z Gear Stories episode 19

Gear Stories 19  Jam Hub & Studio Live




Gear Stories 19, Affordable Rehearsal Space, and affordable digital Console!


Hey guys, it’s that time of the month again!


If you’ve gotten my newsletters before, you know the rules, if you don’t like it, just let me know and I’ll not send you anymore…


And of course, there is the newsletter format.  I generally touch on two products, the first, relatively inexpensive so a guy like me can dream about getting it!  And the second, something  more on the high end… but in this case, for what it is,  it is EXTREMELY affordable!


Before I get into it, there are a couple of things I have to tell you about!


First, for a short time, (this week and next) we are offering 12 months no interest, no payments on the Sweetwater card.  If you don’t have one, here’s the link!




Go get one and then call me and stimulate the economy!


Second, there is a brand of headphones that I had not heard of until today…  But I saw them, and I instantly got myself a pair… yes, they are that good!


I have to explain myself first though… One of my big pet peeves is people who listen to the monitor headphones too loud in the studio…  (Drummers, you know who you are!)  I once had a drummer who wanted the headphones so loud with the click blasting so high that I could hear it in the mics while he was playing his kit!  (Which also meant that even with it that loud, he still wasn’t ON the click!)


I also have a huge problem with vocalists who want the track so loud that it muddies up the vocal track recording!  This is just not cool!  (I do have a geeky little hobby in which I collect examples of professionally recorded discs out in the major market where you can hear the click bleeding through… (Check out “Church” by Lyle Lovett in the silent spots near the end… if you turn it up WAY loud!)  So it’s not just me!


Well, this guy I met today was a session drummer in L.A. who had the same problem, but one day at the airport, he noticed those guys with the flashers guiding in the jets and noticed that they had those big earphones blocking out the jet noise… He had an idea – to incorporate high quality headphones into these sound blocking headsets – and the rest is history.  I could go on about it, but the meat of it is that I heard a demo of these today and was amazed at how effectively they blocked out the noise!   Now, I have a pair in my studio!


If you are having this problem in YOUR studio, you absolutely NEED these cans!  (And if you are an engineer and you EVER record ANYBODY… then you are having that problem!)  Here’s the link… they’re only $99.99 and they WORK!




OK… On to Gear Stories!



the JAM HUB… Finally, an answer for affordable rehearsal space!


FIrst, a trick question… Does more rehearsal make a band better?


It would seem that the answer is yes, but think about most rehearsal conditions local bands have to play in… they are probably having to worry about making too much noise, and if they have a nice noise-proof place to practice, it’s probably costing an arm and a leg to practice there!  So they are rushing, and then there are volume battles, and not being able to hear yourself, or each other… The guitarist could be playing completely different notes from the keyboard player, or bass player and they might not even know!


On several occasions, I have had original bands come into my studio to make their albums, only to find that foundational parts that individual musicians were playing ABSOLUTELY clashed with other foundational parts that another band member was playing…    It was then that I would jump into a phone booth and then jump out with a caped costume and a copy of the diploma for my degree in music composition and save the day!  (Who says that a degree in music composition doesn’t prepare you for REAL LIFE!?)


But I digress….


So if a band practices a song WRONG, then they play it WRONG, and then they sound WRONG!  And then everybody gets mad because one guy just keeps turing up until nobody can hear themselves over him, and he keeps complaining that he can’t hear himself, and then the band breaks up!


So more rehearsal actually made the band sound worse …unless not playing at all means that they sound better…  What a waste!


But now, there is an answer to this problem.  The SILENT rehearsal studio.  It is called the Jam Hub, and the idea is Brilliant!


What it is is basically a system with personal monitor mixes for everyone in the band!  There is a section for each individual player,  and each section has room to plug in a mic and a line input device, and a headphone output… .. you can control the volume of your own mic and instrument, as well as in each section, there is a volume control for all the others players instruments and mics that controls ONLY your own headphone mix!  it’s brilliant.


So now, you can set up virtually anywhere that has room, and depending on your drummer, not have to worry about noise!  And the constant volume wars are a thing of the past!  If the lead guitarist wants to hear more and more and more and more  of himself, he can do that!  Everybody gets their own mix, and volume control!  You won’t have exhausted ears when you come out of rehearsal from being blasted by a chaotic jumble of sound… you will hear exactly what you want to hear, and then you will actually NOTICE when the guitarist and the keyboard player are playing different chords… so you can decide at that point to either change the parts, or say that you are Jazz musicians!


Of course, this works optimally if your drummer has an electronic kit… then you can literally play right next to the baby’s bedroom at 10:30 at night, and as long as it’s not screaming death metal vocals, probably not traumatize the kid too much!


