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Read schematics?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1
Read schematics?

Basic question here: How many location AE's here can read and follow an electronic schematic?

Do you find it's helpful in your work or not needed?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #2
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
Basic question here: How many location AE's here can read and follow an electronic schematic?
Can you describe a scenario in which that would matter?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #3
I do some electronics as a hobby and can read a schematic. I don't think it actually improves my recordings, but I think a basic knowledge of your equipment innards is nice if you take your work seriosly.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Can you describe a scenario in which that would matter?
Touring, location work, etc. Interfacing gear is one situation where knowing the circuit design can make/break the ability for one piece to play well with others.

Knowing/seeing the grounding schemes can also make/break the successful interface. I found those skills were needed when I toured as we always seemed to find a situation where some stuff had issues in use. Loading ability determines if one piece can successfully drive a 600 ohm transformer coupled input or not.

Knowing the inside/outs of your tools can be very helpful in extracting the most out it. It also helps the Dirty Harry factor:

"A man's got to know his limitations, and the limitations of his gear".
Old 2 weeks ago
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rumleymusic View Post
I do some electronics as a hobby and can read a schematic. I don't think it actually improves my recordings, but I think a basic knowledge of your equipment innards is nice if you take your work seriosly.
Same here. I think the ability to read schematics is useful, along with soldering skills. I don't use these skills much in my recording gigs - other than soldering up cables now and again.

However, I am a small scale recordist. I run totally battery powered and am typically 8 channels or less. No schematics skills required.

The other thread about the ability to read a music score highlights a skill that I believe is more important in the recording business.

Tom
Old 2 weeks ago
  #6
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emrr's Avatar
Yes, and I have used it to fix equipment in the field so the show could go on. Rare, but it's happened.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #7
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imo about equally important as music reading* - maybe a bit less in the digital age and way less in location recording than in live sound/touring for which i still find it to be very useful if not mandatory in some places...



* Read music? - what thread to expect next, fixing gear? audio networking? dsp programming? nuclear warfare?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #8
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EvilRoy's Avatar
 

Running a home studio.

It’s good to know the basics of an electrical circuit, just so ya don’t blow stuff up. Make sure power and ground is correct and solid. Handy to know how to hook up unbalanced/balanced gear and make/repair cables. Started modding guitars and can understand a simple circuit. Bought an old analogue mixer and needed to understand how all the pieces fit together. Currently reading Electronics for Dummies because I’d like to start modding and repairing stuff myself. Got a couple of old tape decks as projects. Finally bought a temperature controlled soldering iron. I guess one doesn’t really to know this stuff in today’s modern studio, but a little knowledge still really useful.
Old 1 week ago
  #9
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tourtelot's Avatar
Yes. That I can do.

D.
Old 1 week ago
  #10
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jimjazzdad's Avatar
I can read a schematic but I can't read a musical score (I wish I could though). Where I am in my recording career/hobby, with the minuscule budget I operate on, reading a schematic and being able to troubleshoot and solder probably does more for my recordings than being able to read a score.
Old 1 week ago
  #11
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bitman's Avatar
I can and do. And it only helps if trying to fix a piece of gear or make something.
Old 1 week ago
  #12
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Front line maintenance was vital on the road for me , I was the one who carried a gas soldering iron and an AVO on the film crew and fixed all sort of kit.
more vital than score reading, we could be away for months, sometimes very remote.
Old 1 week ago
  #13
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
Basic question here: How many location AE's here can read and follow an electronic schematic?

Do you find it's helpful in your work or not needed?
I think it depends a lot on specifically what you need to do, what skills you have and in todays world IMHO one can get by without it.
Old 1 week ago
  #14
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Yes, I did a minor in electrical engineering in college. Quite handy at times...
Old 1 week ago
  #15
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In a rudimentary fashion, usually good enough to figure out what's what for a basic repair, or form an opinion about the design of a simple circuit. I've done several mods to equipment and built kits to schematics that worked out well--that sort of thing. "Jim Williams level" engineering understanding, not so much. It is very useful to be able to even do what I can do in this regard--really helps you understand what you are looking at when you open something up.
Old 1 week ago
  #16
Lives for gear
How often these days is the schematic for gear even made available by the mfr...let alone printed inside the back cover page of the owner's manual, like in the good old days ? Sourcing the schematic can range from a small to a big hassle, depending on how protective or generous the mfr is of their 'intellectual property'

The internet can come to the rescue, with folks sometimes prepared to share, leak or reverse engineer a schematic if the mfr is reticent...don't know how that sits legally, but it happens regardless. Access price can vary from free to king's ransom/extortion....it's where the disposable-throwaway world ethic wheel meets the DIY-repair it road.

A spec sheet of all interfacing gear can be almost as (or more) helpful than a schematic in terms of guidance on matching impedance, nominal levels etc. On location it's useful to have a multimeter, cable tester, earthing indicator plug....not to mention adapter xlr's with a variety of shielding lifts.

It would be frequently useful to have the building wiring schematics of some of the places I record in....but who's going to supply those....and could you trust them anyway ? I suspect in a few cases they would become legally incriminating documents....

