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Yup. I'm a bonehead.

Discussion in 'Monitoring / Headphones' started by DonnyThompson, Aug 19, 2014.

  1. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    An idiot. A moron. Feel free to agree with me. I deserve it, after finding out - while doing some critical listening to some tracks - that for two weeks now I've been listening to my monitors with the right side connected out of phase. :notworthy:

    I'm not even gonna put a flame suit on. I deserve to feel whatever you all decide to throw at me. Fire away.

    Jeezus - Tap Dancin' - Christ.

    That's at least two very crucial - and bush league - mistakes in two weeks. And hear I'm wondering why my mixes sounds okay to me and so bad to others.

    I'm starting to wonder if maybe I need to see a Doc for Alzheimer's or somethin'.

    damn.
     
  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    senior moments?
     
  3. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Man, I'm tellin' ya. First, I reference my latest recording too low, and as a result, I don't pick up on the noise emanating from an open and cranked channel of the preamp - which also happens to be assigned to the tracks I am recording to, and now, I find out that for the better part of two weeks, I've been recording and mixing with my right side nearfield wired out of phase.

    Good Gawd. I think I need to take disciplinary action and fire myself.

    I'd ask others here to share their own bonehead stories, just for fun, but I'm afraid that no one would have any that would match the level of stupidity of my own recent and obvious chromosomal deficiency - motivated mistakes. :confused:
     
  4. Josh Conley

    Josh Conley Active Member

    does losing your temper, ripping your daw from its cubby hole -monitors and all of course- lifting it over your head, and slamming it down on the ground incredible hulk style count as "bonehead"? ;)

    though im very curious as to how you could even hook a monitor up wrong like that?
     
  5. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Here is a classic.
    A group of world class engineers are doing a test for a review on a product. It's paramount they get this right because the manufacturer and their peers are all interested in a process and comparison.
    At the end of the weekend they wrote up their review claiming they all heard difference and the upgrade was better. As they were packing up the gear they find out the whole time it was bypassed. Those moments happen to the best of us. At least yours was working.
     
    pcrecord likes this.
  6. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I once asked the roadies to rewire the overheads on a show and change lines on the snake only to fins out I had forget to turn on the phantom power on them. (15min of sound test lost for a simple attention fail)

    We all Forget the obvious things from Time to Time !! ;)
     
  7. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Here is another one.

    I recorded and co-produced some songs for a well known Artist. They liked my guitar playing and needed me to fill a few dates before the spin, so I am asked to do a few concerts where there are some people interested in hearing /me/him. We are also doing a documentary and preparing for the music Awards. Okay, enough said, you get the idea. Its no joke.

    I am in Vancouver at launch of his mini tour. I'm playing on stage, I think to myself, the sound doesn't "sound" like it should on stage. For those whom have never played in a band, the stage sound does not sound good like the audience side so its easy to not be aware of whats happening out front. You are at the mercy of the FOH, hoping they have their $*^t together while we just play and have fun.

    I'm looking at the sound guy scratching his head and know something is very wrong. Time seems like hours are going by and the soundman is still scratching his head and it sounds weird to me. Okay, here is where it gets good.

    I step on my volume pedal (off), replace my short guitar cable for the 75ft guitar cable that I use for sound checks and jump off stage and keep playing. Now I am into the crowd, all eyes on me. The leader is praying I'm doing something right while the lighting and soundman are now completely baffled. I walk over to him and say, "turn the mains down, the amps are off!" He's clueless! He's looking at the faders on the board, seeing them up and thinking, "what?". I'm saying, the mains are off, the PA man! amps!!! I'm yelling at him, turn the faders down before you hit the power so you don't blow the roof off the place. He's still scratching his head (remember, I'm still playing....) I reach over to the mains, pull them down and say, don't move!

    I crawl on the floor while guitar is still in hand and roll on my back, hit the power to the amps, and they come on... I keep playing and wait for the light to warm up, then walk over, reach the mains and turn them up slowly. You can see the sound guys jaw drop and he takes over. The crowd loved it! I smiled, he looked relieved!
    For some reason the sound guy had a complete moment. Why they were turned off is beyond me but $*^t happens.

    The weirdest things happen at the worst times but we can often turn them into a really memorable moment . His moment made me a star. The main producer never forgot that. After 12 years past, that producer recently called me up and we are planning to do something again.
     
    kmetal likes this.
  8. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    I love ya Donny LOL. Very funny. It's great when things like this happen to us. We all have good senses of humor. This kind of stuff happens all of the time. From the lowest insignificant homicide levels. All the way up to Network Television Engineering.

    In a similar funny, I was working as a independent subcontractor to a contracting company, that hired engineers for various federal government divisions. I was hired on to replace the chief audio engineer, over at United States Postal Service, recording studio, during the two weeks that he would be on vacation. Jamaal was a Berklee of Music school grad with a Masters degree. He was quite proud of this recording facility he had designed and installed.

