Little Waves

Hmmm, in pro audio we use wireless mics and belt packs for in-ears. Hand held and strapped these things to ourselves and our performers. Not long ago 600mhz band was sold off to the cell companies, kind of a huge bummer, and we had to buy and use new wireless gear in a different range. Pretty much 500mhz to 900mhz are frequencies that we audio humans use all the time, all good, no big deal.We also know that wireless mics and in-ears have drop outs if ya don’t get the antennas all set right and such.So answer me thisHow is it possible, even comprehendable that I am seeing pro sound people that strap or have strapped 500-900 MHz transmitters to their bodies and deploy wireless mics in the 500-900 MHz range, that see and are familiar with wireless gear, are getting mind bent about that same 600 MHz on a tower?WHAAAAT THE FUUUUCK?Come on sound humans, let’s leave that voodoo stuff to the people that want to freak out over 600mhz while holding a 850/900/1850/1900 MHz cell phone in their hand, right now as they read this before they hold the phone to their head for the phone call.So either take the angle of:OMG, there is a helical antenna on stage, we are all gonna die!OrYeah 5G? 600mhz? I know it and know it well, great frequency band till the damn cell companies hijacked it from us. We in pro audio deal with those same frequencies as 5G all the time, unwieldy and wow, I’d be quite the undertaking with lots of antennas to cover a city block, it’s tough just covering a stage without dropouts.The audio community even formed a coalition to try and keep the 5G frequencies, because we love them so much, but to no avail. Sad.And for all you non audio humans, here is a chart.

The Sound of Pause is Silence

Unlike pausing a video where the image lingers, or turning off the lights where all remains unseen but still touchable, pausing sound leaves us with silence. Unlike physical entities that can be examined and measured and then documented, drawn and shared with other physical entities, the measurements and of non visible, non feel-able, energies like sound proves defyingly challenging to represent using physical objects like paper and spec sheets.

Pondering this concept led me to decipher some test methods for hearing sound loss in speaker cables. I’ve recently started up doing some YouTube videos again and several that focus on these test methods.

Basically it is using a loudspeaker to directly listen to the losses in speaker cables and a second test unit that allows us to hear losses in mic and line level cables. The wiring is simple and easily something you can do at home with some bits of sound gear and a basic knowledge of wiring.

Here is a simplified schematic of the speaker cable test method

An amp drives signal down the input, through a speaker cable and there is a load on the other end. A loudspeaker, I use a home HiFi speaker, is connected such that one terminal is attached to the same wire cable we are testing at the amp end and load end. In effect, the cable we are testing is shorting directly across the speaker we are listening to. Any losses in the cable will manifest as audible sound from the speaker.

This test works surprisingly well and unlike a null test that requires one to tune the null, this outputs the speaker cable loss without any specialized gear or delicate tuning.

For more info and to hear results from various cables, check out my YouTube channel.

speaker cable test part 1

Cool cool and curious if anyone is still out there connected to this blog.


Perfecting Sound in the Wrong Environment

Ideas are magnetic and once a concept takes hold, minds and innovations seem to congregate, refine and push the limits, often to the point of absurdity. Or at least way past the point of diminishing returns. Meanwhile there are seemingly gaping holes between the popular concepts and those in dire need of resolution.

Take a moment and picture the scenario of setting up a table layout for a grand formal dinner with perfectly folded napkins, crystal champagne flutes, fine china and pristine cutlery placement. Confident with the presentation as guests begin to arrive you realize that mysteriously the table, upon which the masterpiece is set, begins to morph into something similar to a slightly undulating water bed. The exquisite meal now sits precariously balanced upon a liquid filled membrane as the stream of  guests obliviously lean against and push waves into rolling motion. Glasses toppling,  food sloshing and culinary chaos ensues. With a flurry of panic,  the staff reaches in all directions to regain control, sop up spills and replenish the losses. Just when it seems the entire meal will be hopelessly lost to calamity, the intensity begins to ebb, all that will spill or break, has already The messes become familiar, you’ve the replaced champagne flutes with more stable coffee cups on saucers. All excess frivolity has been carted away. A balance has been reached, tensions relax with a new and different result than the original intent but the wonderful food and smiles ramp up into a meal to remember with a rough start. The following day we begin our task again, we set this table carefully attending to each detail and once again the arriving guests are subjected to a chaotic start to an evening meal mess perched atop a rippling unstable surface. Over and over again each night the mystery repeats with us scrambling to resolve the issues as they arise. Until one day it dawns upon us and we realize the table has always been made of melting ice turning to various levels of slushy water each night sometime between preparation and meal time.

