Marcy Street Water Drum


Walking down Marcy Street I recognized the sound right away. For years I walked past this water drain and enjoyed the sound. I stopped and recorded a little bit of it. Steady 106 BPM.

Sugai Ken

Be Sure to Listen to This at Japanese Teatime by Sugai Ken, on Bandcamp.
Interesting music based on field recordings.
Check out the pricing!!! $12 for the CD, which includes the digital album… or $722 if you want to buy only the digital files. He writes:

The concept of this work and digital sales do not go well together. Please buy it on CD. This is the sincere wish of the label.

I checked – this album is not on Apple Music either.
I applaud him for going his own way.

Sound can blunt pain

A fascinating new study has shed light on the phenomenon of using sound for pain relief. Using state-of-the-art brain-imaging techniques an international team of researchers has uncovered the neural mechanism by which sound reduces pain sensitivity, and surprisingly, low volumes were more effective than turning the music up loud.

Sound can blunt pain in an unexpected way

play it low and play it slow…

Dolby Atmos

Have any of you used it? Did you use the speaker array or headphones for either mixing or listening? The speaker array for Dolby Atmos mixing sounds insane. This is the setup at a studio called Blackbird – don’t know the studio, found it on the web. It is called a 9.1.6 setup = three speakers in front + three on either side x subwoofer x six speakers overhead. Beside a cost of $30k+ I imagine there would be serious upkeep as well as those speakers would have to be calibrated regularly.
I don’t like having to sit still in one spot in order to properly hear something. I am much more interested in doing something with, and for, headphones. Apparently that is something that became possible last year. I have listened to some Atmos mixes and was left a little underwhelmed. Would like to hear about your reaction to it.

Gave another listen to some Atmos mixes, using wired headphones plugged into my lappie, and some are really pretty impressive…


Steve left this link in the comments. Insight from an audio engineering perspective. Yikes. I imagine a lot will happen in the next few years. At this point most people probably prefer listening with headphones… plus the streaming companies will want to differentiate themselves and offer higher quality content.

This morning I listened to a few Dolby Atmos examples that I downloaded to my phone. I used the AirPods Max to see whether Bluetooth would be able to deliver the sound from the larger files… and it clearly could not. I heard more drop-outs during that walk today than I had heard during the entire time I’ve had the headphones. The bottleneck is clearly Bluetooth itself.

Capturing the Guitar

I have written about my guitar sound before. Here is a post from 2010 and here is a post from 2019. This will be a more comprehensive post with more photos.

The microphone’s position has not changed in over twenty years. Tape marks where the chair needs to be, should it be accidentally moved.

The microphone is a Neumann M-149, which I have used since 1999 – following the loss of the previous Neumann. As you can see I tend to stick with something I like. I don’t feel the need to experiment and am rather loyal to things that work. I own only two Flamenco guitars, which is very unusual, and have only used one of those two for the last five years. I generally prefer depth over variety. I would rather be very intimately familiar with one guitar than be vaguely familiar with a hundred.

One photo shows the back of the M-149 which shows that the bass roll-off is set to 40Hz. There is also a photo that shows the mic pattern setting on the front of the microphone. 

From the microphone the analog signal travels to a Martech MSS-10 microphone pre-amp. Sadly Martinsound no longer makes the MSS-10, but luckily I have two in case something happens to one of them. In 1999 we rated a number of mic pre-amps and I wrote about that test here. The MSS-10 is by far the nicest mic pre-amp for the flamenco guitar that I have ever heard. When we listened to it the three of us – Jon, engineer Gary, and I – immediately preferred it over all others tested. From the MSS-10 the analog signal travels to the Digidesign 192 HD Interface that converts the analog signal to a digital one. I use the DigiDesign Reverb One plugin on the guitar, preferring a dark, but longer reverb. I put an EQ on the reverb, removing much of the lower frequencies of the reverb as they muddy the waters in my opinion. The guitar EQ is a GML (George Massenburg Labs) software plugin. I use it to dip out a frequency of my guitar that sounds boxy and to add a very small amount of presence. 

That’s it. The analog equipment – microphone and mic pre-amp – is expensive, but the digital side is not. I just looked up the Reverb One plugin and it retails for $300. The GML software EQ is no longer available. 

When considering a guitar sound one should not forget the guitar itself, the type of strings, the player’s way of holding the guitar – some players choke their guitar by holding it too tight – and, of course, the nail treatment and how the strings are struck. There are so many variables that it is good to go step by step.


Today, Saturday, I added four screenshots to the viewer. The first screenshot shows the EQ setting for my Blanca guitar when playing a melody. The second shows the EQ setting for my Negra when playing rhythm. I start with two EQ settings for each guitar:
There is a setting for playing rhythm – anything that’s not the main melody. This setting only removes a low frequency that every guitar has when one places the microphone relatively close. This becomes a problem when playing multiple rhythm guitars because that low-end builds up. A second setting, for the melody, removes a little less of the lower frequencey and adds a little bit of a high frequency. I look for a sweet spot where I can add a little bit of treble that sounds smooth and silky. Over time I collect more EQ settings for each guitar because the guitar can subtly change according to string wear or humidity.

The next screenshot shows one of the EQs for reverb that filters out much of the sound below 150 hertz. The last screenshot shows the One Reverb setting I prefer for all of my guitars. It is called “Dark Concert Hall” and I have used it for two decades.