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apparently, tapedecks are still being made in 2018

June 18, 2018 • Derek

Although there are some consumer grade tapedecks that are still on the market, with mechanisms no better than lower-end models of 30 years ago, I found out that a professional model exists which may be worth your consideration. The features are interesting because the past definitely meets the present in some very positive ways, with the caveat that Dolby noise reduction isn’t an option. It’s rather unfortunate that it is no longer something a manufacturer can license, and that it’s not been made public domain.

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I made instruments, Andre Louis made a video!

June 9, 2018 • Derek

From age 7 to the present, I’ve thought samplers were one of the coolest electronic musical instruments! I didn’t know what they were called, or where I could get one, or even how to explain my obsession to the staff at the local music store, I just knew there was a really cool guy on Sesame Street who had a keyboard that I wanted!

Fast forward a few years, and I discovered Jim snowbarger’s material. One of the episodes of “The Snowman Radio Broadcast” consisted of a tour of his studio, which is where I learned what a sampler was.

Skipping past some false starts in my sampling efforts, I discovered the sfz instrument format, and Sforzando.

All that having been said, I’ve been making several SFZ instruments of rather unusual things over the last few years, 2 of which Andre used in one of his “inspired by sound” videos.

As he explained on the video…

Watch the Tray has a most unusual history, and it begins in a hotel in Wales.
I was away for the weekend some years ago, and I noticed that the silver tray on which the cups and other drink-making accouterments sat, made quite a great noise. This was discovered purely by accident, but it lead me to remove everything from the tray and record it using a recorder that I had with me at the time.

Equally, the Apple Watch case has an interesting start as an instrument. My wife Kirsten had bought me a travel-charger for my Apple Watch last Christmas. You have to have an original charging-cable to-hand, and put this inside the case. To do this, you take the lid of the case off, and wrap the cable around the inside of the unit, placing the magnetic portion in the space provided. You put the lid back on, and the magnet is visible on top. You would then rest your watch on top of the case and it would charge. me being me however, I discovered that after taking the lid of the case off, it would ring for a very long time if struck with an Alan key, so I set out to record this one day when the house was empty.

Later, he sent those recordings to me and I turned them in to playable instruments.

Watch his video, enjoy the track, the breakdown, and join the fun by downloading the instruments from there.

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moving social media

June 8, 2018 • Derek

This is just a brief announcement to let those who follow me on twitter and facebook know that future posts concerning lanes audio will be on a separate account. Everyone with any sort of marketing experience who have seen what I’ve been trying to do has told me to make personal and business discrete, not just in friendships and relationships, but on social media as well. That having been said…

In addition to restoration services I’ve been advertising, I’d like to make several free instruments and effects available that I’ve created over the years. However, to present them the way I’d like, I need to learn a bit more about Word Press first.

If I just linked to a bunch of seemingly random things, the long term result would be a serious mess that would need cleaning up. Such an effort would also change the address of pages someone may have bookmarked, and dead links are not good.

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Getting good sound from portable record players that initially sound like garbage

June 7, 2018 • Derek

Big full-range sound, in little tiny grooves… It’s amazing that records work at all, not to mention sound as good as they do. Several people make the assertion that records contain much more detail than audio on a cd. Others may argue that they sound ok at best, and that there’s something kind of nostalgic in hearing scratchy sounding music with clicks and pops in the background. However, in my opinion, the sound of records lie somewhere between those extremes. Warn or scratched records containing recordings that were carefully mixed and mastered are compromised, but records which were properly pressed, and well-preserved will allow someone with a good turntable and preamp to hear all of the detail of badly produced recordings.

Have an example of what I mean. Can you hear the door slam? Given the song and the lyrics, you may appreciate the irony.

If you missed it, the door slamming was after the word “Joy.” Not a very joyful noise for sure, but one captured on the 1972 release of “The little drummer boy” by the Peppermint Kandy Kids.

Listening to this record has been, and is still one of my Christmas traditions. Until I found a copy of it on ebay, I just had a badly recorded tape of it though. All of the subtleties were lost in the background noise, and tinny sound of that bad transfer.

The cheep components in the turntable that were used when the tape was recorded are similar to those used in the portable record players that are popping up all over the place. Just do a search for “Portable turntable” or “Crosley” on youtube, and you’ll see a combination of negative reviews by people who are familiar with higher end equipment, and millennials who think the whole thing is like… so retro! OMG! 😛

That having been said, I’ve found a rather interesting video which discusses and demonstrates some of the advantages of performing upgrades on these low-end record players. I didn’t know that any of the components were replaceable. I figured that short of the stylus, everything else was either soldered, or hot glued together.

What are your thoughts and observations?
In addition to the kinds of things I’ve already posted, would you like me to use this blog as a means of sharing other videos I find interesting?
Let me know by leaving a comment.

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My Dell audio dilemma possibly solved

November 25, 2017 • Derek

For the last month, I have owned and enjoyed a refurbished Dell E7240 ultrabook. One of the cooler aspects of this machine is that the battery, ram, and harddrive can easily be replaced. The only disadvantage of this computer is that, like many similar Dell computers, the default audio configuration is hideous!

Take a loud obnoxious FM station, tune the radio off frequency a bit, and, short of the noise, you have the actual result of the waves max technology. The internal speakers actually sound ok…ish, but said processed audio through headphones is intolerable; not just to me, but to many others who wish to completely disable all of the “enhancements” as well.

The solution to making the audio as nice as the rest of the machine is to go in to the Dell audio control panel, and disable speaker and microphone enhancements. Two little check boxes, one big difference!
The problem is that you can’t use any screen access software to perform this deceptively simple task. Furthermore, Uninstalling the dell drivers results in 1 of 2 problems with both of the generic realtek drivers I found. One allows the speakers to work, but not the headphones, and the other gives you the opposite problem! Needless to say, installing a different driver when ever I want to switch between them will not be the thing that happens! The most reliable fix, so it seemed, was to get a friend to remote in to the machine, and uncheck the two little inaccessible boxes.

All was well until the latest windows update. Something reset the audio to it’s defaults, so obviously the “waves max” processing is, in my opinion, as stubborn as it is stupid. Uninstalling, then reinstalling the driver that I had downloaded before the windows update didn’t bring back my old settings. At least I learned from that failed experiment that this process doesn’t leave any rogue files or registry entries behind. This observation made me curious…

I asked around, and was told about regshot. This application takes two snapshots of the registry. The first is to be taken before you make a change to a system, and the second is to be taken afterward. Any number of things can be done with the results, including writing the differences to a text file, which I did. The comparison presented several changes, but I’m going to make a few assumptions and explanations about what was revealed.

  • The text file created by regshot refers to “HKLM\SOFTWARE” but that path does not exist anywhere, so I’m guessing that the keys are actually located in “Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE.”
  • There are no applications or services which are referenced in all of the data added/changed, which leads me to believe that it may be possible to delete “Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Waves Audio.”
  • If you were to take that risk then restart the computer, you may either be presented with no audio, processed audio with the inability to actually do anything about it, or nicely unprocessed audio.

Of course, the best thing to do before trying anything would be to export something before you play with/delete it. However, possibly for your convenience, I’ve exported the realtek and waves keys, as well as included the text file generated by regshot, which you can download. This way, if you want to make your own conclusions, or modify them in any way, you can. If I’m wrong about any of this, or you have speculations of your own that may be of use, comment on this post, or join the discussion my original post of this created on twitter.

Several have responded with very helpful solutions, which were much simpler, and effective for them. I just wasn’t that lucky, but you may be.

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