In this equation, we as sound engineers and system techs are the waiters setting the table, the band is the chef in the kitchen and the show audience is the dinner guests. Not unlike the sloshy water table party, we too as sound engineers, face the challenges of a changing and interactive environment. The venues we setup in may well be the same physical dimensions throughout the night but come showtime, the world we mix in often has significantly differing acoustic properties. My questions are: With so much precise analysis and prediction, why do we still enter showtime with so many loose ends unresolved? and Why do we not have an advanced set of tools to solve it?

I find tuning sound systems to be a real world example of what I wrote in the first paragraph regarding people clustering efforts in one direction while turning a blind eye to other critically important issues that dramatically effect the quality of the outcome. For example; it is not uncommon to spend surprising amount of time fine adjusting every single detail of time alignment, phase alignment and loudspeaker positioning resulting with complex EQ curves and extremely precisely calculated alignments. Then, after all of that time and energy spent on tuning, it is naturally tempting to have a  a vested interest in the correctness of those settings and to embrace an “I have this perfectly dialed in, don’t touch anything” mentality.

Meanwhile, many if not most situations wherein a sound system is setup, tested and tuned for sound check we find that the tonal balance and coverage of the sound system has significantly changed by show time. Perhaps we knowingly already made some predictive adjustments, perhaps we kept our settings from the previous night, to fall back on or maybe we just avoid soundcheck tuning altogether and use a previous gig file with some modifications for system configurations changes. Regardless, there is the clear and persistent disconnect between what we measure in an empty room and what we experience at show time.

Why? Why does the status quo of system tuning seem so relentlessly shortsighted? Is it ok to be repeating the same plan over and over again when nearly every time the results are flawed? Is the change in sound just some odd mystery that no one truly understands or is it just so unsolvable that we just ignore it and do a blind approximation after spending hours avoiding approximations?

Ah yes, its been repeated so many times it has actually become humorous. “Yeah yeah, it will sound better once the room is full” mocks the band back at me when I used to offer that as an explanation. Somehow as if we have the sound now and then we will have a different sound later and since we have no way of knowing what the other sound will be except different and most likely better but usually worse at first before we fix it.

Is it possible to bridge the gap? Is it possible to predict and compensate the difference between an empty and full room? Cold and warm room? Sunshine versus nightfall? I realize it may be a complex endeavor to predict the way an audience and environmental factors will alter the sound of a venue, but how complex? More complex that predicting the weather week in advance or designing a digital processor? We know where the people will be. It can not be that complex to calculate the approximate sound absorption of typical clothing and the sonic diffusive nature of a cluster of  human bodies. We know the average skin temperature and it would not be a stretch to calculate a thermal range for the amount of heat generated by dancing versus sitting. In most indoor venues we can have control over the room temperature and for outdoor venues, it is pretty easy to find out approximately what the air temperature will be. Is it truly out of our realm to continue the meticulous system tuning and carry it forward into the probable influences of the known factors?

One common issue I encounter involves flown clusters at outdoor festivals. Here are three scenarios:

  • The coverage area that the predictions software indicates based on the temperature used in the calculations
  • The actual coverage that occurs during the warm day wherein that heat from the ground refracts the sound upward and extends the coverage area, sometime hundreds of feet.
  • The coverage where the ground is colder than the air and shortens the coverage until the audience brings in their warm bodies creating a warm layer and extending the coverage.
As the coverage area is increased or decreased, there are also noticeable tonal changes that occur. The refractive changes caused by temperature are more prominent in high frequencies which means that as the coverage area is reduced, the sound in the coverage area gets brighter.
Ok so out of all of this, here are a few things:
  • The sound of a venue over time is dynamic and constantly changing due to numerous factors, I covered mainly thermal but wind, diffusion and absorption by humans as well as attenuation of frequencies over longer distances due to temperature/humidity.
  • Prediction software will not give you correct results if the real world environment is vastly different than the prediction environment. If the prediction is for 70F and the venue has 85F degree humans packed tight on a 60F degree night, the actual coverage will be way off.
  • It is important to properly tune and align a system, it is also important to be prepared for the inevitable changes that will occur when the people arrive and environment changes. Take note of the changes that occur and build a strategy for dealing with them into your system tuning plan.
Here are a few things that I do:

First of all, knowing that the venue sound is constantly changing I follow a “what EQ’s what” strategy. I use the channel EQ’s to make the mic/instrument combo sound correct.  I use the system processor  to fix any issues with the sound of the loudspeaker system design and array configuration issues. And I use a house EQ as a hands on control to deal with the constantly changing room sound.

