The Horrorist Live report from Dominator, Holland.

This weekend I played a large summer festival called Dominator about an hour and a half outside of Amsterdam in a area called Leidschendam. The event is put on by an organization named Art of Dance and they are one of a small group of companies that control the Dutch techno scene. There were a few stages ranging from 2-5,000 kids in front of them. It was a daytime festival and luckily it was all sun and there was a nice lake to sit by too. They put me in the Hilton at the airport and unfortunately we got stuck in traffic on the way to the gig so I arrived and had to rush to the stage and instantly start performing. It was only when I was plugging in my wires I realized I forgot my Macbook Pro’s power adapter in the USA! I had to run the live show + M-Audio Firewire 410 (Amazon link) off the internal battery. Luckily it worked 100% fine and I had a great time performing. I have a checklist that I go over several times before I fly so it’s strange I made such a basic mistake. At many of these large events like this one they only give live acts 30 minutes to play so I edited a lot of my songs down to the nifty neat parts. I played two new songs, jumped up on the turntables, ran down into the audience and made a costume change (took my coat off!). See you next summer!

Related post: Soundcheck checklist. Are you ready?

The reason I am an Apple fanboy.

Apple Laptops

Last Friday morning at around 7:00AM before I left for work I was checking email on my Macbook Pro. I shut the lid but then realized I forgot to check the weather so I quickly lifted the screen open again. The screen didn’t come back on which does happen sometimes if you open and close the thing too quickly. This time however I realized how late it was getting so instead of closing the lid, waiting for the computer to properly go to sleep and open it again I just shut it again and ran out. About nine hours later I came home and opened the computer. The screen was still black and the computer was very hot. I held the power button down for a few seconds to force the machine off. I waited a bit and turned it back on. Unfortunately I couldn’t get it wake up. I tried a few different things as recommended at Apple.com/support but nothing worked. Since I own an iPhone I didn’t really freak out too much because I knew I could check email if I had to leave my computer for a few days for repair. I went to the local Apple store and met with someone at the Genius Bar. In fact, because this specific Apple store (Palisades, NY) was about to be renovated they would ship my computer to Apple and then have Apple ship it direct to me when it’s repaired. I have AppleCare so hey all in all not a big deal.

Well… Monday rolls around and I’m at work at my partner Charlie O’ Donnell asks me if I am still making music in my free time. I tell him of course and then something horrible dawned on me. I’m booked to playing two shows in Europe this coming weekend and I have no computer! I know Apple is pretty quick with repairs but I started to sweat. As soon as I got home I checked the online repair status and it didn’t even show up in their system. I called Apple and they told me they just received the computer and the system would update itself shortly.

Montagood Festival

I decided I needed a backup plan just in case my computer doesn’t arrive in time. Luckily I have a friend Leslie who doesn’t need her computer as much as a supergeek like yours truly. She lent me her white Macbook which has a Firewire port (phew!) ready for my M-Audio Firewire 410. I created a user account for myself and plugged in my Time Machine backup drive. I didn’t know what to expect because I never had to go to this drive before. I was very happily surprised to see that you can simply click and open folders on the drive just as if it were a clone of my machine. I grabbed my Ableton live show files (and videos), downloaded M-Audio drivers and Ableton Live 8. Everything loaded up without a glitch! Win one for Apple.

So without any disaster looming I decided to call Apple and just see if there was any chance my own computer would arrive on time. I didn’t have to wait at all when calling the support line and spoke to a very friendly employee. He told me the computer was still in the process of being repaired. I told him I had a flight to Europe and it would be great if I had my own computer with me. I blabbed a bit about how I’d be onstage in Amsterdam and Barcelona and I really didn’t want to scratch up Leslie’s nice new Macbook. He put me on hold for a minute and told me he expedited the process and asked me to look at the online repair status. To my happy shock it said the computer would arrive by FedEx before 10:30AM this morning. I know it would have been a better scenario if my computer didn’t break in the first place but Apple deserves a pat on the back for making it so easy to grab files from a Time Machine backup drive and for superb service.

