Friday, November 19, 2010

The Curtain Society recieves Good Song Award

Ashland MA, Nov 19, 2010: Worcester Massachusetts-based The Curtain Society has been named for the "Good Song" award by Soundwave Research, makers of RFvenue  gear, and supporters of local arts and culture.

The Good Song chosen for the prize - an undisclosed, but desirable, musical device, instrument, or secretly-stashed item - is "Marigold Girl" from The Curtain Society CD "Every Corner of the Room".

Criteria for the Good Song award is 1. Song kicks ass, 2. Has great tone, 3. Well recorded, 4.Well written, and 5. Sounds Really Good. We first heard Marigold Girl in April 2009 and it is still a favorite.

The Curtain Society appears tonight, November 19, at Lucky Dog Music Hall in Worcester, MA. For further details, visit The Curtain Society website.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Antenna Parts

Barely visible within the stream of thick, creamy coolant, this RFvenue antenna part is one of many being CNC fabricated these days.

Now that the FCC has changed the rules about how, and who has access to the finite airwaves, there are many new opportunities and problems, too, like interference and crowding.

Check out RFvenue here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Wireless Microphone Antennas for White Spaces

Excellent diversity reception from just one antenna is now a reality

You know how we have dispelled many myths in the past - Antennas are no different: There are plenty of myths surround antennas for wireless microphones that are preventing users from getting the most out of their wireless equipment.

We think we have the best and easiest to use wireless microphone antenna, and its virtues come from the fact that it completely overcomes the myth of dual antenna orientation.  Sparing the boring details, the myth says that the antennas should be spaced parallel to each to each other. Not so, in fact doing so assures that in some instances a deep null will result.

Here's more

RFvenue's Diversity Fin tm antenna connects to BOTH ports on any diversity receiver, eliminating the need to mount and position a second antenna. Not only that, the Diversity Fin tm antenna maintains strict polarization and space diversity at all times, at any orientation.  That means you never will have a dreaded cross polarized null that produces a pfft in the audio.

Everyone will thank you - or at least they won't have anything to complain about!

See one here 

Cross polarized nulls occur when the plane of the RF signal is exactly at right angles - 90 degrees - from the antenna. That doesn't happen often and if it does, usually not for long, but when it does, it produces a loss of 20 decibels. That's bad.

But, it can be prevented, entirely, by using a fixed diversity antenna with cross plane polariztion, such as the patent pending Diversity Fin tm antenna from RFvenue.  At $299, it's cheap insurance against pfft! or worse.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Singing on a Rainy Day

Today it was raining and kind of cold, now that Summer is over here in Massachusetts. Not so where Larry Killip is. I've been waiting to post this one, which shows a Naked Eye. Lovely song from Larry

Friday, September 10, 2010

RFvenue launches Diversity Fin tm Antenna

Soundwave Research Laboratories' Diversity Fin Antenna is quite a handy piece of gear if you want a simple, easy to use and very effective one antenna solution to go with your existing wireless mic receiver.

More about that here.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Myths: Shure experts explode popular myths about microphones

Shure has been convening their impressive group of engineers and applications experts, challenging conventional thought and worn-out sayings, myths and misconceptions.

One of the things not mentioned is that Shure KSM 313 and KSM 353 microphones have at least 20db more dynamic range than any other ribbon microphones by any maker, and they do that across the entire audio spectrum.

Here is a link to their page.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Minding your Ps and Cues

Even if you already have an interest in music for TV and film, or have a couple of songs that you think might be used someday in an episode of "Days of Our Lives", you might not be aware of how the music director, director and others use the cue sheets to help shape the production. Now it's easy to "do the paperwork" and produce cue sheets you can quickly print out and send to the production staff with any level of detail you need, and look good in the process, like you really have your act together, which you will with this software that you can download here. Very valuable - thanks!

Speaking of cues, count the number of cues in this score segment and win a prize of some sort, probably consisting of an artifact, maybe even a good one.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Sneak Preview! RFvenue's Diversity Fin tm Antenna

Check out the new RFvenue blog here

Most people are unaware that RF and antenna design and testing that has been conducted at Soundwave Research Laboratories, Inc over the last several years, under the soon-to-be-launched RFvenue product line.  True to RFvenue’s goal to make wireless performance setups and clarity easier to use, with better signal quality, and with improved reliability under all conditions, the Diversity Fin tm  antennas are now in field trials.

