Turn off the iTunes Sound Enhancer.

Did you know that by default iTunes is mucking up the sound of your recordings? I’m not sure with what version this started with but iTunes when first installed has its Sound Enhancer turned on. This is fine for easy listening but if you don’t know it exists it can wreak havoc on you mind when you play your own recordings.

I first noticed this when I was mastering my last album. I was listening carefully to a song called The World Will Know Us which had some alternating panned tom fills. In my DAW the toms where perfectly tickling each ear as they bounced from left to right. Later I put all my mastered songs into iTunes and was playing with the order of the songs to see how the album should be best arranged. When The World Will Know Us came on something was very wrong because the panning was strange. The toms seemed pushed to the center right ear only. I rerendered and remastering the song and again the same thing. It was pure luck I discovered that the iTunes Sound Enhancer was on and it was the culprit causing the phenomena. One good fact is iTunes remembers your settings each time you upgrade to a newer version.

“Sound enhancer is absolutely the STUPIDEST thing… App-hole also have it set to ON by default.. I have to send the following disclaimer to all my clients who listen to mixes on iTunes “Please be aware that iTunes had a setting in the preferences, under the “Audio” tab which engages something they like to call “Sound Enhancer”. This setting will increase the L-R component of the stereo signal and supress the L+R component. What does that mean? It means that anything which is only on the left, only on the right or has significantly different information in the left and right channel will be made louder (cymbals, percussion, BGVs, guitars, ambiences) and anything which is identical in the left and right channels (therefore “mono”, Kick Snare, Bass, lead vocal, etc…) will be much quieter. Please be sure that the “sound Enhancer” is OFF before you call to complain that you cannot hear the lead vocal in the chorus, etc…” Apple are ****ing idiots about pro audio…” zmix, Gearslutz.com

Have you noticed this yourself?

Musician get together photo with a twist.

Look closely here and let’s pick out the synths. I see a Korg Monopoly, Roland V-Synth, Dave Smith Instrument’s Prophet 08 and a Nord Rack. What’s the big white one on the left? A Yamaha workstation? Also there could be a TR-606? What’s the keyboard front, center on the floor? A Yamaha CS? What’s the instrument to the left of it? Oh…

Do you keep one of THOSE in your studio?

If you liked that one here’s another. I didn’t post it here because it’s cruel (it is hilarious though): click here

via wherearethedogshumping

Extend your mixer channels in Ableton Live.

Here is a simple tip that most people overlook when mixing down in Ableton Live. If you hover the mouse pointer above the faders and below the sends you can grab the dividing line (see the pink arrows) and drag upwards to make your faders longer. I also like to click the Show/Hide triangles (see the red arrows) and hide the Browser and Clip Views.

If you want to focus on an individual channel you can drag it wider or if your running out of room you can make tracks super thin (see the orange square). You can also Show/Hide the In/Out section, Send/Returns, Track Delay Info and the Crossfader by clicking the small icons at the bottom right of the interface (see blue arrow).

I like to mix by ear as I am making the song. Then I create a mix view like above and see if anything strange is happening like the snare being 6db louder than everything else (it happens all the time!). With the channels fully stretched you can make tiny adjustments in volume and fine tune what your ears were telling you.

A collection of wonderful gig posters.

I love graphic design. Even though I am far from professional I have a legit copy of Photoshop, a Wacom tablet and I am always learning from online design tutorials. However, as with music making it’s not the tools that counts it’s the inspiration. The Well Medicated blog has a great post up, “50 Amazing Gig Posters Sure to Inspire“. The next time a promoter shows you a lame flier for an upcoming show your doing send him over to that collection.

The Of Montreal poster was designed by F2 Design. The other poster that appealed to my inner geek is this one for a Beck concert designed by The Heads of State:

I remember when I was 17 ripping down Front 242 posters in the East Village (NYC) so I could put them up in my bedroom. The glue they used was nasty stuff and I usually ended up with a poster that was 20 pages thick! I really like the basic all white poster with large black bold Helvetica type proclaiming a band will be taking over the city on a certain night.

Don’t forget it if it’s your own gig to grab a few posters before the show to give out to fans.

To see all 50 posters: click here

Spectrasonics Power Synth Omnisphere released.

The massively hyped new software synth from Eric Persing’s Spectrasonics has been released. It’s called Omnisphere and I like that it’s a hybrid sample and/or synth machine. In fact this baby comes with over 40GB of content. I want to spend a weekend creating a song “limiting” myself to only Omnisphere. I would maybe even use just one instance (it’s 8 part multitimbral).

“After many years of development, Spectrasonics is proud to release the brand new flagship virtual instrument Omnisphere. This epic ‘Power Synth’ breaks completely new sonic ground by combining a wide variety of hybrid realtime synthesis techniques, an epic library of remarkable ‘Psychoacoustic’ sounds, and many innovative features that have never been seen before in any hardware or software synthesizer. The new instrument is the first to be based on Spectrasonics newly developed STEAM Engine.”  – spectrasonics.net

The first thing you should do is head over to Spectrasonics and watch the awesome 7 part video episodes they have online. Then prepare to depart with $499/€379!

Most of us have a good stock of software and hardware sound sources. Do you think Omnisphere offers something new?

More info on the Spectrasonics site: click here

The Automaton buffer effect sequencer is available.

Automaton Overview Pt. 2 – Effects… from Audio Damage on Vimeo.

I like Ableton’s Beat Repeat plug-in , Monome hardware, the iPhone and random sequencers so how am I not going to fall in love with Audio Damage’s new plug in Automaton? It was released over the weekend for $49 and is available Mac/PC VST/AU. On Twitter, Audio Damage’s Chris Randall proclaimed this was their fastest selling plug-in to date.

