Monthly Archive for December, 2004

Canon 580EX speedlite

I just bought the new Canon Speedlight 580EX, to use with my EOS 20D. Bought the flash on Tuesday. Took a handful of photos with it. Today, two days later, I turned it on… whirrrr, click click click click, dead. Something in the zooming mechanism is grinding. I have no idea what happened. It wasn’t dropped or shocked in any way. It just up and quit on me.


Central Station

A couple new additions to my project studio. First, an inexpensive 100W/ch power amplifier, the ART SLA-1. This will be used to drive a second pair of speakers, Paradigm bookshelf speakers I’ve had for many years. These supplement my main monitors, Behringer Truth B-21 powered monitors.

It’s a good thing to have a variety of different monitors, so you can hear your mix in different ways, and not make a mix that’s overly-optimized for your particular setup. In another studio I visited earlier this year, they had a cheap, crappy boombox hooked up too, to hear your precious music the way the unwashed masses will hear it.

The other recent addition (just yesterday, in fact), is a Presonus Central Station. What does it do, you ask? Basically, nothing. It just switches audio signals from one place to another, has a volume control, and headphone outputs, and a talkback feature. These are all features that are built into an analog recording console, but generally lacking in a computer-based digital project studio. It’s main competition is the Mackie Big Knob.

You can read all about each product on their respective sites. But here’s why I chose the Central Station instead of the Big Knob:

  • All passive processing. Just switches, relays, and pots in the signal path. No active components to add noise.
  • Rack-mounted. I guess I just love rack gear. It can make a much cleaner assembly, when it’s all put together nice and professional-like. The Big Knob would add a whole lot of cable clutter to the desk-top.
  • It’s a pretty flexible component, can be used in various configurations. I think what I have in mind, should I continue developing the studio into the ultimate dream project studio, is something like this:

  • Speakers A and B would be control-room monitors (the Behringer Truths as ‘A’, and the Paradigm bookshelf speakers as ‘B’.
  • If I had a separate studio room, isolated from the control room, then I would get another power-amp and use the Cue output to drive loudspeakers in the studio. I considered using Speaker C for the studio, but the talkback only goes to Cue, not to Main, so it would not be heard on Speaker C.
  • The headphone outputs may not be used. I have a separate 8-channel headphone distribution amplifier already. If I get my patch-bay wired up nicely, I could use it to prepare custom headphone mixes for each musician. People usually want to hear themselves louder in their phones than they hear other people.
  • Second 1/4″ TRS input could be connected to another source, like probably a CD-player (rack-mounted, of course!). This would make it easy to just play a CD over the system, without having to rewire anything like I do now.
  • Digital inputs probably unused. Not sure what to do with them.
  • I also bought some cables and connectors at the local electronics hobbyist shop, Sayal Electronics. I highly recommend them for inexpensive but good quality computer and audio cables, and connectors. Don’t even think about buying a USB or Firewire cable at Future Shop! They’re overpriced to a degree that is downright insulting. And they have instrument, microphone and speaker cables of good quality, considerably cheaper than at the music shops.

    I bought a stock of spare connectors, 1/4″ and XLR, for cable repairs or to make up custom cables. Most of their stock is surplus stuff, very cheap, but all brand new and of good quality. I bought some long microphone cables, and extra connectors. I will split the cables, solder in new connectors, and get enough short-length balanced cables to hook up the new power-amp, Central Station. Also bought a couple speaker cables, with those weird Speakon professional P/A speaker connectors on them. I don’t need that connector, so I bought extra banana-plug connectors, so I can modify the cables to connect the Paradigm bookshelf speakers to the power-amp (banana plugs at both ends). All nice and tidy!

    Updated weblog software

    I’ve just upgraded to WordPress 1.2.1. I’m hoping this will make more tools available to me to keep that lame-ass Poker Spammer from wasting any more of my time.

    If you’re reading this, asshole, note the following: none of your spam appears on any of my pages. None of it ever will.

    The Grudge

    I saw the horror movie The Grudge (official site) last night. That is one relentlessly creepy movie! The sound effects are especially effective. It takes a lot of a movie to scare me, but The Grudge does it. And it’s not all cheap spring-loaded-cat gags, either (though it does have quite a few of those.)

    This is a Hollywood remake of the Japanese horror movie, Ju-on (“The Curse”). Unlike most Hollywood remakes of foreign films, they had the same director (Takashi Shimizu) and retained the setting in Japan. This is refreshing. But they were compelled to put American actors (Buffy!) in the lead roles. Perhaps it’s a sly attempt by Hollywood to ease the slow-witted rednecks that Hollywood thinks comprise the entire movie-watching public into watching foreign films. Perhaps the day will come when they will feel brave enough to give an original Japanese movie a wide release here. Not remade, not edited, not dubbed. Movies like Crouching Tiger, Iron Monkey and Hero have demonstrated that this can be done, and they will still make money here.

    The Grudge seems to share (steal?) a few visual ideas from The Ring, the other well-known Japanese horror remake. The Ring was quite successful here too, and also relentlessly creepy.

    It’s probably an unpopular opinion, but I actually enjoyed the American remake of Ringu more than the Japanese original. Ringu just seems a little bit slow to me. I haven’t seen the original version of Ju-On yet, but I’m sure I will very soon.