Unlike ordinary “fin” type antennas, the Diversity Fin tm antenna incorporates polarization and space-diversity reception, and does it without noise-generating amplifiers, bias tees, and the usual maze of wires that crews have to deal with.  Two feedlines from the Diversity Fin tm antenna easily attach “under the hood” and can be routed to any diversity receiver, or a combiner.

The advantage of the Diversity Fin tm antenna is clear: Only one antenna module is needed for dropout reduced reception at many smaller events, indoors or out.  And rain won’t bother it – the hood is actually a working part of the antenna, creating a dielectric airspace in the event of rain or snow, and makes sure you won’t have to unpack it or pack it up in a separate case when the gig is over.  All those separate and easily lost pieces are a thing of the past!

Note the neat protruding whip antennas, and the secure pole attachment, designed to fit all 1/4-20, 3/8-16 or 5/8-16 pole or mic stand mounts.  Are there any others on the planet? I don’t think so!
It’s Your Spectrum and Lose the Static, Not Your Audience are service and trade marks of Soundwave Research Laboratories, Inc. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

KSM-313s used on King/Taylor tour for guitar amp

Shure's KSM-313 Dual Voiced Ribbon microphones are being used prominently in sound reinforcement duty in the ongoing Carole King/James Taylor tour.

Here is a link to the story.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

What is it?

A subwoofer? Some kind of cooling fan? A jet engine cowling? Maybe an ice cream cone mold, or some new exercise equipment.

Chances are, something that operates in the RF spectrum, or manipulates electromagnetic waves.  Important stuff these days.

It's Your Spectrum (TM)


Action shot of Wendy Mittelstadt sawing away on her fiddle, comparing her custom prototype that she got years ago, with a later production model. This was during a visit to the lab sometime in 2008.

Visit to see her extensive discography.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

No blog or website about Hugh Tripp of Crowley and Tripp would be complete without this previously photographed image of Hugh Tripp.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

McFly's day - the future is now past

A hoax, the real date is 2015

Another five years to wait for the future...alas

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Happy Chladni Day - June 29

Amazing how fast the year goes by, and now our favorite holiday to commemorate Ernst Chladni observed in Massachusetts, Maine and Puerto Rico,

Here is a link to all about Chladni!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Return Loss, SWR, and Antennas

A lot of people talk about antennas in terms of "SWR" or Standing Wave Ratio. Hams do it primarily, and so do CBers and others.  SWR is sacred to hams, who have developed a belief or myth that if their SWR is low, everything is fine.  Well, that's partly true to their transmitters that have automatic high SWR foldback circuits, and to their feedlines that can arc over if the voltages get out of hand, which they can in a high SWR condition.

But a more modern term for describing how efficiently power is transferred to an antenna or other device is referred to as Return Loss.

Return Loss does not tell you how well an antenna receives signals!  There are plenty of other characteristics that are important, but Return Loss does give you a very good idea of the impedance mismatch of the line into the antenna when power is applied.

Here is a link to a paper on Return Loss, more than you probably want to know. But we will be referring to it in the future because Return Loss is one measurement of antenna quality that is starting to show up in spec sheets, and you know how that goes: Some people buy on the specs, others buy for a variety of reasons and not necessarily the published specs. In the microphone world, we found ample evidence, which we have no intention of providing, of "spec inflation". I will let you figure out what that means. We also used a term to describe people who only considered the specs in microphones to be "curvemeisters". Pretty funny, unless you are one of them.

In antennas it's different.   In case you want to read a good basic paper on Return Loss, below is a link to one.  There are a lot of websites that get it wrong, but I think this one is right, so I'm going with it.  I'm getting this minutiae done early, so we don't have to repeat it later. Yes I know this is a boring topic, but Return Loss  measurement is one of the more important measurements, right up there with gain. All you will need to know about our products is that they work, but we won't make you take it at face value - we'll actually measure them like we did with microphones, and report actual results when they mean something.

Here is the link.

Nice Picture of Cubby and KSM313

Link to an article in PSW about the use of this mic here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Low cost spectrum analyzer from RFvenue

Here's a good low cost spectrum analyzer useful for determining the RF landscape in your venue. And we can help you get it up and running, and can advise on how to interpret it too.

Link to RFvenue store

Frequency response of microphones now extends into UHF and beyond

Our notion of the audio passband being something like 20-20,000 isn't really accurate. Most people, even younger ones, have little to no hearing above 15K.  Yes, I know, YOU can hear something up there, or think you can. Actually just about everyone who visited the microphone lab in years past got a secret hearing test, and I found out that some very good ears could hear nothing above 10K, but that's another story.

