You know those infomercials that tell you to call now – though it makes absolutely no difference when you call? This is the opposite of that.
Basically, you can buy a new 64-bit channel strip plug-in from Eventide for US$249. Or, act now, and it will cost … nothing. It’s free, through the 8th of July. I had to read this twice; I thought maybe it was an older version or an existing plug-in. It’s not. Their intro price is zero, and then it goes up to two hundred fifty bucks.
And coming from Eventide, this is especially big news, as the company has a long tradition of making some of music makers’ favorite processing algorithms.
So, if you think you might fancy a channel strip, you can skip this article and head straight to it. UltraChannel is almost an entirely plug-in suite in a single plug-in. There’s EQ and compression, of course, but also gate, delays, micro pitch control, and saturation (including some subtle saturation capabilities) – something you might use creatively as well as for mix/master workflows. You get:
Micro pitch functionality (from the H8000)
Stereo delays with variable feedback paths
Compressor #1: de-essing, side-chain capable
Compressor #2: O-Pressor “extreme” compression (compression from the Omnipressor)
Saturation: both what they call “Soft-Saturation” and an emulation of transformer core saturation
Drag-and-drop signal routing
Lots of presets
It’s compatible with AU, VST, and AAX64, on OS X and Windows, and it’s 64-bit.
So, what’s the catch?
You have to provide your email, and you sign up for their mailing list. (You can opt out of that once you grab the plug-in.) And you do have to use an account via iLok.com, though that’s just for authorization – you don’t need a physical iLok dongle.
Recently, new designer DJ booths have been bringing a splash of style to what can sometimes be very boring piece of kit. (Wallpapering table? Ironing board? Hands up now...) German furniture designer Glorious has weighed in with the release of its GigBar console.
The post GigBar Joins Spate Of Designer DJ Booths appeared first on Digital DJ Tips.
The one sequencer that you can see in a computer museum. The original Triadex Muse. Photo (CC-BY) Michael Hicks.
The 70s were one heck of a groovy time. When they weren’t postulating theories about the very underlying essence of all physical reality being reduced to computational models, pioneering AI scientists were … creating weird music sequencers? Seriously?
The Singularity will be brought to you by Giorgio Moroder, perhaps?
Yes, as we saw earlier this week, AI legends Edward Fredkin and Marvin Minsky somehow managed to take their research in philosophy, digital physics, and cognitive science, and make a weird box that most definitely is capable of blinking lights and making sequences of bleeps.
The Triadex Muse really seems like something you’d find on the deck of the early Starship Enterprise. (Live set tonight in Panorama Bar, Nyota Uhura.) Representing the shift registers that store the sequences of notes, there are series of light-up LEDs along the side of the faders. As those lights chase one another, you can see the variations in melodic patterning that keep the Muse spitting out new tunes.
Sonically, the devices are primitive; basic circuitry produces the sound. But the algorithmic production of music is unique. This was no sci-fi prop: it was a working machine capable of improvising melodies in the days when computers were things in giant rooms, one of the first digital logic machines of its kind, and one of the first-ever digital sequencers. The interest in a hardware recreation from Future Retro we saw yesterday demonstrates that the basic idea can still dazzle music geeks.
And the hardware itself is gorgeous: a brushed-metal triangular prism, faced only by a series of tall faders and lights. Three hundred bucks in 1972 dollars means this would be about US$1700 today (and you’d pay about as much on eBay). But that’s a steal: a Minimoog from two years earlier cost about US$9000 in modern currency.
But it’s partly the fact that this came from Minsky and Fredkin that makes it so interesting. In nerdy fields like reversible computing and cellular automata (Fredkin), neural networks, head mounted displays, and even the LOGO Turtle (Minsky). They were big enough to make their way into pop culture. Minsky was an advisor on the movie 2001; Arthur C. Clarke in the book even fictionally credits Minsky and >I.J. Good with the self-replicating intelligence that created HAL. (If a computer ever does throw you out an airlock, you’ll know Clarke was right, and you can curse Minsky with your dying breath.) Fredkin gets his own fictional apocalypse: supposedly War Games‘ Professor Stephen Falken is supposedly modeled on him.
This should all come as a bit of a challenge, though. Electronic music’s role in early technology, from the dying song of HAL (Max Mathews) to futuristic models of AI here, means that the resurgent interest in vintage tech can give our futurism a better grounding in real history. It makes electronic music a fantastic teaching tool, and allows us to discover the artifacts of the past that can be futuristic now.
But I think computer music can do more to engage the latest bleeding edge in computer science, cognition, physics, and other fields (even science fiction). Much as I love the 70s, too, that means we can’t only recreate the past. I hope electronic music remains a field where the biggest innovators feel at home. Time for a new rave for the future.
And for inspiration, maybe our post-digital world might consider the radical thoughts of the digital philosophy movement, not only how much we love warm, fuzzy old analog gear.
