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Crutchfield: The Podcast Ep. 7

Rex and his work-from-home setup

In this episode:

Rex is a Crutchfield Advisor, musician, and major music fan. Like most Crutchfield employees, he's been working from home since Virginia's shelter-in-place order began. He chats with J.R. about how he makes working from home work for him, his new-and-improved man cave, and his most recent Crutchfield purchase.

Some of the gear discussed includes:

After the interview, J.R. calls up co-host Eric to compare notes on who has the better work-from-home setup. Eric also does a deep dive on a pair of headphones that are so comfortable he's used them for twenty years.

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Read episode transcript

Hello and welcome to Crutchfield the podcast. This is episode seven. I am your host. J. R. I am not joined in the studio by my normal podcast co host eric. We will be talking with eric a little bit later in the episode though so never fear eric fans. We will bring him back. I'll talk to him from his home. This is actually the first episode of the The podcast that is recorded 100% during the COVID-19 pandemic. So almost all of Crutchfield is working from home right now. Everybody that can work from home is working from home so that we can all stay safe and get through this hopefully faster. That means that a lot of us have had to create a work from home workstation. That is the world we're living in currently and that's what we're actually going to talk about in this episode. When I interview one of our Crutchfield employees who has got a pretty nice work from home setup himself. Rex we've talked to rex he is he started off Crutchfield about six or seven years ago as an adviser and is now a team leader in our contact center which means he has about seven or eight or nine advisers under him and his job is to coach them to talk to them about how they do their job jobs to give them feedback on their performance. That's what rex does all day. In addition to taking calls himself because he's still a bit of he does the adviser job as a team leader in his home office and I got to talk to him about how he's getting that work done in addition to that. What type of media is he devouring movies, tv shows, music, stuff like that. He's at his house, I'm at mine, we're on our web cams and what's going on at my house while we're doing this interview is a couple of things. One the dog shares my training dog, he's around for all these recordings and you can hear him and his collar jingling and stuff in the background, you're also going to hear the sound of some heavy equipment going on outside my house. These guys were working on my chimney and every time they would back up their big lift thing it would make a huge noise and it just happened while we were recording and there's nothing we can do about it. So there you go on with the interview about the transition from working in the office every day to working at home every day. Right? So um even before I became a team leader Crutchfield, I was working from home as an advisor. And uh so I was already pretty much set up to do it in my basement here. I've got my little heater underneath my desk because it's a little chilly. I'm half underground in my basement. This right here you can see the window there, that's where the ground starts essentially. I remember being in your basement for for a hot minute we were in a band together, we did a lot of rehearsing in your basement pretty soon after you moved into that house. So I do remember being a little chilly even in summer, it was kind of kind of pretty pleasant in the basement. Yeah, it stays nice and cool. Kind of like a cave. So it is truly my man cave that I've wanted for decades. Ah there's the silver lining, we found it already. You have enhanced your man cave as a result of you being forced to stay in it all day at work. I'm all about it, I've got everything I need buddy. So so going to, working from home every day doesn't seem to be bothering you all that much. That's pretty, it's pretty cool. I'm so lucky, you know, I've got everything I need, having to be inside for me is a pretty simple transition. Cool. So tell me about the man cave, especially as it relates to the stuff you've bought from Crutchfield, what all you got in there? Cool. So yeah, I'm rocking a a 55 inch Samsung from about three years ago, it's the last one before they went four K. Um So it's uh like the F 855 F 800 something or something like that. So I remember reading reviews at the time that we're saying, hey, four K. Is the big thing, but I don't care. This tv is gorgeous and it is, it it looks great. I'm running that optical out two clips. The six is powered speakers. I love my clips. The sixes, they're fantastic. They're on santa's stands so they're right at head level and I'm running a sub pre out to my pulp, 12 inch sub. It's like the P. S. W 1 25. So I got a great deal on that thing. It hammers, it's really loud. It's 300 watts of sub also into the right speaker on the Sixes because that has so many input possibilities. I have um my project debut carbon turntable with the acrylic platter um going into my mo fi phono pre amp and then out of