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send me the bill
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the blame
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robert bobby
doll house
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amazingly life-like
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tascam porta-two repair
kurzweil key fix
squire amp buzz fix
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02/06/16

While building a box, I've been transferring some old studio cassettes to digital.

box

Cassette tape was my first recording medium, and it got to the point where I was bouncing tracks between machines to add overdubs. Some of these tapes represent partially completed songs, and that's fun to hear now, because I'm familiar with the finished product- for better or worse.

The tapes which range from high quality stuff to K-Mart to answering machine tape have held up remarkably well, considering that some are more than 30 years old. Most have been taped over several times. I used to be so skint that I had to scrounge for tape money. It was a big deal to come home with 6 quality 90 minute blanks!

But what's the point of transferring this stuff? Well, there were a lot of song ideas that never got finished, and now they have a certain retro appeal. Plus there are things I've totally forgotten about that I am glad to hear again. My cassette phase covered a lot of ground, from punk rock to experiments with tape loops to drum box and synth based New Wave, with acoustic singer/songwriter all along the way. Good times.
02/04/16

I'm running an experiment here in the studio. A while back I needed to isolate Oliver's guitar amp on a song he was playing on for Mr. Bobby. We were recording his (literally) steel guitar simultaneously acoustically and through the amp, and, what with my one-big-room concept here at Steam Powered, I needed to provide some acoustic separation between the two. I ended up with the amp in the back of my car, parked in a bay in the studio. It worked plenty fine.

Now I am attempting to build the equivalent of the back of my car in the studio, or something even better so I can isolate a guitar amp without the car. At first I wanted to make it out of concrete, but a few quick calculations showed that a suitable box would weigh over 800 lbs. So it became a wooden box...

box

...big enough for any of my smaller guitar amps. (Gee, I hope I left enough room in there for a microphone!)
The box gets all kinds of braces on the outside to help make it stiffer. I realize that these braces aren't running in the ideal direction, but one of the things about design is making compromises. The braces will serve a second function...

box

...which will be as supports to float the inner box inside another box.

box

There will be no hard connection between the inner and outer boxes.

I used to not know any better, but for this project I am making measurements so I can test the design of the boxes and the placement of absorptive materials. Here's a test setup, using a regular loud speaker in the box as a sound source.

box

I made a baseline set of sound level measurements with the inner and outer box doors off, then I attached the inner door and made a second set.

box

I haven't permanently attached the front frame and door yet, because I am working out details of the hindge I will use, and also because the loading of damping material is a lot easier without it being there. It will look something like this...

box

...and be on casters, so I can push it around the place.

The test results of the inner box have been fair, I guess. I have from -31 dB at 8 kHz to around -12 dB at 250 Hz. It's unclear why there is so much variation, but I think I need to brace the inner box better. A foam lining does help at those lower mid frequencies somewhat. Anyway, big fun, and preliminary tests with the outer door clamped in place have given me an additional -30 dB at 63 Hz, so that's exciting!