I just felt I had to voice my opinion about these systems. A lot of folks rave about them but I think they are awful! I have played through many of them in different rooms as a solo piano/vocalist over the last couple years.
The high end that sounds really harsh to me - sort of a crispy metallic high end. The rumbling low end has no definition, and the whole system has almost no midrange where the voice and the middle of the piano need to be in a mix. Think about it - how can you achieve a defined low end with a sub? You can't. How can you get warm mids from tiny metal speakers? You can't.
The cool thing is they get the sound all around the room - but then again, some people sit in the back to talk and not hear the music so much.
The systems are really expensive for what you get when you compare a pair of speakers and a mixer at almost half the price. They are not so easy to set up - and really not that hard either, and they really aren't all that light. They take up a ton of floor space in one area. The technology is pretty cool, but the sound is less than great in my humble opinion. (I've been playing in clubs for 32 years and making a solid living at it for 25.)
My wife has an Infiniti G35 that has a Bose system too. Used to be the old saying "no highs no lows, it must be Bose." Her car is so bass heavy it's ridiculous - the CDs I listen to all the time sound terrible in her car. I have tried to adjust it but the problem is there is no graphic EQ, so if you take down the thunderous hip hop bass, you also take out the bass you need for a kick drum and bass guitar.
I'm not planning on spending any money on anything Bose in the near future. Sorry, I just don't get the hype. The prices are sky high!
Here's a cool thing to try if you are a singer songwriter looking for exposure: Sign up at podsafe audio and upload some songs and you will most likely get some play and exposure to someone who might not normally ever hear about you. http://www.podsafeaudio.com/
Also check out Uncle Shag at WLSO FM - super nice guy and a music lover! Thanks Unc! http://wlso. fm/wordpress/archives/1140
Before the show started there was music playing - sounded a bit odd. No surprise here but it was actually coming out of this large array of megaphone/bullhorns! A mono signal with only mids, no lows or highs, sounded like a bad dream!
Tom is really on his game for this tour. I saw him last year at the Tabernacle in Atlanta and this year's show was ten times better. Great staging, sound, theatrics. Fantastic show! The band was excellent and at times sounded like a small orchestra and Tom was doing a sort of Waits only style of conducting. Sometimes reminded me of a warped Broadway production!
He was up on a small circular stage that looked like a piece of antique discarded circus equipment and the lighting circle overhead was tilted so the shadows it cast were long and eerie. Tom looked like he was a skinny 7 feet tall. Around the stage he was on were some small round lights that reminded me of a rundown midway - they were a little crooked and none of them ever seemed to be lit all at once.
Casey Waits played drums and had a huge kit with tons of odd ball things around it. The keyboard player had a couple keyboards sitting inside of a hollowed out B3 looking cabinet. Some of the sounds were bizarre as you might expect. It was actually very cool how close the sound was to the strange atmospheres on his records.
Thee was a guy out front who played sax (sometimes two at once), harmonica, and guitar. Sullivan Waits came out and joined him a couple times playing clarinet. Must be odd touring with your dad and playing "... we're all gonna be dead in the ground" every night.
The musicians were really great and the guitar player played electric and acoustic and even a couple flamenco styled things. A guest guitarist came out for a few numbers - Larry Taylor. Sorry I didn't get all the names of the members.
Tons of cool visuals in this show. A flickering lightbulb dropped down for a song, dusty powder created a fog around Waits as he stomped, a bunch of glitter rained down and later in the show he donned a mirrored hat reflected light like a like a disco ball. Waits was very animated through the whole show with his occasional odd and funny stories.
Tom played a little bit of guitar, some piano and pump organ but mostly stood in the center of his stage and lead the whole thing like a ringleader conductor. A drunk guy sitting behind me, and kept kicking the back of my seat said at one point "What the hell is that?" with regard to the pump organ, along with a bunch of other comments. One of his comments I totally agree with: "Man, Tom Waits is brilliant!"
