OC's Sound Affair Mastering Creates Quality Vinyl From Scratch

Categories: tech/gadgets

Richard Johnson
Ron Leeper of Sound Affair is OC's cut chemist
Demand for vinyl albums is growing, and the pressure on manufacturers to keep up is growing with it.

Engineers with the tools and experience necessary to put music on wax are increasingly harder to find. In fact, only about 25 "disc cutters" still operate in the United States. Ron Leeper, owner of Sound Affair Mastering in Santa Ana, is one of the few left---and business is booming.

Leeper started in the music industry in 1976 as an intern at Quad Tech Studios in Los Angeles, in the Sunset Boulevard building where Amoeba Records sits today. He spent the next decade working as an engineer, tape duplicator and disc cutter at legendary studios such as Record Plant and United Western Studios in 
Hollywood. Leeper gravitated toward disc cutting, which was thriving at the time, early in his career.

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Why I'm Breaking Up With iTunes

Categories: tech/gadgets

We had a good thing going, iTunes, but you've changed.
By: Andy Hermann
I loved you, iTunes. I loved you, and you betrayed me. You and your evil, malformed henchman, the iCloud, have trashed my 20,000-track music library and I don't know what to do.

I admit, I adopted you reluctantly at first -- I was proud of my CD collection, and those early iTunes AAC files sounded tinny to my ears. But I eventually grew to appreciate your organization and convenience. The data geek in me enjoyed sifting through your clean desktop interface, assigning albums to their proper genres and fine-tuning smart playlists to soundtrack road trips and dinner parties. And after years of toting CD cases back and forth between office, apartment and car, having you in my pocket -- my entire collection, on something the size of an Altoids tin -- felt liberating.

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U2's iPhone6 Invasion: What We Learned

Image from Wiki Commons
It's been nearly 200 years since anti-Irish sentiments (especially "Irish Need Not Apply" signs) became a part of American history. Now, U2, which hails from Dublin, Ireland, has become the poster child for another unwelcome invasion. Starting September 9th, Apple boasted that it would give U2's new album, Songs of Innocence, to over 500 million iTunes customers. What they didn't boast was that the iTunes customers would be getting the album whether they wanted it or not. Any users who allowed purchased material to download automatically to their devices received the album.

The promotion was performed in tandem with the release of Apple's iPhone 6, and, immediately after discovering the compulsory download, bloggers and news outlets began running stories about Apple's inappropriate and invasive move. Adding to the original frustrations of having had their accounts "spammed" or "hijacked," iTunes users found that deleting the invasive and space-hogging album (which has generally received mediocre reviews) was not possible. Apple responded to the criticism the following week by providing a means to eliminate the album from their libraries. Wired magazine observed that "Songs of Innocence is the first album to command a custom-coded deletion tool and an official accompanying support document issued by one of the largest technology companies in history."

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Blackcraft's New Dating App is More Than Just Tinder For Goths

Categories: tech/gadgets

A new dating app has finally updated the granddaddy of all pick-up lines--"What's your sign?"-- for the new millennium.

Blackcraft Zodiac, a mobile application released May 16 by Orange-based clothing and lifestyle brand Blackcraft Cult, has aligned the power of the stars with the screens of our smartphones to service locals looking for love. Users provide their birthdate as part of their online profile, and are matched via GPS with singles in their area carrying compatible Zodiac signs (think Tinder for astrology buffs). For company founders Bobby Schubenski and Jim Somers, calibrating others' horoscopes flowed naturally from their own celestial fortunes.

See also: Blackcraft Turned a Heavy Metal T-Shirt Operation into Big Business

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This App Is a Songwriter's Best Friend

Categories: tech/gadgets


By Erik Thompson

When inspiration strikes, you need to catch it quick -- on a bar napkin, the back of an envelope, a whiteboard or a smartphone. For songwriters, that means capturing that elusive melody or writing down the perfect lyric before it floats away into the ether.

Countless musicians have used their iPhone's notes app and the voice-memo function for these purposes, but how about something that's been designed for their creations? A Minneapolis group is debuting an app called Hum, with the intention of being a faster, smarter, better way to capture and organize your songwriting ideas.

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Parker Macy Soon to Open New Record Store at the Lab


Parker Macy is all over the place in the best possible way. When he's not shredding in Pistolero, he's a solo artist who plays the blues. And as if that weren't enough, he's opening a vinyl record store at the Lab on March 1.

Called Creme Tangerine (it's a Beatles reference), the shop will specialize in classic rock with a focus on jazz and blues and will be a sanctuary where shoppers can kick back, listen to records or spend hours digging through bins.

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Gift Suggestion No. 1: Sirius Radio

The holidays are a great time to score some deals. Yeah, you could pass along those deals to friends and family or you could do what I do and keep them for yourself. For example, today only (or so they say), Sirius Satellite Radio is offering its Starmate 5 radio (in my best TV commercial voice) for the low, low price of $129.99. That's over 80 percent off the original retail price. (When I say that in my head using that commercial voice, I realize I might have a future hawking products).

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Play That Riff...Literally

Fu Manchu guitarist Bob Balch has a website devoted to music lessons. Now, that in itself isn't newsworthy, but I did a little snooping and realized he's really onto something.


Anyone who ever took a lesson knows how boring they are. A 14-year-old wants to learn Metallica riffs (at least I did), not pentatonic, major and minor scales. Balch seems to know this and has set up videos by musicians from bands such as Fu Manchu (duh), the Dwarves, Helmet, TSOL, Torche, Monster Magnet, the Dickies, 3 Inches of Blood, Exodus, Pelican and more. There are even videos with Mike Watt laying down the low end, which is worth checking out even if you don't play any instrument.


The site, which is called PlayThisRiff.com, offers a few free videos, but guests need to register for full access. Yes, there's money involved, but from what I can see from the freebies, this might be the best instruction site on the net.


One of the biggest pet peeves I had when I took those two lessons way back when was how my teacher was completely out of touch with the music I liked. All he wanted to do was jam Beatles tunes all day (I dug -- and continue to dig -- the Beatles, but I didn't want to play their music). In fact, he was so weird that whenever he'd write down transcriptions for me, he'd alter the names of the songs just slightly because he was afraid of getting sued. So instead of being taught "Something," I was being shown how to play "Sum Ting" by "the Beat-less."


And you wonder why I get paid to write about music instead of getting paid to play it.

Check Your Head Mic

Categories: tech/gadgets


Get some head (microphones) and become the envy of your audiophile amigos. Neumann in Berlin (of course) designed this noggin-y novelty.

The KU 100 dummy head is a replica of the human head with a microphone built into each ear.

When the recorded audio signal is reproduced through high-quality headphones the listener perceives a sound image almost identical to the one he would have heard at the recording location of the dummy head (head-related stereophony).

When played back through loudspeakers, the sound matches to a high degree that of conventional stereo microphones, placed in the same position. However, a superior quality is added, that of a distinct spatial depth perception.

Tip: Scott Lonheim