I was catching up on the news at the Canadian Recording Industry Association site and I came across this staggering piece of information:
The Tragically Hip, one of Canada’s treasured cultural assets, was one of the hardest hit [by illegal downloads]. During a five-week stretch from 30 March to 7 May, there were more than half a million unauthorized attempts to download the new Tragically Hip single, “Vaccination Scar”. Overall, during this period, Universal Music reported 2.8 million attempts to illegally download The Tragically Hip’s recordings. During the same period fewer than 1,000 copies were purchased legally online.
The article goes on to quote several Canadian artists about their concern over the massive amount of downloading that is taking place on the Internet. Jann Arden makes a compelling argument in the same article:
Downloading music from the Internet is ironically the hope, and alarmingly the impending decay and destruction, of the music industry. Unless these downloads are monitored and artists are compensated for their work, there will be NO work to download. None of us, as writers and performers, can afford to keep making the music that has always, and will always, make the world a little easier to swallow in troubled times. We cannot play if we are not paid. Illegal downloads must be halted and those offenders punished in a court of law. This issue is very serious and should be given much more respect and attention than it has received in this country.
CRIA reports that the Canadian music industry has experienced retail sales losses of in excess of $465 million since 1999, as well as staff layoffs of 25 per cent and more in the industry over the past year. More than 45,000 individuals are directly or indirectly dependent upon the health of the recording industry in Canada, including those in songwriting, recording studios, manufacturing, retailing, broadcasting, music publishing, concert promotion, management and many other primary and support services.
Something to think about if you are tempted to illegally download music.
Check out the debate at Crooked Timber. I’m pretty sure that this isn’t what Jesus would do. It appears that James Dobson’s socially conservative activist group, Focus on the Family, has included Michael Moore’s home address in their daily email to supporters sent out sometime last week. I have no idea whether this is true or not however there is quite the debate on Crooked Timber’s blog on the merits of such an action by a Christian organization.
An Adamson Yaxis Y10 line array was recently installed at the Prayer Palace Ministries in Toronto, Ontario. Designed as an audio system re-fit, the Yaxis system is comprised of 16 Adamson Y10 cabinets, with four SpekTrix enclosures used as a centre cluster.
The Prayer Palace is one of the largest houses of worship in North America, with an octagonal-shaped sanctuary encompassing approximately 38,000 square feet. It is the first church to use Adamson’s new SpekTrix, an ultra-compact, true 3-way line array, in a permanent audio system install.
“The Prayer Palace Ministries hold two regular Sunday masses in this space, which doubles as a sanctuary and a 4,500-seat auditorium capable of hosting a variety of other secular and ethnic events,” said Chris Mathany, Technical Services Director for Sound Plus Show Systems of Concord, Ontario, who completed the installation.
Although Concord is not too far from where I live I have not had a chance to visit this facility although I would like to learn more about what they have been doing with their sound system. There was an article on this installation in Professional Sound magazine. I would like to hear the sound system. I’ve attached a photo of part of the line array. Looks impressive.
I was wandering through the Mackie forum last night to see if there was any report on crosstalk issues with the SR consoles. I came across this post:
I ordered a Mackie desk, because of the reputation, and the fact it was assembled in the USA, thats why I was prepared to pay the high price. (I could have got a Chinese Behringer for half the price)
Imagine my surprise when it arrived and I found that it is ‘Designed by Mackoids in Woodinville, WA, USA – Manufactured in Malaysia’
I would imagine this is to ‘Reduce manufacturing costs’, so when I ordered my American desk at the agreed price was it priced at a loss due to the high costs in the USA or are Mackie ensuring higher returns by farming out their construction?
I have no problem with goods being assembled in different countries (except China, human rights doncha know), but I would like to be made aware of the fact – and pay accordingly.
You can read all the gory details of the business mess that is Loud Technologies (they have the Mackie brand now) here. Some interesting tidbits: accumulated deficit of $37 million, net sales decreased by 21% over last year, layoffs, reduction in research and development. More interesting perhaps is the closing of the manufacturing facility in Woodinville Washington to outsource manufacturing of products offshore. So… premium pricing and cheap manufacturing go hand in hand when a company is in this much difficulty. Quality? If you are concerned about quality best to look elsewhere.
Little wonder Mackie has gone through such financial difficulties over the past few years. Mackie is a company that markets aggressively and convinces the novice that they can offer exceptional sonic quality at value prices. In reality, Mackie offers premium priced cheap products. At least Behringer aligns the price/quality curves. Cheap products sold for a cheap price.
I am whining about Mackie because I have to use one of their consoles every week for live sound. I do not expect the Mackie to sound as good as my Neve. I do not expect it to offer the same level of functionality. But I do expect some basic performance attributes for the price point. I would gladly use Allen & Heath or Soundcraft products over the Mackie at similar price points. I was not at the church when this purchase decision was made.
