HOB NOBBING WITH BOB
I’ve got to hand it to you. Great article! Bob [Heil] is probably one of the most under-appreciated members of the music world. Not only for his inventions and innovations, but for the role he played in the Southern Illinois region supporting local musicians. I remember my first trip to Bob’s Ye Olde Music Shoppe in Marissa. The guys in my high school rock band and I had just seen The Guild at a local parking lot dance in Mt. Vernon, IL, and we marveled at their clean, clear sound. It was a first for us, because, as Bob described in your article, everyone was using column PAs. We were using four Shure columns, each with 6 eight-inch speakers. You can imagine how those sounded. Especially at an outdoor gig. The Guild was using Altec “Voice of the Theater” modular PA cabinets. At their first break, we rushed up to the stage and asked these guys, “Where did you get that PA gear?” The rest was history for us. We made many trips to see Bob over those years. I’m guessing 1967–1973. Bob was great to us, as he was to the rest of his local bands. We could call Bob, desperate that we had blown a 15 in one of our cabinets, or because one of our Macs was overheating, and Bob would do a quick exchange, and tell us, “Don’t worry, I’ll put it on your bill and you can pay when you get a chance.” Not many people would do that for a bunch of hippie musicians back then, and I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t now. About 1970, Bob introduced us to Sunn amplifiers. They were light years ahead of what everyone was using then. My senior year I traded in my weenie Fender Showman on a Sunn Orion with two 15-inch JBLs in it, and I was happening. Heavy metal here I come! Yup, Bob was like a big brother to us and I probably never got a chance to tell him how much we appreciated him. My only regret is that I never bought one of his albums. Yup. He had an album of organ greats, displayed, for sale, right there in the store. I’m not sure how many (if any) he sold, and I doubt that any of us appreciated the fact that Bob was an accomplished musician. But we sure appreciated his support. I could think of a thousand stories to tell about Bob and our experiences at Ye Olde Music Shoppe, but then you guys already realize the obvious. Bob Heil is one hell of a guy! Thanks Bob, wherever you are!
The MENTOR ABI Group
THE HATE J.J. CLUB
A friend of mine told me about the February 2006 EQ magazine with the 200 plus tips, so I bought it. I think the tips were great and most were very helpful. But I have a small problem with tips number 174 to 182 by J.J. Blair. Could you tell me why he has to use profanity and take God’s name in vain? This does not only make J.J. Blair look unprofessional but EQ magazine as well for printing this language. Please tell me why I should subscribe to your magazine? If EQ magazine is a professional publication, then its contents should be as such.
EDDIE KRAMER VS. SAM PURA
I hope I’m not the only one sick of reading and hearing Eddie Kramer speak about recording Hendrix over 30 years ago [EQ, January 2006]. Eddie recently came to my school in the SF Bay Area and bad mouthed all current engineers stating, “There isn’t a good sounding record to come out recently, because it’s all over-compressed.” He then went on to state “it’s impossible to get great drum and guitar tones, because Bonham and Hendrix are dead.” Reading your interview with Eddie stating the same crap about over-compression, and how it’s killing our recordings and music today, blah blah blah. I listen to plenty of records today and hear some amazing mixes, and some amazing drum and guitar tones. Tell that guy to quit tooting his horn. Sure his work was solid in the past. However, I have yet to hear a recent Eddie Kramer record that is jaw dropping. Actually, listen to a current CD of Eddie’s . . . it’s over-compressed.
Here’s our comment about a recent article: Mic preamp comparisons (April ’06) are a lot like wine-with-food pairings (we do both).
One thing that didn’t come across in the article was that they were really comparing different flavors of mic amps — not unlike comparing a Cabernet to a Riesling. Yes they are all mic preamps, but very different flavors. Just as you might love a particular wine-food pairing, there’s probably no single one that works perfectly with everything. And when producing pop music, sometimes the deepest coloration is desired.
Millennia takes pride in making products that let the sound come through with minimal coloration. Often we get the comment that “It sounds like me.” Of course that might not be what the engineer is looking for with that particular sound at that particular time. Since there is no undo on a mic pre, our approach allows for more flexibility down the road when the opinions change.
Now what’s for dessert?
. . . For your fine magazine. . . . MORE DAVE PENSADO! MORE DAVE PENSADO! MORE DAVE PENSADO! MORE DAVE PENSADO! MORE DAVE PENSADO! MORE DAVE PENSADO! MORE DAVE PENSADO!
He’s funny, educational, and the best mixer in the world IMO. If anyone deserves to be on the cover of a magazine called EQ, it’s him! MORE DAVE PENSADO!
BT [buck toofus]
P.S.: I love the fact that you guys show good photos in your reviews. I like the reviews in TapeOp, but I’m always asking myself, “huh? What’s that function look like on the unit?”
