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MrKnobs

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  1. Another thing to be aware of is the danger of getting on a plane (or diving) with a cold. Most people who fly frequently have experienced the discomfort of having difficulty getting your ears to "pop" which is actually the process of equalizing pressure on both sides of your eardrum. When you're healthy, this is relatively easy and can be accomplished by chewing gum, swallowing repeatedly, sipping a drink, or yawning. But when your Eustachian tube is clogged up (it's the little tube that runs from your middle ear to your throat) it's not easy and sometimes even impossible to make your ears "pop." The result is pain (called barotrauma) which can be moderate to extreme. You might even continue to have this pain and diminished hearing for hours or days after you get off the plane, if it's really bad. Most people recover in a matter of hours or overnight. What most people don't know, though, is that the loss of hearing from inability to equalize pressure can be permanent. Yes, permanent. You could (though it's rare) lose ALL of your hearing in both ears. Scary? Yes it is. What can you do to make sure this never happens to you? (1) Don't fly or dive when you have a cold. This is the surest way to avoid barotrauma and the military will often ground a pilot who has a bad cold. (2) If you must fly, then take an oral decongestant (e.g. Sudafed) four hours before you fly and use an inhaled decongestant as well (e.g. Afrin). This will likely be all you need to do to avoid barotrauma. If you do experience difficulty in equalizing pressure, sip a drink, chew gum, etc, as swallowing opens the Eustachian tube. DO NOT squeeze your nose closed and blow, as you can blow out the round window in your cochlea (hearing organ) and trust me, you really don't want to do that. (3) If despite all precautions, you arrive at your destination in extreme pain and with your ear still "blocked," understand that this is an EMERGENCY and head to the nearest ER to get help. Likely you'll be given oral steroids that will open your Eustachian tube, and, in extreme cases, perhaps a steroid shot and even have a fine needle inserted through your eardrum to relieve the pressure. The steroid shot is to relieve the swelling inside your cochlea, the organ of hearing. Sometimes the shot is given through your eardrum, which sucks, but is still better than permanently losing your hearing. Knowledge is power. I'd have given anything to know the above information prior to a flight I took in Sept 2007. Take care of your hearing, there's no fixing nerve damage once it's happened! Terry D.
  2. There are some "secrets" to using backing tracks live that can determine whether your audience fills the dance floor or fills your ears with boos and catcalls. First, consider the audience. If you're playing a coffee shop where people are used to hearing acoustic acts then you might not want to whip out your JS-10. On the other hand, if you're playing a club where people want to dance they'll likely just be happy with a beat and not worry too much where it comes from. Next, consider WHAT to include on your backing tracks. Drum track or beat of some sort? Good idea if club has people who are used to dancing. Ditto for a bass guitar or a bass synth track. More than this and it gets perilously close to karaoke. You can probably get away with a simple backing vocal mixed low, maybe even a quiet string pad or simple keyboard part used sparsely but if you start putting in horn sections, fiddle players, full string quartets, elaborate vocal arrangements and the like people are going to notice there's only one or two of you on stage. Basically, you want to play and sing the "featured" parts and any prerecorded stuff that takes the attention away from what you're doing live is likely a bad idea. Finally, one of the most important things to do is make the backing track sound "live." That means the level of compression / limiting of the backing tracks should, at a minimum, be the same as the live tracks. This usually means using raw, uncompressed tracks for the backing that have full dynamic range, same as the live performers. You *can* go the opposite route and compress the live parts to match the backing, but then you're venturing perilously close to karaoke territory again. The sole time (IMO) that you want to go this route is when you're streaming music up to the internet, not when you're playing a club in front of a live audience. My group often performs as a duo with backing tracks from my JS-10. We already have all the instruments from our CD on separate tracks, so we create a sparse mix from those and don't compress / limit / master that mix so it sounds more live than recorded. This has the huge advantage that it sounds complex and organic, since after all it was played by a drummer and bassist, not created in a computer program. It's imperfect, it breathes, it has dynamics and energy, it sounds like real drums and bass because it is. An expert programmer can replicate this, but it's not easy. And yes, we have a "bail out" plan in case we get lost (never happens, honestly, we could play these songs in our sleep by now) which is to use the foot switch to stop the backing tracks and finish a capella, hoping it seems like flair to the audience rather than a train wreck. I really wish they made the JS-10 without the speakers attached, they're pretty useless at a live show and make the box bigger than it needs to be. Otherwise, this is one amazing device, quite an improvement over the JS-3 which I used for years before buying this. Terry D.
  3. Craig, do the specs say how much current that monster draws from the AC supply at 115 VAC?
  4. Good article! I would add that foam can work really well at bass trapping in the corners but you need some seriously thick foam! I'm a materials scientist and what I mostly do lately is design some seriously large noise solutions like the 3 mile long absorptive barrier on IH-30 in Dallas Texas. I mention that because I have daily access to some excellent measurement gear including sound intensity probes, impedance tubes, and reverberation analyzers which I borrow to check out acoustic solutions in my home studio. I've tried a lot of things, and I measure them in place. That's really important as subjective evaluations are important but only go so far. I won't list all the things I tried that didn't work (as I'd be embarrassed at how much money I've wasted over the years) but the things that DO work for me are Auralex Mega Lenrds (they're two FEET thick!) and a homemade and tuned tube trap to reduce my terrible 90 Hz standing wave in my small control room. The regular LENRDs are just too small to get down to the problem frequencies common to small rooms with similar wall dimensions. The big LENRDs fit well into corners where you probably weren't using the space anyway, and they're heavy enough to stack without needing to mount or glue them to your walls. I also use a few of Ethan Winer's panel absorbers, which are much less effective with low frequency standing waves than the LENRDs, but they have the advantage that they don't absorb the high frequencies too like the LENRDs do. As carefully measured, my control room is as flat as I want it to be while still being in the preferred range for reverberation time. You don't want a completely dead control room. Terry D.
  5. In Austin we're blessed with an abundance of inexpensive rehearsal facilities. You can rent a rehearsal room for as little as $8/hr with PA and microphones. You can use their guitar amps, bass amps, or even a drum kit for a few dollars more per hour so you don't have to hump your gear if you don't want to. Typically my band spends about $30 for a night's rehearsal split between 5 people. If that's not compelling enough, the same facility has a recording studio you can rent by the hour, a full service music store / repair / gear / snacks facility on the premises. This is a HUGE advantage over rehearsing at someone's apartment or house. Let me lay it out for you: Practice you should do at home, rehearsal you should NOT do at home. Sound proofing, noise complaints, playing with strangers or near strangers who might swipe something, spouse / partner irritation, parking issues, drugs, liability, wear and tear on your house, bathroom use, the list goes on and on. I realize that not everyone can live in Austin (please don't, we already have more than 10,000 bands according to the local paper!) but you can find rehearsal facilities in most large cities and save your gear, your home, and maybe your marriage!
  6. And this is still here. I did keep a copy of the groupie story. Terry D.
  7. I've only seen the trailers so far. It's kind of weird seeing rami malek as Freddy, but that's just because I've seen all the seasons of Mr Robot where he was an schizophrenic hoody wearing hacker. He does look quite a bit like Freddy Mercury. Terry D.
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