Our friends at Intelligent Machinery have released a new, free compilation to which I have contributed a track. The premise of the compilation was to build a track using a collection of arbitrarily truncated 4 second audio clips. This is the second volume in a series entitled “Pieces.” The first volume, to which I also contributed a track, can be found here. I haven’t yet listened to the other contributions, as the download just finished while I have been typing, so have no tips on what to expect. Noisy ambient-like things very probably, I imagine. The SIGHUP track is named “On Thursday.”

In an effort to effectively deal with that whole “five wall warts where only four will fit” situation, I’ve ordered one of these:

Powersquid Surge Protectors

I’ll report back once it arrives on how it works out, although I foresee no problems. Too bad it didn’t have six connectors instead of just five, that would have covered most scenarios I’d throw at it for my live set up. But five will do under most circumstances. Right now I’m using a really big power bar that has two extra wide spaces for wall warts, but usually it’s still a little tight to get everything in.

I have three criteria that are always on top of my list when looking for electronic music gear, especially effects. They are: full stereo signal path; portability (i.e. small and designed for non-rack tabletop use); and (a little lower down the list) 1/4″ TRS-style input/output jacks.

It’s amazing to me just how hard it is to find stuff in any given category of hardware effect or processor that meets these three requirements. There are of course things here and there that do match my criteria , but then audio and build quality may not be up to snuff and there likely isn’t much in the way of alternatives.

The few people I discuss gear with regularly have been subjected to many rants by me over the years about this subject (including several in past blog entries), as it’s the one thing that drives me crazy about the music gear market. Sure it’s a selfish rant, since effects manufacturers mostly cater to guitarists (mono only) or DJs (RCA jacks and lots of blinking lights), and I fall outside of those two categories and somewhere in the “mostly insignificant niche” demographic. My hope is that if I and my few dedicated like-minded brethren talk about using portable outboard gear for electronic music on as many blogs and forums as possible, eventually we’ll convince enough laptop musicians to mix and match hardware with software so that we can build up a critical mass of demand. On a related tangent, go buy lots of Jomox effects, since both the M-Resonator and T-Resonator match my three criteria perfectly and they are really creative effects.

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with trying to find a compressor that is stereo, portable, offers at minimum a specific set of parameters (ratio, threshold, attack, release, output gain, and in a perfect world input gain/drive), and that has a bit of mojo. Closest thing I’ve found is a DBX MC6, which is now discontinued and I’ll likely have to subject myself to the great pains of eBay to get one. There’s also the FMR compressors (RNC and RNLA), but I’m dubious about the presence of mojo and I only really want a compressor in this case for extreme effects use. I suspect that the FMR boxes are best used as straightforward compressors. Now that I’ve pimped Jomox, I’m really hoping J├╝rgen makes a dynamics processor modelled on the Resonator series. The differential envelope follower he uses would be super cool in a little portable compressor/expander/distortion box.

I’ve mostly made do with what’s available to me, using RCA to TRS cables or mono effects sitting on a mono send buss (don’t get me started about portable full-stereo mixers), but in some case it’s a pain in the ass, especially if you want to effectively maintain a stereo field.

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