Be suspicious of any technology that requires walls

Technology in the studio is a tool, not the endgame, although some people think collecting technology is the essence of studio work (but that’s another topic).

A good craftsman knows how his tools work and works to maintain those tools, especially if those tools are expensive and hard to replace. No, you don’t need to necessarily know how to program in C+ or repair the anti-alias filter on your converters, but EVERY TOOL REQUIRES MAINTENANCE. It’s like being a guitar player and not knowing how to change the strings.

This brings us to today’s lesson:

Be suspicious of any technology that requires walls. If you can fix it, modify it or hack it yourself, that is a good sign.

We, as recording studio owners, engineers, producers, or whoever, use technology to get everything done, from recording the drums to mastering the finished product. Used to be, all engineers were able to clean & align their tape machine, remove channel strips and troubleshoot problems, and disassemble a microphone to find the problem, even if they couldn’t fix it themselves, they’d know where the problem was.

Things are drastically different today. Seems like many engineers don’t even know how their own gear is connected in their own studio. Now, this is interesting because now there’s a whole new side business of individuals who troubleshoot, fix, and un-screw-up what the last guy messed up. Not a bad gig, but it’s kind of like diet & weight-loss products today. We didn’t need those products 50 years ago. We see a need for them today.

There’s a whole offshoot of musicians and studio-types that like to tinker with their gear. I’m one of them. I’m not taking my Mbox apart and re-engineering the inputs or anything, but I like to take things apart. I like to take things apart so much I have a subscription to Make Magazine. Highly recommended for those of you who like to void warranties.

I encourage anybody to start prodding around your gear. It doesn’t take that much to get started. Wanna start with something small? Open your computer up and poke around. If you get lost, Google something like “computer insides” or “basic computer repair”. Find a video. There’s videos on how to fix ANYTHING you want to fix or poke around in. Seriously. Once you get comfortable with that, maybe you wanna try your microphone or amplifier.

We’re in a world where it’s becoming impossible for anyone to work on their own gear (as an auto mechanic). I think that’s bad news, because so many of the greatest inventions we use in the studio today came from guys tinkering around their own gear (Les Paul, The Beatles, George Massenburg). There’s always been this tendency to take something and find you own uses for it, instead of just using it for its intended purpose, and we’re losing it.


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