Saturday, January 30, 2010

Surfs' up.


I have been doing a ton of surfing on the web as of late, and I have come across some very cool gear that I just have to pass on to you all.

First up is the Smokey Amp from Zinky amplifiers. Hey, I love to recycle just like the rest of you do, and this is recycling to the max! The Smokey Amp is made from an actual recycled cigarette pack! You can even send in your own cig box, or the same brand that you smoke, for them to use. Plus, you can get a plain box sent to you and you can decorate it yourself, then ship it back for them to use as your amp! How very cool! Plus, these amps are not a joke, they work awesome! Check out the video from their site!

The Aqua Puss analog delay pedal from Way Huge Pedals. This is a re-issue of the classic. This is one of the best sounding, easiest to use, delay pedals that I have ever come across in all of my days. Check out the “borrowed” video below.

How about the TunerGaurd for a cool new product? I have never liked soft cases for storing my guitars, or for taking them to a gig, but this product makes them a little bit more practical. The only question that I have is what took so them so long? Well, wait.... I never thought of inventing this, so I guess they did just fine! If you have a new or a classic guitar that you wish to protect in transit, then look up the good folks over at Tuner guard. They will save you lots of time, money, and frustration in the long run!

Thanks for stopping by, and make sure to subscribe today!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

More guitar tricks for mono tracks.

Hey all,

Yet another great and very easy trick that I like to use in order to improve mono guitar tracks once in pro tools.

Thanks for stopping by, and feel free to drop me any comments or ideas that you may have.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

More alternate tunings...

After a night of sleep, I thought about what I failed to relate to you all in the alternate tuning post. If you are new to alternate tunings, there are a few things that you will want to know. Here are just a couple of ideas to get your creative juices flowing.......

Though the video is over a tuning of D, open E tunings, as well as a ton of other tunings, are possible. Check out the few clips that I have attached too, as they are good at playing open tunings.

Renting Space

Thanks your your interest with advertising on the Home Recording Weekly blog.

Please email me for pricing information.

Steven "Kern" Ramsdell

Thicker guitars in your mixes...

Here is just one example of what is possible with only just a few minutes of tweaking. I love this idea, and I do this to vocals, bass, guitars, and all sorts of things, once in Pro Tools.

Please feel free to contact me and let me know what types of videos you would like to see. What is it that you would like to know some more about? I am anxious to hear from you.

Leaving your comments here is a great way to get my attention, and I do post all of them by the way. Thanks for stopping by..... and enjoy.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Alternate tunings for guitar.

I have been hearing some “snippits” here and there asking about what we can do to obtain more interesting, and more complex guitar tracks in our mixes. I like to keep things as simple sounding as possible, and here are some easy guitar layering ideas for you to ponder.

Keep in mind that a lot more videos on this very topic will be popping up from time to time, here on Home Recording Weekly. There is a lot we can do, as well as no limits to your own creativity. Think about baritone guitars, 12 strings, acoustics, ect, just to keep things sounding different too.
Till next time.....

Friday, January 22, 2010

Adding reverb to only a midi snare...

A few of you have been asking and searching for more information about adding reverb to a single peice of a midi drum kit, when recording and writing with midi drum kits and like software...

Well, here is one trick that I like to perform.

Thanks for stopping by, and feel free to subscribe, comment, and send me your questions and/ot ideas.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

ZT Lunchbox Amp

First impressions....

This is no toy, and in no way is this a novelty product. I was shocked when I picked up the box that the amp was in. This gem weighs in at 9 and a half pounds! The
ZT Lunchbox amp is very well made, and rugged enough to last longer than most bands do. The cab, or enclosure is made of very solid, high density fiberboard, and not plastic. The back is a metal plate, and everything that is attached (inputs, dials, speaker, ect.) to the ZT Lunchbox amp is also made very well.

Not too long ago there were a few companies that made these small guitar amps for practicing at home or on the fly. These amps clipped onto your belt and ran on batteries. They were cute looking, but they sounded like garbage. Again, the
ZT Lunchbox amp is as far away from those types of amps as you can possibly get. The ZT Lunchbox amp means business.

Within two minutes after the amp was out of the box, it was plugged in and being put through its paces. How would this tiny amp sound, and would it fart out when I cranked it up past the “landlord respectable” volume levels? Once again, the ZT Lunchbox amp is not a toy. This amp is quality. The ZT Lunchbox is quality built, provides quality tone, and it “sounds of” quality at any volume level.

