New Toys

Recently I’ve been adding some new audio gear to my Pro Tools system. A couple weeks ago, I upgraded my speakers. I won’t tell you what I was using before—it’s a bit embarassing, and I’m supposed to be a “professional”—but my new Blue Sky speakers are awesome. (In all fairness to myself, prior to this recent purchase if I had to do really critical listening, I would do it on headphones.)

I spent last weekend and a couple days this week assembling a phasing dialogue tracks for a show that’s just starting up. My friend needed a little extra help and I don’t mind picking up a little extra cash now and again. Phasing dialogue tracks—especially after a fairly good assembly with a program like Titan—is pretty much just hours and hours of zooming in close on waveforms and nudging production into sync. If you want to get it done fast, there’s not much actual listening going on. It’s all done visually. That means you can listen to music to keep your mind active. So I’ve spent several days listening to my favorite albums on the Blue Sky ProDesk speakers in my room and I can honestly say they sound fantastic.

I got the 2.1 setup—two 5″ speakers (that’s the size of the woofer) and an 8″ sub. They’re powered so there’s no need for a amplifier. Shielded so they won’t distort your video monitors. (I’m using flat panels so this isn’t an issue for me.) They aren’t full-range speakers. They shelve-off pretty steeply below 80 Hz but that’s what the subwoofer is for. They’re designed to work together, and they’re matched so well that I can’t tell that the really low frequencies are coming from under my desk. In the future, I can upgrade it to a 5.1 by adding 3 more speakers and Blue Sky’s own Bass Management system. The price is great too. Right around $1000 for the 2.1.

For years I’ve been using a little Mackie 1202 for monitoring. The ultra compact size was really nice. It didn’t take up much desk space. But it also didn’t have a lot of inputs and I kind of felt like I was sacrificing ease of use for a small size. With the new speakers and the potential of 5.1 in the future, I knew it was time to upgrade to the Mackie 1604. This is definitely the work horse of the digital audio workstation world, and I can see why. I spent nearly half a day plotting out my new audio setup with all the extra inputs and outputs. I think I came up with the ultimate setup. I’ll post information on it a little later.

Lots and lots of audio connectors

Of course after coming up with this great new audio setup, I had to patch it all through my new mixer. So I called up my buddy Sheldon at The Wired Kingdom to make me some custom audio snakes. His stuff isn’t cheap but the work is impeccable and the quality is outstanding.

About a month ago or so, I stumbled across a little blurb on a microphone that caught my attention—the Studio Projects C1. I started doing some research. I read lots and lots of reviews from people raving about this mic. Not every review was glowing—but you also have to understand audio people—everything they use is great and everything else sucks. There is very little middle ground. (You’ll get the same kind of responses when you talk to sound editors about the tracks on movies.) But at $200 it was pretty hard to say “no” to, especially since the microphone that most people compared it with, the Neumann U87, is a $2000 mic.

This just came in and I haven’t used it much. Just some test recordings of myself. I’m also not a record producer or engineer. I’m not laying down vocal tracks all day long. We mostly use mics to record sound effects. Every mic has different characteristics and very few are “bad”. Ok, maybe that’s not true. There are a lot of cheap and crappy mics. But the point is when you’re recording sound effects using different mics give you different sounds. And sound for film is all about have lots and lots of different kinds of sounds.

Studio Projects C1 Microphone

I made up an album of some of the pictures I took of my new gear and posted it to my .Mac account.