that into my red and white are CIA analog inputs on the back, the back of the clips, the sixes, the phono input. And so I'm using it um and with a separate external phono pre amp rather than the one that's inside the clips, The Sixes, which really expanded the sound stage and gave me an incredible uh improvement of quality. The input on those. The Sixes is switch hable right. It can either be a line input or a phono input. Do I remember that correctly? That's right, yeah. And when you use the phone outside of that, you know, you're using the one that's inside the clips. The Sixes, I'm using line because I'm going out to that external mof I preempt which I really enjoy. Nice. So how often are you listening to vinyl? Oh man as often as I can when I'm not watching movies or playing video games. Cause my Xbox three my Xbox one rather is also um going directly into the Tv through HDMI. My um if I'm not gaming or streaming music through my task cam C. D. Slash um bluetooth input um then I'm able to just control all of those inputs right through the clips. The sixes remote Which is pretty awesome. It acts as if it were a home theater receiver. I'm not using a home theater receiver because I'm running a 2.1 system with that clips the sixes and the sub and that's got to be a pretty great 2.1 sounding system. Do you ever wish you had surround sound or is this more than enough for you? Yeah, I don't need surround sound in my particular application because I enjoy to channel music so much. And when I want the impact of video games and music, I want the sub involved, I simply turn the sub volume up which is separate than the regular volume on the clips um remote. And I'm able add as much sub into that mix as I want to. So this is a music first system. It sounds like yeah music centric with the ability to add impact for gaming and movies when I want Nice give us a couple of recommendations. Or tell us what you're listening to on vinyl. Oh boy. Yeah on vinyl. I've really been enjoying the double talking heads record that I got from back in the day. It's called the name of this band is the talking heads. One side is like a bedroom recording and the other is a different live recording. So it's almost like you're at a small house party with the talking heads and then the other one is kind of like a larger format concert. That's fantastic. Um But recently in these times of uncertainty um I fall back to really relaxing um classic jazz albums such as uh something else which is Cannonball Adderley. Um Along with um some of the biggest names in uh in jazz, like we've got Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderley I think hank jones. Um Yeah so I like a lot of different stuff. What I listen to is a broad range from old school jazz all the way through um D. C. Post punk, hardcore, funk, reggae. Um Pretty wide ranging. With the exception of really country. Don't listen to country. Yeah, I've talked to you about music quite a few times. You have quite an eclectic taste. I've never heard you mention country music at all. It's just not my jam. I mean, you know, I'll check out some Sturgill Simpson once every once in a while, but then I start really listen to it and I'm like no it's not not my deal. Hey, I understand that but like that's my that's as close as I get, you know what I'm saying? That's my like he's almost anti country even though he sort of started with a very twangy sound, he has evolved quite a bit and his newest album is severely lacking in the twang department. Tell me about your your physical work from home setup. What do you got going on there? So I've got my Dell laptop pretty basic there, that's what I'm looking at right now. That's stacked on top of three of my high school year books just to get me a little bit of a height adjustment there. And then to the right of that, my right I've got a Adele um you know, just monitor. Um so that I can then work a two a two monitor work station. Um So that's pretty easy to do through the Microsoft. You know, stuff that we run, you can just move things from right to left and I've got a larger work space because of that. And then I'm running out through the headphone jack of my Dell laptop with an audio quest 3.5 millimeter to r. C a um cable to these new force powered speakers. They're pretty basic. Just little powered tiny desktop speakers. Um And so that's how I can run some audio if I want to just hear it rather than having headphones on. Um And of course my Dell laptop is connected to the workstation um which is how I'm using this headset through a USB directly into that workstation input, which also allows for the connection of my keyboard and my mouse. Um and then I've got some padded wrist guards, things like that. So they don't get carpal tunnel, you know, like that. So yeah, the headphones I see you're wearing right now, that's the same ones you would use when you're taking calls, talking to customers, correct. And uh and then of course, uh that's uh those are bigger, nicer headphones than some of the ones I've seen for that. They're the nicer job bro model. Yeah, and I do like them a lot. They've got they've got noise canceling capability. Um so obviously in my basement now I don't have excess noise unless I'm