Editor’s Note: Well technically to have MORE of DAVE PENSADO, we’d have to have SOME DAVE PENSADO and we have had NO DAVE PENSADO. But fear not, next month is our HOW THE HELL THEY DID IT ISSUE. That’s right. PROFESSOR IRWIN COREY. Oh, um, we mean Dave Pensado.
DID YOU KNOW…?
I read your back-of-book piece about Pro Tools with interest (EQ, May ’06). You realize, of course, that all those features have been part of Nuendo for a long time. . . ?
DV magazine columnist
Scott Colburn replies: Of course.
YOU KNOW YOU LOVE IT
I normally just read the mag and move on, but the article “END NOTES: A FEW THINGS I DON’T LIKE ABOUT PRO TOOLS” by Scott Colburn (May ’06) prompted me to write.
Scott . . . amen brother. I’m a longtime user of Cakewalk products (from Cakewalk DOS to Sonar 5 Producer Edition). I recently felt the need to (ahem, “had to”) purchase Pro Tools since everyone on the planet asks, “Do you have Pro Tools?” My engineer warmed up to Pro Tools pretty quick, but I am still a bit frustrated. We do everything from bands to corporate voiceover projects. Sometimes the VO projects’ recording times can go over an hour. It would be nice to bounce these projects in computer time since they need to be split into regions in Sound Forge for output. I realize it’s billable, but c’mon. And how about an option to mix multiple interface outputs to multiple files if need be or to a stereo file from multiple outputs?
And how about “smart” monitoring from the computer. We don’t ALWAYS want to hear the signal from the interface output and get the echo effect it produces due to latency. We monitor the mic from the board in real time, period. Just give me the hard disk output (or maybe I’m missing something). Sonar has a little switch on the channel strip. Hmm. Easy, peazy.
Then there’s track height. Why can’t I just grab the bottom of the track and resize it to whatever height I want (with any tool enabled)? And/or resize all tracks at once? Track folders would be a nice feature, too.
$495.00??? Stalag 13 is violating the Geneva Convention. Or they just screwed up on licensing the technology to other vendors.
MIDI sysex is a pain too. Why do I have to create a whole session file to move system exclusive to and from any piece of equipment in my studio? How about a simple screen that just dumps it back and forth right in the session I’m working on? Then everything is in one place. Makes sense to me. Especially if you do your mix automation on your hardware.
And it seems as though being the “industry standard” affords Pro Tools/Avid to shirk their tech support responsibilities. Some of the plug-ins purchased with the system are STILL not showing up in Pro Tools. This after sitting on the phone for an hour waiting for a rep to pick up. I got frustrated, gave up and left it to my engineer to figure out. Still missing some. Also, why no DirectX support capability? I feel so trapped.
It’s too bad so many people are indoctrinated into believing Pro Tools is the end-all, be-all audio software program. Maybe if Pro Tools saw a little market share decline, they would sharpen these (and other) aspects of their product, and support other hardware interfaces than just their own.
Kudos to EQ and their writers for exposing more and more people to other software programs out there. Now if we could just educate the masses that a studio without Pro Tools IS NOT a day without sunshine.
Walter W. Treppler
Above the Dogs Recording
St. Louis, MO
THE CHINESE CONNECTION CONNECTS
I read your article “The Chinese Connection” (March ’06) with both interest and dismay. While I guess it’s good at some level to have any publicity for affordable ribbon mics, even in this form, as it helps educate more potential users of their availability, I was nevertheless very unhappy about the bad light it has cast on our personal efforts to make ribbon mics affordable for anyone. You may not be aware that almost three years ago I approached a Chinese supplier, who had manufactured several of our studio condenser mics, with the idea of producing a low-cost ribbon mic capitalizing on China’s manufacturing savings. This seemed like a good niche since Royer, AEA, Beyer, and others only offered ribbon mics at more than $1,000.
I sent them the circuit technology and housing information necessary and was instrumental in their producing the first model, our RSM-2. I thought my efforts were protected from potential predatory marketing on their end because I had an exclusivity agreement with them under a written contract with jurisdiction under California law. In spite of that, our supplier secretly sold these units to other Chinese traders, as well as several U.S. and European distributors. He also apparently started selling to end users such as yourself, as described in your article. Whereas we have a lawsuit against Yorkville currently for interfering with our exclusivity contract with their distribution of our mic, we cannot realistically hope to stop everyone who has been offered these units from buying them.
It is no secret that more and more Chinese suppliers are becoming unscrupulous and greedy in this way, and we have been pirated before, as have numerous other U.S. name brands. For example, you could just as easily have written an article about available fake Shure SM-58s that are virtually identical in every way to the real thing. However, I’m sure you wouldn’t as it would be consciously promoting and helping dishonest suppliers.
