about HRTF stereo-surround recording methods & gear
to operate and maintain portable audio recorders
to optimize the playback listener experience
Field Recording Tips
Deck Model Info/Links/Reviews
Portable Decks, Reviews, Tips:
Methods of HRTF
Related Transfer Function" Baffled Omni Stereo-Surround
Stuff & Fluff:
HRTF HEADMOUNT TIPS
Stereo Mics are Headworn (HRTF Dual-Omni
BAFFLED) design pickups to record the
best 3-D stereo sound possible. The instruction pamphlet
included with every DSM suggests positioning the two
pickups forward of the ears to about the temple of
a person (or dummy head) but, there’s more to the
position the pickups are placed, back towards
the ears or forward into the temple area, makes a
difference to the perceived higher frequencies
on the recording.
DSM’s closer to the ears will give excellent
3-D headphones reproduction while still retaining
very good (much better than in-ear Binaural)
loudspeaker reproduction, but...the perception of
higher frequency detail is ‘softer’ speaker
reproduced than perception encountered with headphones
positioning the pickups far forward into the temple
area increases the perception of higher frequencies
on loudspeakers while still retaining excellent
3-D headphone reproduction!
it’s how your ear/brain actually perceives that
makes all the difference. That’s psycho-acoustics
better understanding of this phenomenon is simplified
by realizing that DSM microphones are positioned at
a place where you record the acoustical impression
in dimensional acoustic space. Conversely, reproducing
the recorded impression involves completing what you
started by doing a recording in the first place, namely,
completing the action by reproducing the DSM recorded
sound exactly from same place it was mic'd!
While person head mounting or using LiteGUY baffle
is best for consistent acceptable stereo image quality
a number of other good reasons), some want
"max stealth" or lowest profile possible of recording
gear being worn. Suggest instead, having outfitted
a special shirt or jacket with (button-down?)
collars to hide the pickups from view underneath
the collar front flaps.
custom button hole located at the inside rear
of the collar allow the pickups + cord threaded
from inside to being secured under the collar
flaps. Safety pins, gaffer's tape, and a custom
made cloth loop may be considered to secure the
pickups. This arrangement must be carefully
tested to avoid rubbing noises and blocking the
front view of pickups, but will give satisfactory
speaker playback recorded results when head mounting
is not practical.
the stereo image recording quality is significantly
diminished with collar mounting, there's some advantage
when blocking (or at least reducing) some
of the rear/side crowd sounds is desired.
the best 3-D image fidelity, listen to the DSM recording
from wide spaced, precisely angled speakers directed
or positioned exactly the opposite (reverse facing,
180 degree) direction of the original live sound
recording microphones as suggested below.
a DSM recording was made with pickups placed close
to the ears, best listening
experience is with open type headphones
having large 40-50+mm sized diaphragm. Jecklin
‘Float Phones’ electrostatics (at one time
sold by MAY AUDIO), Sony MDR-F1
or CD2000, and newer MDR-SA3000/5000 models
are known to reproduce the most natural sounding
3-D and optimum high frequency details.
loudspeaker listening is you main objective,
position the DSM pickups further forward of the
ears, even centered into the temple area for best
high-frequency details perception with loudspeaker
See Speaker positioning (below) for 2 or more speaker systems
that allow for best imaging.
Pro Logic II or DTS NEO-6 decoded speaker playback (4 or more
surround speakers) will give a realistic 360 degree sound
image with the center-side-rear channels decoding the 2-channel
DSM stereo-surround correctly.
This makes all DSM recorded stereo sound virtually identical
to the best DVD/BD Movie audio surround experiences
For more natural sounding listening experience with wider
sweet spot seating, Left/Right Stereo Speakers are best positioned
set at least as wide apart as the dead center
sitting or listening distance is to the (imaginary) connecting
line running from left to right speakers.
the speakers inward to focus IN FRONT of the exact center
listening position. Playing back regular stereo will sound
better with this arrangement and DSM recorded sounds will
have a smooth, seamless image that extends beyond the speakers
for nearly a 180 degree wide stereo image that sounds good
even if seated way off dead center.
OF FLASH CARD MEMORY
technology flash card recorders are very convenient in being
able to quickly transfer recordings much faster than real-time,
and then reuse the memory card.
some of the newer digital decks using flash memory are VERY
particular on the format structure of this media. It is
most wise to ALWAYS REFORMAT flash memory IN THE DECK
whenever removing the memory card and placing into a dedicated
card reader for file transfer purposes. In-deck reformat avoids
'mysterious' file corruption and deck freezes common with using
cards SLIGHTLY changed from the deck's particular standard format
during computer card transfer processes.
very good practice to REFORMAT EVEN IF NOT REMOVED
after all recorded files needed have been safely transferred.
Just deleting files may leave non-continuous file space on the
card. Complete reformat wipes clean all stored files, and insures
the deck can fully utilize the space in a continuous fashion.
Using a freshly reformatted memory card helps avoid recording
errors and deck freeze-up faults.