In fact, if you measure volume levels by using the almighty RMS levels (root means square levels) readings, like I have learned to, than you are in for a pleasant surprise.The ZT Lunchbox amp is rated at an impressive 120 watts RMS! ***

***As a side note, most products that have audio power amps inside them are rated at their “utter-most power output”. Even though at these insane peak power output levels their output noise will sound terrible, this is how companies manage to sell these products.

RMS levels are just what you need to look for. As explained to me a long time ago, basically RMS is the average, or the “means”, volume levels that the output levels are most distortion free, and the amp can handle this level of power output without cracking out.

Think about those cheaper, and too good to be true at “this price”, “1000 watt” car amps.... 1000 watts of power is beyond our comfort level, in fact it would be painful for humans. The amps can't help but to break up and fart, distort, and blow fuses at this type of output.

The rating of 1000 watts is very misleading, and here is why. These amps are most often 500 watts per channel, peak, and that is a miss statement too. At RMS rated volume levels these amps are, maybe, at best, 200 watts. So, a 1000 watt amp is really only a semi-decent 200 watts.***

ZT Lunchbox amp is a hit. This amp rocks, and one of them has now found a good home. This amp will be used in my recordings from here on out. If you are still on the fence, go try one out. You will be bringing one home too!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Reason 4 has a real jewel among its newest features.

Yes, another Reason 4 post. I just feel the need to get the word out there. This is some serious stuff, and it might be all you need! Here is another cool set of tools that can be found in Reason version 4.

The Mclass mastering suite is no joke. Within the list of Mclass effects is everything that you should need to get your Reason tracks pumping. Lets dive in and see just what the Mclass mastering suite is all about.

You can either open up each Mclass mastering effect separately, and work with them one at a time, or the coolest part is that you can open up a Combinator preset, titled “M-Class Mastering Suite Combi”, and then simply create the effects that you need, one after the other right inside the Combinator itself. This makes saving your new Combinator mastering suite of instruments (after you get it set up and dialed in just right) a breeze. Opening this precious tool each time, with each new song that you create will now be a snap, or should I say a click?

For you “mastered” Reason users out there, you may know that each dial of these effect units, or each setting that you make often, can be sent to, and controlled by, a midi controller and midi playback. This opens up all sorts of possibilities for dynamic madness. Things like sweepable mid's on the Mclass EQ come to mind, or how about changing the stereo field on the Mclass stereo imager for a cool effect, and that is just a starting point.

Mclass Equalizer.
The Mclass EQ is an awesome tool as it has all sorts of controls, as you might expect with a Reason EQ. Tweaking with the settings is fun to say the least. The parameters include a low cut filter, low shelf, and a hi shelf filter, with a total of 4 bands. The FQ range starts at 30 HZ and rises up to 12KHZ. Everything you need to adjust, as a mastering EQ is represented here.
The workings are simple. You dial in the FQ that you wish to impact, set the “Q” to sharp or soft knee, and then raise the gain till it sounds sweet. Boom, you be done and you be moving on.

Mclass Stereo Imager.

This tool took some getting used to. This device allows you, the user, to split your FQ range at a specified “cutoff” FQ and then send the highs and the lows FQ's to their own stereo field. This is perfect for keeping the bass in the center, or mono like, and the higher FQ's to a wider stereo field. This is an open palette that begs for you to be as creative as you can be, and then settle for what sounds best. Very cool indeed!

Mclass Compressor.
Well, what can I tell you that you do not know about compressors? This is your usual suspect, with ratio, attack, threshold, and release dials, and both an input gain and a gain reduction, gain increase knob for your overall level control. This compressor does do a great job however, and it sounds great too!

Mclass Maximizer.

Don't limit yourself! This “look ahead limiter” is just what I was looking for within reason. With 4ms of look ahead capabilities, an input and output gain makeup, slow, mid, and fast attack and release settings, and a soft clip option, what else do we need? Well, one thing that is very cool is that you can toggle the “peak and VU” options on the meter readings. Very handy I thought, for seeing just where the clip is happening.