making it. Um but if I were in the call center um I would have a lot of noise around me sometimes, you know, so that's really helpful. Um I know it's great to have noise cancelation to help you focus. You recently bought some new gear from Crutchfield, is that right? I did. I've got it. I've got it arranged to arrive today and I'm pretty excited about it. Um I'm looking at my little apps that shows that the ups truck is kind of close by. It's it's coming um and it's bringing me um a podcast mixer by Yamaha, um and um a mackie thump speaker. Um so that I can connect my microphones and um hopefully learn how to do a good podcast, video podcast or video stream because I've been kind of inspired by seeing Stephen Colbert um some of these late night talk show guys jimmy Kimmel, you know, they're all of a sudden they have to do their job from home, right? And so they're out of their huge studio that they had. So Yamaha mixer, tell me why you chose that. Yeah. Um so I'm also part of the pro audio group to a certain extent, much, much more involvement not too long ago with the pro audio side of Crutchfield. Um and through learning about mixers, I came to find out about um this Yamaha Mixer which is pretty awesome. It's white if you've ever seen the different mixers that they make, they've got these podcasting mixers that are white in color and they're gonna allow you to interface directly with an ipad or um you know, your laptop and really creating an interface not only for microphones but also instruments and giving the opportunity to um work on, work with photo with video editing software and music editing software and do that all under headphones. Um as well. There's just an incredible amount of diversity of inputs and outputs on that while also keeping it pretty simple. So somebody who's doing a podcast um you know, they can manage that all really easily. Nice. So it's a, it's a mixer that it, it kind of looks like a like a tabletop mixer that you might use if you are a, you know a small band or a small acoustic act if you were doing a gig out. But it also has the USB so it acts as an interface to allow you to plug your bike mix and vocals and maybe instruments into your computer and record it all there. What software are you gonna use on your computer? Does the Yamaha come with that or? Um Yeah I believe it does let me pull it up here too because I was looking at it not too long ago and it's been a while since I've grabbed it. Um I just know enough about it to know I need it. Let's find out more. It's that Yamaha A G 06 and I'm sure glad I picked one up. So it looks like we're out of stock now. I may have yeah the A. G 06 and so you've got the ability to use Q basis as a recording app for the ipad. Um I'm definitely excited to see how it works with my ipad. Um And it's got a really nice mic pre amp. It looks like you can do a loop back feature. Um So you can route playback tracks from your computer to the mixer which combines your inputs for recording the internet, streaming software. So yeah this is the kind of mixer that you'd want to use if you were gonna do like a Youtube or like a facebook live thing. It's gonna help with that um And with the ability to control all of the different volumes of each input of course and your monitor volume. Um It's just giving you really easy control of all of your inputs and outputs. Um and giving you an excellent interface, whether you're using your ipad or even your computer and that's awesome. So have you have you thought about like what the topic of your podcast is gonna be? Um I'm still kicking that around as a as an idea, I did have some notes about that, let's see if I've got them here with me because I was brainstorming a little bit this morning. Part of what I was thinking about is what people need to do to stay happy during this time of being isolated in their house. And um so if I am going to actually do either a podcast or even a video streaming thing, I want to be able to show folks what they can do um Right now in the moment. Currently to to be happier um Kind of the one episode from my first episode, I came up with a title of become what you are and that's actually a quote from one of my favorite songwriters J Robbins who he has a solo album out called Unbecoming. That's absolutely incredible. He was the lead singer of jaw box and before that Burning Airlines and a couple other D. C. Post punk bands and in any case become what you are the uh the concept there is there's no time like the present to do what you've always wanted to do right. Like if there were ever a time to spend some time to analyze what you truly want to do creatively what you want to do with your life conversations that you haven't had with your parents, with your friends. You should go ahead and do that, you should become what you are. Wake up and live. If you want to take a bob Marley quote there, that's that's a good a good track um from one of his albums called Survival which also seems really pertinent right now. Um I mean yeah I've been creating a playlist as well or just like a wish list of songs that I think are really meaningful in this moment and um that's coming together really nicely. There's a lot of stuff, a lot of different tracks that seem to really resonate at this particular time in history. Um Can you think of one that you think is like really hitting me right now music wise like a salt. That's just like oh my God it's perfect for this moment. You know I've been listening to a lot of Metallica lately. I've always been a fan but I don't always listen to it. I have pretty varied musical tastes. I listened to a lot of I listened to the Hamilton's soundtrack, Sturgill Simpson Metallica Gogol bordello. I mean I'm all over the, but I love if I just need to get going, I just throw Metallica on and it always, always does the trick and I seem to be leaning on that a little bit more here lately. That's awesome. 