TYPES OF FLASH MEMORY FOR AUDIO RECORDING
technology flash card recorders are totally immune to most all
physical movements and shocks. Shakes and bumps that pose
a liability to ruin the recording on MD, DAT tape, or hard drive
decks are not a problem with solid state memory flash recorders.
hard drive recorders also record to flash, parking the hard
drive heads for maximum shock resistance. So it's good practice
to use flash for 'gorilla' field recording, later transferring
to hard drive when deck is safely at rest.
some flash decks using solid state card memory are particular
to the SPEED TYPE of flash media used for audio recording
(some ultra types and other advanced types)
cards mostly use a BURST speed rating. This is mechanism
useful for fastest transfer of many very small (in comparison
to audio file size) digital camera photo files. Flash BURST
schemes do nothing good, sometimes work AGAINST smooth,
continuous large file audio recording, and is often the
cause of audio file interrupts, corrupted files, and deck freeze-up.
using FAST proven reliable makes/models of cards, like
SanDisk Ultra II that actual state continuous write/read
speeds, not a burst speed rating. Then you know card has
best chance of working for all audio recording purposes.
MIC INPUT NOISE
internal mic preamplifier on most battery powered portable
recorders are mostly adequate for larger diaphragm, high output,
and 'true balanced' type mics. However,
most (Edirol-Roland R-1/R-4, Marantz PMD-600 series), the
FR2's MIC/LINE balanced inputs, are highly susceptible to
internal/external noise sources. This is especially true when
running on the AC adapter with ANY TYPE
of mic input, and if inputting an UNBALANCED lower
output level mic or unbalanced line source (like from standard
mics, single ended preamplifiers, and non-balanced mic powering
adapters). This is due to less than optimized design of
most portable digital decks that include digital noise getting
into the low level analog mic circuitry, and external
electrical noise (AC hum, radio signals) working into ground
least one exception is Sound Devices 722/744T decks and
(some) battery powered external microphone preamplifiers
with refined very quiet/external-internal noise immune inputs.
For lowest noise ANALOG recording performance, run deck solely
on battery power, and input to these type decks ONLY true
BALANCED output MIC/LINE externally connected equipment.
is a true input/output balanced powering adapter for connector
upgraded DSM microphones models. PA-24NJ/X
is a balanced output external mic preamplifier suitable for
all decks with balanced LINE level inputs.
ANALOG INPUT DECK OVERLOAD DISTORTIONS
Mini-portables in use today will overload to cause
analog circuit clipping distortion. Indication
that mic input stage clipping is likely occurring is when
LEVEL adjustment necessitates turning down to #4
or below 30-40% of the adjustment range for
seeing VU peak indications -12 dB to -4 dB peaks for most
other DAT models.
where you have this knob or the up-down button adjustment
set. If set < 40% of total REC adjustment maximum,
then good chance of MIC input (sometimes also LINE) deck
overload, at least until you know better from trying it
are two main types of REC Level Adjustment Displays
taking the place of the DAT's #0 to #10 REC LEVEL level
knob markings (like shown in the picture above-left)
most newer digital audio decks indicate the REC LEVEL
Adjustment ON THE LCD DISPLAY; usually positioned
somewhere BELOW the VU indicator
Some display a RECORD Level Adjustment Left-to-Right reading
BAR GRAPH that indicates possible audible input overloads
STARTING when the Bar Graph shows about 35-40% of 100% full
up. If the REC LEVEL Adjustment bargraph indicates an adjustment
is selected below 35% of full up, then input clipping distortion
is likely easily audible.
decks do not use a bar graph to display where you've set
the Manual REC LEVEL. INSTEAD, a series of numbers are
displayed on the LCD display.
series of setting numbers is sometimes in TWO SETS when
in MIC input mode (Sharp MD). Displays of #0-#20 indicate
the deck is set in "L" Low input sensitivity (equivalent
to the 20 DB ATTENuation setting on DAT) and input clipping
distortion is unlikely with number settings indicated
at #8 or higher out of #20 max, for getting adequate -12
dB VU to 0 dB VU REC signal peak readings.
second numbered set on the Sharp MD reads #21-#30
indicating the deck is set in the "H" High mic input sensitivity
range (equivalent to the 0 DB ATTENuation setting on DAT).
TO AVOID using the #21-#30 "H" range. You are RISKING
having input clipping distortion UNLESS VU readings
are unable to reach GREATER THAN -14 dB VU with the
deck set at #20.
other words, try to keep maximum recording level input
"headroom" by staying in the "L" Low input sensitivity
range, UNLESS VU is less than -14 dB peak, then
good chance the +20 db "HIGH" boost setting
are tips for using Sony M10 recorder: (Settings good for D50 model)
TIPS: (For highest quality recording purposes)
Use M10 ONLY set in 24 bit recording mode. Sample rate is your
choice, but suggest using 44.1K sample rate if wanting best
CD compatible editing options.
Use M10 ONLY with MIC INPUT sensitivity switch set in "LOW"
taping over this switch to not be moved. "HIGH" setting
is way too much 20 dB boosted first stage gain giving inferior
audio quality. Even with very low VU levels, LOW setting gives
cleaner more defined 24bit depth audio best boosted in post
edit, NOT by using deck in HIGH setting.
Allow for having best headroom dynamics with NOT pushing recording
VU levels. Wise to ONLY push REC levels of master recording
to -12 dB PEAK VU (not average, but maximum peak reading) so
recording has best chance of never clipping even if much louder
unexpected sound is encountered.
