Hack Chat Transcript, Part 1

A event log for Vintage Pro Audio Hack Chat

Is that a Telefunken U47?

Dan MaloneyDan Maloney 05/25/2022 at 20:170 Comments

Joe Stavitsky11:43 AM
Howdy folks. Anyone else here with studio recording experience? I've been out of the game for years, but I think I'll get back in soon.

Chris11:53 AM
My only experience has been working with Bose in their acoustic stations; I don't remember all hardware but one was NI and the sampler had a free software.

Dan Maloney11:55 AM
My pro audio experience is limited to setting up sound reinforcement systems for live concerts. That was always interesting to see the different ways different techs set up the stacks and cabinets.

Dan Maloney11:55 AM
And we'll get started in like 5 minutes, BTW

Dan Maloney11:56 AM
But feel free to chat!

Mark11:56 AM
So here's a great question. microphones, specifically the nice Electret ones.... they can sound amazing, so amazeballs. But then, on some builds they sound like poop. I am building a super tiny, super sexy bluetooth speaker they we can still have discord chats on, to give her Arctis Pro Wireless ridden ears a break. What would you suggest to get the cleanest mic sound ??

Mark11:57 AM
Oh... I'm building the bluetooth speaker for my girlfriend

Joe Stavitsky11:57 AM
@Dan Maloney I've done live work as well. Fun, but depends who you're working with.

Joe Stavitsky11:58 AM
@Mark Mic selection is deep magic. Depends on budget ,your room, and positioning. In your case I'd start with budget.

Mark11:58 AM
I've done quite a fair amount of full rig sound engineering (set up, mixing and dealing with diva musicians)

Chris11:58 AM
I like how old formats make a comeback (Vinyls are forever though) likes some fathers showing their kids, and they get involved as well, discs (i.e. audio CDs); I would love to see the cassettes but with extra bits of modern technologies. <3

Dan Maloney11:59 AM
So true! The "noise boys" always seemed to be snooty elitists who got to stay on the bus and sleep in, while the lighting guys were hard at work early in the morning because their stuff had to go up first. And the electricians were always super nice, too.

Frank Olson joined  the room.11:59 AM

Joe Stavitsky11:59 AM
Digital and magnetic is garbage in my opinion for different reasons. Lossless digital is acceptable for archiving. Vinyl is optimal for reproduction.

Frank Olson12:00 PM
Howdy Peeps!

Dan Maloney12:00 PM
OK, here we go. I see Frank just joined, so hello and welcome to the Hack Chat. I'm Dan, I'll be modding today along with Dusan as we talk about vintage pro audio gear with Frank Olson.

Dusan Petrovic12:00 PM
Hi Dan

Joe Stavitsky12:00 PM
@Dan Maloney I caught the first wave of Full Sail grads. They did a great deal to trash the reputation of a 4 year degree.

Dusan Petrovic12:00 PM
Welcome everyone!

Dan Maloney12:00 PM
Hi Frank! What's your background and how did you get interested in audio gear?

Joe Stavitsky12:00 PM

Frank Olson12:02 PM
Hey all! I'm basically a musician and vintage electronics enthusiast. Being a musician sometimes requires certain gear that is costly- for me the best way to combat that cost was to make the gear myself!

john.hays joined  the room.12:02 PM

Frank Olson12:02 PM
My first guitar amp for example, was a 50's tube tape recorder..

Nicolas Tremblay joined  the room.12:03 PM

Frank Olson12:03 PM
I used it for a few years, and decided to take it all apart and only use the parts that were directly related to audio in and out

Joe Stavitsky12:03 PM
@Frank Olson did you modify it, or use as is? If modified, what did you do to it?

Mark12:03 PM
@Joseph Stavitsky @Dan Maloney Oh wow. I wish there were different teams on some of my gigs. Imagine going doing to put on a festival in the middle of nowhere, being one of the musicians that will perform on the weekend. We carted all the gear down to the Ferry and took our entire rig, Massive Marshall Valve Bass Amp and Bass speaker on a speedboat down the Kei River to get our equipment to the resort. It had rained that day and the mountain pass was closed. 2 tons of our entire livelihoods in one motor boat.....

Joe Stavitsky12:04 PM
@Mark, I have a friend that still does live work, he has many stories like that :)

Frank Olson12:04 PM
Joe- Yeah, eventually that amp became a little fender clone, made into a cakepan for a chassis!

Joe Stavitsky12:04 PM
@Frank Olson lulz

Frank Olson12:04 PM
I still use that amp on recordings!

Dan Maloney12:05 PM
Sounds a bit like The Deacy

Dan Maloney12:05 PM


A Queen Mystery: The Legend Of The Deacy Amp

It sounds like a scene from a movie. A dark night in London, 1972. A young man walks alone, heading home after a long night of practicing with his band. His heavy Fender bass slung over his back, he's weary but excited about the future.

Read this on Hackaday

Frank Olson12:06 PM
Yeah, I think many gutarists had a similar experience with tape recorders- they are pretty perfect that way- plug in your guitar and turn up the monitor. That's pretty much it!

