Audio Damage BigSeq2 coming soon.

Chris Randall from Audio Damage gave us a teaser of what the next version of BigSeq will look like. On his always fun to read blog Analog Industries he says:

“Development on BigSeq2 is proceeding at a break-neck pace; We’ve got the UI mostly done, and the sequencers themselves are mostly done. All the hard shit is done, essentially. Now it’s just a matter of putting things together, “tuning” all the DSP, then doing the ports. Click the image above for a full-sized version. Note that many of the placements are off, and this isn’t a done final UI. But since we’ve been fairly open about this particular product from the beginning of design, I thought I’d just go ahead and show you where we’re at.” –

Do you ever consider putting a plug-in like this on your master before you even start a creating a song? It can really help you create a song that’s quite different than your normal material.

Follow Chris Randall at Twitter: click here

Atomolabs Mochika 2 synthesizer sequencer.

This pretty clear plastic noise machine has been out since August but since it’s not via a major manufacturer maybe you missed it? The Atomolabs Mochika 2 is a synth with a built in sequencer that can sync to Midi. How can you not love a synth with a built in sequencer? If your a musician isn’t that the definition of fun? If you were looking at my Voice of Saturn videos with some lust I would say the Mochika 2 should be on your “maybe buy that” list too.

“This synth features one square and saw waveform VCO (voltage controled oscillator) with a huge pitch range, from subsonic to ultrasonic sound. One square and triangle waveform LFO (low frequency oscillator), that modulates the VCO for the vibrato effect creating old school arcade Atari-like sounds. White noise generator that triggers the VCO and can create percussion like sounds. 8 step Sequencer with note on/off switch and pitch knob for each step. It has a 1/4 inch audio output, 1/4 inch CV Output (to control other analog gear). The Mochika features a MIDI input to sync the Mochika with any midi device sending midi clock signals, the mochika can sync 1,2,4 and 8 times the tempo of the master clock midi device.. Also the instrument is ligthed with 1 ultra bright red led that indicates the LFO Rate, and 8 red leds to indicate the step that is being played. Very useful when you play it on a dark stage. The Analog Sequencer is packed in a cool laser cut clear acrilic case that shows all the hand made analog circuitry. The instrument is powered directly from 110V or 220V AC.  Dimensions: 230mm(W), 170 mm(D), 80mm(H. incuded rubber feet and knobs).” –

There is some good demos of the Mochika in action at the Atomolabs YouTube page: click here. You can buy the Mochika 2 for $299 from the Atomolabs eBay store: click here. If anyone owns one or buys one let us know how you like it.

Use Mad Mimi to send email to your fans.

When I first started my record label over 10 years ago I included 8.5×11 sheets of paper inside ever single record with information about the songs, label and artist (see below right). When the web started to flourish I stopped killing trees and sent email news. At the beginning I had only about 250 contacts but I knew almost all of them personally. At that time my promo emails were all text and I would send about one a month. As people sent fan mail or I met “kids” at shows I would collect their email addresses. By 2001 I had several thousand people on my email list. Around that time I started sending my “eNews” every two weeks and was sending graphic pretty HTML email. Each time I sent an email news out I would get about twenty responses from close friends and family, a host of questions about where to buy merchandise and usually a promoter or two asking to book one of us.

Well eventually and unfortunately spam took over the worlds email system. We all remember that right? I remember in the early 00s going from 10 spams a week to well over 100+. Because of that my ISP blocked me from sending my own newsletter out too. I pleaded with them and explained that everyone on my list was “opt in” it but alas no luck. I then discovered a piece of software called Maxbulk Mailer. Maxbulk allowed me to throttle my newsletters so they would get past my Host’s blocking system. For about two years this worked fine. About a year ago Maxbulk was also rendered useless. My host and by the look of the Maxprog forums most other people’s hosts knew how to stop Maxbulk Mailer. I know some people still use the software with success but dealing with blocked ports simply made my day way more boring than I could handle. Sadly, I stopped sending my newsletter.

I put some thought into how mid to large size companies were sending their own pretty spam to me. Then it hit me: They pay someone to do it! Immediately my super smart friend Google pointed me to companies like Constant Contact and Mailchimp. I was almost sold on using them but to be honest I couldn’t look at the PC style Contant Contact website and well the price was just too high for my to justify. To send my my list of about 4800 people it was going to run me about $50 per month.

