President/Editor/Publisher: Kerry J Haps
Vice-President: Michael Kolar
Secretary: Chris Cwiak

Volume 24 Number 11

November 2009

EARS holds a Town Hall Meeting

at Stereophonic Studios

3050 N. Western Ave., Chicago

Tuesday, November 24th, 7:30pm


Hey Hey!

This month, Marshall Terry and Stu Kaletsch are opening their Stereophonic Studios to host what's sure to be another memorable EARS event. There's never a shortage of strong opinions around EARS (especially during an election) and it's high time we set aside a night to let everyone have a nice, civilized discussion. (I can dream, can't I?) It also happens that we're just plain hesitant to schedule anything else on the night of a contentious election. (Is there any other kind here?) The election results will be tallied at the top of the meeting, between 7:30 and 8:00 PM, as promised, while we have a bite and a drink and a moment to catch up. After that, we'll call the meeting to order and you can feel free to present yourself in any way you feel appropriate and offer any concern or suggestion you'd like. Whoever's elected or re-elected president will begin the next year knowing what the people want. MT and Stu are providing typical EARS refreshments and asking only that we bring our own chairs. I'm additionally asking that we act in a way becoming of a group of professionals and respectful of their hospitality. May level heads prevail! 

From 90/94 Eastbound: Take exit 45b, then a Left on Belmont followed by a Right on Western Ave and the second Right, Barry Ave. Pull through the big gate on your left, and park anywhere in the back. It’s behind American Heritage Fireplace.

From 90/94 Westbound: Take exit 45c (Belmont), and take a Right. From there, follow the same as above.

Or from local streets: If you're not doing either of the above, it's notable that you can only turn on Barry Ave going *South* on Western Ave. If you're heading North on Western, be sure to not go over the big bridge (stay on the 'Local' street on your Right), and make a U-turn under the bridge. Barry Ave (and the American Heritage sign) is then just there on your right."

However you get there, be sure to go through the gate and around back, where parking and the EARS meeting should be easy to find. 

See ya there. -KJH

Election Time!

It’s time for the annual EARS election. According to the Bylaws, nominations for president of EARS were held at the September meeting. Yours truly, Kerry J Haps was nominated again by Danny Leake and the esteemed Blaise Barton was nominated by David Moss. The second step in the process was the ballot going out in the October EARDrum and the chance for the candidates to address the EARS membership at the October meeting. As Blaise was out of town, candidates' statements were sent out via email. You should have already received statements from the two presidential candidates, along with an endorsement of each (Treasurer Eric Roth endorsing Blaise Barton and former President Danny Leake endorsing Kerry J Haps). 

Current leadership along with the rest of the Steering Committee have done our best to make this a fair election, insuring that both candidates have as equal access to communicate with our membership as possible while still protecting our members' personal contact info. Initially the plan was that my opponent and any endorsees could send to the member list via our secretary, Chris Cwiak, the longest serving, most loyal to EARS of any of us. Midstream, the Steering Committee deemed that Mr. Barton should be given the Membership contact info directly. (Watch for an effort soon to poll all members for permission to publish their info in a directory.) Secretary Cwiak and former President Hudson Fair were asked to serve as election judges. Email votes have been directed to Secretary Cwiak, who will bring printouts of all emailed votes to the meeting. Treasurer Eric Roth has agreed to keep any dues or votes received via the P.O. box unopened, check one last time just before the meeting, and bring it all to be opened at the meeting. 

Nonetheless, this being Chicago afterall, we've had our moments of drama, but it's all been dealt with as quickly and efficiently as possible and I believe we should be able to proceed. 

As the bylaws specify dues being "due by the last Tuesday in October" and our working interpretation is that only payments received after July 1st count for the coming year, as opposed to the last, only dues received between this past July 1st and the start of the meeting Tuesday night at 7:30 will count as making anyone current on dues and thus eligible to vote. 

Thanks much to our Treasurer, Chris Cwiak, and former President Hudson Fair for handling the election judge duties. 

