Friday, July 29, 2011

Guitar Tuning Made Easy...GoGo Tuner TT-1

     There are many tuners on the market that clip on to your headstock and most all of them really work the same way, they effectively get you "in tune" very quickly in just about any setting. They all seem to work the same by using either a built-in mic or the vibration of the instrument to pick up the note values and the GoGo Tuner TT-1 works the same way. However, this little puppy has some pretty cool little features and conveniences that make it stand out a bit above the rest.

  The main features are its fast accuracy up to ±.5 cent and a range that covers from A0(27.5Hz) - C8(4186.00Hz), and can be calibrated for alternate tunings with a pitch range from 430-450hz. The TT-1 also precisely tunes a multitude of instruments including Acoustic guitar, electric bass, violin, viola, ukulele, electric guitar, brass and woodwind instruments, and has 5 settings Chromatic/Guitar/Bass/Violin/Viola. It uses a single battery and comes with an Auto Power-Off function that preserves the battery life (something I think any musician can appreciate).

 The real stand out features are the large bright LED screen which illuminates red when out of tune and green when in tune while simultaneously showing you if you are sharp or flat etc. The 360 degree swivel arm bracket makes positioning the TT-1 a snap in any direction. Such a design makes this a great tool for learning note names as you practice (if playing scales slowly this tuner will pick up each note, helping you develop a better sense of what notes are where on your fret board and aiding in the development of your ear to distinguish pitches accurately). The swivel also makes it easy to hide the bulk of the tuner behind your headstock, therefore leaving it intact to “tune on the fly” during gigs without having a huge eyesore on the end of your axe.  The clamp is very rugged and durable as well and has a soft rubber inside the clamp that clings tightly without scuffing or scratching your prized instrument.

  With these few added features and intuitive functionality the TT-1 is one of the coolest little headstock tuners on the market today and at a price of $29.99 a smart buy on a tool of the trade you can’t live without.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Review: Theater Solutions B1 Two Way Bookshelf Speaker

The Theater Solutions B1 Two-Way Bookshelf Speaker is a part of Theater Solution’s Reference Series speaker line, steady performers that offer warm and precise sound reproduction in a most reasonable price range. As I scan the specifications, I am impressed with the stated frequency response range of 45Hz to 22,000 KHz which is lower than many bookshelf speakers in its class and the highs are considerably higher than many of its competitors. Also, the Theater Solutions B1 measures a modest 9.5" x 5.875" x 6.25" making it very compact and versatile, which ultimately is the grand appeal of bookshelf speakers in general. Upon closer review, the specifications appear above average for the over-all size of the speakers and price, but let’s open the box and take a closer look.

At first glance the packaging is disappointing; however, as I open the box, they are tightly secure with thick Styrofoam completely surrounding the speakers. As, I unpack the speakers the cabinets feel well constructed with solid MDF construction and a light black woodgrain finish. 

In terms of sound I must admit, I was completely caught off guard. The Theater Solutions two-way bookshelf speaker is very responsive and produces clear, precise tones across the frequency response range. Its enclosure utilizes a bass reflex design, which basically means it is ported to the rear. The four inch woofer sustains low end sound surprisingly well, while the 1” titanium tweeter sparkles. The woofer and tweeter are shielded magnetically so that they can be safely placed on a shelf close to a television screen. As suggested with any bookshelf speaker, these would have to be paired with a subwoofer to recreate truly full-range sound, this is true with even top brands such as Boston Acoustic or Pioneer.

The Theater Solutions B1 Two-way bookshelf speakers would be perfect for enjoying stereo music or being used as main surround speakers in a home theater arrangement. They have a respectable sensitivity rating of 89db, allowing even a modest amplifier to work to within its comfort zone. Over-all I give the Theater Solutions B1 Two-Way Bookshelf Speakers a 4 /12 Star Rating out of 5 Stars because of their versatility, clean sound, and the Life Time Manufacture Defect Warranty.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Connecting my speakers

One of the most common mistakes made when connecting speaker wires to receivers (or amplifiers) is incorrect phase. The correct phase should be (+ to +) and (- to -) on both receiver and speakers. All receivers and speakers have a positive (+) and negative (-) terminal (or connector) and the speaker wires must be connected the same way on both components. Meaning, the negative terminals on the receiver connected to the negative terminals on the speaker and the positive terminal on the receiver must be connected to the positive terminal on the speaker for both left and right channels. Typically the negative terminal is represented by a (-) sign or the color black and the positive by a (+) sign or red color.
If the connection requires a raw speaker wire connection, split the two conductors of the speaker wire apart about 3 inches so that they form a "Y". Using the wire strippers, remove about 1/2 inch of the insulation from each wire. When connecting a speaker it is very important to retain the correct polarity / phase (improper polarity/ phase will cause reduced bass performance and unnatural imaging effects).

Most speaker wire is color coded, but if you have speaker wire that is not and one cable is silver in color and one is copper, here is an easy tip to remember which is positive and which one is negative. Just think of the change in your pocket, if the cable is silver like a nickel in color remember “N” for Nickel and “N” for Negative. The other cable will be copper in color the same color as a Penny. Use the same rule and let the “P” in Penny represent the “P” in Positive.

