A Gearhead’s New Year’s Resolutions List – Pro Audio Promises & Digital Dreams!!

The end of 2018 is just hours away, and we here at Seriousgas are putting to bed our last, facetious article of the year.

It’s important to always have worthy goals, so today we submit for your perusal our “Gearheads New Year’s Resolutions List”.

Perhaps you’ll find some of these goals resonate with your own objectives for the new year. Or perhaps you’ve already tried them? Or maybe they remind you of a bad dream you had once?!

Regardless, no worries. Resolutions aren’t for everybody. And anyway… even slackers accomplish something eventually. lol

Defeat the Foam Monster!

It all started innocently enough.

After all, in order to properly construct an isolation booth, or corner, or room, you need… what? Acoustic foam, of course.

The gap between sound panel & wall.
The gap between panel & wall.

So I bought a big studio foam package and put it up.

Then I bought some more supplementary foam, and put that up.

Then some more.

And some more.

And some more…

About this time that I started to notice things disappearing. Not physical things, mind you, just sounds.

Sound foam
Photo: Victor grigas

Like when someone would try to call me on the phone would ring in the studio. I never heard it. Yeah, the ringer was on. But somehow the sound just got swallowed up.

But I kept putting up foam, thinking, you know, it’s just what you do in the studio, right?

Soon I was encountering a real problem. That is, I would record audio, see multiple waveforms clearly in my Pro Tools display, but couldn’t hear it, no matter how many times I press play.

I started disassembling, and then reassembling, gear; swapping out cables; trading monitors with other audio gearheads: making each and every plug-in inactive.

Nothing worked. All my work was as silent as the grave.

Then one day my wife walked into the control room. I turned to look at her and noticed she was talking right at me.

But I couldn’t hear a word.

I open my mouth and responded, saying, “Are you trying to pull a fast one on me by only moving your lips??”

But when I spoke I heard not a syllable that I uttered.

Then it hit me, like a ton of Auralex. My studio gear wasn’t malfunctioning – I just had installed waaaay too much foam.

Yes, friends, I had created a soundwave monster! It devoured every humming morsel, every ringing tidbit, every vibrating frequency from soft whisper to standing wave!

We were lost… in an aural vacuum of tonal nothingness!! Oh… the HORROR!!!

It’s because of this that, for the new year, I shall cautiously enter the control room and see if, bit by bit, scale by scale, square by square, I can reduce this sucking morass of a beast down to a manageable audio partner.

Wall of Hertz sound foam
Photo: ESA–G. Porter,CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

One that mitigates noise, but cannot steal a newborn song’s soul before it can even crawl on its four verses!

Wish me luck. If you never hear from me again… It’s not because I’m not SCREEEEEAMIIIIIING into the VOOOOID… !!!

Fulfill the Sacred Monitor Quest!

For decades now… I have searched.

Easter Island.

Oymyakon, Siberia.

Tristan da Cunha.

Motuo, Tibet.

The clearance section at Target.

Studio main monitor
By Jon Gos

I’ve looked high, I’ve looked low, but nowhere have I found the treasure I seek…

The perfect studio monitor.

But I know it’s out there. I have read the legends.

Yak in Tibet
Yakkity-Yak! (Photo: Dennis Jarvis)

I have heard with my own two ears the whispers of its transcendence… from the palms of Siwa Oasis to the yak-driven plateau of ChangTang!

This cunning, elusive and beguiling entity is what we audio engineers have needed, desired, yea… even wept, and wailed for, in the inner sanctum of our Control Room.

The perfect monitor! Speakers that will sound out our mixes with perfect clarity, balance and layered nuance.

A revered transducer that will bequeath unto us a “Final Mix” that will sound absolutely perfect on each and every sound system known unto man!!

This… this is what I seek!! And I shall not be thwarted!!

And I believe this is the year my quest comes to an end! For I have laid eyes upon the Maeshowe’s Runes on the Orkneys, and have discerned its true, hidden meaning.


(Photo: John Erling Blad)

My 2019 journey to fulfill this ambition will not be easy, however, for, if I am right, I will need to travel thousands of miles.

First, by plane. Then, by boat… by helicopter, dog sled, kayak and, yes, even miles by foot to even get near the Sacred Speaker’s resting place.

But I shall do it!

I shall ascend the ice that circumscribes the settlement of Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland!

I shall surmount the loose scree slopes!

(Photo: Brocken Inaglory)

I shall breach the veiled snow door of Manjkhapurtee!!

And there, for you… for me… for all audio kind… I shall at last obtain that coveted relic!