Create Digital Reality – Create Digital Everything. Indeed. Someone was really staring at those cellular automata patterns for a while. Mind… blown.
Some demo songs say “I’m cheesy, please buy me.” “I’m trying desperately to sound like the current genre of the moment.” This one says something different. It shouts: “Greetings. I’m the Dominion 1. You might not know me – but you should. I am awesome. I am your new best friend. I am what you covet – I am what you shall have, because I will be yours. Together, we will triumph. We will quest together through the party times, and the world will go our way in ways that surprise even us. People will gather around us, and love will vibrate through the air. For I am an analog synth that’s not like the others. And this is my song. Sing it with me.”
Wait – back up. What’s the MFB Dominion 1? Well, if you caught the coverage of any trade show in the last two years, you might have seen some mention of it – it’s a boutique piece, and it’s been (cough) a work in progress. It is, however, now really close to being available, it seems – soon.
yapacc aka Uwe George Giegler, who produced this synth-demo anthem, is not only a groovy music maker. He’s also the fearless leader of Berlin’s MFB. That might not be a household name like Moog or a big brand like KORG, but MFB has been consistently putting out really special boxes. (Think the underrated Tanzbär and 522 drum machines, each of which could hold its own against the much-vaunted Roland AIRA TR-8, or the beautiful, budget Nanozwerg synth, as well as a nice set of modules.)
The Dominion 1 has our attention partly because so much of the synth world has lately been around tiny monosynths – or, at the opposite extreme, ridiculous high-end monstrosities. The Dominion 1, by contrast, is the mid-budget four-door sports sedan of analog synths. It’s got loads of personality and more than enough power, with a balanced set of features:
3-octave keyboard (from Fatar), with velocity and aftertouch
Arpeggiator/sequencer with preset storage
3 VCOs with waveshaping and both analog/digital ring modulation
Dual-sync and “dynamic” dual-FM (that is, both VCO2 + 3 can be synced with VCO1, and you can also modulate VCO3 from VCO1 and VCO2 and the LFO and the envelope)
Stable tuning, digitally controlled
Multi-mode filter with discrete components. 12 modes – four low pass, four bandpass, two highpass, two bandstop filters, all with different slopes.
Modulate the filter with anything, via MIDI or analog or envelopes or keytracking or other modulation sources – resonance included.
Patch panel with CV integration for you owners of other analog gear
A velocity routing matrix – this is clever, as of course, it’s the closest-available input, always literally at your fingertips
3 LFOs, two with a one-shot function and reset for extra performance/rhythm options
3 envelopes with long-throw faders
Analog control panel, internal power supply
MIDI in, out, thru jacks – and MIDI dump
26 inputs and outputs, so you can make this the center of your studio (including loads of other MFB gear)
Cost is 1380 €, excluding VAT.
Now, you’ll have to do some multitracking to get the sound in that demo. That’s 21 tracks of Dominion 1. But, hey, you can produce a whole track (or record) on this thing – and be pretty happy at the end of it, I imagine.
If you want a speaker system for a small space that can be used for general purpose audio such as watching movies and playing games on your computer as well as for DJ practice, you're probably in the market for something like the speaker system we've got in our Cerwin-Vega! XD4/XD8s review today.
The post Review & Video: Cerwin Vega! XD4 / XD8s Powered Speakers & Subwoofer appeared...
Feedback is the bane of any audio engineer's existence. So learning how to smite it is a must for live sound. If feedback always seems to creep up on you, read on to be rid of it once and for all!
Contending with Feedback
It has been said the best compliment an audio engineer can receive after a show is no comment at all. Rarely does an audience or band critically pay attention to the sound itself. It's all about the music or keynote speaker. But when feedback shows up, boy does everyone take notice!
We need to be at the ready to fix feedback at a moments notice during the show. However, preventing it in the first place is always a better approach! One of the easiest and most efficient ways to do this is by peaking or ringing out the room.
What Does It Mean to "Peak" a Room?
The idea behind peaking a room is simple. Bring up the microphone gain until feedback occurs, and then knock down the problem frequencies. By doing this, you hit the peak amplitude allowable for the room. Think of it as finding your limitations.
Sometimes we are able to get our gain really high before the room even begins to ring. Other times it might feed back at even the slightest hint of gain. No matter how many times you may peak out the same room, remember that things change so always start from square one each time.
Prepping to Peak
Before we go about actually peaking a room, we need to set ourselves up so we don't peak at the wrong reference level. We also need to account for where in the room the microphones will or could end up being. Never leave anything to chance!
One of the biggest problems with peaking is the gain staging of the setup. If the monitor amplifiers are way too hot, then it will seem like you are feeding back really easily. On the flip side, if the amps are way too soft, then it might lull you into a false sense of security.
Here is a safe procedure to get you started:
Make sure your speakers are turned all the way down.
Place either pink noise, or a test tone (most likely 1kHz) on a track.
Bring up the gain until you see a solid level on your mixer just like you would for a mic. Somewhere between 12 and 3 o'clock is a safe range.
