Monster Gold from Sound Offers

Monster® Turbine™ Pro Gold Audiophile In-Ear Speakers™FedEx delivered a pair of in-ear headphones to my house Wednesday. They are a pair of Monster Turbine Pro (Gold Edition).  I didn’t pay anything for them. They were a gift, a “Giveaway” from Sound Offers. Holy Moley I’m doing something right around here.

Sound Offers is a sort of high end classifieds for quality audio system equipment. You can buy or sell what was called when I was a child “Hi-Fi” or high fidelity audio gear. It’s usually stereo.  This stuff is extremely “Hi-Fi”. It’s a fascinating site. I get their weekly newsletter and it’s the most extreme window shopping I do. It’s opened my eyes to loads of manufacturers and audio components of which I’ve never been aware, in spite of having an electrical engineering degree, a lifelong passion in music and audio fidelity, as well as experience in professional audio gear.

This site is amazing, and not just because they sent me some free headphones. Sign up for their newsletter. I’m telling you when I get their newsletter in my inbox I immediately take the time to peruse the gear.  And you may get some headphones or even better. At least you’ll get a list of outstanding audio equipment for sale and if you have such items you want to turn into cash you need to showcase them among other high end items through Sound Offers.

Now, on to the headphones. I’ve never cared that much for in-ear headphones, but I can get used them since they come with this sound. As with any headphones in this price range they come with a custom case (in this case 2 of them). They also come with a variety of tips for your ear canal, ensuring an accurate and effective fit. The connections are 24 carat gold, including a 3.5mm to ¼ inch connector.

And the sound. Wow! They compare very favorably with the Sony MDR-7506 Studio reference headphones I use for recording and mixing. From the instructions and reviews of the Monster Turbine Pro the sound will only get better as they are broken in over the next few hours. The Sony headphones are much too big and cumbersome to carry with me to listen to mp3s on my phone, but these Monster headphones, with their cute little carrying case(s), are perfect!

I went with my wife to watch the Houston Texans in training camp last week and saw a young man sporting a Monster t-shirt. On the back was one of their slogans “Because the music matters”.  I love the slogan.

Monster cables are known for both their quality and the confidence of their price. The Monster Turbine Pro Gold are not exception to this philosophy and retail at Best Buy for $279. They do however come with a lifetime warranty and they will even replace them if you break them (once). They are beautiful and come with the Monster name and covet factor.  When you take all of that into account these headphones, while not necessarily a bargain, are at least more fairly priced.

Sound Offers, though, is a terrific deal and I hope you’ll check them out.

 

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Occasionally I pick up a book that has been sitting on my bookshelf for a long time waiting for me to get around to reading it.

Most of the time I enjoy the book and finish it with a sense of accomplishment more than anything else. The book will simply no longer need to be read.

Then there are the times when I finish the book and wonder why it took me so long to read it. There are books that give you something you expect to carry with you through life. There are books that make a difference. Such was the case with me when I read “The 7 Habit of Highly Effective People”. By Stephen R. Covey.

The title sat there on my bookshelf and beaconed me for years. I knew it was a number one best seller. I knew I might get something out of it. But I looked at it with the attitude I “should” read it. I almost saw it as a chore. But once I started I was hooked immediately by it’s optimistic prescriptions for dealing with life on a daily basis.

Where I expected procedural habits such as “make a to-do list at night” or “return phone calls promptly” I was rewarded instead with wisdom. The seven habits outline simple values based attitudes that come together to make an unarguable outline for effective behavior. I really enjoyed this book.

I can’t answer the obvious question here. I’m not going to simply list the seven habits, for in the abstract they would seem somehow cheapened. To appreciate the 7 habits you need to understand the principles behind them. So pick up a copy of this book. Or borrow mine. It’s an international best seller and that many people can’t be all wrong. This book could really make a difference in your life. Just don’t let it set on the bookshelf for years as I did.

Sun Tea Revisited

I written here before I make quite a bit of sun tea when conditions are right.  They’ve been right a lot lately, so much we’re suffering from severe drought around here. But on that subject, it just occurred to me I think I should get some sort of green energy “eco” type tax credit for using solar energy to make my tea. Wouldn’t have to be much. I sometimes go through as much as a gallon a day, so it would add up.

Strawberries

We picked strawberries today, over 10lbs. Of course we had strawberry shortcake tonight. That is nothing if not special.

A Little Bit Country

I mentioned earlier in this space I purchased an audio interface for my computer, an interface capable of processing sounds at specifications equal to professional quality recordings.  It was a Christmas present to myself and in some was the realization of a lifelong dream of owning a recording studio. Technology has reached a point where a lot of the expensive equipment that used to be required to record music accurately can be replaced for little to nothing in the manner of software on a computer. The mixing and mastering of songs recorded can be done “in the box” or with computer programs instead of dedicated equipment; expensive hardware being replaced with inexpensive or even free software.