While your article seemed almost to revel in the exposé humor of the situation, it is no laughing matter to my company, as it has already cost us the loss of thousands of sales. Although I’m sure not consciously intended to further such activity, I’m afraid your article will result in even more losses for us. I guess my main gripe is that you did not really present the whole story, or research fully what you were writing about. You easily dismiss our efforts indirectly as those of “badgers,” which is not only not true in this case, but personally insulting to me considering the efforts I made in developing and pioneering affordable ribbon mic production in China. You could easily have contacted us, since we advertise our ribbon mics every month in EQ, to get our side of the story. Perhaps then you would not even have written it. I fully realize the back door sales had already been happening before your article, in fact prompting your writing it. Now, however, I can only hope your story will not help complete the full undermining of our efforts.
Nady Systems, Inc.
Lynn Fuston responds: My intention was not to hurt your company. Far from it. My intention was to see just how much was involved in negotiating deals like this and what, if any, the true savings were. If you read all the way to the end of my article, you realize that I personally decided it was not worth the time or energy for the meager savings. That’s why I clearly summarized “If you want an adventure, buy from China. If you want a mic, call a dealer.” For the investment in time and energy it’s just not worth the $50 someone might save.
There are some other points that I think you should consider as well.
1) You took the article as a personal or corporate affront, but Nady’s name is not mentioned anywhere in the article. Not once did I refer to you or your company. It seems from your letter that you are insulted by my including a corporate model for re-branding mics. You are not the first one to do this. It’s been done for years, most successfully by Telefunken, who rebranded AKG mics and sold them as ELAs, the M251 being the most historically significant and valuable.
2) I did not mention the name of my Chinese contact, nor the company, nor the company’s region in China, nor any info about them at all. That was intentional because I specifically did not want to provide a road map for those who might decide to try the same thing.
3) I did not mention by name any of your competitors or any company that is rebranding the same mics that you sell.
4) I think my story will likely increase sales and awareness of your Chinese ribbons because of the conclusions I drew and the details of how time consuming it was. If I had read an article like that before I started, I never would have attempted it.
5) I wrote the story because of the phenomenal growth of Chinese imports and the trend to rebrand and resell, just like you are doing. The only reason I targeted ribbon mics was because of my personal interest in them. If I had written an article about imitation SM-57s and never mentioned Nady, would you have been offended or felt like I was targeting your company?
6) I’m not a pioneer in importing Chinese mics. Since the article was first conceived last May (2005), I’ve heard from several people who have organized “group buys” associated with different Internet forums. It’s been going on for some time now. I was just the one who put the story into print about how it’s done. Those same details are already out there on the Web. And sources are not hard to find, as I pointed out in my article.
7) I think you offer a valuable product. That’s why I ordered 12 mics from your company, because Nady offered to do stereo matching, something I couldn’t get from China. So I actually am not just a writer, but a customer as well. And I’ve sent many people to your site and suggested that the Nady ribbons serve as a great introduction to ribbon mics. You can read the “Ribbon Roundup” article that I wrote for EQ in September 2005 to see my opinions there. I don’t know how many mics you sold because of that referral. I do know that I hear from people frequently who bought RSM-2s based on my recommendation. Here’s the story in full: http://www.eqmag. com/story.asp?storycode=10585.
Here is my summary statement from that article:
Frequently referred to as “the Chinese ribbon,” this mic is the least expensive of the group by a long shot, by more than half. Borrowing from previous designs, it’s establishing a niche for itself by introducing the ribbon sound to engineers who have been curious about ribbons but wouldn’t spend $1000+ to satisfy their curiosity. Think of it as a “ribbon primer” for the uninitiated. Ribbon zealots, like myself, who seem to always run out of ribbon mics before they run out of instruments to put them on, will be thankful to have an extra ribbon or two, even if it sees less action than the standards. The RSM-2 has very low output, second only to the R92, and is one of the darkest mics in this lineup. So make sure you have a high-gain preamp and EQ ready. Still, it does have those characteristics of a ribbon mic that are so endearing — warmth, bi-directionality, proximity effect. Some have likened it to the R84, but it is very different sonically. I found the Nady sounded good on electric guitar, with a woolly, gnarly tone. On sax, it felt restricted. For voice, it sounded too dark. On drums, I might find it useful but more like an effect. I think it has a place in the market. For the engineer who is just getting started, there are mics like SM-57s that will be used more and cost less. But for someone who has a decent mic collection, but no ribbons yet, this is a good starting point.
I look forward to hearing the other ribbon mics that you have added to your lineup, the RSM-3, 4, and 5.