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What I Really Wanted For Christmas

Posted by Scott

This year I had a very nice christmas, I went back to Sacramento to see my family and came home with some great stuff (5 cutting boards! Also, pants.) But, since I’m not related to or friends with any millionaires and/or billionaires, I didn’t quite get everything I wanted. The following is my dream wish-list which I am publishing here in the hopes that Jimmy Warren Buffett will read it and decide that I need all this crap next Christmas.


The Herman Miller Embody Chair

I thought I’d start out with something somewhat practical, a humble chair. Although it stops seeming so humble when it looks like a hybrid of 70′s aircraft interior design and an alien throne and costs $1,600. I have never sat in one of these or even seen one in person, but every review I’ve read is glowing and I fondly recall my brief time sitting in a Herman Miller Aeron while I worked at Adobe. As a follow up to his iconic Aeron chair, designer Bill Stumpf created the new Embody just before he passed away in 2006.

Price: $1,600

Chances I’ll ever get one: Actually quite good. I have been sitting in a $150 Office Max monstrosity for years now and considering how much time I spend at my desk, I really owe it to my backside to invest in a good seat.


d700.jpg
Nikon D700

After a lot of thought, I finally decided my next camera, if bought today, would be a D700. The only problem is my D80 hasn’t been stolen or dropped into a lake yet. I did drop it recently, breaking the flash, but it still works and the repair would be cheap so it’s really hard to justify dropping $2,700 on a new camera. Of course, a new camera this nice would need a very, very nice lens to do it justice. Add at least $1,000.

Price: $2,700 – $3,700

Chances I’ll ever get one: Slim. By the time I upgrade there will probably be something bigger and better in this price class. Although, I will definitely be getting something on this level, one of the gear purchases I regret most was skimping on my current rig (D80 + Tamron Lens).

ssl.jpg
Solid State Logic Matrix Console

I thought I would sneak the big one in the middle. If you aren’t a total audio geek or professional engineer, you probably don’t know or care what this is, but if you’ve ever listened to popular music then you’ve no doubt heard an SSL console at work. SSL makes some of the best sounding recording equipment known to man and their consoles (basically huge mixers) have been used to record countless hit records. I use SSL plugins, which are basically software emulators of their real-world counterparts. The plugins do sound amazing, but there’s nothing like the real thing. 16 channels of SSL EQ, motorized faders, DAW control…The list goes on. Of course it’s not cheap, hint: just the legs for this thing cost $900. While it is a steal compared to it’s full sized brethren, the price puts it’s well into pros-only territory.

Price: $26,000 (yes, three zeroes)

Chances I’ll…. Let’s just stop there, it’s not happening. Ever.

cintiq.jpgWacom Cintiq

Ok, back to something a bit more reasonable. The Cintiq is the top of the line Wacom, it’s essentially one of their tablets grafted to an LCD monitor. I got a chance to try one of these at OFFF in Barcelona and it was pretty incredible, actually being able to interact directly with the screen is a very refreshing way to work. The only problem I have with the Cintiq is that you really can’t color calibrate it properly, the touch sensitive membrane interferes with colorimeters. So essentially you would need this screen and then another for color proofing, causing a problem with desk space.

Price: $2,000

Chances: Pretty slim at the moment. This is the sort of thing I’d love to have, but it would really be hard to justify considering how seldom I would probably use it. If they came out with an LED version and dropped the price to around $1,500 I’d give it some more consideration.

akg.jpgAKG K 702 Headphones

Although not ideal, headphones are sometimes a necessity when working late hours on music projects. I broke the jack on my AKG K 240′s a while back and have sort of been limping along with them (have to jiggle the cord every hour or so to get stereo sound out of them). The K 702′s are the new, top of the line set from AKG and probably blow away those entry-level 240′s I’ve been using all these years. The beauty of buying high-end headphones for music production is that they also sound great for recreational listening.

Price: $450

Chances: Marginal. Headphones aren’t a huge priority for me so I haven’t done much research. When I do replace my set, if I spend anywhere near $450 I will definitely look around for some alternatives to the AKG’s before I take the plunge.

000002233.jpgAdam Sub 8

I thought I’d end it off with something I’ll definitely be getting, though from myself. I ordered the Adam Sub 8 yesterday to complement my recently acquired Adam A7′s (pictured, the speakers closest to the monitor). I have been suffering with M-Audio BX8′s for about 6 years now. I sold my Event 20/20′s, then traded my Event Tria’s to get them for some insane reason I can’t quite recall now. They are really just terrible monitors, completely inaccurate. But I used them for so long that I got used to their inaccuracies and just sort of settled into a rut. After a very long and very frustrating ordeal mixing my latest single I decided enough was enough and got the A7′s. They’re incredibly accurate and very easy to work with, my ear fatigue is almost non-existent now. The only problem is they are small, they’ve only got 6″ drivers, so it’s hard for them to fill my studio and produce the lower ranges. So I decided to go all out and get the Sub 8 to fill in the low end. Let’s just hope it lives up to the sound of the A7′s.

