Spirit Grooves Blogs

Published on March 26, 2014


It is never,
What it is about,
But always about,
What it is …

The clarity of,
This moment.

Notes: Seems to be about all I can offer these days is a poem (this one on Vipassana – insight meditation), a photo, and a brief account of what is occupying my days just now, which is:

It is still very cold (3 degrees out) as I write this). Since the heat is up in the studio, I worked there yesterday with two great sound engineers, Bryan Heany, the manager of Western Sound Studio at Western Michigan University, and good friend and award-winning producer Ian Gorman, who runs his own studio (La Luna Recording & Sound), both from Kalamazoo, Michigan.

I was working on the video side of things, but once Bryan and Ian arrived I switched over to helping them with the sound. It was more fun and they welcomed an extra hand. For starters, we added a snake with 16-channels of XLR connectors and 4 1/4-inch TRS returns to the big 'live' room. We have four live rooms. This brings the main room to 32 input channels and 8 TRS returns for the room. For those of you who don't know, a studio snake looks like it sounds, a big black cable about an inch thick and fifty feet long that carries around a hundred wires inside it that allows musicians to plug their instruments, microphones, etc. into it in the 'live' room (on one end), and have the sound engineer access all of these inputs in the control room.

Snakes are big and heavy and we don't want them running all over the place, where folks can trip over them and so on. So what was involved is taking down suspended ceiling boards, carefully cutting into cold-air-returns (galvanized-steel) duct work and running the snakes between floors, which can be a little bit tricky.

Aside from the above snake, we ran a second 24-XLR snake from the control room to the drum room, plus we rededicated a couple of other snakes, and so on. Now what remains is to connect all those snakes (four in all) to patch bays so they all can be controlled.

A patch bay (also called a jackfield) is like one of those old-fashioned phone-operator switch boards, where you plug in a cord to connect two people, only in this case we connect a particular instrument with a particular recording track. Our patch bay has 96 pairs (192 cables) that connect all of the instruments, headphones, microphones, etc. to the control room. Just imagine that many cables running across the floor. The snake combines all those wires into one large cord, and the snakes run into the control room where all those wires then fan out and get plugged into the patch bay. By moving the plugs around in the patch bays, rather than restringing cords, almost any combination of links can be established.

Anyway, probably more than you wanted to know, but that's what we were working on. We are also redesigning the control booth to get more room and better feng-shui. Around 7:00 PM we broke for dinner and had pizza and roasted root vegetables that my wife Margaret put together. My granddaughter Emma and her mom Anne were also with us, not to mention two dogs looking for pizza crusts, and they know that I am an easy touch. After that, Bryan and Ian went back to the studio and I went to bed, having gotten up before midnight that morning. I was beat.

We will be back at it today when everyone gets up this morning. It is 12:30 AM right now and, unfortunately, I am already up, but will try to get more sleep when I can.

There you have it, all the news I have.