CitySounds.fm is the Music of Cities

CitySounds.fm

CitySounds.fm uses the SoundCloud and Flickr APIs to bring you music and images sorted by different world cities. The site was created by Henrik Berggren and David Kjelkerud during Music Hack Day in London. I’ve been listening during my morning coffee/web troll routine to Nashville.

“The tracks and city information is fetched from the SoundCloud API–in fact the list of cities and tracks is even updated in real time as new tracks roll into SoundCloud. Additionally, pictures for each city are fetched from Flickr.” – blog.soundcloud.com

Check it out for yourself and let me know which city your think is producing the best tunes: http://citysounds.fm/

For more info: musichackday.org

The best car for the car test?

VW Bug

I was talking via IM to “Raytrace” who’s name you see all over music tech social media sites. We were talking about checking our mixing in cars and he said that the Volkswagen Beetle is known to have the best shape for audio playback. I never heard that before but on the surface it makes sense. I guess if the circular interior walls are matched with a killer Blaupunkt system right?

Here’s my check the mix workflow:

  1. Adam P11A (nice monitors)
  2. Yamaha NS10M’s + Powerful Amp (harsh but acurite)
  3. Sony MDR-7506 headphones (loud cans)
  4. Apple iPod in-ear headphones
  5. Subaru Impreza (Japanese car)
  6. Nightclub Soundcheck

Remember to listen from other rooms from where the speakers are playing with the doors shut. The next door effect can point out too loud mix elements. Try mixing with a fan or noise in the room. Check mixes in loud cars (see above) and in parked cars. Remember to mix with fresh ears before any other music making.

photo credit: nitrox09

Microsoft saves Apple


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxOp5mBY9IY

MacWorld Boston 1997. Here we see a Steve Jobs before the iMac, iPod, iPhone and OS-X. Even though he seems depressed here I can’t help but think he knew he was going to change the industry. Google was still a year away from being incorporated.

“Next, we have taken a look at browsers out there and Apple has decided to make Internet Explorer it’s default browser.” – Steve Jobs

I own a Macbook Pro and an iPhone 3G. I spend about half my day on these machines.

For more info: www.apple.com

Native Instruments free Kontakt Player

Kontakt Player - Native Instruments

Here’s a no brainer download for musicians. Native Instruments has released a free playback only version of their Sampler Kontakt with two free sample packs. The motivation is to get you into the NI world and buying new packs but that shouldn’t stop you from grabbing the freebie. I always think sample based sounds cut through a mix a little better than pure computer based synthesizers and drums. If you do end up with a collection of Kontakt “Player libraries” you can browse them from inside the plug-in and each library has a cover image and scrolls in a rack ala Reason. Kontakt Player also will operate stand alone so if your somewhere sans sequencer and bored you set to go.

“Building on the success of its predecessor, the free KONTAKT PLAYER allows for innovative, highly playable instruments that leave existing technological and musical limitations behind. The virtually unlimited flexibility of Kontakt Script Processing allows for instruments with unprecedented functionality and musicality.” – Native Instruments

Native Instruments are based in Berlin and also have an office in Los Angeles. My personal favorite piece of kit from NI is their Massive synthesizer. For more info: www.native-instruments.com

Swayzak Video and Ableton Live pack


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taAh1_xIfsk

I found Swayzak by their single I Dance Alone (iTunes link). Later I found the album Some Other Country (iTunes link) to be perfect office work background music. They have released a free Ableton Live pack. It’s a 50MB download available now: click here

“Swayzak is a tech house duo from the United Kingdom that consists of James S. Taylor and David Brown. They live and work in London and released their first 12″ single “Bueno” / “Fukumachi” in February 1997 to much acclaim. It was followed up by the 12″ “Speedboat” / “Low Rez Skyline” to become part of the burgeoning tech-house scene in the UK.” – Wikipedia.org

What does the word “Swayzak” mean anyway? Is it some kind of UK thing?

Urs Heckmann Bazille Modular Software Synthesizer


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SbRSHlJVyE

Here’s a video preview of a new software modular synthesizer from Urs Heckmann called Bazille. He’s the Berliner known for the acclaimed Zebra and Filterscape plug-ins. Bazille definitely adds something new sonically to the software landscape. For an example, take a listen at 1:06 to the when he uses an Oscillator on the Filter Resonance. In case you were wondering Bazille is the German word for bacteria.