“Automaton is a unique look at buffer effects, allowing you to experiment with artificial life within your DAW. With four separate effects (Stutter, Modulate, Bitcrush, and Replicate) driven by a cellular automata sequencer, Automaton is capable of adding subtle seemingly random fills and “humanizing” effects, but if you like, you can crank the sequencer up to eleven, and watch as your DAW becomes a petri dish while Automaton makes complete hay of the track you’ve inserted it to.” – Audio Damage

Check out the Automaton discussion over at KVR: click here
Follow Chris Randall on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Chris_Randall

Audio Damage: Automaton

Channelflip takes a look at Rifflet.com

It’s clear online music collaboration has potential. Mixmatchmusic came out of beta this week and there are a host of other similar services including Splice, eSession and digitalmusician.net. Electronic Musician magazine has an article online comparing a bunch of them but it’s from October 2007 so keep in mind things change fast online. To read the article: click here

Channelflip.com is a net “TV” channel full of tech stuff and they have profiled yet another competitor in the online music collaboration space called Rifflet. For any of these to succeed in the long term they need to be free (ad driven and paid pro-accounts sound good to me), beautiful, fast and have a strong community.

Have any of you tried any of these services? How was your experience?

Gummi Bears Make Music.

What’s my secret to making music? I let my Gummi Bear friends do it for me! Normally they are camera shy but today they let me take photos of them recording a song. There are 10 photos and captions in total so be sure to click “Continue…” to see them all!

Red and his twin brother (also named Red) team up to add more noise into the signal chain of an Electrocomp-101 vintage analog synthesizer.

Green helps Orange change the Control Mode to Envelope 1 on an Electrocomp-101 synthesizer.
Green helps Orange change the Control Mode to Envelope 1 on an Electrocomp-101 synthesizer.

Green and Red need some inspiration before they go back to making music so they lie down for a bit on a Roland SH3 synthesizer keyboard and stare at the studio’s acoustic cloud.

Yellow and Red team up and jam on a Vermona DRM1 MKIII drum machine. Yellow changes the resonance on the snare while Red messes with the highpass filter on the lazer zap.

Continue reading Gummi Bears Make Music.

More Cowbell please. Explore the space.

What if there was a website where you could upload a song and then add more cowbell to it? Wouldn’t that be amazing? What if you could listen to tons of other songs people uploaded that they added more cowbell to? Well you can! Head over to morecowbell.dj for all the goodness.

“More cowbell” is an American pop culture catch phrase originally derived from an April 8, 2000 Saturday Night Live comedy sketch about the recording of the song “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” by Blue Öyster Cult. The sketch featured guest host Christopher Walken as music producer Bruce Dickinson and Will Ferrell as fictional cowbell player Gene Frenkle. In the television special Saturday Night Live: 101 Most Unforgettable Moments, this sketch is moment number five. – www.morecowbell.dj

Here’s the original skit on Saturday Night Live. At first I thought this was going to be stupid but I admit this had me cracking up: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhSkRHXTKlw

photo credit: Daniel Y. Go

Anatomy of an endorsement deal.

So it’s official: The Horrorist is endorsed by Propellerhead Software. I, as you know record under the name “The Horrorist” and today the box of goodies you see in the above photo arrived at my studio. I also managed to get one of the bands on my label Ionic Vision the same deal.

So how does one get such a good proposal? To be honest it’s kinda like getting laid by a female… You stay nice, friendly and available and when they are in the mood it happens! When I was in college at Suny Purchase I spent my free time in the music department hanging out with John Selway, Scott Richmond (Satellite Records) and Jack Elliot. During that time, the early nineties, the rave scene was beginning to take over the NY area. John invited me to techno parties in Long Island where I met Frankie Bones, Adam X, Heather Heart, Dave Trance and many more. I’m not sure how it exactly happened but I ended up at the recording studio of a guy named James Bernard who had a techno act called Influx. Ah… bingo you say! James Bernard I know that name. Yep hold that thought…

Flash forward fifteen plus years, 75 singles, 3 albums, 3 studios, a move to Berlin, a pro-audio blog and some grey hair. A band on my label Things to Come Records called Ionic Vision was coming to perform in Germany. I met them at Club Maria and did a quick video interview with them to help promote their new single. During the interview they got all gushy about how great Propellerheads Reason is. I wholeheartedly agree Reason is the bees knees and the video went up on the internets. I mentioned to Andy de Decker (one of the band members) that I should send it over to Propellerheads and did just that.

I knew James Bernard worked at Propellerheads and from time to time I cracked a smile when I saw him demoing things on YouTube. I would say to myself, “There’s that Influx guy. Dam he landed a cool job!”. So I was pleased when I found out he was the one in charge of artist relations and more pleased when he was the one who emailed me back. Without me asking he offered the endorsement deals.

So what can we learn from this tale?

1. James Bernard kicks ass.

2. Propellerheads kicks ass.

3. Being nice to people and putting your work out there gets free stuff. (And laid by females)

This arrangement will be good for you too because I will be posting more Reason tutorials, videos and Refill reviews.

So far I can tell you the 15″ laptop bag is very nice. The area where you hold your laptop is well padded and smooth so you don’t need to use one of those crappy inner sleeve things. It’s made of “polyester ripstop” which like it’s name: feels like it won’t ever rip. It also has a rubber handle, zippered pockets, a mobile cell holder and key ring.

Check out more photos of the bag and goodies: click here

Listen to James Bernard’s music: myspace.com/jamesbernardmusic
Visit Propellerhead Software: propellerheads.se