Archive for March, 2010

Hot Products from Musik Messe

The Euro-equivalent of the NAMM show released an impressive array of new products this week including hardware, software and plugins. Check out some of the latest offerings:

1. Presonus Studio One V1.5 – This up-and-coming DAW now offers video and many other new pro-quality features. Watch for the upcoming review in Mix.

2.  SPL’s Fab Five – Sound Performance Lab released five new products including M/S Master: an M/S management processor; Transpressor: dynamic processor; RackPack 4: desktop frame for four SPL modules; Dual-Band De-Esser: RackPack sibilance module and DrumXchanger: an Analog Code Plug-in for drum replacement.

3. Metric Halo LIO-8 – This new high-end IO from Metric Halo ($3,995) features eight channels of 192k A/D-D/A, two channel DI, 8-in/8-out 192k AES interface (single wire), full-featured front panel tactile control surface for standalone and connected operation and more.

4. Roland CD-2i SD/CD recorder – This new portable recorder from Roland records to a CD or SD card at 16-bit/44.1 kHz and features a stereo ¼-inch input, RCA Phono in, and phantom-powered XLR microphone input. A stereo microphone and speaker are also built in for instant recording and playback. A wireless remote allows for convenient off-unit control of playback and recording.

5. Cakewalk V-Studio 20 -  Aimed at desktop producers, this new addition to the V-Studio line is a stereo USB Audio Interface (Mac/Win) with onboard effects, an effects editor and a universal DAW control surface.

6. Lexicon LXP Bundle – The LXP Native Reverb Plug-In Bundle is a collection of Lexicon’s four most popular reverbs now available as multi-platform native software plug-ins. The plug-ins are compatible with VST, Audio Unit, or RTAS compatible hosts.

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ULN-8 Burns on Entry

Mango Rehearsal
Bluefields’ Living Legends: Putchie, Claudi Hodgson and Mango Ghost rehearsing/tracking for Mango’s upcoming record

If Murphy’s Law applies anywhere, it certainly applies in Bluefields, Nicaragua. Two days after landing on the coast, my brand new $6000.00 audio card burnt out. The ULN-8 was to serve as the centerpiece of my recording efforts down here and for future mobile recording projects. As a big fan of MH labs and a 5 year user of their products, I was fired up to finally get my hands on a ULN-8 before I came down. Hand carrying the unit on the plane, bus and panga cozied inside a custom Calzone case, I couldn’t have handled my single rack space dream machine more delicately on the way down.

The day after I arrived to the Bluefields Sound System compound, I plugged the ULN-8 into my Furman P-1800 AR voltage regulator/power conditioner and set up a little bass and guitar session through the ULN-8′s front side DI’s.

As Putchie ran me through some Maypole classics, I found the selectable pre character and conversion on the ULN among the best I’ve heard. It certainly stands up to the API 3124>Firecace 800 that I brought down. The amp modeling had some very nice presets and I found the HaloVerb, though very DSP intensive, sounds every bit as true as the UAD‘s I usually mix with back in New York.

Nonetheless, rehearsals sounded great through my sexy new ULN on Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday, after finding out the brand new Cry Baby wah petal I got from Guitar Center for Putchie doesn’t wah, I powered up the ULN-8 it flickered, stuttered, shut down and wouldn’t power up. With voltage looking fine and all the other gear running problem free, I began trouble shooting and immediate got in touch with MH customer support who were very responsive.

ULN-8 burnt internal power supply

We quickly ruled out a problem with the external power supply. All signs pointed to a freak burn out with the internal power source. I took my injured ULN-8 to the local electrician/hole-in-the-wall-by-the-park and after removing the board, we quickly confirmed an internal power burn out. MH labs promptly sent out a replacement board. Normally this would mean a few days problem solved in most parts of the world. But this is Bluefields. There is no road from the Pacific. Addresses don’t exist. So we had the replacement board sent to Edwin’s PO box here in Bluefields and are optimistically hoping for a “quick reach” via the US Postal Service.

Still, the burn out hasn’t really set me back so far thanks to fact that I brought two audio cards. Rehearsals, bass and guitar tracking have sounded good with the API’s and the RME – as good as cheap Nica instruments can sound through premium pre’s and converters. All in all, I’ll be fine without the ULN-8 until the band gets back from a gig up in Puerto Cabeza and it’s time to track drums…that is, if the drums make it back with the musicians.

Top Ten Pro Tools Shortcuts

The old adage Time Is Money is no more true than in the studio: If you’re slow, you’re not optimizing your moneymaking potential. DAW quick keys are a great way to tighten up your workflow, timemoney.jpgputting often repeated tasks right at your fingertips. I’ve picked ten, often forgotten Pro Tools quick keys that will make you an audio production Ninja and put more $$ in your pocket.

1.  Shift + Cmd + K. This shortcut is great for exporting audio from your regions list for use outside of Pro Tools. This could be  helpful for game audio or isolating sounds for sample sets. First Isolate the region with Cmd + E, or select it in the regions list. Shift + Cmd + K will bring up the Export Options window allowing you to resample, rename and store the file wherever you’d like.