For over a decade now I have been carrying an infrared thermometer which I use to measure room temperatures and work with the production manager and venue to try and create a consistent thermal environment.

I started using a Fluke Thermal Imaging Camera so I will be able to take more accurate readings.

I wrote an article called Thermodynamics of a Rock Show for Live Sound Magazine a while back which was nice to see recently re-released.

I posted  youtube video showing how a heatgun can demonstrate the refraction of sound away from the heat.

In the Youtube video I used a highly directional Parametric Speaker by SoundLazer which functioned well for the demonstration but I I felt the demo would be even more credible if I used a conventional sound source. So I did a short instagram video showing the heat from a stove burner altering the sound from a Jambox speaker.

Here is an article called Thermodynamics of a Rock Show for Live Sound Magazine a while back which was nice to see recently re-released.

Here a great article by Dennis A. Bohn from Rane Corporation:

Cool cool, as you can tell I am dwelling further into the heat aspects of sound for awhile.  Hopefully to find some ways to make things a bit more predictable.

Dave Rat Blog – More Observations 10K miles in a Tesla

Well alright, if you have Tesla curiosity, here is another round of stuff and continuing on:

11) Mr Auto Pilot holds a grudge. It keeps track of whether you fail to pay attention to driving. You let him know by grabbing the steering wheel on a regular basis. If you don’t pay enough attention to him, give you a time out and banish you from auto pilot for the rest of the trip. First he beep-yells and messages while flashing the screen perimeter, until you take control of the car and then tells you he is no longer be available and you will actually need to drive the car all by yourself. You can still use cruise control though and he will still still be around to slam on the brakes if you try and crash. But to get back in his favor, you need to pull over and shut off the car and pretend you are on a new adventure.

12) The air condition on ‘auto’ tends to leave me a bit toasty when set at 72 which was the perfect temp in my last car. Boost the fan speed or drop the temp and you can stay cool in 110 weather, even when parked, it’s chilly and awesome.

13) Running air conditioning while parked is all good and uses minimal battery life compared the battery used while driving. I guess moving the car sucks the real power. Plus being parked with air conditioning doesn’t overheat the engine like it can on gas cars.

14) An uphill drive to Big Bear Lake was a power glide of pure awesome. Smooth zip up the hill, amazing four wheel drive traction and a huge battery sponge. Maybe I got 2/3 of the mileage of flat land or less, make sure you have plenty of energy for hill climbs.

15) Passing cars is during the passing zones, uphill is like cheating and playing unfair. No more wondering if your car has the juice to get ahead of the other car in time before the lanes squeeze into one. Just zip and done.

16) The car loves downhill. Driving home from from Big Bear when I reached the bottom of the mountain, I had more battery miles availabe than when I started at the top of the hill.

17) All that roof glass sure looks good but need to be tinted more, the internal cabin temp is just too dependant on the solar exposure for me. Got all glass tinted nice and dark with UV blocking and it is way better.

18) Unlock and drive away without the car keys is cool. Just open the app on your phone and unlock the doors, and /or allow the car to be started. I have accidentally driven away without my keys a few times, the car tells you, “no key in the car”. I tell the car, ” no biggie, I have my phone”

19) Being out of range of cell service is a bit of a bummer. All those cool features like the phone app, streaming Slacker radio, Google maps and keyless access all come to grinding halt and you are forced to run old school. Aaargh.

20) Kind of cool that the car will parallel and perpencular park itself. That said, if you have reasonable parking skills, it’s easier but way less fun to do it yourself. What I really want is to pull up in front of the store, hop out and send the car off to find a parking spot on its own. And it there are no spots, just drive to a remote parking lot till I’m ready to leave and then come back and get me. AutoValet Mode please.

OK, more to come including the solving the mystery vibration from hell.


Owning a Tesla 4 months 10000 miles 

Edging on 4 months of cruising the new car and since everyone loves to ask – “How do you like the Tesla?” , figured I’d kick out an update.

If you have not already done so, maybe give a read to my last blog post after 10 days of driving the car.

I have been taking notes and it is a long list because of course I over analyze everything, so I will break this up into several posts, so here goes part 1:

1) Since I never put gas in the new car and wake up with a full tank everyday, it is really easy to lose track of how much I drive. Heck, I drive everywhere now, all the time. It not only feels free and environmentally impactlless, it feels like a waste of car not to!

2) I forgot to mention in the last post that the car stereo volume goes to 11, a wonderful ode to Spinaltap. But why stop there? The air conditioning / heater fan speed also goes to 11. These are important details that the designer side of me greatly appeciates. I put hidden connections in nearly all my speaker system designs.

