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Omigosh! New Focal SM9 monitors RAWK! (while being accurate!)

June 1, 2011 in Gear, Music, Updates

The Focal SM9 is the only monitor we know of that is designed to be a loud, ultra-accurate and musical sounding 3-way monitor with an additional 2-way monitor built in.

In the 3-way mode (which also has an 11″ passive radiating woofer on it’s top side – similar to the $15K/pair SM11s) the cleanliness and detail are stunning, all the way to the 108 db that we heard them at!  Really!  The published specs (in and of itself a revolution in published specs for studio monitors!) max the volume at 116db, but honestly at 108 db (in a beautifully-treated acoustic space) it was already too darn loud for our ears, although we detected zero distortion.  Totally amazing to hear that kind of clarity and freshness at that kind of volume.  Focal demoed them for the Sweetwater sales engineers on Tuesday morning and all were blown away.  Also at nominal and low levels the perspicuity is still amazing as expected from a Focal.   And now you know a new word too!  :)
The 2-way switch disables the powered woofer and turns the Focal into an alternative monitor that is similar to other small powered 2-ways.  Also, the wattage changes at that point from 600 watts total in the 3-way config. to 200 watts per each 2-way speaker.  The design and construction are such that the stereo imaging maintains integrity between the 3-way and 2-way monitoring as well.  In the 2-way mode, we heard a considerable lessening of the volume (ok, that’s reasonable 600 watts and 3 speakers vs. 200 watts and 2 speakers) and the passive radiator did not move hardly at all.  The 2-way mode gives an excellent reference for small speaker systems and consumer systems.

OK and the bass!  That’s where the ‘Omigosh!’ comes from really.  To hear the full richness of the 11″ radiator in harmony with the 3-way powered speakers is a joy to behold.

ALSO these two features (2- / 3- way and passive radiator) really reduce the footprint normally required to produce this kind of sound.  Really one would have to have two sets of monitors and a subwoofer to accomplish this prior to the SM9s.  Now, all one needs is the SM9s, which is a huge benefit to most home and project studios (and many commercial studios too) that just don’t have the room for multiple speaker setups.

What a deal at only $3595 each?  Well, yes, they are not cheap but not really that bad when you add up two speaker sets (one set of world-class monitors and one set of  not so world-class but not horrible), a subwoofer, and monitor contoller-switch.   Another cool studio monitor from Focal, keep up the great work!

Here’s a link to the full specs data – click here!

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Anybody Remember Sedelia? John McEuen Does For Us!

May 17, 2011 in Music, Updates

Another in a series of great road stories about the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, penned by founding member and friend of TheK2BShow, John McEuen.  Thanks John, we are all richer due to these stories!

A lot of us missed Woodstock, including some who were there. It has been said that if all those who say they were there had been there, it would have been more like 5 million people. The premise of the 1974 Sedalia concert was to recapture that show’s legendary vibe… just like the big time, only… smaller. Well, it started that way, ‘smaller’..  The word was that although it was doubtful the hyped for 40,000 people would show up, it would be a great time, like we’d all heard Woodstock was for many. Only this time there was money in it for all. Then it grew.

First, finding out a week or so before that yes, there were 50,000 ticket buyers so far. … (Tickets were selling faster than expected, as it grew close). Then, finding out people were arriving, showing up mid-week already, and the 3-day show hadn’t started yet. By mid-week of the show over were 75,000 sold, half of them were there, and already there was nowhere to park in the town, so they parked everywhere. VW’s with hippie signage, pickups, buses, campers… anything that would classify as a rolling party showed up.
another 25-50,000 showed up the first show day in addition to the pre-sold; then McDonald’s closed because it ran out of food. This closing shook up even the hippies, like the navy running out of sailors would an admiral. The very basis of one’s existence -food- was compromised, and it made one subliminally  uneasy with the rest of the day. (McDonald’s ran out of food? Wow.. cool. Really?  hmmm.. how are we gonna eat? what does this mean.. well, cool.. we’ll find food.) But it was HOT. Remember, this was when people didn’t complain about McDonald’s, but felt lucky to find one. As they say, back in the day. Back when people said things like “I really got fried last night”, before they said, as they do now, “I can’t eat that, it’s fried”.

