Blog Pages


Patchbay Neutrik NYS-SPP-L1

Patchbays can help minimize headaches when hooking up your studio. One unfortunate thing about patchbays is that there isn't any industry standard for defining how each connection is described.


trenton blizzard patchbay neutrik nys-spp-L1
In this post I will be demonstrating the basic connections of the Neutrik NYS-SPP-L1. The NYS-SPP-L1 is a relatively inexpensive 19" rack-mount patchbay that requires 1/4" TRS (Tip-Ring-Sleeve) plugs.


A patchbay is a box that is made of jacks and switches. Depending upon how the "Panel Jacks" are internally connected determines how the signals will be routed when you insert your plugs.


There are many terms to describe the internal connections of patchbays. Each manufacturer interprets these terms a bit differently. So, it pays to ask a few questions before you buy one. The most common connection term is "NORMAL". Normal describes how the front panel jacks interrupt the rear panel connections when a plug is inserted.


Full-Normal - Both front jacks interrupt the rear connection
Half-Normal - Only one front jack interrupts the rear connection (but you don't which one until told)
Half-Normal (Top) - The "top" front jack interrupts the rear connection
Half-Normal (Bottom) = NYS-SPP-L1 = The "bottom" front jack interrupts the rear connection

trenton blizzard NYS-SPP-L1 half normal

Neutrik identifies the "Half-Normalled" jack with grey plastic. See the first image for connection reference.


The rear panel connections are historically used for routing signals from the output of your mixer to the input of your tape deck or DAW these days. These rear panel connections are maintained until you insert a plug into the front of the panel (for "normalled" configuration).


trenton blizzard NYS-SPP-L1 rear input signal

This oscilloscope image "represents" a signal that could be coming out of your mixer and into the "top-rear" jack on the patchbay. This signal is automatically connected, through front jack switches, to the "bottom-rear" jack as will be seen in the next image.


trenton blizzard NYS-SPP-L1 rear panel connection

The pink trace represents the signal coming out of the rear-bottom jack. This is the same signal as the top-rear jack. Keep an eye on the pink trace as I insert plugs into the front panel jacks.


trenton blizzard NYS-SPP-L1 mixer output routing to front plug

The green trace represents the output signal available at the "top-front" jack. Because the NYS-SPP-L1 is "half-normal (bottom)", the top-front jack does not interrupt the rear signal connections.


trenton blizzard NYS-SPP-L1 mixer output interrupted

Notice that the "pink" signal is gone. Because the NYS-SPP-L1 is "Half-Normal (Bottom)", only the bottom front plug interrupts the connection on the rear jacks.

Note: The mixer output signal is still present at the front-top jack. So, to complete the connection we need to route the signal from the "front-top" jack into the "front-bottom" jack.


Assuming we plugged the "top-front" cable into the input of your compressor and the output of the compressor back into the front-bottom jack, this is how you would "route" the output of your mixer through a compressor, before you go into your DAW.

Patchbays can be very handy.
In a future post I will demonstrate the "SPLIT" patchbay configuration.

Thanks for reading,


Patch cables - Customer Feedback

It's always nice to see the fruits of your labor. Recently, Rob M. of San Diego sent me an image of his pedal board rig with my patch cables installed. According to Rob, "everything is working great." Thanks Rob!

Thanks for reading,


Vacuum Tube Preamp Stage

Calculating the "AC gain" of a 12AX7 common cathode stage is a fairly straight forward process. Follow along as I go through hand calculations, SPICE simulation and real world testing.


The signal generator is on the left, the high voltage power supply is in the center, and the oscilloscope is on the right. The circuit was built on an electronics breadboard using a 12AX7 vacuum tube breadboard adapter.


This is the common cathode 12AX7 gain stage we will be building. It is a common design found in some popular amplifiers. The plate resistor is 100k ohms and the cathode resistor is 1k ohms. The predicted SPICE simulation is show as well.

This stage is "inverting" which means the output will be 180 degrees out-of-phase with the input at mid-band frequencies. The SPICE simulation plot shows the out-of-phase signals. SPICE predicts the output will be about 3.6 Vpk for a 100 mVpk input signal. This is a gain of 36 V/V.


