z Gear Stories episode 11

Gear Stories 11, Ultimate Stocking Stuffer 2 & Sonic Prints!


Hello my friends!  It’s time again for gear stories!


If you are just joining us, here’s the scoop…  Once a month, I send out this e-mail with stories about two products that may very well be of interest to you!  Even if they’re not, I hope you find them entertaining, if not educational, and as always, if you don’t want to get them, just let me know and I will gladly take you off the list!


But before you tell me to take you off the list, check it out… you might like it!


A couple of quick notes before we get to the actual stories this month.


First, PRO TOOLS 8 !!!!  It is arriving in just a few days!  We have already taken HUNDREDS of pre orders, and there’s still room for more!  It is the most significant (and COOL!) upgrade that Digidesign has ever done to Pro Tools.  If you’re a Pro Tools USER, you absolutely want to get this!  If you’re not currently a pro tools user, you will want to become one once you see what it can do!


Second, Paul Reed Smith!  If you have ever thought about getting an American made PRS guitar, THIS MONTH is the time to do it!  That’s all I’ll say, just call me!


And THIRDLY, Sweetwater has really been stepping up to the plate to make sure that there is NO reason to buy audio gear from ANYONE else.  We have recently added several new payment options, like eBill me (with a $25 rebate on an your first order over $100!  …but you must have online banking for this)  And Flex pay, in which we draw several payments from your credit card over several months.  and… well, you get the picture… we want to make it easy for you to buy.


We’ve added the two year warranty on everything we sell (except Macs) and of course, you get free lifetime tech support and our GREAT service dept. and last but not least, you get ME!  I will gladly speak to you about your needs, learn what it is you are trying to accomplish and help you get the right gear to do it!  If you don’t remember about my conservatory education in music composition, my grad work in recording, and my sixteen years experience as a professional recording engineer, arranger, producer and all that stuff… let this serve to remind you that I actually know what I’m talking about (and if I don’t, I will tell you!)  We think that is the best reason to buy from Sweetwater!  (Plus, if you have a price from a competitor that’s lower than ours, I will match it, and you still get all the other cool stuff about Sweetwater!


Now, on to the Gear Stories!


The Ultimate Stocking Stuffer, part two (the sequel)  KORG Nanos.


Every year, one product starts jumping off the shelves and becomes the Christmas gift for every musician.  Last year, it was the Zoom H2 (which are still around this year and still COOL!) and this year, it is the Nano series by KORG.


Quite simply, they are controllers for the musician on the go.  If the musician in your life (which is most likely yourself, if you are reading this) does computer based recording and ever works on a laptop, these are amazing!


There are three models.  There is the nanoKey




This is a USB keyboard controller for playing keyboard MIDI parts into your computer.  The remarkable thing about this is that it is smaller than your average computer keyboard… it actually looks like a toy, but it’s absolutely NOT! (Though it IS as FUN as a toy!)  If you’re commuting on the bus and the seats beside you are all full, you could still record keyboard parts with your laptop and this keyboard on your lap!


It will literally fit in that stocking hung by the fireplace with care, AND it costs less than fifty bucks!


The second model is the nanoPad




For the Phat Beat Producer in your life, this little guy has drum machine controls with 12 pads to control drum software, and of course, it’s the same size and the other nanoProducts… tiny!  If your beat lab is in your closet, this could still fit there!  And this little bad boy runs $59.99, so it’s no huge strain on the wallet!


Finally we get to my personal favorite!  the nanoKontrol!  (Why is it that no one in the music business can spell Control with a “C”?)




This is a controller for your recording software, “komplete” with faders, solo and mute buttons, panner knobs, and the buttons for the “transport” controls  (Play, stop, record, fast forward and rewind) as well as different scenes of set up, to make multiple tasks and set-ups very convenient.  You could actually MIX a platinum album on your laptop on the commute to work, and have total automation control!  I saw a guy just yesterday controlling the virtual synthesizer, Omnisphere inside of Logic with this, and it was AMAZING how simple it was… and how fast he was able to assign the buttons and knobs to various functions and switch back and forth…  it was like lightning, and it worked PERFECTLY!


I have wanted one of these since I saw it at the NAMM show this last summer, and a few days ago, I got mine!  Woohoo!


