Archive for the ‘studio’ Category

does your microwave screw with your wifi?

Does your microwave screw with your LAN’s wifi signal? It might well. Depending upon your microwave and wifi, it could be pretty severe. In our case, the microwave would stop wifi in the whole west end of the lair.

This happens because microwave ovens can throw out a lot of radio interferences in the 2.4Ghz range, and that’s where 802.11b, g, and n all operate. Now, sure, you can upgrade your equipment to dual-band 5.0Ghz/2.4Ghz gear, but that’s annoying, and costs money, and a lot of your devices won’t upgrade anyway.

So I started thinking about how this could happen, because I know the requirements for microwave oven shielding. Microwaves ovens are basically grounded metal boxes – I saw someone jokingly suggest putting your microwave into a Faraday cage, but these ovens basically are Faraday cages, so that won’t help. Okay, yes, the glass front isn’t a solid sheet of metal, but that grating that makes it hard to see through the glass is there for a reason, and it’s reasonably effective as shielding.

Then I realised one part of the oven isn’t shielded. Typically, it’s not shielded at all. It’s the power cord. Which makes the power cord a transmission antenna for microwave oven RF noise.

Now, thanks to all the RF issues we were having with the studio wiring last year, I’d stocked up on things called RF chokes. They’re used to filter out radio noise. This is all very high frequency noise, so you need ferrite chokes, specifically.

Clamp-on ferrite RF choke

They cost less than two dollars. Basically, they convert the RF field coming off the cable into self-cancelling magnetic fields, which – pleasantly – don’t interfere with your wifi. You want a tight fit, because physics reasons.

So I clamped two tight-fighting large ferrites onto the power cable, one on each end, because for all I know the RF issues with our building wiring were making things worse. Also, we seemed to be having a lot of RF coming off that power cord. And we gave it a go.

The wifi hasn’t fallen over while using the microwave once since attaching those chokes. Not even once. We’re still seeing interference – and the resulting slowdown in net performance which results from that interference – but it’s dramatically reduced, and we no longer lose connections and even audio and video streaming keeps going. It’s still an impact, we absolutely see it in performance testing. But it’s no longer an impact that matters.

So, yeah. If you’re seeing this, give it a try. It’s a hell of a lot cheaper than replacing all your networking kit.

a really good DIY on studio conditioning

So remember the guest post that Jeff Bohnhoff wrote for the Studio Buildout Series of articles I posted while building out my studio?

Jeff has his own blog now for his own studio, and yesterday he put up a really good and extensive build report on his latest round of studio room conditioning, including a lot of details on building really large and pro-style sound baffles. They look spectacular and if you have any interest in home recording or sound control in a room, you should go look at it. It’s great.

Advance Review Copies of Bone Walker went out last night and we already have an awesome surprise that I can’t talk about yet. But I will, later. so exciting

sometimes you just need the right inspiration

And in this case, the inspiration I need for these vocals is a psychopath who can throw lighting around like confetti. So I made a little shrine to Azula. I got the idea when I spontaneously added the line, “not you, Zuzu” in rehearsal.

“I imported it from the Fire Nation. They make the best red stuff there!”

Also, you might notice I moved the studio closer to the lava core for this track. Fire nation, j0.

Do you have a crazyspiration, or is that just a supervillain thing? You should get one. It’s motivational.

midi is still hilarious

Okay okay okay so I’m playing my way through fast scales over and over, while running the midi device selector up several dozen instruments towards the one I want, which means the instrument being played by the keyboard is changing constantly? And I let go of the “next instrument” button as I quit playing (on the tonic) and it lands on “orchestral strike.”


I could not do that on purpose if you paid me. XD

creative tricks musicians can't use but want to

I’ve just been watching artists and writers online talk about what they listen to or just generally have on in the background while they’re working. A lot of people are saying they are stimulated by that, it makes them more creative.

But I’m a musician, so I can’t do that for most of my creative time. I can’t have music on (because hi, I’m writing or performing music) and I can’t have a television on (because there’s no point, I’m watching the digital audio workstation), and I haven’t had much luck with spoken podcasts – I’m paying too much attention to the sound I’m working on and don’t get much of anything out of it.

But back when I was a visual artist, I could totally do that trick. I kind of miss it. Right now, I’m doing paperwork and stuff and have Anpanman on the background, which is about the right level of non-distracting stimulus.

I’d like something akin to that for the studio, mostly for when I’m doing tedious things like timing edits and comping. You know, the boring shit. But I have no idea what that would be. Anybody have any ideas?

an inexplicable amalgamation of sounds

No, that’s not the new album title. The people on the other side of the top of the hill have started doing Something which smells occasionally like asphalt, and occasionally like rubber, and sounds like a combination of drills, compressors, and dumpster juggling. We can’t see them from here, but wow, can we hear them. Any ideas what they’re doing? ‘Cause we don’t know.

