Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A cool way to get better at the guitar!

Agile Partners and Guitar World have come togather to give us “Lick of the Day”.

As taken from their site.....

Guitar World Lick of the Day is a must-have app for guitar players who want to continuously improve their guitar playing skills and broaden their repertoire in a fun and engaging way. Developed by Agile Partners and Guitar World, the world’s best-selling guitar magazine, Guitar World Lick of the Day is a universal app that provides a ground-breaking approach to guitar instruction on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. The app delivers a new and challenging lick to subscribers every day, with a one-of-a-kind feature set that enables guitar players of all skill levels to learn licks in a variety of styles.

Guitar World Lick of the Day is a free app that comes with five licks (including a lick by Zakk Wylde) so you can check out the app’s instructional content and amazing features on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. One-, three- and six-month subscriptions can be easily purchased from within the app to receive a new and challenging lick every day, seven days a week.

Lick Of The Day from John Berry on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

KRK VXT 4w demo

KRK VXT4 Active Studio Monitor demo 

Sexy..... Stimulating..... Fun to be around.....
Does this describe your computer speakers?

If it does not, then perhaps it is time for an upgrade. Those few choice words certainly help to describe what I have recently hooked up to my computers' speaker outputs, but there are so many other words that also help to describe the KRK VXT4 Active Studio Monitor , so many in fact that I am struggling on where to even start.

Since we recording nuts opt for recording file formats and/or sample bit rates as large and as fast as our machines can accept, and it is such an important part of our music recording/tracking/mixing work flow to make sure that our creations are just perfect, shouldn't our main computer speakers be able to match these highly selected specks? We spend so much time at our computers watching movies, gaming, and listening to the beloved MP3's, why not get all that you can from the computer itself? After all, the sound is there if you only have the right speakers to push it out to our ears.

Before I even had a chance to un-box the KRK VXT4 Active Studio Monitor , I couldn't help but notice a few things about these quality speakers. Just like any other KRK product, the KRK VXT4 Active Studio Monitor w's are very, very well made! The KRK VXT4 Active Studio Monitor are rather hefty too, weighing in at about a solid 17 pounds each (in the boxes) and the KRK website weighs them in at 14 pounds (out of the box). The KRK VXT4 Active Studio Monitor white enclosures stand out against the common sea of black computer parts and computer screens, and the yellow cone of the KRK VXT4 Active Studio Monitor is striking, if not a form of modern art; to the musicians eye anyway. All of you Apple computer owners will be one step closer to an all white recording environment too. In the KRK VXT4 Active Studio Monitor box you will find a power chord, the manuals, an 1'8th inch male stereo plug “into” a pair of ¼ inch mono jacks, some screws and an Allen wrench tool. The screws and the Allen wrench tool are for a more “complete look” if you decide to remove the protective grills, or screens. Now that they are un-packed, lets hook the KRK VXT4 Active Studio Monitor up and see what happens!

But wait, what is this? Within seconds of setting the KRK VXT4 w's up, another sweet surprise “came into light” as I turned them on for the first time! That surprise is the fact that the KRK logo lights up. This is a rather nice touch, just so that we can tell (at a glance) if the KRK VXT4 w's are left on or not.

So, how do the KRK VXT4 Active Studio Monitor sound?

I decided to play some reference CD's through the KRK VXT4 Active Studio Monitor first, just so that I would know where they stood. The list included Supertramps' “Breakfast in America”, and right up to Rage Against the Machines' “The Battle of Los Angeles”. Not only was every nuance of the recordings illuminated, but new things were heard for the first time. I was actually hearing amp and guitar combinations that I had missed before! I found myself un able to get out of my chair, because I was wrapped in a warm blanket of amazing quality audio.

Next up, I decided to listen to some of my favorite television shows, (off of the web) through the KRK VXT4 Active Studio Monitor . This proved even more interesting, as once again some new things were brought to my ears attention for the very first time. I could here the “dead people laughing” in between the jokes, and with more clarity than I had ever known before. I could here character voices better, and with an uncanny clarity that I had not known prior. The KRK VXT4 Active Studio Monitor are (without any hesitation from me) a very worthy investment. If you spend a lot of time in front of your computer; ie watching “Last night on T.V., HULU, or YouTube videos, than you owe it to yourself, and to your ears, to get a pair of these KRK VXT4 w's speakers.

There is a lot going on “behind the scenes”, or on the back of the KRK VXT4 Active Studio Monitor . There are a lot of switches and knobs found on the rear of the KRK VXT4 Active Studio Monitor . Here is a list of the features found on the back of the KRK VXT4 Active Studio Monitor .

