Drum Session sounds GREAT!

I must admit I have not had the time to dive deep into drum Session, but I’ve put some good solid 2 hours into going through the UI and mostly listening. I just took a new position that I am so ecstatic to have, it’s a perfect fit for me. In my defense, the hours I’m spending at the day gig are long. Usually, I would be all over a great app like Drum Session.

Since today the first update rolled out of the iTunes store, I felt compelled to write about Drum Session before I updated. This is not a review just yet… Here’s what I know thus far:

It sounds fantastic!
It’s very simple to use
The MIDI piano roll portion of the UI is very solid.

The piano roll was updated in the Version 1.0.3 release today, but I’m still running the original version. I think it’s solid! I haven’t updated the app yet to V 1.0.3, I wanted to finish this blog before I had scrum release blues opinions.

What really stands out:

  • There is a plethora of drum kits in Drum Session. This is great because most of the samples are mixed with different reverb and compression levels. However most have a reasonably dry mix for each kit. That is really a feature I like A LOT!
  • Drum Session sounds so much better that any app I have heard since launching my iOS music creation experiment in March of this year. This is the KILLER Drum app I have been waiting for.
  • There’s a lot of choice for $24.99. It’s scalable for the price, It’s scalable for sound, It’s scalable for custom beat creating when you can compare to other apps available. That’s a huge value add for me.

The only feature request I have for you Derick Buddemyer if you read this is the font color in the UI. I’m not sure if this is because I am using the 12.9” screen of the iPad pro, but the dark font color against the dark grey background is difficult to see on the top buttons and the black piano keys of the UI. That’s the only feature enhancement I can suggest.

After 2 hours, I love this app and I think many others will too!

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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.

 

 

 

 

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!

Dream Jam – a Garageband for iOS Review Part IV

 

Part IV of Garageband for iOS has us covering how bad instruments can sound by themselves and yet how great that same sound is in a full mix of instrumentation.

First I would like to pass on I’ve been very busy as of late. I would have liked the opportunity to work on this track a lot more but time didn’t permit that this week. Maybe when time is available I can, I think the “hooks” have fun potential.

Right! Now one constant has remained the same throughout the process and that was the original guitars (one somewhat clean one overdriven and saturated) from the iPhone track. They are still using the original virtual instruments that both Garageband versions share iOS and OS X. The guitars and especially the Bass sound good in the Mix but by themselves not so much. The artifacts in the more clean guitar are really noticeable as are the very digital gutless stale sound of the overdriven guitar. The bass just sounds overloaded to my ears but not very good. The bass was bounced without the side chain compressors.

Stick them in the full mix and they sound really good. Not like a million bucks but I’ve listened to far worse on A & R rock and pop radio. I decided I would isolate these tracks and let you listen to them solo and in the mix. There’s been something of a mystery to me since I changed from a real analog Multi-tracking recorder to DAW years ago.  How things sound in the mix and how it’s mastered are two very different sonic pallets. As for me? I blame the iPod as the instrument of death! but also the money people who backed the mp3 format in its infancy. mp3’s sound like garbage for the most part and iPone / iPod ear buds are downright crap sonically so no one could hear it anyway.

Mixing for mp3 as far as the industry goes (which includes software vendors) has everything to do with volume increases and nothing to do with pristine uncolored quality of sound. In the 90’s it was the Digital VS Analog crowds but these days it’s almost all facets of the industry, Mix and Master pump up the volume.

Case in point:

Go listen to any of the band 311’s studio releases, they were all recorded on 2″ tape completely analog no computers. Listen to The Eagles Hotel California, it’s an analog masterpiece but has a different sonic vibe in the mix that’s very noticeable. Now go listen to anything from the 90’s and on from 311 historically as a comparison and see if you can hear an over all difference in the sound. The reason I’m pointing out 311 because they’re one of the only bands left who record total analog, it sounds different. The Foo-Fighters recorded their last album Wasting Light in Dave Ghrol’s garage using the same type of equipment, see the documentary!

One to my ears is very different and one is good but a little harsh being the Digital recorded and mastered route. If these 3 tracks I’m adding here were in a Tape mix you would have to record them again, you cant fix garbage sounding takes in that realm that sounds like this by itself. However recording on a computer it sounds great as long as all the other instruments are playing along together i.e. the whole mix.

