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.