Archive for January, 2012

DP 8

Big news out of NAMM from MOTU, particularly for Digital Performer fans who moved over to the Windows platform and had to switch from their beloved workstation because it was only coded for the Mac.

DP 8, due to be released in the Spring of 2012, will operate on on Mac OS X and Windows 7. Stay tuned for a full review in the near future.

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Video From NAMM 2012

NAMM 2012 broke attendance records and battered attendees with a wide array of new hardware, software and other goodies. Click the links to see video directly taken on the show floor.

MOTU’s DP8 came hot out of the gate with new plugins, compatibility with Windows and much more.

Presonus’ showed Exchange, a great way to share user-created content through a community hub available to all Studio One users.

Universal Audio’s Apollo was a showstopper with its unique look at a single rackspace IO with DSP.

Blue Microphone showed a number of new transducers for portable devices including the Spark Digital.

Focusrite had the new Scarlett 2i2 interface at the booth, the lastest in desktop IO solutions for your DAW.

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A better media distribution system that makes file sharing part of the solution.

Recently a ‘cartoon’ pointed out that the penalty for sharing a Michael Jackson file was 5 years, while killing him was only good for 4 years. It points to the media industry’s heavy handedness – and laziness – like ‘scared straight’ for the down-loader instead of ‘the owners’ finding a more viable solution.

I propose a way to make every file sharer an asset instead of a liability. It was once tested on a small scale at the early part of this century…

A better file distribution system would thwart piracy. To make file sharing a viable business requires a DRM format that embeds paying customers’ ID into the files they share.

Imagine this:

1.) Audition a file (music, video etc) to confirm it’s what you want – just like iTunes, Amazon, etc.

2.) Pay for it (this embeds your ID into the DRM for that file).

3.) Share the file with a friend. That person also gets to audition to confirm that the file is what it purports to be. Your friend pays, and you get a taste of said payment.

4.) EACH PERSON IN THE DISTRIBUTION CHAIN is compensated when someone pays for file. That gives everyone a vested interest in the system working.

5.) This system was attempted on a small scale in the early part of this century by Steve Turnidge. It was called WEEDSHARE. I had the exact same idea, Steve just had the ability to bring it to market, although my guess was that his project was under-capitalized. I was disappointed to see that it didn’t fly. Maybe it deserves a second chance?

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Blade Studios Exciting First Year

Well, it’s been an exciting first year for Blade Studios and we are excited to get 2012 started. We have had some amazing sessions in the studio for just opening under a year ago. Everybody from Darryl Jones to Chuck Rainey along with ADR sessions for films like “Contraband” and TV series like “Walking Dead”. So far the room is working great and sounding great. Our Studio B is rented out to CBS Sports for the Tim Brando show live every morning on the CBS Sports Network. Currently they have the room locked out for 2 years and we are excited to have them. We did a show with Tim featuring The Kenny Wayne Sheppherd Band live on his show from our Studio A room. It really tested the acoustics in Studio A. We had the band setup live with amps blazing and wedges on 10.

That show led us to our new series at Blade called “After Hours”. We will be featuring artists we either have in the studio recording or are passing through town on tour. The first band we had on the show is Galactic. A great band from New Orleans featuring lead singer Cory Glover from the band Living Colour. It’s been really great setting up the band all live in the same room together and running a mix. It takes no time at all and the sounds are turning out great. Galactic came in and knocked out four songs in 30 minutes and headed straight to their gig. This video is live with no overdubs. Check out the songs here: Galactic

We are all very excited to be nominated for a TEC Award this year for “Outstanding Creative Achievement” in “Studio Design Project”. Russ Berger did a fantastic job with the design and it shows from the sounds we’re getting in the room. Our team will be out at NAMM for the TEC Awards as well as the week at NAMM. Hope to see you walking the floor!

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That NAMM wind is a-blowin’ once again

It’s January and a major storm is brewing in Southern California: The Winter NAMM show begins next week in Anaheim, California and, judging by the pre-show press releases (and from the confidential information I’ve gleaned from “un-named sources” at a few major companies), it’s going to be a big year for new gear.

While there are always plenty of announcements at NAMM, the show can sometimes be a snoozefest. However, 2012’s show promises to be a very interesting one as manufacturers try to find new ways to take advantage of the exploding prosumer market (or, as some see it in their half-empty glass, the shrinking gap between pro-level and consumer-level products).