Putting together a recording studio mostly on a computer is now easy.  Learning to use it is as involved and as difficult as it ever was. The tools are now easy to come by, but they are still tools and mastering any tool takes study, practice, and time.

The first major recording project I jumped into was to record some songs performed by a Country & Western band that calls themselves The Republic Band. My recording interface only allows for a couple of inputs at a time, so three songs were recorded over a period of about three days.

There were problems with the recordings such as noise introduced along with some of the instruments and such that were my fault, due to my inexperience with recording, not the fault of the band. My audio experience has been mostly limited to live music.  Then taking the raw recordings and trying to mix them into something that demonstrates and compliments their talents turned out to be no small task, again no fault of theirs. Sometimes, due to my inexperience, the more I worked on a recording the worse it sounded. I’d stop, study some more, go back and try again.

So, I’m finally ready to release a little bit of the product of all of that work. It still has some problems with instrument levels in some places and maybe it could do with a touch more eq on a spot or two… but. I’m reminded of something I once heard, that a poem is never finished, but abandoned.  I’ve got more projects in the works so at least for one of the three songs I recorded with The Republic, here it is:

Play – Folsom Prison Blues

The Republic Band:

  • Keith Rowe – vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Gary Donald  – lead guitar
  • Jimmy Bussey – drums
  • David Martin – keyboard
  • Charlie Brown – bass

They are a talented bunch and gentlemen all. You can visit their Facebook fan page HERE.

The Day Played Its Own Song

That day

He woke up with a song
spilling out of his pocket.
It was not an old song.
He heard a new song.
There was a clear ringing
Of triumphant chorus.

It lifted him
And encouraged his work.
Steered his talents
With a wisp of a melody.
It supported him with harmony
During his doubts.

After he saw the day
Had sung its own good song
He thanked God for the music.
He wrote it down
So it will live
With the history of what happened.

That day.

A Smoldering Spark

I have long been interested in recording music. Some of you may know I worked years ago with a company in Dallas called Sound Productions. They provide equipment and services for live music events. Since I had for all practical purposes sought my electrical engineering degree to find out how my stereo works working with professional audio gear was a big treat for me. It built on a high school dream of owning a recording studio. Now, at more than 50 years old, a lot has happened since then but the dream, if only a spark, is still alive.
This Christmas Santa brought me an audio interface for my computer. Almost all computer’s come with an audio interface in the sense of a sound card that will both play music or sound and record through a microphone input, but this one is a more specialized item suitable for professional quality recording. The common sound cards, built in to today’s computers are very inferior, and even many gamers, or those who optimize their computer’s for the high specifications needed for today’s computer games invest in a better sound card for their computers. Those sound cards are usually optimized for playing sounds. My Christmas present, while it has output to play music or sound,  provides a great deal of flexibility and professional quality signal handling on the recording side of audio signal processing.

Made by M-Audio, my interface sports the model name Fast Track Pro. It bills itself as a 4×4 audio interface, meaning it will record 4 channels or sources simultaneously and play back four signal streams  as well. That is a little misleading in that two of the inputs/outputs are digital. Digital interfaces are found on many or most newer items such as CD/DVD players and recorders. In a practical sense, the Fast Track Pro (FTP) is mostly useful as a two channel interface.

The FTP connects to your computer via a USB 1.1 interface. This makes it perfect for traveling with my laptop which was the goal here. It is also comparable with my Linux operating system, really important to me as I detest having to work in Microsoft windows of any stripe.

While it is limited to two analog inputs it is well equipped to handle those. Two combination jacks good for either the XLR connections expected by microphones as well as balanced ¼ inch inputs are available. The pre-amps are regarded as good quality, and switches are present for selecting instrument or line level inputs as well as a 20db pad. These options are coupled with the capability of recording at 24-bit 96kHz levels, although the FTP is limited to 48kHz if you are using inputs and outputs at the same time. As CD quality is presented at 44.1kHz and 16-bit at that the overall effect is that the FTP is capable of recording music at signal qualities common to professional audio processing.

Rounding out the package are headphone jacks, RCA outputs, and 48 volt phantom power for condenser microphones. Also included is I/O for midi devices. While it is capable of running from an external power supply non is needed when the FTP is connected to a computer as it derives it’s power from the usb connection.

I’ve had the opportunity to put the Fast Track Pro through real world applications the last couple of weeks and my complaints are minor and had mostly to do with my own confusion in handling the flexibility of the device as it was new to me. Without a doubt it was up to the job I gave it of handing 24-bit 44.1 kHz recording. When used properly the resulting recording are clear and concise; I would say sometimes stunning in clarity. Santa was good to me this year.

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