Use M10 in full manual (not AUTO, Limiter) record level control
mode setting, suggest also taping over this switch (AS SHOWN
AT LEFT) so these switches are not moved accidently.
Wise tact is to always engage decj's HOLD feature after starting
so touching deck buttons do not accidentally stop recording
until you're finished with each session.
Do all editing in 24 bit mode, adjusting loudness and all other
as last post-edit step, convert a copy of edited file as 16
bit depth .wav if desiring CD burn file for disc burning purposes.
desiring MP3 conversion, leave edited file at 24 bit depth as
most MP3 encoders work directly with these without requiring
down sampling conversion.
taperssection.com M10 comments/tech data GuySonic posted at:
most models, the mic sensitivity input switch actually changes the first stage
amplifier gain instead of conventional reduction of mic signal via
resistor attenuation network positioned before the mic amplifier.
MiniDisc decks also reconfigure the gain of the mic preamplifier
from low gain to boosted gain when crossing from #0-#20
record level adjustment to #21-#30 record level setting
on the output or sensitivity of the microphone being used
and how loud the sound recorded is,
the L or -20 db Attenuated position MAY NOT
lower the signal sufficiently to avoid overloads.
is common when using the larger diaphragm (capsule)
sized and/or higher output 48 volt phantom powered microphones
recording amplified Pop/Rock venues.
this case there are three options:
Use the Attenuation switch (commonly found
on the microphone body) or
Install an in-series attenuation network between
the microphone and the deck, but NOT between
the microphone and it's source of 'Phantom power' (when
mic is without an internal battery supply).
Use the LINE input(s) on the deck which have
at least -20 dB less gain that mic inputs and are much more
resistant to be overdriven with direct Level Knob control(s);
exception is the Sony D7/8 decks where the Level
Knob does not totally control the line input signal from
causing clipping distortion from very high 'Pro mixing board
the #0 to #20 or "L" Low mic
sensitivity or -20 dB attenuation MIC INPUT mode is the
NORMAL setting for these
other, higher (boosted) gain mode should not
be used for quality mic
input purposes (maybe best for dictation, lecture/seminar
low level recording), UNLESS
UNABLE to reach 50% half VU scale or -14 dB
VU with loudest momentary peaks.
USE the Line input with large (diaphragm/capsule)
SETTING TIPS ON NON-STOCK DAT DECKS WITH (OADE
MOD) LOWERED PREAMP GAIN
a message dated 11/16/01 6:43:09 AM Pacific Standard Time, firstname.lastname@example.org
I have been 'studying' your recording tips, so I THINK I
know what to do for
a quality recording. The only thing I'm afraid of is turning
setting ABOVE '4'. I have never had to record above that
level, but I'm
hoping your mics will allow me to go above that, to avoid
think you've got this tip totally BACKWARDS. Setting the
level knob Below #4 or below (for having VU readings about
-12 dB VU) means your mic input to the preamplifier or
the input gain is way too much, and the bass is getting
clipped even if the VU level shows it is not overloading!
Knob settings above #4.5 (to #10 max) means your mic input
level (and setting of the 0 dB and 20 dB attenuate switch)
is totally OK.
reread the http://www.sonicstudios.com/tips.htm page.
Also realize that most people with a DSM pop/rock low
gain mic USUALLY MUST have the M1 DAT deck in the 20 dB
attenuate switch setting for recording amplified club/concert
music, and also remember to use only the MANUAL recording
BECAUSE OADE MODIFIED YOUR DECK TO HAVE LOWER MIC PREAMP
GAIN, YOU WILL find the 0 dB attenuate setting
IS MORE LIKE THE NORMAL (stock -20 dB deck) SETTING, FOR
THIS DECK ONLY. YOU MAY STILL BE OK to use the 20 dB setting
for most loud music concert venues and the loudest of
club type venues.
if you CANNOT get the -12 dB VU average reading with having
#10 LEVEL KNOB (turned full up) with the 20 dB setting,
ONLY THEN USE the 0 dB switch setting, turning the level
knob down (but hopeful not below #4.5) to get about 50%
VU deflections or -12 dB VU average peak readings.
TIPS for more tips on keeping the recording
level adjustment appropriate for the music.
OTHER WORDS, your deck is NOT STOCK (With having the OADE
MOD), so some of the suggestions saying that 20 dB or
LOW sensitivity is the normal DOES NOT ALWAYS APPLY TO
YOUR CURRENT M1 OADE MODIFIED DECK. So, you may have to
boost the mic preamplifier gain to 0 dB setting (which
is a NO-NO on a stock DAT deck for recording not so loud
Rock/Pop venues), but ONLY if the 20 dB setting gives
too little gain/VU levels.
these tips carefully and PRACTICE by going out to record
some really loud club type pop/rock music A FEW TIMES.
Much better to make your mistakes during practice than
mess up during the U2 event. Most large concerts should
actually be a bit to alot louder (and cleaner sounding)
than most club venues, so using the 20 dB deck setting
with nearly full up to #10 level knob is likely the best
loud concert recording setting to start with even with
having the OADE mod, but please be prepared for big events
with having some practice first.
|Maintain Mini-Stereo Jack/Plug Contacts & Strain Relieve Mic Cords
Smaller is Better for some things and not for others.
