Discussions of how to build your own gear for the recording studio and interviews with audio electronics experts.
Designing Legendary Gear with Paul Wolff
Paul Wolff has designed more legendary pieces of gear than most of us have used. In his years with API alone, Paul designed the 550B EQ, 512 and 3124 mic preamps, Legacy console, and 2500 compressor. He was recently honored by NAMM TEC hall of fame for inventing the Lunchbox and 500-series format, which he helped turned into a cottage industry. I was honored to have Paul on the podcast to discuss console design and how he's seen the industry change in the last 40 years. Just a few of the things we discussed: The origins of the 500-series How Steve Perry became the first customer of the Lunchbox The uphill battle to make gear that’s authentic to the API sound What happened in 1978 to change the sound of most audio equipment Paul's opinion that cloners "should be burned to death” Download the mp3 or subscribe via iTunes Some Notes on API Jargon As much as I try to keep our podcasts fairly jargon-free, I was guilty of using a lot of API model numbers without explanation this episode. These are: 550A: Late 60's, 3-band EQ 2520: The discrete operational amplifier (DOA, or "opamp") that's at the heart of most API designs 2488: Early 70's console 512: 500-series mic preamp designed by Paul 312: 60's mic preamp 3124: A 4-channel 312 designed by Paul 2503: The output transformer in most API gear 2500: Bus compressor designed by Paul
Analog Synth DIY with Abby Echiverri
I've often fantasized about building a huge analog synth. But besides the obstacles of cost and not having a spare room in my house for it, I've always found the DIY synth world to be a bit intimidating. In this podcast, synth wizard Abby Echiverri walks me through the basics, such as: Is it feasible to build your own synth? How much should I budget? What are the basic modules I need to build? Abby is a composer, DJ, DIYer, and audio gear designer. I caught up with her when she was on the road as the synth/keyboard tech for Soulwax. Download the mp3 or subscribe via iTunes
Is Open Source the Way Forward for DIY Audio?
DIY audio folks like to share--that's what makes us a community. My kits and the DIY Project Directory are possible because others have shared their research, schematics, designs, etc. without any legal limitations. In turn, I document my projects so that anyone who cares to can learn from, tweak, or improve upon them. So, while the greater audio world remains largely closed, with patents, secrecy, and lawyers protecting intellectual property, our little DIY corner is very much an "open source" environment. But unlike explicitly open-source communities such as Wikipedia or GitHub, our openness is not formalized into licenses or explicitly agreed upon. In podcast #5 I talk Eric Jennings of Pinocc.io, an open-source, wireless hardware platform, about how an open source approach might look for the DIY audio community. Topics discussed include: Is openness a viable way forward for the DIY audio world? What exactly does open source mean for a hardware-based industry? Does open source encourage cloners and copycats? How can audio designers protect their work without patents? Download the mp3 or subscribe via iTunes.
"Explain Like I'm 5": Impedance
When I sent out the newsletter announcing the last "Explain Like I'm 5 Podcast," I asked which audio topics you wanted to hear explained to a 5-year-old. As as result I now have a list of over 25 topics for future shows! But the response I got the most was "impedance." One reader even taunted me: "Haha, explain impedance like I'm five..good luck with that ;)" Challenge accepted, buddy! Impedance is one of those audio concepts that comes up at almost every recording session or live sound gig, even if you're not aware of it. Grasping the basics of input and output impedance can make you aware of potential problems before they happen, and help you problem solve more quickly and confidently. And the truth is that the fundamentals of impedance are simple enough that you can learn them from a 15-minute podcast. In today's ELI5 podcast, I begin with a discussion of acoustics before moving to electronics to show you that you already know more about impedance than you probably think. I go on to cover exactly what input/output impedance specs mean, illustrate the concept of impedance with examples from the studio, and explain what impedance mis-matches can do to your sound. Download the mp3 or subscribe via iTunes. Subscribe to the DIYRE podcast Do you understand impedance now? How easy was the podcast to understand? Is there any other topic you'd like to hear explained as if to a 5-year-old? I welcome your feedback in the comments.
"Explain Like I'm 5": Balanced vs. Unbalanced Connections
This podcast marks the first of a new series in which I attempt to explain complex audio subjects so that a 5-year-old could understand them. In this first "Explain Like I'm 5" podcast, I tackle the important subject of balancing. What is the difference between balanced and unbalanced connections? How does balancing work? Why do we need balanced connections? In less than 15 minutes, I answer these questions the way I wish someone had for me: assuming no electronics knowledge, sticking to the basics, and using only terminology that a musician would understand. Download the mp3 or subscribe via iTunes In order, I discuss: What are balanced and unbalanced connections? How can I identify the difference? Why are there these two types of connections in the studio? How does balancing reduce noise? What is Common Mode Rejection Ratio (CMRR)? If balanced connections are so great, why isn't everything balanced?
“Explain Like I’m 5″: Audio Levels
What's the difference between "pro" and "consumer" line levels? Is it ok to plug an instrument into a line level input? What's the difference between peak and RMS levels? In the long-awaited return of our "Explain Like I'm 5" podcast series, Peterson and new DIYRE team member, Chris, explain the basics of audio levels. Download the mp3 or subscribe via iTunes Topics discussed: Can you damage equipment by plugging the wrong thing in? In analog audio Volume = Voltage The difference between peak and RMS volume RMS is a way of measuring AC as if it were DC The most common levels you'll encounter in the studio: +4dBu, pro line level (1.22V) -10dBV, consumer line level (.316V) Mic level Instrument level Tangent: why are microphone output levels so low? Subscribe to the DIYRE podcast