11 last thing, what, tell me what you're gonna do with that Mackie thump. I mean, I get using the Yamaha mixer uh and recording and I can sort of picture that. But what is the job you envision the Mackie thump doing for you as you know, since we were in the band band together down here in this basement. I don't own a A lot of stuff myself, but what I plan to do with that is to create a mixture of a karaoke set up hopefully because my wife loves to sing karaoke um down here when I have a mixer, when I have speakers to run it through, I've got a beta sm 58 beta for vocals and um as you know, I'm a guitarist and a bassist and I'm trying to get back into that as well. Well, my goal with that is to be able to set up my vocal mic on my stand over there and to try to work on um singing and playing music at the same time playing guitar and singing simultaneously. So that Mackie thump is going to be my monitor that will allow me to not only do like music playback so I can jam along with it, but also it will act as my monitor for my vocals when I'm singing right on. That's a that's a beast of a pro audio speaker. The you got the 12 inch version two, right? That's right, yeah, it's really affordable, but I think also has what like 1000 watts Power of power. We're talking about. Its nominal power. Yeah, I think it's gonna be plenty loud for your your your basement man cave. Yeah. And you know, if I want to have to eventually I can run too, but for the moment it's just gonna be as a vocal monitor for karaoke and for my own singing stuff. And then yeah, we'll see how that goes. Nice. We are pretty close to out of time. Did we miss anything? Is there anything else you wanna tell me about? Um No, I just think the main thing I want to tell people is make sure you're listening to enough music to get you through your day. Um There's nothing like the healing power of music and whatever music you happen to like Um you need to rely on that to keep you even keeled, get you focused, get you calm and to make your life better. Because I mean you and I understand the power of music, don't we? 100% play music feel better. It is. Uh it's sort of a life motto for me, whether you're actually creating music or just playing music on your stereo. Either way you're playing music and uh, it's pretty rare that music doesn't make me feel better in some way, shape or form. That's right man. It feeds the soul like nothing else. Hey man, thanks so much for doing this. All right, right on. That was my interview with rex team leader Extraordinaire rex. And this is uh, this has been a weird episode to record this in a room all by myself. I felt a little weird self conscious just talking to a microphone, looking at the recording on the screen. I thought it would be nice to have somebody else involved. And so I've gone ahead and I'm calling ERic at home. Eric is normally here in studio with me during the podcast. He's not right now. He's at home. Let's check in with ERic. So you tell me about your work from home setup. Well, I am in my basement. It's a partially finished basement. Um, nothing spectacular here. I do like using those background images when we're teleconferencing to cover up my 1972 wood paneling and weird nicotine colored speaker that was in my ceiling. Um, I've owned this house for a couple of years now, but I just never got to finish this space the way I wanted. So when I started working from home, I got some speakers, I got a little stereo receiver. I got a pretty sweet setup here at my desk. Obviously I can record now here at the desk. So I've got an interface and a microphone and some headphones. What did you do to make your work from home setup May Maybe 10% as awesome as mine. Yeah, well you kind of went full on home system. I don't know if that's a homework, typical work set up now. It's a full two channel audio system that exactly, really got a receiver, like a legit receiver and speakers that are meant to fill a whole room. So I've got something a little smaller. Um I do have uh some compact powered speakers, new force speakers and I've got a pretty nice dak dak dak, that is also a headphone amp, so that's kind of the thing I use the most, so the speakers I'm just using for background sound. Um but I've got a nice headphone amp and I've got some really nice uh old school open eared headphones. Um and with this headphone amp, these open ear headphones, they let me hear you loud and clear. Um You know, if someone was sitting beside me super close, they might be able to hear a little bit of what you would be saying in these, but