Recently I had the wonderful opportunity to demo the Quantum with good friend and excellent engineer, Brian Lloyd of TinyDoor Studio’s in Cincinnati. One of Brian’s many venue’s is Cincinnati’s beautiful looking, sounding and newly renovated Memorial Hall.
A quiet Sunday afternoon offered a nice opportunity for me to record a few of my own ideas as well as a chance for Brian to A/B some microphones. Showing up with a nylon string guitar, floor tom and my 10-string Puerto Rican Cuatro we got to work. Brian had a handful of mics including the Josephson C42, Townsend Labs L22, Sennheiser MKH40 and Royer 121.
Always prepared! I found the following items keep me prepared, safe, and less stressed. Being able to pack these items easily in some mic bags and thrown in a backpack allows you to travel super light yet prepared! This list is always growing — I’ll add more goodies as often as I can! I’ve linked to Amazon to make it easier for you to grab something you don’t already have.
TIP: My latest find thanks to fellow engineer, Rob Durkee, is the handy battery powered, bluetooth connected, print from your phone Epson LW-600P!
I always have a handful of good ole’ 3M "foamies" for myself and friends. I use and highly recommend the higher fidelity solution of a set of custom Sensaphonics ER Musicians Earplugs which are molded to your own ear resulting in much better isolation than “foamies”. In addition, the amount of attenuation can be easily changed by just replacing the small filters — I prefer the 15db.
Tip: I just became a dealer for Sensaphonics — ordering through me could save you some cash. Just send me an email!
Tip: In 2006 I came up with a simple solution to not loose that adapter — you know the one.. (I’ll post a link soon for you to make your own!)
Microphone with on/off switch
A microphone with a switch keeps you safe from “leaving the mic on” and not needing to pull down the fader or engage the mute. Switched mics are made by many manufacturers although I stick with a switched Sennheiser 835 or Shure SM58.
Yes, keep em’ sharp and always assume once you loan them to another human, the Sharpie will magically disappear. Save money and buy your Sharpies in the 12-count boxes. Using the “twin tip” is pretty helpful, too.
Tip: Writing on gaff tape dulls the tip of your Sharpie faster!
Mechanical pencil & Ink pens
Being able to erase a note or make a change on a stage plot or input list keeps the document looking tidy. I’m a big fan of the auto-advancing lead feature of the Uni-ball KuroToga mechanical pencil. An ink pen is also quite useful.
Yes, the ultimate tool and punt for our entertainment world. Endless uses including a safe way to carry a knife. (photo). “Gaff” tape, or Gaffers tape (reference to lighting grip uses) secures well without leaving residue (if used temporally and not sitting in the sun on on a mic cable for years…).Tons of color choices yet I stick with 2” black and white as well as 1/2” yellow/pink “spike”. Keep in mind the width can modified to any width you like on the roll.
Tip: A handy solution for getting off your knees while keeping cables, and people, safe on carpet is the GaffTech Tape Applicator .
Yes, still a useful item in our digital world. 1/2” artist tape like Pro Art White Artist Tape seems to be perfect to mark mixing consoles, wireless sticks and packs, and other goodies.
Tip: Masking tape, painters tape and gaff seem to be inferior choices for the job.
Remember a cable is just a “pipe”. The gender of the “ends” can be adapted easily using this wonderful problem solver when working with XLR cabling. I always carry at least a few pairs of each gender.
Tip: Don’t forget to label these! Also, you can always make your own turnarounds.
I’ve referenced this handy device many times and I never leave home without a few. Great for splitting FOH and MON channels, adding a safe backup when using vocal FX pedals, and more! For best flexibility, make them yourself. If you’d rather buy them, I’d recommend these.
“Pin-1 Lift” and ISO
A “pin-1 lift” can get you out of trouble when faced with a buzz or hum. I make my own using a short mic cable and not connecting pin-1. A better solution is a proper in-line insolation transformer like a Whirlwind ISOXL.
It’s inevitable that tunes will need to be played and pink noise generated. Having a handful of these simple cables fills the need. I tend to have 1/8” to XLR and 1/8” to RCA with a few RCA to 1/4” adapters. As usual, making them yourself is much more fun. If you’d rather buy, I’d recommend this (XLR) or this (1/4″). Whirlwind makes a nice in-line stereo-to-mono 1/8″ to XLR (keep in mind, MONO output).
Short-ish xlr cable
Because short ones can be hard to find when you only need 4 feet! Just make one. I’d recommend a bright color (like orange!)
Screwdriver — many-in-1
Having many sizes on one-tool fulfills our need to keep it light! The Klein 10-in-1 will last you forever — just engrave your name somewhere! For those of you that fly with your tools in your carry on, TSA limits the max length of any tool to 7 inches. (I’m sure there is a joke here…)
In 2005, I came up with this solution to help me visualize how higher frequency sound is dispersing from a speaker cabinet. Setting the unit to the speakers rated dispersion (60×90 degrees, 45×90, etc..), I can see the general coverage as well as limit reflections. Send me a email and I’ll reply with how to make your own!
A great tool to confirm audio of many flavors plus the ability to send 1K tone, yet my Whirlwind Q-Box broke a few years ago after a short fall onto a coliseum floor.
By the time it takes me to pull out my phone and find the torch/flashlight button, I can see what I need much quicker with one of these good ‘ole pushbutton flashlight.
