Wednesday, February 28, 2007

1926 Radio Broadcast Magazine - 35 cents

Radio broadcasting was still in a formative stage in 1926, but its importance and potential were foreseen at that time.

Here the winged gossamer god of the airwaves narrowly avoids electrocution as he makes a spark filled connection between a broadcasting antenna and a Western Electric 1B carbon microphone, against the backdrop of the modern city of Gotham. Surrounding this explicit depiction of the the magic of radio are various vignettes of the effects of radio - dancing, listening in bed, exciting auto races, and running (?).

It is both literal and fantastic, a blend of the reality and hope of the new science and futurism of the early 20th Century, an enthusiasm later to be diminished by a world depression, and then a world war.

These images seem quaint and innocent, and unaware of what was to come.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Fat Eye Fantasy

Y'know, even though we are flat out there still has to be some time to fantasize a bit. I've been playing around with images of Naked Eye that we have here and realized that a fat version has a certain pudgy appeal to it: It's sort of comical, but also has a nicely inflated jellybean tension to it.

Perhaps this is the ubiquitous Mr. FatnNaked out for a walk with his cane...

Yes you are right - I have lost my mind:

I do like it though.

Naked Eye, Fat Eye, fat design of Naked Eye copyright 2007 Soundwave Research Laboratories, Inc.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Free and amazing software list

Here is a small collection of potentially useful and intriguing tools that can be used, for instance, to analyze toroids, perhaps like this Oktava ribbon mic toroid that we took apart.

Most of these programs are directed at ham radio geeks which is why they are mostly free or very cheap. BUT, all have uses in the audio recording domain. Want to measure noise? Just substitute your preamp and IO. Care to watch a histogram of an entire song as it plays? Use Winrad to make a waterfall display and fool it into thinking it is looking at 20 Hz to 20 KHz. I figured it out, and so might you. Want to know what radio station that microphone and phantom power supply cabling is tuned to? Antenna SW may give you some insight.

ELSIE Filter design program and several other useful tools by WB6BLD

FSM Field Strength Meter by VK1OD Measures noise levels of sound
cards Receivers and RF SNR.The site has several other tools and articles

WinRad the DSP backend of Software Defined / Direct Conversion
Radios by I2PHD

EZNEC Antenna Modelling software by W7EL

5SPICE Circuit design and analysis

Mini Ring Core Calculator by DL5SWB For designing toroidal inductors

MIXW A Swiss army knife set for demodulating digital modes and
operating tools by UT2UZ

Source: James D Koger, N1IPP

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Inventory Update - Dealers and Customers

The little factory is cranking away! As of February 17 2007, here is the state of things:

Studio Vocalist - Low Stock, with new vertical cases
Proscenium - Low Stock, new vertical cases
Soundstage Image - Low Stock, new vertical cases
Naked Eye - Out Of Stock, two to three week lead time
Recordist Ensemble - Out of Stock, two to three week lead time
V1 Reactor - Out of Stock, two to three week backorder

We have been juggling things, since sales are up. All products should be in stock by March 10. If you MUST have it right now, call us and we will try to find one at a dealer location for you.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Preproduction Studio Vocalist Ribbon Microphone

Here's a real relic. This is the very first microphone built sort of like the production version of the Studio Vocalist.

This was so long ago I was surprised to come across it in a forgotten directory on my laptop, which makes me wonder what else might be there.

This stainless steel preproduction prototype differed in many ways from the final version. The dimensions are different and the mic is taller, also the grill aperture is different, so is the motor unit, transformer, contact blocks (before solid silver) and many other things. The logo was mocked up and glued on. That red band at the bottom is a piece of electrical tape. Stylish, eh? Very Swiss, I thought. Sterile, surgical, perhaps too much red.

Sonically, this device was the first to use the voicing that simulates the curve of a vocal condenser. Historic, perhaps.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

More on Microphone Production

Someone sent this shot in showing a vocalist using a Studio Vocalist Ribbon mic. Chances are it was shot over at Studio Bopnique.

