Friday, August 31, 2012

A Free Yamaha NS-10 Simulator For Mac

MixRef is a studio monitor simulator plugin (AU) for the macintosh. It is FREE. It is designed to help you improve your mixes. I tested it personally and I have to say that it works. I loaded it up onto a mix that I was having problems with and made some adjustments under NS10, Adam A7x, Auratones and Dynaudio models using headphones. I was able to fix midrange and treble problems in no time. With both speaker and headphone AUs you can simulate these speakers in a home studio. When I was done working I still had some problems with low end bass (too much, probably because these speakers aren't designed with subs) but I quickly adjusted it in the "real world" with Mixref turned off. Overall it smoothed out my mix perfectly and better than  I could have done alone. This plugin probably saved me tons of time and money I would have spent on an extra set of monitors. It may be a good alternative to Focusrite VRM Box. Mixref gets an A+ from me. Just make sure you use the headphone mode.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Saturday, August 25, 2012

First Thoughts on The Axiom Pro 25

I received a brand new Axiom Pro 25 from ebay for my small desk area. I sold most of my keyboard rack and I don't even use an analog mixer now. I'm 100% digital, so I need a good controller. The Axiom is a good looking keyboard. It fits solidly on the desk. The pad section is large and stable. The membrane buttons are pretty nice. Keys are semi-weighted but look like they are fully weighted. These remind me of Casio's current instruments. Its not piano action. This is sufficient for playing synth at any speed. If you play glissandos this isn't that great as the edges of the keys are a little on the sharper side, but you can still do it. Mod wheels are great. Knobs are OK but seem to vary in tightness or quality. The worst thing about this keyboard is that some of my black keys have spring noise. It feels cheap/inconsistent. I'm thinking about getting an different one because of this. The screen is OK and buttons a little confusing. Overall this one works better than the Novation SL in the software arena, however it does have the same problem as the Novation where it will stop working after I sleep my computer. At least its easy to reboot. This keyboard is power effecient. It draws power to light the LED screen when my computer is asleep, but its not enough that it keeps my rocketfish green power strip switched on. Another annoyance is the front bevel shape sticks out a bit and the keys are recessed quite a bit. This one will save you hours of time in setup compared to Novation, even with a slightly confusing button interface. I got the hang of it after 3 hours, whereas with the novation I was still trying to learn it after a week (and gave up). Overall this works fine, but I fear I paid too much new for the underlying quality. The spring noise gives me pause. We'll see how it compares against an MPK25. At least I'm back to making music again.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Stare At This Daft Punk Pinball Machine Concept

via Behance

Should I Buy Ported Or Sealed Monitors?

Here is an infographic I made up to help you choose between ported or sealed enclosures. There are not many choices so the decisions are cost dependent. Sealed speakers have a more accurate response and no "bass leakage" but may require a subwoofer to provide bass extension. Ported near-field speakers provide extra low end but may introduce acoustic problems (what I call bass leakage). In a home studio with little space, ported speakers can be a good option. Most people listening at home will have ported speakers so it makes sense to mix on them from a certain perspective. Also, most home studios will not be acoustically treated to receive full benefits of a higher end monitor.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Chip Collection Back On Tumblr

We're back on Tumblr! If you'd like to follow us there and find more content go here! -->

Please be kind as I adjust to the site.

Katja Ruge's Synthesizer Fine Art Prints

Check out Katje Ruge's Photography

How to write a good audio blog.

Most of the incoming links from websites and searches fall into a few categories on my site. I can see what sticks and what doesn't. Here are only the popular categories that I've derived. If you've been to other popular blogs you'll know they only write specific types of articles over and over. I think these categories fit what people making music are really looking for.

  1. Reviews & Comparisons / Being told what to buy

  2. Tutorials / DIY

  3. Free Content

  4. Pictures, Lists, & Oddities

  5. News

New people to the site are looking for real answers that transforms their audio life. They want to be told what to buy. They need tutorials in order to learn. They want free things and sometimes they just want to be entertained or inspired. They are just dreaming about making music.

Obviously these categories don't cover all my content. I write opinion pieces. I make joke posts. I write about the music industry and make predictions. I write about art sometimes. Nobody is linking to those articles as much. When you total up the popular posts I've come to this conclusion: Nobody cares about your opinion. What do you mean nobody cares about my opinion? Reviews and comparisons are one of the popular categories! I think the most important thing to know is that when reviewing gear you are subconsciously making a comparison to other things you've used. You can also quantify the features and compare them. These real things not based on opinion, but experience or data.

I have forgotten that people are concerned with aesthetics. Thats why I've had to remind myself to include images in the posts for thumbnails. People want to click on them for some reason. Sites like Tumblr exist only because their users are concerned purely with aesthetics. There is little original content on these sites, and its all someone else's work. Thats how they make it look easy. I do create my own tutorials, articles, sound packs and music so I'm offering more than just a site. Sometimes I find things on the web and group them in a useful way. Actually reading and interpreting what is out there is a service and I end up with original posts. This article required brainwork. Sometimes pictures are helpful. It would be stupid not to include images in blog posts.

For the most part I'm going to concentrate on these types of posts. They are "link bait"  but if thats what people are actively searching for, its those things that will help them out the most. I will continue to update and improve the site, and hopefully it will become more useful and more beautiful.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sound Design Tip: Start in Reverse


Normally we start with an oscillator and work our way through filters and then toward effects. Why not reverse the way we normally do it? Lets go.

Since we need some kind of sound running through our effects choose white noise oscillator. It is generally neutral and but allows us to hear spacial properties of effects we choose.