3) Autopilot has different concept of optimum lane position than I do. For me, it swings wide on turns and is equally comfortable next to a car as a semi. Also it is not overly concerned about driving in someone’s blind spot. It has a ways to go before being a hands off nap taking adventure. It is more like having a pall hold the wheel for a bit that will slam on the brakes if you get distracted.

4) Most fast flashy cars are all about “vroom, hey everyone looking at me, I go fast, vroom vroom, hey, me fast look over here!”

The Tesla is more like “Hey, have you heard the new Portugal the Man album? Oh wait a sec, need to say bye bye to a big noisey muscle car, ziiiiing, hello cute little muscle car in the rear view mirror, so yeah their new album awesome

5) It’s a big car! wide and roomy, I went from an Infiniti EX 35 small SUV to a Tesla model S sedan and I have way more room in every direction. Plus, the Ex35 got a pathetic 20 miles to the gallon. I feel years of mileage wasted regret.

6) Tire pressure matters, in fact everything that would matter to you on a self pedal bicycle on a long ride, probably matters to some degree. If you obsess on trying to get maximum miles per charge, speed, how fast you accelerate, tire pressure, anything on the roof, hills, headwinds, they all matter. Thankfully, compared to gas electricity is either free or super cheap and costs around $10 to $12 for 250 to 300 miles.

6) Backing into the garage does not make the house smell like exhaust.

7) Bluetooth transition from car to phone is super awkward. With a normal car, turning off the car mid phone call, auto switch to handset, all good. With Tesla, you don’t really turn off the car, so park, open door, stereo volume drops making person you are talking to inaudible, get out, close door, person gets loud again but is still inside car and can’t hear you. Walk away, lock car and handset starts working. It really messes me up when I am on the phone at work and go get something from the car.

8) I had to drive my 2008 Infiniti and wow, how easily I became unadapted. It was like switching back to a flip phone where texting required me to press each key multiple time to find the right letter. Most odd was the lack of regenerative braking made it feel like it was trying to crash me into things when I let off the accelerator. It just keeps rolling and going and then I have to actually use the brakes! In a Tesla, brakes are only for emergencies and to stop from rolling after you are nearly stopped.

9) With few exceptions, with a Model S, the car you are replacing is slower, noisier, dumber, smaller or all of the above.

10) Gas cars grunt like they are doing heavy lifting when you gas them, an electric car doesn’t complain, it just effortlessly debits your energy reserve

Cool cool,

Dave Rat

10 days in of owning a Tesla

Ok, so to reward myself for 27 years of touring with Chili Peppers, my 55th birthday and to help me acclimate to having to drive my own self around, I bought a Tesla model S, 100D

A lot of people have been super curious about going electric, so I thought I’d share a my adventure.

1) It was a big decision, I don’t like to make bad decisions and I put a lot of thought into it. I had a deposit on a model X, did demo drive and liked it but the seats don’t fold down and the gull wing doors make a roof rack a challenge, so I passed. Why would I buy a car that can’t carry a surfboad?

2) The model S has a good roof rack available, seats fold and has the room I need.

3) The car drives like a slot car. It just zips, super smooth, fast and comfy, I did not get the super fast “P” model as the non P is already a thrill and the extra $40k was just going to get me speeding tickets and a lofty insurance bill. 

3) There is much debate about whether electric cars actually save the environment more than gas cars, once the impacts involved with the creation if electricity is accounted for. My response is “would you buy a gasoline powered vacuum? A gas powered dishwasher or washing machine and put it in your house? Probably not as gas has toxic smells, it’s messy and we don’t want the up close exposure in our homes. Well the city is our home as well, as is the countryside for many. Then think of all the trucks carrying gasoline, putting it in underground tank, fumes from filling tanks, the entire gasoline I infrastructure that surrounds us. Imagine if all that was gone and outside your front door was treated as clean as inside your front door. I realize that I can not make it all go away but I can be part of helping it go away.

4) I love not going to a gas station, ever. I wake up each morning with a fully charged car and it rules! I put in a 50amp, 220v outlet in my garage and program the car to charge at 10 pm when electricity is cheaper. It costs about 1/4 the pice per mile for electricity versus gas. Oh, and the car asks you what time you want to start charging at this location, when you plug it in. So you can set different times for different places. At work start charging right away, at home, wait for the rates to drop.

5) At the suggestion of a tesla owning friend, I called the electric company. In my area SCE offers 3 plans, standard rate, variable rate that costs more during the day and less during off hours with a higher tier 1 allotment and a seperate meter option where I would have to pay to add a second power meter dedicated to the electric car with power at a lower rate. I have opted for variable rate, will see how that pans out for me.