You should always begin your designs with hand calculations. It is a good way to check your understanding of the circuit you are trying to build.

The equation in the top left is what you will use to calculate the gain of an "unbypassed" common cathode gain stage. If your cathode resistor is bypassed with a capacitor, you can remove the Rk(u+1) from the calculation and get much higher stage gain. Note: I have omitted the "minus" sign that indicates "phase inversion".


 The gain equation we are using is based on the following assumptions:
1. All tube parameters are held constant
2. The signals being amplified are small
3. We somehow know the value of internal AC plate resistance "rp"
4. We somehow know the value of the tubes amplification factor "u" mu

I will show you how to get the values for "rp", "u" and "gm" in a future post.
For now, let's assume u = 82 and rp = 40k ohms. We don't need "gm" for this exercise.


The circuit was built on a breadboard using the resistor values shown in the schematic. The resistors are simply connected to the appropriate tube section with the header pins that are identified on the PCB. Heater connections 4, 5, and 9 are the center three pins. These adapters are designed for dual triodes so the second tube section is connected to the three pins on the right.


Simulation is one thing. But, reality is what really matters. According to my hand calculations the voltage gain should be about 36.7 volts per volt. That means if we put a 0.1 Vpk signal into this stage we should get an output signal around 3.67 Vpk.

 The blue trace in the image is the 0.1 Vpk input signal. The yellow trace is the output signal which measures right around 3.6 Vpk. Not bad! Notice that the signals are out-of-phase.


SPICE predicted the DC plate voltage would be around 151.43 VDC. The acutal Plate votlage measured was 150.5 VDC. Again, not bad at all.



SPICE predicted the DC cathode voltage would be around 0.985 VDC. The actual cathode votlage measured was 1.112 VDC. Again, pretty close.


If you are really interested in tube audio design here are some books I recommend.

1. Radiotron Designer's handbook by RCA - Totally old and totally awesome.
2. Audio Cyclopedia - Expensive but worth it.
3. Beginner's Guide to Tube Audio Design - Not for "beginners" but a handy reference for equations

Thanks for reading,



If you are interested in working with vacuum tube audio circuits it is very handy to have an adjustable high voltage power supply on your bench. Not only will you need high voltage for the plates, but you will also need 6.3V or 12.6V for your heaters.

Sometimes you may even want an adjustable negative bias for measuring tube characteristics. There are a couple of classic power supplies on the used market that fit those requirements. And they are both built with vacuum tubes!



Trenton Blizzard Heathkit IP-17 Vacuum Tube Power Supply

The Heathkit IP-17 is a good high voltage adjustable power supply. It has an adjustable output that ranges from 0 to +400 VDC. The IP-17's typically run about a $200 in decent shape. The users manual is typically still available and it includes the circuit schematic.

HEATHKIT IP-17 features:

1. 0 to +400V High voltage DC output
2. Negative adjustable DC output for grid bias or characteristic measurements
3. 6.3 VAC for heaters
4. 12.6 VAC for heaters
5. DC current meter to monitor high voltage supply current
6. DC volt meter to monitor either the high voltage or the negative bias supply

EICO 1030

Trenton Blizzard EICO 1030 Vacuum Tube Power Supply

Another great high voltage vacuum tube power supply for audio design is the EICO 1030. It is very similar in operation and design to the Heathkit IP-17. However, the 1030's incorporate a printed circuit board in the design. These tube power supplies tend to be a little less expensive than the Heathkit models.


Pretty much the same features as the Heathkit but with a different front panel layout.

1. 0 to +400V High voltage DC output
2. Negative adjustable DC output for grid bias
3. 6.3 VAC for heaters
4. 12.6 VAC for heaters
5. DC Current meter to monitor high voltage supply current
6. DC volt meter to monitor either the high voltage or the negative bias supply


My next post will be about building a 12AX7 gain stage using vacuum tube breadboard adapters.

Trenton Blizzard 12AX7 Gain Stage

So, if you are interested in building vacuum tube audio gear, I highly recommend looking into one of these supplies. They are a extremely useful pieces of equipment. The ability to find the perfect plate supply voltage for your tube mic-pre's makes them worth the investment.

As with any electrical circuit, always use proper safety precautions and never let anyone touch the energized circuit!