One official count on Saturday of 184,000 people was a shock to all. (some later said it was more like 240,000)

It became mandatory: chopper-to-stage if you wanted to get to work. Even the politically protesting musician hippies started to appreciate the Vietnam chopper vets in a way they’d never imagined, as street traffic made it impossible to drive to the stage. The only way to rock and roll was to fly in low and fast. Like a MASH run, bands picked up at the hotel were ferried to the backstage landing spot for R & R, then they’d take the band that just finished back to the hotel for a different R & R … and S.. and D. You can figure that out. The good news on the Saturday we played was that the Hell’s Angels had taken over backstage security…that was the good news, but they were doing a fine job. And it was HOT.

We were preceded by guitar great Leo Kottke, so when he finished we were to set up – while the Ozark Mt. Daredevils played on the other half of the stage. I arrived early to see Kottke, well before he went on, and decided to go out and be ‘with the people’ I had just flown over. I wanted to see what it was like in the middle of 184,000 people who, from the stage, looked like a field of basketballs with long hair. I swam through the crowd to the sound mix scaffolding, and surveyed the sea of hair, all crammed on to the fairgrounds racetrack as Kottke started playing.

(I was wondering why Leo had covered his guitars with towels, thinking that must help the sound on this huge stage.. or maybe he was sweating too much. I was to find out soon why.)

Wolfman Jack, America’s D.J. of the time, was introducing the next act. We had known Jack a while, done his TV. show (Midnight Special) many times, and I wanted to see what it was like to see him in front of a live audience. Well… from the sound mix position he was about 1” tall, and that basso saw blade voice of his sounded like it was coming from someone’s car speakers across the field.
The sound was set up for 50,000 or so people, but there were now 3 _ times that many.. but it was o.k. once the bands kicked in.

As the NG Dirt Band had 3 recent top-40 hits (Mr. Bojangles, House at Pooh Corner, Some of Shelley’s Blues) and the …Circle… album had recently been released, we were anxious to do our set. This was once place, Missouri, where we knew we could hold our own up against the others like REO, Skynyrd, the Tucker boys, and the Eagles.  I headed back to get my stuff set up and felt like I was preparing to get on the Titanic knowing what I know now. It was an ‘edgy’ feeling, knowing there were simply too many fish in the bowl and we were getting ready to throw out a few crumbs.

We started off with Shelley’s Blues, a banjo led song – and being the first banjo on this hot stage in the heart of the baking Ozarks helped get some new heat from this sweltering audience. Our set was hot all the way through, and this was truly one of our best shows of that year. Did I say it was hot.. and so was the weather?  This region was, after all, where most of the training for Vietnam was going on. It was reportedly 110˚ onstage – that was the air that was moving -  the reflected heat from all the metal light trusses, road cases, equipment, added to the plywood stage heat reflection made it feel like we were in a giant chicken rotisserie and about 125˚.

The third song, Cosmic Cowboy, I was to play my lap steel guitar. I vividly remember picking up the sun drenched metal slide bar and dropping it as fast as I could – it was about 140˚.. I poured water on it to cool it enough to hold on to it, and then made the mistake of putting my lap steel on my lap and touching the strings. NOW THAT was hotter! It had been absorbing the direct sun and, well… the song was going to start so I took a bottle of water and dumped it on it, and glad it still worked. I understood Kottke now.

The cosmic long-hairs’ anthem started and brought the biggest hoot we had ever heard (the lyric:I just want to ride… and rope…. and hoooo…t”) right on cue. Closing with Battle of New Orleans, we had won the battle to stay alive, and left to a standing ovation from the 183,000 people.

It’s good for  ‘ego reality’ to keep in mind that they were standing all day long, though.. It wasn’t possible to sit down in that crowd. I think the cumulative weight the band lost in our hour was about 28 lbs., and we left a couple of choppers later. Had to catch REO first. They were great. Overall, reflecting back over the NGDB’s 40 years on the road, Sedalia was one of the top 10 for us. Maybe it had something to do with the previous time we played the same fairgrounds (1972) was we opened for the Jackson 5. This Sedalia show was, in spite of heated adjectives above, a lot cooler.