Next select our favorite effects and their parameters. The point of this tip is to experiment. This way you can start by making really cool sound fields and time effects instead of focusing on tones. Reverbs and choruses are chosen not to fatten tones, but purely on what they do to time & panning, etc. They might make us feel a particular way. I think people love wide spacey sound fields because makes them feel space is endless.

Next go through your favorite filters, syncs, and adjust them to taste.

Lastly choose a tone or oscillator (probably not white noise this time) and edit it to taste. Maybe a particular percussion sound will be good.

At the end we will likely have ended up with some kind of drone-ish type sound. It might be creepy or sending sounds off the walls. We haven't heard it before and its not a standard synth patch. Thats the point. Hopefully you will develop a taste for the type of sounds you like. All done!

Music Battle Station Pictures (8)

The Best Midi Controller Keyboard

What is the best midi controller keyboard? By taking data from forum user's positive and negative experiences we're able to make a comparison of the most popular brands. Specific models were grouped into product lines, or by brand when necessary. The winner? Novation. By far it had the most recommendations. Second place would go to the M-audio Axiom line with 7 positive experiences. Things get more complicated when you take into account negative experiences. Each brand had someone complain about it. This leads me to believe that ALL these companies are making products with problems, even Novation. Most Novation users complained about the Automap software. While the majority of M-audio users were happy, some complained about build quality. Oberheim MC3000 seemed to be a favorite by they are no longer in production. The worst rated midi keyboard controller was the Korg MicroKontrol. Nobody reported a positive experience with it and one reported going through 3 different bad units. If you are buying a midi controller and don't fuss over software control, Novation seems like a good choice, as well as M-Audio.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Terminator Edition Korg Monotribe

Top 20 Digital Synthesizers Voted In The Past Year


Here are the top 20 Digital synthesizers that synth users have been interested in this year (2011-2012). Only four are still available to buy. (V-Synth, Virus, JP-80, Nord Wave.) Many will only be on the used market. Also interesting is that nobody listed the Blofeld which is often recommended to new users.  With Nord Modular being older, you'd think the users would have gone to Reaktor or something. This list is probably completely irrelevant to those who only use software. Personally, I would only want a handful of these in my studio.

  1. Nord Modular  nord modular by sebastianBulla

  2. Roland D-50  Roland D-50 pads by mark rushbury

  3. V-synth (or GT, XT) V-Synth GT 06 Recesión sonora by Sweetfilterswwep

  4. Kawai K5000 Kawai K5000 Creaturz Patch Pad Demo by synthboy

  5. Yamaha FS1R Yamaha FS1R E-Type by SCS Silent Crab Studio

  6. Kurzweil K2000 Days of Old (Kurzweil K2000) by greengostudio

  7. Roland JD-800  I love jd 800 by lookinon

  8. Hartmann Neuron 

  9. Access Virus TI  Virus TI (Fat-Zound Clubzonatic) patches by Baltic Beats

  10. Ensoniq Fizmo  Fizmo loop (test) by CrawlingWind

  11. Roland Jupiter-80  Jupiter-80 Lead by SynthTest

  12. Yamaha EX5  YAMAHA EX5 のプリセットを適当に弾いてみたのん by しましまP

  13. Synclavier 

  14. Nord Wave  Nord Wave Delay Test by mike-fibes

  15. DX7  DX7 Bounce by Kaarma

  16. Supernova II  Nova Supernova Soundz01 by Synthetical

  17. Korg Prophecy  Clav-Nimal - Korg Prophecy (Albert Korman) by albertkorman6

  18. Yamaha SY99  SY99 by Korg-Kamerat

  19. Waldorf Wave  

  20. Korg Z1  Melting Trumpet (Korg Z1) by RossT

Data compiled from Gearslutz forums dated 2011-2012. Losing popularity from 2008, the Access Virus TI had less people interested in it. Gaining some popularity, the Ensoniq Fizmo appeared more often. Interest in favorites like Nord Modular, Roland D-50, K5000 and FS1R stayed regular.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mac Productivity Tip: Mission Control And The Middle Mouse Button

If you work with multiple large windows open you will need an easy way to switch between them without wasting time resizing and moving them. Go to SYSTEM PREFERENCES pane (in your dock, or apple menu), then to Mission Control. In older versions I think its called Expose. If you have a 3-button mouse (or one with a down-push scroll wheel button), assign Mission Control to Middle Mouse Button in the right hand menu. Now every open window will re-organize itself when you down-click the middle button.

Lastly, take Mission Control icon out of your dock. You won't need it now!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Craigslist Shuts Down Craiggers and 3taps

If you rely on Craiggers or 3 taps data to search for gear, then Sunday was a bad day. Craigslist has become very aggressive in shutting down services that are better than theirs with legal threats.
At approximately noon on Sunday August 5th, Craigslist instructed all general search engines to stop indexing CL postings -- effectively blocking 3taps and other 3rd party use of that data from these public domain sources. We are sorry that CL has chosen this course of action and are exploring options to restore service but may be down for an extended period of time unless we or CL change practices. As soon as we know more, we will share it here and on our Twitter account.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Sega Genesis Mixtape: 7 tunes that prove the system’s worth

The Genesis's audio chip is often maligned, and not without reason: Very often, what the designers meant to be "shredding guitars" or "wicked synths" came off as "ear-bleedingly torturous."  Found at Venture Beat

Instead of reading the article there, here are the tracks they chose. I don't really agree that these are the best, but some are good. I'll make a follow up with my own favorites.








Mopho x4: Analog Polysynth

Dave Smith Instruments Link