As portable recording decks, jacks, and plugs get smaller,
the need to compensate for less contact area and spring
force becomes increasingly important to
insure consistent results when recording. Small decks
are dependable as long as the recordist is aware of the
limitations; therefore, some important facts about what’s
not so robust and problematic about the smaller connection
hardware is important to know.
Mini-stereo contact spring pressure is far
less than on 1/4” & XLR type connectors.
residue that’s not always wiped off before plugging-in
will collect inside the jack, and quickly interfere with signal
purity, even generate severe static (mic DC power)
The lighter contact forces of mini-connectors don’t push
aside the film coating of grease and grim as do much larger
connectors. Also realize
that it’s almost impossible to handle a mini-mic. plug without
touching the metal surface, leaving fingerprint residue
on the plug that’s deposited into the mic jack with each
insertion cycle. As each insertion continues
to add more residue, the contacts reach ‘saturation’ and
can no longer push aside this toughening film. Furthermore, contact
corrosion from fingerprint salts (like that of sea water)
eventually eats up the metal when moisture is present. This
produces slightly audible degradation of the signal quality
at best to complete intermittent interruption of delicate
mic. Signals and will ruin the recording in the worst case.
When phantom type power is also supplied to the microphones
through the mic. jack (as with external microphone "Plug-in-Power"
feature common to portable Video, DAT & MiniDisc decks),
highly audible static type noise is the result. This
is especially audible when the microphones plug is only slightly moved by an unsecured mic. cord.
TO MINI-CONNECTOR STATIC NOISE AND INTERMITTENT AUDIO IS AS
Clean & recondition noisy mic. jacks with 91 - 99% pure isopropyl
alcohol. Repeatedly insert a headphone type plug
soaked to the point of dripping (filling the alcohol bottle
cap and dipping only the metal part of the mini-plug works
well) into the mic. Jack until any connection noise disappears.
Monitor the progress with a set of headphones while
the deck is in a record function. Rotating the microphones
plug should not produce audible noise with cleaned and conditioned
contacts. Applying a contact conditioner to already
cleaned plug and jack metal parts (Stereo retailer & Sonic Studios available ProGold
by CAIG Labs works great) once to several times a year will help protect
contacts from corrosion/wear and from producing noise for
much longer between cleanings.
to Tapers Tips Page)
CAUTION IS ADVISED: AVOID PLACING CONTACT CLEANER ON ANYTHING
BUT THE METAL CONNECTOR PARTS; Plastics can be softened,
discolored, and even dissolved! This may actually
coat the very metal contacts intended for cleaning!
Fortunately, deck input jacks are reasonably resistant
to alcohol and most ‘plastic safe’ cleaners when used occasionally
and with care.
WARNING: Never spray anything into the jacks on a deck. Most Minideck jacks are not the enclosed type anymore,
but are open, allowing sprays to go where they can cause
mechanical problems with the mechanical type transport mechanisms
and coat the tape/optical head(s). Use the method
described above with the miniplug, or purchase a special
plastic cleaning brush from CAIG or Sonic Studios (a
tapered shaver/dental plague cleaning brush may also be
|Avoiding The Mini Connector Shortcomings For
DAT Deck Tip
wipe off the mic plug before
plugging-in with a clean cotton
cloth (or shirt) or tissue paper. The plug should be mirror-bright-shiny
clean before making the connection.
for MiniDISC MIC cord securing & General MD recording
photos on the left and far below illustrate the best strategy
for Sony DAT, MD, and portable audio hard disk recording
Secure the mic cord between the deck and the carrying case,
or use Velcro to prevent connection movement noise, spontaneous
unplugging, & input jack damaging strains from occurring.
The input/output cords are both secured with PA-24NJ
preamp's integral Velcro tie.
A more permanent smart right-angle mic. cord bend around the deck is best
produced by carefully heating the entire bend section (a hair
dryer is handy), applying the necessary bend, then let cool
before releasing the bend.
Sharp MD-MT20 minidisc deck has room for just 1 cord securing
the 2 Velcro patches (the hook type) as shown to avoid blocking anything important.
the cord with the bridging strap (the loop type) as shown
Adapters are accessory for powering DSM mics and have options
of also having "Bass Cut" filters.
Input Jack to the PA connects to the DSM mic output Plug.
interface should be kept from disconnection or movement by using
one of the two available moveable cord securing straps as illustrated
here in the two photo tips.
PA's output plug is secured to the deck just like the DSM mic
plug/cord shown in the previous tips.
Are Gold Plated Connectors Naturally Better?
is plated onto a connectors base metal and is a <5
to ~25 micro-inches very thin to extra thick plating;
usually much less than 5 micro-inches is used. It may
be surprising to know that Gold is NOT the best conductor
of electricity, silver is far better, with copper just
behind as the most common materials in use these days.