Thanks for reading,


Acoustic Design For The Home Studio - Book Review

If you have ever browsed a technical book on acoustics it can be a bit intimidating. A ton of equations with a whole new language to learn. If you just want to "skip to the chase" you may want to read Acoustic Design For The Home Studio by Mitch Gallagher. It's available at for under $20.00.




This book is a great introduction to room treatment. It's written in a vary non-mathematical manner.
It's not for professionals. It's more like a "hands-on guide" for the home studio owner and musician. For some home owners, this may be the only book you need to immediately improve your home studio room acoustics.


There is only one equation in the entire book! Mr. Gallagher's approach is based more on explanations, illustrations, images and real world examples.


Here are some of the topics you may find helpful:
1. Golden Mean - "Golden proportions" are considered magical by some people in audio
2. Bass Traps - Bass Traps are like sex for your room. You just can't have enough
3. Diffusers - These bad boys help "smooth out" higher frequencies
4. Acoustic Software - Use it when you really want to "know" how your room sounds
5. Speaker Placement Rules - A quick guide to placing your speakers properly
6. Treatment Placement - Examples of "real world" room setups
7. Ceiling Clouds - These are interesting. I am definitely going to give these a try


For $20.00 Acoustic Design For The Home Studio is totally worth reading. It's also nice to have as a quick reference in your audio/recording library. 

Thanks for reading,




For heavy rock, this has to be one of the best produced CD's I've come across in a long time. It also has to be one of the most contrasting CD's I've ever purchased. I've never heard a band go from "Rock" to "Shock" so quickly and do them both very, very well. Killer guitar tones, great vocal tones and superb production quality.


I was listening to while working on my latest Mic-Mod PCB when the song  "Bad Company" played. It immediately sounded familiar, yet modern. They had my attention, but, it wasn't the same Bad Company song that was released in the 1970's. This one totally rocked. I couldn't believe what these guys had done to that song!

After the song ended I rushed to see who the band was Five Finger Death Punch! I had no idea who these guys were at the time so I checked out some other songs that were "similar" and liked them also. After that I quickly ordered their CD War is the Answer.


I listen to tracks 2, 5, 7, 10, 11 and 12. "Bad Company" is track 12. The other tracks are a much heavier and more aggressive style that I'm not really into.

I now use some of their tracks as "mix references" in my Pro Tools sessions. Although their recording quality will be very hard to match, it really gives me a target that I find worthy of the effort.

Thanks for reading,



Have you ever considered building your own condenser mic? If so, then a kit from just might be your ticket.


Their RA-23 kit includes everything you need to build a working condenser microphone. You supply solder and soldering iron as well as precision screw drivers for assembly.



Although these mics are not extremely difficult to assemble, they are probably not the best choice as a "first kit". However, after you have a couple stomp-box builds under your belt you should be ready to take it on.


There are two PCB (Printed Circuit Board) assemblies that need to be "assembled". This kit included their MP-V57 PCB kit. Capsule bias, or "sensitivity", is adjusted with the blue trimmer potentiometer.



You choose the capsule type when ordering. You can go from mild to wild if you like. I went with their most popular RK-47 capsule because I am going to be modifying this mic in the future.


If you are looking to gain some "build experience" with condenser microphones then I think it's worth it. It's a good kit, with good parts and the instructions are really good. It's a great microphone for the money. And, you get bragging rights because "You-Built-It-Yourself".

Thanks for reading,



My brother Jason and I are polar opposites when it comes to song writing. He's a little bit country and I'm a whole lot of rock and roll. See Belle Holler for an example of his excellent song writing skills.

We were just recently discussing the different approaches we take to song writing when he recommended I check out a book called "Murphy's Laws of Songwriting" written by Ralph Murphy.

It's available from the authors website or from in paper back or Kindle version.

Trenton Blizzard - Murphy's Laws of Songwriting

Now you see, my "Honky Tonk" brother lives in Nashville and writes what I call that "Nashville style" song. You know... cow tippin', beer sippin', going fishin'... things like that.

Me? I live the SoCal lifestyle and write music with a modern rock edge. You know... stuck in traffic, wreaking havoc, life is tragic... things like that. So, I'm thinking to myself there's just no way I'm gonna get anything from reading a book by a guy who writes country music!