    The control room had the Sony baby digital Oxford console, the R-100, I believe the model was? A nice little $20,000 digital console. He informed me that he also had the identical console at his home studio, for the past two years. The control room was further well-equipped with numerous Manley Audio pieces, API 3124's, Meyer HD-1 active monitors. In short, a quality control room.

    Of course when we first got together, he had to show me and check me out in the control room. Of course I brought some of my production work with me, to play for him. And he had plenty of his production music that he had produced and recorded, to also play for me. Now mind you... I have never had my hands on this particular digital console before. And I knew little about it or its operational features.

    So Jamaal starts playing some of the music he produced on the same console he owned at home. It sounded very nice. Decent recording technique. Good equipment used. I just couldn't figure out why he was doing everything in Mono? I figured he had his reason/reasons? Then I asked him if I could play him some of my work? He was anxious to hear my stuff. He loved it. Thought it was really first rate. The only problem was... my stuff was in Mono and not stereo? I looked at Jamaal and told him we were not monitoring anything, in stereo. To which he argued that with me that we were listening to everything in stereo. I told him I knew my mixes a little better than his mixes and we were most definitely monitoring in Mono. Again he argued that with me that he had the same console. That he used one at Berklee and that he also had his own for two years and he knew that console better than anyone else. Oh really?

    So while not really knowing the actual operational features of the console, it took me a long time to figure out how to monitor in stereo. It took me at least, 120 to 180 seconds. So I press a couple of buttons on this totally unfamiliar Sony digital console and BOOM! FABULOUS STEREO SOUND! Jamaal was dumbfounded LMAO. He had installed this studio over a year and a half before and had never heard anything in stereo until that day I showed up. Oh my God LOL LMAO with milk coming out my nose. And this recording studio did nothing except record little old blue haired ladies about how to stuff things into envelopes, in different post offices, throughout the USA. So what the heck did they need to spend so much of our taxpayers dollars to put in the state of the art control room such as that? The following year, which rarely happens within the federal government, Jamaal was let go. But the bastards didn't offer me the job. They just moved up some other federal flunky to obtain the best that mediocrity has to offer within government employment.

    So don't be so hard on yourself. Listening to things out of phase, in stereo, I think, can at many times, be quite beneficial. It actually allows your brain to isolate and hear things, deep within a mix, that one would not ordinarily hear with your monitors in proper phase and positive polarity. It can be quite fascinating. How do you think they came up with surroundsound anyhow? The back speakers were merely the left minus the right channel, the difference channel, the side channel of MS. And both speakers were wired out of phase, to sit that signal, wide and behind you. And you heard all sorts of things pop out at ya that it didn't quite hear that way, when listening in proper stereo, in phase and positive polarity wiring.

    To take this to a separate level higher is to talk about how your front monitors are polarized. I am not talking about having channels out of phase. I am speaking of the polarity of when the speakers are both in phase. This is a concept and a subject everybody has trouble grasping, due to proper engineering practices. So what am I precisely saying?

    We look at the back of our full range monitor speakers and find a red and a black terminal connection. On the output of our amplifiers that will feed our monitor speakers, for each of the two channels are a red and a black terminal for the left channel and a red and black terminal for the right channel. Now comes the enigma!

    The way most people connect their speakers to their amplifiers in this scenario is frequently red to red and black to black. Since we are dealing with AC voltages and not DC voltages, this wiring scenario works. And I happen to know that 99% of studios, that use wide range speakers connected to a single amplifier will wire their speakers to their amplifiers that way, when using the passive crossovers within the speakers themselves. Like the venerable JBL 4310/4311/4312/4408/4411/4412/and on and on. Frequently fed from Bryton's, Crown's, Macintosh's, QSC's, etc.. And plenty of people are very happy with the way that sounds. Confidence in their wiring and installation. Bought the control room and the monitoring sounds all wrong? So it must be the acoustics of the control room, right? Nope! WRONG!

    The speakers are in phase, together but their polarity is wrong. It's backwards. It's opposite what it should be. But the electrical engineers will argue that and here's why. Generally, one can input a 1 kHz sine wave, going into the power amplifier, observed from the output of the waveform generator, to the output of the amplifier. Positive phase going in. Positive phase coming out of the amplifier.

    You then go on to the speaker and with a 9 V battery, you connect the plus terminal of the battery to the plus terminal on the back of the speaker. The large WOOFER, should extend outward from its frame, toward you. This verifies its polarity is correct. Which should then dictate that the red terminal on the output of the power amplifier should in fact be connected to the red terminal on the input to the speaker. But this ain't necessarily correct. In fact it's wrong. Totally, completely, unequivocally, wrong. And here's why!