Lastly, there’s a lot of sound artifacts on the solo tracks you can’t hear on the complete mix. ALmost all of them are in the modulation starting at 1:19 Keep in mind these 3 instruments are MIDI running through amp simulators not a real player. The final track will have plenty of human playing on it as does the second version.

Here’s the examples of the isolated guitars and Bass. #3 is Over Driven Guitar, #4 is Clean guitar and #5 is Bass.

Dream Jam – a Garageband for iOS Review Part III

In part III of this review we will continue to build the track and instrumentation to our Garageband for iOS arrangement. In part II we imported the raw Garageband for iOS project:

Garageband for iOS

Garageband for iOS

Titled “Dream Jam” into Logic 9 and did some very minimalistic tweaks with EQ and Garageband compressor leaving the song in a very raw form. Notice at 1:19 from the Part II review how badly the artifacts in the clean guitar fall apart when the melody modulated ascending up the score. I completely changed that sections guitar arrangement which will reflect in the Part III Track below. 

Here’s a screen shot from Logic 9 at it’s first mix right after import from iOS 5 and Garageband for iOS:

Garageband for iOS import to Logic 9

Garageband for iOS import to Logic 9

This bring us up to date. The track has now been significantly EQ’d and had a real percussion arrangement added to it Via Superior 2.0 and a sound library I put together piece by piece and input to Logic 9 via my percussion pads and triggers. In addition Grand Piano, Violin I, II and III, Viola I and II, Cello I and Double Bass I were added to the arrangement. The Kick drum and Bass Guitar have been side chained which was very necessary since we used a 32” Kick drum YIKES! It sounds really good during the Modulation at least for now, who knows what might change down the road.

Here’s a Screen Shot of the new Mix in Logic:

Garageband for iOS Review Part III

Garageband for iOS Review Part III

My preliminary conclusions thus far are Garageband for iOS can be used as a real tool for composers and Singer-Songwriters.  This app is no Toy. The MIDI composing interface can be used to nail down specifically every note in all rhythm  possibilities like any MIDI interface in any DAW. It can be quantized in Garageband for iOS at the touch of a finger even on an iPhone, no iPad required. I can’t wait for my next train trip, I’m going crazy with this app!

Here’s part III’s mix from Soundcloud, make sure and select Part III (3) as I set all the tracks for this review in 1 player:

Dream Jam – a Garageband for iOS Review Part II

When last I left I was just in the process of becoming familiar with how Garageband for iOS worked. It didn’t take very long to learn how to use it, it’s very simple. Two things I had to consult the documentation for where “how to undo” which is one of its great-grandfather Logic 9’s most famous for functions. You simply give the iPhone or iPad a good shake which triggers a window to pop up:

Garageband for iOS undo

Garageband for iOS undo

The other issue I needed to consort the documentation for was moving the Garageband .band file to OS X via iTunes to use with Garageband or Logic 9. This is a little convoluted but it can be done. As of this writing I could not get the upload to Soundcloud functionality to work properly. I had to upload from my PC.

I now have my Review track arranged in Garageband for iOS finished. This is the raw Garageband for iOS multi-track consisting or Drums, Bass, Clean rhythm Guitar and Over-driven Electric guitar. Other then the instruments being EQ’d (only the dead space at the top and bottom of the spectrum) and a compressor available in Garageband on a preset this is the raw Garageband for iOS arrangement. This next step will be finishing the recording of the arrangement in Logic 9.

-ZM

Garageband for iOS first impressions

I have a new iPhone 4S due to my T-Mobile debacle that I’m still having to spend my valuable time fixing with my T-Moble representative “Chad.” Chad, resides in India, Imagine that! Yuppie Mothers and Fathers in India name their children Chad too 0.o – Yeah right! Enough with the Sardonic comments on with Garageband for iOS.

One of the reasons I went with the more expensive 4s is the dual processor technology. At 1.2 Mhz with 2 Core’s that’s 2.4 Mhz which would run Windows Xp flawlessly on the 512 MB of readily available RAM the architecture specifications come in at. Also, the carrier was out of the iPhone 4 which I inquired about who gave me a $50 discount off the 4S. At this point I’m thinking “T-Mobile who?” I know that’s enough processing power to actually be useful to a Composer and Musician, I run Reaper on a machine with less processing power and it’s brilliant!

