Failure... Is Not an Option

08 Dec 2019

Feature or Bug?

This post is a delayed a little bit, but I still want to get my thoughts out, so I’m just going for it. Going back to work after a 4-day weekend is going to be welcome, in a weird way. Frankly, I needed a break from a 2-year-old who is going through a particularly tough phase. If that’s an indictment of my skills as a father, then so be it. Of course, we then had a great day Monday night. :) He was acting more like the sweet, heart melting little boy we’re used to. I think he might be emerging from a rough phase – boy, I hope so. There were some rather trying days in there, and I’m sure there are more to come. That brings me to the title of this post. As a parent, you try so hard to make sure that your kids have everything they need to be healthy and happy. That’s what makes it sting so much when, despite your best efforts, you get yelled at like you’re a dog that just peed on the carpet. The thing is, toddlers are creatures driven by emotions that they can’t fully control. That point is tough to remember when you’re getting lambasted for touching a choo-choo train or trying to join in building a tower with blocks. Fortunately, there are juuuuuust enough great moments in between that validate your efforts and make it all worth it. The lows are low, but the highs are high too.

New Tool for Making Music!

I’m nearing the completion of my “last mile” solution for recording music (more on that later) which is exciting enough – but recently, I stumbled across a new tool for music making called ORCA. It’s called an “esoteric sequencer” and it’s every bit of esoteric and also somewhat cryptic, but I absolutely love it. It does something that I love and that’s blend two seemingly disparate worlds into one. Those two worlds in this case being coding (computer programming) and music. One of my other favorite things about ORCA is that it’s also open source and free. After watching a few demos of the software, I knew I was going to like it, so I made sure to donate a few bucks to their cause. In finding this software, I also discovered (or rediscovered) the world of livecoding and “algorave” (those two subjects deserve an entire post of their own, maybe I should add that to the list) where people play live shows using tools like ORCA. Talk about a niche within a niche! Here is an example of ORCA, with PILOT, its companion synthesizer application (from the same makers). I’ve only just scratched the surface with these programs, but I love how even just hacking around and trying different things can yield good results in a short period of time. It’s a tinkerer’s dream. I’ll do my best to post more examples of my own experiments with this software in future blog posts.

Recording Hardware Setup Progress

With only one little hiccup, I finished building both of the mic preamps that I’ve been working on recently. I think I promised some in-work photos, but I was so in the zone while building that I forgot (d’oh!). I promise to post some photos of the finished product, which should be by the next time I update the blog. The hiccup I ran into was a dumb one, that was probably a result of rushing (aren’t they always?). There are a handful of sockets that need to be soldered into the main board of the preamp. While finishing that step, I accidentally tapped the open end of the socket with the soldering iron and I think some hot solder fell into the socket. This only became clear to me toward the end of the build when I was test fitting the discrete op-amp that plugs into these sockets. One op-amp plugged in without issue. The other would not go, and being that these are sensitive electronic components, I didn’t want to force it in. I know better than that. Fortunately, the fix was fairly simple. Ready with the soldering iron, I heated the socket while attempting to insert the op-amp. Once it slotted into place, I quickly removed the op-amp in a hope that it would smooth out the inside of the socket. That did the trick and now i have two complete 500 series mic preamps ready to be tested. Cross your fingers!

In the meantime, I picked up the MOTU M4 audio interface that is basically the product I’ve been waiting for all year. I’m excited to try it out, as MOTU has a really good reputation for making quality gear. Finally, the last piece of the puzzle sort of fell into place during Thanksgiving week. Building the mic preamps is all well and good, but there was still one thing I needed - a case in which to put them! Well, one solution that I was considering went on sale for a really good price so I jumped on it. It’s also a DIY soldering project, though much simpler than the preamps. I’m already about 90% done. Once I button that up and test the preamps, I should be aces and good to go with a solid recording chain. If none of that makes any sense – fear not – it might make more sense in the next post when I do a little show and tell of the final setup. Who am I kidding, “final” is a word that doesn’t mean anything to the home musician. There’s always something to tweak, try or test!