Archive for September, 2009

Since I’ve Been Gone

September 29, 2009 2 comments

fast-track-proIf you read my last post, you know I’ve been really busy moving and buying furniture for my new house. I love it, I gotta tell ya.

Out of all the busy-ness, I actually logged on to Amazon and ordered three things.

1. An M-audio midi keyboard
2. A peddle for the keyboard
3. A M-audio Fast Track Pro USB audio interface

I’m sorry to say I haven’t had much time to do much with the Fast Track Pro, but I plan to sometime next weekend. I’ve heard a lot of good things about it and I hope it’s up for what I have in store.

I did get a chance to play around with the keyboard for a few minutes in FL Studio. I really like it. It’s just the latency problem, I’m not really digging that because I’m not used to that much latency. USB interfaces are somewhat new to me, so I may have done something wrong or I may be using the wrong drivers or something.

The software that comes with the keyboard, I can tell you is pretty much junk. As well as the software that came with the Fast Track Pro. It came with Live 6 lite and a demo of Protools LE M-Powered. If I had my way, they would ship it with a full version of Protools LE and left the Live 6 lite out all together.

I guess the people buying those things are like me, just buying the hardware and don’t care much for the junk software they ship it with. After I get used to the Fast Track Pro, I may post a review of it.

Almost Done Moving

September 19, 2009 Leave a comment

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been moving into my new home. I’ve been buying furniture and moving stuff, equipment, buying  more furniture.

So that’s the reason I haven’t been doing much posting. I’m too tired by the time I get finished at night.

You will hear from me very soon.

Categories: Personal

My First 10 Years Recording Part 1

September 6, 2009 Leave a comment

When I started writing this post, I didn’t think I’d have so much to say. It ended up being almost 2,000 words long. So I’ve decided to split the post up into two different posts.

001 September is a special month for me. It’s when I first started out recording. As a matter of fact, it was in September of 1999. As I round out my first decade of production/engineering/recording/mixing, I’ve found myself thinking about where I started out. I’ve learned so much. Many of the things I’ve had to learn the hard way. But in the end, it’s all been good. I’ve worked with some talented people, recorded, produced and mixed some great songs, and taken my own music further than it has ever been.

Before I started, I would save up all my money and go into someone else’s studio. The mixes would hardly ever turn out the way I wanted them. Even when I was dishing out hundreds of dollars at a time to someone who otherwise does great work. I later realized that it was because I couldn’t technically tell him what I wanted.

But I usually always ended up not liking the mixes much. This was the days ADAT machines were so popular. He had two of them and I had so much stuff I’d want to use all 16 tracks. Of course, he’d charge me extra for using the second one. And extra for mixing 8 additional tracks. He had an analog mixer, and he’d be working hard on mixes.

I’d spent so much, that I could’ve bought some really good mic’s, a nice pair of powered monitors, recording and mixing gear, and still come out ahead. That what started me thinking.

“Why haven’t I thought about recording myself. I could learn something musically that was new, and save a lot of money in the process.”

That was about the time DigiDesign came out with the first of their Lite Editions. It was called the Digi 001 with Protools LE (lite edition) with 24 tracks, and I was quickly warming up to the idea. It came with a sound card (Audio Media III) and an external IO. It came with 8 inputs 2 XLR’s and 6 TRS’s. There was also ADAT LightPipe that added another 8 tracks, a Midi IO and a S/PIDF IO.

I basically fell in love with that thing. Within a few months, I had enough money to buy the 001, a Mac G4 to run it on, and 1 large diaphragm condenser mic (Audio Technica 4040 if I can remember correct). In the time it took to save up for a few sessions, I had my whole system. And I started to add on to that whenever I could.

I’ve learned a few things in my first 10 years. Some good, some bad.

Here’s some of the things I’ve learned along the way:

Not Every Mix You Get Excited About Will Last The Test Of Time

I’ve had to learn this lesson more than once. I thought I did a swell job mixing only to find out a few weeks or years down the road they were very amateurish. One thing I did in the beginning was to not pan efficiently. And as a result, my mixes were mainly mono. I also had phase problems. Mainly as a result of my experimenting with things I ran into a bunch of problems that I wasn’t aware of earlier. It’s still hard to listen to my first mixes.

I can’t tell you how many times I wrote a song and was so excited about it that I spent all night recording and mixing it. I’d listen to the track the whole morning. Go to bed around noon, listening to it till I went to sleep. Only to wake up and feel bad I ever recorded it. Most of the songs I’ve done that way, I’ve regretted even writing them much less spending time on them.