First up, on the back, the KRK VXT4 Active Studio Monitor has a “System Level Adjust” knob for evening out the two gain levels of a pair. A trio of multi position micro switches is next. The first switch is for a ground lift, the next 3 position switch manages the “clip indicator/limiter”, and the last of the three switches turns the “Auto mute” on or off.

The “Auto Mute” feature reduces power use when no signal is detected. Inputs are supplied via an XLR ¼ inch trs combo inputs. Last of all a simple on/off switch rounds out the features on the back of the KRK VXT4 Active Studio Monitor .

Overall, each KRK VXT4 Active Studio Monitor stands 10 inches tall, by 7.37 inches deep, by 7 inches wide. Each KRK VXT4 Active Studio Monitor sports a 4 inch woven Kevlar woofer and a silk dome neo tweeter. Each speaker is bi-amplified with a 30 watt (woofers) amp and a 15 watt (tweeters) amp built into the KRK VXT4 Active Studio Monitor . They sit perfectly on any desktop, and are just what the sound doctor ordered for your listening pleasure! Either go find a store that has them on display for auditioning, or else just trust me and go out and get a pair of the KRK VXT4 Active Studio Monitor today!

Friday, November 19, 2010

KRK 8 G2 Monitor review.

A tradesman is only as good as the tools that they use. I have heard “that one” a million times over. Now, however, and for the first time, I understand just what that saying means. From this day on, in my little corner home studio, I have the best tools! They are KRK RP8 G2 Rokit Powered Studio Monitors .

Today, I have “heard” my very own music for the very first time. I have opted to toss out my “el-cheapo” studio reference monitors and install a KRK RP8 G2 Rokit Powered Studio Monitors . I then opened up a work in progress, and “took a listen”. As I worked along, I asked myself a couple of questions; like “Would I be able to hear a difference?”, and “Would I be able to “hear” something new?”

 I would find out in a few moments, as I turned the new monitors on, just what folks mean when they claim that “getting a good pair of quality monitors is just as important as getting a good quality microphone”. I can't simply put into words just how much of a difference there now is in the quality of the music that is coming out of the KRK RP8 G2 Rokit Powered Studio Monitors !

Every little nuance of the music is clear and audible now, where as before it was all “missing” in a way. All of this time I thought that I could hear what was happening within my mixes, and now I know that I was wrong. Could this even be possible? Had this quality of “sonic-ness” been eluding me all this time?

The one thing that I can say with words is that “I can now achieve much better results due to the ability to actually hear what is sonically happening within my songs”. Yes, I have the right tools now.

Let me tell you about what has become the most important studio upgrade that I have made in a very, very long time. I am talking about the recent addition of a pair of KRK RP8 G2 Rokit Powered Studio Monitors .  
Yet another old piece of advice that was given to me a long time ago is, “crap in, crap out”. This advice has led me on a mission to obtain better instruments, better microphones, and a better DAW system. However, I stopped there and continued on with less than desirable monitors. These “less than” monitors were actually tuned to sound sweeter. This alone is why my mixes sounded so darn good in the home studio and yet so bad in the car.

I needed to hear what was actually going “to be heard”, raw as it was, and not some engineers idea of a sweet eq'd addition to my overall mix. With all of the attention we give to recording with the best possible gear, top of the line plug ins, and the highest sample rates, to then mix down using the best possible bit rates and conversion file types, isn't it worth it to “hear” what you actually have, and with as amazing detail as possible? I could go on and on about just how good my original music sounds while pumping through the KRK RP8 G2 Rokit Powered Studio Monitors , but that would be a given.

Any review or advertisement for the KRK RP8 G2 Rokit Powered Studio Monitors will tell you that much. I want to explain how “different” my original music sounds pumping through these monster monitors.

I have never quite “felt” the kick drum “thud” and the bass “woof” before. Notice I chose the word “felt”? I knew that the kick drum and the bass were both working their way through my old monitors, because (although whimpy) I could hear them if I tried hard enough. The KRK RP8 G2 Rokit Powered Studio Monitors have a way of projecting the kick drum and the bass woof to the listeners ears, but also to his or her chest.

I had not ever felt results like this before, but it makes such darned good sense. This is a pleasant thing to boot, as high volume levels are not necessary for mixing (like before I installed the KRK RP8 G2 Rokit Powered Studio Monitors ). I liken the difference of the quality of the overall sound detail of my old monitors to my new KRK RP8 G2 Rokit Powered Studio Monitors to the difference between the usual “acoustic night” at the local coffee shop, and a stadium concert featuring a full blown metal band. Perhaps that will “paint the picture” of what I am trying to relate about actually “feeling” the kick drum and the bass woof with the KRK RP8 G2 Rokit Powered Studio Monitors .

