Archive for August, 2009

ZZ Top connects with digital patch



Danny Reeves / Frank Beard

Frank Beard, the drummer with ZZ Top was in the house at Sound Works August 26 from 10pm – 12 midnight. Using digital patch we did a  live nationally syndicated radio show called Rockline, with host Bob Coburn.  Digital Patch technology allows for a live stereo – CD quality connection between two points. Sound Works uses this technology to connect with a network of production studios worldwide several times a week.  Digital patch  allowed Rockline to have Frank Beard live. This cool technology can also be used to extend live recording sessions to other cities!

Last night Billy Gibbons was in LA and Frank Beard in Houston connected via digital patch.  The show Rockline interviews the artists, promotes their tour and plays their music!  During the live show fans are encouraged to call in and ask questions …  I think the funniest question for ZZ Top was “What is your favorite food while on the road?”  Billy answered TV dinners!

If you didn’t hear it – ZZ Top will be streamed for two weeks on Rockline beginning the afternoon following the broadcast. The show featured information about ZZ Top’s new concert tour. The session was engineered by Danny Reeves and Karen Cook took photos.


Frank Beard @ Sound Works



August 27, 2009 at 4:16 pm Leave a comment

Widgets are coming to your TV

Standby … we control the horizontal and the content. TV is about to really embrace the Internet.


This is not web TV – widgets enhance your TV viewing with web content.  Already Yahoo and other information   providers are getting their widgets ready for a new breed of TV from manufacturers like Samsung, Sony, LG, Vizio and Intel. Widgets w

ill do more than bring you information they can bring you movies, sports events, coupons and more.

Intel is developing a widget module to fit to TV’s that don’t ship with the technology. It’s the Intel Widget Channel … they will provide a development environment for all of this widget Internet-based content and services. Widget Channel supports this new platform and will allow growth. The channel will adapt to new software and TV hardware .

widgets2 The good news is that consumers will be able to find and select content and services they prefer. Widget service providers can provide continuous updates and recommendations about content of special interest to them based on location and viewing patterns. Tapping into the power of the Internet allows consumers to share content and connect with their existing social networks and communities right on the TV in their living room.

Privacy … what privacy? Your Internet viewing choices are already public information. This idea may start with widgets but future TV distribution will go to the Internet. Companies are bracing for the future.  Information providers like Google and Yahoo and distribution suppliers like AT&T, Comcast and the mobile providers will duke it out for their share. Widgets are just the beginning of TV landscape changes.

As you can imagine marketing people will love it, there will be a widget explosion.  Ratings services like Nielson already track viewing patterns but with Internet TV results will be more accurate and advertisers will love those stats! So when you ask will this be here? The technology is here now.  We are waiting on bandwidth, lots of bandwidth. We must have cost effective big bandwidth to make this work the way we all expect!

August 21, 2009 at 5:16 pm Leave a comment

Are you Analog or Digital?

Are you in the analog or digital camp? In other words, do you prefer the sound of analog (LP’s) or the sound of digital (CD’s)?

Before you answer, let’s get geeky and look at some definitions and also a list of pros and cons for both types of recording:


Analog: An electrical signal that continuously varies in strength as related to some form of input.  

Analog Recording: A means of recording audio or video whereby the recorded analog signal is a physical representation of the waveform of the original analog signal. Some examples of analog sound mediums are vinyl records or LPs, cassette tapes, 2” 24 track tape, 8-track tapes, VHS tapes etc..


Digital: A reference to a system whereby a continuously variable analog signal is reduced and encoded into discrete binary bits that establish a mathematical model of an original signal or other information.  

Digital Recording: A method of recording in which samples of the original analog signal are encoded on tape or disk as binary information for storage or processing. Some examples of digital sound mediums are CDs, DAT tapes, Digital Betacam tapes, MP3’s, WAVs, AIFs, etc…

Blah, blah blah
analogueDigitalSo, an analog recording is a signal that’s actually stamped upon a recording tape or medium.
A digital recording is actually snapshots of the signal captured in intervals, much like a moving picture can represent action over time when the sequence of pictures are played back in sequence.
Digital one’s and zero’s are stored on mediums such as a compact disc or hard drives.  

