Well, it has been a bloggery while since my last post and not for forgetting, as I truly have been intending. Being in the sound company business is not for the faint hearted and winter time is the toughest of all when you depend on touring bands as your primary income.
Way back in 1980 I started Rat Sound with my friend Brian when we both worked at Hughes Aircraft. Prior to that I was recording bands and though we did not adopt the pet name Rat for a few more years, 1980 is really when it began. I had started at Hughes in Radar Systems Group testing components for jet planes like the F/A 18, F15 and F14 fighters. Got bored and worked it out so I was loaned to Space and Communications Group doing a similar but less monotonous gig for Telstar and Telsat satellites. Still bored I applied for a transfer and was picked up by the engineering department of Electo-Optical Group working on TOW Missile systems. Youngest guy in the department and the only one without a college degree, it was actually pretty darn fun, for while. Military government paperwork sucks! Meanwhile, nights and weekends I did rock shows, punk rock shows mainly with big band and 60 piece orchestras scattered amongst the sundays.
Every cent I had went to PA gear, I had no savings. Mid Reagan era military expansion filled my non-gig weekends with overtime at my day job. In November of 1980 a giant fork appeared in the road ahead. My vacation and sick leave time had been consumed by friday load-ins, rumors and memo's regarding various departments enacting mandatory overtime were abound and I was making as much money doing rock shows in two days as 5 days of my 7am to 3:30pm "real job" landed.
Career, medical benefits, retirement plan and some semblance of parental respect versus late nights, loading trucks, loud music and freedom. December 12th I gave 30 days notice. January 12th I was free. February 12th I was broke, hungry and selling off sound gear to buy food and gas. That was when I learned, the first time and then proceeded to learn every year there after. With a few exceptions, winter means starvation for furry little critters and touring sound companies. It is never a surprise, at least not anymore, but that does not change the fact that it is a challenge.
Now a days, it is different than it used to be. Now the threat of not eating is long gone while what remains is the necessary time, care and focus to navigate the ship through the low tide. So in short or in long, that is what has grabbed my focus and what I have been up to.
**** Sound Nerd Speak ****
MicroWedge update. First the official stuff. The new EAW MicroWedge 12's are done and the first delivery will be at Rat any day now (read "tomorrow"). Processor settings are done and super cool! There are three settings and they will be coded as colors.
White - The Flat Setting. I don't have the final spec yet but it was plus or minus a couple db throughout it's frequency range. This is a industry standard starting point so engineers can tailor the EQ to suit a wide variety of applications.
Gray - A 1 db per octave slope rolling off as frequency increases. A warmer setting that sounds more natural and requires less EQ to dial in.
Blue - We took several industry standard microphones, plotter their real world response and created a curve that counteracts the inherent peaks. It was surprising how similar the Neumann, Sennheiser, Shure and Audix responses were. The Blue setting is tailored to get very loud, not feedback and sound amazing with no external EQ and reproduces both music and live mics extremely well. True plug and play usability.
Now for the rumors. If I was to say, I would say that a new sleeker, smaller, louder MicroWedge 15 and more is hot the tails of the 12", though the Micro 12 was developed to go lower and get louder than the best 15" monitors out there already. I would also say that cool new tilt legs (The MicroLeg) are being developed and they allow the MicroWedge's to be utilized at various angles. Say bye bye audio blocks, say hello to optimum wedge angles!
Oh, and I wish I could show you the latest MicroSub prototype but that would ruin all the fun and anticipation. I will say that if it makes it through the maze to market, it is useful in ways unlike anything else out there and is something that the few monitor engineers I've shown it to already have all said they could use them right now.
**** End Sound Nerd Speak ****
Speaking of useful, I was at the NAMM show and stumbled across a few items that I can not imagine how I have managed to live my life without. First we have what appears to be the ultimate PA speaker.
Not sure if it is a 5 way or a 7 way stack but wow, that is a high concentration of Piezo speakers.
Next in line, I find myself wondering "am I the last know?" and "how come everyone does not have one?" when I spotted this beauty:
That's right, a 7 string bass! Clearly marking the end of the 4 string era.
But wait, what do we have here? Is it? Yes! A guitarasurus!
So handy yet so eloquent. And if one is to rock a guitarasurus, one had better get an adequate guitar rig. Hence I present:
The ultimate rockers dream and sound guy's nightmare. "Yes, of course they are all plugged in, why else would I have brought what I need?"
And so it was and off till next time.