These tools are not a new creation by themselves. The good news is that we can now call these tools up anywhere in our Reason rack. They are not just mastering devices. I have longed for such tools, like back in my Reason 2.0 days, and now that I have them I use them extensively. I like the “color” that they put to my Reason works, and they just allow us all to get that much more creative as we work along. The Combinator idea is a smoker, and thanks Propellarhead for being so darn imaginative!
Thanks for stopping by, and remember to subscribe today, and please feel free to leave me some of your comments. I always love hearing from all of you! Tell your friends about Home Recording Weekly too!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Amplitube 3 is unveiled by IK Multimedia.

IK Multimedia has very been busy latley.......
They have had a teaser of sorts, online, getting us all to attempt to figure out just what they have been up to. Well, the wait is over! Say hello to my new friend, Amplitube 3.

It looks as if there are full and cross grade (upgrade) versions available.

Watch the video trailer here. Read what is new here. Pre-order your copy here.

Mastering your creations.

Christian, one of my prized subscribers sent an email out recently asking about mastering. Well, this is a deep one, and this is for you.

As you know, mastering is not just any “series of tricks” that one performs at the end of a recording session. Each type of music demands a certain sound that you try to strive for, and knowing how to get there is the key. Listening to these songs closely at the start is half of the battle.

The engineers that make mastering look easy have invested years at school, and years in the studio. Their skills are honed with the passage of time. But what can all of us home recording nuts do in order to obtain better sounding music? Lots....

Mastering involves techniques that are as deep, and even deeper than our plain ole' recording techniques can be. I like to say that a lot of my mastering is done as I record. But what does that mean?

That means that I make sure that all of my recording levels are not farting out into the red zone. I make sure to get the best possible tone that I can for each track before I push the little red button. I set up “non destructive” effect loops, just so that I can change my mind later when I arrive at the mastering stage.

I do not “cut myself short in the land of plenty”.

That means that I leave myself as many options and decisions as I can, for the mastering stage. This can mean that I leave a D.I. Bass track, along with a mic'd bass rig track (both) in the mix. This allows me to play with the tracks and their levels later on, as I can then hear how they are working with the rest of the tracks that will come later. These are the things that make mastering easier. As they say, “you have trash coming in, you are going to have trash going out”.

Next, read everything you can get your hands on. Watch every video you can find online. Ask questions, and just try stuff out.

Most things that I like to do at the point of mastering have been attempted (by myself) before, and they just worked for me back then.Most importantly, I play with the knobs, as I close my eyes and really listen to the music that I am altering. I think in terms of frequency, loudness, balance, and the whole picture itself. I try to make things (tracks) complement each other instead of just piling them up on top of each other.

However, we often make mastering more intense than it need be. Knowing when to stop is often times a major factor. The best advice that I like to give about editing yourself is the old adage of “K.I.S.S.”. As we all know that means “keep it simple, silly”.

Mastering is a topic that you could spend your life searching after, and never get enough of. The topic of mastering at home will become a blog posting series in the near future, I promise. I have a post on the Reason 4 mastering suite lined up, and all ready to go, so that will be coming soon, too.

Thanks for the great question, and keep your eyes peeled for some more help from Home Recording Weekly.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

How to Drum, virtually!

This is not a sales pitch. Simply put, here are some links that will open your creative mind.

It does not matter if you use
Toontrack products or not, I highly recommend that you take 30 minutes out of you hectic day and check out these new videos from Toontrack. But why? Glad you asked.

Toontrack has made life a lot more simple for all of us that hate the learning curves that come with new products. What if we could sit and watch the very folks that were involved in the designing, recording, and everything else that goes into a midi drum sample product like Toontrack Superior Drummer 2.0 work with it? What if they came into your home and walked you through the product, and how to use it to its full potential? Well, make room in your home for some new guests.

Here is a link to at least 14 great videos that take you from beginning to end of Toontrack Superior Drummer 2.0.

For example, lots of you good folks have come to my blog looking for a way to add a reverb to only the snare track, from
Superior Drummer 2.0, in Pro Tools and on a separate track from the rest of the kit. The video that covers this is right here. Look for an up and coming “TUT” here on Home Recording Weekly on just how this trick is done.

Watching these videos will open your mind to what is possible, how drum software can work for you, and hoe they work in general. Even if you consider yourself a pro, Pat Thrall, Neil Dorfsman, Nir Z, and Toontracks own Mattias Eklund talk you through everything concerning drum sampling software.