Mark12:06 PM
@Joseph Stavitsky imagine your only roadie getting lost at the end of a 16 hour trip to this place. Trouble was, there was literally only one road into town and out the other side. How he got lost is beyond me

Joe Stavitsky12:06 PM
@Frank Olson that's waht I love about audio hardware, it doesn't really go bad if you don't abuse it. And mostly even if you do :).

Dan Maloney12:06 PM
And sometimes, even if it goes bad, it goes bad in a good way, if you know what I mean

Anthony Ciarochi joined  the room.12:07 PM

Joe Stavitsky12:07 PM
@Mark with great respect to the audiovisual community, unsteady hourly work does not generally attract intellectual giants :/

Frank Olson12:07 PM
It's funny, I think music technology is great, and things are being moved forward in positive ways- for example amp attenuators are currently very good

Joe Stavitsky12:07 PM
@Dan Maloney this is also very, very true

Joe Stavitsky12:08 PM
@Frank Olson design and repair arevery, very different from live PA work.

Mark12:08 PM
@Joseph Stavitsky hahahaha.... we weren't getting paid

Frank Olson12:10 PM
@Joe Stavitsky true, but there is lots of overlap. I've spend my due hours behind the live sound console.. I think that anyone with a real passion for playing music in a live setting will at some point have to bite the bullet and figure that out. For a few years, I was the only person I knew who could set up a live sound rig

Frank Olson12:10 PM
So then you become the guy to do sound check for everyband- including your own!

Mark12:10 PM
My first guitar was a Washburn fully acoustic. I bought one of those acoustic pickups to put into the sound hole.... I was quite naive at the time and plugged it directly into my sound card to make recordings.... had an eery distorted sound to it..... some great times

Joe Stavitsky12:11 PM
@Frank Olson I'm from the other side. My musical achievement is negligible but I like to play with solder irons =P.

Frank Olson12:12 PM
@Mark Yeah, when I got my first mic(radio shack handheld) I used to plug it directly into my SB16 (?) with no preamp, and just turn up the "microphone gain" to record acoustic guitar... has it's own sound for sure, but it worked well enough to record drum demos!

Joe Stavitsky12:12 PM
@Frank Olson were you born in NYC?

Mark12:13 PM
I was that guy in the band.... put some effort into learning how to set up a rig at a gig and get the acoustics sounding just right at every spot in the venue. Doing it all with no specialized sound set up technology..... just ears and fiddling.

Frank Olson12:13 PM
@Joe Stavitsky Yeah, the allure of the iron is hard to resist. The first project I can remember was soldering wires to a lightbult at age 7 or 8

Frank Olson12:14 PM
@Joe Stavitsky No, born and raised in Michigan! Hence why I didn't know any sound engineers..

Joe Stavitsky12:14 PM
@Frank Olson when did you move?

Frank Olson12:15 PM
@Mark Yeah, all that trial and error. I learned quickly not to ask the crowd if it sounds good. You'll get an opinion from every audience member at some point during the night!

Frank Olson12:16 PM
Been in NYC for almost 20 years!

Joe Stavitsky12:16 PM
@Frank Olson besides, "sounds good" is a super objective and totally quantifiable metric =P

Frank Olson12:17 PM
@Joe Stavitsky right? Or, my buddy's guitar should have been louder!

Joe Stavitsky12:17 PM
@Frank Olson yeah I've been in and around there for about that long. Some time in North Jersey, some time in Philly

Joe Stavitsky12:18 PM
@Frank Olson RN I'm in Jersey City, decent live music scene

Frank Olson12:18 PM
Philly is a cool music town, it's a good place for new yorkers to go see if the music they're writing is actually any good! Also

Joe Stavitsky12:18 PM
@Frank Olson

Frank Olson12:19 PM
Oh yeah, lot's of great musicians in Jersey city!

Frank Olson12:20 PM
Anyone recommend a good PCB fabricator for small runs?

Frank Olson12:21 PM
I have yet to send out for PCBs for any projects, but I'm building up a little design currently

Joe Stavitsky12:21 PM
@Frank Olson DigiKey has their own now, I haven't tried them but the terms are very favorable

Joe Stavitsky12:21 PM
@Frank Olson I was looking into starting one before my health took a turn. I may get back to that in a few months.

Frank Olson12:21 PM
@Joe Stavitsky thanks, good to know

Richard Tretzel joined  the room.12:23 PM

Joe Stavitsky12:23 PM
So... no actualaudio questions? I want to speak to the manager =P

Frank Olson12:24 PM
I can post a few pics!

Dan Maloney12:25 PM
Got a few from the Hackaday daily article:

How do you fix a noisy potentiometer?

What do you think of young kids who think Matsushita brands like Pioneer made great gear? I guess it goes well with LP sound quality.

Tube microphones. Worth the price?

Frank Olson12:25 PM

Joe Stavitsky12:26 PM
Haha I actually answered that there

Richard Tretzel12:26 PM
Noisy pots = DC offset/ too much current running through it?