A few weeks ago I made a very happy discovery called Mad Mimi. This is not an advert for them. I would tell you early on before you read this far if I was leading you to buy something. Mad Mimi is similar to Constant Contact however it’s gorgeous and cheap (or even free up to 100 contacts). Anyone who wants to shoot a newsletter out can use the service it but I discovered it was originally designed for musicians. You design really nice email Promotions using templates and your own images. You can also customize the CSS to perfection. It saves all the different promotions you make in your profile. You import your contacts (called Audience). After Mad Mimi sends your Promotion out it lets you know email addresses that bounced and lets you delete them from your Audience list. You can also track if people clicked or forwarded your promotion (how does it know that?). It also handles unsubscribing for you. Lastly Mad Mimi gives you an HTML snippet so you can embed a sign up page on your websites. This is another thing I used to do locally now moved into the cloud

Never ever spam. Don’t use anyone else’s list. Don’t buy lists. Slowly create a list of people who are really interested in what your doing. I also recommend that you don’t send more than two promotions a month because it’s just plain annoying (Beatport are you listening?).

Have you ever tried email marketing? Are there any pro-audio companies or bands that have notoriously bugged you with spam?

Check out:

MTV finally gives us music videos again.

I remember when MTV was all music videos. Along with HBO it was the reason you paid your hard earned cash for Cable Television. Right from the start MTV was a major player in the music business making some unknown artists superstars. Unfortunately sometime in the mid 90s soon after the grunge lost it’s lead man MTV switched it format. About half the programming on the channel became shows like The Real World. When you did see an actual music video it had a decidely teen audience in mind. Today are there any music videos on MTV itself?

Considering you can see every music video ever made on YouTube you have to admit that MTVs newly launched is late to their own party. However, the site is pretty and you can leave comments, embed videos, rate videos and create your own profile.

I remember waiting up every sunday night to watch 120 Minutes with host Dave Kendall just to see the one electronic music video they would play. I think they knew it was the only reason I was tuning in as they always seemed to play the video last! As with 120 Minutes the new MTVmusic is suffering from a bit of pop-itus. What do I mean? I can find Depeche Mode and Aphex Twin but so far no Front 242 or my own biggest video (The Horrorist, One Night in NYC) which was played on heavy rotation on MTV Europe. That said, the site is brand new so I can give them time to get it right.

Head on over and check it out:

via uninteresting and laughingsquid

Digital 80s drum machines from Puremagnetik.

If I had unlimited cash I would go onto eBay right now and buy every single drum machine I could find. The next best thing is a good sample collection. Puremagnetik has an interesting subscription model that delivers you monthly “Micropaks” of sounds all ready to go in Ableton Live. This month they hit my sweet spot with some nice 80s digital drum machine sets. Here what you get:

Korg DDD-1: A programmable drum machine from 1986. Includes 18 drum sounds with a famous 12-bit crunch. Alesis HR-16: One of Alesis’s first drum machines manufactured in 1987. Includes over 40 unique drum and percussion sounds. Kawai R50: Legendary 12-bit sound from 1988! Includes a selection of over 20 dirty drum and percussion sounds. Sound: A very rare Soviet era drum machine manufactured by Zhitomir electronic factory in 1989. Includes sampled percussion sounds with a tightly compressed flavor. –

For more info including a video walkthrough and audio clips: click here

The transition of CBGBs into a clothing store.

I performed at CBGBs three times. Two of those times were for events I threw myself. It was a nice accomplishment to take the same stage as so many great (and totally crap) bands before me. The above slideshow contains some photos of the clubs dismantling earlier this year.

“In February 2008 Raymond shot some beautiful and haunting photos of the shell the legendary New York rock club CBGB & OMFUG as it was in the process of being converted into a John Varvatos clothing boutique.” – Laughing Squid

Photo credit: [ raymond ]
via Laughing Squid

Is learning at the SAE Institute worthwhile?

I’m big on education. The more you know the better your music will sound, the more jobs you will get, the more money you will be paid and the more fun you will have. Last week I was talking to a friend of mine in Spain and he was telling me about his experience at the SAE Insitute over there. First off, he told me he paid about 9000€. Immediately I let out a big gulp. Teachers should be paid yes. Equipment is expensive yes… but still. I give him “props” as he’s not a native Spanish speaker and all his classes are in Spanish. Because of this however his grades are low. This doesn’t reflect on his music or drive because his tracks are well produced and he’s involved with some decent commercial work already. However, he complains that he can never get studio time at the school except for early in the morning around 8:00AM. He also mentioned that he has several rotating substitute teachers, none of which he has confidence in. He doesn’t like that they gave him the cheapest Mac laptop (the white one). I guess he should have known which computer he was going to get before entering into the program.

