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    Whoblugroove 2013

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    Different Stages

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    p-a-d

Meant to post this last week - but just in celebration of 50 years of hiding behind the sofa, here’s my lil homage to the Doctor fella recorded a couple of years ago but freshly sparkly remastered for the current celebrations.

The New Zoom H6 Portable Recorder

Regulars will know I’ve been a long time devotee to my Edirol R09HR field recorder, but when I bought it the choice between it and the Zoom H4 was really really close. In fact the only reason I didn’t buy it was that we were going away to NZ and it was just that bit smaller than the Zoom. 
Well, now Zoom have brought out the new H6N and the spec looks brilliant. A full review will follow when I’ve got my mitts on one, but for now Soundworks have done a great review.

MOTU DP v8.0.4 is available now, and mystery of 32-bit deepens.



Anyone keeping half an eye on their boot-up screen for DP8 will know by now that the latest iteration of DP is now available for download. v8.0.4 offers the usual range of under the hood enhancements and streamlining but specifically the ReadMe file also states a few interesting little stability mods:

  • • The Soloist plug-in has been redesigned.
  • • Fix for crash in DLS MusicDevice when used as a plug-in.
    • Fixed a potential crash during pitch edits.
  • • Improved handling of broadcast wave files.
  • • Fix for incorrect recording with PunchGuard turned off.
  • • Waves VSTs are now listed correctly as mono or stereo. 


I’ll be honest, I haven’t installed the update yet as I usually wait a couple of weeks to see what bugs fall out, but so far, things sound quiet in the community so I might just go ahead.

Interestingly, one little addition to the Read-Me file is a small explanation of why there is suddenly a Memory Meter appearing in the Processing window. Now I’ve been getting a couple of error messages recently that I’ve never had before in DP where the application suddenly warns me that it’s about to run out of memory.

Now this never happened in v7.24 and when I upgraded to v8, I had a few teething problems over why MSI (in which I do most of my orchestral work) wouldn’t work. Long story short - MSI doesn’t work under 64-bit so to do any orchestral work with MSI I have to either remember to run in v7.24 (which is a pain even though I still have it on my desktop), or run v8 in 32-bit mode only.

Now DP before v8 was only ever able to run in 32-bit and so the limitations of memory address have always been with us, but DP has always been a tidy little programme and it’s never really been an issue. So I suspect that because DP8 has been designed specifically to run in 64-bit mode and only allows running in 32-bit to cater for incompatible plugs etc DP has become a little more portly shall we say? Therefore, it is my suspicion that running DP in 32bit has got its penalties and running up against this 4Gb memory wall is going to be one of them.

So, MOTU, hurry up and get this dang MSIv2 out that will work under 64-bit and we’ll all be laffin’.

Comments would be welcome if anyone can confirm/refute this theory.

Happy music making y’all.

Kenny Everett “In The Best Possible Taste”

There is currently a very entertaining, painful and affectionate biopic of the troubled genius DJ Kenny Everett called “In The Best Possible Taste" posted on BBC iPlayer at the mo. (In the way of all iPlayer material I apologise now if you are reading this more than 300ms after it’s posted and the programme’s gone already)

The dramatisation is a very touching account of Kenny’s life from late teens, through his brief time at the BBC, then to London Pirate radio, back to the BBC (illegally) then Radio 1, over to Capital and then finally back to the BBC again. His relationship with ‘Lady Lee’ (now Lee Everett Alkin) is also very touchingly portrayed as well as many of the colourful and often bizarre characters around him, including his showbiz (and lifestyle) mentor and friend Freddie Mercury.
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Kenny is frankly brilliantly portrayed by Oliver Lansley, who had the mountainous task of nailing not only Kenny’s ever-changing personal voice, but the iconic voices of all his most beloved characters from the radio and TV series. His portrayal of Sid Snot and Cupid Stunt were particularly impressive.

But… for me, as good as the programme was, it was also a lovely reminder of the role that Kenny Everett played in my early life as a sound designer/recordist/engineer (whatever the &%&$ I am this week!) and a reminder that his premature death in 1995 left an unfillable creative hole in the world of audio.

