Archives: April 2006
So this fellow on Gearslutz by the name of Mitchell decided to make himself a passive summing mixer. This flavor of summing has no make up gain; you use mic pres to bring the level back to line; in this manner you can determine the color of the summing. (The Rolls Folcrum follows this line of reasoning.)
Anyways, there are many more pictures in the pertinent thread. This is actually, as you'll see from the interior shots, a fairly simple project. A lot of wiring, to be sure, but nothing terribly complicated.
I make no secret of the fact that URS is my favorite plugin maker that isn't, well, Adam and I. Them and Princeton Digital, I guess. But anyways, if you head to the URS site and sit through the interminably long flash movie, you'll get treated to a little tease as seen above. (Right click, view image to see that bitch full sized, if you're lazy.) I don't know what it is, but it has a nice half a meter, anyways, and I'll probably buy it, because that's the kind of sucker I am. Anyone from URS wanna trade NFRs?
Time to cue up "Thus Spake Zarathustra" because the Monolith is here, and we're about to start hitting each other with bones. The above multi-vendor system is owned (or rather was owned, as it is now "30% more wee") by one Vogelsheiss. My German is rusty, but I'm pretty sure that means "hot chicken" or something. Anyways, Charles Graef (which is his real name, I assume, since "Hot Chicken" doesn't work too well with the ladies. Well. maybe German ladies...) is unique among our HCGPF representatives inasmuch as the MP3s available on his site are actually quite good. Like, really good. Good enough that I'll ignore that 1402 just sitting there, all out in the open and naked-like.
The other fun thing I got this weekend was a CME controller keyboard. I'm a bit of a stick-in-the-mud as far as keybeds go. I'm not a very technical keyboard player (read: I don't know a fuckload of chords) but I'm fast and accurate, and have an octave and a fourth stretch. What this means is that the current popular trend for 3 and 2 1/2 octave keyboards, while fine for poking out progressive house basslines, are basically shit for my actual playing.
Five octaves are about the minimum for 2-handed playing, I think, and thus my initial search for a new controller was for keybeds with 60 or more keys. This field is surprisingly limited, especially if you don't want/need a fucking USB audio interface. I had pretty much settled on the CME UF6 or 7 to begin with, because the price-to-features ratio was quite good. But then I was reading Thomas Dolby's blog, and he is using a CME UF8 on his current tour. I figured good enough for Thomas Dolby, good enough for me.
This is a mini-review, in as much as I haven't actually tried out a lot of the features of this controller. I basically plugged it up and flailed for a bit to make sure it works. One handy feature is that it has MMC transport controls, which is nice. The keybed is great, not real springy like normal Korg/Yamaha stuff. It is firm, and each key has a little more give at the end of travel than at the beginning. The faders can be put in drawbar mode, which Just Worked with B4, and was good for an hour or so of fun. Much easier to program that particular softsynth with faders than a mouse. It also has that rare breed, a breath controller input. Didn't try this out, as I think that looks gay even in private, but it's there if you need it.
In construction, the UF6 seems pretty tough. The entire chassis, except the small panel in which the mod and pitch wheels sit, is aluminum, even the sculpted endcheeks. I don't think I'd have any misgivings taking it on stage. Built-in splits, which is also handy for live use. In fact, the control compliment lends itself more to live use than studio, in my opinion. The only caveat is that the front-panel legends are kind of difficult to read in low-light situations, which could lead to some exciting moments.
Basically, after a cursory examination, it is what it is, and does what it says, in a semi-stylish and obviously durable fashion. You really can't expect much more from a controller at this price point. Worth the money so far.
As I mentioned in the previous post, I've just picked up a Red Type B mic from Red Microphones. (As most everyone knows, Red was the vintage mic repair offshoot of Blue, but has now been spun in to a mic maker in its own right.) The Red Type B body is $450, and you have to buy at least one capsule at purchase time. Since I'm a bit short on funds, I went with the least expensive option, the $250 Lollipop Capsule. I also ordered the "Vintage Style" pop filter for $79. They don't charge shipping, and the shock mount and a good quality mic cable are included with the body, so for basically everything but the stand, the total charged to my credit card was $779.
The only real question with microphones is "is it worth the price?" I don't particularly care for buying mono-use stuff for my studio (e.g. monitors, mics, stands, that sort of thing) so I want to get the most bang for my buck when I do. Without being able to taste-test every new sub-$1000 mic on the market, I pretty much had to rely on the testimony of people whos opinions I trust, and I wasn't 100% confident with a blind purchase, even for something that seemed like such an obviously good deal. Nevertheless, purchase it I did, and I took it out for a trial run today.
I do have some minor beefs I should get off my chest straight away. The packaging was quite nice, and the entire system was well-packed, but the pop-filter, cable, and shock mount come in those stupid fucking hyper-protective thick-ass plastic SAF-T-SEALs or whatever the hell they're called. I don't know how many people are admitted to the hospital each year from injuries sustained while trying to open ridiculous plastic packaging, but I very nearly became one of them. Next up, the capsule just barely fit on the body. I had to apply a not-insignificant amount of pressure to get it seated. This brings to mind two things: (a) will I ever be able to get it off again? and (b) will the other capsules fit as tight? I actually knocked the little "Red" badge off the capsule trying to get it seated, as it is just held on with a light epoxy or something. This was an annoying way to start the morning.
Now, those minor caveats aside, this mic is The Business. Run, don't walk, to their site via that link, and get one of these. Even with the most modest capsule, this is a _great_ mic. I tried it out on vocals, acoustic guitar, and electric guitar. I thought it did better at the first two than the last, but I'm a big fan of ribbons for electric, and tend to avoid the large diaphragm condensor sound, so I might be biased in that regard. But I've never heard a mic that was so across-the-board gentle. It sounded especially fantastic on male (meaning "my") vocals, which are notoriously hard to tame. I would liken the Lollipop sound to a 414, except without that low end whatever that the 414 seems insistent on adding.
In short, I'm quite happy with this purchase, and now I'm extra super especially wishing Mercenary would ship me my Chandler Germanium, so I can try it out with a real mic pre. A strong Buy recommendation from me.
Oh, and... the pop filter is excellent. I normally avoid them because I have a soft sibilance, and a normal pop filter makes me sound like I have a lisp. However, this pop filter doesn't seem to do that. It can be used with any mic, of course. It attaches to the mic stand, and is made of stainless steel, so it can be spritzed off between singers. I think I'm gonna get another one so I don't have to move the one I have between mics all the time.