6) Car charging is talked about in “miles per hour” as in how many drive miles you get for an hour plugged in.  A normal 15 amp 120volt wall outlet gives you 4 MPH. With a 50amp 220v outlet, the car says it’s charging at 40amps and I get about 28 MPH. The tesla super charging station charges at 365 MPH. So if I stop at the supercharger between home and work, walk to get a coffee and return 20 mins later, I get 120 miles of free electricity. The money saved on charging there versus home buys me a free lunch or I just sit in the car with tunes and do emails. 

7) If you get a referral code from a tesla owner, you save $1000 on the car and get unlimited free supercharge electricity for life. If you need a code, mine is david8646.

8) Charging is free and not charging costs money. So if you park at a supercharger, plug in and juice up, it’s all free until your car is charged. The Tesla phone app sends you updates on how much time is left and when it’s done. But, as soon as you are charged, you are taking up a charging space and Tesla a starts billing you .40 cents a minute to not be charging, so move your car. It’s kind of weird as the bill accumulates in your tesla account I am guessing, so I guess the car comes with a credit line attached.

9) You don’t charge up all the way. As you get close to fully charged, the car charges slower, I am guessing because the batteries are getting hot. The car let’s you set the maximum charge you want to reach, which they recommend to be 90% of full for everyday use and 100% if you are headed on a long trip. This is supposed to prolong the battery life a bit as well. My car is a 100D with a 335 mile range which charges to 313 miles when set to 90%. Also assuming you don’t run the battery all the way down and leave 10% minimum, that gives about 280 miles or so typical range.

10) Electric miles are not gas miles. The car is super aerodynamic and efficient. While that extends range it also means that any air drag or lead footing, burns miles. With a longboard on the roof, I lose about 25% to 30% of my range, more at high speeds, less at low speeds. Also, mileage loss reduces with the surfboard mounted tail forward and slid really far back. This hypersensitivity to wind drag is different than a gas car that is nowhere near as sensitive, I figure is because a high percentage of the energy lost in a gas car is lost in the engine itself and the drive system, and a lower percentage is used to move the car. With an electric car, the wind resistance is a very high percentage of how the energy is used. I am sure the surf racks are burning mileage as well.

11) Full vs have. With a gas car, I looked to see if I have enough gas and hit the gas station when need forces me to. With the electric car it’s all about sitting on a full charge. It’s a different state of mind and there is quite a pleasure waking up to a full talk as if by magic each morning.

12) You meet new humans. At first before I had the 50 amp plug at home, I went to the supercharger several times, I met some interesting and odd people there, it’s as if I have joined some strange club. But now I just stop there after a long drive if it aligns with convenience.

13) You can program the rear trunk door to stop before it hits the surfboard. This is huge as I often need to get stuff out of the back and having it hit the board is a bummer.

14) The proximity key thing takes some getting used to. It’s awesome that you never need to lock the car as it auto locks when you walk away. Bummer is that with this feature activated, you have to carry your keys or phone to get in the car. I am constantly running back into the office to grab my keys when I go to get something out of the car. I used to always leave my car unlocked at work.

15) Where to put the key FOB while surfing is a challenge I have yet to solve this issue. I bought a waterproof pouch for the key but where to put the pouch? Currently I put it down my back between my shoulder blades in my wetsuit where is moderately annoys me until I catch a wave and forget about it. The is no way to get in the car without leaving it unlocked, having the electronic key or having your phone and using the app.

16) The phone app is cool and you can vent the roof, turn on the air conditioning, unlock the car and check battery and charging status. I have my dogs with me nearly always, so it’s nice to be able to set the temp for them. Bummer is the air auto turns off after a while, maybe 30 mins so you need to be way on top of turing back on. I set alarms and crack windows as well as open the sunroof and don’t park in the sun. Where I live it’s overcast and cool out usually. Though I wish the timer could be bypassed.

17) The stereo is awesome. I got the upgraded sound system, of course, and the sound is fairly good, still sounds like a upper end generic car system but it comes with unlimited data and an LTE connection. Full streaming music, normal radio, podcasts and all around excellent to have loads of music choices. “Play Black Sabbath” and boom, it starts playing Sabbath and music related to the genre. Hit “like” , skip or “never play this song again” and it learns. Play “favorites” and it focuses on songs and bands you have liked.

18) It is tied into Google maps so “drive to Rincon” will take you surfing. In fact you can tell it to do just about anything that you have controls for.

19) “Summon” is a cool parlor trick and handy for parking in the garage. Hold down a buton on the key and then touch forward or backward and the car will drive itself in that direction 25 feet or so or until it approaches a curb or obstacle, then stop. When you open the doorse they swing wide so I just pull up to the garage and have it park itself. It will also open the automatic garage door then drive in or out, but my garage door is not compatible.

