D I O... P A P E R
hate consumer grade digital!
- some strong language.
by Steve Deckert
things don't deserve to live. Surprising is how many of these
things fall into the category of consumer grade digital products. Later
in this rant, I'm going to show you how to permanently fix a Panasonic
does a guy like me who works to perfect the reproduction of music
by inventing audio gear do for fun? I like to
make music and I like to record it. So to that
end, I gathered together my buddies and created a studio
in what was my old wood shop and the Thursday night jam was born.
became a semi-private open jam that revolved around myself (drummer)
and my friend Paul (bass) and whoever we could get to show up. A
slow night would be 4 or 5 of us, a busy night could be 20 people. It was all about spontaneity. We didn't miss a single
Thursday in 10 straight years. I say semi-private because
of incidents like the 48 year old paper boy who liked
to play only Klingon music (Startrek) and the young
lad who discovered Fabreze fabric freshener and started
spraying himself with it every day instead of taking
the host, I got to entertain some ulterior motives that included
recording every session. Most of the time I did a live 2 track
recording that in later years included video. And of course
it became imperative that we get a modest multi-track set up
so everyone could have their own microphone. That way when
some bone head starts choking the crap out of song, I can simply
delete him when I mix it down.
make this happen I had to step up to the plate and purchase an 8
channel digital tape recorder and feed it with expensive hi-grade
VCR/ADAT tapes. We would go through 2 or 3 a night.
worked out fine, except that on playback it always sounded wrong,
the timing and pace were always off. Yea, this digital stuff
is pretty impressive alright. Nevertheless I used it for exactly
1 year, kept it in pristine condition and accumulated about 150
tapes. I rarely had the time during the weekends to sit out
there for hours and mix the stuff down, but that's suppose to be
the beauty of it right... you can wait until you DO have the time
and then mix away.
on the 366th day of ownership, the device decided to display an
error code instead of reading the tape. I looked up the error code
from a list of 12 possible codes. It said tape read error. Well no shit. Then it said under recommended action
to return it to Alessis for service. I then noticed the action
for the other 11 codes said the same thing! So why have the
codes? Wouldn't it be easier to just display the code: F.
U. for every error?
that's been 8 or 9 years ago, and I still have the digital 8 track
ADAT in pristine condition and still can't use it to mix any of
these recordings down, or even hear them!
this device decided (logic) to fail, we went back to live 2 track
on SVHS tape using a hi-fi VCR. An older analog device with
the advantage of being able to put video with the recordings. Eventually
a new digital mixer was purchased along with a lap top to take the
place of the ADAT. This worked much better, however being
a device that operates under Microsoft Windows, it's only a matter
of time before the software to operate the device will fail and
the manufacture of the device will stop supporting it so the end
result is likely to be the same... Tons of 16 track data disks of
our recordings waiting to be mixed down, and can't be. Score
another one for consumer grade digital, what a wonderful thing it
accumulating more SVHS tapes of the live 2 track over the years than
I could find a place to store, I decided to replace the VCR with
a 24bit 96kHz DVD recorder! So I shopped around and bought the heaviest
one. It wasn't cheap. It worked well, except for a few
common digital traits that compromise it's likeability. A) the
device won't operate without a remote and on-screen menus... a brilliant
development in the digital story. B) The disks have to be
"closed" after your done recording to make them somewhat
compatible with at least a few other regular DVD players.... oh,
and the rub is that it took another 10 to 15 minutes for it to go
through this tedious processes of closing disks. C) There are at least 64 different
types of plastic disks that all look like blank DVD's but secretly
all have their own agenda. D) It takes it what seems like
64 minutes for the damn thing to read a disk
while it tries to figure out what kind it is. E) When you're tired
of waiting and hit stop, it simply continues to torture you until
it's damn good an ready to stop. F) After it has finally stopped
and you press the OPEN button to get the CD out, it doesn't open...
until it's damn good and ready to open seemingly coping an attitude
because you dared ask it to do two things, kind of like kids.
this device was a real pain in the ass and I believe it perfectly
and completely encapsulates everything that is wrong with consumer
grade digital logic controlled devices. So it's no wonder
after accumulating almost 200 DVD's that I decide it's time to finalize
them and the device contracts brain cancer and won't read
any of the disks that IT created!
to save this music, I spent two days feeding it disks and waiting
for up to 12 minutes for it to NOT READ the disk, and then another
3.6 minutes for it to open the damn drawer so I could try another
one. Of course it read the very first two I put in it, and
that was it. After spending several more hours taking the
unit apart and carefully checking for problems, ie, weak laser,
misalignment, power supply noise, etc., I could find nothing wrong
with the player. I suspect it is the media, but frankly I
don't know for sure.
this point, I'm starting to vibrate and walk around in tight little
circles trying really hard to talk myself out of shooting it. The
last thing that brought me to this point was a GPS unit that I shot
in my office a few years ago. In my haste to put it out of
it's misery I forgot to wear ear plugs and simply tossed it out
my office window and shot it. My ears didn't like that very
much. So, this time I just took a more hands on approach and
fixed it the prehistoric way as shown below.
if you've ever been frustrated by the low level of functionality,
reliability and ergonomics of this great technological
age and wanted to break the crap out of some digital device
and couldn't... may this bring you some small bit of
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by Steve Deckert