Fast forward to the present, or near future, when everything is wireless - wireless is a quaint old term that was used from about 1920 to 1990 to describe ancient radios with sparks, code keys, and old men with beards. The term was "radio". The term "wireless" has had a revival and now is part of the every day lexicon.  Wireless everything means lots of traffic on the airwaves, which are finite, and crowding, interference, and noise.  Eventually, the so-called recording studio will be wireless, or, possibly, wires will make a comeback, like vinyl.

Wireless performance has become the norm.  You hardly ever see wires on stage any more, so ubiquitous are wireless body packs, mics and monitoring systems.  It's great for the performers and the audience, but also a challenge for the growing number of live audio companies who are charged with the now ever daunting task of interference-free music via radio waves.

Above you see a thing called a Spectrum Analyzer. This tool charts radiofrequency energy, including that kind of "RF" that goes out over the air, and into a sound system.  It has become a necessary tool for those who must arrive, set up, and operate complex wireless audio systems in various venues.

If you look closely, you will see the familiar spectrum displayed from left to right, lower frequencies, just like in audio, at the left, and going higher. Except, these are ultra high frequencies in the 800 MHz range, in this picture, which are used by cellphones. Soon cellphones will be in the "microphone" bands in between TV stations. It's a mess and manufacturers are worried that their customers are going to get interference from new cellular and other wireless services that compete for the precious, limited, and finite radio spectrum.

All wireless systems depend upon the use of at least one antenna. Antennas are a type of sensor, and the way an antenna behaves can be tailored to favor a specific job, frequency, location, or battle competing RF signals, thereby reducing interference.

The antenna art is mostly old, with a lot of old notions, myths, and obsolete practices. Those of you who followed the development of Crowley and Tripp Microphones might guess what comes next.

Here is a link to a java applet spectrum analyzer you can play with.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Seen on the Set of Leno

This actually looks like part of the Recordist Ensemble Stereo pair, which was built to have perfect symmetry and a deep null centered between the lobes.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Noise Awareness Day - April 28

In case you haven't heard, today is Noise Awareness Day.   The health, enjoyment and safety aspects of noise are the focus of Noise Awareness rather than such things as The Art of Noise, which are arguably something good.

I dislike noise in any form: RF noise, acoustic noise, visual noise and even social noise are things I avoid if I can.

Speaking of the noise - the problem kind - we have Herb Singleton's Cross-Spectrum Labs to thank for noise measurements at traffic intersections and other public and industrial places that help municipalities, infrastructure and others be good neighbors.  Here is a shot of Herb Singleton, just out of the Speed Graphic camera done today at Soundwave Research.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Longest winded interview in microphone history

Somehow of interest to a protools blog called Protoolersblog,  this interview was done at Tape Op Con in Tucson, which was an excellent event and one of the most fun and memorable things I did relating to the mic biz.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Floods in Boston area result in excess levels of dihydrogen monoxide

The levels of the chemical di-hydrogen monoxide have increased at an alarming rate in the Boston area over the last two days, mainly caused by flooding of roadways, storm drains, and other surfaces.  Several nearby reservoirs are apparently affected.

Reports of this situation, which appears to affect the entire Massachusetts water system, have been broadcast on nearly all local radio and TV channels.

Please be aware of this and take the necessary precautions if you plan to visit our area.

Link to a Materials Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for DHMO.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Wild Wild West (East)

I am amazed and appalled when I see such obvious attempts at ripping off trademarks and trade dress.  This fools no one, but it is still unacceptable.

Someone went to a lot of trouble to make the artwork, packaging etc. - they took the existing product and said to the factory, change any R to a Z.  Instzuctions foz use: Position youz Wizeless miczophone neaz pezfozmer.

Sounds like a sneeze coming, or maybe a little nap. Intellectual property disputes, counterfeiting, and back door gray market selling are on the rise, and some US companies are quite concerned.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty - Strange Attractor

Perhaps one of the most unusual and thought-provoking product lines that I have seen in years. Aaron has developed dozens of putty variations with interesting photonic, magnetic, viscous and thermally responsive properties. It is almost a new class of matter.

Be sure to check it out here.

The field of magnetorheology is an important one. Aaron has made a nanomagnetorheological viscous semifluid or thixotropic fluid, for us to play with.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Power Gig Controller from 745 Studios

Here's an interesting guitar/controller combo from 745 Studios in Boston.  Not only will it control a game, such as Guitar Hero, but it also has the ability to be properly tuned and played like a real guitar, and may help develop playing skills for new users.

