we’re going to take another day off and then maybe tackle it on the weekend…

12
Jan

Studio Day 6

I’m seriously thinking of just resting on DAY 7…but since today was day 6, I finished off the doorway and a little more in front of the window…

IMG_1951

And of course it turns out that since we made a few design changes along the way, I bought too much chair rail. Can’t take it back since it’s all painted up. Oh well. Better ten feet too much than ten feet too short…

IMG_1950

Apparently in this day and age, curtains are somewhat passe. So when the wood side of things is done, I have to go looking for some insulated curtains. Probably end up making my own curtain rod too…

11
Jan

Studio Day 5

Only spent a few hours tonight working on the room but still got a lot of wall done…

And it’s starting to look pretty nice!

IMG_1946

10
Jan

Studio Day 4

Picked up all the wood (and as it turns out we still need a few pieces…) for the room refinishing. Even though the windows are square, apparently the framer never used one himself. The window casing is anything but square and the sill overlapped the wall. So a few minutes with a Dremel saw and that was fixed and I framed the windows with moulding. They look much better than before. Now I have something to edge the wainscoting up to.

IMG_1936

Carol was pushing to start the wainscoting so…away we went. Brads, a pinner, and no nails glue. We have to get some extension electrical boxes to keep within code (and those little suckers are PRICEY!)…but it’s done right.

IMG_1940

The boards are 3/8″ thick but only 5 3/4″ wide. It’s plank style. We put a good cost of paint on them before putting them up so at worst a quick touch up in spots.

Carol brought up the baseboard and chair rail for a mock up so this is what it will look like when it’s done:

IMG_1942

Cutting around the electric boxes isn’t a lot of fun but we found an interesting way of doing it that’s not too bad. I still have to notch out the chair rail to fit over the wainscot. Always more work to these things than what you think…

8
Jan

Studio Day 3…Measles…

Drywall filling…mmm… drywall dust…mmm… cough cough…

Got the room prepared for painting today. Filled all the unsightly warts, cracks and bumps that I never even knew were in the walls…. Amazing how those have appeared over the years…

IMG_1919

Put on the first coat of paint tonight. Took all of about 40 minutes to paint the room. Probably give it a second coat later on.

IMG_1927

Carol and I have discovered that there is no colour that would actually “blend” in with the large mural on the opposite wall, so we are just using a neutral colour and if it doesn’t work, we’ll redo it with something else. Like cardboard…

The bottom part of the wall is going to have wainscoting because anything is easier than trying to peel off twenty yr old wallpaper…. The wainscotting is all painted up and ready to go. We also picked up all the trim (baseboard and chair rail) today from Rona (the no so stellar home reno store) because they’re only about 500 yards from the house…

IMG_1922

The most fun part of this project, apart from the fact that the room is finally getting redone after 20 years, is the thinking, planning and trying to vision what all this is going to look like. And in that respect, we’re flying on a wing, prayer and a paint stick…

6
Jan

Studio 2

Okay. Stripping wall paper from the walls that were never painted properly 20 years ago, sux. Really sux. So I’m looking at wainscoting the lower part of the walls to hide the rotten stinking wall paper that’s adhered there…might work…

Current state:

IMG_1902

So like the Karate Kid…wallpaper release on, wallpaper not coming off…so cover it…here’s the general idea, unpainted wainscoting. At least it’s not that expensive…

IMG_1913

3
Jan

Studio Rebuild…Phase 1

The studio is being redesigned and updated, a new console, the room needs painting and so on. So you have to start by ripping out the old install. And until you start to rip all those wires out of the console and racks you have no idea just how many feet of wire you have in there.

Early in the day it looked like this:

IMG_1881

All that’s left after 5 hours of work is this:

IMG_1900

Yep. About 20 lbs of wire roughly 6″ deep…

But there’s a lot more stuff to come out of there yet.

13
Oct

Clean n wire

Trying to clean up the studio today..always a bigger job than it looks…

One of the problems has been the low levels coming from the Radial JDI. Finally figured out that the XLR output is at microphone levels and not line level. A simple patch cable fixed that up.

The it was time to finally retire the Euphonix MCMIX. Kind of sorry to see it removed but my iPad will work just fine in it’s place so it’s not going to be missed too much. I put it on Craigs to sell but it’s a pricey piece of hardware. We’ll see.

Picked up a couple of Hercules guitar stands. Nice builds. Sure makes those cheap stands look sooooo cheap…

4
Oct

Tis The Rack For Yee

I finally got all the bits and pieces to build the rack head cabinet for my V-Amp Pro and the Peterson Stroborack tuner. For the box, it’s a 4U rack box and the bassist helped me build it.

I should point out I am not a wood worker. More of a wood butcher actually. So it’s made of pine so it’s easy to work with.

I used a biscuit joiner since I don’t have a fancy dove tail cutter setup.

I’ve never done Tolex before so this is my first time with that. Not sure I want to try it again. It is not as easy as some people make it look. I guess if you did it enough, it would get easier. Just not sure I want to do it that much.

Here’s the start of the Tolex, just a simple two piece job.

Then I wrapped and cut in the corners.

Finally wrapped in all the corners and added the bottom piece, the rack ears and the handle.

Then I mounted all the components in the cabinet and here’s what it finally looked like:

All in all, I’m pretty happy with it for a first try but I wouldn’t want to do this for a living…

22
Jul

Hardware McTweaky

One of the things about having a recording studio in the house is that it’s always in a constant state of flux. Adding new gear like a guitar, amp, compressor, fx pedal, DI, or just updating the recording software (Digital Performer) keeps it interesting…

The second is just adding decoration to the studio to “pretty” it up. This I’m not so good at. I tend to leave things functional, hang up a poster, stick a decal or two on a amp, call it done.

But I do have a weakness. In a word, lights. I put led rack lighting in and it’s great. Saved me many times from crawling around In the back of the rack with a flashlight clamped in my teeth…

Cost is minimal at best, a strip of 36″ of LEDS (60 of them) is $7. The DC transformer wasn’t much more.

Now I’ve ordered a midi relay setup so I can add a recording light. Mmmmm.