Once again, I was totally wrong. This book is definitely a must read if you are looking to improve your song writing skills. I know for a fact that I am much better off after reading it.


What did I get from it?

I walked away with (proper pronoun use) and the (importance of telling a good story).
Those two tips alone made it worth the effort for me.


Is it worth it?

I think so. There are many tips and suggestions that you can immediately apply to your songs. So, if you are looking to improve your songwriting craft, then I highly recommend you check out "Murphy's Laws of Songwriting". I'm glad my brother recommended it to me.

Thanks for reading,
- Trenton



Learning to play drums can help you become a better drum programmer

Trenton Blizzard - Rick Stojak Drums
It was about 3 A.M., many moons ago, when an old college roommate started banging away on his old Pearl kit. It was so loud that it woke me up, all of our neighbors up and the local police as well. At that time, all I wanted to do was go back to sleep. But, when it was all over, I remember saying to myself "I wish I could play drums that well".

Trenton Blizzard - Rick Stojak Drums

Even though I am not technically a drummer, back in the day people asked me "who played drums on your songs?". Little did they know that I programmed all the drum tracks on a HR-16 drum machine.

Today, the drum samples are so good that I don't worry about getting great sounds from a live kit.  I just need to make sure all of the drum parts are either played or programmed properly so I can use drum samples. But, how does a guitar player learn to be a drummer?

Drum Lessons

Trenton Blizzard - Rick Stojak Drums

It's actually pretty easy to learn how to play drums if you have a great instructor. My son and I have been taking drum lessons with Rick Stojak for a while now. What I like about Rick is the natural positive energy he has as a drum instructor. Rick is a very talented player and I am always bouncing ideas off him for different drum fills and parts for my songs.

Trenton Blizzard - Rick Stojak Drums
Rick has also helped me learn to read and write drum notation. Growing up I never learned how to read or write music. And, lacking that skill has made it difficult to communicate with musicians in the studio. Thankfully, Rick has a style that makes learning drums and notation fun and practical. 

If you are interested in learning to play drums, in the San Diego area, I highly recommend you call Rick Stojak to discuss how he can help you achieve your goals.

Rick Stojak
Tel: (619) 985-8242

Thanks for reading,



San Diego Studios

There are quite a few recording studios to choose from in the San Diego area such as:
Signature Sound, Studio West , Capricorn Studios, and Big Fish in Encinitas. Some are strictly
for recording, but others also cater to band rehearsals such as Iacon Sound Studios.

Iacon Sound Studio - San Diego

My go to recording place is Iacon Sound Studios in San Diego. What I like about the place is Frank W. Torres's approach to recording. His energy and creativity matches mine and we work very well together. This is important when you are searching for a studio. Find one that "fits your personality" as well as your budget.

Where Are They?

Iacon is "located" at 2469 Broadway just off the 25th st. exit on 94W. Please note: they are actually located behind the restaurant that is located at 2469 Broadway. You go around the back to get in!
Trenton Blizzard - Tracking Vocals at Iacon Sound Studio - San Diego

 Real Wold Testing

Not only do I track and arrange some of my songs at Iacon, but I also use the studio time as an opportunity to prove-out out my own designs while recording. Nothing beats real world testing of prototype pro audio gear.
renton Blizzard - Testing prototype 500 Series microphone preamplifier

Find Out More

If you would like to find out more about how Iacon can help your recording process you can contact them at:

Iacon Sound Studio
Contact: Frank W. Torres
2469 Broadway (Golden Hill neighborhood of San Diego)
San Diego, CA, 92102

Phone: (619) 955-8295

Thanks for reading,



Paper-in-oil capacitors are surrounded by mystery within the guitar playing community. You read about how they transform your sound into a oasis of tonal zen and then you hear talk about how magical they are. I don't know about you, but, that sounds interesting to me! 

I was lucky enough to score a couple .022uF samples of Electrocube's "AM" series of paper-in-oil capacitors following a quick facility visit not too long ago. It's really cool to watch people making capacitors right in front of you.  Of course, they didn't show us any of their secrets! 

There are many brands of paper-in-oil capacitors on the market such as: Emerson, Angela, Ampohm and Jensen with prices ranging from $13.00 ea. to over $30.00 ea.

