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Monday, February 4, 2008

The many wonders of the Canford Audio catalogue

My copy of the 1296-page Canford Audio Catalogue arrived this morning, and it is a delight. Canford sell pro audio gear, particularly broadcast and PA bits, rather than recording studio magic boxes. Their catalogue is the audio equivalent of the McMaster-Carr yellow book. A few of my favourites...

1. Noise Activated Warning Sign Big light-up sign which comes on when sound levels go above a pre-set point. Also comes in a steel waterproof version for festivals. £317.

2. Big Ears Parabolic Reflector It's a huge plastic dish which reflects sound onto a microphone. They were developed for recording on-pitch sound at football games, but are now used by police and emergency services. Comes in a variety of lurid colours. £1,240

3. Five different types of Gaffa Tape [PDF link] The detail is incredible: "Type B: A shiny surface tape, medium density rayon fabric weave... In practice, this tape is virtually identical to type A, but from a different manufacturer. In the early 1990’s, this was the BBC’s standard type issued by their Central Stores." £6-£14.

4. Hardcore cable porn The catalogue has 65 pages of different types of cable (just the cable itself, not leads or sockets or plugs or drums or ties), each with a line-drawn illustration and often a cross-section. Up to £58/metre.

5. Sound Pillow Not sure how this counts as pro audio, but it's a soft pillow with stereo speakers embedded in it. Put it inside your pillow case. Recommended for "actors learning lines, insomniacs, tinnitus sufferers." £25

6. Mole Underground Loudspeaker OK, it's not really underground, but it's a completely weatherproof speaker which can be buried to within 10cm of it's height. £85

7. Level Limited Headphones I really should buy these. A standard pair of Sony 9506 headphones (they have loads of other models available) rewired and hand-calibrated with a special BBC-designed module which limits the sound output to 88dB. £219 (Canford will do it to any pair of headphones for around £80-£140)

8. Patchcord Hanger Don't hang your cables on the coathook on the back of your door! Buy this large wooden knob and hang them on that. "Also suitable as a door knob for very large doors." £38. They also have a very elegant wooden patchcord rack for £79.

9. Time Calculator It's just an ordinary-looking pocket calculator, but it can work in hours, minutes and seconds. Genius! £58

10 Rackmount wine rack Mount four bottles of wine in a 3U 19-inch rack space. £39. (Yes, I've done this one before, but it still makes me smile)

11. Paladin Powerplay A multitool/penknife specifically designed for audio (and data) engineers. Includes a 'spudger'. £82.

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