Ramping up the creative process 2019 epilogue

The second post I made as I revived the blog a bit further in 2019 was about ramping up my creative process. As 2019 has come to a close  I have reflected a bit and done quite a bit. I focussed on the technological side of things such as hardware and software rather than physical things like wall treatment and sound. I’ve concluded the home I am in is not worth spending the money on proper sound treatment. It can be done but I’m only planning on staying in this house for another few years. The build alone would be expensive and devaluate the house without significant costly deconstruction. 

I’m using what sound treatment I have which helps but falls far short of mixing quality. In the end I enjoy the more technical end of preparing the studio and creating within it. The sound treatment has always been out of necessity and not very enjoyable. Equate that with the old plaster walls, time constraints and monetary costs, I shelved the idea almost completely. The old wall treatment will have to do and I can mix projects elsewhere or have someone else mix and master for me. 

I found that going back to MacJournal version 6 was my “Hack” so to speak. MacJournal v6.x would let me instal the few years of journals I did have access to. The new version 7.0 would not but it’s still a new version. I created an automated Cron Job for MacJournal 6 that keeps the data backed up to the cloud. That was one of the “will not compromise points” I had, it has to have automated backup. It’s not ideal since the cloud never prunes the entries once MacJournal combines them, but I certainly won’t lose any data. Loosing 14 years of Journals was crushing. 

I have to give a big thanks to Steve Zeoli over at welcome to sherwood. Not only for the massive amount of data he has written on Journaling and note taking software, but also letting me bounce things off him in his comments section. He has been very helpful, thanks Steve. 

On to MasterWriter! I was lucky that I was able to get the old non cloud version to install and verify after I purchased a Mountain Lion disk from Apple. The MasterWriter publisher was absolutely bullying me to buy the newer YRR based cloud solution. I own the software I’m not going to be sold into something I already own by anyone. I simply figured out a way around the DRM verification. The endpoint the licensing was pointed to is no longer present those shmucks. I was able to import all my projects and am going through them one at a time. Once I sift through the lyrics then I can upgrade at MY leisure. There will be no arm twisting in 2020 I can happily say. 

The rest of the year was spent seeing up hardware I had never worked with previously. There was a learning curve especially on the Alesis VX49. I had purchased that controller 18 Months before I moved and had been using my M-Audio Key Station 88 for over a decade. 88 keys worth of controller is just to large for the room I have. In that time inMusic had really started running the Aesis brand into the ground like they have with all the other brands they’ve acquired. The once great manufacturer of ADATS can’t even support a simple keyboard controller. I look at what they’re doing to M-Audio since DigiDesign sold to them and cringe. The Microphones and Preamps M-Audio were improving over the years had become fantastic. Now they are absent from the new product page entirely. InMusic is like the Private Equity of Music Gear Manufactures. 

For obvious reasons finding information for the VX49 was hard and what you could find was not much. That Akai (another InMusic brand) VIP software it was built around was just garbage. The controllers 4” LED screen (the wow factor) was largely built around VIP. This made the configuration of the controller hard to work with and very time consuming. I have it almost dialed in to my specs but it took 2 months. That’s a one day endeavor normally but the VX49 fits perfect size wise. Even another 49 key controller would not fit nearly as well, believe me I looked. 

As for next year I’m not going to look too far forward. In Q1 I will finish all the software setup and dial in the DAW so the workflow is quick and easy. Beyond that I just want to use it more and work on it less but don’t we all. 

Have a Blessed 2020! 

New iOS app Drum Session

Just when I had all but given up on using iOS for music production a new app just hit the app store. Drum Session by Derek Buddemeyer looks very interesting. In most cases I’ve quickly purchased any percussion app that looked promising, but I’m holding off on Drum Session. I have a folder full of Drum apps, all have been quite the disappointment. Plus, on Black Friday I spent plenty on iOS deals. I’m hoping I may win one of 3 giveaways over at the Music App Bolg.