Gold does make a better and more consistent electrical
contact because it is corrosion resistant to most
everything. But what may really matter the most is what's
UNDERNEATH the Gold plating. Gold is very, very soft
metal and is easily pushed aside leaving the base metal
of the connector to show through in the most used areas,
which is exactly the area where the metal-to-metal electrical
connection takes place.
frequently the underneath base metal on gold plated plugs
is BRASS; this looks a lot like the gold plating until
it tarnishes and gold plates very easily to the brass
metal alloy. In contrast, most NON-Gold plated connectors
have a form of nickel plating (over brass) that is also
very corrosion resistant, but not as corrosion resistant
as gold. However, nickel plating is made thicker than
gold and is a much less soft metal; lasts much much longer
as a plate for sliding contact purposes.
the gold plating is really thin (most usual for consumer
gear), then using just brass underneath allows the connector
to look 'good as gold' in the store, BUT after
getting used a bit, the gold plating will wear through
to expose brass to corrosion.
is the bad news: brass metal surfaces will quickly
corrode to having a very, very hard surface skin
(acts like anodized aluminum that resist further deep
corrosion) that will not conduct electricity.
leaves you with a far worse connection than most anything
you can think of. Mostly leaves you with no connection
until something scrapes down hard on the brass to make
a good but very temporary connection again. So as the
gold wears off, the brass shines through to tarnish; hard
to keep from making anything but very inconsistent and
mostly poor connections. This is the bad news with these
types of gold plated connectors, especially after they
get worn from active cycles of plug and unplug use.
commercial electronics industry also makes use of gold
plating for sliding contacts, BUT ONLY after a 15 to 50
micro-inch plating of NICKEL is first laid down on copper
(PC circuit boards) or brass/steel (as for quality military/commercial
connectors). In this way, as the Gold predictably gets
worn away after repeated working, but there is still a
good nickel plating metal contact underneath. This dual
plating method always insures that some kind of good reliable
electrical contact surface remains after years of active
service. With Gold plate over nickel, the brass or steel
base metals rarely ever wears through the nickel in normal
it is often best NOT to get the gold plated connectors
as they more often DO NOT MAKE A GOOD CONNECTION after
too short a time of use. Better to get more durable nickel
(sometimes made better with silver alloy) types that last
far longer and can be cleaned with alcohol easily. Brass
does not clean well and needs an abrasive material to
scrape down to some newer brass; like using a pencil eraser
or extra fine abrasive grit paper.
the makers of these connectors do not first plate nickel
over the base BEFORE gold is almost a mystery to me, but
go to Radio Shack and take a look at all those gold plated
connector parts. They all seem just Gold plated over Brass;
not good at all. Using Brass as the only base metal seems
to look better when using the usual very thin Gold plating;
you will buy this quicker than the appearance of thin
gold over nickel, it would not be as bright or 'gold looking'
I would guess.
you have gold connectors, then I strongly suggest NOT
using anything abrasive to clean them (at least until
the gold is worn out in critical places), just use pure
91% isopropyl alcohol on a cloth. I suggest using some
ProGold contact conditioner to the cleaned connector to
help keep the brass base metal from wearing through the
gold very quickly.
that which is golden is not necessarily the best connector
for the long run.
Sonic Studios gold plated
connectors are a full 25 micro-inches of gold OVER
50 micro-inches of high quality nickel plate; this
will always provide long life and reliable connections
for many, thousands of cycles and for years of challenging
sheet on connectors and what happens to gold with and without
ProGold treatment is linked to my accessories page at: http://www.sonicstudios.com/access.htm
MUSIC with Bass Filters: Advisory
------------- DAT-Heads Digest Query -----------------
Date: FBI, 21 Jul 2000 18:08:44 -0500
" J V "
Bass filter for older Sonic Studios DSM-6P
looking for a an inline bass roll-off box (preferably
with adjustable settings) that will be fully compatible
with the Sonics DSM-6 P ( the older hardwired power supply
model) , i.e., it can accept a 1/8 inch stereo plug and
can plug into the 1/8 inch mic input on my M-1. I understand
Marcsounds used to carry something similar to this, are
they still around ?
Bass filters for electret are mostly too specialized to
mix and match from different mic models/makes. The unique
driving ability or impedance of a particular mic capsule
AND the input resistance (Impedance) of the deck's input
will greatly effect both the mic's AND the filters performance
and quality factors; the parameters are INTERACTIVE.
other words, mixing is not a good idea in this case
for more than one reason and especially if you care
about getting specific and quality results without needing
to be also extremely lucky.
specific to John's situation, the suggested solution is
to change the hardwired DSM-6P (vintage) version to being
up-to-date with current DSM models. This would allow connection
to any of the current PA powering + Bass filter models
that best fit his particular recording requirement. (SEE
PA powering and bass filter adapter chart on page: http://www.sonicstudios.com/pa_x.htm)
best service now for the updating of older DSM- 6P models
is the low cost DSM mic "Refurbishment" service that
includes the new model form-factor update + diaphragm
clean + new windscreens = mics look and work like a
brand-new-one and can be directly powered by portable
DAT/MD decks and/or a PA. bass filtering adapter.
WHILE ON THIS TOPIC:
seems that "a bit too much that bass filtering" is an
easy thing to do when all you got to do is slide a switch
and viola! ........ there's now less bass in the recording.
