Thursday, December 30, 2010

Goldwave Lesson - Kick Drum

Hey everybody. Sorry about my lack of posting. I've been rather busy lately, but I'm back now with a new video for you. It's pretty basic, but I'm sure there's somebody out there that could benefit from it.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Recent Project

I've recorded something I created with my Korg MS2000 since you gentlemen requested it. This is without any added distortion, just the options built into the machine. It took me a while to get this sound, and I was very pleasantly surprised when I finally did.

Also, in the spirit of Christmas, 3 points to anyone whose post contains the word "sarsaparilla".

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hardware Reviews Part 5

Korg MS2000 - $350-500 used (8.75/10)
I recently purchased on of these used on craigslist and so far I've been digging it. It is the grandfather of the more recent Microkorg. As far as I can tell, the Microkorg is capable of producing the same sounds as the older, larger MS2000, but on the Microkorg you end up having to program everything with a few knobs and a tiny LCD screen. I prefer the ease of use the MS2000 offers as well as its larger keyboard. I'll probably have a more detailed comparison of the two later.

The Korg MS2000 has a surprisingly aggressive tone that works very well for my style of music. Rather than using patch cables like traditional analog synthesizers, it offers a versatile 'Virtual Patch' system. The distortion is nice, but there aren't a lot of options, so I've got mine going through a guitar distortion pedal to further mutilate its sound. The MS2000 has the ability to act as a vocoder, which it does well, but I haven't really messed with it much. It's no longer in production, so if you plan on obtaining one of your own, I wish you the best of luck in finding a used one in good condition at a reasonable price.

-Tasty virtual analog synthesis
-An abundance waveforms to choose from.
-Sexy body with lots of metal and wood.
-Powerful step sequencer

-Only 4-note polyphony
-Not true analog synthesis

Sunday, December 19, 2010

You show me yours, I'll show you mine.

Today we're going to be sharing music we've made. I know there are some other producers among us.

11 points to anyone who shares music they made.
1 point to anyone who shares music they didn't make.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Another Mystery Song

I'm really busy today, but I figured I might as well give you guys something, so here's another mystery song. 5 points to the first one to get it right. 1 point to all the others who get it right after them.

By the way, the last mystery song was Limelight, by Rush.

Also, you get the whole song.

And a music related image.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

New Soundfont Made Specially For You

I created a soundfont using a simple distorted saw kick patch I made on my Korg MS2000. Feel free to use it in your productions. It covers a few octaves of pitches, each rendered individually.

MS2000 Saw Kick Soundfont

Also, this comes with some free advice. All the samples are mono because most of the time you really don't need to do any panning or stereo effects when it comes to your kick. It's usually best dead center in the mix.

Also, 10 points to whoever can guess what song this tiny fragment is from. This is an easy one.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Distortion Pedals

I'm looking for a new distortion pedal to run my new synth through and I was wondering if you guys had any favorites. Those of you that play guitar should probably have some sort of idea. It's proving quite difficult to create the effect I'm looking for with effects plugins.

And a related image in case you didn't read the text above it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

New Keyboard!

I just managed to obtain a near mint Korg MS2000 Analog Modeling Synthesizer for $350. I'll be providing a hardware review for this eventually, but I need some time to work with it. After using midi and softsynths for so long, it's nice to get my hands on a good old fashioned hardware synthesizer.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

EQing Drums and Bass Guitar

The key to EQing multiple tracks is to contain each track in its own space to keep your tracks from competing for the same frequencies. It's important to remember to do this all in moderation if you want a natural sound, but the rules are always different depending on the genre and the sound you're going for.

Here's a loop I put together using drums and bass guitar.


It's generally a better idea to EQ each drum microphone separately, but for the sake of this lesson, I've already combined them.

The first problem that really stands out to me is that the bass is too damn bassy, especially at the low end. This area should already be occupied by the kick, which is too weak.

