Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's overwhelming to accept the fact that 3/4 of the year has already come and gone, like a Saturday afternoon. Yet, it makes me smile to know that it's here, the greatest month of the year...October. This is the month that the uggs come out, heavy sweaters, haunted houses, crisp mornings with warm afternoons, it's the best.

This year I thought I would video log a few of the scares we share with our local teenage population, so you can check back after Halloween for that. It is so fun!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

X-Men Origins: Wolverine on BluRay Review

X-Men Origins: Wolverine totally misses the “origins” mark, but delivers an exciting dark ride through Wolverines (Hugh Jackman) history. The thin plot and lack of truly “origin” substance, is made up by Hugh Jackmans believable performance as the undeniably sexy Wolverine. Assisting the film are several action packed fight scenes and one unpredictable twist in the end. We get under-developed characters (unlike Rogue) and suprisingly lame special effects, but then again, it is a comic book prequel to the 4th generation..come on..what were we expecting? I liked it..YES, it could have been much better, but still it had my home theater system humping.

Wolverines “Origins” begins in the early 1800’s where as a youngster James (later known as Wolverine) unknowingly kills his real father and discovers his good friend is actually his brother. Director Gavin Hood, completely skims over the core sequence of Jimmy’s childhood, which would have been fine if the title of this movie hadn’t included the word “origins.” So we don’t find out if the dad was a mutant, why Jimmy wasn’t living with his father, or any significant childhood experiences, except that Victor & James find their place as killing machines in the military. The credits then roll over a hundred years of various battles, including the civil war, world war I, and the Vietnam war, showing James and Victor storming one violent frontline after another, providing lineage as to how Wolverine is such a bad ass fighter, I suppose. Here, we experience Victor evolving into Sabretooth (Live Schreiber) who begins to savor the flavor of killing, and witness James battle to try and keep his violent brother in check.

Next, Logan and his brother Victor are forced to join forces with the ruthless Col. Stryker (Danny Hudson), who leads an elite, top secret military mutant unit including teleporting Black Eyed Peas rapper Will.I.Am, electricity manipulator Charlie (Dominic Managhan), and my favorite witty sword packing character, Wade (Ryan Reynolds). Logan becomes disgusted by the atrocities, they are asked to mindlessly perform, and therefore ditches the team disappearing into the woods, leaving his blood-thirsty brother behind. We catch up with our mutant hunk, six years later working as a lumber jack in Canada and living with his school teacher hottie girlfriend (Lynn Collins), who is perfectly casted for the roll. I bought in to their relationship, and it was truly the only portion of the movie that made sense and didn’t have giant contradicting holes. This relationship is the driving force as to why Jimmy,James, Logan ultimately agrees to undergo the procedure that bonds adamantium to his skeleton and gives birth to Wolverine as we know him today.

Ultimately, like I said, I enjoyed it mostly for the Surround Sound experience in my home theater. The action, explosions, and fight scenes delivered an unmemorable mark on the X-Men franchise, but is a great BluRay rental. I am most disappointed at the severity of the violence and the over-all darkness of the movie, which kept me from allowing my daughter to watch it with me. We really had enjoyed the previous three together, but she won’t see this one for some time. Bummer.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Why does my subwoofer hum?

One common question I have received in Tech Support over the years with is, "why is my subwoofer humming?" In fact I had this same questions regarding a Powered Speaker, pro audio set up the other day. This information does not only apply to home audio powered subwoofer, but typically any powered audio DJ, band, or home application.

This is typically a result of a ground-loop in your stereo / home theater system. “Ground-loop,” you say, “what the heck does that mean?” Let me explain. A ground loop is caused by the difference in electrical potential at different grounding points in an audio/video system. A ground loop typically adds a loud low-frequency hum or buzz as soon as you plug in any variety of audio or video components, including subwoofers, cable-TV boxes, satellite-TV feeds, TV displays, amplifiers, A/V receivers or turntables. More simply put, a ground loop occurs in an audio system when you have two or more ground connections (three prong plugs) that are at slightly different electrical voltages. The two different grounds “fight” each other and an audible hum is the result.

The simplest way to solve this issue is to plug all theater/audio components into one power strip with a surge protector. If this is not possible, you will need to relocate some connections, we suggest starting with the cable-TV box, as it usually is the primary culprit. If disconnecting the satellite / cable TV causes the hum to disappear, you will need a Cable TV ground isolator.