And now for the guts of the KRK RP8 G2 Rokit Powered Studio Monitors .

First of all, you know quality when you feel it. These babies are hefty, weighing in at 26.1 pounds each! This comes from a quality, well built product. Video shielding is built in too, so forget the “colored hot spots” on your tv's or monitor screens. The back of the KRK RP8 G2 Rokit Powered Studio Monitors has some knobs and switches, so lets see what is there. First up is the usual on/off switch. This is in part of the internal amps, “amps” as in two! One amp is 70 watts for pushing the glass aramid composite woofer. The second amp is 20 watts, and is for the neodymium soft dome tweeter (with ferro fluid). Peak volume is rated at 106 decibels, so make sure to hang on!

Inputs are either an XLR jack, an ¼ inch mono, 10k ohm, jack, or one unbalanced RCA jack. The two “dial type” knobs are for (top) high freq adjust, and (bottom) volume level. The HF adjust is a “pre-set” type, with four positions. This adjusts the monitors to your listening environment, with settings of -2db to +1db of HF gain.

The front of the KRK RP8 G2 Rokit Powered Studio Monitors is as pictured in the images found on this post, but with a little bonus. The KRK logo actually lights up, which I found to be a cool feature. I know at a glance if I left them on by accident (or not). This was not the case with my old monitors.

Wrapping up this review, I need to put into words just what these monitors have done for me, and my music writing/recording process. This is a tough thing to relate. I will attempt to explain, though, so you can all understand where I am coming from.

When tracking, my “input instruments” are now a lot more precise. The old monitors could not “dial in” on what was exactly happening in this important process. Now, however, I can easily hear where a high or low pass filter is needed, and applying such filters is a snap. Compression can now be applied with accuracy, and can be “heard” in my mixes. Where as before I was adding unnecessary EQ boosts and EQ reductions just to get my inputs to translate after the fact, only finding out that I blew it, later, while listening to the finished mix in the car. How much is this worth to you? Again, “crap in, crap out”.

Mixing is no longer a chore, but a fun process! I find myself tweaking what has been tweaked, just because the detail and clarity of the KRK RP8 G2 Rokit Powered Studio Monitors allow for this sort of thing.

I now trust what I am now hearing, and it relates as I mix my tracks down for other stereo systems. Before, it was a crap shoot, but not any longer. Look, if you want to stop wasting time and get the best tracks, mixes, and finished exports possible, upgrade your monitors! They are a very important link in your chain of tools. Your music is important to us all!!! When affordability is an issue, like to all of us home recording nuts, KRK delivers the most “bang for the buck”, hands down, time and time again!
Do yourself a favor and listen to a pair of KRK RP8 G2 Rokit Powered Studio Monitors for yourself. You will hear just what I am writing about. You can thank me later! Please stay tuned for a demo video that is in the works. I want to give you all a listen, using a decent microphone.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Drum solutions

Multi Tracked drum “Drops” anyone?

Nasser Bouzida started out as a session drummer for Londons Blow Up label both in the studio and in their club. He was soon signed and allowed to indulge in all things retro. Nasser takes us back to swinging Sixties with a mix of soundtrack beats, laid back Blue Note grooves and vintage Funk.

Loopmasters Royalty Free Samples

First of all, please note: All samples here are provided as multiple mic ‘stems’ from the original recording sessions which you can reload into your DAW for complete control over the sound and mixdown. You are not supplied with a collection of finely edited short loops, these are multitrack recordings brought to you and so for each loop you get multiple files from different mic positions which can be quite large. The flexibility and usefulness of the Drumdrops multitrack series is unprecedented and allow total freedom on the sound and groove in modern music applications and provide a full Drumloop for a reasonable duration so that you ca easily chop and edit the mulittracks to create your own authentic beats and songs. Drumdrops Mutlitracks will work with Cubase, Logic, Pro Tools Elastik Audio, and also you can import the files into Ableton and Reason, Sonar and all other software music applications.

Loopmasters Royalty Free Samples

15 drum tracks of retro classics ranging from 76-164 bpm in multi-track format. Organized by bpm in convenient session folders each containing separate Kick, Snare, Hat, Stereo Overhead, Toms, and Mono Room tracks.

