January 27th, 2018

Once More, Into the Studio

Back into the studio, where I have come to adjust the levels on four tracks on The Grim Roper. Two needed to be softer, while two needed to be louder. This might be the last engineering work on this album other than cleaning up the fades.

Or not.

That's why we listen to these things.


Tonight, it was time to rewire various bits and pieces in the studio so that the new gear was wired in correctly and so that some of the older gear did not have cables draped artfully across the front of the console on the way to the computer. This is a two-person job; in this case, I recruited Katie to be the second person so that I had a young, agile person to crawl underneath the console instead of, oh say, me.

The main assembly in the studio is an old Argosy 90 console that I bought used when I had a Mackie d8b. The d8b is gone, but with a bit of help from Sam, I had cut some oak plywood to fill the big hole where the mixer used to sit so that I could put the replacement bits on top of it. I had stuffed the small monitor speakers into the back of the open section, but the open section was now about to be so full that it was going to get in the way of listening to those speakers, so I decided to move them on top of the mains. Since both speakers will never be (intentionally!) running at the same time, this seemed an acceptable compromise. But that meant stuffing the signal and power cables down through the porthole in the back of the console, then getting Katie to shove the cables back up to me so I could plug the speakers in again after moving them.

Fortunately, when I got the console, I had called Argosy and picked up the optional casters, then drilled the necessary holes in the legs to accommodate them, which meant I could just roll the console a couple of inches away from the wall, providing space for a little arm to reach up into. And once we sorted out which cables I had shoved through, it took very little time to get the speakers rewired.

Now, it was time to run the USB cables. I had a USB cable that had been running across the front of the console from the computer to the control surface for much too long. I unplugged it, shoved the computer end through the hole, and waited for Katie to pass it through so I could plug it back into the computer. Then I took another long USB cable and dropped it through the hole and we wired it back to the computer so that I can plug in the new remote and use it in the studio.

Of course, I bought that remote so that I could use it in the recording booth to adjust the levels on my mic pre-amp. And that's a long run, so first we took the powered amplified USB cable and ran it from the computer through the hole in the wall; then attached the second USB cable to the remote in the studio and verified that the levels on the mic pre-amp changed when I turned the knob. And thus victory was declared.

Well, mostly. The problem is that the stand that the new remote was sitting on held the remote at an angle that was flat. Extremely flat. Flat so that you can't actually see what you're doing when you're working with it.

Mutter, mutter, curse.

After reading a bunch of websites and seeing a great many unsuitable mounts for the remote that wouldn't raise it up far enough to be seen through the control surface, I finally found a laptop stand designed for use by a DJ. It has four adjustable heights, one of which (I hope!) will be suitable to hold the remote at the right height and angle in the studio for me to use it.

And it was $15, which falls into "the price is right" category of items on Amazon.

So the new stand should arrive on Monday and then we'll see how it works.

In the meantime, if I actually finish cleaning the studio, it should look great! :)