Please don't forget to vote. We all want this to be a fair and broadly representative election. It would be unfortunate on Tuesday to not know what a majority of our membership wants and have to proceed on the basis of the expressed desires of only a small sample of us. 

EARS Election Ballot, November 2009 (Email)

In order to insure a fair election and allow our entire membership the chance to vote, we of course allow e-voting for current, dues-paying members according to the following rules:

Please send your e-vote by 7:30 PM on November 23rd (24 hours before the November meeting) specifically as follows:

To: (EARS' Secretary)

From: Your listed membership email contact, i.e. where you receive the EARDrum. (You must not alter or block your email source code.)

Subject Line: (The name of the candidate you're voting for.) (Kerry J Haps or Blaise Barton)

Body: Your name, physical contact info (street address), last dues payment date and method (mailed or delivered at meeting, & via cash or check) even if in transit. This will give us time to verify your membership and voting eligibility. 

- Or -

Of course you may vote in person by handing in this paper ballot (Print it and fill it out) by the beginning of the November Meeting:

------------------------------cut here------------------------------

EARS Election Ballot, November 2009

__ Kerry J Haps
__ Blaise Barton

Signature __________________________________________
Name _____________________________________________
Email __________________________ (where EARDrum is received)
Address ___________________________________________
Last Dues Payment Date _____________________________
Payment method ____________________________________

------------------------------cut here------------------------------

Recap/Appreciation File

EARS Meeting 10-27-09
Mike Konopka on Acoustic Design

This month, we were treated (pun intended) to former EARDrum editor Mike Konopka’s treatise on acoustic design at Moretti’s on Chicago’s far northwest side in Edison Park. Mike has been focusing the larger part of his time and expertise on this subject through his ThunderTone Audio. He now spends only about a third of his time with Metro Mobile. He tells us that as of the time of the meeting, Tim Powell was on tour doing live recording with Phish. Konopka’s been an engineer for 30 years specializing in broadcast sound, analog tape restoration (be sure to read his journal on working on the Kinks’ tape archive) and has done acoustic design for twenty studios.

Mike notes that the economy is really bad right now and that no one wants to buy or spend, but while things are bad now, it’s the perfect time to plan for when things turn around. He has five key points on acoustic design: identify sound-sensitive areas; tailor acoustics for that space’s specific use; assess isolation and soundproofing needs; define the facility’s workflow; and build an experienced team.  

Sound sensitive areas would obviously include studios, booths and live rooms. Tailoring the acoustics for each room’s specific use is where things start to get more complicated. Mike talked about putting the money where it will get the most dividend and spending where it’ll be needed most. In a live room, you’ll need longer reverberation times with linear decay rates, where all frequencies decay at the same rate. Preferably, live rooms are the largest spaces in the studio and have higher ceilings. Having good sight and traffic lines to other production specific areas is key, and also ties in with his fourth key point on defining the facility’s workflow. Having the ability to adjust absorption and diffusion will add to the room’s ability to give the client what is needed for any project. It’s also important and easy to overlook having the proper audio, electrical and HVAC lines, and Mike stresses the importance of finding a separate individual who understands what he’s doing with respect to each of these within a studio environment. This also ties into his fifth point on building an experienced team.

Booths will need shorter reverb times and will obviously be smaller than live rooms. Good sight and traffic lines are also a must here.  

Control rooms need to have the shortest reverb times with linear decay rates to be able to ascertain the true sound being picked up in the live rooms and booths. Having the control room impart reverb into a mix being monitored would make it difficult to determine if that reverb were inherent in the room things were recorded in. That said, it’s important to not go crazy deadening the control room. You’ll want a proportionally volumed space greater than 1500 cubic feet with an optimized listening position with room symmetry and careful use of bass trapping, absorption and diffusion. Bass has a tendency to build up in the back of a room, so make that your thinnest wall to allow bass to vent out of the room. Also, the closer to the wall you go with your console, the more bass coupling you’ll have, but you’re going to want to get in behind your console to futz around with things back there anyway, so you wouldn’t put it right on the wall anyway, right?  