Price: $800

Chances: It’s in the mail.

So that’s it, not so much to ask right? Mr. Buffett, if you’re reading, I will accept a wire transfer, at your age I don’t expect you to shlep this stuff all around town. Anyways, has anyone had any experience with any of this stuff? Any thoughts? I’d love to know about the Embody in particular, that thing is calling me in a big way.

29 Comments Leave A Comment

1

Manuele De Lisio says:

December 31, 2008 at 3:45 am

Frankly speaking, I find the Herman Miller Embody aesthetically unpleasing, unbalanced… I have a Mirra chair (I previously owned an Aeron chair) at home, it looks waaay better than the Embody, it’s super comfy and it’s even less expensive.

…like the Herman Miller Celle, this one is gonna be a hole in the water.
Especially considering the economy nowadays…

Maybe it’s me, but with the Aeron chair I had exactly the same circulation problem described here:

(rock-hard waterfall front edge)
http://www.dack.com/misc/aeron.html

…for that matter the Mirra is a lot more adjustable and comfortable.

Happy new year ;)

2

Celso Soares says:

December 31, 2008 at 5:01 am

My experience with Herman Miller is limited to the Aeron – which I use at work – and some other I tried at their shop. Both have very poor lombar support, no matter how much you adjust them :(

On the upside the Embody does look very handsome!

4

matt says:

December 31, 2008 at 7:04 am

As an industrial design student, the Wacom Cintiq is somewhat of a holy grail. I have grown used to, and love my plain ‘ol run-of-the-mill wacom tablet. For how much you would use it, I would say this product might be limited to a toy to play around on-especially considering your issues with it’s color accuracy. While it is an intuitive and responsive interface, to me it really is precisely for hard-core, hands-on rendering in sketchbook pro or photoshop. Happy New Year, and thanks for the inspiration I get from your blog.

5

Mark says:

December 31, 2008 at 7:55 am

Indeed, you forgot the ’09 Acura TL…as I read this post on my Wacom Cintiq 21UX. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. It belongs to work, not me, but I LOVE IT!

6

Andrew says:

December 31, 2008 at 8:06 am

I worked briefly at a video game production company. Literally everyone there had Aerons (for the record I had the same circulation issue) and all of the concept artists working around me had Cintiqs. It was pretty cool gear, but the work was no fun…

7

Jay says:

December 31, 2008 at 8:15 am

I wouldn’t trade my 2 Yamaha HS50M studio monitors and the HS80M subwoofer for anything, I love them that much! So crisp, so clean, and small to boot!

8

Brian says:

December 31, 2008 at 9:01 am

I bought a Herman Miller Mirra chair for work. I actually like it better than the Aeron chair, plus it comes in all kinds of different colors instead of just black or gray. With an Architect / Designer discount it was only $450. If you bought the Embody chair with the Architect / Designer discount, it would only cost you $900…. not bad, but still expensive.

Do yourself a favor and make friends with an Architect or Interior Designer…. :)

9

gustaf says:

December 31, 2008 at 10:56 am

Hi Scott,

Congratulations on your cutting boards and pants!

That’s quite a wish-list you’ve got there. My rump has been resting comfortably in a HM Aeron for a good decade now (courtesy of a bankrupt former employer). The Embody chair does have a slight TWA vibe to it. Sure looks comfy, though.

What made you choose the Nikon over a Canon? Just curious.

And that SSL looks sweeeeet… I don’ know, though… I would have pegged you for some type of vintage analog console.

Anyway… have a great new year… (and hurry up with that new release already!)

10

Rent says:

December 31, 2008 at 11:08 am

that chair is calling out a siren song to my ass right now…I also suffer from an office max monstrosity…

13

Scott says:

December 31, 2008 at 12:12 pm

manuele-
thanks for the tip, I will look more into the alternatives. The Mirra looks interesting. I just personally love the look of the embody so it was gear lust the first time I saw it.

Gustaf-
I decided on the D700 mostly out of loyalty to nikon and just the random opinions I’ve heard/read here and there. But I suppose since I would be buying a new lens I could switch to canon. at any rate, I’ll be renting cameras from both companies at some point to make the decision.

as for that SSL, it is analogue, and it sounds vintage. That’s the beauty of SLL, you get all the new school features along with that classic sound. Although a Toft ATB would do as well.

14

John says:

December 31, 2008 at 2:13 pm

I HAVE to to come to the Embody’s defense on this one. First, I love the chair in all black. The white does look a big ‘medical’ but the Embody is THE most comfortable chair I’ve ever sat in, period.

