I’m Blogging!

Welcome to the first Heil Sound blog from SXSW. And the last time that I use those letters in that order. Today I was informed by the publicist from the festival that only licensed sponsors (read $$) can use the letters SXSW, so from now on we will refer to the “festival” or “South by Southwest.” So much for the laidback and groovy festival vibe-they have lawyers! No worries, I will prevail and bring the news of the festival, and Heil Sound’s involvement to this blog.

South by Southwest is a vast scene and within that are other scenes. Lots and lots of other scenes. Imagine Sundance, Mardi Gras, Lollapalooza, & the Food Network (Rachel Ray throws a big bash) running at the same time in a major college town. It’s big and while it began as a means for up and coming bands to showcase for record labels, it’s now, well, vast. Hundreds of bands perform in clubs, theaters, hotel ballrooms and convention center spaces. Austin becomes a sea of vans and trailers as the indies gather.

Several years ago I became convinced that the only way for a professional microphone manufacturer such as Heil to accomplish anything at this festival is to focus on a few events and venues. “Own” the stage and do the best job possible of supporting the production folks and the artists. To that end, Heil is involved with three pretty cool and interesting groups. The One 2 One Bar on 5th Street, the PureVolume House on Trinity, and the Daytrotter Sessions, which is in a little shack somewhere, near the freeway. More on that one later. We also have a slew of FOH (Friends of Heil) in town performing.

I’ll be updating this blog daily-it should be a blast!

By Greg McVeigh

Guesthouse Projects, Inc

PR & Artist Relations for Heil Sound

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One Comment

  1. Richard Stambaugh
    Posted March 26, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Bob Heil – - -
    March 28, 2011

    Dr. Mr. Heil,
    Listening to you with Leo Laporte brought back many fond memories of my early work with microphones and loudspeakers. I was with Altec Lansing (All Technical Service Company)* shortly after they moved from LA to Anaheim, CA. Altec had taken over the manufacturing of the Western Electric transducers, primarily aimed at the movie industry. We built the “A” series theater sound systems as well as dynamic, ribbon and condenser microphones.

    The preeminent mic for studios was still the Western Electric 639, a behemoth with two elements – a large aluminum ribbon and their old stand-by pressure element – at that time using an aluminum diaphragm – later changed, by Altec, to mylar. We didn’t continue production because it was state-of-the-art, rather because certain Hollywood sound men insisted on it. We were constantly re-working damaged microphones – favorites – for the old time gents.

    Western Electric had developed a capacitor microphone that became the standard of the industry in the ’40s and ’50′s for calibrating mics. This mic had a 1-inch aluminum diaphragm. At Altec, we took this basic design, scaled it down, came up with a gold plated glass diaphragm – roughly half-inch diameter and this became the “21 series” condenser mic – good for several years.

    In the ’50s and ’60s, management at Altec was pretty much old school – did not understand the movement to solid state – etc, etc. As a result of not keeping up with the changing tide, shortly after, the were sold to Jim Ling of Ling Temco Vougt, and not long after that, closed the doors.

    Ling, however, had a research division in Texas. Mr. Ling was interested in an acoustics research division. Four of us from Altec moved into a small building down the road from Altec – hired a few PhD’s and set out to garner federal contracts – which we did with gusto.

    In the ’50s the Feds were developing their space hardware. Of great concern was the noise and vibration of the up-and-coming rockets to be manned for a trip to space – the moon – and beyond – maybe. The scientists developing this hardware were concerned that the noise alone might damage – or disintegrate the ship. So, could we develop a noise source massive enough to simulate a rocket taking off. We did. One of our outstanding engineers developed from scratch an “Air Modulator” – technically an Electropneumatic Transducer.
    This thing produced intensities in excess of 170dB. In a test chamber it would set afire the fiber glass insulation – remove the skin of a dead animal – etc. By banking this thing with 50 to 100 compression drivers with beefed-up diaphragms, we could have a fairly full audio spectrum. We modified the drivers by replacing the aluminum diaphragms with laminated fiberglass – later on to become carbon fiber. This allowed us to greatly increase their efficiency.

    We also designed and built a micrometeorite sensor which was placed on the moon to detect small meteorite – considered a threat to astronaut suits – could they penetrate? The answer turned out to be no. I am proud to say that I built these little gadgets.

    In the same small facility, we were developing microphones with very high sensitivities, and very small electret mics – the first. This was all funded by “unknown” departments of the government.

    I am well into my seventies now, but so relish hearing folks such as yourself speaking on the subject.

    Thank you and keep up your fine work.

    Richard Stambaugh,
    Whittier, California

    *Chronology of Altec Lansing:
    Bell Labs – Development – research
    Erpi Classroom Films – educational for children
    Western Electric – Manufacturing and further development for Bell Labs – originally a part of AT&T
    Altec Lansing – All Technical Service Company – oversay installation of sound systems in theaters,
    later took over manufacturing of Western Electric transducers.

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