Project Studio Tea Break

It’s the Cold, Flu, and Holidaze® Season. That time of year when everything goes BatS#*! Crazy

Here in APITEland, EduCorp® goes clinically insane trying to squeeze everything in before the end of the year, Holiday Decor in every store months before you want to think about it, Holiday Music everywhere months before the actual season, Black Friday/Cyber Flargsday sales on anything and everything (yeah, I gave in too – more in a second), and the ritual coordinating family and friends for holiday plans whilst trying to keep at least one one eyebrow above water. And December has just started…

One of the things I’ve been doing to keep myself sane over the season is indulging in Audiocasts. I did a bit of pruning over the summer, trying to whittle down what I really enjoyed verses what I was growing tired of, which of course leaves me more ‘room’ for new ones. (like somehow I magically have more time after doing that…)

Saint Ian and Jon Tidey over at The Mastering Show did an episode of their favorite shows, and one of the ones they mentioned that I hadn’t heard of was Project Studio Tea Break (title tie-in!). It’s become a highlight of my listening regimen. 🙂

PSTB, as it’s colloquially called, is Mike Senior and Jon Whitten. Mike should be well-known from Sound On Sound fame (you do read SOS, right?) and as an Audio Engineer, Author, and all-round Font of Knowledge in the Audio Kingdom. Jon is a composer firmly rooted in the theatre and dance community, and brings his unique perspective to the ‘Professional Audio Chitty-Chat Internwebz® Delivery System’ norm. For a ‘Professional Audio Audiocast’ PSTB is light on technical prowess and snobbery, aiming for (ahem) a good poke in the ear towards recording technology, techniques, and the interpersonal relationships everyone in the industry has dealt with.

The odd tip or trick sneaks in every once in a while, but this is not what you’re looking for here. PSTB is as the name implies – a time to take a break and have a cuppa and talk about dumb stuff before the clock starts ticking again. It’s an hour of clearing the fuzz out of your mind – not worrying about why you can’t figure out how to make the snare drum ring disappear or why the backing vocals sound strangely out of tune even though you’ve triple-checked them on every piece of technology you can get your hands on and they all tell you they’re fine. It’s the couple of pints at the pub after a long day nursemaiding a computer, recording, mixing, and hoping the session backs up so you can fix all the mistakes with fresh ears tomorrow. It’s reading about the latest shiny Company X announced that everyone is talking about but you know is complete and utter bullshit and won’t change games or move anything forward except the company’s bank account. It’s the relief of stepping outside after applying a bunch of studio foam with that spray adhesive, or the glorious smell of brand-new silicone-jacketed cabling. It’s a peek inside what your engineer, producer, or musical director is really thinking.

So you can see how this is right in the wheelhouse. But don’t just trust me –  click the link above and get caught up (there’s only eight episodes as of this writing) or subscribe in your favorite player. If you’ve spent any time in the musical landscape (and if you’re reading this you have) then you’ll enjoy every moment and look forward to the next monthly fix.

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In other news I bought one of the new iPad Pros – the 11” model this time. I know, I know… I kinda trash-talked them a few posts back, but after getting my hands on one I decided it was time to move my 1st-gen on to my brother (who’d better not be reading this since it’s his Christmas present) and get something smaller and…well, better.

Why?

USB-C.

From the moment I connected a USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adaptor (stupidly long name here kids) to it and connected the HDMI port to a monitor I could see the future. Having the iPad display big and crisp on an external display is an absolute joy, but instinctively reaching for a mouse or trackpad instead of the screen is just antediluvian IMO. I’m also betting this has to drive the Mothership® Engineers bananas as well, so there’s some Skunkworks iOS version update allowing this just waiting for Phil Schiller to give the okay. And since Apple is still gung-ho about the ‘It’s a computer! It’s a dessert topping!, It’s a floor wax!” moniker (Hat tip to Charles over at Space Javelin for reminding me of this) they have to be looking into this – just having an external display for the GraphicsHeads doesn’t make sense for having this usable by the entire ‘Pro’ market. I guess we’ll see if I’m correct next spring.