Now I've cut the low end (100 and lower) off of the bass guitar and boosted it on my drum track. This way the kick will dominate the low bass. Then I boosted an area around 240 for the bass guitar's higher bass sound and lowered it on the drum track. I also boosted 2k or so on the bass track to make the fret sounds louder and to give it more attack. Then I finished with some minor adjustments to the drums to make them sound a little clearer. Here is the final result.

EQd Loop

Keep in mind that the loops were kind of shitty to begin with, and you can only polish a piece of shit so much before it smears. I hope you got something out of this little demonstration anyway.

Monday, December 6, 2010

EQing Basics

EQing (equalization) involves changing the volume of different frequencies in your sound. This allows you to make huge (or tiny) changes to the sound of your tracks. This is an incredibly valuable tool in audio mixing.
This is a simple Graphic Equalizer VST plugin ( The frequencies to the left are the lowest, your bass. As you go right, they get higher and eventually inaudible.

Try right clicking on this plugin in your software of choice and dragging all the way down then moving your mouse left and right while the sound plays. See what changes are made to your sound when you cut certain frequencies. This is a good way to get a feel for which frequencies make up each part of your sound.

Here are some terms you should know. Some are pretty self-explanatory. You don't need to read through all of these now, but this will be here to look back on when I use these terms later.

Bass - The lower frequencies. The kind that make the earth rumble. Yeah, it sounds cool when you turn your bass up too high, but don't be a jackass and crank the bass in every one of your mixes. Uncontrolled, a lot of bass ends up sounding like shit.
Body - The upper bass frequencies.
Boomy - Way too much fucking bass. Back off a little.
Bright - Lots of high frequencies.
Fat (big, full) - Takes up a lot of space in your mix. Sounds badass by itself, hard to mix. Often includes some stereo tomfoolery that makes the sound bigger.
Harsh - Too much upper mid.
Mid - That under-appreciated area between bass and treble.
Muddy - Shitty sounding because too many sounds are competing for the same frequencies.
Muffled - Low upper mids and highs, sounds like you're singing into a styrofoam cup.
Smooth - Easy to listen to, all the frequencies are more or less equally loud.
Thin - The opposite of fat.
Tinny - Sounds like it's coming through bad speakers, like a telephone.
Treble - The higher frequencies. Turning these up might make your mix sound clearer, but it will hurt your fucking ears if you get carried away.
Warm - Plenty of full mids and bass.

Coming soon - EQing advice more relevant to mixing multiple tracks.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Mixing And Mastering

I'm going to be getting into mixing and mastering over the next few posts. I'll be covering EQing, compression, panning, and possibly some other branches of audio sorcery. Hopefully you can all learn something from it and have clearer, more professional sounding mixes. I'd get started today, but I have a rendezvous with my special lady friend which prevents me from doing so.

In the mean time, 20 points for whoever can guess what song this is.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Hardware Reviews Part 4

Yamaha EZ-200 - $180 (5/10)
Now, keep in mind, this is by no means a professional keyboard. It comes with light-up keys, and no customization options. I got it for free because it was purchased for an ungrateful child who never played it. It comes with all of your standard practice-keyboard sounds including XGlite. It uses its light-up keys to teach you how to play songs, but I'm not going to waste my time with that. It seems like the sounds it comes with would be more useful if I was playing jazz or making the soundtrack to an 80's movie.

-Can sound like a piano.
-Stereo Sound
-MIDI out
-Can play songs for you, in case you give up playing.

-Kind of a shitty sound-bank for making rave music.
-All the beats are too damn busy, no simple quarter notes on a kick.
-The "synth leads" selection.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bob Moog and the Fairlight CMI

This was a big moment in the history of sampling when Bob Moog released the Fairlight CMI, which played back samples at different pitches to imitate an instrument (which was a big fucking deal back then). The main sounds that this thing made can be heard in tons of songs (I feel nostalgic just hearing some of these samples by themselves). The video where he demos it is 6 parts long, but definitely worth watching.