Catch me live this weekend at Defqon 2009 in Amsterdam and the Montagood Festival, Spain.

photo credit: wZa HK

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 →

M-audio announces the successor to the 410.

I was one of the first owners of the M-Audio Firewire410. It’s been on the road with me for a few years and never gave me any problems. When a tiny screw fell out of the front of the unit I emailed M-Audio to see if they would send me a new one. Two days later I receive a package of new screws, a hat and a shirt (I know I told this story before). M-Audio you were nice to me so back at you! Here’s some free press for your new toy. I remember when M-Audio was called Midiman. They were a little outfit with ads in the back of Keyboard Magazine. How did you get so big? I’ll tell you one thing, they sure know how to style consumer electronics. I don’t even need this and I want one. Remember this is also an inexpensive way in to Pro-tools.

Designed by the company that revolutionized mobile music production with the industry-standard FireWire 410, the ProFire™ 610 FireWire audio/MIDI interface transforms your Mac or PC into a powerful 6-in/10-out recording studio. Premium digital converters deliver high-definition, 24-bit/192kHz audio throughout the signal path. Two preamps with award-winning Octane™ technology offer clean, transparent sound with low noise and exceptional headroom. Onboard DSP mixing provides a totally flexible recording experience—perfect for creating multiple, independent monitor mixes. The user-assignable master volume knob gives you flexible control over output levels. MIDI I/O allows you to connect keyboards and other outboard MIDI hardware. The half-rack-space unit also doubles as a standalone two-channel microphone preamp and A/D-D/A converter. ProFire 610 is compatible with most major audio software, making it an unbeatable choice for personal, high-definition recording.

More info at the M-audio site: click here

Moldover shows us how to mod an Oxygen 8.

By now we all have a bunch of old spare controllers lying around so why not hack the hell out of the them? Luckily Brooklyn native Moldover has posted this video showing us exactly how to do it. You need controller (duh), a screwdriver, some plastic, rubber, scissors, glue and a permanent marker. The marker is optional because it’s only to make things, “look cool”.

The hilarious thing is all he does is pull out some keys, glue rubber on the rest of them, draw on the case and assign controllers to stuff. I have to say this is completely stupid and awesome all at the same time!

Related post: To perform live with controllers: Controllerism

Doing a remix on an airplane. Am I crazy?

United Flight

I am about to jump on a nine hour flight. I have an important remix due in about ten days. I have not even opened the files to hear the song or the parts I was given to work with. Given M-Audio IE-30these facts I plan on making the most of tomorrow’s flight and see how much remixing I can do in coach!

I used this challenge as an excuse to go on a little shopping spree. I bought some M-Audio IE-30 in ear headphones and an extra Macbook Pro battery. I guess I should do an official review of the IE-30s when I get back. They certainly feel a lot nicer than the Apple earbuds I have been using.

With laptops we have full recording studios where ever we go. But do we ever really making music in the park or on a flight? I will tell you my answer soon!

photo credit: caribb

Wire to the Ear’s Winter NAMM 2008 picks.

The NAMM Show acronym stands for “National Association of Music Merchants”. The event takes place twice a year. There is a summer event in Austin, Texas but the bigger of the two happening this week in Anaheim, California. There are many websites covering NAMM down to the very last detail. I’d like to only list here what I personally think are the most interesting new products. So without further ado here is Wire to the Ear’s Winter NAMM hot picks:

Moog Voyager OS

Moog Voyager OS. Take a normal Moog Voyager and get rid of its Midi, presets, display and XY pad and you have the new “OS” which stands for Old School. I’m not sure I totally “get” this new synth. Unless the sound quality improves by removing those features what’s the point? Having midi, XY and patch memory has to be worth a few hundred bucks to anyone, no? link

