Sounds from a life in Rockland County.

Ma's House in Palisades

As some follows of Wire to the Ear know I moved from Berlin, Germany back to New York about three months ago. I bought an apartment in the city that needs a complete renovation. Not only do I have a new apartment to renovate I also bought a two car garage I am turning into what I hope will be an amazing studio. Because the apartment needs a complete gut my wife and I have been staying in the upstairs apartment in my mother’s house in Rockland County. Rockland is a typical New York suburb just about 20 minutes north of the city. It’s actually quite nice and I am very familiar with the area because I grew up here. The photo above is Ma’s house.

When I was in College at Suny Purchase I took a class called Social Sciences in the Arts. I never forgot a lesson the professor thought was important. The basic gist was that no artist made any art without an audience in mind. This ties into my Rockland chat above because I’ve been doodling a lot music wise on my laptop over the past three months and realize I am making tunes for my mother and Doug (her husband). Little diddy’s about the car they own, a song about the fact that my mother is top sales lady at her office and a song about Milo their dog. Milo is incredible cute (see photo below) but without a doubt is the boss here. He has these treats called “Dingos” which he demands often. When I say he demands them I mean it. A few of us will be in the kitchen talking and he will walk in, bark and growl loudly until someone gives him a Dingo. So without further ado here’s the song I did called “Milo the Bad Dog”:

Milo the Bad Dog

Please keep in mind this is no way an official song or anything that I will ever release for sale. It’s just a fun blip that took about 40 minutes last night. I used the few simple plug-ins I have on my laptop and I sang in the bedroom using the Macbook Pro’s built-in mic. The drums are an Ableton Impluse with D16 Devastor on them. The synths are an old ReFx Vanguard and Fabfilter Twin.

Today when I got back from the gym the birds in the driveway were extra loud so I took a photo of the tree they were all in and recorded 30 seconds of audio for you. I used the Griffin iTalk app on my iPhone. You can hear the birds and cars going by on Route 340.

Birds in the Trees

Something tells me when my apartment is ready I’m going to miss suburban life.

Related post: Recordings from my day yesterday.

Costco Sheds as sound isolation rooms?

Costco Shed

Right before I went to sleep last night I was in bed reading the Tape-op forum on my iPhone. There was an interesting discussion about using Costco sheds as isolation rooms. It seems I am always building a new project studio and without a doubt the most difficult problem in the process is sound isolation and treatment. Truthfully, if you have a large budget there’s no real issue at all (Isn’t that always the case?). The best way to do the job right is build a room in a room, fill it with bass traps, absorption and diffusion. If you do it correctly and also want it to look pretty your talking about a $30,000+ job.

Whisper Room

Considering a Whisper Room or Vocal Booth brand room will run you $8,000 or more for any decent size could a Costco Shed for $2,000 be a real alternative? My own opinion is probably no. By the time you add the additional sound proofing you would need to bring it on par with something like a Whisper Room or proper built room in a room I think your price will be high enough it won’t be worth it. To top it off it’s going to certainly be ugly and in many cases it will smell like rubber, plastic and resin.

So what do you think? Is there a certain Costco or BJs or Home Depot pre-fabricated shed that could do the trick?

Read the Tape-op thread: Costco prefab storage shed..instant studio

iTunes Pass serves Depeche Mode superfans first.

Depeche Mode - iTunes Pass

There’s a new feature in iTunes called “Pass” and it’s being launched with one of my favorite bands Depeche Mode. Basically, you pay some cash in advance and are delivered new songs, remixes and videos in run up to the new album release which at release time you get the album too. I have to be honest that if I saw this concept and I didn’t like the band I would have immediately thought it was a lame idea. However, because it’s Depeche Mode and their first single “Wrong” is great my finger is hovering over the Buy Pass button. It seems someone at iTunes knows what they are doing.

A funny side note to this story is the Engadget coverage of Pass (link). They don’t like Pass and the author Joseph L. Flatley certainly doesn’t like Depeche Mode:

“Of course, what we’d really like to see is this sort of a deal for a band that didn’t peak twenty years ago. In the meantime, we’ll be catching up with Depeche Mode the way nature intended — during the weekly spin of Personal Jesus at 80’s Night.” – Joseph L. Flatley, Engadget

I’m happy to report that in the post’s comments section DM fans tell Mr. Flatley that he’s clueless. I agree.

Depeche Mode, Sounds of the Universe: iTunes Pass

iPhone attack: TR-808, TB-303, Sampler, Synthesizer

Ableton Live and iPhone

I was having some music fun on my iPhone and I put together a quick Acid track. I recorded three apps into Ableton Live. There really is something to be said for bringing in audio from the outside world, even if it’s from another computer. I like the slight noise and live interaction the iPhone apps forced. The combined price of all the applications I used here was $11.97. Imagine what a Roland TB-303, Roland TR-808, Akai S950 and Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 would have cost you 15 years ago?

Take a listen:

That took about 15 minutes to put together and it was true fun. So what applications did I use to create this?

Audiorealism Technobox

Audiorealism technoBox

The Roland TR-808 and TB-303 appear in my tune courtesy of Audiorealism’s fantastic new iPhone app simply called technoBox. You could compare it to Propellerhead’s now long gone Re-Birth. Here’s a hint: when in TB-303 mode hit Shift-Gate for a random pattern!