The manufacturer comments:

"Instead of the standard Guitar Hero and Rock Band "highways," the music is represented in a vertical DNA-strand string of streaming colored orbs. Placement of orbs and color prompts give players a heads-up to upcoming notes."

The game is called Power Gig and linked here.

The merging of games, toys, instruments, and consumer electronics with "serious" equipment in medical devices, for instance, has been going on at a furious pace these past few years, as manufacturers and military systems designers realize the vast enabling powers of intuitive gaming console interfaces, and how they work with the human mind, and body. One such game console became the basis for a new ultrasound imaging system.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

New Terms: Winter Clench, Still Actor, Pettered

Along the way our wonderful English language provides us with many creative opportunities to express ourselves in new ways.  And as the internet allows us to see more writings of people we also can become aware of cliches more easily.  So there is a good reason to continue to try new things and even make up new words or names, such as we did with Naked Eye, Roswellite, and New55.

Here are the latest:

Ruined, in a bad way
This term comes from the last name of Petters, who ruined Polaroid, its stockholders, and pensioners in a particularly bad way. 

"After I changed the tire on the New Jersey Turnpike, my suit was completely pettered"

Still Actor
An actor who is seen in the production of still images.
This term fills the gap between conventional stage, TV or screen actors, and "models" to describe significant and intentional artistic participation in the creation process.

Winter clench
A condition where people who are subjected to cold Winter weather start to become tense, tight, and introverted. A term to describe the holding of a coat closed in a cold, bitter wind, often with a grimace.

Rock is Dead/ R.I.P.

Rock is Dead. Go here to see it nearing its ultimate, moribund state, which is quite enjoyable!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Pete's KSM-313

Here is a link to the accompanying press release about the mics used during the halftime show.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

More Analog to Digital Imagery Analogies

Panavision, a company that I admire for its innovation, persistence of focus on customer needs, and pure technical genius, has this interesting video with comments by cinematographer Allen Daviau. The control of dynamic range, resolution, and also what is out of focus, the effect that has on the overall image, are in ways analogous to audio recording, I believe.

Listen to Allen's comments about "beauty light" in the context of the "recording".

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Lombardo, Clapton, Now

Captive members of The Baby Boom know we must exit planet earth before pop culture time distortions in the media can effectively dissipate.

In simpler terms, there is this iPhone ad with Eric Clapton on TV.  Apple makes it, and pushes it effectively.

Guy Lombardo (look him up) peaked in 1947. Clapton peaked two decades after that in 1967.  Let's see...77,87, 97, 07 +3 - that's 43 years til now, more than twice the Lombardo-Clapton scale.

Just sayin.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Can you tell an Analog from a Digital recording?

You know we spent a lot of time and many paragraphs about analog recording vs digital, and how ribbon microphones are able to put "a dose of analog" back into digital recordings.

Well the exact same thing seems to be true about images! If you use an instant film like this Fuji color print film, you will regain that film-nearness that we had for so many years, even when scanned in and posted on the internet as a jpeg.

There are millions of old Polaroid cameras out there that this film fits in. If you have one, I suggest you pick up a pack on Amazon and give analog imaging another look.

Can you tell the difference between analog and digital?  See here and figure out which ones are analog, and which are not.

Not enough? How about this!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cate's Newest "The Wonder Show" Produced, Recorded at Bopnique in Chelmsford

John Cate has written more than 300 songs and recorded 7 albums. His songs have been featured in many films and TV shows.  He created and hosted the Americana Showcase at the House of Blues in Cambridge which ran for 8 years.  The new CD release from John Cate and The Van Gogh Brothers is entitled "The Wonder Show", and contains new songs said to tell stories about side shows and religion at the Turn-of-the-Century.  Cate's troop returned to Studio Bopnique in Chelmsford, MA to work with producer Anthony Resta and engineer Karyadi Sutedja recently, and critical previews have considered this latest release, which debuts on February 6 at the Iron Horse in Northampton, MA, to be his best yet.

The Wonder Show is available on iTunes and on CD at the release event, where Cate will perform selections from the new album. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New 55 Project Commences!

Here is the link to the New 55 Project, with its own blog and images, with reports on progress to come soon. The goal of the project is to produce a new, very high quality instant 4X5 and 8X10 negative material to replace the no-longer-in-production Polaroid Type 55 instant P/N film. Learning to be done first on fuji instant B&W film fp100b. Not very good is it?

