I have never been a big fan of Dolly Parton (“Mix Interview,” August 2002). I simply have not been exposed to much of her music. But, I will tell you this: I am a big fan of the woman. Her words ring so true that they are music to my soul.
Santa Monica, Calif.
THE VOICE OF REASON
Paul Lehrman's July 2002 “Insider Audio” column generated a lot of affirmative head-nodding all around the audio industry. The letters started arriving last month. Here are a couple more that include advice on how to improve your own reception.
RADIO? GO DIGITAL
I thought Paul Lehrman's “Dumbing Down the Dial” piece (“Insider Audio,” July 2002) was great. I work at a Class-A commercial station in Philadelphia. We put out 340 watts at 1,000 feet and have some of the same problems as WUMB — we are in the main antenna farm outside of Center City. Unfortunately, we have a single Class-B, WMMR, on 93.3 atop 1 Liberty Place in Center City. We don't have very good building penetration, and many of the new generation of tuners are overloaded from WMMR. We are the only commercial Class-A in the city, and we pretty much drop off the dial in some areas. Grady Moates is actually the chief engineer of our Boston stations. I'm going up to assist him with our syndicated morning show's Boston broadcast later this month.
I just wanted to let you know about a very good, inexpensive tuner. Blaupunkt's DigiCeiver, which is packaged in most of their higher-end receivers. The lowest model with DigiCeiver is the Heidelberg CD51 and costs around $300 in stores. You can also usually find them new on eBay for $199. Make up a nice wood box, put it on a decent PS, attach it to your roof antenna and you're in business. The audio is also fantastic. I'm going with this setup in my house after dealing with the same problems you've had. The car stereo format will actually work out well because I can run the preamp outs directly to my McIntosh MC75s and play CDs, too! Adjusting the station's processing will hopefully get much easier.
I'm fairly new to radio engineering. I was a recording engineer before working here. I still always try to catch your articles. They always seem to really be on target with the new issues that present themselves daily. Keep up the great work.
RADIO? GO OLD-FASHIONED
Paul Lehrman's July “Insider Audio” article struck a definite chord with me. I live in Vancouver, BC, where there are two college radio stations and one nonprofit community station; these contribute 95% of the interesting music and commentary on the air here. At work, our staff couldn't receive these stations on a dilapidated boombox, so I went looking for a good tabletop radio. Lo and behold, it was very hard to find a radio alone; almost everything except the ultracheap units had multiple features (CDs, etc.) that we didn't need. Even the tuners in the expensive retail units looked like junk.
What I ended up doing was buying two nice old tuners from a thrift shop (one an Akai analog AT-K02, and another a digital unit with LED displays), wiring in a ⅛-inch stereo jack in the back of each, buying two Altec Lansing AVS200 computer speaker systems and plugging them in. Voila! We got awesome reception, with cool old-school electronics. The total cost? Fifteen to 20 dollars Canadian for each tuner, and approximately $30 for each pair of computer speakers. That's about $50 here, which probably equals $13.25 U.S.
And by the way, these computer speakers sound better than any tabletop radio I've recently listened to.
FYI RE: MBHO
Thank you for including the MBHO 440 and 603 microphone series in the “You Can Never Have Enough Mics” feature in August 2002 Mix. The article mentions that MBHO is charging a surcharge for matched (stereo) pairs. This is not true. Unlike most of our competition, MBHO does not charge any surcharge or fees for matched pairs.
I KNOW YOU, RIDER
In reference to Mark Frink's Live Mix column, “Your Tech Rider, Part 1” (July 2002 issue), I have one thing to say to Mark Frink: Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, and, oh, by the way, did I say thanks?
After working rental sound for festivals and the like for way too many years, and most recently as the technical director/FOH guy at a PAC/road house, I have seen my share of riders drawn on cocktail napkins, drawn with crayons, prepared quite nicely but five years old, or prepared in detail with all of the wrong names. (“Oh, he left two years ago.”) And then there's the road manager who tells me on the phone when I advance the show that the band will be happy with “whatever I've got,” but then when he hits the door, he wants to know where his 10 wedges, two sidefills, whoppin' drum box and eight monitor mixes are.
If you ever have any questions on how to prepare a rider, just take a look at the riders prepared by touring Broadway shows. They are sometimes 25 to 30 pages. The perfect rider/plot lies somewhere between that and the cocktail napkin. The advent of e-mail, PDFs and such are slowly making my job easier, but only when you road guys actually use these wonderful tools.
Technical director/FOH engineer
Ford Theater at The Honeywell Center
UNDERRATED? NO, A CLASSIC!
I'd like to thank you for your coverage of Neil Finn. I've always thought him to be criminally underrated, even though he's been recording beautiful music for more than 20 years. His new album is as excellent as anything he's done — thanks for giving us a glimpse at the creative process behind it! How about a “Classic Track” on his biggest song, “Don't Dream It's Over”?
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