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Trouble Shooting: Ideas And Explatives

Troubleshooting problems in the studio is an essential skill. Here are some ideas on how to approach it and how much you should curse.

Luke DeLalio – April 8th 2022

I didn’t manage to get my video setup working this week. Problems. Which sucks, but problems are a part of, I guess… virtually everything. About the only problem I don’t run into is having problems having problems. Having problems seems to work fine constantly.

I curse a lot even on good days. It sorta goes through the roof when I run into problems in the studio.

And I started thinking of how I solve problems (and how much cursing is involved). I recall using the first version of Pro Tools that was released. This is back in, like, 1991? It was brand new, and it sucked. It crashed constantly, like an overzealous Kamikaze pilot, and had so many totally counterintuitive bullshit functions… there was an overall level control in the EQ section, and its default position was all the way down. So you’d switch in the EQ and it would cut the channel out completely. And the knob was tiny, so looking at the EQ, you thought it was a filter or some such. And who in their right mind adds a level control IN THE FRICKIN’ EQ????

After god knows how many crashes, I took the manual – it was in a ring binder – and threw it out the studio window. The rings opened up and the pages blew in the night air and rained down over the parking lot like Nazi propaganda dropped from a plane. The assistant was a lovely girl named Yoshimi. She started crying. It was because I was cursing so much, I think, but on the bright side she learned a lot of new English vocabulary that session. I still am not fond of Pro Tools.

Problems happen. You must get through them. It does suck. Especially with clients there and the clock running. You will not be feeling good about yourself, so you need to find the problem fast and fix it fast. Here are some ideas and thoughts on the matter.

Gear Doesn’t Usually Break

I’ll tell ya right now, broken gear is almost NEVER the problem, because gear seldom blows up. Now, if you’re working with old tube stuff or vintage equipment, yes, this stuff does break, but generally analog stuff gets noisy or crackles, or the switches and pots are intermittent, and it’s really clear that something is wrong with the piece of gear.

I have thousands of hours in the studio. Blown gear has been the issue like five times. Every other time is was me or someone else (usually me) being a fucking moron and setting something wrong or patching something wrong. If your gear is modern stuff, it doesn’t blow up. The smart money is on you making a mistake.

Check that stuff is plugged in and switched on. I cannot begin to tell you how often this is the problem.

Mics Don’t Usually Break

Rarely do mics just stop working. They’re very reliable. Even my vintage 1961 C-24 condenser NEVER stopped a session because it had a problem. …………..

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