One of the appealing things about Drum Session is the creator Derek Buddemeyer is a guitarist. Guitarists have different needs when it comes to writing and recording compositions.  The fact that the UI (user interface) has a midi roll to tighten up any transition licks and alter any beat is something other apps have lacked.

midi roll

midi roll

This may very well have a downside as well. From the looks of this part of the UI I don’t see any features to “humanize” the beat. Perfectly quantized Stale sounding percussion is the worst. Those drum beats sounds mechanical, fake and can kill any groove that any potential great song should have.

I’ll patiently wait for reviews and opinions on Drum Session before I click the Buy Now button. I think the Drum app folder has enough company for now.

 

The Verdict on iOS music Creation

I’ve been working with the iPad Pro for the better part of 6 months. I’ve purchased 3 DAW’s, Garageband for iPad, Auria and Cubasis. They sound pretty Legit, Cubasis having the overall best sounding Virtual instruments (GarageBand a very close 2nd). If I were recording electronic Music only, I wouldn’t use anything other than an iPad. You can do just about everything you can carry out on a MacBook Pro in that realm.

For making organic analog music using Real Drums that have true groove, it fails blatantly. I’ve purchased the Real Time alternatives to Superior Drummer and BFD, Sonically they all fall VERY short but one. The best sounding acoustic Percussion with any decent workflow was Garageband’s x drummer. If you use it for Logic X and you like the sound you’re golden.

I like the sound of X Drummer, but it’s not very flexible in the choice of sounds and tones. For instance I could never get Full Kit sounds like some of the Steven Slate libraries I own for Mac and PC. You can get true non-quantised human groove like a Superior Drummer or BFD. That’s really important to me.

I also like how every thing plugs in seamlessly with AU. With the release of iOS 10 AU became more useful and feature rich. I rarely used AudioBus even back under iOS 9 with the Previous version of AU, the exception was Auria. Using X Drummer in GarageBand for iPad as a plugin to Auria or Cubase is a walk in the park with AudioShare. It’s actually easier and more seamless to use plugins, even whole DAW’s plugging into each other in iOS (more so than a PC).

I think you can make really great Acoustic instrument Demos giving the restrictions of iOS music creation. I don’t think you can create something professional and polished for Pandora Radio etc. The two pieces that are missing from all 3 DAW’s are:

Flexible good sounding Percussion creation somewhat resembling the Mac and PC world.
The feature that allows one to do several “takes” or “comps” of the same passage of music.

I believe as time moves forward these issues will be solved sooner more than later. There’s too much open market opportunity here for software companies.

EDIT: I forgot to tag this with categories and Keywords and originally posted this a few days ago, I was really tired! I reposed with the right SEO information.

Things I’ve learned about iPad DAW in the last 30 days

In the last month I’ve been in the wood shed daily working with the new iPad, the Presonus interface and new apps. I’m having so much fun! I really think the challenge of the learning curve is something I needed and truly enjoy. Challenges for me like most people are great in life especially, musical challenges. Doing what you love and workig diligently at it.

Most of what I’m going to share is about are the apps I’ve purchased:

  • Bias FX
  • Bias Amp
  • Bias JamUp Pro
  • Bias Final Touch
  • IK Multimedia SampleTank for iOS
  • DrumPerfict Pro

Positive Grid’s Guitar Plugins are IMHO the best you can purchase for the Macintosh platform. Although I usually mic up Guitar amplifiersin the PC realm, I use Bias Peak with Logic and Pro Tools to re-amp and layer. Bias Amp sounds just as good to my ears as it does on the Mac. I am blown away by this app on the iPad. Bias FX and the amps in JamUp Pro are just as great on the iPad.

Final Touch was something that was somewhat of an impulse buy because it was on sale. I’m quite happy with this mastering suite and grateful I picked it up. I’ve loosely mastered two demos with it so far, the tracks really came to life nicely. On labor day I paid a whopping $4.99 for the app on sale, Positive Grid has amazing holiday sales. The Memorial day sale prices are still current, GO BUY THEM!