Click here, and please join in the project.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What is a "Still Actor" ?

"Still Actor" is the term used as the name suggests, for an actor for the making of still images.  The implication is that Still Actor relies upon more skill, when done well, than "just a model".  Though there are wonderful models who are also actors, and therefore Still Actors by definition, Still Actors may favor non-moving, silent forms of acting for artistic reasons.  Still Acting may have its own methods and meanings, requiring additional skills beyond striking a pose, and holding it.  Still Acting is primarily used in conjunction with some form of optical image, such as photography. The intersection of portraiture and Still Acting might involve the interpretation of the person through single or serial still images, and various motives, themes, emotions, intentions and complex meanings can be developed by skilled Still Actors.

In commerce and advertising, Still Acting in photographs may attempt to convey meanings that motivate potential customers to favor a specific product, or service.  Still Actors have been involved in certain street  and gallery performances where the contrast between the normal movement of persons in a place stands out against the motionless Still Actor.

Monday, January 11, 2010

New Bopnique Site Launches - Massachusetts based home of Anthony Resta

Just a referral to the new Bopnique website that has some dynamic content as well as a player with new music on it.  Anthony Resta and Karyadi Sutejda's lair, now a very busy place for the post-indie making of new music.

There's nothing like doing new things with old parts, and that's what makes Bopnique so productive - Anthony's ability to recreate and collaborate often leads to the unexpected.  Serial Thrillers, Shawn Mullins, and New Collisions are regulars.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Hofner Verithin Galore

A shot of my 60s Hofner Verithin with the Scholz X-ray inserts.  This was the Hofner that I bought from Tom Allman in 1980 for $200 and used in many banners and ads.

Here is a link to more on this Hofner.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Jim Koger explains the origin of IVUS transducers

Here's Jim Koger test probing early IVUS transducers that worked at the then unbelievable fequency of 30 MHz with fractional bandwidths of 50% or greater.  Not only that, but these particular transducers, which Jim developed, iterated and built over and over many times, had nearly zero ringdown. That meant that close-up imaging, where the transducer is very close to the wall of a heart artery, for instance, could become a reality.

It did.  Today, so-called Direct View IVUS (intravascular ultrasound) is the gold standard for measuring coronary lesions and directing the implantation of arterial stents.  IVUS is about a 600 million dollar business today.  The stent business is many times that, but probably would never had developed were it not for the images provided by IVUS, which were key to the clinical trials and device approvals.  Stent trials drove much of the sales of IVUS in the beginning, but eventually clinicians realized they could do a better job putting stents in if they used IVUS in their daily practice, so many hospitals use IVUS in most coronary interventions involving stents.

All this costs money though, and ultimately lengthens lives, so somebody has to pay for it. Same with new drugs, the cost of development is very high.  But IVUS was done more cheaply, using Ham Radio flea market equipment in this example!

Image: TMAX  6X4.5cm negative processed in pyro.  Shot around 1989 or 1990 and scanned in today using a neato epson 750 pro scanner.

The equipment is interesting and very similar to the way Crowley and Tripp ribbon microphones were developed.  Once exception is the Panametrics 5052UA Ultrasonic Analyzer that I bought at Hosstrader's Hamfest and used at Boston Scientific for many years.  That same analyzer still does the job at Soundwave Research today and is a very valuable, rare piece of gear, combining a short pulse transmitter, stepless gate, and a high gain broadband receiver.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Gibson Strings and Bokeh

Mona-Steel strings suggest perhaps the inclusion of some monel - a naturally occurring stainless steel sort of alloy comprised of nickel and iron, found, I believe, in the city of Sudbury, Ontario.  This old orange box showed up one day and has been propped against the Lafayette PA42 microphone and in front of one of the several remaining RCA 77DXs that still clutter up shelves here at the lab.

But this shot was my first test of a new old lens that I became interested in - a Kodak Aero Ektar, F2.5, able to cover 5X5" film and originally designed for WWII aerial reconnaissance.  It is a big lens and had to be specially mounted on a Pacemaker Speed Graphic camera.

The lens can be thought of as sort of an analog of a transducer, or at least the first part of a transducer.  This wide aperture lens is regarded by aficionados to have "good bokeh" which is an awkward term used by photogs to describe a nice out of focus effect rather than a blur with spikes, circles or pentagrams in it. When it all goes right, there is a subtle but noticeable "3D" effect in the image where the subject stands out nicely.  The field of a microphone is sometimes thought of having an aperture and a focus.