IF I'M SO SMART...
MINE: prototype for metronome headphones
back in the mid '80's, i decided to take up playing drums again. they were my first instrument, and i had reached a point where playing guitar was simply not fun anymore. banging around on a drum kit is the most fun i've ever had w/music...so i got me a used kit via a classified ad in The Village Voice.
now, the best way to practice is with a metronome - this improves one sense of 'time' (tho this basic tenet of the percussionist's job is often lacking in most drummers...go figure?). the problem is - how exactly to get the puny sound level output of most metronomes loud enuff to be heard of the noise of the kit? i tried various schemes for this: rigged up a complicated system of Oberheim DMX drum machine/amp/headphones, which was cumbersome and too much work. then one day, i was in a Sam Ash and they were blowing out these headphones w/a built-in gain stage for practicing guitar. bingo! - i took my crappy metronome and strapped it to the yolk of the headphones and the result was a lightweight/loud device that did the do. i began to think that this invention might be a product i could market. i worked out a blurb, gave it a name (Clik-In-A-Can...'cans' being studio slang for headphones), and came up with a wish list of features that i knew drummers wanted/would make my creation a 'must-have':
- high-quality isolation 'phones to block out the noise of the kit
- a sweepable tempo range with one beat-per-minute increments (since commercial metronomes often used fixed tempos that are fine for the classical world, but don't reflect the 'feel' factor of popular music)
- an output so the click can be transferred to a recording device
- a digital readout for displaying the tempo
- an input jack so the 'phones can be used as standard studio headphones
- a volume control
- 9-volt battery powered
i wrote all this out, sent it to myself as a certified letter (still unopened to this day!) and sought out the advice of someone who does this fulltime.
Richard Factor runs Eventide - one of the premier nameplates of high-end recording studio signal processing devices. he was intrigued with the idea, but then gave me the reality of patents and equipment manufacturing: don't bother unless you want to spend years and zillions defending your patent in court, since 'busting patents' and knock-offs is what passes for 'business' in the musical gear area.
(aside: he also didn't think much of my idea of mathematically/algorithmically modeling old desirable-but-expensive compressors and signal processors (like 1176's or PULTEC tube eq's) - "no engineer will believe it," he said...nevermind that i had just invented the world of the software 'plug-in' that is now standard in the computer-based musical recording industry.)
so i kept my little idea to myself, continuing to use them and urged my drummer pals to make their own. ah well, i thought... another hair-brained scheme that proved once again that i was out-of-touch with The Real World:
1. Two separate speaker systems (Metronome & Reference)
2. Reference sound from any audio source (line-in). 9' Removable stereo cable (3.5mm X 1/4")
3. Speaker Frequency Response 15-25000 Hz
4. Send Click Out (line-out)
5. Liquid filled cushions for isolation from ambient sound
6. 29dB Isolation Adjustable headband
7. Built-in metronome system with On/Off switch and Volume control
8. Click line out via 2.5mm jack
9. Tempo range 40-260 beats/minute in one BPM increments
10. 9 volt battery powered/included
11. Digital Read-out
! ! ! ! !
needless to say, this was the LAST TIME i let anyone dissuade me from following up on an idea...and that includes continuing to publish this blog.
NP: Kris Kristofferson/”Don’t Let The Bastards Get You Down”
PEEVE DE JOUR: Chase Bank treating one of their own cashier's checks as a private check = i have no dough to live on...