 

  • Bias FX- Normal Price $29.99 Now  $9.99
  • Bias Amp Normal Price $19.99 Now $4.99
  • Bias JamUp Pro Normal Price $19.99 Now  $4.99
  • Bias Final Touch Normal Price $29.99 Now $4.99

 

I’ve always thought SampleTank had great sound samples, the Neil Peart Drums are awesome. I’ve had the free version of SampleTank for iOS on my iPhone for years, I knew the sounds were solid. Since it’s on sale for $15.99 for fathers day I pulled the trigger. It has great organ and electric piano samples, I’m happy I purchased it.

DrumPerfict Pro is touted as the Superior Drummer 2 / BFD for iPad. I can tell you it is no such thing. Firstly, the drums samples are horrible, I mean really bad. I can’t believe this has the positive reviews it has. Drummer inside of garage band sounds light years better that DrumPerfict Pro.

Second, the user interface is a train wreck. It’s a mishmash of screens that have no rhyme or reason other than the grid screen. How could you screw up a grid UI yes? After thinking it over I am going to ask Marinus J.G. van de Molengraft for a refund. While I applaud his efforts to bring a product like Superior Drummer to iOS, he falls miles short.

Lastly, I just ordered an iRig keys 37 that should arrive at the end of the week. I’m pretty excited about that. I have some really nice samples but no vehicle to bring the sounds to life.

 

 

 

 

And so it begins

And so it begins…

Ribs somewhat reasonably healed…. check!

Found an iPad DAW that would actually work with any interface…. Check!

What I’ve learned so far…

Cubasis LE for iOS has very strict hardware rules. Why would  you rule out Presonus as a valid vendor? THAT’S SO BAD! I have no idea why the list of  approved hardware vendors discludes Presonus, it’s quite illogical. They’re a major player in the industry!

https://www.steinberg.net/en/products/mobile_apps/cubasis_le/compatible_hardware.html

I really was set on Cubasis LE for iOS because the virtual instruments are really solid. The fact that the DAW doesn’t work with many industry standard hardware choices, even with the lightening wire to USB lit was a total deal breaker. So I found another DAW I knew nothing about.

Auria pro will work with almost all interfaces. I pulled the trigger on the $49.99 download this afternoon, it seems the learning curve is going to be somewhat difficult.

And so it begins…

Presonus AudioBox iTwo unboxing

Finally! The Presonus AudioBox iTwo has arrived, and I only had to pay for 3 of them!  I thought I would make a little unboxing video with the new iPad Pro since I have not shot any video yet. As you can see you really need a tripod to shoot video with an iPad haha….

Choosing a A2D / D2A converter For iPad Pro

Choosing a A2D / D2A converter has been an interesting process. At first I wasn’t thinking anything other than Apogee. The thing is I wanted to use in some small capacity my Yamaha HS80M monitors. The Apogee One and Duet are not good solutions to use monitors with. They both have 1 output for headphones, that’s it. The thought of using a 1/8″ stereo to TRS or XLR seemed like a really bad idea to me. I started to look around at other solutions with absolutely no expectations.

I used a little Google Foo skills and found a few interfaces that were decent solutions for the iPad Pro, but they could not come close to that Apogee converter and pre-amp reputation.  As I looked around I found a Few I really liked:

The Line 6 Sonic Port VX looks amazing, but hooking up the monitors long term isn’t going to be feasible. I like this unit so much I may purchase it and use it only for recording. The reviews I’ve read on the Microphone are solid.

The focusrite iTrack solo looks pretty cool too, but I would rather not use RCA as the monitor outputs.

The iConnectiyity looked like the one, but the reviews indicated the app and Drivers needed work everywhere I checked.

That left the PreSounus Audio Box iTwo! I think this is the interface I want, it has everything I’m looking for.