Mike also showed us many pictures and brought in some examples of his third key to successful acoustic design: isolation and soundproofing. He prefers utilizing decoupled mass construction. If that’s not possible, things such as UltraTouch will work even though it only tames noise, not decouples mass. He showed us slides of decoupled walls in which he used anchored steel framing with resilient channel using hat channel and ‘C’ clips with rubber pucks on their backs. Mike also recommends Green Glue if that’s not an option. It looks like rubber cement and put between drywall and framing, it attenuates about 15-20 dB, but when you order it, they give you about 33% too much, so knock your estimate down about a third. Double walls with an air gap are the preferred method of isolation, but you’ll have to rip each individual 2x4 down to size or you’ll wind up shrinking your rooms down too much. This method can also be harder to meet code, but can be made to work for basement studios. Konopka also showed us resilient channel ceilings, which float the ceiling using ‘L’-shaped T-bars and expandable foam between the floor above and the ceiling. For the very limited budget, space and structural limitations of a home studio, Mike has developed custom-pocketed ceilings. He notes that most home studios have lower ceilings, giving them that distinct home studio sound. It’ll decouple the ceiling from the floor above while only losing about an inch of space above, but it won’t really do too much to little kids’ footfalls on the floor above. Mike showed us some slides of floating floors with neoprene pucks and perimeter isolation. He also recommended using floating sleepers to level irregular floors instead of the liquid leveler for those that are budget-conscious. Floating sleepers are basically floated shims made to even out the floor to the highest level it’s at.

Defining a facility’s workflow is a crucial step in the planning stage of any facility. Do different production areas need to be near or far from one another? What kind of traffic patterns will the facility wind up with? How does the the design plan fit with the facility’s marketing objectives? Answering these questions will help with isolation, too.   

Konopka stresses how important it is to use professional tradesmen who not only know their craft, but how it’ll all come together within the environment of the recording facility. To that end, it’s crucial to not use architects, contractors and sub-contractors who are just kitchen and bath guys. Mike told us a story about an architect who was extremely defensive and uncompromising about his designs. Konopka decided that the project just wouldn’t be able to be salvaged and had to walk. It made about as much sense to him as defending a mix decision to a client who didn’t like it. You’ll also need a good HVAC guy who knows the load put on the system and will then go 20% higher for allowances. One EARS member related to us how nicely temperature-controlled his control room is. It was built by Larry Schara, Harry Brotman (upon which it was noted by our host that between those two, you’d have LOTS of BTU’s right there!) and Paul Hewitt. Mike tells us it’s imperative to have at least weekly meetings with the construction manager who’s working on the client’s behalf. 

Everything is an investment, be it in time, effort or money, and just thinking about the design and build-out of your studio is certainly no exception. Mike Konopka has laid out a solid foundation for us all to take into consideration when it comes to thinking about our own spaces or spaces we might be dreaming about right now. Things might not be good enough at this moment in time for our dreams to come to fruition, but the time is always right to prepare for that moment.  

A huge EARS Cheer to Mike Konopka for sharing his wisdom and experience with us. Pretty much all in attendance that I spoke with that evening learned something new about the planning stages of studio build-out, myself included. We’d be remiss to not also thank Moretti’s for allowing us to take over a back room of their fine establishment to nerd out on acoustics. We also had one of the finest waiters I’ve ever had outside of a five-star restaurant. He was a stalwart, remembering everyone’s orders, being extremely timely with his service and check-backs and most impressively, keeping everyone’s tabs straight. With so many thirsty and hungry EARS members attending, that was no small feat.

-Chris Cwiak
Secretary, EARS

Holiday Party

Keep that last Tuesday, the 29th of December, open for our annual members-only Holiday Party. -KJH

MT's Magical Mystery Tip


My Plate Is Starving!
or "(De)Bunking the 'Starved Plate' Tube Design Myth?"

As some may have heard, I've really dived deep into the depths of RCA, Altec and Army tube design manuals over the past few months, soaking up leagues of information about tube design, application, troubleshooting and the other magical things they do to audio. At the 'end' of the big understanding of the 'mystery of valves', I'm left with a very striking statement that's formed:

Tubes are VERY, VERY versatile things. The circuit dictates the majority of the sound, operating characteristics, distortion principles, etc etc.