I also like the smaller size – it’s easier to hold in my sausage paws and doesn’t feel like I’m doing a workout after 10 minutes. The True Tone display is gorgeous, and it can do true ‘split screen’ apps (unlike the previous smaller versions of the iPads Pro).  I’m spoiled by Face ID on the iPhone, so having it here is great (although my sausage thumb always seems to be covering the sensors which it smugly tells me), and the new Pencil is just stupid clever and I like the fact that it rides on the top instead of being lost in the bottom of my bag somewhere.

Oh, and the new NanoStudio 2 has been piquing my interest and looks pretty impressive, so I’m looking forward to trying a true DAW-like experience with in on a mobile device (bleeding edge, yada yada, what about Auria? I get it…) 

Lastly, I’ve been compiling the ideas for the ‘Musical Gifts for the 2018 Holidaze® Season’ post (last year’s post here) and that should be out within the next week or so, hopefully leaving me some actual time to spend with the fam over the (actual) Holiday Season. 

Until then, stay sane out there!

‘Musical Gifts’ for the 2017 Holidaze® Season

(or, horrible presents for the sonically-inclined people you probably know)

Ah, the Holidaze® Season is upon us. Like the year hasen’t been a big load of horse hockey so far… 🙂

This post was inspired by @drewtoothpaste‘s hilarious site The Worst Things For Sale which chronicles the most insipid things you can purchase on Amazon. As best as I could find, all of these gems are available to purchase from ‘The Everything Store’ and might be just the thing for that special Muso you love, despise, or just can’t afford to buy what they really want. Just don’t blame me for any band breakups, personal breakups, or commercial breakups.

With that said, let’s see the atrocities for 2017:


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Guitarists always need picks. Even though they usually have a case full of them or just scour the stage to see what the opening act left behind, this Michigan J Frog pick is what that special guit-picker in your life really needs – a plectrum that is constructed out of ‘solid brass’ and ‘etched using a chemical process’. In all honesty you could probably buy a few thousand from the local music shop for the price of this one, but remember that those probably won’t be constructed from ‘solid brass’ or ‘etched using a chemical process’, although you’d be right to assume they probably are.

If you need clarity on exactly who is ‘chemically etched’ on this particular pick, go here.


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Accordions are frickin’ expensive. And if you know someone who plays one, they probably have one (if not dozens of them) already. So why not get them a reminder of the fact that they do play the accordion by getting them a 1/6th scale model (complete with case!) of an actual accordion that doesn’t make a sound. Now if only the real thing didn’t…


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This 110% Guranteed Nightmare Fuel Nutcracker is a true ‘classic’ in both type and genre, and will fill your home with whimsical glee during those gloomy winter months when no matter how much aluminum foil you put on the windows, it’s still gonna be a Blue Christmas. Bonus points if you noticed the strange growth on its ‘hand’ and understood its significance. If you can figure out why it seems to be facing inward please let me know.


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Number Nine on our list is sadly not a Beatles reference. It does, however, have relevance to the Fab Four for being the sound originally chosen to end A Day In The Life. But hey, at least that pickup is ‘professional grade‘ and it’s proudly Made in the USA! Since it’s out of stock, I have no idea how much this costs, but I’d bet you could make one for less than $3 with only a couple of trips to Dollar Stores. Cheapskate.


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Seriously? Kid, if your Grandma is chillin’ to Rap Caviar then she don’t need no damn translation. But if she finds out you also bought the “Frequently bought together” bundle then you should be seriously concerned about where she’s gonna put that Amazon Echo you got her last year.


7For the trendy Audio Connoisseur on your list, this overpriced landfill magnet is truly the greatest, most-bestest way vinyl junkies can keep their souvenir conversation pieces lint, dust, and grit-free. I’m surprised that no one has come up with a way to make the dust jackets lint, dust, and grit-free, since those are the actual things that gather lint, dust, and grit whilst their inner contents remain in pristine condition due to lack of use. Act fast though – these are Limited Edition…


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This complete waste of human engineering is the most expensive item on this list. But to play Devil’s Advocate, it will totally keep your near-obsolete, laser-kissed physical media in absolute tip-top working condition. I keenly remember when I finally gave in to digital and totally destroyed all my CD’s because I couldn’t keep them from getting magnetized.

