Sunday, August 31, 2014


17950150-1002156246 
I went ahead and did it. Now you can proudly stick out your chest and show those punks you're not going to take any crap. A must for any engineer slogging it out in the club scene. Or pull it out any time you want to get a laugh from your mates. Use with caution. Wear at your own risk.

http://skinnymac.spreadshirt.com

Proceeds benefit a youth theatre program in Western New York State

Thursday, August 7, 2014

"Stand By!" or How I Accidentally Started A T-Shirt Business


About a week ago while prepping for weekend services at the church where I work I got a wild idea for a tattoo for our relatively mild mannered director. I scribbled down a quick sketch and showed it to him. He said it was probably a bit much for a guy who works at a church and I came back with something about dry bones from Ezekiel and then we started talking about a butterfly wearing a headset and after that it frankly started to get a little weird. If you've never worked in church production it's full of just as many characters as regular production. But I digress. 

The long and short of it is that it's incredibly easy these days to get a company online to do a one-off print of a t-shirt idea you have.  So one night last week I sat down and did a proper drawing, scanned it, touched it up, and had it uploaded and ready to print in about an hour. I didn't really intend to do much more than order one of these to wear around the office but people seem to like the idea and in a little under an hour more I had an online shop going where you can get this guy on all manner of shirts and tank-tops and hoodies and whatnot.



I make a tiny (miniscule) amount per item that sells but I'm not out to start a t-shirt empire here. Anything I make from this little endeavor will get donated to a local children's theatre nonprofit in my neck of the woods. Here's a link to the store, share it around with anyone you think might enjoy it because after all it was invented just for fun. It's a great gift, whether it's for that "stage manager from hell" that you know, or if things move so slowly on your gig that you feel like you might wind up like this guy waiting for that "go" call, or even if you work at a church and need some "biker cred" to toughen up your image a little bit (just pull out that Ezekiel scripture if anyone stops you in the hall).

There's a deal going on for the next few days too...

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Training Your Memory

I read a lot in my spare time. That being the occasional five to ten minutes that I get here and there during the day. Needless to say it takes many a month to get through an actual book on my cell phone so more often than not I'm just browsing the audio forums on Reddit or reading some tech blog posts. There have been a lot of articles recently about training your memory and when I read the most recent one some things finally clicked into place for me.

The concept of a "Mind Palace" has come to the forefront recently with its frequent use in the Sherlock Holmes series on PBS. It also features heavily in fiction, quite often in a similar vein where a detective uses his photographic memory to go back through things he has seen and pick up on new details. The process involves associating memories with visual anchors to make retrieving them easier. While most people can't achieve the kind of savant-level performance pictured in those scenarios, improvement is generally possible to some extent.

Every time I read an article like this I would get frustrated because while I can hold a pretty long input list in my head (including mics, positions, patch points, inserts, routing, etc) I can't remember all five things I need to pick up at the grocery store on the way home. This has led to my trying a multitude of solutions from paper notebooks to digital solutions with little to no success.

There are problems with both the analog and digital methods. Carrying a slim notebook in your pocket is great. You're not confined to just typing a list into your phone, it's easy to add a little sketch, or turn it sideways and fit some additions in the margins. But they get wrecked easily and eventually they get full and you put them somewhere, often putting that data out of reach. On the digital side you have a little bit of a stumbling block in that it's not easy to jot down a long list of information on the screen of your phone. On the other hand, newer apps make it very easy to snap a photo, clip a web page, sync it all up and you can get to it on any platform from anywhere in the world. The only down side is that you're often standing around waiting for an app to open or getting slowed down by the user interface instead of paying attention to the task at hand.

At any rate, the basis of the technique finally clicked into place for me when I realized that I could take one of the easier methods for memorization and adapt it to an area where I'm really good at remembering things. I'll link to the article but the premise is that you set up a mental template for a ten item list to start. Each item rhymes with the number it's assigned to, one - run, two - zoo, etc. Then you put whatever thing you're trying to remember into the image. So if the first thing on your list is picking up the dry cleaning you picture yourself running in the door of the cleaners, then you need to get your oil changed so you picture your car at the zoo, maybe with a gorilla doing the work. The more outrageous the imagery the better you'll remember.