Frank Olson12:27 PM
Oh, yeah, Noisy pots! That's a big one. I do like deoxit, but I am a firm believer in the follow up of "faderlube" after the fact

Joe Stavitsky12:27 PM
I can “speak” to these somewhat. The best solution for a noisy pot short of replacement is DeOxit spray.

Re mics and turntables, to take mics first, the question is “worth it for what”, and “which ones”? The market is surprisingly large especially if you include tube preamps. The key to understanding your question is the more sensitive the microphone the more room acoustics it will capture in addition to the sound source. So if you have a room with acoustics problems you will quickly reach point of diminishing returns. Studio strategy is about balancing mic selection with acoustic treatment.

The turntable question is very similar. The “quality” of Pioneer sound is not primary consideration. If you buy a tube mic you are highly unlikely to use it for a concert. You are not going to put $3k on a stage with sweaty, jumpy musicians. Similarly there are definitely turntables that sound better than Pioneer but you are not going to put them in a roadcase to be tossed around by drunken roadies. I would argue that there are not turntables more reliable than Pioneer. Since there are certainly turntables that sound worse than Pioneer their reputation is based on a balance of reliability and quality. Shure is very similar when it comes to microphones.

Frank Olson12:27 PM
@Richard Tretzel yes, that's always a possiblity

Richard Tretzel12:27 PM
+1 for faderlube

Richard Tretzel12:27 PM
I love the mic design btw <3

Joe Stavitsky12:28 PM
@Frank Olson that ribbon build is amazeballs. I was always under the impression that you needed a clean room b/c it would be sensitive to dust. I can't wait to try that with a 3d printer.

Joe Stavitsky12:29 PM
But, Frank can correct me, hardware selection is very rarely just a matter of "sounds better". Even if there was a way to quantify or define "sounds better".

Frank Olson12:30 PM
One piece of advice I always try to offer when using deoxit is to use as little as possible, and try really hard not to get it into the pot shaft- which is difficult. Deoxit will wash away the lubricant from the shaft and the pot will have a new feel, and won't keep it's position as well. I've gone so far as to open up the pot case and relube the shaft on some units..

Joe Stavitsky12:30 PM
@Frank Olson is it really that much trouble finding replacements?

Richard Tretzel12:31 PM
depending on context, sm57 may be preferable over our CMV563. Price is not a factor.

Richard Tretzel12:31 PM
That said, my favorite bass mic is a very inexpensive Oktava tube mic

Joe Stavitsky12:32 PM
@Richard Tretzel exactly right. Generally "context" is defined as "BAC of performer" :).

Frank Olson12:32 PM
@Joe Stavitsky sometimes the original pot adds value(vintage guitars for example) and sometimes it's an oddball pot(dual gang 2meg, etc)

Joe Stavitsky12:33 PM
@Richard Tretzel bass don't need a lot of frequency response, as a rule =P

Frank Olson12:33 PM
@Richard Tretzel Yeah, when it comes to studio gear I have a hierarchy of needs/wants. If it's a tool that conveys the message in the most succinct way possible, it's probably high on my list

Richard Tretzel12:34 PM
We have some odd duals in our Trident console, but when they're really done then there's nothing left to deoxid... Got gain pots like that. Beyond repair, unfortunately

Joe Stavitsky12:35 PM
@Frank Olson I remember when I was still in school the school bought an Earthworks drum kit. Sounded clean as a mountain spring but picked up everything in the hall outside the classroom no matter how you set up.

Frank Olson12:35 PM
I'm definitely in the camp of use what you have to make the record that you want. But I've found it surprising over the years how often high end gear can make it into your hands for free or cheap(borrowed, for example)

Richard Tretzel12:35 PM
I like the prioritization approach for gear, like for everything else

Frank Olson12:37 PM
I recorded drums for one record with a 3 used ribbon mics that I re-ribboned. Sm57 and a condenser to fill in the gaps!

Joe Stavitsky12:37 PM
@Frank Olson On the one hand, making money is haaaaard so people are always getting rid of gear, or letting it walk around for a while just so people know it's in play. On the other hand, if people know you aren't going to destroy it they're much more likely to let you play with it.

Joe Stavitsky12:38 PM
@Frank Olson but personally if I borrow gear I like to have at least a reasonable expectation that I can pay.

Richard Tretzel12:38 PM
I use quite a bunch of clones, with good results. Unless it's microphones, I do feel comfortable understanding typical gear well enough to know if it needs to be "original".

Richard Tretzel12:38 PM
My tech Andreas builds clones all day (some for sale), and they all sound amazing...

Frank Olson12:39 PM
@Joe Stavitsky, right- it helps if you can walk into a studio setting and fix a piece of gear. Then you're like, "hey, i could use a bass drum mic, I can drop it off when I return that other mic you need fixed..."

Joe Stavitsky12:40 PM
@Richard Tretzel Ah you are in Austria, I have a good friend in Germany