Archive for May, 2009

Five pieces of gear and how they survived a coffee spill

5. Korg padKontrol. The bottom left pad occasionally fails to send a note off.  I usually map that pad to the kick drum, which fortunately is not important in electronic music.

4. Faderfox LC2. The channel 4/channel 10/solo button is gummed up.  The other controls just feel so damn nice, making the sticky one even worse in comparison.  It feels like the button might loosen up after pounding on it some more so I am optimistic.

3. M-Audio Keystation Pro. I had to wipe down the keys.  After bangin on low D a few times, it’s no worse for the wear.  One of the knobs is too loose but that predates the coffee.

2. NI Audio Kontrol 1. No noticeable ill effects, although I think this guy was pretty well out of the danger zone.

1. The plank that I put on my keyboard stand to hold my laptop. I just wiped it down and bam, good as new.

Quieting your studio PC on the cheap

So there is only one way to truly silence your studio: put everything with moving parts in a separate room and run a bunch of cables under the door.  Sadly, this is not practical for most of us.  A couple apartments ago, I actually had a setup like this, with my computer sitting in a hallway on the other side of a closed door.  It was blissfully quiet, but quite hazardous to cross the mess of cables when entering the room.  Since then I have not had the luxury of putting my gear in a room where I could close the door.

At any rate, if you don’t have another room to put your computer in, the next best thing is to make it quieter.  You can actually spend a ton of cash making your PC dead silent, but I recently got most of the way there for well under a hundred bucks.  The worst culprits are the things the move the most: the power supply (with its built-in cooling fan) and the CPU cooling fan.  Here’s what I got.

Nexus NX-3000 Real Silent PSU:  Well, “Real Silent” is a straight-up lie.  It’s very quiet, but 19 db(A) is not silent last I checked.  I still recommend it.  Some people might suggest that you need more than 300W from your PSU, but I don’t know if that applies to musical setups.  I run about a million USB-powered devices with no trouble.

Zalman CNPS9500 CPU fan: This is quite a monstrosity; the photos on the web site don’t really show how big it is.  Basically, the main way to make a quieter CPU cooler is to make the fan bigger and slower.  But of course a big slow fan doesn’t cool as well, so you need a bigger heat sink with lots of surface area to compensate.  This fan supports dynamic speed controls; in other words, the fan spins slowly at start and only increases in speed as needed.

In general, End PC Noise has a good selection of quiet computer parts.  I noticed that most web sites about customizing your PC are geared toward people who play video games, but musicians stand to gain just as much.

That actually went pretty well

Hey, that wasn’t so bad.  By the way, I didn’t think my beloved Jerker desk would fit in my new, tiny apartment; but lo and behold, here it is, and you can still kinda move around in the living room.  Check that hot custom keyboard tray!

The famous jerker desk

Dangerous ideas

I am contemplating moving my gear from one side of the room to the other.  Can this possibly end well?

That was dumb

So the site disappeared for a while due to me forgetting to pay for the hosting.  And uhm, I hadn’t backed it up since January, so all posts from this year are gone.  But hey, it’s back!