So, if you are going to be experimenting with different values make sure you do a little homework beforehand so you don't break the bank just buying capacitors.

Thanks for reading,


Thousand Year Old Guitar Picks?


I have to admit that I was a little skeptical about this one. But, my fascination for unique materials
got the best of me and I ordered a Mammoth Tusk pick from Tusk Buffer.


I was excited to try it out. But, I really didn't think it would be that different from all of my other picks.      I was wrong.....


1. Requires less tension to hold during use despite being rigid and polished
2. Doesn't slip even though it's .4mm thicker than my favorite plastic pick
3. Glides across the strings without as many edgy overtones as my favorite plastic pick
4. I actually hear more string attack rather than pick attack



These are not cheap picks. But, considering they are made from extinct mammoth tusk, that's at least a thousand years old, I don't feel too bad about the price.

I ordered their "standard shape" in 1mm thickness which cost about $30 including shipping.
Payment was super easy through PayPal and it was shipped in a standard mailing envelope.


If you happen to have a fascination for unique materials or you just want to say you own a pick made from extinct animal teeth (yes teeth), then you may want to try one out. You just may be as surprised as I was.

Thanks for reading,



Prototyping with vacuum tubes is always challenging. So, a while back I designed  a few simple adapters to make it easier to prototype tube circuits with standard electronics bread boards.

Make sure to use a high quality bread board with these and don't go too crazy with the voltage levels. Also, pay attention to the heater current because it can be a few amps with larger tubes!


BB-X7 tube adapters are specifically designed for 12ax7 tubes. All tube elements are marked on the PCB for easy identification. Of course, they work equally as well with 12AT7, 12AU7 and 12AY7 tubes. These things make it a breeze to prototype 12AX7 preamplifier designs. Of course, high voltage precautions should always be followed when using these little gems.


BB-84 tube adapters were designed specifically for EL84 power pentode tubes. All tube elements are marked on the PCB for easy identification. Now those single ended and push-pull power stages are much easier to design. Once again, always follow proper high voltage precautions when in use.


BB-Octal vacuum tube adapters were designed for a 6SN7 preamplifier I was working on at the time.
They can, however, be used for power amplifier designs if you pay very close attention to how you hook up the heater current. Also, extreme care must be exercised when using high voltage power tubes.


I love the EF86 pentode tube. So, I designed the BB-Noval adapters for tubes that do not follow the 12AX7 pin-out. All of the vacuum tube pin numbers are identified on the PCB for easy hook-up. Now all of those class-A pentode preamplifier designs can come to life much faster. As always, good high voltage design practice should be followed during use.

UPDATE 6-15-2017

These are now available again on EBay at these links:

BBX7 - specifically for 12AX7 type tubes
BB84 - Specifically for EL84 Pentodes
BBNOVAL - For almost any 9 pin noval tube
BBOCTAL - For 8 pin tubes such as the 6SN7

They are cheaper if you get them directly from me.
Just contact me by commenting here or on my web page at

Thanks for reading,



Finally! The Pultec EQ inductors and transformers have arrived. I now feel like I have made a little more progress on this project. I really cant wait to get this thing going!

I will be sure to keep you posted as things progress. So please stay tuned.
Thanks for reading,


DIY RIBBON MIC TUTORIAL by Austin Microphones

Ribbon mics have got a "thing". They've got this texture "thing" that other mics just don't have.
Don't get me wrong, I love condenser mics too. But, they're built differently and don't respond like ribbons do.

With a condenser mic project already in the works, I've been looking around for what might be my next mic build project. As it turns out, there's a cool place called Austin Microphones that offers ribbon mic kits as well as DIY instructions for building your own ribbon mic from scratch. Yes, from "scratch". Too cool!

So, to see what's involved in the process I ordered their DIY Ribbon Mic Tutorial. It's available as a .pdf download for about $10.00 USD. The payment process was a breeze using PayPal. Also, with the purchase of the tutorial you get a password for their online DIY video content.