But this is about production and the "OOPS" below.

People who are involved in manufacturing know about materials management, just-in-time manufacturing techniques, and of course lead times, second-sourcing of materials suppliers, process controls, in-process inspections, sampling plans, final inspections, process validation, finished goods inventory, back orders, and dealer stock.

People not involved in manufacturing, but involved in sales, already know about back orders.

We have never been in a "deep" back order situation where we were unable to ship product for weeks, but we have had "shallow" back orders of a day or two here and there as we continue to grow the product line and also the manufacturing capability. Well, last week we sold out of some products - I mean down to zero stock - and that startled us a bit. We had been doing so well to keep above zero while maintaining a steady production pace.

So what happened? Two situations co-conspired to catch us off-guard: The first was the unexpected popularity of The Recordist ribbon microphone, which as you probably already know, is sold in pairs. We incorrectly thought it was a niche product. But the new class of field recorders work so well with this mic pair, without a need for a preamp or battery-draining phantom power, that they took off stronger than expected. No complaints about that! But it used up a lot more parts than expected. The other conspiracy surrounded the availability of those nice storage boxes that we supply with Proscenium, Soundstage Image, SPLx, el Diablo prototypes, and Studio Vocalist mics. Our manufacturer in Dayton Ohio just could not make enough wood boxes to our quality standards, so we switched to an even better, more rugged (and stylish) vertical box from a local New England box manufacturer. This new storage container has dovetailed corners, so we think it won't split in the dry desert heat. A box like this has an intended service life of 100 years, which we hope is enough.

Neither of these are serious or long term problems, and of course complaining about back orders is like bragging about tax bills, our staff size has increased, and our build plan adjusted up. In a week or so it will have passed. But for now, it looks like nobody goes home early!

Thursday, February 08, 2007


We're a bit low on Naked Eyes today. More coming.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Arcane Radio Trivia - The Blog

Arcane Radio Trivia is a blog I ran across with more arcane trivia about radio than the name suggests.

Here is some poster from the 70's by "The national stereophonic radio committee" showing what appears to be an electromagnetic wave, comin at ya, with some kind of polarization diversity AM signal on it. At least that's what I can imagine. You will have to go to this excellent, albeit arcane blog to find out.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Music Break: Marian McPartland

If you haven't heard Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz, which is the title of her long running NPR program, you are missing out on an important cultural resource centered on the world of piano (and other) jazz. The program usually consists of Marian and another perhaps better known pianist, discussing the music, and playing it right then and there. Marian's own expertise and artistry as a pianist, historian, composer, lecturer and broadcaster for over 25 years on National Public Radio, and her many recordings, together make up a lifetime of accomplishments that can only be termed monumental.

As I write this I am listening to her CD entitled Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz with guest Mary Lou Williams, which is amazing and well worth having. Williams was one of the best jazz pianists ever and she played with all the great names of jazz throughout the 20th Century.

Marian McPartland was born on March 20, 1918 and is still touring, lecturing, broadcasting, and playing. Catch her next broadcast.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Pickup Science

I've started looking at guitar pickups.

No, Crowley and Tripp do not plan to produce pickups or even work on them much. The pickup works by varying the magnetic field through/at/around a stationary coil of wire with a moving ferrous object, such as a guitar string.

That's one reason why you won't see many nylon stringed Stratocasters. Carbon nanotube stringed electric guitars have been discussed and there may be some intriguing advantages, like long life and resistance to stretch,but there would have to be some way to impart a ferromagnetic property to the nanotube string to get it to work, at least with conventional pickups. And the sound would be very different, though, it might be a good sound - you never know until you try it. Interesting to think about anyway.

Ribbon microphones use a non ferrous moving object - the ribbon - which is connected as one turn of a coil to another device, such as a transformer. The requirements for the ribbon are vastly different than for a guitar string.

This is a shot of a very inexpensive guitar that I got on ebay to steal parts from, but it played so well that I keep it as a kickaround in my basement radio room, not far from the tube checker.