By Jim Miller

The other day, one of my neighbors invited me over to see and hear his new surround sound home theater setup. He pointed out all seven of the speakers located strategically around his living room, then fired up the system to give me what should have been an impressive demo. I didn't have the heart to tell him I was not exactly overwhelmed. Seems he forgot one of the most important elements in a great sound system: the bass. And without room-shaking bass, no home theater system will provide the kind of experience you get at a good movie theater.

I don't know about you, but I can never get enough tight, accurate bass. I love to put on a great recording of a piece like Saint Saens' "Organ" Symphony No. 3 (such as the Telarc recording by Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra) and listen to the massive organ pedal tones shake the walls. That kind of bass is almost never going to come from your average stereo speakers (at least not from the speakers you and I can afford).

I used to own a set of Altec Voice of the Theater speakers with 15-inch woofers and those things could really produce some heavy-duty bass, but over the years I found that smaller speakers along with a quality subwoofer would actually produce more bass (particularly in that last octave below 60 Hz) and more accurate mids and highs than just having a set of giant speakers.

The first time I heard such a system with a subwoofer, I was amazed at how much sound was being produced by the small "satellite" speakers. Most of you probably know by now it's deep bass that eats up most of your amp's power, while the mids and highs need a relatively modest amount of wattage to play loud.

In my own home studio I have a small pair of speakers plus a powered subwoofer, meaning I don't need hundreds of watts to hear a great mix. In fact, my main power amp is just 40 watts per side and it's L-O-U-D! (If you don't believe me, ask the neighbors.) If you have been considering upgrading the speakers in your studio (or your own home theater) but don't have the bucks for bi- or tri-amplified monitors (or even if you do), may I suggest that you consider getting yourself a powered subwoofer to handle the sonics below around 80 Hz. A perfect choice might be the new KRK RoK BOTTOM plus a pair of smaller KRK speakers like the matching K-RoK Close-Field Monitors.

I recently had the opportunity to audition this particular system, and I can say without hesitation that you'll never again find yourself wishing you had better bass response. With its beefy 250-watt, built-in amplifier, this 2.1 cubic foot puppy can crank out the bass via its long-stroke 12-inch poly-glass woofer. There's also an unpowered 8-ohm version for those of you with amps to spare.

I think you'll be quite impressed with this speaker (as you will be with the entire KRK line of superb studio monitors). Tighter, more accurate bass would be hard to find. Hook one up and you'll be shocked at what you've been missing. So if bass is what you crave, give your Sweetwater sales engineer a call and audition a RoK Bottom in your own studio today.

Like many of you who own computers and samplers, I'm constantly wishing I had more hard disk storage space. What's funny is that my first hard drive was a whole 20-megabytes and I wondered at the time why anyone would need more than that. Heck, these days a high resolution, color Photoshop file can occupy almost 20 megs all by itself. And I have some sample files that run a full 16 megabytes, so I find that I now need huge amounts of disk storage.

When the internal hard drive on my computer died not too long ago, I considered buying a replacement, but my friends at Sweetwater convinced me that removable storage was my best option since my external 540 meg hard drive was functioning just fine. So (again on their advice) I got one of the new Iomega Zip Drives with the 100 meg cartridges. These things cost just $219.95 and additional cartridges are only $16.50, so you can afford plenty of extra cartridges to do your backups on (you are backing up all your files, aren't you?). True, they're just a bit slower than a fixed drive, but their size, convenience and amazing affordability far outweigh any speed considerations I might have had. And they're surprisingly rugged, too; I've never had a single bit of data lost, and I use these things about eight hours a day, day in and day out.

And now, Iomega has begun shipping the one gigabyte (yes, that's gigabyte - a thousand megs!) removable Jaz Drive at just $659.95. One gig cartridges cost just $139. Even a year ago a one gig drive would have set you back about a grand! Imagine being able to store your entire sample library on just one disk or having backups (at last!) of all your computer data on one cartridge that's smaller than your average paperback novel!

Check these things out. You'll never again put off doing important backups or avoid saving files you think you might never need again (but are sure to wish you had as soon as you write over them). Give Sweetwater a call and find out how painless adding an Iomega drive to your sampler or computer can be.

One final quick note: I just received a Crown CM-700 Microphone for evaluation and frankly, after trying it out, I couldn't believe that this mic actually carries a list price of just $289! It's a versatile performer that really stands up to the high sound pressure levels produced when close-miking a drum, yet it's still detailed enough for miking acoustic instruments or even vocal work. If you need an extra quality mic in your studio (and these days, who doesn't?), this might be the perfect choice.

Have a great 1996 and I'll see you all next issue!