  Now that we have a little background, let’s discuss some of the pros and cons of each:

Analog Pros

  1. It’s a an accurate representation of sound but is limited by the device and recording medium.
  2. Many people find analog sound warmer and more pleasing to the ear.
  3. Distortion caused by over driving the recording with volume saturation can deliver a more pleasing result than digital methods.

Analog Cons

  1. Recordings are susceptible to degradation.
  2. Copies of the original recording are noisier and more distorted. 
  3. Editing is more cumbersome and time consuming.
  4. The background noise of the media (tape hiss) and recording device become a part of the recording.

Digital Pros

  1. Easier editing.
  2. Duplicates are an exact copies.
  3. Noise floor usually exceeds human hearing ability.

Digital Cons

  1. Recording at too loud a volume results in a harsh unpleasant sound.
  2. Conversion from analog or one digital format to another must be done carefully to avoid loss of fidelity or gritty sound.
  3. Most people feel that digital recordings are colder or more sterile than analog.

listenOk, made up your mind yet? Did the techno-babble above change your position? Or are you more conflicted?

Let me throw another wrench at you. Most people, even most sound engineers, have a hard time differentiating between the sound of analog and digital. 

Take a few minutes to watch this Wired Science episode that ran recently on PBS and you’ll see what I mean. Audio Files Vs. Audio Files.


Tech Note: Analog tape saturation offers a natural compression, lowering the audio peaks causing softer sounds to seem louder, smoothing high-frequency content (cymbals) and boosting the low bass frequencies.

Ok, here’s my two cents worth – I prefer analog sound because it’s artifacts are more natural and actually pleasing to the ear. Analog distortion is warmer and more acceptable. But digital recordings are easier to manipulate and each copy is an exact replica of the original.

Today there are a variety of tools (Plug-ins) available to the audio professional that can add an “analog” feel to digital recordings.

It’s possible to get the best of both worlds, the ease of digital editing and the warm sound of analog. People will always debate Analog and digital recording methods. Today the best sound engineers use both.

Please post your thoughts and comments below. Look for a future blog entry on this topic including some wild stories …


August 14, 2009 at 9:53 pm Leave a comment

Bob & Weave: Houston’s Creative Throwdown


Join Houston’s top creative professionals as we come together to mix it up August 25!

August 14, 2009 at 7:38 pm Leave a comment

What a great gimmick! Groupon hits Houston

Once in a while you find a great concept and think “I wish I had thought of that”! That’s how I felt when I found – what a great gimmick!  They started in Chicago and added new cities as they got advertisers. Now they are rolling out Houston, today was the first Houston Groupon offering. Groupon uses social networking to funnel people and use it to get the customer to drive more biz…great concept.

How Groupon Works

Groupon is a combination of the words group and coupon. Each day, they offer an unbeatable deal on the best of Houston: restaurants, spas, sporting events, theater, and more. By promising businesses a minimum number of grouponcustomers, they offer great discounts. For the consumer it is “collective buying power”!

If you want to get the deal, just click BUY before the offer ends at midnight. If the minimum number of people (20 for today’s deal) sign up by the end of the day, you’ll get a printable gift certificate in your inbox the next morning that you can use whenever you want (well, at least until the deal expires-today’s expires in six months). If not enough people join, no one gets the deal (and you won’t be charged), so invite your friends to make sure you get the discount!

It’s nice to wake up to something new every day. Some people get their daily fix from desk calendars with a cute puppy and a funny caption every morning. Groupon is like a desk calendar, except the puppy is an unbeatable discount and the funny caption is a profound reflection on the flowers and needles growing from life’s cactus. Like some of the other local search sites they allow people to review food, entertainment and more.


organic I just got today’s Groupon (Houston’s first Groupon) and it offers $35 worth of organic and all-natural food for 57% off at Ruggles Green, Houston’s first certified green restaurant. Ruggles Green, a casual bistro in the Upper Kirby area, serves organic and all-natural food made from quality ingredients. The menu is a collection of comfort food that keeps omnivores and carnivores content; try spicy fish tacos, warm goat cheese salad, 98% lean buffalo burger, tomato basil soup, or wood-fired pizzas (organic margherita pizza and more).