People May Incourage You And Tell You It’s A Great Mix When They Only Want To Make You Feel Good

It feels really good when people encourage you. It’s also good to get encouragement from your recordings themselves. It’s one thing that’s kept me going this long. Just a little encouragement from the right person at the right time can mean you toughing it out or quitting the whole thing for good.

If I kept at it, I knew I’d get good eventually, so encouragement has done me a world of good. I’m sure if you can think back, it’s probably done you some good as well. It’s hard to get anywhere without encouragement from something or someone.

But I’d be lying if I said there isn’t a negative to that same positive. And it’s about the intent of the encouragement. People will give you a false sense of encouragement. What I mean is people like you. Some people even love you. They only want you to feel like a million bucks.

If they’re lying about a mix or something else telling you it’s good when deep down you know something is wrong with it, they may be just trying to make you feel good. Now, even that is actually a positive. You have someone who cares so much about you that they want you to feel like a million dollars. You can’t buy that anywhere. And if you could, you couldn’t afford it.

Categories: Personal

My First 10 Years Recording Part 2

September 6, 2009 Leave a comment

This post is a continuation of my last post. It ended up so big, I decided I’d have to make it two different posts.

There Are People You Can’t Work With

good-recordingThis is another thing I’ve had to learn many times until I got it. Now I’m not saying it’s just the people that you dislike and can’t work with. I have a very good friend. We’ve been friends for almost 20 years, and I can’t work with him at all.

I really like him. I think he’s super talented, but for some reason we don’t mesh well working together. At all. He knows this too. That’s why we’ve only done two sessions together.

Of course there are people for one reason or another that won’t like you. Maybe their first impression wasn’t good to them. Maybe they don’t like the particular way you do things. I used to take this pretty hard. As much as I’d like people to like me and actually want to work with me, it’s beyond my control. I’ve had to learn to except things like this and move on. If you take it any further, you’ll find it was a huge waste of time.

There are also other things I’ve found. There are artists that you mesh well with but for one reason or another, they don’t mesh with you. This is discouraging. There are times where I’ve felt a healthy vibe with some people and I’ve thought they felt the same way. But they didn’t. They didn’t think it was very worth while.

On the opposite side of the same coin, there are people that you don’t well with. That person feels the “vibe” and you don’t. I’ve had both happen to me. Fairly frequently, at least once a year.

Mic’s Work Better When They’re Used With Different Things

As I said, I started out with one large diaphragm condenser (we’ll I did have a few 57’s and 58’s), I recorded basically everything with that one mic. It wasn’t until I got my small diaphragm condensers that I started to hear a real shift in the quality of my recordings.

Now I’m not saying go out and buy them because they’re mandatory, they’re not. I’m just saying when you learn a few techniques with one mic, you open yourself up to some nice changes when you get more.

When I got those 2 small diaphragms, I’d overdub everything with them.

I’d put them around 8 feet away from my loud speakers and experiment with running my mix through the speakers recording the mix with the 2 small diaphragms xy. This created phase problems, I had no sense of phase in those days (see the “Not Every Mix You Get Excited About Will Last The Test Of Time” section of “My First 10 Years Recording Part 1” post).

I’ve found the best thing to do is experiment with anything you can think of. A lot of it will suck, but a lot of it will kick ass. The important thing is to figure out what you like.

As I’ve grown 10 years older, I’ve learned to except all these things. It actually goes with the territory. When I started out, that’s all I wanted to do. I didn’t want to sleep. I ran out of material to record alot but still wanted to work in my little studio. I’d end up making half assed crap to record just for the recording and mixing time.

Three years in to recording I opened a little studio. I say opened, but it really wasn’t open. I would record myself and other artists, but it wasn’t a business. I just wanted more space and get out of the house.

I’ve found it to be really nice to have a completely separate place to work from besides your home.

In the beginning it made things fresh and new. A new place to learn acoustically is challenging, but very cool. You have to record a lot just to be able to get used to the room. No problem there. I loved every second of it.

Things did start to get hard and eventually I was forced to move it back home. But now things are better, I’m still looking for potential places to set it up.

I don’t think I’d like commercial recording much. Having to even out a balance sheet isn’t my idea of fun, but I’ve made good money “under the table” recording people. It seems like that’s more fun. And besides, I don’t spend the money on myself, I never have. I always bought a new mic with it. Or plugins. Or so many other things.

When you’re passionate about what you do, that’s all that counts. And I look forward to spending 10 more years learning this thing. It’s really taken my writing to the next level. Many times actually.

To all those just starting. I just want to tell you, sometimes I wish I was you just so I could learn this stuff again. But then again I think I’ve got so much more to learn. And that would take all my time. Recording is awesome isn’t it?