20) The storage area in the front is called a “frunk” . I got the 4 wheel drive version so there is not a lot of space up there but I do find it handy for a spare change of clothes, some running shoes and other stuff I don’t need often. The Frunk is kind of hard to close and takes a good push on the aluminum hood, and it feels like a bad push will visible bend things.

21) I bought the full rubber floor mat set from Tesla and it was expensive but for what I’d hauling bits of gear and the mess associated with salt water, sand and dogs, it was well worth it.
22) Autopilot started as an interesting fascination and quickly turned to a useful stress reliever. In rush hour traffic, using autopilot rules! The car does all the short stops and starts and let’s me watch and listen to music in calm happiness.  I find I am in less of a hurry, why change lanes, just hang and let the car do the work. 

23) Autopilot currently requires you to let the car know you are paying attention and makes you grab the steering wheel a every few minutes, it easier just to gently keep one hand on the wheel and treat it as a copilot that does the work while I oversee.

24) Autopilot and cruise control don’t always work.  I think the car sees or Google the weather and if it is foggy or heavily overcast it will not engage.

25) The car tells you what it sees. There is a display where the speedometer usually is that shows you if the car sees the road lines as well as if it sees a car in front of you and how far away it is. Also it tells you if it senses cars or obstacles on either side or behind. This info helps determine whether to trust the car and gives confidence when the car knows what is going on.

26) The autopilot currently is not very good at dealing with merging traffic and vehicles coming closer from the sides. The crash avoidance is very good though and if a car stops quickly in front it will catch it as fast or fast that I can. I set the follow distance fairly high as in the short follow distance setting it feels like I am tailgating. 

27) The regenerative breaking takes some getting used to but once you get used to it, it is great. Let off the pedal and the car starts charging the battery and you slow down pretty fast. There is something satisfying about hardly ever using the breaks.

28) If you are working in the garage around the car, don’t keep the keys in your pocket. Everything I get near the car, it wakes up and the door handles pop out, it gets old fast and I have to get the key out of my pocket.

29) Tinted windows were not an option and  though the glass sunroof is cool, am going to tiny the shit out of everything and reduce all that ambient light. I am a sound guy, I don’t need all that light.

30) I got the smaller rims, yes the 21″ rims look cool but the tires don’t last as long, they cost more and the ride is less smooth. I also am told that the tires last longer on the 4 wheel drive versions. I go snowboardin in the winter so 4 wheel drive is a big plus anyway.

31) If you are thinking of buying one, be sure to check the price of car insurance and account for that cost.  For me it was $350 every 6 months but I do high deductibles, have a good drive record and I think some good rates. The P version had a much higher insurance rate.

32) The car like to party. As soon as you open the door, boom the music starts (assuming it was on when you got out). And as soon as you get in and close the door it returns to listening levels. Then when you open the door. The music drops in volume, shuts off when yo close the door and you are out side and just waits for you to return to crank it up again. I really enjoy how persistent it is at making sure the tunes are rolling.

33) Oh, the charging port is hidden behind a small reflector driver side rear. If you press the button on the charging nozzle, the little door automatically pop open and then auto closes when tho remove the nozzle. Once plugged in the nozzle locks in place and you press the button to stop charging and release the nozzle. Super clean and easy.

34) There are 8 cameras mounted around the car as well as a bunch of sensors. Currently only the front camera and sensors are active while using autopilot. At some point they are supposed to release an update that activates all the cameras and allows the car to navigate itself from strategy to end of a journey. Since I did not prepay $3000 for the feature, it will cost $4000 to activate when available, should I choose to have it.

All in all, I really really like the car. I am a bit of a hermit and hole up and build things. I avoid driving places as much as I can andhathate going down the hill (driving from Ventura/Oxnard to Los Angeles. But I must admit, I now actually don’t mind making the trip and find myself going places just because getting there is kind of fun.

So I bought a Tesla

5 months home and quite wonderful except the stressful parts. But even those are good. Full focus on working with the awesome humans ar Rat and taking the company up a notch or two.

As part of my non tour happiness I have finally bought a Tesla as I have been planning for quite some time.  My tesla adventure started about 5 years ago when I saved a bit of tour money and bought 150 shares of stock in the company. I bought it not because I thought it would gain value, but rather, because I wanted electric cars to be a part of our future, and as with many things, I do my best to add actions to my words and and desires. 