You have to wonder if they had any idea how huge this kind of thing would be. Imagine recording one second of sound and reusing it again and again (everybody does this now).

Monday, November 15, 2010

Video Reviews

I'm considering doing a video review of Alchemy by Camel Audio, because I don't feel like a simple text review can really do it justice. While I'm at it, are there any other programs you would like me to do video reviews for (possibly ones you've seen in earlier posts)?


My newest guitar. I got it for $15 from a friend of mine, and it's a total piece of shit. Bonus points if you identify it. It's perfect if I ever want to smash a guitar on stage though.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Classic Synth Lesson - Axel F

As requested by my comrade over at Rorschach Redemption I have created a tutorial showing you how to recreate the synth lead from Axel F.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Axel F Lead

I've been listening to Axel F by Harold Faltermeyer off the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack and trying to mimic the lead synth they used.

My latest attempt at recreating the lead from Axel F
Good, bad, close? I'm trying to simplify it for the sake of a tutorial, because right now it's horribly complex.

I'm glad I managed to get my hands on a vinyl copy of the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack.
Also, extra points for noticing the other record in the shot.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Software Reviews Part 5

Immitating the synth sounds from Axel F has turned out to be quite a challenge, but I'm not giving up on it yet.
In the mean time, I have another software review for you.

Zebra - $200 (8.5/10)
Zebra (which is now on version 2.5) is a pretty solid choice for your all-purpose synthesizer. It has all the filters and effects that you would expect, as well as the ability to customize and morph your waveforms. You can work with up to 4 oscillators, each of which can be made to have more voices. It's different to work with compared to most VST's on the market (look at the picture for an idea of what I'm talking about), but it still has enough power to keep up with it's competitors. A good choice once you get used to working with it.
-Lots of options for filters and oscillators.
-Wide range in general

-Takes some getting used to.
-Just a bit hard on your CPU. Not too bad though.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


On my quest to recreate classic synth sounds using plugins on my computer, I have come across several challenges. It appears that a lot of 80's sounds that I always thought were synthesizers were actually just samples, making them very difficult to reproduce. I have managed to (for the most part) recreate the synth lead from "Sweet Dreams" by Eurythmics, but the process I used was painfully complex and creating a tutorial for it would be difficult and not particularly helpful.

Let's hear some of your favorite synthy songs. If the synth sounds are not incredibly complex to recreate I just might teach you how to make them.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

I'm Back

Sorry for the wait, but I've been quite busy lately. I plan on teaching you how to imitate some more synth sounds, maybe some cheesy 80's style ones.

In the mean time, Tom Waits.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Software Reviews Part 4

Today I'll be reviewing VSts that specialize in delivering poor quality, old-school drum sounds.

8bit Drums - Free (7.5/10)
This one is somewhat lesser known, but actually delivers when it comes to creating customizable 8bit drum sounds.

-Actually generates its own sounds
-Sounds like 8bit drums

-Excessively large GUI

SKdrummer - Free (4/10)
First of all, just let me say that if you grew up with a shitty little keyboard from the 80's, this VST will make you giggle like a little girl. If you didn't, this will just sound like tinny, lo-fi drum samples.

-Sounds like the drums from an SK-1
-+1 for nostalgia factor.
-Pitch and volume sliders

-Might as well just download a few samples if this doesn't bring back memories.

Toad - Free (5/10)
This one has sounds that more of you will recognize, since it's based off sounds from the NES.

-Sounds like an NES.
-Some extra knobs.

-Little more than a glorified sample pack.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hardware Reviews Part 3

Fender GD0-300 OM Acoustic Guitar - $250 (8/10)
I've been using this as my main acoustic guitar for a few years now, and I am very satisfied with it. It has a nice sound to it and a deliciously bright tone. It feels right in my hands, and is quite attractive (the picture doesn't do it justice). The only problem I have with it is how god damn stinky the strings get compared to all my other guitars. They start to smell bad almost immediately after you start playing with them. It's not perfect; there are higher quality acoustic guitars, but for this price, it's hard to beat.

