February 12, 2014


Well, 500px is a pretty competitive place. There are some awesome photographers on that site. Always fun to have a photo hit the popular status. Here it is. Click on the image for a larger photo. Got lucky with the clouds in the mountains.



Deep Freeze

February 11, 2014


Looks so nice doesn’t it? Father and son bonding, not with each other, but with their devices. And barefoot. Important to be barefoot. And they do look warm and comfortable. Safe and secure from that cold winter weather. After all, that is the promise of the Lochinvar Knight Heating Boiler.

Unless you happen to own the KBN150 model.

In that case you might want to be prepared for a deep freeze.

18 months ago this boiler failed on us. It cost almost $2,000 to replace a failed logic board. The part was not covered under warranty. I mention that fact because the boiler was perhaps six years old at the time. We were almost two weeks without a heat source.

On Friday the boiler failed again, right in the middle of one of the coldest and harshest winters in recent memory.

We have been without heat and hot water for several days now. Initially, the service technician thought that the boiler required a relatively simple switch replacement. However, when he went to make the repair, he noticed a leak in the inside casing.

From what I gather, a leak in a boiler powered by propane is not a good thing.

We were presented with two choices: replace the heat exchanger or replace the boiler. Replacing the heat exchanger would cost roughly $5,000 and replacing the boiler would cost roughly $10,000.

The heat exchanger may be covered under warranty. We do not know. We have to pay for the part first. The part gets sent back to the manufacturer and then they make a determination to see if they will honour the warranty.

Hard to believe that we will have spent $7,000 over the past two years just to keep an 8-year old boiler running. I suppose I could have paid an extra $3,000 to get a new boiler but here is the risk and reward scenario: if they do honour the warranty then my cost will be a few hundred dollars for the service labour. If they do not then I will have paid 50 percent of the cost of a new boiler without the benefit of a new 10 – 12 year warranty. The warranty on this unit will expire in four years.

I hope they honour the warranty.


Noble Street

February 7, 2014

Noble Street

Here I am hard at work behind an SSL 4k at Noble Street Studios.

Noble Street is one of my favourite recording studios in Toronto. I’ll be heading back there later this month to do a bit of tracking and a bit of shooting.

I’ve been fortunate with my photography. From travel books to media outlets and artists, my photography has been shared with many audiences. When I was last at Noble Street, I brought my camera rig along and took several hundred photos of the studio. Here are a few of them:

Noble Street 3

Noble Street 2

Noble Street 1

The studio really loved the work and asked me to come back to do a formal shoot for their online and promotional material.

Looking forward to the experience.



February 2, 2014

Field Test

How do you like those speaker stands?

I spent most of the week-end testing two pairs of nearfields: the Barefoot MM35 Gen 2 and the Focal SM9 professional reference monitors. The Barefoots are on the meter bridge of my console closest to the small Avantone mix cubes. And the Focals are balanced on two sets of night tables acting as loudspeaker stands. Although the Barefoots are not exactly lightweight speakers — they weigh in at around 43 pounds each — the Focals are so much heavier at 77 pounds each that I thought it best to keep them off the console.

It took three people to bring the Focals down into the studio.

Both pairs are outstanding monitors. And, not surprisingly, they both sound quite different.

The Focals presented a very wide sound stage probably because I had them positioned quite wide relative to the sweet spot. Very addictive. I felt like I was inside the music. Tight low end, great highs, impressive separation. So what’s not to like about these monitors?

I switched to the Barefoots. Good golly, the midrange was right there. Like really right there. I had to switch back to the Focals to confirm that I was missing so much midrange detail. And I was. My wife, who by her own admission would not purport to hold golden ears, also heard the difference. It was not a nuanced difference. It was significant to my ears.

I also preferred the minimalism of the Barefoots. The Focals had extensive EQ settings on the box. If I have to have that many options to tailor a pair of speakers then I probably need to find a better acoustic space to mix. The Barefoots come with a remote control that allows you to dial in four different classes of speaker emulation: flat, hi fi, old school and cube. The latter two settings emulate the Yamaha NS10 and Auratone Cubes. Very handy when referencing mixes.

I will spend more time over the week to give both pairs of monitors a fair shake but right now I think I have the winner.



35 Years

January 31, 2014

Lorraine and I will be celebrating 35 years of marriage on Monday.