These vid's are so informative that I watched most of them more than twice! Thanks Toontrack for walking us through Superior Drummer 2.0, and speaking as musicians just so that we could all understand it.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pedal Power

There are a lot of different ways to get your effect pedals into your (guitar/bass/keyboard) signal path. Today I thought about explaining a few of these ways.

I'll detail some “gigging musicians” routes to take, as well as some of the other types: like for the stage, and most home recording set ups.

I would also like to list some of the pedals that I feel we should all have in our effect rigs. Weather you are at home, on stage, or in the studio, we all like to obtain that certain tone that defines who we are.

Effect pedal setups.....

Coming up through the ranks I learned a few ways that folks used to add effects to all sorts of signals. The most common method, for live shows, way the inline method. The simple method of guitar in one side of the pedal, and the amp out of the other side, seemed just fine for most. Musicians would “stomp” on their pedals in order to turn them on and/or off as they needed to. This must be the most common method used today, until you get to a certain point in fame anyway.....

Once we can afford more musical toys, ahem, gear, then we learn some other ways of switching our pedals as we need them. Think about a pedal board with as many switches on it as you might need, that runs all of our effect pedals. These “multiple effect triggering pedal boards” can turn multiple pedals on and off as we need them, and you can set up “preset patches” of pedals to be turned on and off and then dedicate a simple on and off switch to trigger them from the pedal board. These make life easier if your sound is derived from several pedals at once, and/or if every song needs a unique assortment of pedals to propagate their own tone.

Next on the list are the effect loops.

This is a great way to go for anyone that has a killer amp tone right off the get go. Perhaps all you need is a slight effect introduced into your rig. You just love the amp tone as it is, but perhaps adjusting one thing here or there is all you wish to do from song to song. The problem is that you cant seem to dial in your desired tone by using the “inline pedal method”, because each attempt leaves your tone “too effect laden”. An effect loop will give you a lot more control over just how much effect is being heard by the crowd. The only downfall that I know of, for effect loops, is that not every amp has an effect loop. Sometimes you must find that one amp that you know delivers “your dream tone” and has an effect loop.

Lastly, I should discuss A/B rigs. This is where things can get expensive.

Imagine having an amp and cab with all your favorite effects set up so that you are getting that killer distorted tone that you just love. Now imagine setting up a second array of amp, cab, and effects for a clean channel. This is a two amp system which is switched between the two with an A/B selector switch. You might wish to have both sounding at the same time too, like Andy Timmons does, each one complimenting the other.

Pedal envy......

Some home recording enthusiasts will lean towards getting, and then using, all in one pedal boards. These can be a rack unit, or even a modeling type of amp. The only things that I don't really like about going this route is that they never seem to sound authentic enough for me, and they can be troublesome to program. However, it can be cost effective for you to go with this type of system in your home studio.

Common; more individual pedals, when used correctly, can be all you will ever need
Here is some of the most often used effect pedals, that I feel everyone should at least have in their gear closet.
First of all, the stage tuner pedal. This has a bright, well illuminated display readout so we can read it from a standing position. Perhaps the most important feature here, is the true bypass feature. You don't want the crowd to hear you tuning up, or tuning to an altered tuning, after each song. These pedals take your instrument out of the loop, so to speak, and allow you to make adjustments in quiet.

Second on my short list is a good boost pedal. Basically any pedal that increases your instruments output voltage will work. These pedals do two major things. First, they increase the out put in order to make up for voltage drop along our miles and miles of cables. The second thing these pedals do is to boost the signal of your instrument in order to “ever so slightly” overload your amp. Any amp in this world sounds better with just the right amount of boost. The sound that we are talking about here is a slight warming up and note definition, right up to a true tube breakup.

Third on the list is the all powerful compressor. We all know that compressors reduce the attack, or the first “picked” part of a note. But what else are they good for? Well, these gems take the dynamics of a piece, and reduce them down to a steady pouring out of notes. The highs and lows of a progression come down and come up in volume, and just flow better. The overall sound of a mild compressor in your signal path will just add a professional quality to your sound. Think about this pedal as a smoother upper, and a cleaner upper, for your instrument.

Wah pedals are just the coolest guitar and bass pedal on the planet. Everyone loves a great “wah driven” song from time to time, so please have a wah in stages' your real estate. “If your gonna play in Cali, you gotta have a wah in the band” , sorry, could not resist myself.......