Categories: Personal

Sony SoundForge 10 Released Today

September 4, 2009 Leave a comment

sonysoundforgePlease bear with me because most of this information is from a press release and I thought you’d want to know. I’ve personally not tried it myself. So I can’t give any opinions at this time. But with the feature list, I can give a little of what I’m thinking.

As a side note, I was always a fan of Sonic Foundry, the company that used to produce this package, but I’m not a big Sony fan at all.

Sony has released their new version of SoundForge. The new features are event-based editing, disc-at-once CD burning, iZotope 64-bit SRC (sample rate conversion), MBIT+ dither (bit-depth conversion), musical instrument file processing, and Pro timestretch/pitch shift plug-in.

Event-based editing – This is mostly aimed at mastering from what I can gather. There’s nothing new here.

Customizable Window Layout – I’m glad they added this option for their users. That’s about all I can say only that it should have been standard in the first place.

Izotope powered mastering bundle – Now this is impressive. It comes standard with the new version?

Interactive tutorials – Ok, so yes a lot of other packages have this but it’s nice to know this one does too.

So, I have to be honest. I had version 8, wasn’t too impressed with it, and when I got a new machine I didn’t bother putting it back on.

It looks like most of the improvements for this version is in the mastering arena.

I do have an interest in film, so this will likely change. With what I’ve read in the press release, I’m going to consider getting this. But I have to see what else is out there, as I said, I’m not a big fan of Fony. I mean Sony.

Categories: Pro Audio News

POD Farm For Nothing

September 3, 2009 1 comment

PODFarmLine 6 is offering their POD Farm for free to anyone that uses either an iLok USB Smart Key or a compatible Line 6 product. POD Farm has 42 guitar amplifiers and cabinet simulations (all patterned after famous amplifiers and cabinets), 10 bass amplifiers and cabinets, and even 29 stompboxes and studio effects with 6 mic preamps simulators.

That’s an awesome array of stuff. And I can tell you, being a user since POD 2.0, this is a high quality product they’re giving away.

As much as I’d like to believe they’re doing this for the love of guitarists everywhere, I don’t. Usually when someone offers a piece of paid software for free, it means they’ll be upgrading the product extensively and they want to get into the upgrade market.

I’m sure that’s what this is. But who cares really? It’s free and it’s a quality product. If you’re a line6 user and you don’t already have POD Farm, you need to download this.

Categories: Pro Audio News, VSTi

New Favorite VSTi List

September 2, 2009 Leave a comment

synth1I’ve been trying out a bunch of different VSTi’s while working on the Nine Inch Nails multitracks(you can download the multitracks here by the way). I’ve been going a little crazy with them.

The ones I’ve been impressed with during the last two weeks have all been free VSTi’s that you can download and use.

So here is my top three VSTi’s

Synth 1

I was talking about this in a post a couple of days ago. The one that’s impressed me the most is Synth 1. If you’re a beginner to sound design, I’d highly recommend downloading Synth 1. It’s very simple to use and it won’t confuse you about what everything does. It comes loaded with presets also. So you can get going with one of those and tweak to your hearts desire.


Another VSTi that I really like is Stylus by Spectronics. It’s basically a crazy drum machine multitrack sampler. Ever since I’ve gotten it I’ve been coming up with some insane things that I wouldn’t have ever thought about. It does have a price tag though. But in my opinion, it’s worth every cent. It’s inspired some really crazy things I’ve  been doing.

Edorial Orchestral

Edorial Orchestral is a hugely awesome VSTi that I’ve come to depend on. I’ve also heard more than enough things about Garriton’s VSTi’s but I don’t own any of those right now. That will change in a couple of weeks. I’ve heard Garriton’s demo’s and I’m very impressed. Judging by the demos I’ve heard, they sound better than Edorial Orchestral in my opinion, but Orchestral is still what I use in situations when I need some good string accompaniment.

On a side note about the NIN multitracks, I’ve been taking Trent Reznor’s vocal tracks and running them through Melodyne. Melodyne is much like the Auto-Tune that’s so popular in pop music right now. But I think Melodyne is a lot better. I’ve been using Melodyne to alter the melody in Trent Reznor’s vocal tracks with some really awesome results.

I can see right now I’ve been focusing on paid VSTi’s for too long. I shouldn’t have ignored the free ones for as long as I did. That was a big mistake. I’ve learned it really pays to find out what my fellow bloggers are saying. I wouldn’t have heard about it any other way.

Also a couple worth mentioning are the VSTi’s that come with the recording packages. There’s some really good ones  on those like FPC that comes with FL Studio Producer addition(I’m not sure if they come on any other addition, so  you’d need to check that out). Steinberg, obviously comes with good ones too.

Categories: VST Plugins, VSTi