Dave Smith Instruments Prophet 08 Module

Dave Smith Instruments Prophet ’08 Synthesizer Module. A table top or rack mount version of the Prophet ’08. If you want to play chords and you want real analog it’s either an uber pricey Studio Electronics Omega, something used or the new Prophet 08. The new module will be the least expensive way into the polyphonic analog world. link

Access Virus TI Snow

Access Virus TI Snow. A small table top version of the Virus TI. I would rather have a real analog synth or a Waldorf Blofeld but I know the Virus sounds great. Somewhat unique in a hardware synth is the new Atomizer utility announced for Virus TI’s which allows for stuttery effects. link

Alesis SR-18

Alesis SR-18. This is a big surprise! An update to the SR-16! Drum machines are back! The SR-16 was such an Continue reading →

Interview with Jim Heintz of Way Out Ware.

Jim Heintz of Way Out Ware.

I had the pleasure of using a Macbeth Studio System’s M5. Some people compare it to an ARP 2600. It does have a similar layout although I personally found the sound to be also Moog-ish. Have you used one? What are your thoughts?

Macbeth M5I have checked out the M5 a couple of times now. I first saw it at MusikMesse in Frankfurt a couple of years ago, and after getting to play with it unfettered, I had the pleasure of meeting it’s creator Ken Macbeth. I found the instrument to be built of very high quality and the sound quality was exceptional, however, I felt the filter was not very similar to that of the ARP 2600. People may compare it to the 2600, and as far as the layout goes, it is somewhat similar making it easy for me to navigate, however, the sounds that the M5 produces are all it’s own IMHO.

I really like it.

I am looking forward to seeing the M5 and Ken again at the NAMM show.

What makes the TimewARP 2600 different from the Arturia ARP2600 V?

I believe that the TimewARP 2600 sounds much more like a real ARP 2600 than any other virtual synth on the market. This belief has been confirmed by many very notable users of ARP 2600s. Our emulation is sample accurate in all respects and models the original circuits of the ARP 2600 where ever possible. One area that TimewARP 2600 stands apart from other products is in the area of audio frequency modulation. You can take any audio source on the TimewARP 2600 and route it to an CV input and get the behavior that you would expect if you were to do that on a real ARP 2600 across the full frequency range of the component. I have not seen this in other virtual instruments. This feature is how many famous ARP 2600 sounds are created.

timewARP 2600 from Way Out Ware

Will there be more features added to the TimewARP 2600? A sequencer for example?

I would love to expand the TimewARP 2600 to include a sequencer, however, I can’t say when that will be. We recently added a couple of small additions to the TimewARP 2600 including a “Master Volume” control and offset controls to the MIDI beat synch feature. As time permits, and market allows, we will continue to enhance the TimewARP 2600.

Let’s talk about kikAXXE. It’s a synth, drum machine and sequencer which sounds super yet it’s priced quite low. Was there a lot of special discussion of it’s price? I am surprised by it honestly.

We did not compromise on sound quality inkikAXXE from Way Out Ware KikAXXE. Our goal was to produce a cost friendly electronic music environment that was fun. We left out a few features in order to justify the price, but all in all I believe KikAXXE delivers the goods. Our hope is that by providing KikAXXE at such an attractive price, that it will open the door to a wider audience of users and allow more people to discover what analog synthesis is all about. At the same time, we have many pros excited about KikAXXE too.

The thing that has to be clear is that KikAXXE is inexpensive, but still sounds awesome and can produce very useable results quickly and easily.

Are you still in contact with Alan R. Pearlman? I know he has endorsed the timewARP 2600. Did you send him kikAXXE?

I try to stay in touch with Alan as often as I can. He has been very supportive of Way Out Ware, and we really appreciate that. He has told me that he believes in what we are doing regarding brining analog synthesis to a wider audience, and making it affordable. He said that he had considered producing a computer based synthesizer when ARP was still around, but the computers of the time were not powerful enough to get the job done. I believe that he feels that WOW products are bringing his legacy to a new generation of users.

Besides your own products have there been other audio software emulations have impressed you? Continue reading →