So, here's a sneak peak at what's included in Rev 4.1 (not necessarily complete or in order):
1. Body & Screen Fab - Shows simple setups to create the mic body and wind screen   
2. Corrugating the Ribbon - Part of the "art" of ribbon mic design - This will be fun
3. Ribbon "Motor" Assembly - Construction & assembly of the ribbon element and truss
4. Transformer Info - Build your mic with a quality output transformer (purchased separately)
5. Final Assembly - This is where it all comes together
6. Test Procedures - The magical moment of hearing it work! Or, figuring out why it doesn't!

Every time I read through the plans I say to myself "I really want to do this'. It's got me fired up about building ribbon mics. So, if you are into building mics or maybe considered building a ribbon mic before, be sure to at check out the DIY plans. I think you will enjoy the read!

Please note: All images used by permission and are property of Rickshaw Records.

Thanks for reading,


ART OF MIXING - Class Summary


I just recently completed "The Art of Mixing" class at TRAC (The Recording Arts Center) in San Diego. I'll say this, I'm glad I did. I walked away with some new Pro Tools tricks and made some new audio friends at the same time.


The Art of Mixing course is a laid back, enjoy the music, type of class with a focus on mixing techniques and plugin tools. This course is a great way to discover new plugins that you haven't had a chance to try before. I found many new plugins that are now must haves!


I really enjoyed the manner in which the course was presented. Different songs were brought in that required mixing. The class then participated in how the mix should proceed. Some students also brought in their own songs as well. It was awesome to hear their work! Each class member also gets plenty of 'solo time' operating the Pro Tools mix machine to gain an even greater understanding of the process.


I feel that the class is definitely geared towards those who are relatively new to the mixing process or new to mixing within Pro Tools (In The Box). But, I also believe that there is always something that can be learned from working alongside others who are doing the same type of work as you are.


The most valuable thing I gained from this class was witnessing how many different ways there are to mix the same song. Now, I'm not so concerned anymore with "Am I doing this right way?" If it sounds good it is matter how you got there.


The Art of Mixing class was four nights of mixing music, trying plugins and analyzing mix techniques. I only wish they had a "level-2 class". I'd be there in a heartbeat.  If you are new to the mixing process or new to mixing (In The Box) with Pro Tools then you should definitely consider it.

Thanks for reading,



If you can get a chance you should take the time to visit Vintage King Los Angeles.
It's a cool shop with great gear and a very helpful staff.

To visit VKLA you need to make an appointment. It's easy to do. You just call their number and set up a time and day to visit. You enter the building through a sliding fence located on Sunset Blvd.
You can either push the "call button" or call the phone number so they can open the gate for you.


Once inside I was immediately greeted. Everyone I spoke with was very friendly and very knowledgeable about audio gear. I originally set up the appointment with Chris Karn. When I arrived I was as assisted by Robert Alexander. Both of them are totally easy going audio guys. During my visit Robert and I spent a good deal of that time trading stories about guitars and pro audio gear. It was a lot of fun.


There are two "showrooms" and a "lobby" type area as you enter through the front doors.
The lobby area has a glass case with "stompbox" type effects in it. There were some acoustic absorption panels on the walls with graphics of Les Paul eating a sandwich at an electronics bench. Very cool indeed.




The main room has a ton of cool gear as well as a small iso-booth with lots of cool mics ready to be auditioned. Lots of tall racks with gear top to bottom. There were also a few mixing/control consoles set up around the room. They looked ready to demo as well.

There were some familiar brands like Manley, API, Neve, Purple, Dangerous and Shadow Hills. There were also some brands that I did not recognize at the time such as Burl, Looptrotter, Buzzaudio and Airfield. Ah, the things you learn when you go visit places.....


The second showroom looked like the place you go to audition monitors. Their slanted walls made me feel like I was going to fall over.  Inside this room were an API and an SSL console. Both consoles looked like they were fully ready to to be put to the test.


If you can get a chance to visit Vintage King Los Angeles I highly recommend it. It's a different experience than visiting a typical local music store. VKLA is dedicated to Pro Audio! They really take good care of you while you are there. Also, you can demo all kinds of killer gear!

Find out for yourself at:

US: 888.653.1184
INT'L: +1.248.591.9276

Phone Hours (Sales)
Mon-Fri – 10am-9pm ET
Sat – 12pm-5pm ET

Phone Hours (Customer Service)
Mon-Fri – 10am-6pm ET

Thanks for reading,