The board in question, an SR32-4, has significant crosstalk issues through the aux sends. I often have CDs or MP3s on constant rotation and simply mute the channel when I don’t require the background music. No latency in terms of pressing the play button and when the church service ends it adds a nice touch to have the music already cued and good to go. However, even though the channel is muted, a small amount of the signal is routed to the master aux sends even though no signal is being directed to the auxes from the channel. This means that a noticeable signal arrives to the monitors on stage. How irritating.
I also don’t like the 60mm faders. They have a terrible feel and a short throw. The paint on the scribble strip is easily removed by masking tape. The board only offers 6 aux sends. There is no direct out. The XLR main outs have a +6db boost. I had to use the alternate TRS outs to connect to a loudspeaker management system. The EQ is brittle to my ear.
I would never recommend a Mackie. Too many compromises on sonic quality for the price. Better sounding products are available at competitive price levels. As for Behringer… don’t get me started on that company 😉
Decided that it was time for a new look to the blog. I elected to charge ahead with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and present the blog without using any HTML tables. The easiest tutorial I found on setting up a three column layout using CSS was here. After the first release I decided that I wanted to move to two columns. I’m not sure about the bluish green colours so I may change that later. There may be a few wrinkles in this blog as I troubleshoot the odds and ends of a major redesign.
Or that. I really do not care for cheaply manufactured audio products for either studio or live installation. I lead the technical ministries at my church and I invariably troubleshoot all of the problems with the sound system. For whatever reason the monitor system was set up with both passive and active feeds. We send two discrete feeds to the passive system and another two discrete feeds to the active system. The passive system takes advantage of high quality amplifiers and stage wedges. The actives use cheap Yorkville “mixer amps”. These wedges try to do way more than what is needed from a stage monitor.
There are multiple inputs and outputs: mic preamp, line in, RCA in, EFX send and return, instrument in. There are two channels. There is eq and parallel signal output. However, to meet a price point, everything about this wedge is cheap. Cheap pots, cheap components, cheap speakers. So… how does it sound? Terrible. And that is when it works.
One of the wedges has developed an intermittent short. I took it apart last week and I could find no break in the circuit however I now suspect that the problem must reside in the actual jack itself. The jack is manufactured using the highest possible quality of plastic and the absolute minimum of conductive metal to transfer signal. And, to ensure the widest possible appeal of the product, the inputs must handle balanced and unbalanced connections.
Throw ’em out is what I would like to do. However, we have limited funds to deal with the monitor system.
CCM Magazine had presented a list of the top 100 Contemporary Christian Music albums of all time a few years back. In case you missed the list I’ve reproduced the top twenty to give you some idea as to the content:
- Amy Grant, Lead Me On
- Larry Norman, Only Visiting This Planet
- Rich Mullins, A Liturgy, A Legacy & A Ragamuffin Band
- Mark Heard, Second Hand
- Keith Green, For Him Who Has Ears To Hear
- U2, The Joshua Tree
- Rich Mullins, The World As Best As I Remember It, Volume 1
- Leslie Phillips, The Turning
- dc Talk, Free At Last
- BeBe & CeCe Winans, Different Lifestyles
- Russ Taff, The Way Home
- Tonio K, Unchained Romeo
- Randy Stonehill, Welcome To Paradise
- dc Talk, Jesus Freak
- Charlie Peacock, Love Life
- Bob Dylan, Slow Train Coming
- Michael Omartian, White Horse
- Steve Taylor, Meltdown
- Sixpence None The Richer, Sixpence None The Richer
- Phil Keaggy, Crimson and Blue
I have only 3 of the top 20 albums on this list and only 15 of the top 100 despite an extensive collection in this genre. CCM is by and large run and operated by secular labels due to the popularity of this musical genre in the United States. There are some who write scathing reviews of CCM as a concept and a business segment. Consider the following comments from D. Marty Lasley of American Wasteland:
I loathe the very notion, the concept, the enterprise, that takes one of the creative arts–like music–and consciously dedicates itself to forming an exclusive club of artists bound by certain narrow, ridged parameters. After they’re bound and gagged, then they’re put to the grindstone by cruel, greedy taskmasters to prefab a product for a boneheaded, niche audience. That’s the formula for artistic mediocrity, and the road most traveled by the secular musical industry.
Alas, the recipe for mediocrity has also been enthusiastically embraced by the contemporary Christian music industry and sanctioned by their official sycophant–CCM. What makes the CCM industry more repulsive to me than the secular music industry is the fact that CCM follows in lock goose-step the trends and tastes of the secular industry. If a vocal group of four midget yodelers burst onto the scene and sold a million CDs for Columbia Records, bet the house that within six months Myrrh or Sparrow will have themselves an agape knockoff midget yodeling band. Mediocrity is tolerable, but copycatting mediocrity isn’t.
You can read his full article here. But be warned… he is not a fan of CCM. I have a different view in that much of the CCM content is very well produced and very competitive with the secular industry in terms of overall quality. The underlying business model is certainly a primary factor. At the end of the day CCM is in business to make money.