Thursday, May 31, 2012

Learning By Doing

Duzit allicus
This week we've got another contribution from my favorite audio volunteer at work. He's not afraid to dig in to things and learn by doing. That's pretty important in the audio business. I'll leave the rest to Evan.

So Jon had asked me to write some blog posts when he first started this blog and I wrote one and said, "Hey, I'll hit you up when I get another idea". Well as time went on I could never really think of something good to write about and I realized how much knowledge a lot of the other writers had that was in more advanced areas than of my own knowledge. Anyway, I started thinking of all the times my small little ideas that seemed sometimes unimportant turned out to be valuable life/time savers.

Actually, I'm going to butt in here. That's a pretty astute observation. You should read that last sentence again.

This past Christmas season Jon asked me to do the recording and tracking of the live portions of our Christmas event. I, like any good young Jedi/sound engineer, showed up extra early. I saw a pair of decent studio headphones and put them on. It seemed that they were cutting in and out and I told Jon, "Hey I'm gonna fix these for you". I proceeded down to the work bench and flicked on the soldering iron. I cut and striped the wires several times taking of at least two feet of wire. Then to prove my amazing soldering skills I balled up the soldier, covered the headphones with four rolls of electrical tape and gave them back to Jon.

Here's another area that you can only get so far by reading. To be good at soldering you just have to do it a bunch. He actually did a pretty decent job. I still use those cans any time I need to listen to something without being more than six inches away from the headphone jack!

Now unfortunately this story was true and I received a fair amount of discipline, punishment, and payback due to this. Now the moral of this story is to never trust anyone's work except for yours. A lot of times I will go to a small venue and end up rewiring it all over again. Even if it's wired the same as what I would do. This not only assures the fact that it's set up properly but if something were to go wrong I know how it's set up so I can quickly locate the problem and fix it in a "timely manner".

I don't know if I'd call it abuse and punishment. I thought beating him with the garden hose so it didn't leave any marks was just the sort of gentle correction he was in need of! And I don't know if I'd go so far as to rewire a venue, but looking over it in a fairly detailed manner is a pretty good standard operating procedure. Gold star for Evan!

Another thing if learned over the years is sometimes you need to get dirty and just figure stuff out yourself. There may be a small problem that me screwing around with stuff to try to fix it won't damage anything. Unless your working with high loads, large volumes and lots of amp power its actually helpful to just try different things and and fix the solution. I've learned several great techniques and gained helpful problem solving skills this way.

Wise beyond your years you are, young Jedi...

Finally, I've learned to use resources that are readily available. Now this has several meanings. Knowledge wise I have this blog, Jon, people on this blog, random people on the streets in the US and Canada, and Google. Now I do not kid when I say Google. In many aspects Google has been my life saver several times.

Flattery will get you everywhere kiddo.

Another way I mean use your resources is to sometimes just build random stuff that can help you. In the past two days I have made at least ten joule thieves to help me do a bunch of stuff ranging from boosting volume on a small speaker to being green by using all the power in batteries. I've even boosted the power of a remote control. So use your resources because they may save your life.

And there you have it folks. He can be taught! It just goes to show you Brethren of the Knob and Fader, you're never too young (or too old) to learn some new tricks.

1 comment:

  1. Since flattery has gotten you nowhere with me as "just a blog poster" I was there the day those cans were being fixed and in the time it took to "fix" said cans managed to solder a 16x10 stage box and have it fully tested. Practice your skills. Good job on looking at things. I'm often asked by some other bretheren in training why I don't let them mix much. Simple answer YOU DON'T KNOW PATCH! If you don't know what you're mixing where it's coming from where it's going and what you're trying to do with a signal leave it alone for someone that does. This doesn't mean you can't mix it just means you don't know what could be going wrong. Preparation especially in terms of knowledge will get you out of a lot of binds. Not all systems are the same but if you know basics you can figure out quite a bit and grow your talents. Ignoring the basics will only get you into trouble!


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