Live Sound

TravelWise: THE CRACK AUDIO TRAVEL SQUAD

Let's face it: Just as the paperless office turned out to be a myth, so did the notion that digital audio technology would give us more free time and 5/01/2000 8:00 AM Eastern

Let's face it: Just as the paperless office turned out to be a myth, so did the notion that digital audio technology would give us more free time and let us work from anywhere. If anything, the globalization of the entertainment business is putting all of us on more planes, trains and automobiles than ever before.

To help you find your way, the "Mix Business Quarterly" is pleased to announce the formation of the Crack Audio Travel Squad (CATS, an elite club that includes these founding members:

* Ed Cherney (1999/100,000 miles, just hit 1.5 million miles lifetime)

* Michael Brauer (three-year average of 60,000 miles a year)

* Al Schmitt (1999/75,000 miles, million-miler lifetime)

* Gary Paczosa (1999/100,000 miles)

* Chuck Ainlay (1999/30,000 miles)

* And this writer (1999/135,000 miles; 1.2 million miles lifetime)

NOBODY SAW ME DO ITCATS charter member Michael Brauer traveled even more before he started a family recently, and he learned that there are pieces of useful pro audio gear that don't show up in the magazines. "I've been pretty lucky over the years in terms of my gear mostly showing up in one piece," he says. "But there have been enough incidents to make me take some other steps. Several years ago, I got this device called a Shock Watch Systems MAG-3500, a shock data recorder that mounts to your flight cases and actually records the G forces of impacts. You get the data-time, date and force amount-from a little printer you hook into it at the end of a trip. So many people handle your gear while you're traveling, from the cargo guys to the airline employees to the studios, and no one wants to take responsibility when you finally get it open and find damage. With this device, you know exactly where it was when it got hit, and nobody can argue with that."

Brauer has had the warning decals for the devices (he has one for each of his three cases) ripped off his containers a few times, apparently by transit personnel. As a result, he had large plastic "Shock Watch" warning plaques made up for his flight cases and welded them on. "They've seen that device before, and it makes them think twice, so it's worth the money," he says. Visit www.shockwatch.com if you're interested.

A less costly solution to items disappearing from racks in transit-and a great anecdote, to boot-is how slide guitar master David Lindley's band used to keep their gear safe in certain Third World regions by stenciling the phrase "Peligroso! El Rayo-X!" on the sides of the flight cases. It not only scared off would-be thieves and overly curious airport personnel but also provided the title for his first solo record.

BUT I'M NOT WORKINGCertain countries-particularly those with high unemployment rates-are concerned that anyone coming to their shores may be there to take work away from the locals. In the UK, work visas for recording engineers are virtually impossible to get, notes Chuck Ainlay. "Just tell them you're here for a vacation," he says. "You're not taking work away from anyone-in reality, you're providing more work for the local studio industry. And besides, if you're working with the right people, it's like a vacation anyway."

IT'S JUST TAPE!Al Schmitt was returning to the States from an overseas session a few years ago when he was stopped at customs by inspectors who tried to charge him duty on the 2-inch tapes he was bringing back-at a dollar a foot! "We had to call supervisors over and explain to them what the tapes were and that we had taken them with us out of the country in the first place," recalls Schmitt. "When I can, I prefer to ask the record company to ship the tapes. Not only because it's easier than carrying them but also to limit my liability if anything should happen to them."