I know this post could be seen as a little controversial but I got the notion it was a good topic because over at the Sound on Sound Magazine forums a new bloak asks what people think about SAE almost daily. Almost daily the reviews are mainly negative. Here’s an example: click here

“i’d do a cost analysis: student loans versus potential income. hmmmmmmm, let’s see… potential income = zero” – Sqye, Gearslutz Forum Member

So are any of you currently enrolled at SAE? What do you think? Any allumni want to chime? Is it worth it? I think a lot of people coming into the music business want to know.

Some forum threads on the subject at Gearslutz: click here and another one.

SM Pro Audio V-Machine Stand Alone VST Player

The SM Pro Audio V-Machine looks like a micro competitor to the Muse Research Receptor. It’s a $599 box that allows you to load a few VSTs into it and then play without a computer. If you load more than one VST in you can chain them into layers for more complex sounds. From what I read there is “control figuration” software for Windows/Mac with Linux coming soon. However, I believe the hardware box only accepts Windows VST plug-ins (am I right?). Could this be a way to get Windows VSTs playable on a Mac (other than using Bootcamp/Parallels)?

I think price is going to make or break this thing. If they can eventually get these down to $399 I can see justifying it as useful purchase. The problem is at any higher price you could just get a PC laptop. SM Pro Audio also has two more V-Machines coming out at a later date including a a Pedal type device (V-Pedal) and higher powered V-Rack rackmount version.

* External hardware host for Windows plugins (VST instruments and effects)
* Banks, presets (incl. chaining, layering, splitting) can be edited with the V-Machine or the host software
* Create synth layers and chain them with effects
* Connect nearly every MIDI-Controller to the V-Machine
* Multiple VSTi’s can be combined
* MIDI learn functions included
* All effect and synth chains can be switched latency free
* USB-Ports for copy protection dongles
* Use software samplers and stream its content from any USB drive
* sensor to adjust the display’s contrast automatically

My guess is you won’t find these advertised over at KVR (Muse Research owns KVR).

For more info:

Kurt Kurasaki’s great Reason books.

My wife consistently asks me how to do the same few things in Photoshop over and over. I beg her to RTFM (read the ____ing manual) but it’s just too dry for her. Myself on the other hand read operation manuals cover to cover at least two or three times. The way I see it is the more you know the more power you have in your hands. Power!!!

As a reader of Wire to the Ear you know I was graciously given a free copy of Reason 4 not too long ago. As soon as I finished the yummy manual I did my usual forum and blog troll for more info. I knew there were some really crazy things I could do with the back panel routing in Reason. More than a few times Kurt Kurasaki’s series of books aptly titled “Power Tools for Reason” came into the conversation. Kurt is the defacto Propellerhead Reason smart man. I remember coming across his Reason specialty websites and refills since the Netscape Navigator days. You may know him as Peff. That rings a bell no?

“Peff’s (as Kurasaki is more widely known as) book is a great journey through Reason’s deeper mysteries for those who have cut their teeth on the virtual studio software and want to see just how deep the hole goes. Beginners need not apply – read the very good documentation that comes with Reason first – but intermediate level users who have a song or two under their belts and know their way around Reason’s virtual rack will find a wealth of information and techniques that will prove indispensible in their later music projects.” –  Jacques L Capesius

“For one, it certainly DOES illustrate the fact that Reason is a much more powerful piece of software than most people will believe. Secondly, the information itself is very good, and I’m sure will be a great reference tool for those who already have a strong background in audio engineering. The bottom line is, don’t get this book if you’re looking to learn the basics, that’s what the instruction manual is. This book was written with the professional industry veterans in mind.” –  the enlightened one

My copy of Power Tools for Reason managed to get through German customs last week and I have been really enjoying it. As the reviews above state this is meaty material. I already deployed a few new tricks into my own music from the book. If you have Reason it’s highly recommended.

Kurt (or Peff if you like) makes the rounds at many of the Propellerheads Producers Conference meetups the company produces. You can also check out his site at:

The book is about $25 at Amazon: click here

photo credit: klaxon