We started this way:


And we are currently here:


I am so thankful for Lorraine.


Vintage Gear

January 24, 2014


Wikipedia defines Obsolescence this way:

Obsolescence is the state of being which occurs when an object, service, or practice is no longer wanted even though it may still be in good working order. Obsolescence frequently occurs because a replacement has become available that has, in sum, more advantages than the inconvenience related to repurchasing the replacement.

In my case, obsolescence came about over a twelve year period. Obsolete for some gear does not mean vintage. Obsolete means game over.

The last major upgrade to my studio happened over twelve years ago. Somewhat hard to believe. I had migrated from a 24-channel ADAT system with an analog console to a Pro Tools HD rig. The Control 24 you see in the top photo is from my studio in Toronto.

I have had to replace virtually the whole Pro Tools platform as a consequence of product obsolescence. Last year I updated the HD platform — software and hardware — and I brought in some new outboard gear to facilitate hybrid mixing. And last weekend I decommissioned the Control 24 pictured above.

The Control 24 has been replaced with a  D-Command similar to the one pictured below.


The D-Command is already end of life but supported until 2018. I hope to get five to seven years from this console.

I am also auditioning a new monitoring system to update the Genelecs that I have been running for over twelve years.

I am looking at two options: the Barefoot MM35 Gen 2 nearfields and the Focal SM9 nearfields. They will get to my studio next week where I will be able to test them out for a while to see which pair might work best for me and the room.

A Barefoot MM35:


And the Focal SM9s:


Although these are both nearfield monitors, the Barefoots weigh in at 43 pounds each and the Focals weigh in at a remarkable 77 pounds each.

I feel sorry for the person who will be bringing the speakers out to the studio.

The new monitoring system should give me a much longer life cycle — probably ten to fifteen years.

Hopefully I will still be around and listening.


Guitar Injury

January 14, 2014


From the Guitar Master Class website:

Many guitar players run into serious problems when they discover that they have picked up an injury from doing what they love, injuries will generally repair over time but this can mean an extended period of not playing guitar. Many GMC members have found it necessary to take a few weeks off guitar playing or in some more extreme cases several months or years. Some people think that they are immune from getting various arm, wrist and tendon related injuries because they have been playing for years with no problems — this tends not to be the case when guitarists start to concentrate their efforts on playing long periods of time on guitar…

During the months of October and November I had been spending at least two hours a day practicing and at least four hours or more of stage performance each week. My days at work are sedentary as most of the time is spent sitting in meetings or behind a computer. I spend most of my day in a prone position. Not good.

Beginning of December I experienced incredible pain in my upper back and shoulder. In a way, it felt like I had dislocated my shoulder. The pain was so intense that I was unable to sleep nor could I find a comfortable position to rest.

The pain travelled further along my right arm. I played through several concerts and weekly at my church with a very intense level of pain and discomfort. Until two weeks ago.

I stopped playing. Because the pain was just not going away.

I was told to stop in early December but I had too many playing commitments. I was told that if I did not stop playing, the pain would move from being acute to chronic. I kept going thinking that somehow the injury would heal on its own.

Here are a few things I learned from the experience.

Despite having played the instrument for about 40 years, I am not immune to a repetitive strain injury. A repetitive strain injury requires time to heal. With the onset of such pain, I have to stop playing to recover from the injury. Most importantly, I have to rest.

I have to stretch. Several times a day. Every day.

When I resume playing, I will have to focus on stretching and warming up gradually prior to practice and performance. I will have to focus on posture. And I will need to take breaks.

And, if I experience pain, I have to stop playing. I have to rest and recover.

Better to stop playing for a few weeks than to stop playing for several months or years.

“Taking it easy” won’t cut it: RSIs mostly just need rest … and plenty of it. The truth is boring: rest is incredibly powerful medicine for RSIs … but tedious and often spectacularly inconvenient, even job-threatening. This boring “miracle cure” is almost never adequately emphasized to RSI patients.


Fortunately, I had the benefit of a two-week vacation over Christmas. I rested. In a way that I had never done before. I think this was the best thing that I did for my RSI. But I tried to continue playing and that was a mistake as the pain would not go away. The pain is gone now. Hopefully I can play again in a few weeks time.

Good insight on RSI here.


The Vaporizer

January 9, 2014

Cool. Very cool.