I sit at a computer for literally 10hrs a day if not more, and after testing a loaner Embody from a Herman Miller dealership for a few weeks I am aboslutely in LOVE.

If you dont like it’s aesthetics, you had better not try it out and save yourself 1600.00 b/c it’s all I can think about.

Also, I believe there is an A&D discount until the end of January that is 75% off. Which is still 450.00 base price.

15

Alyssa says:

December 31, 2008 at 2:18 pm

Since you stated you haven’t done much research on headphones, let me offer a recommendation: http://www.sensaphonics.com.

They may seem overpriced ($700 range) but they are the best of the best. I have ear problems so I got them about a year ago (I have the ProPhonic 2X-S). They cut out sound around you by 26 dB and they’re custom-molded to your ears. The quality, if you’re a musician or just listening to your ipod is impeccable.

If you were going to pay $450 for over-ear headphones, pay a bit more for these. They’re worth it.

16

Sebastian says:

December 31, 2008 at 2:46 pm

I sat in both Mirra and Embody, and I thought the Mirra was far better. Might not look as nice, but your ass will thank you.

17

steven wade says:

December 31, 2008 at 8:31 pm

i can’t speak for the embody, i’d love to sit in it… just to get an idea. but i will say, that upgrading your desk chair is such a treat. this year i went from a poor quality office max chair to purchasing a herman miller eames aluminum group chair (which fits my decor much better than the newer herman miller chairs). i think it actually paid for itself rather quickly because i was excited to sit in it and get some design work done. so i think you definitely owe it to yourself to upgrade the chair.

18

James Carmichael says:

January 1, 2009 at 11:34 am

I own both a Nikon D80 and a D700; the jump in quality from the D80 to the D700 is about the same as from my old Canon SD300 to the D80. But it probably has to do with the fact that I spent $1900 on a Nikkor F2.8 zoom lens. You can see some shots on my website (www.jamesc.ca)

The D80 is a great camera, but since I’ve been using the D700, it feels like a toy more than anything. The latter takes much better pictures at much higher resolution (on FX format), and it manages to be as easy to use and ergonomically awesome as the D80, even with more functionality. And the yellow-on-black Nikon neck-straps are lovely. The Liveview function is completely useless, thought, I don’t know why they bothered.

I bought it just before the new Canons came out, and even though I have no interest in shooting HD video, it would have been nice to have, just in case. If you need help dropping your D80 in a snow bank or something, you can ship it to me.

20

Scott says:

January 1, 2009 at 8:35 pm

james-
great pics on your page… what setup did you use to take the mexico pics? if you had it to do over again would you consider the canon 5dmkii instead of the d700?

21

Scott says:

January 1, 2009 at 8:36 pm

@everybody re: mirra-
thanks for the tip, I will look into it for sure, I wish I could try them all out side by side but I can’t find a store that actually has an embody in stock.

23

Derek says:

January 3, 2009 at 12:29 am

Out of all those gadgets and gizmo’s, I would say go with the cheapest: the AKG 702 cans, you won’t regret it.

I own a the Sennheiser HD650′s (which some consider to be the best, and are one of the few competitors to the AKG 702s) and I’m thinking of purchasing the AKGs next.

A word of caution, you will need a headphone amp to drive high-impedance headphones of this class and most audio devices and home amplifiers will not do the job. Check out http://www.headphone.com/products/headphone-amps/ for a good start on a headphone amp… even their mobile line will put you miles ahead of your average ipod or soundblaster sound card. Most of their amps have built-in DACs which illuminate any interference you usually get from neighboring computer components. Another thing to watch out for is portability… my HD650s are major head-turners (and not in a good way). If you do decide to get them, don’t plan on them leaving the studio.

25

Cade says:

January 4, 2009 at 9:08 am

I too have been suffering with BX8s for two years now. Thankfully one of the woofers blew, and I decided I’m not going to fix them. And guess what monitors I’m gettin? A7s. I have a friends pair of Dynaudio Bm5as in the studio temporarily and they are head and shoulders above the M-Audios.

Also Derek above talked about getting a headphone amp. Avenson Audio has just come out with one, and so has Grace design. Both would be worth looking into.

26

Neal McCullough says:

January 5, 2009 at 6:19 am

Hi Scott, I just had a meeting with Wacom before Xmas and had a nice little play with it. Very nice for Illustrators/retouchers. Interesting to hear your comments. I may have a chance to do be the ‘demo guy’ for the Cintiq at tradeshows throughout Ireland this year (fingers crossed!)

27

Chris Van Duker says:

January 6, 2009 at 9:09 am

Just thought I’d write in with a heads-up on some nice, cheap headphones. The Grado Labs SR-60s sell for about $69, and they’re amazing. They have a number of higher-priced models which are incrementally better, but I doubt you’d be disappointed with these. And they’re made in New York, to boot.