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Annie and the Beekeepers vid “In the Water” from our friends at Benchmark and Masters From Their Day!

December 28, 2010 in Gear, Music, Updates, Video

Thanks to our friends at Benchmark for this cool video of Annie and the Beekeepers song “In the Water”. A trio of guitar/voice, cello and upright bass, these Berklee grads sound great, and even greater using Benchmark gear.

Music studios are catching on and in recent years Benchmark mic pres and converters are cropping up in studios across the country.  As an historically ‘engineering-driven’ company, Benchmark is realizing the power of the web so they’ve started a really cool video marketing series called “Masters From Their Day”.  You’ll see all of them here on TheK2BShow site or if you can’t stand the wait for each episode, check them all out at the Masters From Their Day website. Click here for the main home page for Benchmark.


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Alain Le Kim’s documentary on Dave Hill and Cranesong!

December 20, 2010 in Gear, Music, Updates, Video

As promised, here’s the first installment of the documentary called “Crane Song – Superior Gear, The story of Dave Hill”, that originally aired on TheK2BShow, Nov. 17th.  We’ll post another new installment of this film each month until it’s all been previewed and then we’ll move on to Alain’s documentary on EveAnna Manley called “Manley, Rule of Tubes”.  These are greatly informative docs that are well done and quite interesting.  See all of Alain’s films here and check back for new installments.  Dave Hill is a friend of TheK2BShow and a real audio genius.   See Cranesong gear and read about Dave here. Enjoy!!!

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The First Show! Wow! Sneak Peek Photos!

November 19, 2010 in Gear, Music, Photos, Updates, Video

Backstage at TheK2BShow

OK!  The pilot for TheK2BShow is finally in the can!  Thanks to EVERYbody that helped on the show and also to the great audience members that saw history being made!  After all, it’s REALLY about the audience and serving up some great entertainment, which is what happened.

Even KennyKenny didn’t look that bad on TV, who’da thunk it?  (And, his monologue was actually funny!  Kinda.)  Fantastic musical guest Carson McClain wowed the audience with some Detroit Electro using the real, vintage 808, etc.  Marcel James, of Antelope Audio came all the way from LA to give us a scoops on the soon-to-be-released awesome A/D and D/A converters called the Zodiac and newest Michael Jackson record and there was even a live, onstage guitar lesson that was very enlightening (thanks to guitar student Jim Burge for graciously being a guinea pig on that!).

The show is being edited now and of course will be posted here soon on the upcoming “Full Episodes” page, as well as segments from the show in various places.   For now, check out the great slideshow done by our very own DJTrend, a popular photographer and DJ in the area, by clicking here –  TheK2BShow SlideShow by DJTrend! Thanks again, and check back soon for the show video!

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OH Wow, ProTools 9!

November 9, 2010 in Gear, Music, Updates

Well, if you haven’t heard yet, ProTools is officially at Version 9 now!  AND it works on ANY audio interface hardware – ASIO, Audio Units, ANYthing!  Does it mean that we’re old because we still have an unopened box of Sound Designer 1.0 from 1984?  :) (For you youngsters, Sound Designer was the great-grandaddy of ProTools and the first product ever to come from what was known then as Digidesign.)   Old is good sometimes, but mostly new is better in the case of software.

There’s a ton on new features in ProTools 9, see an overview here and then click here for detailed info on the new features.  One of the MOST requested and exciting features of the new PT9, other than working with non-Avid hardware, is ADC, which stands for Automatic Delay Compensation.   Basically, that is when one adds a plugin into the session, the DAW software now polls the plugin for its inherent latency and then compensates the timing of the playback accordingly, giving a much more phase-coherent and solid-sounding track.

Not sure which ProTools is right for you?  Click here for a comparison chart of all the new PT9s and the previous PT8s. There is no more ‘LE’, only ProTools9 and ProTools9HD, with the addition of the Complete Production Toolkit 2 option for PT9 only (PT9HD already contains the features of the Complete Production Toolkit 2).