What spec or schematic is going to tell me how crappy my headphones are going to sound when plugged into the 'phones socket of a piece of gear....it would be great if there was a universally reliable standard/metric for that helpful little nugget of info !
Old 1 week ago
  #17
Being an electronic repair tech and designer of my own tube equipment, yes I can read a schematic and build a piece of equipment using that knowledge. It does sometimes help with repairing my own equipment or for troubleshooting. Most times on location I have to rely on back up equipment (which I always carry with me) as I do not have the necessary test equipment or the tools to do a proper fix and most times NO TIME to do it. The problem with a lot of newer equipment is that it is a hybrid of digital and analog and not easy to trouble shoot because I do not know digital processing or how to check for digital problems. FWIW
Old 1 week ago
  #18
To some of us a well done schematic is another form of sheet music. I found it's empowering to be able to read everything in audio. It's not that hard to learn to read music or schematics. It sure can't hurt.
Old 1 week ago
  #19
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
To some of us a well done schematic is another form of sheet music. I found it's empowering to be able to read everything in audio. It's not that hard to learn to read music or schematics. It sure can't hurt.
I seem to recall a story [about Herb Ellis, I think], where a NAMM attendee walked up to the artist - known for being a good studio reader [1] - and asked him to play the sheet music being handed him. Herb asserted that 'it was too difficult: No one could possibly play it.' To which the young man replied: 'You did. I transcribed it from one of your performances.'

Probably I read this in something Tommy Tedesco wrote? Anyone should [always] feel free to correct me.


Cheers Jim,

Ray H.

[1] No one here should be surprised to hear that guitarists - even those known for being very good readers - are notoriously mediocre readers of sheet music in comparison to say orchestral musicians. Even the great John Williams [renowned classical guitarist] stated so and included himself. BTW, I'm a guitarist. I can read a schematic well enough to change a fuse, though.
Old 1 week ago
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RayHeath View Post
I seem to recall a story [about Herb Ellis, I think], where a NAMM attendee walked up to the artist - known for being a good studio reader [1] - and asked him to play the sheet music being handed him. Herb asserted that 'it was too difficult: No one could possibly play it.' To which the young man replied: 'You did. I transcribed it from one of your performances.'
Turning that on its head, there's a guy here in SoCal who sells sheet music of jazz tunes with written-out flyspeck solos, so classical players can pretend to improvise in concerts and recitals.
Old 1 week ago
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
To some of us a well done schematic is another form of sheet music. I found it's empowering to be able to read everything in audio. It's not that hard to learn to read music or schematics. It sure can't hurt.
My son feels the same way about computer code, another handy thing to know in a modern studio. Jack of all trades, master of none. It’s good to know something about everything but there are things I enjoy more than soldering and would prefer to focus on creative endeavours. That said, I’m not exactly independently wealthy and have no choice than to learn schematic reading and electronics repair/modding etc. Studio techs charge more per hour than I earn.
Old 1 week ago
  #22
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Depends on what is meant by "schematic". These can range from a simple block ("signal flow") diagram to a component by component circuit diagram, and circuit board layout wiring diagram with location of components.

To those who are more visually oriented, a good block diagram is better than 20 pages of description in the manual. Bits of gear can usefully include this on a surface of the device itself (thank you Nagra), and useful in working out what control does what in cases of doubt.

PCB layouts and wiring diagrams are "service documentation" are essential if you are on your own (like Rolo46) and the issue has to be addressed on the spot. (However, try getting them out of the manufacturer - and the accompanying skills take time to develop and maintain). Car maintenance might be a useful analogy ...

Circuit diagrams only become useful when accompanied by electronics knowledge, an appropriate bank of test gear and comprehensive collection of spare parts. (No "sound maintenance engineer" in the crew, just the location recordist.) At this level, you are saved only by a kit with a lot of redundancy.

It is almost essential that an independent operator should have the greatest possible familiarity with his gear and basic skills (and tools) to cope with common (but often vital) tasks while on the road (rewiring a connector). Anything more may be unrealistic. But knowledge is power, and I believe the more you know about your gear, the better.
Old 1 week ago
  #23
Here for the gear
 

I can read schematics fluently and have found this skill particularly useful when evaluating questionable claims by people who are peddling their products or services.

Just recently, for example, I saw a posting by some yahoo who was trying to sell the notion that replacing a few pieces of copper wire in a mixer with silver wire would transform the fidelity of the mixer. (By sheer coincidence he just happened to offer this service.) Anyone with even a rudememtary understanding of schematics (or signal flow, for that matter,) could immediately see that such an insignificant modification could not possibly affect fidelity of a mixer.

Yes indeed, reading schematics is a very useful skill.
Old 1 week ago
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RayHeath View Post
I seem to recall a story [about Herb Ellis, I think], where a NAMM attendee walked up to the artist - known for being a good studio reader [1] - and asked him to play the sheet music being handed him. Herb asserted that 'it was too difficult: No one could possibly play it.' To which the young man replied: 'You did. I transcribed it from one of your performances.'