Certainly, products designed for iOS devices will be a major focus at this year’s show — we’ve gotten a few hints of that via CES in Las Vegas this week. But we’ll also see a bit of innovation in the areas where traditional instruments and recording interact.

Here are a couple of items that I plan to investigate while I’m at the show.

Moog Minitaur: A desktop version of the classic Taurus analog bass synth with a competitive street price of $599. That makes this two-oscillator synth less expensive than Doepfer’s single-VCO Dark Energy, for example. It should be a boon to gigging musicians who are looking for the Taurus sound without having to lug around the larger and heavier $2,000 model (or a treasured vintage unit).

Line 6 Mobile Keys: A pair of keyboard controllers that plug into and can be powered from your portable Apple device (iPad 1 and 2, iPhone 3Gs and later, iPod Touch 3rd/4th generation). And they’re compatible with Mac/Windows computers via USB. They even have sustain and expression pedal inputs. With 25- and 49-key versions priced under $200, these controllers provide a welcome alternative for those of us who enjoy the convenience of playing music on i-devices but who want to schlep the fewest accessories possible.

Are we seeing a pattern here yet? Like many musicians, I want to carry as little as possible when I gig. Isn’t that what the future was supposed to promise us?

Fine, then check this out:
IK Multimedia iRig Mix and iRig Stomp: A mobile mixer and stompbox, respectively, for iOS devices. I’m particularly intrigued by the iRig Stomp because it appears to be able to hold a chain of effects from Amplitube in a sturdy, pedal-board friendly form factor.
Meanwhile, iRig Mix includes DJ Rig among the four included apps, promising plug-and-play turntabalism in a handheld controller. I’m curious to see how well it works. They’ve also introduced the iRig Mic Cast microphone for iOS devices, though it seems to have been overshadowed by…

Blue Microphones Spark Digital, Mikey Digital, and Tiki: More mic concepts for the highly lucrative prosumer market. Spark Digital has USB and iPad connectivity, while Mikey Digital works with the newest iOS devices (but retains the useful features of Mikey version two, such as a USB port for power and 270 degrees of rotation). Blue claims that the Tiki USB mic “mimics the intelligence of human hearing by focusing on desired sounds, minimizing background noise and knowing when to mute altogether.” It’s geared towards podcasting or use with Skype. Perhaps the noisy tradeshow floor will provide the proper environment for testing such a transducer.

You can also expect big announcements from Arturia, Peavey, Roland, Fender, and Universal Audio, among others.

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DIY Sub Kick Options

Students often get ask about sub kicks and while I have not experimented other than to prove a speaker can be a microphone – I get plenty of low end from the kick without trying – I wanted to point out the where the sub kick resonance comes from to assist DIY’ers in their selection choices.

All ‘woofers,’ large and small, have a Free Air Resonance, or Fs. It is pretty much what you might imagine, the natural resonance of a woofer in free air.

There are a range of resonant frequencies that are useful in augmenting an overly dampened kick drum – really, whatever your preferred frequency might be, 65 Hz plus or minus 15 Hz is the ballpark.

To find an off-the-shelf woofer, all ya gotta do is go to web site that caters to loudspeaker components, like MCM, Parts Express and Madisound. When used for their intended purpose, better woofers manufacturers are more likely to provide more detailed specs. A sub kick doesn’t need much more than an Fs

Below is an 8-inch woofer available from MCM Electronics. Notice the Fs is 65Hz…

This 5 1/2-inch driver from Parts express has an Fs of 82 Hz…

And from Madisound, this Fostex product sheet goes into remarkable detail about all of the essential loudspeaker component parts. Fs is is determined by the cone’s mass – both material, thickness and larger diameter generally translate into high mass, lowering the Fs. More compliant surround material lowers Fs while stiffer surround raises Fs. Behind the cone is the ‘spider,’ which is used to center the voice coil in the magnetic gap. Not that the frequency response charts also show include an Impedance curve that reveals both the Fs and the effect the voice coil has on inductance (a gradual impedance rise at high frequencies).

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More Hot Gadgets from CES

More Hot tablets, notebooks, TVs and gadgets from CES

Acer Iconia Tab A700 quad-core tablet

Griffin Twenty: Makes any speaker Airplay ready

Lenovo X1 Hybrid Laptop

Ion Audio Guitar Apprentice


Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga Ultrabook

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Hot Gear From CES 2012

As always, CES takes consumer audio gear (and often prices) up a notch, but it’s always worth a look to see what’s hot at the show. Here’s what’s in the news so far.