Someone emailed me a bunch of questions - here are some of the answers:
vocal chain: I use a Rode K2 tube mic through a Brent Averill 1272 preamp, sometimes through an 1176 compressor into my Roland recorder. By turning down the attenuation as far as it will go on the Roland, I am using as much of the 1272 as possible. Ideally I would bypass Roland preamps but you can't do it on those durn things.
reverb: I like stuff pretty dry, especially vocals, maybe a little room sound here and there on other stuff. For this CD, I hardly used any digital reverb at all and instead ran separate signals into a speaker in a large tile floor room and at the other end of the room put up a couple Oktava 012 mics. $50 each at G.C. - best deal ever but they don't sell them any more I don't think.
Anyway, then I brought up the real room reverb on a separate track so I could EQ it and control the amount. I like to change it occasionally for different parts of the song to make the choruses bigger than the verses and stuff like that.
I use the proximity effect for a fuller vocal - finding the optimum spot depending on the song.
Everybody's voice has their own mic - I have a friend who sounds better on a Shure 58 than anything else I have - through the Brent Averill of course.
I also made a bunch of pres from a company called Seventh Circle Audio and they are great.
The Fathead was pretty cool to start with but the Lundahl mod improved the quality about 30 - 35% in the highs, lows and overall clarity. I recently got two more Fatheads at the Pot Luck Audio conference in New Orleans - way cool event - next year it is June 12, 13, 14.
ribbon mics: Ribbons work well for rounding off the edge - trumpet, tambourine, shaker, anything bright and harsh. I am planning on trying them for drum over heads because they're supposed to be really good for those.
They are also great for isolating guitar and voice when performed at the same time. They have a figure 8 pattern and the null side around the edge is deader than the deadest point on a cardiod pattern.
I don't know about the Cascade turbo thing but the ribbons need a lot of clean gain and tube pres can be noisy so I wouldn't recommend those. There is a way to use a Mackie mixer coming out of the inserts and not going through all the electronics - pretty clean way to go and not bad - cheap.
AT 4033: The 4033 is a great all around mic - I think it has only one pattern. It's pretty bright, can take a lot of SPL, built well. I got one of those new from the factory from a seller on ebay for 225. 4033 runs on phantom power, Fathead doesn't. They really are totally different.
There is a really cheap condenser called an AT 2020 or a Studio Reference or something - $99!
Also Aphex makes a tube mic that sells for around 150 or so that is very close to a $3000 Telefunken. Check out PSN's podcast for info.
I mentioned the delay in the last post. Well, when I dug it out of the mothballs, the battery was dead and it wouldn't hold any settings or presets. I do quite a bit of electronic type suff so i thought shoot, I'll just replace the battery. I ordered it from Mouser- a great supplier and proceeded to do one of the stupidest things ever. I tried to solder the tabs directly to the battery! NEVER DO THIS.
I couldn't get the solder to hold so I looked up some stuff on ye olde internet. That's when I was reminded batteries can explode when heat iss applied. My face was about a foot away and I was not wearing goggles. STUPID MOVE. By some incredible stroke of luck the battery did not explode and I still have my eyesight. This move continues to haunt me though. Please be careful.
I ended up ordering another battery with solder tabs especially mde for this, soldered it in wearing safety goggles.
I play keyboards and sax in some situations - quite a bit lately with a really good band - check us out at jangomonkey.com . It's sort of a rock band with lots of room for improvisation. I have this digital delay from a long time ago, you know, around the time they first came on the market? Anyway, I was trying to figure out a way I could control it and had it sitting on a shelf on a keyboard stand. Trouble is all the buttons and knobs were at waist level and it wasn't so easy.
I tried to figure out a way to prop it up so the controls would face up. That's when I realized, after a little measuring, I could cut a slot in my shelf the same size as the delay minus the rack ears which would keep it from sliding all the way through. So now I have a shelf for my mixer, delay, set list, flashlight and maybe a beer. The delay is 25 years old so this isn't a huge risk. I will try to remember to post a couple pictures of it very soon.
Herman Miller Aeron chair. Now I can sit in the studio at the desk for 10 or 12 hours with no soreness! It's been really amazing. I've heard folks grumble about these but if you get the right size they are fantastic. I got a bargain on mine from a used office furniture place on craigslist.