Probably read this in something Tommy Tedesco wrote?

Anyone should [always] feel free to correct me.


Cheers Jim,

Ray H.

[1] No one here should be surprised to hear that guitarists - even those known for being very good readers - are notoriously mediocre readers of sheet music in comparison to say orchestral musicians. Even the great John Williams stated so. BTW, I'm a guitarist. I can change a fuse, though.
Could it be that playing [abilities] are not exactly the same as reading?
Old 1 week ago
  #25
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayne View Post
Could it be that playing [abilities] are not exactly the same as reading?
For guitarists, this is indeed my experience. I’ve never met a strong guitarist that could read anywhere near as good as he/she could play - regardless of genre [including strictly classical players] or time they spent in the studio reading. I believe there are technical reasons for our weakness in this area - it’s not just the culture. Call it an impedance mismatch.

On the other hand, I’ve known several very strong, competent piano players who couldn’t - even to save their lives - play measurably beyond their ability to read.


Ray H.
Old 1 week ago
  #26
I am one of those guys that re-wired his console with premium silver wire from Ray Kimber. Yes, it did make a very noticeable difference but the price of admission is high.

As for guitarists reading music, I concur. The guitar is a polyphonic instrument unlike most besides strings/keyboards. With most instruments, you have one place to play middle C. Sight reading becomes automatic like shifting a car, that "gear" is always in the same place.

With guitar you have 4 places to play middle C. Besides reading and playing the note, a guitarist needs to pick which one and which position to read and play the next note. That can get complicated. It usually requires rehearsal first. Yes, I should have posted this in the "read music" thread.
Old 1 week ago
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RayHeath View Post
For guitarists, this is indeed my experience. I’ve never met a strong guitarist that could read anywhere near as good as he/she could play - regardless of genre [including strictly classical players] or time they spent in the studio reading. I believe there are technical reasons for our weakness in this area - it’s not just the culture. Call it an impedance mismatch.

On the other hand, I’ve known several very strong, competent piano players who couldn’t - even to save their lives - play measurably beyond their ability to read.


Ray H.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
As for guitarists reading music, I concur. The guitar is a polyphonic instrument unlike most besides strings/keyboards. With most instruments, you have one place to play middle C. Sight reading becomes automatic like shifting a car, that "gear" is always in the same place.

With guitar you have 4 places to play middle C. Besides reading and playing the note, a guitarist needs to pick which one and which position to read and play the next note. That can get complicated. It usually requires rehearsal first. Yes, I should have posted this in the "read music" thread.
Between the reading of a note and the playing of a note, a choice has to be made concerning "where" that note should be played. In some music, this "choice" is clear enough that the music can be sight-read, but in other music, the "choices" are not clear and sight-reading becomes a struggle. (I won't say impossible because you never know what people are capable of.)

I actually made a chart of the fretboard indicating how many places each pitch can be played on the fretboard because I had never seen anyone write it out. I used a 6 string 24 fret guitar as a model. There are 48 unique pitches and 102 redundant pitches. Guitarists do not use all of these options though. The chart is kind of confusing, like a schematic, but the point is there will always be an element of "choice" that other instruments do not have. Choice and redundancy may be weaknesses for sight-reading but they are strengths in other areas.
Old 1 week ago
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Given To Fly View Post
I actually made a chart of the fretboard indicating how many places each pitch can be played on the fretboard because I had never seen anyone write it out. I used a 6 string 24 fret guitar as a model. There are 48 unique pitches and 102 redundant pitches.
Aren’t there only 10 unique pitches—the lowest five on the low E string and the highest five on the high E string? (not counting harmonics)

And aren’t there only 49 possible fretted or open notes on a standard two octave guitar?

What am I missing?
Old 1 week ago
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeDeF View Post
Aren’t there only 10 unique pitches—the lowest five on the low E string and the highest five on the high E string? (not counting harmonics)

And aren’t there only 49 possible fretted or open notes on a standard two octave guitar?

What am I missing?

I confused myself quite a few times while figuring it out, so I may still be confused. The range from lowest pitch to highest pitch is 4 octaves or 48 pitches. The range on each individual string is 25 pitches because the open string needs to be counted. 6 x 25 = 150 pitches.

I made a mistake.

38 standard pitches +102 redundant pitches + 10 unique pitches = 150 total pitches

The unique pitches are not redundant so they need to be subtracted from the range of the guitar (48 pitches). Now, there are only 38 standard pitches with 102 redundant pitches. (140 pitches). Add the 10 unique pitches back in and you get 150 pitches.

The point is there are reasons sight-reading is weird on the guitar.

Thank you for pointing out inconsistencies.
Old 6 days ago
  #30
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My formal qualification is Radio Tradesman. I have found it invaluable throughout my audio-related career - and especially since the advent of mobile phones. No matter where I am in Asia or the Himalaya, I can always duck into a mobile phone repair stand, flash some pocket change around and get access to a decent soldering iron, tools, well-lit workbench and components (or advice on where to source them locally).
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