Logic3, Ferrari Create Premium Speakers for Discerning Audiophiles

Cambridge Audio Azur 851 amplifier and DAC/CD player/preamplifier

IK Multimedia iOS Audio

SRS Labs Pushing Object-Based Audio at CES 2012

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Joe Franco

Sure, you have the chops to become a highly recognized rock musician whose peers include Leslie West, Jack Bruce, and Hall & Oates. But can you turn those skills into a real business like Joe Franco has done?

Seriously folks, Franco, who worked his way up the New York rock ladder in the mid-70’s, has toured throughout the world, written a well respected book on the art of his craft (“Double Bass Drumming”) and, for the last 15 years, owned a highly successful audio post production facility, Beatstreet Productions, located in the Flatiron district of Manhattan.

Joe’s no stranger to the pages of Mix, but we thought we’d catch up with him and see how the last several years have treated Beatstreet.

Mix: Joe, how has the audio post industry changed in the last five years or so?

Joe Franco: “Budgets have tightened up, particularly in the last couple of years. Some of the PBS shows we work on are having a harder time finding grants and sponsors. Our business trimmed back as a result of these changes, but we’ve been fortunate enough to pick up shows on Nickelodeon, Playhouse Disney, and Adult Swim.

“We’re also writing music and doing audio post work with a few overseas companies located in the UK, Italy and France. FTP servers have been a game changer, particularly in the area of globalization. Other than time zones, working with someone in Europe is no longer much different from working with someone across town.”

Mix: Has the impact of the home studio revolution maxed out?

Franco: “Probably. If we made a living recording bands we’d be in trouble! Fortunately, our core business is music and audio post for network television series.”

Mix: What’s the latest piece of technology you’ve fallen in love with?

Franco: “Our SNS San Storage System. I can’t imagine carrying around drives like we did in the old days. Our storage is unseen; it lives in a four space array in our machine room. The volumes can be shared by all six of our Pro Tools rigs. They come up as icons on a desktop, cloud-like. It’s great!”

Mix: Are you playing much these days?

Franco: “Not as much as I’d like to- running Beatstreet takes up most of my time. I played drums recently and produced Eddie Ojeda’s solo album. Eddie was the guitarist in Twisted Sister. As you know, I played with that band in 1987.

“I recently played on Kansas guitarist Steve Walsh’s album, and also worked on projects from electric violinist Mark Wood and guitarist Zak Soulum. Both of these will be released later this year. My 70’s band Good Rats, plays an annual reunion show at BB King’s. The next one is on March 31st- check it out!”

Mix: Any final words of wisdom?

Joe Franco: “I’m glad to have found a niche in audio. I read your blog on “Glad All Over.” Dave Clark made sure the drums were mixed HOT! I loved that song, and “Bits and Pieces.” Classics!

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Winter Electronic class DAY-1

Wow! Winter break simultaneously went by all too fast and yet, it seems like forever ago that I was teaching analog recording, doing a Zed Lep cover for our penultimate class. On the final class, everyone was so burnt out by final exams that we played vinyl for THREE HOURS! (Gentle Giant’s KNOTS, Frank Zappa’s MOVIN’ TO MONTANA, The Robins’ SMOKEY JOE’s CAFE, Sinatra, Gene Vincent, Johnny Guitar Watson, Les Paul – it was quite the journey.)

That said, my brain is flying with zillions of ideas that must be well focused in time for my students’ first electronic experience – I don’t want to scare anyone off. To soften the landing, hands-on is heavily emphasized – starting with the familiar 9-volt battery to the tongue and then…

Learn how to use a Multi-meter, a piece of Test Equipment that, as the name implies, does multiple things – measure volts, current (in amps) and resistance (in ohms)…

After proving the 9-volt battery is worthy, it’s time to get hip to the solder-less breadboard. With a little experience, it can used to demo a simple stomp box circuit and just about any idea you can throw at and fit on it!

I said ‘hands-on,’ right? Seeing the images, touching all the parts, getting familiar enough to make the breadboard do your bidding is key. Students connect a battery, a Light Emitting Diode (LED) and a Resistor. When the LED lights up, it’s time to take a union cig break and pat yourself on the back..

With just this little bit of familiarity under our belts it’s time to delve into the schematic symbol codex – the visual language of electronic circuits…

We see the circuit as a physical entity, learn the schematic symbol for each component and then whip out the multimeter and take some measurements.

I’m off to do it for real, so L8R!

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January 2012
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