So the share went up and I pulled out my original investment and used it to put deposit on a Tesla model X, SUV and after nearly 2 years, took a test drive. The car was awesome but the gull wing doors combined with non folding seats made carrying a surfboard impracticle. Why would I want a car I can’t surf with?

Also, while touring, buying my first really expensive car seemed such a waste, never been one much interested in being showy or posh as I prefer practical, except when it comes to sound, where I enjoy to immerse in excessive power and impact.

So when after 27 years I finally turned in my tour pass and headed home to pretend I am a normal non nomadic human, the time finally came to take the plunge.

A model S 100D with surf racks and autopilot that costs nearly as much as I paid for 3 bedroom house I bought in Big Bear, 21 years ago. Both ouch and also, compared to the yearly budget on short lived sound equipment Rat spends, not a big deal.

So over the next chunk of posts, I figure I will share the my experiences and observations for those that are interested.

And because my true purpose is the world of sound, I 

will mix some of that in as well.

As far as the Rat SuperSubs, they are coming along and to be honest, I just got really busy with other projects. We are doing some design enhancements and most importantly refine the limiting and protection systems. The subs worked great on peppers tour but also I was in control, the steps to making them bullet proof are important and challenging. With the biggest challenge being “where in the heck can I turn these things on full blast for long periods of time without bumming everyone out.”

 One of the most exciting and challenging adventures since I have been home has been traveling to Austin Texas to be the keynote speaker at Cirrus Logic’s innovation conference. Wow, a true honor to get to speak to and hang with some wickedly smart silicon chip designers. Thank you Cirrus.

Ok, cool cool


Wichita and 4

Chilly outside but at least it’s wet. Got a short bike ride in to get a weekly planner and it was extra refreshing in near freezing rain.

Yay, production has the venue nice and warm again and all went well. Gonna gopro mixing peppers a few of these last shows, did a test run today and forgot how annoying mixing is with console lights, really tempts one to fiddle more than make changes with distinct purpose.

Four more and it feels good, the end of an awesome journey and the so many unfinished projects and new ideas I am anxious to tackle.

For the sound nerdery topic of the day, let’s chat about marley. Not Bob but rather the floor covering used to skin over stages for rock shows. It’s a thin rubbberish matt that gets rolled out, sometimes with graphics, often just black. It not only provides a smooth surface for performers, consistant traction and a place to mark where all the monitors, risers and stage gear goes, it also can make the stage more forgiving for dancers and jumping around. Just about every major production carries these huge rolls and tapes the seams smooth for each sbow.

For Peppers, there is also a cushion layer underneath to reduce impact. And of course no wonderful and useful things comes purely without its online set of issues and challenges. One of those issues has to do with using a brand new marley. When setting up peppers production back in August, we get the stage all set, all looks good, and when Mark goes to check the vocal mics, snap, static discharge to the lips, owww! 

Turns out, no one is able to walk more than 3 steps and touch a vocal mic or stand without getting zapped.

There is spray called static guard but have not had successful results that last the whole show using it in the past, and odds of finding it in Czech Republic are slim. It’s one of the oscilloscope last minute oh shit moments and the band will be there in a few hours or less. Shocks we pretty George and jumping through mic windscreens as well.

We tried wiping down with water but Shocks came back as soon as it dried. What we needed was to ground the marley but marley is an insulator and not easy to ground. Had we the time, laying a grounded metal mesh underneath would most likely solve the issue. Also, once marley gets a bunch sweat, spit and dirt as well as beat up a bit, the static issue subsides.

What to do that can be done fast? After bit of thought, I suggested and requested some bottles of water and a bunch of table salt from catering. Put the salt in the water, peel up the marley seam and dump the salt water to form a conductive liquid layer between the underside of the marley and the cushion pad. 

We tried one bottle near Anthony’s vocal mic and it was better. So we dumped three more bottles of salt water and stephanie smoothed it the spread it around and no more shocks.

Yogi and Taka feeding some salt water to the marley seam.

I don’t know how many more shows Yogi was dumping salt water before the marley electrostaticaly stabilized, but the shocks never returned.

Lincoln and my last 2

Down to the wire as I will be mixing my 2nd to last Peppers show tonight in Lincoln Nebraska. 

Somehow it seems I should be more she’ll shocked but it just feels the same familiar business as usual way as it has for so long. Perhaps being home will feel odd. 

What does feel odd is that the US has elected one of the most nauseating and selfish rude humans imaginable lead our country. 
My feelings of helpless dismay, anger and disappointment exceed my literary skills by so many order’s of magnitude, I am at a loss for words.

I will make a prediction though; prepare yourselves for war. Not an meandering existing conflict, not a shift in military presence or strategy, but rather a new clear and defined HUGE HEADLINES, scare the shit out of everyone, band together as the nation cowers in fear, war.

