The Coat Hanger

I will likely need to string some speaker wire in the new house. In my quest to purchase only the very best in speaker wire I came across the AudioQuest Everest. Priced at a mere 11,700 dollars for an 8 foot pair here.

Thankfully, before I hit the buy button, I came across this post which reads in part:

We gathered up a 5 of our audio buddies. We took my “old” Martin Logan SL-3 (not a bad speaker for accurate noise making) and hooked them up with Monster 1000 speaker cables (decent cables according to the audio press). We also rigged up 14 gauge, oxygen free Belden stranded copper wire with a simple PVC jacket. Both were 2 meters long. They were connected to an ABX switch box allowing blind fold testing. Volume levels were set at 75 Db at 1000K Hz. A high quality recording of smooth, trio, easy listening jazz was played (Piano, drums, bass). None of us had heard this group or CD before, therefore eliminating biases. The music was played. Of the 5 blind folded, only 2 guessed correctly which was the monster cable. (I was not one of them). This was done 7 times in a row! Keeping us blind folded, my brother switched out the Belden wire (are you ready for this) with simple coat hanger wire! Unknown to me and our 12 audiophile buddies, prior to the ABX blind test, he took apart four coat hangers, reconnectd them and twisted them into a pair of speaker cables. Connections were soldered. He stashed them in a closet within the testing room so we were not privy to what he was up to. This made for a pair of 2 meter cables, the exact length of the other wires. The test was conducted. After 5 tests, none could determine which was the Monster 1000 cable or the coat hanger wire. Further, when music was played through the coat hanger wire, we were asked if what we heard sounded good to us. All agreed that what was heard sounded excellent, however, when A-B tests occured, it was impossible to determine which sounded best the majority of the time and which wire was in use. Needless to say, after the blind folds came off and we saw what my brother did, we learned he was right…most of what manufactures have to say about their products is pure hype. It seems the more they charge, the more hyped it is.

Something to think about when I make my next purchase of speaker wire.

Mercy Train

I was asked to do live sound for Mercy Train at an outdoor concert. The event was a great venue for the band’s music and I was pleased to be able to do the FOH mix. I had worked on one of their CDs last year and I am currently tracking their second CD.

Between Lorraine and myself, we took several hundred photos. I can only share a couple of them here. A few shots highlight the Yamaha M7CL digital console and the rest of the shots highlight the band.

Great sound system, mics and backline. Top flight. And the band did an amazing job. What a great memory.

The Yamaha M7CL board was a real delight to use. Simple and intuitive. Excellent for live sound.

Motown

I picked up Michael McDonald’s Motown CD. This project was produced by Simon Climie and recorded and mixed entirely within the Pro Tools HD environment. I was quite impressed with the overall sound of the album particularly the bass tracks. What was also very interesting was the number of credits given to Pro Tools on this album. Even the Sony Oxford Plug-ins were given an honorable mention. Here is an excerpt from Simon’s take on the project:

Simon recently produced Michael McDonald’s latest album, ‘Motown’, which was released in the UK in May this year. “This was the first album I recorded using Pro Tools HD,” says Simon. “Michael’s vocals are amazing! The album sounds incredible in 5.1 too and it’s selling like hot cakes in America – it’s through ‘gold’ already. All the reviews say that his vocals sound amazing – thanks to HD! We also worked with new arrangements of some great Motown material. The record company wanted Michael to duet with the original artists, so within the hour, we had time-stretched Marvin Gaye’s original vocal into the new Michael MacDonald version and sent off an MP3 file for approval via DigiDelivery. They were amazed.”

Simon believes that the Pro Tools HD system enhances creativity. “It gives me much more of an active involvement and affects the recording process in a big way,” he comments. “We do a lot of editing of the structure of the song as we go, such as making a double length intro or lengthening the guitar section, and I can even arrange the master track while I’m recording something else. I can go through the session and mute things without it stopping or crashing – I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing this in Logic, by the way! Traditionally, with a recording session, the band would go away while something was tried out but, with Pro Tools, you can do this on the fly. If we had to go back to the old way of working now and do an SSL-style recall, everyone would be so impatient and angry and you’d lose the moment completely. Pro Tools, a great engineer and the vibe of a big studio with a good live room, is the perfect combination and can only enhance the performance of the musicians. There’s no multitrack tape to worry about – I can just get on and manage the production. It’s pretty limitless.”

Simon continues, “You can almost be at mix status before you finish recording.”

Steve Bell and Jody Cross

Last night I did live sound for part of the Steve Bell concert that was held in Newmarket (just north of Toronto). I mixed the Jody Cross opening act and watched the console feed from Steve Bell’s setup come through the main house. Not much pressure so I could really sit back and enjoy Steve’s music and ministry. Dave Zeglinski, Steve’s manager and sound person, did all the hard work. We used both the house system and Steve’s local system for the audience and it worked out really well.

Steve and Dave came over to my studio today to see our work and to talk about the Christian music scene in Canada. I have been a big fan of Steve for many years and we know many people in common. We traded a number of stories about our mutual friends and talked a lot about sharing faith through music and the quest to pursue excellence in our respective ministries. I must tell you that I was very impressed with Steve’s character and his open and friendly nature. I was so pleased that he came by. We went through the studio, the equipment and I brought up some of the projects that we have worked on over the years. My youngest boy is also a big fan and he now has some great memories of a worthy hero.