I don’t need to sell you on organic … it reduces the amount of pesticides and chemicals in the environment (and in your food), and it tastes better because organic fruits and vegetables have higher levels of antioxidants, lower average crop yields, and flavor crystals. If enough of us demand organic I think the premium price in the grocery will come down,


August 10, 2009 at 5:11 pm Leave a comment

They Just Haven’t Improved on Them

From the time our pre-historic ancestors crawled out of caves, our ears have been pretty darn important. At first, they kept us from being eaten. Next, we used them to find something to be eaten. Then, they acaveman earsllowed us to communicate with others. Outside of the occasional thunderclap, things were pretty darn quiet for a long while. But something happened when first, gunpowder, and then, the industrial revolution, arrived: LOUD NOISES. If you use your hearing for business, as I do, or just for things like hearing the beautiful sounds of nature, you might want to do everything possible to keep them healthy.

It’s a noisy world and exposure to loud noises is one of the most common causes of hearing loss. Prolonged exposure to noise above 85 decibels can permanently damage your hearing. For example, the noise from power lawn mowers, tractors and hand drills are in the 90- to 98-decibel range. If you regularly encounter bulldozers, chain saws, ambulance sirens or jet engine takeoffs for a minute or longer, you’re also in danger. These exposures produce sounds in the 105- to 140-decibel range. And it’s not just power tools and machinery – Be cautious with iPods and MP3 players. Today’s portable music players can bombard you with a steady serving of sound as loud as 130 decibels.

bigearsThe September issue of the Mayo Clinic Health Letter offers some great tips to protect your hearing:

Wear hearing protection — The best hearing protection device is the one you wear correctly. Whether it’s earplugs or earmuffs, look for something that offers an airtight seal. Wear hearing protection around loud sounds, even when doing everyday tasks such as mowing the lawn.

Be aware of noise – We are so used to things being louder than necessary. Turn down the volume on TV’s or music devices. As a rule, if you can’t hear or be heard by someone within 3 feet, the volume is too loud. And be cautious with headphones — If you’re using headphones and the person next to you can hear what you’re listening to, it’s too loud.

Give your ears a rest — Alternate noisy and quieter activities. In addition to the intensity, how long you’re exposed to a noise can affect hearing loss. In fact, noise that ranks lower on the decibel scale, but continues for a longer period of time, may actually be more harmful than a high-intensity noise that’s intermittent.

It’s really just all common sense. If it hurts your ears, it’s probably too loud.

By the way have you HEARD this one?

An elderly gentleman had serious hearing problems for a number of years. He went to the doctor and the doctor was able to have him fitted for a set of hearing aids that allowed the gentleman to hear 100%.

The elderly gentleman went back in a month to the doctor and the doctor said, “Your hearing is perfect. Your family must be really pleased that you can hear again.”

The gentleman replied, “Oh, I haven’t told my family yet. I just sit around and listen to the conversations. I’ve changed my will three times!”


August 5, 2009 at 10:22 pm Leave a comment

Sound News ~ Internet video, tips and the latest on copyright

Sound News
SoundNews 08/03/09
In this issue:

• hot summer
• internet video
• business tips
success story


It’s been a busy summer with many long and short form projects including an animated feature film, audio books, DVD content & authoring, Internet video projects, creative commercials, building web sites & custom programming with e-commerce, CD and DVD duplication.

THE COPYRIGHT HOT POTATO“There’s battle lines being drawn… Nobody’s right, if everybody’s wrong.”
For What It’s Worth – Buffalo Springfield

image A rational person would surmise that REALLY – You can’t win. Copyright law was written FOR the content creators and copyright holders …

See “Can Music Copyright Exist on the Web? Part IV” and read our latest blog article on music copyright.

Other copyright news:


Let us help you create a video for your web site. Did you know that good video content can market your service or product to obtain higher rankings in the search engines? We know video and SEO.


A PowerPoint presentation can be converted to DVD along with new content or made fresh in video to be more interesting. We can convert your old training or marketing presentations to DVD, adding a professional voice track and updated music to make it current.


Facebook is allowing developers and advertisers to your streaming content. To protect yourself, you must “opt-out”… see our blog for the full story:

SUCCESS STORY has shipped several “Visit London” campaigns to radio stations all over the US and that’s only one of hundreds of success stories. DataSlap is a great way to deliver commercials with confirmation.

Copyright © SoundWorks

August 3, 2009 at 3:22 pm Leave a comment


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