I make this prediction based on the observation that Trump has demonstrated a pattern of an insatiable relentless quest for power and that Trump has demonstrated that he will viciously strive to defend holding power at all costs.

Combine that observation with the fact that in the United States, every wartime President has always been re elected since the country began.

My prediction is that in order to absolutely insure his re election and not risk any other outcome, Trump will start a war, regardless of the collateral damage and lives lost.

Agree? Don’t agree? Makes no difference, as thisl post will still be here four years from now and I will either be right or wrong. I hope I am wrong.

On brighter notes: the small and human things make me happy

Just a quick check, anyone out there know if this wiring configuration out front of the Corn Husker Marriott in Lincoln is up to code?

I promised a pic of Jack Irons

And because probably more than anything, gonna miss hanging out with Scotty

And yay, today was Rat swag day with a hoodie, beanie and name embroidered laundry bag

And for good memory sake, started grabbing pics with my tour friends I have had the honor to travel the world with.

And I’d love to share some sound needs stuff but that will have to wait, lots to do and so little time.

Oh, and thank you everyone for helping me with the swamping Scott’s phone and helping me with one last big fun hurrah as this life chapter come to a close.
Ok, will try and post tomorrow for the farewell.


Tulsa and 5

Finally a show with some warmth. This cold wave sweeping though the country has been chilling the cities down below the temps the venues are optimized for. Back in the early 90’s when I first realized that stabilizing venue temperature is critical to stabilizing sound quality, I began working with the production manager of whatever band I was touring with to get venue temps dialed in. The goal is to get the venue environment as close to body temp as feasible without cooking people in the upper levels as well as minimizing air movement.

Unfortunately, these two goals are often in conflict, plus combining that with the massive spaces we are dealing with and time frames involved to induce changes and the puzzle can be quite challenging. Not to mention, different each day depending on outside temps and the type and quality of the venue’s HVAC system.

The plan that seems to work best is to run the HVAC in the desired thermal direction with a bit of overshoot until 30 mins before headliner, then shut it down and let the room temp coast as long as possible. If the venue temp starts to get unreasonably warm or unsoundingly cold at some point during the show, fire up the HVAC to compensate.

By ‘overshoot’ I mean, if it’s cold outside, make the venue a bit extra warm such that the cold air falling from the roof does not overchill before show time. Visa versa for hot outside.

The wind from the air handlers can be an issue as well are depending on their location and direction, may significantly alter the sound of the venue in an undesirable way. 

I don’t recall whether it was Houston or Dallas but one of those shows, these huge gusts of cold air kept sweeping through, screwing up the sound. I finally asked Jim to investigate and turns out it was some local venue employees opening a door on an upper level to go outside and smoke. As soon as the door opens, the frigid gusts swept all the way through to another open bay door behind stage.

All in all, the ideal scenario is motionless air that is all the same temperature. If the audience is warm and cold air is falling from the roof, the upper high frequencies will bend upward and away from the audience creating a dull hash sound.  If the air handlers are shooting streams of hot or cold air around, the sound will tend to swish and the EQ of the venue will keep changing differently in different places. Not so much from the wind itself but more so from the fact that the blown Air is a drastically different temperature. Sonically stabilizing a thermally unstable environment is never a complete success.

So, after this long nerded ramble, back to where I started,finally a show with some warmth! The temp last night was awesome, that warm slightly humid still air that basks the entire audience in a common warm soup of music with mesmerizing sparkling lights.

I’ve been starving for a stable room since we landed state side.

Also notice the smooth transition to the subs I now am able to achieve, rather than the sub bump that I used to think was necessary till I mixed on th SS30s. Still trying to understand  more but here is an older curve from December 6 2016 show

And one from November 17th 2016

Good times.

If you want to see the effect of heat upon sound, I made a simple youtube video

bending sound waves with heat

And another short video I put on instagram

fire and sound

Ok, sound need overload. Moving on. So I made a mistake in my last post and my last show is actually the 21st of jan and I head home the 22nd. 5 more shows!

So so surreal, I keep switching between having a huge weight of feeling trapped lifted and a sobering melancholy as I watch this giant machine lumber into the future without me physically onboard but knowing part of my heart will still be woth.

Here is one way the crew keeps things interesting out here:

Okey dokey and time for me to wander off to enjoy the sights and sounds of Tulsa Oklahoma 31 degree weather and predicted freezing rain coming.

Though it does not looking overly daunting out there yet

Oh, next blog I will share the solution I came up with to stop the band from getting static shocks to their lips when using a brand new marley.