When the light bulb finally went on for me was when I realized that I already have a list like that. It's my stock channel input list and it's chiseled into my grey matter like words on a tombstone. So for me anyway it was a simple jump to 1 - kick, 2 - snare, etc. If I need fifteen things from the grocery store, the first ten are arranged on a drum kit, the eleventh item is on the bass amp, and so on. I can get as crazy as I need to in that frame work. Picture an avocado shredding a guitar solo and you're guaranteed not to pass them by at the store.

Check out the article if you want it laid out in more depth, but that's the general principle and it's already helped me out a bunch.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Back Again... Thanks Regional Musician!

Well it looks like I've got at least a temporary gig writing for Regional Musician. This month anyway they're running another article of mine. Long time readers will recognize the "Two Mic Guitar Method" so often described in these pages and on the podcast. You can read the musician friendly version and a lot of other cool stuff in the digital pages of their wonderful publication, or keep scrolling down for some links to past posts on the topic.

It comes in three flavors depending on what region of the States you live in. International readers just pick one, it's all good. Better yet, read all three.




The "Sound Check" article is on page eight no matter what version you check out.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Hey! We're Back! (Sorta)

Yeah, I know. It's been a heck of a long time since you've seen hide or hair of us. Quite simply, life happened. A couple guys that work at churches got hit square in the chops by the Christmas season. Anthony and his wife also had their first kid. So there hasn't been much time for blogging and podcasting for either of us.

The good news is that through the blessed goodness of Reddit, yours truly got asked to write a column for Regional Musician Monthly. The first one just went up and you can check it out here:


There's different versions depending on where you live/gig:



 The "Sound Check" article always features advice from an audio professional. This month that's yours truly and I get into it about safety on and off the stage. It's on page eight.


If you're just getting here because you read my article in RM, here's some links to articles about electricity and such.


That's just a few. The archives are pretty deep so go ahead and dive in. There's over four hundred posts. Some of them are even useful and informative.

Monday, October 14, 2013

SNR Mini Podcast - Vocal Compression

aaaaaaand we're back... sort of. A fellow Redditor was looking for examples of compression to help train his ear. I had a couple minutes free and whipped up a little sample. Here it is for your edification.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Fast Switching A Backup Mic

I just had a bit of an epiphany. This may already be common practice but I've never seen it or heard mention of it so I guess I'll go ahead and pass it on. 

There are certain situations where you need a hot backup mic. This is particularly true for a wireless mic on a lead actor or lead singer. In a professional setting it's not uncommon for an actor to wear a second mic in case the first one fails during a scene. Likewise on a music gig it would be the height of carelessness not to have a second hand held wireless mic waiting for the lead singer. 
 
The trick is making the switch really fast when a failure happens. Easy enough you say, just mute the one and un-mute the other. But what if you've made any adjustments in the mean time. You could always touch the back up channel every time you touch the primary, but I think there's a better way. 

The trick (on a digital console anyway) is to set the two adjacent channels up as a stereo pair. Then you've got common controls, any EQ or dynamic adjusment you do on the fly automatically applies to both channels. The pan knob in the case of a stereo pair acts like a balance in most cases, so panning all the way to the left will give you all primary signal and nothing from the back up.

Wait, you say. Doesn't that leave you with your lead mic panned all the way to the left in the house? It would. So the last bit of the trick is to route it through a mono bus, panned straight up. If you need to place the mic somewhere other than center you do it on the bus. If and when the mic craps out, just grab the pan knob and swing it hard right. Now you're hearing just the back up (with all the same settings) and it's still right there in the middle of the mix.

I'm not sure if this one is going to change the world but for myself anyway, any little thing that can help with redundancy in a zero fail type of situation is a big deal no matter how small a trick it is.