And such a breeze to operate with only two buttons: ‘Power’ and ‘Erase’. Erase?


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The Audacity!

For Music Geeks like myself, having really good audio software is not only a necessity, but our way of contributing to the national economy. For in a world where music software can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, I was truly amazed at how cheap this software was for its power and capability. Just looky what it can do:

  • You can cut, copy and paste parts of recordings and then add effects like echo, amplification and noise reduction. You can also do many extras like : Trim the silence off the beginning and end of audio files. Fade-in and fade-out of music files. Adjust audio volume levels and amplify and equalize effects.
  • Record Live Audio. Audacity records from any audio source that can be plugged into your computer: live performances, interviews, radio, vinyl records, LP, tape players, microphones, mixers, electronic instruments.
  • Restore vinyl records, tapes into digital recordings or CDs.
  • Record Live Audio / Streaming Audio / Whatever Playing on the Computer
  • Supports many Audio and Music File Formats including Ogg Vorbis, MP3, WAV, AIFF, GSM WAV, MP2, M4A, WMA, AC3, ARM, FLAC and many more

Someone could gain a lot of favor in the music community by offering this type of software cheaper, or even better yet, for free.


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Not sure about all of you, but I for one am sick and tired of my precious cowbells being hit on, dinged around, and dented up. Thankfully, Latin Percussion has me covered, and quite literally at that. It’s features, you ask?

  • Nylon pouch with drawstring
  • Holds and protects cowbell and beater
  • Black

These are Modern Times, I tell you.


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This hopefully flame-retardant ditty is not only a knee-slapper, but also has a twinge of Holiday relatedness to it. Double-plus bonus points for not only copping Kanye’s specs, but his dejected look as well.

I thought about buying one of these, but unfortunately didn’t seem to fit into one of their cateories of people who would enjoy it the most:

  • This funny t-shirt that says ‘Photosynthesis Synthesizer 80’s Keyboard Music Pun’ is the perfect shirt for trippy psychedelic lovers! It makes a great gift for any birthday, Christmas, graduation or gift giving occasion!
  • People who love kids children, punk goth emo, chemistry, trippy psychedelic, vintage retro are sure to love tee shirt. These are awesome shirts with cool pun, abstract, girlfriend, awesome, joke, sarcasm, cute, trippy psychedelic, boyfriend, cool themes.

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We’re getting close to the end here, and if there’s anything that’s missing from this list is some kind of actual noise-making thingamadoodle. Yes, I know I linked to an Electric Kazoo above, but that’s Currently Unavailable, dammit. So to make up for that I present you with this quasi-NSFW looking stick that quacks. That’s right – quacks.

But fear not if you happen to be the type that is all-too-easily weirded out by quacking noises, because they make one that sounds like a canary too. Mark my words that future generations will covet these once some EDM producer makes an entire full-length out of quacking noises and canary tweets. Better grab several now before the Ebayers get hip.


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And the Top Prize goes to this underrated kitchen utility specially designed for the Phat Beatmaker who can not only drop some serious Trap Boom, but also whip up a mess of Phat Beets for pre- or post-gig culinary shindigs. Since most Kitchen Deejays and Producers live in constant dread of not only being eminently fashionable but also about getting their eminent fashions soiled during this process, this apron features a ‘Unique Process Using Eco-Friendly Ink Ensures Vibrant, Long Lasting Print’ and is ‘Made Using Heavyweight Cotton, Pre-shrunk and Brushed for a More Luxorious Feel’, so you can ‘cook’ in style and comfort. Can also be used in a pinch as that ‘Saucy LBD’ for Holiday parties or club nights.

What’s that you say? Chicago House is more your style? Gotcha covered.


As a hat tip to Drew, I couldn’t let this pass by if you haven’t seen it on his site. Besides, it gives me one more Kanye swipe:

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Happy Holidaze® Everyone!