The Tone Tank – amazing time-saver or ludicrous toy?

In a world where studio time is at a premium and every moment of a soundcheck is strictly choreographed, making the tiny adjustments to a microphone’s position, distance and angle represent a monumental drain on a sound engineer’s precious time. It’s also a sad fact that the most common cause of death among sound technicians and stage-crew is being accidentally bludgeoned by flailing guitarists while trying to make small adjustments to microphones on stage. If only there was a way to avoid this common tragedy. Fortunately, the lives of countless techies can now be saved, thanks to…

Remote controlled tanks!

The Tone Tank

Mutter, here comes zee Tone Tank!

A small company from the U.S.A. have spotted this gap in the market and have started shipping customised remote-controlled tanks with a standard mic-stand adaptor attached to the turret. While at first this may seem like an incredibly silly proposition, there are some real and tangible benefits to equipping your studio or venue with miniature battle-beasts. Being able to discreetly change the distance and angle of your microphones against the sound source while monitoring the change in tone is a rare luxury unless you have a studio-hand or runner to do your bidding. An added benefit to the Tone Tank is that it’s also capable of firing Airsoft projectiles at unsuspecting musicians, although the cannon fire and pained cries will likely come through as unwanted artefacts in your recording.

While there are obvious technological and entertaining benefits to recruiting a platoon of Tone Tanks, there are inevitably downsides. Guitarists will flail, and we doubt the Tone Tank would withstand being stepped on by a mighty metal axe-god as he adjusts himself into his solo stance. The remote-controlled toys also make a whirring mechanical sound as they move, this will inevitably colour your ability to judge the tone they are capturing as they move about and also may bleed through in to your recording if you move them while the red light is on. Finally, these little playthings currently cost $129 (£86 by the exchange rate at time of publishing) plus shipping costs for non-US residents. At a quick glance, you can find sets of 2 remote controlled tanks (with controllable turret) for £43 including shipping. With a little tin of paint, a glob of superglue and a mic holder, you could make your own twin-set of movable microphone artillery at half the price!

As improbable as it sounds, the use of robotics has already revolutionised the way some studios and artists work. When he’s not smothering himself in engine grease and ejecting gouts of napalm from his crotch, Richard Z. Kruspe (Rammstein’s resident riff-master) likes to tinker around with robotic arms to hold his microphones in exactly the right position to achieve his perfect tone. Let’s also not forget that robots are now able to exceed the performance ability of human musicians on stage (well… The Ramones, anyway.)

Do you own a Tone Tank? Do you want some lovely microphones to mount on it? Take a look at the awesome selection we have available at Red Dog Music. We’ve also got a special offer for you as our way of saying “thank you” for reading this article. Click here for more info.
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Guy Perchard

Digital editor & recording specialist at Red Dog Music
As well as being the marketing man-about-town at Red Dog Music, Guy is a busy, award winning record producer and mixing engineer. He is also partial to a chorizo stromboli for elevenses.

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