Let's talk about everyone's favorite, garden variety preamp tube - a 12AX7, used in everything from guitar amps to the UA 610 preamp.

A Tube Operation Crash Course In One Paragraph (Or Maybe Two)...

Ok, doing my best on this one. Inside of the tube, electrons (which make up the current, emitting from the cathode, usually held slightly above ground voltage) are accelerated at fantastic speeds to the plate, which is given a high voltage (100 to 450 VDC!) in the tube design. In between the cathode and plate is the grid, which acts as the 'valve' of the tube, and is where the input signal is applied. The grid is located close to the cathode, and therefore, a small change in the grid voltage causes a much larger change in the amount of electrons traveling from cathode to anode. Therefore, the tube amplifies the small change of input voltage by the charge and space difference of the cathode to the anode.


So, that's why it's a 'valve'.

Now that we see that our input signal is the faucet handle, and it's simply regulating the amount of flow through the tube, we understand that it's the *change* of the flow that is taken off of the high voltage anode (or 'plate') that represents our amplified, increased output signal.

Now, here's the magic graph that makes tube design possible: the Average Plate Characteristics, given with the tube designer and tube type.

On the bottom, you'll see the 'Plate Voltage' range; to the left, the current (in mA) that flows through the tube, and the other, slightly curved lines in the middle relating to the 'bias', or relative input signal level. The goal is to create a line, called a load line, between the plate voltage and the current that gives the sensitivity and dynamic operation of the input voltage signal. On this line, the change of current between bias points (the curved regions) dictates the linear (or maybe nonlinear, if you're a distortion freak) operation of the signal. An equidistant difference between bias points would be a clean signal. If the difference is lopsided, say, from the load line point from the -3.0 V point to the -4.0 V point based around the set -3.5 V 'bias setting', that means we'd get a slightly distorted, or possibly 'big', or 'crunchy', or 'dark'....or 'different' signal upon amplification in a myriad of ways that only trying it out will tell. When I mention 'linearity' from now on, I'm referencing the swing between the many different curved bias lines in the graph.

Just as a reference point, recall my last article: a "+4" signal is 1.228 V, which also tends to be around the max output of many condenser mics. So, if this were a line amplifier, and I wanted to amplify a +4 line level signal cleanly (which would be a lot of resultant signal), I'd keep in mind that I'd want to have the linear portion swing +/- 1V (for a total possible signal of 2V) for a clean, distortionless input signal to be amplified. So, through my graphical analysis, that might be, say, with a higher B+ voltage and a lower final current.

This line we would draw would be very different for a smaller input voltage of, say 0.5 V (a typical microphone level) or even 0.2 V (ribbon mic output), from plate voltage, max current (and therefore load resistor, which I won't get into for the sake of staying on topic) and also bias to the input grid (the curved lines, which are set to a negative value), and which one is the point we work off of.

You might have just asked, "Why is bias negative?" The grid, aka our input signal, is the valve. The cathode really *wants* to see that high positive voltage on the other end! However, a small negative charge close to the cathode makes the cathode 'blind', or at least nearsighted, to the anode/plate. So, that little change of our input signal opens the eyes of the cathode... Just a clarification. To 'bias' is to set more negative. Each brand of tube has slightly different bias settings. That's why, in guitar amplifiers, when a new set of power tubes go in, the amp needs to be re-biased to the specs of the brand/type of tube, or else it might be anemic - or even melt the tube glass if it's different enough!

Also, not all possible tube designs are limited to the design of wanting linearity or 'clean' amplification. The distortion characteristics would be very different if the non-linearity of the input signal were set around a higher plate voltage instead of a smaller one. That's why no two designs of 12AX7 preamp sound the same, and can create a big, warm tube sound, like the UA 610, or a slightly glassy, crisp quality, like I've heard from my Bellari tube compressor or Ampex tape recorder preamps. It's due to the tube, yes, but there's always more to it than that!