2. Ctl + Opt + Cmd + W. Got clutter? You can use this quick key to clear any floating windows and bring them back when needed.

3. Cmd + Opt + Spacebar. Great for post applications or synchronized transfers, this shortcut puts you in online/record ready. Hot Tip: Be sure to choose “Record Online at Timecode Lock” from the Preference/Operations menu to make Pro Tools automatically drop into record when it sees time code and synch lock is reached

4. Ctl + E. Zooming couldn’t be easier than this. Engage/disengage Zoom Toggle by making a selection in the timeline then pressing Ctl + E, or if you’re in Command Key focus (a-z button in the edit window), you can just press the letter E. Your selection will zoom in to the full width and uppermost position in the edit window for better editing, fading or whatever else you have in mind

5. Opt + C. This shortcut clears peaks across your session, including your controller’s meters.

6. Shift + Cmd + O. If you’re experiencing system problems that require a Pro Tools reboot, getting back to your last-opened session is easy with this shortcut

7. Ctl + (or Shift or Cmd) + MouseClick a region w/Hand Tool. Try these three shortcuts for moving a region to a specific point on the timeline . This is great for replacing sounds at a transient point like gunshots for film FX, drum hits for song production and even for placing reverse reverb effects. Place your  cursor in the timeline wherever you’d like the region to snap to.  Ctl + MouseClick the region you’re moving w/Hand Tool and it will snap to the front of the insertion point. Ctl + Cmd + MouseClick the region you’re moving w/Hand Tool and it will snap to the end of the insertion point. Or you can snap to any point in a region (such as a transient), by first making a sync point by choosing your spot and clicking on Cmd + comma. Then Ctl + Shift your region with the Hand Tools to snap it to that sync point.

8. Shift + Opt + Rtn / Shift + Opt + 3. This series of two shortcuts will quickly select all the audio on a track, then consolidate it. First drop your cursor to the left of your first region, then Shift + Opt + Rtn to select all audio to the right. Continue to hold Shift + Opt and add the number 3 above to consolidate your selection.

9. Shift + Cmd + W. This shortcut closes your session, asking you to save or not, without closing Pro Tools.

10. Asterisk / Forward Slash. These keys on the 10-keypad will drop you into the main counter or the Start/End/Length fields allowing you to quickly enter numbers in those fields

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UA Bows Massive Passive Plug-in

UA has just released their Massive Passive Modeled plug-in. Price is $299. More details here

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Brooklyn to Bluefields

The last day before any international recording venture, no matter how many weeks of preparation, always turns into a mad, crazy blitz to tie up all loose ends in NYC, pack, get to the airport and through security, eat something.  Breath.  I made it.

After checking one very heavy bag of cables, maximizing hand baggage allowance, I roll my custom Calzone 4 space rack, with a backpack full of mics, hard drive and Macbook  onto the plane.  From Brooklyn, I fly through Miami to Managua, Nicaragua on course back to Bluefields where for a good part of summer 2005, I spent seven weeks recording, filming, documenting and absorbing music along the Miskito Coast with my friends at the Bluefield Sound System, Edwin Reed-Sanchez and AlexZander Scott.

For the last five years, fellow midwesterners Edwin and Zander, transplanted themselves in Bluefields where though local outreach they have developed unique relationships with great musical talents from the coast, nurturing young talent and working to revive and preserve traditional music.    Since my last visit, they built Bluefields’ first recording studio and have been hard at work developing projects with musicians, producing concerts and holding cultural events.

The return mission is on: to record with Bluefields’ Living Legends of Maypole and Mento music, Sabu and Mango Ghost.  Fellow songsters, turned enemies reunified at an opportunity, through a modest cultural grant, to record for the first time in three decades and likely the last.

After reaching Managua at 1am,  I meet with Edwin at the airport.  We crash at Santos Mike Sound in the market Hospedaje, wake for some desayuno typico and hit the market the next day to buy some mic stands.    After stopping back at HECHO magazine where we stashed our gear for the afternoon, we board the Marcopolo bus for a six hour voyage east across the country until the road ends in the Indian village of Rama.    To reach Bluefields, we take the ponga along the Escondido where an engine stall and mid river boat swap only held us up a half hour.  Before 10am, we’re on the Caribbean coast. My Calzone still rolling strong off the docks loaded with an MH ULN-8, API 3124+, RME Fireface 800 and Furman P-1800 AR.    The air still heavy and the music swirling a dense collage in the streets, a quick taxi and we reach Bluefields Sound System Headquarters.

Enter Bluefields’ Living Legends:  Sabu,  Mango Ghost, Putchie and Claudio Hodgson


Mango Ghost and Claudio Hodgson “Quando Tú Me Quiera�

-performed in front of the construction site of Mango Ghost’s new house.   A building project initiated by the people of Bluefields to honor Mango’s life long contribution to music and culture in Nicaragua.


March 2010
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