I tend to stick with mechanic gloves which seem to fit well and last a while. I manage to lose the left-glove on a regular basis. I’m sure there are many, many right-hand gloves, once worn by me, scattered all over America. Tip: Mark your stuff!
“Helping Hands” — Great for soldering. I use this one. Aspirin -Headaches happen Hat & sunscreen– That fireball in the sky is lovely but… Bug spray – Yes, essential. Flash drives Ethercon Barrel Speakon Coupler Extra RF Whip antennas
Much more to come. Stay tuned!
New live sound classes!
By popular demand, I’m developing a series of smaller hands-on classes covering one specific topic such as:
Live Sound for Musicians
Digital and analog console training.
If helpful to you, fill out the short form below and I’ll keep you in the loop on when registration will be open!
Big thanks to Nathan Lively of Sound Design Live for the opportunity to share my career, gear and knob turning advice. I address a few of my monitor mixing tips, learning to say no in order to do more of the work you WANT to do, wireless coordination and IEM tips as well as a little history on my career path. Plus some cowbell smacking music interludes on the podcast! Enjoy! Interested in my additional live sound tips and tricks?
Do you have a “sound nerd” in your life and need to find a few perfect nerdy gifts? I’m here to help!
All of these recommendations I’ve personally used with great success. In fact, many of these items remain on my own Amazon wish list! I can’t tell you how often I needed a sharpie and some board tape! My post “What’s in my Live Sound Bag” also has some additional ideas, too!
I’ve linked to Amazon to make it easy! (let me know if you ordered from this list and I’ll mail you a free sticker of your choice!)
One-on-one workshop with me!
I started Sound Nerds Unite as resource of live sound tips and techniques I’ve gathered over my career. Teaching and mentoring via group and one-on-one workshops is one of my passions! Maybe your Sound Nerd would benefit!
Why didn’t I think of this sooner? Just $3 each. Order 3 or more and I’ll throw in a free sticker of your choice! Order now for FREE Christmas delivery.
Yes, I know. You may assume we only wear black YET we’re quite fashion conscious. Here’s a few fun ideas.
I can’t tell you how many items I’ve lost along the way. Give yourself a better chance! Try the P-Touch labeler.
I always have a handful of good ole’ 3M "foamies" for myself and friends, yet this set stays with you at all times and sounds quite a bit better!
If you spend any time with your sound nerd, the discussion on microphones can run deep! I’ll keep it simple here and recommend a few workhorses: Shure SM58 and for easy home recording, the Rode NT-USB.
Essential. Although once loaned to another, human, the Sharpie will magically disappear. Save money and buy your Sharpies in the 12-count boxes. Using the “twin tip” is pretty helpful, too.
Taking the plunge to free yourself of wires and enjoy the freedom of wireless microphones is quite tempting. Although if you’re not careful, the wireless path can bring about challenges not seen before.
The wireless landscape for our entertainment world has some twists and turns. The “chunk” of bandwidth allotted for wireless microphones and wireless in-ear systems shrinks every year. Tip: Be sure to double check the range of the unit. Stay within the 470Mhz – 614Mhz. Avoid anything in the 700 Mhz range.
Although I’ve written more complex articles tacking the wireless beast, this short article aims to recommend some quick wireless microphone best practices and affordable recommendations for the wedding DJ, singer or simple corporate gig.
Static and Drop Outs!
The two most common complaints I hear when helping troubleshoot budget friendly wireless is “static” and “drop outs“.Both problems are closely related to poor reception from transmitter to receiver and channel selection.
How to make it better!
Line Of Sight – keep the receiver off the ground and high enough to “see” over people.
Antenna Orientation – Orient the antennas in a 45 degree “V” shape.
Streaming High-Quality Live Audio Over The Web & Remote Mixing!
In the June 2017 issue of Live Sound International/ProSoundWeb, I wrote a brief article reviewing an exciting tool to send high quality audio over the internet within the Chrome browser — CleanFeed. I promised in the article to go into a bit more detail on my own workflow and uses for Cleanfeed.
This post aims to share my workflow for using Cleanfeed to teach, troubleshoot and take control of a console and “mix” the show — remotely. I’ll be adding more content daily, so stay close.
What is Cleanfeed?
Cleanfeed is low-latency, 2-way audio streaming software that, supported by the “cloud,” runs seamlessly on the Google Chrome browser with Windows, Mac, Android and Linux platforms. (No iOS support yet.) Simply launch Google Chrome, go to Cleanfeed.net, create an account, and off you go – send, receive and record superior live audio using only a browser.
Here are some screen shots of a fun test using Cleanfeed, TeamViewer and X-Edit to remotely listen to and control a friends X32 console.
I was in my New Orleans hotel room, my friend and fellow sound nerd, Mike Ingram, was at his studio in Cincinnati. He initiated a Cleanfeed session and sent me an invite. I joined the session and could hear the output of his X32 Producer which was connected to his audio interface and Macbook, respectively. Mike then sent along a Teamviewer invite so I could remotely control his Macbook and in turn, control his console.
The same can be done with other consoles that have companion software. As mentioned in the article, also having a stereo mic setup can give you a gentle representation of the room/environment.
Use Loopback (Mac) to route audio to and from the browser and other audio applications. Tip: Loopback is offering a special $10 discount to the Sound Nerds Unite family by using the discount code: SNURADINA.
“Speech Optimized” mode seems to be a great starting point in regards to sound quality and data. Yet, moving to “Music Optimized” is a great choice, too. Just see what works best for you.