Ok! Bring it on home...

In talking 'clean', linear signal talk: It's entirely possible and feasable to design a tube preamp around a low plate voltage, say, around +150V. However, to get a clean signal, and in placing the load line and choosing the bias point for the input grid, we're going to be left with a small range of input signal that can be amplified cleanly. Low level sources: ribbon mics, some dynamics, and even instruments - would work, but the preamp can be easily overdriven, needing only this one tube stage to enter that non-linear cutoff principle.

If we want that extra headroom, however, we can up the plate voltage and find a greater range of linear operation for amplifying the input grid.

Wait - let me rephrase that!

Greater range of linear input operation for amplifying the input grid = headroom.

Headroom! Hey, Marshall! You're tying in your past Mystery Tips! (I know! I'm fancy like that.)

So, if the headroom is needed, we can run the tube at a hotter plate voltage and draw a better load line for the input. However, hotter plates and more voltage also mean stressing the tube a bit more, which can reduce tube life.

It's an amazingly (pun alert!) dynamic tradeoff - headroom, lifespan, distortion sonics....

In theory, however, a 'starved plate' design, defined as a tube operating under about 200V on its plate, can easily be a great sounding amplification stage. I've enjoyed using some of the messageboard and community slandered 'TOOB' designs in low level boost amplifications - especially for quiet instruments into guitar amps. Recently, we needed to get a Fender Rhodes to be dirty and funky, instead of sparkly clean. The output of the rhodes was low enough that the particular 'starved plate' design preamp was used without the pad to beef up the output level into the amp, so the amp's tube stages had a louder Rhodes signal it could distort as if it were, say, a Les Paul. Instant funk!

A good 'starved plate' design is very possible. Less headroom, possibly more frequent input pad use, and a different audio color await you. High voltage on a plate design tends to offer greater headroom possibilities and a different distortion character at the expense of running the tube hot and sacrificing a bit of tube life along with it. 

However, there's another million possibilities in between the extremes mentioned here, and another million colors just around the corner. All it takes is a little *tweak*.

Happy voting, everyone! Once again - feedback is welcome! Anything unclear? Any ideas for future articles? Send an email!

Love and audio,
-Marshall Terry 


A response to last month's MT's Magical Mystery Tip

Don Bell, EARS member and formerly of the legendary Ardent Studios in Memphis, wrote in response to MT's article last month:

I loved the VU meter article. The "what is 0" quest continues. I will say that Ardent Studio had 3 Mitsu 32 tracks and we have the "all ones" tape which came out at +19. That was as loud as it got on PCM dig. I would like to point out that at the other end of the spectrum, "the noise floor", that there isn't any on dig. That is why we dither. Sidling between all O's and the random "1" to give the illusion of a noise floor. What we used to refer to as "Noise Perfume". If you do signal to noise measurements on and analog system, what it doesn't include is the fact that signal can be heard below the noise floor. You can hear information that is on the tape below the level of the noise floor. That is one of the problems of the digital world. The fades don't always merge into the bottom of the echo chamber. Sometimes they just stop. Unless you have the dither working for you. 

The dynamic range of tape is another interesting subject. There were some tape machines that would record better than they would play back. The early Scully 280's with the black knobs ( and the -18 volt power supplies) and the 3-M M-56's. Both did not have enough headroom in playback to reproduce stuff recorded at "elevated levels" ( hotter than 185 nano-webers). Limited playback levels due to lack of headroom in the playback electronics.

The Ampex 350 (with the black metal tubes and separate power supply) had the best headroom of any the early designs. Bigger volts in the power supply made bigger volts in the audio playback. 

The issue of playback levels and standards is an ongoing issue. The museum exhibit company I am currently doing consulting for uses video flash card playback units that have levels recorded at +4 coming out at -20 to the reproduce system. It's hard to design a playback system for a theater when the hardware doesn't seem to conform to any industry standards. 

As a good friend of mine once remarked," Standards are great, everyone should have one".