BASS Filtering can be a good thing to even up the
overall "tone" balance of a recording AND it also gives
more analog input or recording "headroom" that helps
to enhance the overall resolution of higher frequencies.
other words, you can turn up the REC level a lot more
FOR MIDS AND HIGHS because the strongest (bass) sound
component is now at a much lower deck input level.
Sometimes it's not that you can do it (reduce the
bass content with a filter), but it's really about
knowing WHEN and WHEN NOT and HOW MUCH TO reduce bass
sounds. If the sound is SO loud that your hearing
gets distorted OR if you are prudent in saving your
ears with wearing earplugs (especially when right-up
close to the stacks), you MAY NOT be HEARING the overall
tonal balance of the venue WELL ENOUGH TO MAKING the
most appropriate bass filter selection.
many recordings I've lately heard seem to error on WAY
TOO MUCH BASS FILTERING as to lose most sense of the
real "GUT and emotional FEELing" of the music; this is
big part of the live sound that I personally find important.
However, very "thin sounding recordings" are MORE OFTEN
caused by POST BASS Filtering in a digital sound editing
(DAW) program than by the use of real-time microphone
filtering, but both mechanisms can do equal damage or
benefit to a recording DEPENDING.
'Depending' on your own taste in sound preferences and
'depending' on what's the most important aspects of a
particular music style. For example; Maybe some Metal
Rock styles are most cherished by the majority of their
fans for that 'screaming in-you-face' guitar/vocals style
that is impossible to hear from being buried in massive
bass sounds if played 'straight' on home stereos. Lose
most of the bass by filtering and you'll get the "in-your-face"
guitar/vocal aspect much easier with regular good quality
consumer playback gear. The only problem is it's a bit
on the thin sound side of live, but the more important
aspects of the music is most accessible to fans.
QUESTION: Would you THINK to strip the 'Gut Thumping Bass' sound out of most REGGAE
Well, of course you could, either during the recording
with a mic filter OR afterwards with POST in pure digital
editing. But, before you do it, please try to remember
that a big part of Reggae and African music IS THE POWERFUL
Of Course THERE ARE TIMES when you really NEED to OR really SHOULD (and maybe
ONLY SLIGHTLY) reduce the Bass to achieve a better
balance between a 'live sound' feel and what's going
to work with most speaker playback systems we have
at home or automobile. Just be careful to not take
away so much that the "ambient or live feel" of the
recording is inaccessible by a thin sounding and over
processed sounding recording.
|DSM Questions & Answers
durable are they? Both the mic unit and the wiring.
For instance, is it OK to wrap the cord tight and
get it all into the smaller container? Will the loops
that go around the glasses take a time crush push into position
in the dark without breaking, or should that be done very
Answer: Mic, cord, & rubber loop are more durable
than you might think.
will suggest carefully winding the cord without twisting;
like coiling a hairdryer power cord around dryer body
(like Warren Beatty did in the movie ‘Shampoo’) so the
coiled cord is layered flat without a single twist! This
takes just a little more time and effort to keep the cord
as compact as you want without ever showing a wrinkle;
without a twist.
this manner, the cord can be compactly coiled without
stress. Practice at home with this. (And
untangle that twisted hairdryer cord!)
ALSO, the hinged black plastic capsule ‘pill
box’ in the DSM mic locking hard case IS REMOVABLE;
YOU CAN PLACE JUST THE TWO PICKUPS INSIDE FOR SAFE POCKET
CARRYING. Pull this out and use it often to protect
the mics ‘in transit’ when not mounted on the eyeglasses
It may work better to already have the mics mounted on your eyeglasses
and have them hanging down at chest level in a casual
manner. A dark or dark-patterned shirt or opened
jacket will make the pickups mostly disappear from viewing.
Another technique is to have the pickups secured
under your shirt collar, pulling out to attach later when
seated. A firm, deliberate, and smooth mounting
and assembly effort (avoid hasty actions) is best with
all recording equipment connections and setup; a relaxed
and confident manner will not attract attention or damage
(Back to Q&A) (Back
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What if it starts raining on me and I’m wearing them?
will not harm the mics but, if enough water gets on the
foam windscreen, the sound will be reduced; if on the
inside diaphragm, the sound will be mostly muted until
the mics dry out completely. If it should rain and
your hair is too short to deflect the moisture, keep a
cap with enough of a brim to shade the pickups from wind
Dense fog is usually not a problem unless there is also a wind blowing
directly into the windscreen; this will ‘drive’ moisture
into the foam, might cause sounds to be water attenuated
after a period of time. The WHB windscreen
headband protects all water from reaching the foam and
mic diaphragms but, the headband fabric can get water
saturated to the point where the sound gets attenuated
a little bit ; not a serious problem unless in a soaking
downpour where an umbrella should be employed. Back
concerns the little wind screen will fall off?
4-8 years of steady usage the windscreens can get bit
worn but, none have actually fallen (completely) off even
after 8 years. The mic diaphragms can be cleaned after
3-5 years of usage (suggested $85 refurbish service) and
a new windscreen can be attached at that time. If you
(are the first to!) experience any ‘lifting’ of the
windscreen within two years, the windscreen will be repaired
at no charge. (Back
to Q&A) (Back
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Question: I’m psyched to use them!