Next, raise both the track and master faders (or AUX/submix in the case of monitor mixes) to unity. Remember you should not hear anything yet.
Now, slowly bring the gain up on the speakers until you reach your desired RMS amplitude. Use a sound pressure meter from a reasonable distance to measure the RMS during this process.
You should now have an even gain stage throughout the whole system.
The trick here is determining what your RMS should be. Obviously a rock band is going to be much louder than a presenter at a conference. I recommend giving yourself just a little extra headroom, as inevitably people always want things louder, and louder means more chance of feedback!
Worst Case Scenario
Live sound engineers traditionally use cardioid or hyper-cardioid microphones on stage. There are of course cases for hemispherical and omni, but they are rare. Why? Because a directional mic like a cardioid rejects sound better from behind.
This, of course, is paramount when trying to tame feedback. Since the stage monitors are going to be aimed right at the musicians (and subsequently their microphone) we want to prevent as much sound getting to that mic as possible. Except for when we are about to do this...
Turn down any track faders and gain you may have up on your mixer. Also turn down any AUXs you are using if you are trying to ring out your monitor wedges.
Make sure your master fader/AUX and speakers are left untouched from the gain staging you just performed
Plug in a microphone on stage and place it roughly at head level as if a vocalist was singing. If you have a podium for a speaker, place the microphone there.
Turn this microphone around and aim it right into the monitor wedges or out into the audience
While this might sound like sonic suicide, remember that the microphone currently has no gain. By setting up our microphone to face into the sound source, we can account for the worst case scenario. You could of course put the microphone literally right on the speaker, but this is highly unrealistic and going to cause more problems than benefits.
With the gain staging set and the microphone in a worst case scenario position, we can finally peak out our room. To do so, you are going to need to ride the fader very gently and use a 31-band graphic EQ. Why a graphic EQ with so many bands? Because we need to notch out very specific frequency ranges so we can leave as much signal unaffected as possible.
Begin by deciding whether you are ringing out the main monitors or the stage monitors first.
Grab the corresponding fader or AUX potentiometer for the mains or stage monitors. This will be your primary gain riding control.
With your fader or AUX all the way down, bring your microphone gain up to roughly 2 o'clock. If you know your vocalist/instrument is very soft bring it up even higher.
Very slowlybring up the tracks fader or AUX until you start to hear a little bit of feedback sneak in.
Once you hear the feedback bring your fader/AUX down just below where you started to hear the feedback until it disappears.
Go to your graphic EQ and once again very slowlybring the gain up and back down on each individual band. This will show you which frequencies are feeding back.
Once you find a frequency that feeds back, bring that frequency down on the EQ.
If you barely touched a particular band before it fed back, then you will need to bring down that band quite a bit. However, if you had to raise that particular band a lot to make it feedback, then you only need to turn it down a little.
With your feedback now suppressed, very slowly bring up your fader/AUX once again.
If you encounter feedback again, repeat the same process above until your fader/AUX reaches unity (0dB) or even a little above.
If you do all of the above and still find you can't reach unity, you might have reached your system's limitations. Remember, as we turn up our systems gain, the more and more gain reduction we will need in our EQ.
Occasionally, a particular microphone in a certain place may feedback so easily that even -15dB of gain reduction is still not enough for how loud the venue needs to be. Bar bands are notorious for this.
If this should arise, you have the following options:
Accept the lower overall volume, and turn down your monitors so the fader/AUX can reach unity.
Tell the band or venue owner that the system cannot go louder, and should be turned down. (Good luck!)
Daisy chain two 31-band EQs together.
While the last option sounds ideal, you may not always have access to additional spare graphic EQs. This setup also induces more noise and phase smearing. Lastly, if a venue needs to be that loud, then you might be violating noise laws and should not be that loud anyway!
Phew! As you can see, peaking out a room can be a time-consuming task. While it might sound like a lot of steps, it really isn't once you try it yourself and understand the procedure. As you peak out rooms more and more, you will get better at finding problem frequencies by ear, and will not need to check every EQ band every time.
The trick is to be gentle with the feedback, and not haphazardly raise and lower gain all over the place. Just because a band is feeding back does not mean you need to drop it by 15dB immediately. If you had to raise that band by 15dB to make it feedback then you probably only need to drop it by 1 or 2dB. If you drop almost all 31-bands by similar amounts then all you did was lower the system's gain!
Also, be sure to do the same procedure with different mics. If one vocalist is using a 55SH and the other a OM2, then these microphones will have very different feedback characteristics. Also, be sure to ring each monitor and the mains separately.
Shawn Wasabi (formerly Sssshawnnnn) has put together a fantastic show yet again in a new live performance video on a Midi Fighter Spectra. This time, he’s playing an original song with an enormous number of samples to trigger. He writes: Original composition recorded live with a DJ TechTools Midi Fighter Spectra into Ableton Live 8. In my […]