Regards, Don Bell 

Tracking with the Enemy

by Stu Kaletsch

As a recent convert from home studio, “crazy sick” hobbiest to commercial studio owner in the past year, I’m finally able to see the issues in the industry more clearly. One persistent bugger is the battle between commercial studio owners and home recordists. The studio owners complain about home recordists taking their sessions. And the bedio (bedroom studio) guys either can’t justify the cost of booking studio time, based on the investments in their own gear and pride in their own space, or they aren’t aware of the possibilities or convinced of the benefits of working in a real room. I’ve been racking my brain trying to figuring out how to get more of the home recordists in the door at our place (and to EARS meetings taboot). It’s become as much about developing a community as it has been about bringing in business. So, I’ve put together some ideas for all ya’ll to kick around.

Track 1 - Kick
The obvious reason for a home recording guy to book time is to track loud stuff. Drums, guitars, etc. The other big draw in tracking in a real room is the number and variety of mics, mic pres, and tracks available. Having a piano and Hammond around helps, too! And, it doesn’t always have to be loud. Maybe you have a mic/pre/comp chain they’ve always wanted to track vocals through. Cut a deal for a vocal tracking day. As long as you’re not doing a trillion edits, it should be a relatively easy day.

Track 2 - Snare
Along the same lines, outboard gear and plug-ins may lure some bedio fellow in, if he can get a decent rate on a simple mix day. Not everyone has an echo chamber or a plate reverb, but maybe you do - or at least cool plug-in versions of them. Maybe a couple of hours of printing effects could turn into a real mix session down the road.

Track 3 - OH/L
That leads to the other obvious situation - mixing on a board instead of in-the-box. The benefits were really obvious to me when I started mixing through a summing bus. I was trained on consoles, so it was nice to regain some of that familiar width and depth. Now that I finally have access to a console, I no longer need the summing bus to compensate for Pro Tools’ less-than-stellar mix bus. You’re best bet to wrangle some interest here is to have a nice cross-section of your work on a sampler and up on your website. Maybe offer some free rough mixing of uploaded tracks/stems, and see where it goes.

Track 4 - OH/R
One thing we’ll always offer is tape, and we make sure everyone we talk to knows it. And if you’ve got the capabilities, you should too. Now, the Scully 8-track doesn’t see a ton of action (except as mic pres), but the Otari 2-track definitely gets a regular workout. Fortunately, a good majority of our clients understand and appreciate the benefits of dropping their stuff down to the Otari at the end of the project. Usually, they bring in a tape that’s been specified by us. Otherwise, they rent a house reel from us; we usually keep a reel of both 1” and 1/4” around for these situations.

Track 5 - Bass
We also offer tech services. This has proven valuable both in getting people in the door, and in added revenue before and during sessions. So again, if you’ve got the equipment and know-how, do your best to get the word out. Even a random post on craigslist could spark an interest in your studio. Now of course, you may find yourself doing more guitar set-ups and amp repair than you want, but it’s a great way to meet musicians.

Track 6 - Rhythm GTR
Another area to consider is rentals. My guess is you’re saying, “Stu, you’ve got to be kidding!”. I’m not talking about your best mic or favorite amp, but rather some of the other ones (and random crap) you’ve got sitting around. But, if you feel comfortable enough with the renter - most likely a long-term, current client who’s willing to put down a sizable deposit if necessary - it could help pay off existing balances on that gear. And it alleviates them from having to buy the gear straight out. In fact, it’s more of a “try-before-you-buy” scenario on their end.

Track 7 - Lead GTR
Consider hosting an open house or a gear “shoot-out”. This involves activity on the recording forums (gearslutz and the TOMB most likely), but could prove beneficial to both sides. In fact, I met Marshall and Kerry through the TOMB. We’re amazed by the amount of interest we’ve gained just by getting people in the door once, even for a quick tour, a demo, or a gear sale.

Track 8 - Vox
And while you’re on the boards, offer to host a clinic. You name it, and people want to learn about it - drum tracking and tuning; guitar tracking, both electric and acoustic; basic mic techniques, including selection and placement; Pro Tools basics and some of your own tips and tricks; and mixing and mastering basics. It’s up to you if it’s free or for a fee. You may want to poll your existing clients first to see which topic is most desired, and if any of them would even be interested in attending something like this. Then, take it to the forums. Also, think about talking to manufacturers or local dealers for possible sponsorship of these events.