“This synth combines FM-Synthesis, Phase Distortion and subtractive in a rack-like appearance. Here are some early examples for unusual patches. Note that the sound quality here is really bad, but I guess you catch the drift. No fx used of course, just raw output of the synth.” – UrsHeckmann

A few more videos of Bazille are on the UrsHeckmann YouTube channel: click here

For more info: www.u-he.com

Dave Smith Instruments Tetra

Dave Smith Instruments - Tetra

If you want a true analog multi-voice multritimbral synthesizer your options have been limited and expensive. Today Dave Smith Instruments drops the price of entry into this field to $799. The new Tetra is essential 4 DSI Mophos in a black box.

“Tetra is our next-generation analog poly synth. Tetra takes the award-winning sound and features of Mopho, multiplies them by four, and packs them in a box less than half an inch larger! Tetra has multiple personalities. It is a four-voice, analog poly synth, a sort of “mini Prophet.” It’s a four-part, multitimbral synth with separate outputs, essentially four Mophos in one very compact box. And it’s a voice expander for other Tetras or the Prophet ’08.” – www.davesmithinstruments.com

Dave Smith Intruments - Tetra Rear View

You can check out the Tetra operation manual: click here

For more info: www.davesmithinstruments.com

Phase Distortion Micropak from Puremagnetik

Phazeform Vol1 - Puremagnetik

Puremagnetik is a subscription of Ableton Live (and Kontakt/Logic) devices filled with samples and presets around a theme. This past month’s release is based on Casio’s Phase Distortion technology.

“Phase distortion synthesis is a synthesis method introduced in 1984 by Casio in its CZ range of synths, and similar to Frequency modulation synthesis in the sense that they are both built on phase modulation. Basically a sine wave is played, but by modifying the phase angle, the sine wave is bent out of shape.” – Wikipedia.org

Micropaks are $12 al a carte or $60 per year. Some interesting past “paks” include samples from toys, digital drum machines, Atari 2600s, Korg MS20 and vintage organs. More info: http://puremagnetik.com/

Circuit Bent Battle

Yamaha QY10 - Circuit Bent

Here’s two great circuit bending videos. Which one makes you happier? The first video is of a bent Yamaha QY10. It’s from stylinghead (Jesse) and this one can be your very own for $250. I really like the black panel with paint splatter on it. It’s like some sort of sound galaxy thing going on. This is one of the more noisy bends I’ve seen and I could see putting this on the table at some party around 6:00AM.

“This video shows some of the noisy things it can do. It also gets tight and ticky, warm and weird and everything in between.” – stylinghead


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxDIH_1sjRE

Next up we have a Talking Cash Register from Michael Una. This unit seems to be a nice fit if your making minimal or Kraftwerk (Amazon link) style material. I love a speech synthesizers and cash so I’m happy.

“A brief demo of the sonic capabilities of a circuit-bent Talking Cash Register. Looped 4x in Ableton Live, with Broken Drum Machine bangin’ away in the background.” – Michael Una

Talking cash register from Michael Una on Vimeo.

So which bent box would you take home? For more bending action keep an eye on the always great GetLoFi blog: www.getlofi.com

[poll id=”5″]

Yellow OMEGA 8 demo from Calvin Cardiod

Studio Electronics - Omega 8

The Studio Electronics Omega 8 is one of those pure analog synths that makes you go wow when you hear one in person. I spent a lot of time with an “O8″ at Schneiders Buero in Berlin. I think it’s up there with a real MiniMoog and Macbeth M5 as far as it’s “WANT!” factor.

“Sound: absolute dream. 8 discrete voices. Analog and fat, yet tight and precise and articulate. None of that “carelessly eating up too much sonic space” stuff. It gets to the point and delivers sonic oomph very efficiently. I’ve yet to perform the auto-tune on it so far. I give it enough time to warm up, and all 8 voices are well-behaved. Sounds alive.” – Calvin Cardioid

Calvin Cardioid has posted a very nice set up samples on his blog cl516 and over on his SoundCloud page.

I think the Calvin’s color choice is excellent. Check out more photos on his blog: http://cl516.blogspot.com/

For more info: www.studioelectronics.com