  • Separate 1/4″ TRS outputs.
  • One big Volume Knob.
  • Two inputs that can be used at the same time. 2 mics on a guitar amp at the same time!
  • An additional headphone output that is 1/4″ stereo.

I’ve used PreSonus interfaces before, I owned an AudioBox previously that I thought sounded plausible.  I have recorded through a few FireStudio’s I thought were cool sounding. Since this is an iPad Pro, I don’t think I necessary need to go Apogee to get what I am looking for. I need functionality, but I don’t need 4 inputs at $1399 from the Apogee Quartet. I certainly don’t need that huge price tag either.

If anyone has any input I would love you to comment!

Until next time, stay thirsty my friends!

 

Moving is not good for your Music? Part Duex

Being a responsible team member includes doing your very best when a SaaS (Software as a Service) company moves from one state to another, and the utter chaos that goes with it. I worked 60 plus hour weeks for the first two quarters I was here in Denver. I didn’t have time to think about being creative other than providing code solutions, I just had time to code and troubleshoot. Boy was that booty!

The stress became so horrid my health took a bad turn, it was ugly. I had to let go and have a balanced work to personal life ratio. It was REALLY HARD! I had poured all of myself into making this old very successful company into a new successful company. This is really difficult when you have management that just doesn’t give a crap. Welcome to private equity young padawan.

My old management team? Well lets just say the bass player and lead vocalist was one in the same in one of the bands I was working in. He was the General Manager, and an owner.  I wont drop names, but the management of the old company was exemplary! I knew it then, and I know it now…. That’s what made it such a special place to be a part of the culture. It was collaborative, awesome “let’s build useful tools for our clients” heaven. But that’s the past….. Live in the now!

I could not unplug from my career, even with my stress related health issue. However, I realized very quickly it was because I was not in a good creative space. If I had a great room to create in like I did in Oregon, it would have been easy. Trade one addiction for the other so to speak. This could not happen in this space, unless I wanted to commit 5k to sound treatment that would be mostly useless elsewhere.

To make things darker, both of my Mac’s died within 10 days of each other. Poor baby! NOT, I just kept thinking about ways to create, I never gave up. If I was the type of person who wasn’t tenacious, I would be the guy who quit playing music like the rest of them once I had children at the behest of my spouse.  Did I mention I’m divorced? HAHA! That is not me, not me what so ever.

For a year, I thought deeply about how I could get back into a daily creative routine. I am now in a creative space, but before I touch upon that I want to share the 4 things I learned:

  • Taking a Break is good sometimes to reflect on your creative “Engine.”
  • Journaling here beyond what I was writing privately was a huge part of my process. I just didn’t realize it at the time.  It is / was a very creative process. It’s lovely to revisit this blog!
  • If you have to downsize, be grateful! It can turn out to be such a positive thing in your life.
  • If your Mac(S) takes a dive and you lose Mac Journal, WRITE ION SCRAPS OF PAPER! Do not stop writing ever, period.

As I suffered through buying a used PC (Dell 8 core Xeon 2.7) I know I could never utilize this tool to write, record, create, mix and master…. whatever. Let’s face it, I have thousand’s of dollars invested in Logic’s plugin’s. I’m just simply not a Pro Tools guy let alone a windowz human. The only OS for me is OS X. Boy, buying a 5K mac was not in the cards while looking for a Town home close to downtown Denver.

My answer came to me as I was trying to switch phone carriers. I am with Sprint, as advertised they’re not so great. BUT….. I brokered a deal with them because they owe me a new phone and quite frankly I

Until next time….. Stay Thirsty my Friends!

Mesa Cab Clone Yum!

This is an integral piece of studio gear that I have a tremendous need for. Palmer does a bloody brilliant job in this arena, but their products are very pricy. However, this item manufactured by a great well known”tried and true” amplifier company (Mesa Boogie) has me very intrigued and excited.

This is on the top of my “Musician Radar” at the moment to demo.

$299 US street price FTW! Nooice!