    This works much better with rock 'n roll than it does with smooth sounding folksy or symphonic work. When the bass drum is pounding away, on your recording, which way should the WOOFER's be moving? The bass drum is compressing the diaphragm of the microphone. This goes through the console and comes out the same way. Meaning that the WOOFER, is sucking back into the frame and not punching out, past the front of the frame. It is not projecting the bass drum toward you as people hear it in live performance! It's reversed polarity that's in phase. But it's not right. You then flip the connections on the back of the speakers, both. Then when the bass drum is pounding away the excursion of the WOOFER, is going toward the listener. It's not sucking itself back into the box! This cannot be done on the console side by flipping all of the face buttons. This is DC theory. So when you put two batteries into a flashlight with red going to red and black going to black you don't get no light of the day. 99% of people have their passive monitors wired to their amplifiers, wrong. And the difference in the sound between the two different polarities, both in phase, is jaw-dropping. In fact, it's also generally wrong inside self powered monitors as well. The manufacturers are all doing it wrong. This is more than a little difficult for a lot of people to accept. But this is what I refer to as forward modulation not sucking! So check that out as well. They can make all the difference in the world. I have corrected at least a dozen or more control rooms by doing just that. That which only takes 60 seconds to do.

    Everybody knows I'm crazy but I'm not that crazy.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  9. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    I once recorded 64 takes of myself singing ... only to discover I didn't set the input on my DAW to the right thinggie. I recorded 64 takes of dead silence.
     
  10. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    "After 12 years past, that producer recently called me up and we are planning to do something again."

    Wants you to turn on the mains since you are so good at it :)
     
  11. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Thanks for the stories guys. It makes me feel a little better. :)

    Josh:
    "...though im very curious as to how you could even hook a monitor up wrong like that?"


    Well, the title of this thread kinda says it all. LOL... A further explanation: I am using a 12 gauge speaker wire, bare connections on both the monitor and power amp ends. The speaker wire isn't color coded, in fact it's a clear plastic-covered copper cable....both sides look nearly identical - with the exception of the ground, which has a tiny extra plastic ribbon built into the clear plastic cable shield of the ground... A few weeks ago, I had hooked up an alternate pair of monitors that I have - Tannoy Reveals - to check a mix, and when I switched back to my Monitor 1's, I obviously connected the cable wrong on the right side NF.
     
    Josh Conley likes this.
  12. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    I just dumbfounded another 28-year-old engineer with a Bachelors Degree in Biochemistry, with a custom tube power amplifier and a pair of UREI 811's. When I told him his monitors were connected in reverse polarity. To which he gave me a very long and academically involved argument that they weren't. Until we flipped the polarity. And it's really funny to see a really smart guy like this look so stupid. But like so many that obviously designed speakers to sound a certain way connected a certain way, he kind of preferred the wrong, further away, background sound, of not having the audio push forward. Which I'm coming to the conclusion of, that even self powered monitor systems, are all wired in reverse polarity. We need forward modulation of the excursion of the woofer when the bass drum is beating away. And not having the woofer sucking in! What don't people understand about this? Are ya telling me that all of the electrical engineers and acoustic engineers have gotten this all wrong? Yes I am. Positive does not always equal positive when the bass drum is compressing the diaphragm of your dynamic microphone. Then the woofer imitates that movement. That's not what the woofer should be doing. It should be pushing forward out at the audience/listener, just like the bass drum did on stage. And it's not doing that.

    Don't get me wrong, there is a difference between flipping the phase and the polarity of the speakers with respect to the output of the amplifier. While we are dealing with AC theory there is a DC component involved here. It's like having a function generator that will output either positive going or negative going pulse waves. This is a situation where mathematical theory and logic, doesn't work. We're positive isn't positive but a negative reaction.

    This is where two wrongs make it right. This is what audio engineering is all about. It's not about the math. It's about the sound and only, the sound. It's not what you learned in school. It is contrary to what you learned in school. It's the magic of audio engineering. Something that Mr. Spock would never have been able to deal with. Bitter dregs. He sang about it. That's what I'm talking about.

    Live long and prosper with your woofer.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  13. Makzimia

    Makzimia Active Member

    Simple mistakes are always the most fun. Finished recording a drum take about 6 months ago. Started to mix.. hmm bleed sounds out of phase, forgot to reverse overheads... Doh.
     
  14. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    It's a big club Donny, don't be too hard on yourself. You'll be twice as vigilant next time.

    A friend of mine used to run FOH for one of the region's more popular bands in the 70's. He said they learned right away, that not only was their bass player incapable of setting up his own damn bass rig - you should NEVER hand him any cable with instructions to connect it, no matter how obvious. Their JBL horns had the standard red / black push-post connectors, and their cable had red and black tape on the two conductors. What could go wrong? He promptly twisted the bare red and black wires together, and how he physically attached his achievement to the back of the horns is still a mystery shrouded in the fog of war (or cloud of smoke from the burnt out Crown amp).
     
  15. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    That's halarious!
    Sounds like he was really confused over the concept over bridging stereo to mono?

     
  16. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    No, I will not share my boneheaded....err.....whut were we talking about??
     
  17. Donny Bahama

    Donny Bahama Active Member

    LOL! I am SO using that in the future!
     

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