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Day 162 - Travel to Grand Rapids

----- Rare and Heartfelt Special Bulletin ----

For the first time I will break the time smear and actually acknowledge that my blog posts are a bit late. If I could post real time I would but the conflict between enjoying the experiences to blog and blogging absorbing missed experiences is a challenge. Regardless, all of that has nothing to do with the thought I wish to share. Today is Nov 7. Today the humans that have some relation to the land mass and political entity called the USA get to vote. In my mind and in many ways in the big picture I know that my vote most likely wont matter. But that does not matter. What matters is how I feel about my own humanly self. What matters is whether I find myself making excuses of smiling because I did my part, irrelevant or not. Not for me, not for anyone else but you your own inside smiling self, I would like to highly recommend you vote. No excuse, just do it so you earn the validity to complain when things are not they way you feel is right. Do it so you can smile to know you were part of the wave of positive change.

Vote green or vote greed or whatever you wish, but think of how much nicer it will be to look back on today and know that you did.

----- End Rare and Heartfelt Special Bulletin ----

**** Sound Nerd Speak ****

Digital vs. Analog Mixing Boards

One of the more common questions I get asked by other sound engineers is "Do you prefer digital or analog mixing boards?" Though the answer would seem obvious by my analog choice, what I am really being asked is "why?"

In the sound industry, like many industries, there is a major trend toward digital this and digital that. Many of these digital devices offer such clear advantages over old analog units that sometimes it is tempting to assume that digital is always better in all circumstances. Eventually that may be more universally true. New digital sound boards are smaller, cheaper, offer tremendous control and save money in shipping around the world over their analog counterparts. Many sound engineers are left no option than to switch for financial reasons and even more engineers embrace the new boards like a new toy, a shiny new laptop or a new car.

I have actually put a good amount of thought into justifying my preference. I can feel that I prefer the 'hands on' analog approach instinctively but is that just a familiarity or that I lack the will to find comfort in the digi world control surface? Though those are factors, learning new things thrills me and mastering control over the things I desire is a challenge I love to embrace. So I decided to weed my way through the various assets and detriments of both console types while stepping clearly around the 'sound quality opinion debate,' as that is unsolvable. What I came up with was an analogy, because it seemed fitting to 'analogize' analog and I love analogies like I love all the parallels in life that seem to lend credibility through repetition. Sooo...

I have realized that I want to mix the rock show like a I drive a motorcycle. I like to see what is going on and have access quickly to all the things I desire. I would feel very uncomfortable having to call up a separate menu's to access the throttle and another screen click to steer and yet another to use the brakes. Let alone clicking on a separate window to see out of each rear view mirror, speedometer, fuel etc...

And each rock show is like a motorcycle ride and though the same destination is the goal, the route can vary and road conditions are never the same, nor traffic and the experience of the unexpected is fulfilled in some manner, every time. A well designed motor bike offers visuals and control over everything instantly with minimal body motion and the ability to access what I please effortlessly. I want my sound mix position to be the same. My sound world is set up in such a way that I can sweep glance from side to side and gather all the information I need without touching anything. It is that instantaneous summary that allows me to relax and enjoy the ride while doing my best to steer this giant powerful motor bike, following the map they call setlist, down the road we call rock show.

**** End Sound Nerd Speak ****

And speaking of driving and analog control, check out the control surface that operates this Semi-Truck. The red and black thing is a shock mounted seat where the human sits and gets to hold the wheel that turns. Digital screens have yet to replace the older analog windshield method and the driver actually looks through a piece of glass at the road he or she is traveling on.

Turning around we can see truck driver Chris sitting on his analog bed. These mini hotel rooms are decked out. Microwave, stereo, DVD player, fridge, Homer, scary skulls and pretty much everything a human would need to live the gypsy life, in style.

The wondering when Harley Davidson will bring out a digital motorcycle,

Dave Rat


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Daniel Higgott on :

Hey Dave, Cheers for that! I have been pleasently suprised with the ease of use and flexability/control of some digital boards... but I know what you mean. I love that hands on control as well. Soundwise, the one area where digital boards (a big generalisation) are still lacking is in the EQ department... But then every desk sounds different and unique anyway and everyone will have their own preferences there. I guess from a budget point of view you are in a lucky situation, whereby you can pick and choose what kit you want to bring with you... a lot of smaller tours would be sucked into the 'more for less' offerings from the digital domain. Just out of interest, have you ever mixed a Peppers show on a digital board? I guess you may well have done in festival situations... Danny

rex Vanstee on :

it was lovley to meet you all while you were here in town although i didnt personally introduce myself to you..i did say hi to scott lampi and worked at front of house spot be safe on the rest of your travels rex

Dave Rat on :

Danny, I tried to convert to digi for this tour but it did not work out. Half my stance is practicality and half is just from doing sound so long on analog. Maybe like a drummer not wanting electronic drums? or a piano player not wanting a keyboard. Thank you Rex, next time come say hello!

Monique on :

"For the first time I will break the time smear and actually acknowledge that my blog posts are a bit late." P.S. As great as it is reading about your travels, I don't think anyone minds the 'late' posts knowing that in real time you're probably at home enjoying some much needed quality time with your girls and family Dave. :)

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