My studio is actually pretty home bound… no laptop in sight, but my problem is that my keyboards are on the other side of the room from the computer and console and such… SO, whenever I’m arranging parts for myself, I had to either run back and forth across the room to hit play and record and rewind, OR, I had to drag my keyboards across the room and set them in a convenient spot, with all kinds of cables stretching across the room, and looking terrible…  neither one is ideal (though with the first one, at least I get a workout… but the stress of the inconvenience adds to belly fat growth, so it winds up being about the same.)


So to solve my problem, I stretched a usb powered extension around the room and have the nanoKontrol setting on my controller keyboard, and now, I set up a track to record on and go over to the keybaord and control everything from there!  No hopping up and down anymore whenever I make a mistake!  …. not that that happens very often… um… right.


This little dude costs only $59.99, so really any room for a discount… but at these prices, you don’t NEED one!


And now, Part two…



For the studio that has everything… the perfect gift…. Sonic Print!


I am a creative person… which is my way of excusing myself for being a guy who doesn’t notice when my studio looks like a cinderblock jail cell.  I have never been focused on visual aesthetics… however, many of my customers are… and so is my wife!  To me, the only thing that lends credibility to a studio is the quality of the product that comes out of it, but I believe I am unusual.


When people walk into a studio, the appearance of the place is where the first impression comes from.  So to that end, I was convinced that I needed to pay attention to the way my studio looked.  Of course, I wanted to do it on the cheap, SO I set myself to the task of turning my wall treatments into art!  I ordered a big old box of Auralex foam, and then I went to the hardware store and bought lumber!  (That made me feel really manly, too!)


Then, I went to the fabric store and looked for pretty colored cloth to stretch across my Auralex panels.  (This did NOT make me feel manly!  You know how women often say they are not taken seriously by car salesmen?  Let me tell you, a man asking for help in a fabric store MORE than makes up for that!)


I went home after the fabric store debacle and got out my power tools… and I felt better.


I measured and cut and hammered to my heart’s content, and built these wooden frames that fit snugly around the Auralex foam panels.  Then I took them to the dining room table and begun stretching the fabric evenly over the frames.  In order to keep some semblance of manliness while doing this, I decided that the best way to secure the fabric was with a great big staple gun!  It was a bit bunchy in spots, but it worked.


Then I got out the level and the tools and hung these brightly colored wooden framed panels full of Auralex all over the place, turning my studio into a veritable rainbow of pastel pleasantness, which I now completely ignore, because of the first few sentences of this story.


But when I was done doing all of this, I realized that what I THOUGHT I was doing on the cheap, was actually  NOT.  The raw materials for this project actually cost a pretty penny, and then there was all the running around town, the hours and hours spent putting them together and cleaning up the sawdust and extra bits of fabric… AND, let’s not forget the assault to my masculinity in the fabric store, which I REALLY could have done without!  It was actually a pretty costly venture.


If only Auralex had had then what they have now!  Sonic prints!


Quite simply, this is acoustic wall treatment that actually IS art!  (And YOU get to define what art is in this case!)   What you do it find photos or digital scans of art, of whatever you want, and sent it to them along with the proper specifications, and you get back acoustic panels with the pictures of your choosing on them!  Old family snapshots, or that rembrandt that you keep in the closet because it doesn’t match the drapes in the living room!  (And actual Rembrandt’s do not have very good acoustic properties!)


There is also a HUGE library of images you can choose from that Auralex has on file, in case nothing that you have is… shall I say “appropriate.”


You tell them what to put on the panels!  It’s as simple as that!  If I hadn’t already covered my entire studio with pretty pastels, I would order a sonic print with my favorite photo of myself holding a Tasmanian Devil, from back when I was a Zookeeper!  (It’s a very manly pose!   … I’m not kidding… ask me, and I’ll send you the picture!)


Of course, it is a very customizable process.  Every order is different in scope and price,   but if you order during the month of December, I will give you ten percent off across the board!  here’s the link.




Well, I hope you all have a WONDERFUL holiday season, and I’ll catch you next year with the next installment of Geeeeeear Stooooorieeeeeees!


Jon Gillespie, Sweetwater Sales Engineer


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