Posted on 22-09-2011
Filed Under (tech notes) by Jon Stinson

So I was browsing one of the many recording blogs I frequent this morning, Audio Geek Zine, and ended up following a link to a new (to me) blog that I’m extremely excited about.

The DIY Recording Equipment blog. If you’re like me, the techie-geek type of audio engineer, then you’re going to love this site.

I’m sure you’ve browsed plenty of recording magazines, such as Tape Op, and seen ads for building your own mic pres, compressors, 500 series gear, etc. The idea is that you purchase kits, packages of electronic components, with instructions on how to put these components together in order to build a piece of gear that is exactly like, or extremely similar to many of the most popular mic pres, compressors, etc.

It’s a great concept, as many of the people in the DIY community know that by purchasing such kits, you’re able to build your own gear, such as an API 312, or an LA-3A, for a fraction of what the actual name brand unit would cost. It’s also something many geeky-techie audio engineers enjoy, as you’re more-or-less building it yourself.

The tricky thing about these DIY projects, however, is that there’s often a bit of variation in the build, with parts omitted from the kits for this reason. For example, say you’re aiming to build a mic pre, and the documentation in the kit says that there are three versions available, which are all based on the same base circuit. The kit includes all the components for the main circuit, but does not include the opamps, as selection of the opamp depends on what style of preamp you intend to build. So now you have to not only purchase the kit, but track down and price out the correct opamp components, which may or may not be hard to find.

Additionally, the schematics and instructions that accompany such kits are often times written from the extremely techie standpoint, and can be frequently hard to decipher.

I’ve actually never ordered and built such a kit, but I’ve had a couple friends who have. One of my friends, who is a very talented and intelligent audio engineer, ordered a kit to build a compressor that is a very close copy of the popular Neve 33609 stereo compressor. To this day he has yet to complete the project 100 percent, as there are still some parts he needs to track down. His advice to me was, that while yes, he did save money on the compressor, there is a lot of ancillary work and time involved. That to him, since he is so busy with recording projects, he simply does not have the time to devote to projects such as this. To him, he can usually justify the expense of just buying a name-brand piece of gear, plugging it in, and getting to work.

In comes the DIY Recording Equipment blog. So all this is a long-winded explanation of why I’m so excited about this new site I came across this morning. DIY Recording Equipment is a site that simplifies these complications in kit assembly. It provides a central place to buy all the needed components to complete a project, categorizes projects by difficulty/skill level, and provides a ton of education and instruction on the techie stuff that not every audio engineer is hip to.

While I do enjoy a lot of the tech stuff, I’m by no means a legit tech. Audio engineering as it relates to recording – phase, storage medium anomalies, gain-staging, how gear affects the signal, acoustical and psycho-acoustical issues, etc – I’m pretty technically minded of. But Audio engineering as it relates to electrical engineering is a topic I’m not as well versed in. DIY Recording Equipment is now my go-to tool to help me with such specialty.

Check out the site if you’re interested in DIY stuff, wanna develop more of the techie side of your audio engineering skills, or if you simply get excited about the idea of saving money on great gear. I know I do :)

Twitter: @stsn

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