One year ago today I installed WordPress and starting typing this blog. My main motivation was to give my friends a break from the relentless emails and instant messages I was invading them with. I couldn’t stop showing them new audio gear and software I thought was cool. I figured if I started my own blog they could come and visit if they so cared and I would also find new people to have conversations with. I am happy to report I have gained quite a lot of new friends and my old buds are reading the blog too.
Another motivation was to have a place for common questions I was being asked repeatedly. Today if someone asks me a question I have a post I can point them to. Getting an unwanted distored sound from your DAW? Go here: keep-your-channel-faders-low… You don’t know how to bring in external hardware into Ableton Live? Go here: use-the-ableton-live-external… By the way if you have a question you want me to try an answer send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Of course as a professional musician having a blog is a must. I’ve been using Wire to the Ear to share my remixes and new releases. Getting unbiased feedback from strangers should be a priority for any artist. Your friends and family are always going to tell you your music is good.
My goal is to continue to post a balance of original content mixed with the best stuff I find along my online travels. I’ve had a blast visiting Jomox and doing interviews with people like Dan McPharlin so expect more material like that. I really want to give my fingers a break and get in front of the video camera and do some video posts or even a fancy show. So far the test video posts I did were too geeky to show the world. Eventually I will figure out a way to produce something that I am happy with.
If you want to help support Wire to the Ear all you have to do is go tell your friends to read it! Remember you can also subscribe to the RSS feed by: clicking here
Here’s a great video visit to Daptone Records studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Co-founders Neal Sugarman and Gabriel Roth show you around their music making fun house. If you ever wished you could find new soul records produced the way they used to be this is the place to check.
Everything at Daptone is analog except their one single digital piece: a CD player! Incredibly they even edit without computers using good old fashion razor blades and tape. I really like how they floated a floor for a sound proof room using tires and used clothes.
Up in the Bronx gentrification has arrived. The borough is the last area near Manhattan where living space is still affordable and the middle class is moving there in droves. There is an average looking building at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue that was recently sold to new owners ready to flip it from old burnin Bronx to hipster cool. But this building has an apartment inside of it that is very special. This apartment once belong to a man named Clive Campell. Does this name ring a bell to you? It should because under his synonym DJ Kool Herc he invented Hip Hop.
How should NYC mark this spot? Should the new devolopers on Sedgwick Avenue be forced to honor the birthplace of an American musical style? I think so!
For years many musicians, producers and music fans have been crying foul about the “Loudness War“. This is when a mastering engineer compresses and limits the dynamic range of a song to make it louder to the point of ruining the music. Many times it’s not the engineer’s fault as he or she is just following directions from the label or the band. It makes some sense you would want your album to be louder than others as it would stand out but when everyone is doing it the end effect is music is simply ruined.
Things have finally boiled over with the release of the new Metallica album Death Magnetic. Apparently it sounds so squashed that even their metal head fans can’t stand it. To add fuel to the fire a version of some of the album tracks appear mastered more tastefully in the newly released Guitar Hero 3 (video game).
“Music released today typically has a dynamic range only a fourth to an eighth as wide as that of the 1990s. That means if you play a newly released CD right after one that’s 15 years old, leaving the volume knob untouched, the new one is likely to sound four to eight times as loud. Many who’ve followed the controversy say “Death Magnetic” has one of the narrowest dynamic ranges ever on an album.” – wsj.com
I’m pleased this is getting attention because I personally can’t stand the smashed sound. It’s fine when it’s part of the artistic endeavor (such as any song by Justice) but other than that I find it seriously unpleasant.
The Wall Street journal has a great interactive graphic online comparing the sound quality of an old and new Metallica track: click here
If your a Metallica fan (I’m not) you can sign a petition to have the album re-mastered: click here
Read the full Wall Street Journal story: click here
Wikipedia’s entry for the Loudness war: click here
I like the wood case this guy built for his Minimax ASB. Although he does a convincing job of making you believe the old and new synths sound the same I’d still need to hear the uncompressed ala YouTube sound to make a judgment. Nothing beats the real thing right? In the end it’s the song that matters, the notes you play and the story you tell. Still this is a fun comparison!
“This is a direct comparison between my Minimoog (1976) and a Creamware Minimax ASB, trying to use the same settings on both instruments and playing them together or one at a time.” – zioguido
A review of the Minimax ASB in Sound on Sound magazine: click here
Visit the Moog website: click here
Dave Smith has now officially released his new synthesizer the Mopho. It’s got a 100% analog signal path and it retails for $399. At this price it’s competition for soft synths.