Recorded and mixed on a 1970s Neve console, analog tape, vintage microphones and outboard gear including multiple Pultec equalizers, Fairchild compressors, Ludwig and Gretsch kits were used with vintage Zildjian cymbals and snares by Ludwig, Rogers and Slingerland.

Listen to the preview samples to find the Drumtrack/s that you require and purchase the appropriate pack/s for your music. Download the files and import into your DAW.

Become the recording engineer as you get full access to all the Mic recordings used in the session, change the mix, delete tracks and create your own mixdowns and loops for original flavor and professional results every time. Use the included Drumdrops tempo map so your sequencer or DAW follows the timing and groove of the drumloop, to ensure you get excellent results every time.

Drumdrops multitrack downloads are all easy to use; all audio files start from the same point, Tempo mapped ProTools LE, Logic 6 and Cubase SE session files are included and the files are supplied with 16-Bit .AIFF previews for easy auditioning, and MIDI files with tempo map info for importing to other DAWs.

See http://www.drumdrops.com/ for more background information or download the product pdf for more info on the techniques involved in recording and utilizing these awesome loops and samples.

Other drum pack offerings from LoopMasters......

World Drum Sessions Vol 2 Balkan Drums

DrumDrops in Dub 1

Loopmasters Royalty Free Samples

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Cool new gear alerts.

Just to pass on some cool news, let me show some cool stuff that is now available.

Toontrack music releases Metalheads EZX.

As taken from the Toontrack site...

One world-renowned drummer, Tomas Haake, member of the extreme metal band Meshuggah.

One in demand producer, Daniel Bergstrand, whose mixing and producing credits include the likes of In Flames, Strapping Young Lad, Soilwork and Meshuggah, just to name a few.

Two Incredible drum sets, assembled and recorded to metal perfection, ready to bring your metal productions to the next level. And, for the first time in Toontrack history, we’ve included Separate mix channels in the EZdrummer mixer, containing kick and snare drum samples designed by Daniel Bergstrand, that augment these already amazingly recorded drums.

Twelve classic Meshuggah songs, captured flawlessly via MIDI by Tomas Haake himself, organized both as full songs as well as song parts so you can customize, dissect and use his grooves and drumming brilliance to inspire or create your next grand metal composition.

This is the next step in the evolution of Metal drum production tools.”

You can hear some of the Metalheads EZX samples here.

KRK releases the new VXT4W Audio Monitors. Geared for the music and movie aficionados and passionate gamers, here is a professional grade sonic percision in a compact and affordable package.

This is the computer audio monitor for those who really care about their music,” offered Tim Dorwart, CEO of The Stanton Group, parent company to KRK.

Those that watch movies or are computer-based gamers will be thrilled at the sound quality that these small monitors deliver. Listening to music at a computer is the equivalent of a recording engineer working at a console where the speakers are in close proximity, i.e. "near-field" monitoring. Being paired with a computer on a desk or workstation is the ideal application for KRK’s VXT4w given its compact form factor. The monitor’s high-headroom allows the user to experience sonic clarity across the entire audio spectrum—with an affordable price tag!”


Wide-format Tuners Provide Big Display, On-stage or Off

TASCAM's TG-7, TC8 TUNERS tuners combine fast pitch detection and a 5" wide backlit LCD display to help musicians dial into perfect pitch. The TG-7, designed for guitar and bass players, has a 1/4" in and thru and fits perfectly on pedalboards and amplifiers. The TC-8 is tailored for band and orchestra players with alternate tuning scales for period instruments. Both tuners have a built-in microphone and powerful metronome with internal speaker.

The tuner in the TG-7 and TC-8 uses high speed processing to calculate the pitch. Four tuner modes allow up to 1.25-cent steps on the display for maximum accuracy, and the tuner can be calibrated to an installed piano. They have desktop feet with a clip to attach to a music stand, and a tripod mount is also built-in. The metronome on the TG-7 and TC-8 can be set to various beat accents, and tap tempo allows the musician to find the tempo marking for any song.

The TASCAM TG-7, TC8 TUNERS will be available from select TASCAM retailers in December 2010.

AskVideo instructional DVDs for Reason 5 and Record 1.5.

AskVideo Reason 5 DVD

Over 7 hours of instruction on Propellerhead's Reason 5 by Morgan Pottruff. Whether you're a seasoned Reason user, or just picked up the program last week, you'll find all the info you need to take your knowledge to the next level.

AskVideo Record 1.5 DVD

Over 3.5 hours of instruction on Record - by Morgan Pottruff, aka Morg. This DVD is packed with tons of information, and Morg will walk you through everything this program has to offer in an easy to follow, step by step manner.