XLR connectors

Why is there a little slot cut into the end of the male XLR connectors?
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It’s a locking mechanism of course!  You plug that into an XLR socket and a latch licks down on it so that the foolish singer or lead guitarist won’t rip it out of the PA when they trip over it.  (We all know that bass players could never do a thing like that…cos they don’t move around the stage.  Bass players groove on the spot.)

So in a live environment, this is a good thing, right?  Any band member that trips or gets tangled up in the mic leads will either fall over or strangle themselves but the show will go on!  This system has a few issues though. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how hard you press in on that little latch to release the lock, it just won’t let go.  I dealt with this issue some time ago in the home studio environment.  I had to pull apart my Focusrite sound card unit in a crazy attempt to free my mic lead from it’s ultra clingyness.  From memory, it was a mixture of brute force and some kind of pointy implement that freed that mic cable.  So do I never use that socket on the Focusrite ever again?

Let me tell you right now that I didn’t buy a sound card with 8 pre’s to only be able to use 7.  There is only one other option.  Disable the locking mechanism from working.  I know that I’m not going to use these cables in a live environment.  That’s what the house PA is for.  And what’s the simplest way to disable this mechanism?  Cut the end out of the plug so that the slot is now open.  Now I just have to overcome that feeling of “I paid good money for this and now I’m gonna physically hack into it.”
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Since We Last Met…

Sometimes life takes hold and it won’t let you do what you really want (as in need) to do.  It’s been a bit like that around here lately.  At times, the ever present day gig demands all of your time and attention…And then when you do have time, a raft of “needs to be completed before you can do this other thing” hits hard.  All of this when I need to be recording vocals for some tracks that I laid down in December.

The weekend before this one, I felt it was time to clear out / tidy some of the clutter in my creative space.  This lead to me digging out some of the pieces of audio rack gear that I had stashed away.  Unable to use them without putting aside sufficient time to set them up, I found that I would never use them at all.  In amongst them, I found a gem that needed a bit of repair.  It’s a Symetrix 421m – Mic Pre, Expander, AGC-Leveller, Limiter.  All in all, a very transparent sounding mic pre.  I don’t know about all sound cards, but my Focusrite with it’s nice 8 channels of mic pres never allows me to get enough volume out of my mics and I’m forced to add extra gain in the digital domain, which is something I’d prefer not to do.  The 421m sits the volume right in the sweet spot.  Problem with this one is that one of the pots was sheered clean off in transit.  So I spent Sunday evening, soldering iron in hand, destroying the PCB while attempting to unsolder the pot.  After I calmed down enough to stop swearing, I figured that I could just re-route the next/previous component straight to the new pot with a bit of point-to-point wiring.  Success!  While I have still to use her on a recording, she was sounding really clean with the tests that I put through.  She now lives in a proper rack, ready to be used at a moments notice, although now that I’ve had this soldering success with her, I’m beginning to wonder what effort would be required to relocate the gain and phantom power switches from the rear of the unit to the faceplate…

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On Tuesday night, everything else got put on hold and I was lucky enough to score a late ticket to Kyuss Lives! at the Palace.  I was also pumped to see Orange Goblin, who I didn’t think I was ever going to see live.  I’m surprised to find that Ben Ward from Orange Goblin is only 6′ 5″.  He seems to be about 8′ tall on stage!  I thought OG played very well but the sound wasn’t there.  With a better front of house sound, I reckon more of the crowd would have got into what they were doing.

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Kyuss Lives! were loud…and they sounded fantastic on top of that.  There may only be 2 original members from their heyday as Kyuss, but they owned the Palace on Tuesday night.  It was interesting to note that most of the members of the other bands from that night watched KL! from the side of the stage.  You don’t see that too often…

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There are so many gigs for me to see in Melbourne over the next couple of months, that I can’t possibly afford to see all of them.  The next one for me is Neil Young at The Plenary (unless I decide to get tickets for an acoustic Tea Party show 2 days before that) and then the very next night Opeth and Katatonia play the Palace.  Interesting to go from Neil Young one night to Opeth the next isn’t it?
It also looks like I’m going to visit The Empress in Nth Fitzroy for a bit of open mic action on Tuesday night.  There’s no way for me to know what time I’m on or even if I can get a spot until I have registered on the night.  Regardless, I always enjoy watching other songwriters perform.  There are some real uncut gems performing out there.