Track 9 - BGV
One thing we would love to be able to offer to the home recording crowd is a real-life “wrecking crew”. Not only would we be cultivating new relationships, but we could quite possibly be saving the one-man-band a fare amount in studio time. Remember it’s got to be give and take. And, wouldn’t you rather be working with a drummer you know than a client who’s not necessarily a drummer?

The topic of commercial studios vs. home recordists is an old one, I know, but it’s still a relevant one. Writing this article made me think of stories I heard back in ‘95, when I first got into recording. Apparently the studio owners in Nashville were so fed up with home studios, particularly in Franklin (outside of Nashville), stealing their business that some resorted to snitching on them to the fuzz and the feds, citing improper zoning and unreported earnings as their just cause. I’m just happy we’ve moved past all of these shenanigans, and didn’t see them resurface during the recent economic downturn.

So remember, it doesn’t have to be a battle as long as you’re willing to embrace the enemy.

- Stu Kaletsch

Audio Test & Measurement Engineering group on Linked-In

EARS' own Greg Groeper wants us all to know about this group he's started on Linked-In. Simply click here and find subgroups dedicated to Loudspeaker Measurements, Audio Standards, D'SPeech, Automotive Audio, Auditory/Medical, and Studio Schmudio. He's also put together a "little un-scientific opinion survey" asking: Which paramatric is most important to you in the perception of realistic, quality audio? Check it out.

By the way, in conversing with Greg recently, he revealed a bit of EARS trivia I hadn't heard before. Apparently, EARS' name began as simply the word "Ears", not as an acronym for anything. Upon asking our founder, Mike Rasfeld, what it stood for, and finding out nothing, "just ears, like 'golden ears' recording engineers" was it suggested, by Greg, that it should stand for something. "Like what?", Mike asked. How about "Engineering And Recording Society?", Greg offered. They laughed and it stuck, of course. EARS, backwards (or ahead of itself) from the beginning! - KJH

Suggestions Welcome!

 There are endless good reasons to band together here as EARS. It can be whatever we want it to be. If you have any ideas for the EARdrum, our website, or future meetings, please email us. We still have a lot of great meeting plans lining up, some website plans, and a lot of good fresh energy and hopes for a more vibrant, participatory EARS, so of course we're very interested in your input on everything EARS. Please! :) - KJH
Our Archives are again up to date. Check out the website for that and more EARS info. Also, I'd like to complete our files with the pre-2001 EARdrums. By my calculations we're missing the first 16 years! (Now minus that first one.) I know Timothy Powell has a year or so on his Metro-Mobile website but that still leaves a lot missing. If you happen to have your old paper copies or files you could get to me, I would love to get them online for posterity. Let me know. - KJH

Notes about our Website, and our Logo

We've noticed that the website doesn't auto update in some web browsers. If you're looking for something (such as the latest EARdrum) and it looks like old info, try reloading the page. Also, Good News! We have volunteers to help us with the Website! Watch for new things soon! -KJH


Thanks to all who support EARS through paying their dues. Just as a reminder, they're due yearly by the October meeting and this is a prerequisite for voting and joining us for the Holiday Party and BBQ in August (and occasionally things like the Grammy Party), but they're always welcome. As your participation is the higher priority, we typically deem dues paid within a few months before October to be for the coming year, but if you joined before, July, you should consider that for the previous year and renew. (At $25.00, considering the value received, it's just not worth haggling beyond that.) Dues checks (or cash, but no credit cards) for $25.00 can be made out to EARS and given to any of our officers or sent to the following address:

Engineering and Recording Society of Chicago, C/O Eric Roth, Treasurer, PO Box 98, Highland Park, IL 60035-0098 - KJH

A (few) (more) word(s) from the Prez...

or “(Continued) Change(/s) You Can Count (On/Off)”

Hey Hey!