To verify that you do indeed have a ground-loop, disconnect the RCA jacks or raw speaker wire connection with the subwoofer on and the volume turned all the way down. Once you have disconnected the RCA jacks/ raw speaker wire connection turn the volume back up. If it continues to hum after your increase the volume without the subwoofer being connected, then you have narrowed the cause to your home electrical wiring or the subwoofer.

If you establish that it is in fact a “ground-loop,” and you cannot connect all your components to one power strip than we suggest purchasing an inexpensive in-line ground isolator, if you have HDTV this is not an option. If the fore-mentioned is not an option, than your next step, is to look for all of the other ground points in your system. You will need to isolate the additional ground, and disconnect it; there are several options as to how to approach excluding a ground connection, using a cheater plug is one option.

If the hum is not caused by a “ground-loop” it could be caused by the cables. You want to use new high grade cables to connect your subwoofer. Old, mediocre quality, loose RCA jacks, or kinks in your cables can produce a hum by a broken connection in the cable itself.

It should be noted that ALL audio amplifiers have some degree of background hum. If you can easily hear the hum from your listening position there is cause for concern.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

8 Steps to a Better Session

I found this gem, while seeking the latest Pro Audio News. John offers great articles with valuable information. His blog is JohnSuitcase.

Article by JohnSuitcase
Recording is a time-intensive experience, and problems that arise often seem magnified. No one wants to wait for an hour while the guitar player runs to Guitar Center for new strings. So, to keep things going smoothly and efficiently, here are some things to do in preparation:

1. Practice! You'd be surprised how many bands come in to the studio obviously unprepared. If you can't play through the song without making mistakes, then you're not ready to record yet. Take the time to practice the songs you want to track thoroughly. This isn't to say that you can't be creative in the studio, but it's a lot cheaper to be creative on your own time.

2. Make sure your songs are finished. Going into the studio hoping to finish lyrics or parts on the spot is a recipe for dissatisfaction. You may be inspired by the pressure, but you'll inevitably listen back to it later on and think that you could have sang it better, or that you don't especially like this line or that phrase. You should bring a few copies of your lyric sheet with you to the session, as it can make doing punch-ins and overdubs a lot faster.

3. Record yourselves. It's very useful to record your practice using a simple tape recorder. The finished product won't sound very good, but you'll be able to hear if you're offtime, or off key. It may also make you aware that some parts of your song are dragging, or that other parts could be extended or more developed.

4. Get your gear in shape. Don't show up for a session that you're paying for with gear that doesn't work, cables that cut out, batteries that are going dead, or blown speakers. If you're afraid that your gear is less than perfect, make some calls. I can point you to some people in town that rent gear on a day-by-day basis, or to other musicians who might be willing to loan an amp or cabinet for a day or two. It makes a difference!

5. Tune your instrument. Drummers should put on new heads about 1 week before the session. The snare head should be replaced immediately before the session, and if you're doing more than one or two songs, consider bringing extra snare heads. Nothing sounds as good on tape as a fresh snare head. Read the Drum Tuning Bible for some great info on tuning your drums.Guitarists should put a new set of strings on a few days before the session. Bring extra strings, as you probably will break one or two. Bass players can replace their strings, although new bass strings can be a bit overly metallic. I would change bass strings a week or two before the session. Both Guitar and Bass should be properly set-up, with the intonation adjusted for the tuning of the songs you're recording. You can read some decent instructions here, or call a local guitar shop. I can set intonation for you, as well, though if your guitar needs more work, it will cause delays and headaches!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Welcome to Audio Hot Spot

Welcome to "Audio Hot Spot"

As a full time Social Networker for , I meet and network with interesting individuals in the audio industry fold and wish to share my experiences, and sometimes off topic random thoughts.

I previously worked in TechSupport and find that our customers are always so pleasantly suprised that we will take the time to assist them and truly seek an answer for them. This leads me to believe that there is a hunger for information in the ever growing DIY movement. I love it when the chiropracter with very little mechanical or technical back ground calls me to share in his joy of installing speakers throughout his office himself. "There's sound! Sasha..can you hear sounds great," "I couldn't of done it with out you!" Truth be told, I didn't know anything about speakers when I came to Only Factory Direct, but it's learnable, as is almost anything if you pour yourself into it.

So here I am pouring myself in to social networking....and I will share my experience as I go and as our company continues to grow.

I urge you to contribute to this blog, email or twitter me your events, questions, and thoughts. Follow me on twitter at and please become a fan on facebook.