In my early days in the theatre at school, all the backstage and technical crew would sit around during set-ups and long rehearsal day listening to programmes like Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy and Sorry I haven’t A Clue. Then one day I took in some hookie tapes I’d made of the Captain Kremmen series and between it and HitchHiker we were all hooked on how sound could be used to create huge, fantastical and more than anything, ridiculous universes. Where changing your voice could make you any character you needed and any household object could become any fantastical tool or weapon in the universe. (There was a beautiful nod to this in the biopic where Lee wonders where her hair-dryer and mixer are and ‘Ev’ describes which of Kremmen’s space weapons they have became).

Those tapes stayed with me when I got my first 2-deck ghetto blaster that had an external mic input that allowed me to overdub and rebounce again and again (very poorly very quickly). I could overtrack guitar and vocals and was soon writing appalling songs and odd pieces of music (much like today). Then came PortaStudio’s, Roland VS machines and finally the big computers, unlimited tracks and fingertip access to astonishing effects and plug-ins. It seems churlish these days to even dare complain about limitations and seemingly slow workflows when watching the biopic last night made me appreciate just how passionate Everett was about creating his utterly strange and hilarious worlds and links. Even just the BeeGees segments are a masterpiece in harmony and multi-tracking and themselves beautiful and affectionate homages to the brilliance of the Gibb brothers’ sound. There is a scene where Lee and Ev forst go to live on a farm and Ev is forced to set his gear up in a hayloft surrounded by farm-noises, cows and chickens. It’s probably artistic licence but probably also rooted in some sort of truth and a nod to the difficulties that Everett faced in creating his immaculate soundscapes.

So, with Halloween looming again and with me about to sit down and start writing a whole host of new, twisted and macabre worlds for a number of events around the country, I shall raise a small cappuccino to the inspiration that was Kenny and thank him, Kremmen, the Bee Gees, Cupid, Sid, and all the other members of the Everett ‘family’ for the joy they brought to this ridiculous trade we work in.

WWDC2013 - It’s Early Closing at the AppleStore!

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Hey y’all, so, it’s that day again when those of us who use Macs in our day-to-day work will find out 2 things:

1) what we’re going to have to budget for in the next 12 months
2) exactly what Apple will have removed from this generation of Macs suddenly making all our peripherals a big problem (anyone remember that really ancient interface called FireWire?).

And just to hammer the point home, the AppleStore has customarily shut-up shop and the cash-tills are silent while all the new sweeties are uploaded.

Live video will be at 6pm tonight apparently (yes, I’m that much of a geek that I’ll be watching)

Gaming news finally has a home

Hey y’all - for some time now the boundaries of this ‘ere blog have been a bit blurred. Though I professionally write music for media, the inclusion of video and boardgame news in this blog was really just somewhere to park my thoughts and have somewhere I could go “Where did I read that again…?” (y’know, like why most folk write blogs!). 

However, this blog is about to get a lot busier as my teaching and industry commitments ramp up a bit in the pure music technology field, so it was time to do something drastic. We’ve also just re-found our passion for boardgames recently, so a blog to park boardgame, videogame, graphic novel and general craft & recreation news & reviews seemed timely.

So, as we’ve all had assurances that the new owner of Tumblr isn’t going to screw it up (her words not mine), I’ve decided to park the new blog here as well. more than anything it means I can do both blogs from one app on my phone and it’s all tidy.

So, here it is, welcome the new kid on the blog: Card & Pixel

More than anything, it might give us all some inspiration of things to do while we’re waiting for the next band to arrive!

Laters.

Fascinating iOS apps for music making

Yahoo Acquires Tumblr, Promises 'Not to Screw It Up'

Shiny New Blog Audio Player

If you look just over there on the left…….

No, the other left, look, I’ll help…..

..the lovely peeps at PixelUnion who designed the awesome theme for this blog, have developed a nice shiny new audio player for your ease and enjoyment. I’m about to start posting a lot more audio examples of things we do around here over the coming weeks so their timing couldn’t have been better to be honest. Clever coding people.


Have a cookie - sorry, sore topic for web developers I know.

It’s got 2 modes, compact and full player. In full player mode it sticks out into the blog a bit in certain window sizes so you won’t be able to read my ever sparkling words of wit and wisteria (?!?) as well, so just click the ‘-’ button on the edge and it will collapse down into a nice manageable size again.

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big version - hit ‘-’ to collapse to…..

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…super mini-player compact! Konnichiwa!