Well, this election process has been a bit of an eye opener. I'm surprised at how far some will go to get what they want, especially with what they want being simply to have control of EARS. A wise friend recently pointed out Sayre's Law: "In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the stakes at issue." The most amazing thing, I think, is the way some people can think that this process should be run by screaming demands, whether those demands throw out legitimate votes, change agreed-upon rules midstream, or even just plainly contradict precisely what the same person was yelling about moments before. Imagine, one moment being criticized for a lack of content in the EARDrum, and the next moment for having taken charge of it and personally taken up the cause when no one else would. Or how about one moment being attacked for violating a sacred "Separation of Church and State" by using the mailing list to send out the EARDrum, with claims that no President should have access to the list, and the next being criticized for not distributing the entire mailing list to the entire mailing list. It's dizzying, really. Perhaps it was best encapsulated when I wrote to a prominent and outspoken Steering Committee member, upon receiving his preemptive victory-gloat voicemail in mid-October, that given the incredible load on my plate right now, I would gladly vote for Blaise myself, if I only knew what he would do for EARS and what reasonable plan he had for it. His response? "No! We want to see a fight!" We'll see what the people say. 

or "EARS to You!"

This could very well be my last EARDrum. If Mr. Barton is elected, I would expect that he'll either take it over himself or appoint someone else. This isn't the national election. The new President takes over right away. If so, it's been a good ride. It's been a pleasure serving you. Together with my wonderful and well-chosen V.P., Michael Kolar, and Secretary, Chris Cwiak, who we simply had the good fortune to keep on from the previous administration, and naturally a number of others who've chipped in or just been supportive and encouraging, we've done our best to rebuild the EARS of today. We've kept our ears open to the desires of the membership, and not just the few more outspoken members of the Steering Committee who would like to keep this as their private little club. I've felt a lot of support from our members, and together we've had some good times while growing this little community. I've met some wonderful people -  as Danny Leake says and, by the way, exemplifies, "A whole new world of friends and colleagues that I would not trade for anything". If Mr. Barton is elected and my time as Prez is done, I won't just "ascend to the warm chair that is being held for [me] in the Steering Committee, seated next to Danny, Hudson, all the rest of us (even David), and bring a new calm sense of direction and leadership to the uber-group", as one prominent and outspoken member of the Steering Committee advised, but I will stay involved, offering to help where needed. In fact, I guess I'll have to consider it a new duty to do some of the things I've been asking of our membership all along. Then again, I might also allow myself a much deserved break! :) In any case, I hope (for EARS' sake) that more of our membership will step up and join in the effort, that someone on the Steering Committee will find some way to bridle that monster, giving it some much needed leadership and direction, or at least some measure of decorum and focus on the best interests of EARS.

or "I'm All EARS!"

Then again, we very well might be in for another year. If that's the will of EARS, then tell us what you're looking for and be ready to join in the fight. Together we've taken EARS to a crossroads. We're no longer the tiny little group clinging to a rich history and simultaneously falling apart. We've grown in number and set the stage such that we must act to solidify our position or watch it quickly implode. As EARS has become  a greater thing again, we must now work harder to protect it. The bylaws are sorely lacking. The roles of the Steering Committee aren't even defined. There's no mention of a treasurer or secretary. There's much to do there. 

Also, with the size of our membership, the workload grows, and I've already made preparations to name a new EARDrum editor to take some of that load off. We've been paralyzed for some time with regard to one other officer and that will of course be the first order of business. The days of that one individual costing us money, stalling to nearly lose our biggest donor, and generally embarrassing us at every opportunity must be over and gone.

And we now have two serious offers to help with the website, logo, etc., so that's just waiting to be acted upon. Of course, a way to pay dues online, collect member data, including permission to share with the rest of the membership, will be an important part of that, along with some sort of forum, preferably called EARSlutz. :)

So that's it. Do please be sure to vote if you're eligible, and if not, what are you waiting for? We really want this to be a good, full representation of what our membership wants, and of course we really want to see you all as part of our membership. 

At your service, as always
Kerry J Haps



archive   design : pduckp