-Sexy body
-Relatively inexpensive
-Tasty bright tone

-It's acoustic, so it can't be plugged in and made into a distorted abomination.
-Strings get stinky.

Line 6 LowDown LD15 Modeling Bass Combo Amp - $180 (5/10)
This is a pretty mediocre bass amp. It has fairly good distortion, effects, and EQing options for a low price. I think I might have been asking too much from such a small amp, trying to make it loud enough to be heard over drums, guitars, and vocals. I think it would work well as a practice amp, but I pushed it too far and it's no longer capable of performing on a regular basis.

-Pretty nice distortion, some goofy effects.

-Mediocre sound
-Mine is broken.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Roland TB 303

Time for a little history lesson about the Roland TB 303 Bass Line synthesizer. Intended to mimic the sound of a bass guitar, it did a horrible job at what it was made to do. It sounded nothing like a bass guitar. It used one oscillator with 2 waveforms to choose from and a unique 16-step sequencer with some unusual and glitchy sounding slides, accents, and filters. The end result generally sounded artificial and robotic. This is what made it so damn cool to use in dance music.

You can hear this mechanical abomination screaming it's little head off in tons of 90's dance tunes (including Da Funk) and you can still hear it used in today's music. Today they can be found on eBay for around $1,000-$2,000, but there are plenty of good software emulation options for everyday civilian usage.

Watch for reviews of the various software options that you can use to get that classic 'acid' sound.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Classic Synth Lesson - Da Funk

I've got a new video for you guys teaching you how to imitate the Da Funk synth I mentioned earlier in Sylenth.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Replicating Classic Synth Sounds

I'm currently working on replicating classic synth sounds using various VST plugins, which I will then teach you how to do.

Are there any synth sounds that you would like to learn how to make? I'm currently working on recreating the lead from "Da Funk" by Daft Punk.

Any requests are welcome. In the mean time, Da Funk.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Software Reviews Part 3

Helix - $150 (8.75/10)
Audjoo's Helix delivers huge range and firepower at a fair price. I immediately noticed how excellent it was for making softer arp and pad sounds. Despite the complexity and number of voices your patches can have, they remain pretty easy on your CPU. I was rocking out for a while on a tasty 40-saw lead that I made, and my CPU never went higher than 7. Helix is also quite versatile, allowing the creation of huge rave leads, smooth pads, basses, and classic analog sounds. My only real complaint is how goofy the envelopes and LFOs are to use at first. They work well once you get the hang of them though.

-Lots of waveforms and morphing options.
-Inexpensive compared to other similar synths.
-Low CPU usage
-Can handle lots of voices.
-Nice filter and effect selection.

-Takes a while to get used to the envelopes.
-The LFOs are a bit different as well.
-Occasionally, default waveforms will be panned to one side and the init patch has delay already selected.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Fairly Useless Audio Demonstration

I was just experimenting and seeing how different white noise generated by different programs sounded.

Which was your favorite?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Software Reviews Part 2

Kicklab XL - Free (6/10)
Kicklab XL (a free version of Kicklab XXL) promises the ability to generate your own kick sounds, which it delivers on. You can make some pretty nice electronic kick samples to fatten up your old kick sounds or to use on their own. It's pretty limited, but it does a good job at what it does.

-Gives you the ability to generate customizable kick sounds.

-Somewhat CPU intensive for just generating a single kick sound.
-The pitch of the kick doesn't change along with midi input.
-Stupid preview mode.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Software Reviews Part 1

Today I'll be reviewing some VST plugins so you aren't forced to pick through the bad ones to find what you want.

Minimonsta - $160 (7/10)
As the GForce homepage says, this is "a minimoog on steroids". It has all the functionality of a classic minimoog synth (as far as I can tell) plus some extra features. There are a bunch of added envelopes and the ability to add a bunch of extra detuned oscillators to make some fat-ass sounds. This is fantastic for playing live and allows you to morph your sound on the spot. The only drawback is the fact that this really can't be your main all-purpose synth. It definitely has its place, but it's limited somewhat by it's likeness to the minimoog.