OK, what a deal!  How much for it and can one get an upgrade from older versions of ProTools?  Click here to find out (and don’t get sidetracked – they are ‘upgrades’ meaning one must own previous ProTools to qualify, Avid calls them ‘crossgrades’.)  Even though they are called crossgrades, they are not ‘crossgradeable’ from competitive products, only from previous versions of ProTools.  Just sayin’…

Have fun!

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New ‘Music to Listen to’ Page added!

November 5, 2010 in Gear, Music, Updates

OK, well now we’re in big trouble because we have a page that is for LISTENING TO MUSIC!  There’s a cool concept.  After all the talk and demos and products and specs, there’s the actual music!   We’ve added this page for anybody that wants to send us music to post on this page.  Soon you will be able to upload it yourself to this page, which will really be rad.   Check out the offerings and that page by clicking here.  Have fun and thanks for any comments you can post about the music.

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Very Cool Rubblebucket Vid by Benchmark

November 2, 2010 in Gear, Music, Updates, Video

Benchmark has been producing ultra high-quality audio gear for the production studio for the past 27 years.  When the audio is critical, (and when is it NOT?) broadcast and film guys insist on the pristine sound of Benchmark gear .  Music studios are catching on and in recent years Benchmark mic pres and converters are cropping up in studios across the country.  As an historically ‘engineering-driven’ company, Benchmark is realizing the power of the web so they’ve started a really cool video marketing series called “Masters From Their Day”.  You’ll see all of them here on TheK2BShow site or if you can’t stand the wait for each episode, check them all out at the Masters From Their Day website. Click here for the main home page for Benchmark.

This first video from Benchmark is an excellent band from Brooklyn – Rubblebucket.  It’s a good-looking video directed by Isaac Deitz and if you’ve not been in the studio yet as a recording artist, it’s a great slice of life inside the studio.  All converters and mic preamps are, of course, Benchmark, and the un-compressed .wav file is available for free download here.  Also,  -VERY COOL Alert! – they posted for free the individual tracks for you to download and remix the entire song!  Get those tracks here – Rubblebucket remix page. If you remix this song and want others to hear it, email us and we’ll post it here and you get a free K2BShow, glow-in-the-dark guitar pick, the collector’s edition!   Enjoy!   :)

To see if Rubblebucket is playing near you, click here – The Rubblebucket dates page.

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Novation Unveils New ULTRANOVA Keyboard

October 28, 2010 in Gear, Music, Photos, Video

The cool new ULTRANOVA synth has its roots in Chris Huggett's SuperNova II

Novation debuted a cool new keyboard today at Sweetwater called the UltraNova.  Created by Chris Huggett, famed OSCar inventor, it features a built-in mic for the very hip Vocoder function as well as true conductive-rubber pots for accurate and instant programming.  Three intense oscillators that can multiply themselves and stack them on top of each other for thickness and, of course, a K2BShow favorite, wackiness!  Matt Darbyshire, Product Specialist for Novation, showed it off in the Sweetwater Morning Meeting and trained the Sweetwater sales engineers on the vast and powerful features of this new 37-note wonder.  The factory sounds are thick and rich and of course, tons of knobs to tweak away, including a “Tweak Mode” button that lets one control any parameter from an extra bank of 8 soft-knobs. See a video about that here.  Also, the patch selector is an iTunes-style  browser that makes it easy to pick any of the over 300 factory sounds AND it comes with a free patch editor/librarian software too!
Check out more about it here, but please don’t hurt yourself, this baby packs a punch!  :)

Here’s a video of Matt doing a short performance on the new ULTRANOVA!

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COOL New Moog synth – The Slim Phatty is unleashed!

October 14, 2010 in Gear, Music, Updates

OK< Wow!  Check out this great new, AFFORDABLE, true-Moog synth.   The Slim Phatty was just announced today!  At under $800, with free shipping from Sweetwater, this is probably the most synth-for-buck that is on the market today.  Great modulation and CV options, small, light and DID WE MENTION – it’s only $795 for that really fat and satisfying Moog sound?   Check it here –

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