I’m just needing a little guidance about care. I’m generally
pretty careful, but when I’m in a hurry (the lights went down
as I’m headed to my seat...) I can be a little reckless...
makes waste’ is a good motto to abide by here!
I well know that feeling and excitement to get the recording equipment
set up and operating while keeping from distracting my
neighbors with my passion for recording AND get it operating
BEFORE the program starts!!! Can’t miss note with
will not damage the mics with reckless abandon (unless
you step on the pickups!) but, you may do damage
to your deck’s input jacks and transport if not ESPECIALLY
very gentle and careful when loading and unloading the
tape; do make sure the lid is ALL THE WAY OPEN until
the latch ‘clicks’ before handling the tape.
It does well to give yourself as much time to set up or much better
to have everything mostly in place and ready before walking
in. I like to have the glasses hanging down on my
chest and connected to the deck in my pocket or equipment
pouch when entering.
already tested that the mic, deck, tape, and connections
worked by doing a test recording at home or before walking
in. (I do this for may own piece of mind and nerves).
I do get to my seat, I start by pulling the deck out (within
3-5 minutes of the venue start), turning it on
and pushing the REC button ONCE only for setup
standby (not in pause II mode yet), double check
that I’ve got the deck in MANUAL LEVEL (NOT
AUTO), MIC SENS in (L), adjust the LEVEL knob
up (4-10) until getting a definite VU indication, and
put on the glasses ‘just before the program starts’ when
everyone’s attention is mostly on the stage (even when recording with complete permission, a taper can be distracting
to those around enjoying the show so try to be considerate).
To Record, (TCD-D7 & D8/D100) now push the PAUSE (II) button TWICE
to have the deck actually load the tape AND start recording.
Make sure the deck is still NOT IN PAUSE and is really recording by
pushing the display Counter MODE button until the either
REM (remaining tape time) or ABS (absolute)
time indicator shows; this will show 00:00:01 seconds
ticking off (up or down) if the tape is actually in motion.
will see the 00:00:00 time display changing where before
in pause it was not. You now are making a recording;
occasionally check the deck’s VU but, mostly enjoy the
the venue starts, adjust for maximum VU peak at around
-12 VU and leave it there unless the show gets louder
later on; then leave it there unless it later gets louder
NOTE: The D100/M1 (with more accurate VU over D7/8) & SBM-1 allow for fewer
quality compromises when recording to close to maximum
0 dB (100%) VU peaks, but care must be taken to avoid
Best to be conservative with average VU readings
of -12dB (50% full scale) with occasional signals
reading no higher than -4 dB (~75%) MAX VU peaks in
most cases. This is good advice for getting cleanest
sounding recordings on BOTH DAT and MiniDisc recorders.
You can look up and down without much affecting the recorded sound but
avoid looking to the left or right if possible; this
will affective the recording. Grooving with the
music with side to side or ‘bopping’ head motions is completely
acceptable and recommended when appropriate.
Avoid being a distraction: When everyone is bopping
and somebody is like a statue, guess who stands out?
The statue is distracting to those around you
gets noticed every time in a crowd of bopping people!
So, get with the show like everyone else and
take home a great recorded personal memory.
getting alcohol into any of the moving part’s bearings,
gears, and cams as this would dilute the important
lubrication for these parts; never spray any solvent
into a tape mechanism to avoid removing or displacing
lubrication from and onto other areas. Always
use the smallest alcohol holding foam swab that still
allows a decent cleaning area and precision placement
to only the areas within and concerning the tape path.
Do be careful with the pinch roller and especially
the capstan bearing to avoid running alcohol down the
capstan and into the bearing lubrication area; invert
the deck if possible to change the direction of gravity
fed runoff to be away from this bearing.
other words, always use as little cleaning
solution as possible to avoid contamination from solvent
runoff into lubricated parts areas; this can
bleed lubrication from where it needs to
be and run it to where it should never
'foam tipped' swabs absorb too much solvent for safe
cleaning. Instead, wet a lint free cotton
cloth placed over the swab or handle for more sensitive
area cleaning; i.e., capstan spindle/pinch roller.
most important areas of maintenance remain the rotating
or stationary heads; less frequently, and on very
used decks...the rubber pinch roller (cleaned &
reconditioned with CAIG Labs RBR product).....capstan
spindle.....and lastly......tape path guides are much
less likely to be of any problem; best serviced with
the occasional dry fabric tape mentioned.
(Back to Page Top)
|THREE BASIC TYPES OF CLEANING TAPES
seems to be (3)three distinct type cleaning tapes sold
today for maintaining R-DAT machines. There's the very
common dry abrasive type, the wet-dry fabric type, and
the dry fabric type (DIC DAT). Service
shops generally recommend the first (abrasive) category
listed below but, there are proponents who argue that
any one type is superior to the others.
real reason for using a cleaning tape is to prevent
or remove recording/playback head-clogs; the effects
are usually noticeable as a loss of high frequency resolution
and/or "stuttering". (Stuttering is most noticeable
during playback of a good recording when dropout error-correction
circuits cannot keep up with lost data due to head clogs
that force the head away from close contact with the
clogging also effects the recording process in similar
manner but errors are permanently tape recorded.