-Excellent minimoog emulation
-Added control over your sound.

-Limited waveform selection
-Can be CPU intensive at times.
-Has lots of freeware alternatives that do almost the same thing.

Pro-53 - $200 (7.5)
Native Instruments' Pro-53 is an emulation of the classic Prophet-5 synthesizer. It does an excellent job at that according to people who've used the original. The sounds are pretty old-school, so if you're going for an 80's kind of thing, this should do the job. The main thing I use it for is it's hardcore/hardstyle leads. If you copy my screenshot, it will give you a fantastic starting point for a hard dance lead. Also, using this lead never brought my CPU above 5, which is great for how fat the sound is.

-Warm, delicious emulation of 80's analog synth sounds.
-Low CPU usage
-Erection inducing Hard dance leads.

-The patches are limited (somewhat) to old-school synth sounds.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

More Free Samples

Today I've got some more free samples for you guys to fuck around with.

Some cool techno/house loops and sound effects.

A collection of free Drum n Bass samples.

Some samples from an SH-101 Hard PWM Bass. Covers 9 notes.

Serious Sounds : Volume One [Hard & Bouncy]

Some free drum loops


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hardware Reviews Part 2

I've only got one item for you today, but it's a good one.

Shure SM57 - $100 (9.5/10)
The SM57 instrument microphone is a must have for any home studio. It's an incredible value at $100, delivering crisp, clean recordings of whatever the hell you want it to. If you're still using a mic that came with your computer, go out and get one of these. It has always been excellent at recording guitar and vocal tracks. When it comes to drums, I've never used a microphone that gave me better recordings of my snare. Another little trick; throw one of these through the hole in the front of your kick facing the beater head (on top of a pillow or something). It will instantly make your kick sound punchy as fuck.

-Great quality
-Low price
-Incredible durability

-Not terribly expensive, so owning one won't make your studio seem more impressive and costly.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Hardware Reviews Part 1

Here is the first in a series of reviews of hardware that I have used for music making. Remember, 5 is actually average.

Korg nanoKEY - $50  (5.5/10) 
You have to keep in mind that this score takes price into account. This little guy is total shit compared to a normal full midi keyboard. It goes great with a laptop though, having a similar feel to a computer keyboard, but it only has two octaves limiting its use as an actual playing keyboard. I've found that it's surprisingly good for triggering drum samples. I bought two of these, a white and a black. The white one broke after about a month of playing, but the black one still works well today.

-Cool design

-That fucking CC Mode button is too close to the keys
-Doesn't play much like a normal keyboard
-One seemed to break easily

M-Audio KeyRig 49 - $100 (6.5/10) 
The KeyRig (any of them in the series) is worth well more than two nanoKEYs at twice the price. The keys don't feel much like a piano, but that's fine if you're mainly using it for synth. My main problem with this keyboard is the shitty USB plug in the back that got fucked up after a few months causing me to have to hold it at a certain angle with duct tape. Then it stopped working altogether. It was pretty good while it lasted. 

-Decent keyboard feel
-Plenty of keys

-That fucking god awful USB plug

Behringer U-Control UMX610 - $170 (8/10)
The UMX610 really does a beautiful job at being a USB/MIDI keyboard. It has a great feel, with realistically weighted keys, and plenty of knobs to assign to whatever you want. It also has a professional looking design, which is hard to find in a fairly cheap USB keyboard. If you have the money, I'd definitely recommend this. Behringer knows what they're doing with this one.
-Great feel
-Plenty of octaves
-Lots of knobs
-Sexy body

-Similar plug problems to the KeyRig 49, but to a lesser extent
-There are fucking dog hairs all over my keys

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Free Samples

I thought I'd share some free samples for you gentlemen to mess around with. I personally tend not to use other people's samples, but I won't judge you if you do. If you have any more you'd like to recommend that would be great.

