Tuesday, October 21, 2014

You Know I’m Gone When . . .

AP ATS1 (7)For 13 years the core of my service shop had been my Audio Precision ATS1, the coolest piece of test equipment I’ve  played with since I had constant access to the AP System I at QSC. When I was doing regular studio maintenance, I carried this great piece of equipment along on almost every service call. I had customized an old biomed ICD case to fit the AP and that case and the equipment it contained flew across country several times, travelled in the back of my nasty old Ford Escort through heatwave and blizzard, and suffered the slings and arrows of living in my basement shop for more than a decade between trips. AP knocked it out of the park with this series of test gear and I learned more from using mine than I did from four years of electrical engineering classes.

AP ATS1 (1)You can get to many of the same places with regular test equipment, but you get there mu ch faster with a great piece of specialized gear. Frequency sweeps with a variety of resolutions, speeds, and steps, which are documented and printable, provides a lot more immediate information than an otherwise perfectly functional sweep generator and oscilloscope. The same goes THD, phase, IMD, input impedance, and power measurements. A variety of otherwise painful, complicated, and troublesome system checks can be almost automated with the ATS1 and that makes troubleshooting a pro console in the studio environment more consistent, professional, and documentable. Again, that’s also true for multi-track tape decks, external gear, and studio wiring.

A few years ago, I more or less planned on letting my estate sort out the value of things like the ATS1 and a few other indispensable pieces of electronic test equipment I’ve relied on for most of my career. When I retired last year, I began to reconsider that plan. I have felt no compulsion to return to audio engineering, even on a hobby basis. So, last week I put the ATS1 on eBay (http://www.ebay.com/itm/301350546710?ssPageName=STRK:MESOX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1561.l2649) for a very reasonable price and a rental company snapped it up. I’d rather see it used to death than have it rot in my basement shop unappreciated and unused. Electronic equipment, like mechanical equipment, needs occasional use to keep electrolytic capacitors and other parts operational. I’d say I hated seeing it go, but I didn’t. We’ll use the money on our retirement home and being mortgage-free is more important at this point in my life than having the capability to do work I no longer want to do. With that in mind, this is my odd way of saying “so long and good luck” to a great piece of equipment and some great years of my career.

Without the ATS1 in my toolbox, I have one more excuse to turn down crawling around under a studio console or banging my head against some moronic piece of poor design work or swabbing out Coke, coke, or some other crap from broken effects boxes.

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Wirebender Audio Rants

Over the dozen years I taught audio engineering at Musictech College and McNally Smith College of Music, I accumulated a lot of material that might be useful to all sorts of budding audio techs and musicians. This site will include comments and questions about professional audio standards, practices, and equipment. I will add occasional product reviews with as many objective and irrational opinions as possible.