Huff Software - Tapestri

My vocal stuttering away saying, “Yeah. Yeah. Make the music baby!” was recorded and played back by a super fun and simple application called Tapestri. You record some vocals and touch the waveform to play at whatever point.

Pure Profit - Android FX

The synth effects in my Acid track come from Pure Profit’s Andriod FX. They also make BtBx but I think they hit a more useful mark with this nice application. You drag on the screen to make pitch and noises. There is a full info screen where you can tweak this little synth’s sound until your pleased.

All three of these apps make me super happy. If your a electronic musician go grab them: Aciiiiid!

A ReFill to help the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Polar Elements

There’s nothing more pathetic than Polar Bear’s drowning because we melted too much the world’s Arctic ice shelf. Could buying a ReFill for Propellerhead’s Reason help? New Atlantis Audio will be release ReFills of which a percent of the sale will go to charity. Upcoming charities include the Elevate Hope Foundation, Shriners Hospitals for Children and the WWF (World Wildlife Fund).

“Hi Oliver, We are a new sound design company who’ve just released our first product, “Polar Elements”, a ReFill for Propellerhead Reason 4.  Our mission is to provide musicians with unique, high-quality affordable audio products, while raising money for worthy causes which are important to ourselves and our users.  A portion of the proceeds of this sale with be going to help protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Northern Alaska.” New Atlantis Audio, newatlantisaudio.com

Reason Combinator

The first ReFill from New Atlantis Audio is called Polar Elements. It requires Reason 4, contains 50 Combinator patches and has an introductory price of $5.00. Interestingly the ReFill was created to induce visions of the Polar region. You can hear an audio sample here: newatlantisaudio.com/reason-refill-polar-elements

Waves GTR Solo on drums, synths and vocals.


Waves GTR Solo on Drums, Synths & Vocals. from wiretotheear on Vimeo.

My friend Tal Shoshani at Waves asked me to take a closer look at GTR Solo and their large metal hardware unit GTR Ground. In the video above I discover I like GTR quite a lot. I run GTR through a few Roland TR-606 patterns, a synth line and my voice. Next week I will bring the GTR Ground to Mark Ephraim’s studio and let some real guitarist’s at it.

For more info: wavesgtr.com

We are going to make an explosion sound.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79N5p3zrxM0

There are white noise bursts one could call an explosion. Then there are perfectly formed digital meets analog snappy explosions done right. Let the attack begin!

Check list: Quad multi-mode gate (CHECK!). Zorlon Cannon (CHECK!). QMMG Module (CHECK!). Voltage Controlled Slope Generator(CHECK!). Block of pork (CHECK!). Kid ready to stomp on something (CHECK!).

Related post: The Harvestman Zorlon Cannon 8-bit Module.

For more info: makenoisemusic.com

On a beat hunt? Try the Ryan Gruss blog.

Drum Set

Well here’s a concept worth mentioning: a drum loop blog. There’s not too much to say here other than Boston, Massachusetts resident Ryan Gruss posts a drum loop a day for all of us to use and abuse. He’s categorizing his loops so this could be a place to go when on a beat hunt.

“Hey Oliver, I just wanted to drop you a note and say hi.  recently started a blog of my own. I record and upload new drum loops everyday (almost) for anyone to use.  I post a quick audio preview and supply a download link to the original Logic files.” – Ryan Gruss

No drummer jokes ok? (NO NO I’m joking… please leave many drummer jokes in the comments!)

Check out the blog and loops here: ryangruss.com

photo credit: johnnyalive

Daptone Records hit by thieves.

Daptone Records

Last September I did a post titled, “A look at Daptone Records Studio in Bushwick.“. They are a great label and studio who keeps a candle brightly lit for pure analog recordings. Unfortunately some hard news came my way today:

“Friends and associates,

As you may have heard through the grapevine by now, Daptone was broken into last night. Unfortunately, there was a lot of equipment (mics, pre-amps, monitors, turntables, guitars, amps, computers, etc.) stolen and damaged. It is going to take us a while to go through everything and take full stock of what was stolen, and we are not supposed to touch anything until the cops come back to collect fingerprints so we can only guess what’s missing from some mic drawers and cabinets.

And, no, we did not have insurance. We had been shopping around with different companies earlier this month but had not signed a check, so nothing was insured. We are working on replacing the gate in front, installing an alarm system, and getting insurance, but it is President’s day so it’s not going as quickly as we would have liked.

Nydia’s computer was stolen (which wasn’t backed up) and the modems/ phone system was ripped out, so we’ll be relatively out of commission for a few days.

I would like to ask for everyone’s help first in keeping an eye out for all of our stuff showing up on ebay/craigslist/local music shops, and secondly (and more realistically) keeping an eye out for good deals on headphones, mics, pre-amps, etc. I could really use a heads up on any kind of studio package for sale or studio equipment to be possibly bought or borrowed as soon as possible. We have a session scheduled for Friday to lay down some music for (I know this sounds surreal) Rod Stewart, and I’m going to have to get the studio running by then. I know I’m going to need to find headphones, cables, mics, and pre-amps by then. I’m not sure what else yet.” – Gabriel Roth, Daptone

I’m actually building my new studio in Manhattan and spent $2500 on steel doors and another $1900 on the alarm/surveillance system. I know that money and the moola going to insurance is well spent. For a list of tips every studio owner (large and small) should check click this: Secure your recording studio from thieves. Remember if someone breaks in and your inside: Shoot to kill!

For a list of what was stolen from Daptone: click here