Regular cleaning and good quality recording tapes is
good preventative maintenance for all tapers.
|COMMON ABRASIVE DAT CLEANING TAPES
first, and most common used, is the abrasive type that
utilizes a mildly abrasive tape good for over 100 cleanings.
The tape removes deposits that clog heads by
a polishing action. This type of cleaning tape will
not be very effective in removing particulate or residues
from other than the rotating recording/playback heads
but, seems effective most times in curing a bad case of
DAT "stutter". Some service shops recommend regular use
of an abrasive cleaner claiming increased head life! The
idea here seems to be that recording heads need a regular
aggressive re-polishing cycle to reform the micro-sized
head surface shape or to remove a head clogging 'hard-glazed
tape residue' ; perhaps at the expense of increased DAT
technicians are also quick to point out that regular
DAT recording tape is abrasive anyway; therefore, R-DAT
heads (like VCR's) are actually constantly "cleaning"
themselves in a wear down process and really shouldn't
need cleaning if quality recording tape that's in good
condition (not worn out) is used.
personal experience, while limited, has lead me to handle
each DAT deck individually;even if I have two of same
model; one may regularly develop clogs, while the "identical"
other DAT rarely needs maintenance. The variations
of how each deck handles tape within the tape path (with
high tension, normal tension, or too little tension, etc.)
will vary with the R-DAT head's ability to write-read
the tape, normally or excessive wear of tape, self-clean
or accumulate clogging tape debris, and either graceful/even
head wear without clogging or increasingly misshapen the
R-DAT heads with use, displaying frequently clogging during
question still remains; are abrasive tapes good for your
DAT machine? Answer: Maybe, sometimes, and
yes occasionally; depending on the deck. The Dry-Abrasive
type cleaning tapes are somewhat thicker and less flexible
than normal tape and as such, will wear the R-DAT heads
differently than what's occurring with normal tapes. This
may be a benefit for those decks that excessively accumulate
clogs due to a misshapen head that's in need of re-polishing
to a different and perhaps better shape. However,
it still needs to be determined if the abrasive cleaning
tape is making the R-DAT head shape better or worse; careful
evaluation of the frequency of clogs after 'polishing'
|WET-DRY CLEANING TAPES
cleaning accessories for VCR's, the wet-dry cleaning tape
consists of a fabric tape with or without access holes
in the cassette shell for adding drops of cleaning fluid.
When cleaning fluid (usually pure alcohol/Freon) is applied,
sections of the fabric tape are "wet" with other sections
left dry. When the tape is "played", the entire tape path
and the rotating heads receive alternate solvent cleaning
and dry scrubbing action.
wet-dry type tapes seem quite capable of thorough DAT
cleaning but, the deck must be left to "dry-out" before
regular operation. Some opponents to this type
argue that any kind of evaporating solvent fluid especially
Freon always causes water vapor moisture to condense
inside the deck. Pure condensed (distilled) water
is harmless and will dry-out without consequence unless
salt deposits (perhaps left from an excursion to a windy
coastal beach or someone's fingerprint) are also present
inside the deck. Corrosion to delicate heads,
to the many highly polished transport components (and
to PCB connectors) occur if salt residues get water-wet
and stay moist for just a short period of time. Quickly
drying the deck's inside with a hair dryer does help
prevent this and may be necessary depending on the use/maintenance
history of a particular deck.
of dry cleaning tapes argue that any moisture in the cleaning
process is not worth the risks of transport corrosion
and that dry cleaning tapes do a much safer job of deck
|NON-ABRASIVE DRY FABRIC TAPE
The last cleaning tape type is made of a fabric that grabs dirt particles
from the entire tape path while scrub-cleaning the R-DAT
heads. The dry fabric
is just as effective in maintaining decks against clogging
and as just about as effective as both abrasive and wet-dry
types in removing clogs; depending on the nature of what's
actually doing the clogging.
the clog's cause is a thick film coating (or label adhesive)
on the front surface of the head, the wet-dry fabric
cleaning tape might have a better chance of alternately
dissolving (wet section) and scrub-removing (dry section)
the contamination away. Alternately, if the nature
of clogging is a misshapen head that's "scooping" up
and retaining tape particle material, then the abrasive
type cleaning tape may do better job by "reforming" the
head's surface shape with its accelerated wearing down
personal preference to DAT deck maintenance is to use
a dry non-abrasive (DIC DAT type) cleaning tape (available from Sonic Studios for $14.50) after 5-10 hours of deck
operation and especially before important recording sessions.
Thus insuring that I've done all to be done to keep my
deck's entire tape path clean working properly without
accelerated head wear-down or inducing corrosion through
In summary, use a non-abrasive fabric type cleaning tape
for normal "entire tape path" deck maintenance and for the
occasional clog; keep an abrasive cleaning tape handy as
a last resort" for really stubborn or frequently clogging
PLEASE NOTE: Both
dry and wet/dry fabric cleaning tapes should not be rewound
due to the fabric fiber breaking down after the first
pass. The results of multiple fabric tape rewinds
can create lint and dust inside the tape path that may
also cause clogs.
ALWAYS KEEP A SPARE CLEANING TAPE HANDY
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