Essay: The tools you have

Since getting my “new” Pentax 645, I’ve been thinking about all the wonderful things that would allow me to get more good out of it. A flash. A zoom lens. One or two long, fixed focal length lenses. A teleconverter. Maybe that 120mm with macro focus. To be sure, all of these things would indeed bring more utility to the camera. And then, I started thinking about my Kodak Duaflex II — and about my music production journey, process, habits, and thoughts. Then, I started to see parallels that deeply concerned me.

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Kids, listen to me (while you still can)

When I was in my teens, 20s and 30s, I never wanted to hear sentences that begin with the phrase, “When I was your age…” And I cringe when I hear myself saying those very words to those younger than I am. But hold on, because I’m about to do pretty much that.

I have some advice for the younger set: Protect your damned hearing already. Like, right now.

Concerts and clubbing are great, but they’re damaging your hearing, even if you don’t know it yet. At your age, I didn’t know it (or notice it) either — and I regret it today. Thankfully, it’s both easy, and now, discrete as well.

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NAMM 2019: Where’s the innovation?

I’ve just returned home from my annual trek to the Winter NAMM Show. For those not in the know, NAMM (the National Association of Music Merchants) has put-on this industry event since 1901, one ostensibly held for the benefit of the music retailers. For media folk and musicians like me, however, it’s rather like an annual opening of the doors to the Willy Wonka factory, an endless fix of dopamine blended from everything music. From DJ gear to lighting to sheet music to band instruments to drums to guitars (lots and lots and lots of guitars), if you cover music gear or tech, it’s a must-do thing to go to Anaheim each year. In 2018, I and 115,000 or so others went; this year’s numbers aren’t out yet, but I’m guessing it was even bigger this year.

I probably saw it coming even last year, but this year’s show in particular was, in sum, a let-down. Whether it’s the fact that we’re clearly between technology innovation cycles at the moment (and have been for awhile), or the fact that I’ve become a bit jaded (likely), I found myself sort of shrugging my shoulders this year.

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The best Bluetooth speaker ever? Maybe…

I have to be honest: I’m just not that keen on Bluetooth speakers. They typically just don’t sound that great, they tend to be a little fussy with connectivity, and they seem expensive for what you actually get. I recently received on loan a review unit of a new Bluetooth speaker that I believe has successfully changed my point-of-view on the entire category, and I like it so much I’m seriously considering buying one once this unit has to go back: The Bose S1 Pro. So what’s so great about it?

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