Welcome, GAMCON attendees!

If you’re here, you’re probably looking for the Kitting Out Cheap downloadable handout. Well, here you go. Thanks for coming to the panel!

You might also be looking for the Free Music Set, and that’s right here, one song a year from the last five. I’ll probably add a new song later this year, too, so check back.

How was GAMCON for you? I’m queueing this post up in advance, so I can point you to it during the panel. So I have no idea yet. SPEAK TO ME, PEOPLE OF THE FUTURE! Give to me your wisdom! And your death rays. I need them, you see. For reasons. Business reasons.

mood and time lighting with $35 in LED tape

The other set of LED tape lights arrived. Initially they had less impact when tested; the window behind the baffles in the left on this photo don’t go as high as the baffle, so the top lights were a bit hidden. So I tapped in a bit of wood to raise it.

Here are four configurations I’ve already found I like quite a bit and am actually using at their appropriate times of day – the idea is that if I don’t have BRIGHT DAYLIGHT LIGHTS on at 2pm, I won’t look up and go “oh look it’s 3:30 and I have to be up at… eight!”

Click to enlarge in a separate tab.


Sunset and Evening

(It really does feel like daylight in there.)


The pictures are colour-manipulated a little to try to get at least in the neighbourhood of the correct colours; this was as close as I can get. The white areas around really the colours you see near them, not white. The orange is more orangy, the green is more greeny, the snozzberries taste like snozzberries.

Exactly like snozzberries.

But yeah, $35 in LEDs – including the controllers and remotes. That doesn’t include power supplies; I had one already and paid $10 for a second one that can handle the full input requirements of the longer strand, so I do things now like put that one on cycle and leave the other one steady if I want. Just because I CAN.

Mood/time-lighting LEDs are awesome. 😀

other reasons to open the case

While I was opening the computer to add glowy bits and more importantly a case fan to support the new graphics card, I noticed the wiring inside was a bit of a mess, and cleaned things up a bit.

While doing that, I noticed that the cable providing extra power to the USB root-hub card I’d previously installed 1) used an utterly unnecessary adaptor, and 2) had a loose piece. As in, one of the wires – the yellow one – was basically just reseting against the connection point, rather than being clamped on properly.

Now, things have been working reasonably well lately, but I have been getting a sudden hard bus error about once a day. Ardour crashes, JACK reports a hard bus error but restarts successfully.

That the yellow pin was just resting against its intended contact might explain that problem. Even if it doesn’t, that’s not okay, so I yanked the adaptor, used one of the extant four-pin power connectors in its place, and went on my merry way.

I have had exactly zero bus errors since making this change.

It’s still too early to claim victory – I’ve had error-free runs before – but it’d be awfully, awfully nice if installing a case fan and glowy lights actually lead to solving a known problem.

what do you use for GPU temperature monitoring?

After all the hell involved late Friday night in getting nVidia drivers running under Linux (a.k.a., “Hi, I’m Running A New Kernel Now, Ask Me Why!”), I thought it’d be a good idea to get a case fan. I got the quietest 92mm fan they had at Fry’s, clocking in at 14.6db. I also picked up some hum-dampening silicon bolts for attachment.

Installing it proved I was right in deciding I couldn’t possibly afford the noise of a graphics card with fans onboard. Even the whisper-quiet-as-such-things-go case fan required me to throw some sound absorption behind the box to get it back to inaudible in the recording space.

…and okay maybe I couldn’t resist grabbing a case light while I was at it. It was only $8, so why not? 😀 But behind the case, you can see that I’ve attached some leftover sound baffle material to the wall – it’s just a single layer, but that’s okay, since fan noise is pretty high-frequency and easy to scatter.

In addition to the visible pieces, there’s another attached to the underside of the shelf that overhangs the case. It’s just out of frame above this picture. That piece catches some of the sound bounce coming out from the back which isn’t picked up by the wall pieces. The reduction is enough to hear, close up.

This baffling brings the case noise back down to the same level as it had before, without the fan. It’s nice to be justified in my card choices, but I wish I’d been wrong – the GT520 chipset isn’t bad, but I’d really kind of like, oh, a 750 TI. But… not today, not in this machine, not in this room.

What do you use for GPU temperature monitoring? Given the temperatures of everything else, I’m confident I’m fine, but I wouldn’t mind monitoring the card itself for a bit. Windows or Linux is fine.

Oh, and! On Internet Skyrims Elder Scrolls Online, I’m Starbird the Fleet, username Solarbirdy. Still in starting environment at the moment, breaking out of prison – and getting used to PC controls again after a long time being a console gamer only – but I’ll be out of that soon. Look me up.

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