that's not really a concern in this current situation, but the thing I love about them is I can hear you, you know, make sure that my kids are behaving themselves so that I can run upstairs if need be to win needed to help with the home schooling or you know, separating the two. So the open air headphones in addition to sounding pretty nice and open and spacious allows you to sort of keep up with the surroundings, you know, when your kids are freaking out or if your wife, Karen needs you, that kind of thing, you can actually hear what's going on and that makes a lot of sense. I'm currently wearing headphones and I couldn't use open ear headphones just because I'm recording into a microphone and open your headphones. There's actual sound on the headphones escapes the headphones and then gets into the mic and will cause a feedback loop. So you can't really do that with a big mike like mine. So I'm using some v moda closed back headphones that, that's a crutch on them. We got some specials are Sennheiser, the ones I have are Sennheiser HD six hundred's which you know, for headphone lovers out there. They they have been out for a long, long time, I think they're discontinued now, but they had a very long product life cycle many, many years. Crutchfield sold them. I picked them up before I even worked at Bradfield. So these headphones I have on right now are approximately 20 years old and are still absolutely wonderful and some of, you know, my favorite headphones I've ever used. So I'm very happy to be able to wear them in this environment, they're forgiving, I can wear them all day Uh and they, you know, there's no pressure on the eardrum or anything like that. I just kind of forget that they're sometimes. So, um that's, that's some of the stuff I really like about those and um because they're older school, open your headphone, you know, the headphone amp won't say it's an absolute necessity, but it's certainly, you know, if I wanted to throw some musical and it's going to help them perform much, much better. So you have that, that act act is plugged into your computer via USB so it takes over all of the audio, all the audio responsibilities of your computer and then you can send the audio to either the new force or the headphones. Is that how it works? Yeah, it's, it's kind of doing it simultaneously. I just, it's got a nice volume knob on it, which I always like to have a volume knob for so many things are touch screens and super cool these days, but I still kind of miss the old school knobs and that's what this has. That's one of the reasons I put a stereo receiver on my desk is the nice big tactile volume. I love it. Cool eric. Thank you so much for joining me here again. It wouldn't have been a whole Crutchfield podcast episode without you. So thanks again man, Hey, we'll have to find a way that we can just interrupt people, you know, for future podcast, the way we love to interrupt people. Most people's desk and interrupt their workflow and it's harder for you to do that at home. Yeah, they can ignore me a lot easier. They just have a big old hang up button. They don't have to answer your call at all. I think there's some foreshadowing there. Hmm. All right. We had to cut that short because as you may or may not know if you don't tell eric to stop talking or just hang up on him. He will not stop talking. Let's talk about the podcast itself. The this is episode seven. We have planned to do about 12 episodes in season one of Crutchfield the podcast, we had it all mapped out. We've made some changes as we've gotten some pretty cool opportunities. Last episode episode six, you got to hear us talk to so knows our trainer guy from Sonos came in and we said, hey, you want to be on the podcast. He said yes, the next couple episodes are gonna be pretty sweet. Episode eight, we will probably get to do another special guest episode where we talked to the president of a pretty cool company, products that we sell. I don't want to tell you too much because it actually haven't, we haven't recorded the interview yet and barring any technical difficulties though, it's going to be pretty awesome. So you should definitely hear episode eight. This has been in episode seven of Crutchfield the podcast, a slightly different feel from previous episodes. We hope to certainly get back to normal sooner than later. We're looking forward to getting back in the studio and talking to each other live in the room. We think it's a lot more fun that way, but we also think this is pretty good too, it has its benefits. So, thanks again for listening to Crutchfield the podcast. If you if you're a fan, please, like, please subscribe. Hopefully it's a break from the monotony of watching Tiger King or whatever else it is you're doing. Uh and uh and please, if you have any questions for us, throw them in the comments. If you're on Crutchfield dot com slash podcast, there is a place down at the bottom of the page to ask us questions and we would love to interact with you, answer your questions in the future podcast episode. So, those fans of you that have been listening since the beginning, thank you so much. I'm your host, jr and have a wonderful day.

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