On the first jump into Garageband for iOS I noticed two really fantastic features that I find incredibly useful; One is the fact that you can not only edit the piano roll like a real DAW but you can export the songs and data to use in Logic 9 as well as Garageband on OS X. The fact that I have a nice pair of Creative Blue tooth wireless stereo speakers made the sauce in the recipe I was cooking very tight. I’m about 20 minutes I had 8 tracks of virtual instruments that sound every bit as good as Garageband for OS X. If you’re in the know on Garageband for OS X you’re aware it has the same Virtual instrument technology running the EXS 24 sampler at the heart of Logic Studio thus it sounds very profession for a program that come with every Macintosh computer. The 32 bars of music I have so far pinging out of this little $4.99 program is in a word, KILLER! I actually think I may be able to finish a real composition in Logic 9 using what I now have.

If apple ever adds scoring imports from Finale or Scorch or its own scoring in general like logic has to this $5 app, I think it could be a launch pad for well over half the music I compose instead of the little Sony hand-held recorder I know use. I cant really say for sure how useful all this is because lets face it fiddling around with Garageband for iOS for 2 hours isn’t enough time to really know. However I have two version of this tune already running in logic that are pretty dam nifty IMHO. I’ll post the first song I actually finish with Garageband for iOS as its spring-board when I finish even if it’s bad. For now I’m having a blast playing with it!

Before I finish here I just want to note a few things that aren’t necessarily pertinent to this article. I like android OS better. It does much more the iOS 5 does all the way around even without rooting the phone. The problem with android is the lack of software especially for creatives, there’s 33% more apps available in the iOS platform the the Google play market. Plus there’s been several programs that have Trojans in them release on Google Play (formerly the android market) because no one checks the software like apple does. Admittedly apple let one slip by them last month as well but the android markets seen hundreds according to PC magazine. I don’t want a Trojan on my smart phone that will steal my client base from its address book, that would be the kiss of death for me. I wish I could have the software I run on my iPhone on my android but it’s just not happening that way at this point in time. That’s my 2 cents anyway. See you soon!

T Mobile – An American horror story

I’ve been with T-mobile for 10 years on July 1st of this year and have had the same ups and down as any wireless carrier. Since the AT&T merger was thwarted by the DOJ T-mobile has bee a train wreck. Case in point; go to the t-mobile website and try to reset your password, it’s broken and hasn’t worked in 7 months. This after T-mobile made everyone change their passwords 4 months ago to strengthen their security policy. I can’t reset my password and haven’t been able to for 2 months to pay my freaking bill, how goddam dumb is that? Then, it gets better, you call T-mobile who now to cut costs hired a firm from Pakistan to take over their customer service who requests YOUR WHOLE SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER! Not the last 4, the number in it’s entirety and they will not accept my pin number I’ve had set up with than since 2003. I smell a rat and I’m not fool enough to eat the cheese.

I’ve worked in technology long enough to know this is an accident waiting to happen. Do not give your SS# to anyone ever period unless you at the Social Security Office or trying to collect unemployment at the unemployment office. Almost every college and university stopped the SS as a pin for students ten years ago to protect them from fraud. What I’ve seen hackers do over the years with someone SS# is just sickening, one case saw 11 cadillac escalades and a custom home built in Boca Raton Florida before the person who owned the SS# knew his identity had been stolen.

So what do I do? I can’t pay my bill and I’m not going to give anyone my SS# over the phone who says his name is Hank from Pakistan. There’s only one choice, tell them to GFT and write 36 letters, 1 for each credit agency and send them out in 3’s for the next 12 months and loose my number of 10 years. I can’t go along with a company that’s so truly screwed up they can’t write a functioning script that works on their website to reset a password then hires a company in a country that’s not friendly to the US who demands my SS# over the telephone. No wonder Departing CEO Philipp Humm abruptly quit lying to them stating a family member was I’ll when he really went to Vodafone a huge T-mobile competitor as their new CEO.

The Pièce de résistance for dealing with these imbeciles is the video I have of my phone taped to my computer screen showing their website can’t reset passwords. Because the video shows my number being input into the text box on the T-mobile site I can’t release it on youtube until my new phone arrives. The Moment it does the video is going live on the internet (I will link it here) with a youtube link in every letter I send to the 3 existing credit agencies disputing the ding these ass-hats will surely hit my credit score with. What a way to treat a customer who’s been with you for ten years, Bollocks!

Do yourself a favor people, avoid T-mobile if you’re the US like it’s the plague. There’s a reason they wanted to sell it to AT&T so cheap and the CEO jumped ship with no notice. What a hassle, not worth my time at all, I wish I could bill them my hourly for all my time this inept foolishness has cost me monetarily.