Ruffrider & Easyrider
Single hits, lots of great drum sounds.

Excellent site to get all kinds of samples.

Open Source Drumkit
Just click where it says "Download the OSDrumkit samples here!"

Just snare, but worth checking out. Need an account to download, but it's free.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

FL Lesson : Slicex

Today I have another tutorial for you, as requested by Rorschach Redemption, on how to slice up beats in Slicex. As usual, I'm starting out pretty basic. I might teach advanced techniques later down the line.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Free Soft Synth : TranceDrive

I'm playing around with this thing right now on my midi keyboard, and I have to say, it sounds beautiful for a free vst. Right off the bat it loads up a fatass supersaw lead. It comes with 3 oscillators with six waveforms to choose from (including a supersaw made up of 7 detuned saw waves). It comes with plenty of built in filters and effects perfect for trance and lots of other styles. I used this in my most recent single and it fit in beautifully with other more expensive synthesizers.

So go get your hands on a VST host of some kind (there are freeware ones out there) and give this beast a try. (Download links below!)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Massive Lesson : Fat Saw

I have a new tutorial prepared for you. Today we're going to learn how to make a fat saw lead using NI Massive. I'd definitely recommend this synth to any electronic musician with a little money to spare.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bob Moog and his Invention

Today I have a little history lesson for you guys. It's about the Moog synthesizer. Bob Moog's synth was a big fucking deal in the world of electronic music. It's been scaled down many times over the years, but it's sounds are still used today.

I'm pretty sure most of you are familiar with A Clockwork Orange, which has a mostly moog-based soundtrack done by Wendy Carlos. Speaking of Wendy Carlos, I stumbled upon a vinyl copy of Switched On Bach a few days ago.

Anyway, here's some Clockwork Orange. I'd strongly recommend getting a copy of the soundtrack if you don't have it already. Sorry the video's fucked up, I'll upload one later.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Distortion Plugin Comparison

I'd like to test the abilities of all the different distortion options on the market. I'm starting out with just a few, but this will continue in a later post. I'm testing the plugins on a Roland TR-909 kick, trying to get a distorted, gabber-style kick. There is a link to hear the sound under each picture.

Here is the original kick sound.
Dry 909 Kick

Not really for what we were trying to do, but interesting nonetheless.


This provides damn good distortion, but it isn't free.

FuzzPlus 2
This little guy really surprised me.


Here I simply turned the volume up too loud and got the clipping sound. You can do this one in audacity.


Tell me what you think and if you'd like me to continue comparing distortion effects.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

MinimogueVA Moog Emulation VST

Anyone who likes using old school synth sounds should download and play around with this VST plugin. It's really great at emulating the sounds of a classic Minimoog, and best of all, it's free. It's an excellent alternative to anyone who can't afford Minimonsta, which kicks ass by the way.

More about the Minimoog coming soon.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Funky Drummer

Here's another insanely popular beat to sample from James Brown's "The Funky Drummer". This has been called the most sampled song in history, but I doubt it with the Amen Break gaining so much popularity in recent times. I remember hearing Public Enemy using it in a song I heard yesterday.

Here's the download link for those of you who wish to sample this famous drum break.


I was just listening to Tobacco today and I noticed a mellotron sound, so I decided I'd share this beast with you guys. You probably remember hearing this thing in Jungle book when you were a kid. Classic "synth"

Here is a link to a nice VST that mimics the famous mellotron sounds(including the badass flute).

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Amen Break

This is a loop that you should all have in your arsenal, the Amen Break. It's from "Amen, Brother"by the Winstons and it happens to be one of the most popular breakbeat samples of all time. You'll hear it everywhere once you know it.

Download it here!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Audacity Tutorial : Reverse Reverb

Here's my first tutorial on how to get that kickass reverse reverb effect with Audacity.