Here are the specs: Two oscillators, One classic Curtis low-pass filter (switchable 2- or 4-pole), Analog VCAs, Three envelope generators (ADSR plus delay), Two sub-octave generators (one octave down and two octaves down), External audio input with feedback, Four assignable performance controls per program, Gated 16 x 4 step sequencer (one sequence per program), Arpeggiator, Fully programmable (includes free downloadable software editor for Mac OS and Windows), 384 programs, I/O: MIDI In, MIDI Out/Thru, Audio In, Left and Right Audio Out, Headphone Out.
Considering the price of this thing if your a person making music with only software you should consider grabbing one of these. Bringing audio into your DAW from the outside world really expands your color palette in interesting subtle ways. I’m going to pick one up for sure.
When producing a song I can spend a good 20-30 minutes working on creating a single ear tingling transition. Usually I make transitions when the song is almost finished. The reason I wait until the near end of the song’s creation is two fold. First, I like to hear the entire song from beginning to end and as I do so my brain tells me, “This is the spot where something is needed!”. Second, I use the audio of the full song’s mix to create the effect. You can here the kind of transition I am talking about at :06 seconds right before the vocal starts:
Here’s how it was done using Ableton Live:
I rendered one bar of the full song exactly where the transition is going to be placed.
I created a new Audio Track.
I delete the audio on all the channels where the new transition will be (cut a hole).
I drag my rendered clip into the arrangement on the newly created audio track and place it horizontally where I created the hole.
Now I play back the song. It should sound just like you have not done anything yet.
I experiment by loading different effect plug-ins on the new audio channel where the rendered clip sits. I try and find some heavy mangling plug-ins to really make the transition stand out.
I re-render the clip with effects on it. I will usually do 4 different variations.
I delete the plug-ins and the original plain rendered clip leaving a blank channel again.
I drag in each of my rendered variations one by one replacing them with each other and listening to figure out which one is the most interesting fit.
I also reverse each variation (in the Clip View) and listen to how that sounds.
Usually by this point I have a wicked sounding transition. In the audio sample I above I also cut and repeated the last 4 sixteenth notes and automated Ableton’s built in high pass filter to sweep down.
This process may seem like overkill but its the minor sweet effects that are the icing on a good song.
Here’s the heads up on some free patches I came across today. They are from a generous person who calls himself Bearnaomh. He has patch sets available for Rob Papen’s Blue, Native Instruments FM7, the Novation V-Station and a set for the Linplug Albino.
I believe these are a bit old but since they are new to me maybe you don’t know about them yet either. Bearnaomh also has a few tunes of his available check out. This is a good reminder that if your a musician making some free patch sets is a good promotion tool. Besides naming the patch set after your artist name you can name the patches after your albums, songs, website urls and ex-girlfriends.
Some people like to keep their own created presets a guarded secret but I don’t see any harm in sharing. Success and originality is all about the context the sounds are used in. Remember 99% of people who will download your freebies will probably only ever make a 16 bar loop at most.
I have two free sets of patches online that I created. You can grab The Horrorist soundsets for the TimewARP 2600 and Korg Legacy MS-20 on my record label’s studio page: click here
What’s that plug-in? No that’s not the new Audio Damage Automaton. Notice the Ableton Render bar? What you see here is Quinn, the best Tetris clone ever made. I’m certainly not going to just going to sit and watch a lime yellow line go from left to right.
I used to jump online and catch up with my favorite blog or forum. However, today’s rendering is pretty quick and by the time I get to something worth reading it’s time to go back to music making. Quinn fits the the bill perfectly. I have it set up to start with a certain amount of “junk” or messy blocks. I try to get the screen to a point where there are no more holes before Ableton is done rendering. Quinn is free and barely takes up any CPU cycles.
Here’s some video from a Rave called Tunnelvision which happened sometime in 1995. As you can see the event takes place in a public tunnel and lasts until 7:00am which causes the locals to complain. However, surprisingly the promoters secured all the proper permits so the event was not shut down. Between scenes of people dancing (which are hilarious) you get a glimpse of the local news coverage of the event.
I started playing events like this in 1992. I would bring a Roland TR-909, 2 TB-303s, SBX-80 Sync Box, a small Boss 8 channel mixer which when pushed distorted in a delightfully frighting way and a Shure SM-58 microphone to yell at people with. Sometimes I would let people come on stage and twist the knobs on one of the 303s.
This video is fun to watch but the events in New York were far more crazy.