Also, remember that you must have the correct gauge or thickness of wire to carry the current without loss. If your wire is too thin, you may lose volume and also gain distortion. For more information regarding distance and gauge visit my Blog at

If the connection requires RCA jacks, follow the color coding that should match the rear of your receiver to the rear of your speakers. Be sure you push the RCA connection securely and completely into the receptacles connector.

If you would like more information as to how to properly connect your speakers and would like to enjoy more informative videos click here: Only Factory Direct / How To.

Friday, July 22, 2011

5 Things to Enhance your Sound and Clarity

1. Cables: Make sure that the resistance of the speaker wire is not exceeding 5% of the rated impedance of the system. Although there has been a long debate with strong support on both sides of the issues of brand name cables VS. affordable cables; both parties will agree the thickness of the cable absolutely makes a difference. What happens when the resistance gets too high? In simplest terms, there is power lost in the wire and the speaker will not play as loud. Here is a table based on this rating system.

Wire Size
2 ohm load
4 ohm load
6 ohm load
8 ohm load
22 AWG
3 feet max
6 feet max
9 feet max
12 feet max
20 AWG
5 feet max
10 feet max
15 feet max
20 feet max
18 AWG
8 feet max
16 feet max
24 feet max
32 feet max
16 AWG
12 feet max
24 feet max
36 feet max
48 feet max
14 AWG
20 feet max
40 feet max
60 feet**
80 feet**
12 AWG
30 feet max
60 feet**
90 feet**
120  feet**
10 AWG
50 feet max
100 feet**
150 feet**
200 feet**

I might note here that Theater Solutions uses much more conservative numbers and recommends that any run over 40ft. should use 14 AWG. I happen to agree with this approach.

Quality cables and the correct connection in a professional set-up for Live performances is equally as important, whether your in a band on stage, a mobile audio DJ, or solo artist. The longer the run, the more likely you will pick up hums and distortion; avoid these by using thicker cables with XLR connnections. 

2. Your Audio Source: As music has been digitized we continue to remove information making files more manageable for our laptops, ipods, mp3 players, and storage devices. This compressed digital information is great for storage, but lousy for sound quality. Compressing music into small digital files can negatively impact sound quality and many times is the unidentified source of poor audio quality.  However, there are a few things short of buying vinyl records and using a phono player and amplifying an analog signal, to improve your sound quality.

Some die-hard DJs are still lugging around boxes of vinyl, but utilizing a file with a high bit-rate can greatly improve detail and clarity.  Solution; if you have enough storage space on your iPod or computer, try selecting a higher bit rate setting in your music software when ripping tracks from your CDs. If you are downloading music tracks, check to see if the song is available in a higher bit rate. Finally,  purchase a receiver with features that offer the best possible digital to analog upgrading such as features like; ProLogic IIz, Advanced Sound Retrieving and Acoustic Calibration. This is also true for your mixing software, you should look for software that supplies a variety of features for importing audio files and applications for converting and improving sound quality.

3. Add a dedicated Subwoofer: A dedicated subwoofer helps extend your low end and alleviates your mains from reproducing power sucking lows.  This is especially important if you are pushing your mains so hard you experience clipping or farting. A powered subwoofer adds action to a surround system and supports the drums and bass in a live system. This is an element that should be considered a non-negotiable.

4. Dial in your Subwoofer's Settings: If you have a powered subwoofer dialing in the crossover can make a big impact in your overall sound quality. Deep bass can be a dramatic addition to your home theater or assist in delivering the true low end punch of a performance, but if you have set your crossover frequency too low you may leave a low-end hole. If you set it too high it can sound muddy and boomy from phase cancellation. If your mains fall off around around 80Hz then equalize your subwoofer to pick-up from 79Hz and below. The low-pass filter's cutt-off on most subs are not that sharp, so some overlap will occur.

Most modern Home Theater A/V Receivers have delay controls that work similarly to phase controls, and through a microphone that is provided with the unit, and using pink noise testing, the system will automatically adjust the frequency and decibel levels sent to the subwoofer.

Placement of a subwoofer is key to achieving an overall balanced sound and because of the long length of the soundwave, sub frequencies are not easily localized. You might say the sound is non-directional, allowing us to place the sub in corners, behind furniture, or off center stage.  When placing a sub in a room for a home theater, the easiest and usually most efficient is to place the sub in the corner furthest from large room openings. For additional techniques visit:'s Resource Center/Where To?

5. Sonic Maximizers and Signal Processors: I was absolutely amazed at the difference a Sonic Maximizer made in the volume and sound quality of a PA System, when I was introduced to the BBE Sonic Maximizer. One of our technicians performed some A/B testing on several systems, and demonstrated the value of a Signal Processor and/or Sonic Maximizer in a Professional Audio System. We offer a 30-day "No Hassle" Guarantee, just keep your original packaging. If you want to boost the level of volume and clarity in your system, this is a quick and inexpensive addition to any pro audio system.