And, yes… I will do a selfie for Instagram. 😮

N.A.M.M. Will never be the same…

Dither Me, Baby!

If you’re a pro audiophile, you know about dither. You know that sometimes putting some NOISE into an audio file is just the ticket for smoothing things out and avoiding frequency content distortion.

Dither examples

What you might NOT know is that dither has so many uses even the mighty Wikipedia hasn’t dared to mention.

For example, did you know it can save marriages? Oh yea. No joke. It’s all about signals being clear, right? Discernible, with no distorted meanings.

So, the next time you and your significant other are having a moment of misunderstanding, where he or she just doesn’t seem to get that you’re right about something (‘cuz, ya know, you clearly are!), try introducing dither into the dialogue.

When he or she gives you that look (you know the one), and you know they’re going to go off on a litany of reasons you’re bonkers, just start dithering.

Remember, though, dither is not just uninterrupted white noise. It’s full-spectrum “filler” that’s put in between the real McCoy audio snapshots.

What that means for you and your, uh. “conversation challenge” is that you need to interject noise in a punctuated, non-continuous manner.

Here’s a recent example from my current family vacation at Disney World:

Wife: “You’re not in the right lane.”

Teaj: “Yea. So?”

Wife: “So you need to be in the right lane.”

Teaj: “Uh… why?”

Wife: “Because you’re going to be turning right soon.”

Teaj: “Um… that’s not for a mile and half, dear.”

Wife: “Yea, but these vacation tourist drivers are crazy. We don’t wanna get stuck! Or hit!!”

(It’s at this point that I introduce some awesome, marriage-saving pro audio DITHER to the conversation. My personal dither setting sounds like a mix between an old modem connecting to the Internet and Darth Vader breathing…)

Teaj: “Okay (KHHKHHKHKHKHKHHKHKHKHKHK), I’ll start switching lanes. But (KHHKHHKHKHKHKHHKHKHKHKHK), you know, there’s no real (KHHKHHKHKHKHKHHKHKHKHKHK) hurry. And the traffic (KHHKHHKHKHKHKHHKHKHKHKHK) isn’t really that bad here. Take a (KHHKHHKHKHKHKHHKHKHKHKHK) look. (KHHKHH)”

Wife: “Oh, yea. I see. You’re right. Wow, why didn’t I see that before?! You’re such a better driver than I am. Like so many things… Honey, let’s drop the kids off at Hollywood Studios and go back to the hotel. (wink)”

Teaj: “Sure, hon’. Whatever (KHHKHHKHKHKHKHHKHKHKHKHKHKHHKHHKHKHKHKHHKHKHKHKHKKHKHKHK) you think is best (wink back).”

As you can see, dither is a powerful tool when used sparingly, with discretion and the slightest fader push of informed whimsy.

Make it your personal resolution to engage some dither into your 2019 days. You won’t regret it!

2nds, Please!

Finally, I’m going to join in with a New Year’s resolution that audio engineers often make in professional studios. That is, to give their 2nd Engineers more time at the controls.

Gear Hounds Intro

My 2nd, Pippin (seen to the right with me), is always asking me for more time to practice tracking and mixing.

He’s really gotten a lot better in the last year. Before that he was too much of an undependable, juvenile adolescent to trust him with a big session.

But recently he’s really proved himself. Before Christmas, he tracked and mixed a new song he’d written all by himself, and it sounded great!

He called it, “To All the Bones I’ve Loved Before”. Says he thinks it could crack the Billboard charts. I don’t know about that, but his mix impressed me.

Yea, he still leaves fur in the faders, and I have to wipe off the occasional slobber on my computer keyboard. But he’s a responsible craftsman now, so for 2019… I’m going to let him take the chair more!

Maybe you can do the same for your 2nds?! You know… you need to throw ’em a bone sometimes. 😉

That’s a Wrap!!

Well, 2018 has been great!! Our website, just like your amount of GEAR (we hope), has grown by leaps and bounds its inception and this year was no exception.

And YOU are the reason! Thanks to all of you who stop by here at Seriousgas often and inflate your gear love with the rest of us.

There can never be to many stories of how our music equipment makes our lives more rockin’ so continue to share your comments, accolades, insights and absurd audio memories. We love ’em all!!

One thing’s for sure: in 2019, just like always, there’ll be no lack of exciting new music equipment to get a slavering and salivating for the latest and best.

happy new year scrawled

We’ll hit shopping carts online with ya later. But for now, may all your pro audio promises and digital dreams come true.

But until then, go… make… sounds!!

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