SADiE Loses Weight

More than a few moons ago, I used to work at a London radio station, and I spent a lot of time in the studio with a gal called SADiE.

Happily we would spend long hours cutting radio ads and interviews often well into the night and SADiE never let me down.  

SADiE taught me many things over those couple of years, and I’ll never forget her, but when I came out into the bright sunlight, and then straight back into the dimly-lit pokey control room of freelancing, SADiE and I drifted apart. She was frankly too expensive for me. She was too good. Meticulous, neat, classy and her timing impeccable. It wasn’t her. It was me.

… before this turns completely into 50 Shades of Grey Buttons, I should point out that SADie is one of the broadcast industry’s best kept secrets. It’s barely known outside TV, Radio and production houses (the BBC love SADiE) and yet it is probably the finest DAW for editing and the most solid recording platform there is.

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However, it is also phenomenally (and i use that word non-hyperbically) expensive. Bear in mind the average DAW these days costs anywhere from £150 to £350 for almost unlimited tracks, full MIDI capabilities and almost obscene numbers of bundled plug-ins, SADiE has always been a touch pricier at nearly £1000 for the absolute base entry level system. Want to put anything with that and you are looking at modules and add-ons well into the thousands. A full tricked out post-production SADiE system could easily set you back £8-9000.

So I was intrigued when I read this week that Prism Sound in Cambridge have just released SADiE6 Lite along with the usual range of  producer packs.

You know what it’s like when you see something and it has Lite by it and you think, “Hey, I’ve been looking at that for a while, a Lite version will let me try it with minimal risk, yeah, let’s go for that…" and you get all excited and there’s the heady anticipation of typing in the URL, and then the cheerleader jumping up and down while the page loads and you go looking for the "$50 - Download now" button.

Yeah, well, SADiE does the equivalent of clamping that cheerleader to the spot and then making the giant foot from Monty Python come crashing down on her head.

Now again, I know this is me and not you SADiE. I know you’re just not built for the likes of me now, and that you’re trying to seduce all those editors, journos, DJs and presenters that can’t use you at the mo to hurl you down onto their laptops and have their wicked edit-y way with you but honestly… I would have tried. I know how good you are. I know how you wouldn’t let me down. I know how stable we could be, but SADiE…

I just don’t have £450 to spend on you. Yep, there’s no decimal point in there, that’s just £450 (plus VAT mind) for the ‘Lite’ version. In these cash strapped times, I can’t see even the Beeb rolling that out across the board unless there’s a phenomenally good economic reason to do so. (There’s also a ‘Professional’, but still heavily stripped back version for about £950+VAT)

One of the things that SADiE has always been good for is the sheer quality of its audio processing and I suspect that SADiE6 is no exception, however, here’s a thing. SADiE6 is being billed as not shipping with its own mastering tools, but with the iZotope (i suspect Ozone5) mastering tools. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love iZotope products, I think they are a fine choice for SADie and anyone, Ozone particularly, but… that’s the thing. I can buy Ozone for Digital Performer, you can buy it for Logic, Cubase probably even Fruity Loops (haven’t checked), the point is, it’s just a VST or AU. And if I’m going to do that…. why would I spend £450 on SADiE. The Lite version is pretty throttled for features to be honest: it’s limited to 16-tracks (honestly??!?), and no further telephone or software support. Which presumably means that if you buy SADiE6Lite it is merely either a leg-up to SADiE6 or you’re just left with precariously indeterminate life software. And that’s a gamble for £450.

For fairness, I should point out that there IS a 30-day trial, but honestly, I hate those, you always forget to disable them afterwards, they always end up adding an AU that then fails on your normal DAW boot-up every time etc etc etc, I hate 30-day trials basically.

Now, I’m finding myself doing a LOT of speech editing at the mo, and honestly, I miss SADiE and the times we had together. The workflow, stability, and accuracy of the system are just awesome, and you ally it with something like the LRX2 and you have an astonishingly solid mobile recording rig for even the toughest gigs (though mine is really good i should point out - and available for hire with yours truly!).

I genuinely hope Prism Sound do really well with it, I like the company, I went to a great recording seminar they ran in Manchester a while back, and their products are just fantastic (check out their audio interfaces and DA converters!)…..   But at £450 and also that SADiE’s still firmly a Windows girl, I just think I’ll buy Digital Performer 8 a box of choccies and a bunch of roses instead.

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