It also works with acoustic drums as well, but you will have to adjust to the ambient volume a bit, but it can still be done very effectively,.


They also have very nice sounding digital effects too!  And there is also a central section in all of them that gives you a recording output so you can very effectively record your rehearsals!  (It just gets cooler by the minute!)


There are three models…   First of all, and most affordable, the “Bedroom model” with four musician’s sections and a record section.  Then there is the the “Green Room” model, with six instrumentalist sections, and a recording section… all in all, this is  21 audio channels!  … think about that again… 21 channels!  Most bands would LOVE to have a 16 channel mixer that can’t do HALF of this!  So if you have six guys in your band, you have a section for all of them, as well as the recording/sound guy’s section,


Finally, there is the “Tour Bus” model, which also has inputs for 6 musician’s but  this one has an onboard digital recorder!  SImple, easy, great sounding!


There is also a remote control unit you can add on, so everybody isn’t huddled around the Jam hub… (probably best for drummers)


This is not designed to take the place of something like the Aviom personal monitor system that a lot of churches are using…  it is very specifically designed for the purpose of allowing ensembles to rehearse without bothering the neighbors… and it is priced so that for the price of a month or two of rehearsal space rental, you can have you silent rehearsal studio for life!


Here’s the link, so you can check it out!




Here’s a Youtube video… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIwU2dnx-zo


Call me up from now until  October 7th and get an automatic ten percent off!


If i haven;t sung it’s praises enough, call me up and I’ll keep on going!  I LOVE the Jam Hub… but I must move on to YET ANOTHER incredible piece of new gear!



Presonus StudioLive 16.4.2  FINALLY!  An affordable Digital Mixing Console!



For a long time, the realm of the Digital Mixer was solely occupied by the big dogs.  Multiple tens of thousands of dollars for one mixing console made it prohibitive for even the most ardent independent musicians to own one…  But those days are gone!


Those spunky Cajun kids from Baton Rouge, inspired by a few too many plates of tabasco smothered Jambalaya, decided to fill the void!  And not only did they come up with a great digital console that’s perfect for project studios… they also made it incredibly useful to live musicians who would love to carry the crystal clear digital sound with them out on their gigs… Hence the name, STUDIO/LIVE!


The StudioLive is not just a digital board, but  ALSO is  GREAT firewire interface!  You can capture your performances in sparkling multitrack very simply in either a live or a studio setting with one simple firewire cable (And you can even daisy chain two the these guys together for a 32 channel digital board for under $4000! )


And did I mention the effects?  WOW!  They have TONS of effects built in… REALLY high quality, useful effects, that will allow your music to have that studio polished sound even when you’re out playing in the clubs!


The heart of this little beauty is called the Fat Channel, (I think they should have called it the “Phat Channel” ..but that’s just me) which allows you to select ANY input channel or subgroup, auxiliary or main output and dial in the perfect EQ, Compressor, Limiter, and/or Gate!


Presonus has also developed a piece of software called “Capture” that is designed to be a user friendly way to capture your performance!  And the software ships with the StudioLive!


It should not be overlooked that the COOLEST part of this feature is that it’s not only good at being a Live board and a studio board, but it’s good at doing them at the SAME TIME!  This is HUGE for Churches who want to get GREAT recordings of their services, and clubs who want to offer live multitrack recording services to the bands that play there.  It’s great publicity for a rock club to have CD’s printed out in the stores that say “the So and So’s LIVE at Whatchamawhozits!”  (Great band name AND club name, I think!)


It has features that you would expect on a high end digital console, like the ability to save your settings in Scenes, and it even has talkback, so the sound guy or studio engineer can communicate easily with the guys in the band!  It’s rack-mountable, and best of all… the mic pres sound WONDERFUL!  (As we have come to expect from PreSonus!)


So what can I say that’s BAD about the StudioLive?    Hmmmm… It does not do your taxes… This feature has YET to be added to ANY Presonus product!  But they might be working on it.


The only other bad thing about it is that we can’t keep it in the store!  Every time we get a shipment of these, they seem to be gone in minutes!


So my recommendation for that is to call me and pre-order yours!  We are getting regular shipments of them, which are regularly shipping right out, usually completely sold before they arrive here.  But the hype is true, and they are worth waiting for… (especially since we are selling so may of them that you won’t have to wait very long, since they send shipments so often!)


And as usual, I am offering a GREAT deal on them up until the next gear Stories, scheduled for October 7th.  I can’t really print it, so just call me and talk about it!


Check them out on the web site…l and be sure to watch the video about it!  You’ll be glad you did!




Until next time, my friends!  I look forward to being of service!