Some say that the most often missing effect pedal in everybody elses' pedal board is a volume pedal. The volume on your instrument is great for adding definition to, or taking the bite out of the output. But what if you wish to keep the exact sound of your rig the same as you get louder for the chorus, and mellow down for the verses?

Volume pedals are not expensive to purchase, but can add a sense of professionalism to your act. Volume pedals can raise and/or lower your “summed” output signal and that means adding dynamics to your gig. Building up to the chorus and then coming back down to the verse can move a crowd to “that place they are looking for”. Plus, these pedals can come in handy when an “impromptu” jam session makes itself available; as to allow for your guests to better stand out as they supply a solo or riff of their own.

The last pedal that I feel fits into this “mandatory pedal” list is an EQ pedal. Funny, I don't have one of these, but most folks do. A lot of heavy metal and some recent popular rock acts have used EQ to define their tone. Acts that tune their guitars way down or play baritone instruments add EQ quite a bit. I find that between the instruments pick ups, volume and tone knobs, the amps various settings, and the array of pedals that I use, I can obtain a good quality tone. However, I do add some additive and/or subtractive EQ to my guitar tracks as I record. Maybe I should take this good advice and add an EQ pedal to my recording effect array just to avoid this addition of an EQ later on in the session.

Personal pedals.....

Next up are the effects that define who you are.

Lets face it, some music genres call for a distinct sound. When you think about different types of music, what effects do you hear? We all can name a famous band or musician and then name the effects used to make them stand out; most often by name brands.

What tones do you need to have? What pedals do you need to have? The answers are questions that you need to ask yourself. Are you in a cover band? Do you play your original music out in clubs? Do you record at home? Do you write and play any one style of music, or do you write all types of music? These are the money questions.

If you think that you might like a mild chorus, delay, flanger, distortion, whammy, etc, then add it to your stages' real estate space. I can't tell you which of these effect pedals to purchase, nor will I tell you how to get a sound like someone else has.

Getting another musicians tone is a great place to start your quest for your own tone, and simply knowing how to get those certain tones that you heard is a great way to learn. Plus, if you are in a cover band, getting the right tones and effects is all to important. Crowds really behave differently when you can “sound just like the original”. I wish I could tell you how many times someone has made a point to let me know that they loved our cover of “that particular song”, as we sounded so darn close to the original.
Point is, you just gotta find out for yourself.
Start a weekly effect pedal trade program between your band mates, and/or your friends. Hang out at your local music store trying out every pedal they have. Research the ways in which famous musicians get that special tone that defines their sound. Trying to sound like someone else is not a “cop out”, it is very good practice!

Doing “blindfold tests” can be great fun, and an important learning tool of the trade. Put on some of your favorite songs and think about what effects you can hear. If you can, see how close you can come to getting “their sound” for yourself. As you do this, try listening closer and closer to the originals for the little things like compressors and overdrive/boost pedals. They are being used by a lot of folks!

Thanks for stopping by, and be sure to subscribe today just so you dont miss out on any reviews, news, or cool tools.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Just thought that I would help spread the word about perhaps one of the coolest “gigging amps” that I have heard about recently.

ZT amps has a new Acoustic Lunchbox amp at the NAMM show, and it is designed specifically for acoustic “coffee house style” gigs!

I saw an article about this amp over at Billy Penns “300 Guitars” site, and could not believe what ZT amps has put into this new offering.

What could be so cool?

Well, let's start with two independent channels. One is a microphone channel, ¼ inch and XLR inputs, and the other is a ¼ inch instrument input. This new ZT amp has a dedicated mic gain control, and a dedicated instrument gain control. Don't forget about the cool 1/8th inch stereo input for whatever you wish to amplify (mp3 player, cd player, ect).

Oh yea, did I mention an effects loop? Wow, that is the sell point for me right there! This amp has a plate style reverb built in too, along with a 3 position anti feedback control with bypass, anti clipping circuit, phantom power, ant then there are the out puts.......

There is a headphone/DI output, external speaker output, and the 6 ½ inch speaker. These can be plugged into a larger speaker cab if you so choose, or you can purchase a matching ZT amp speaker cab.

This all adds up to a guitar amp, a vocal amp, and an effects loop; all in one small, easy to carry box! Well done......

For all of the specks you can Follow This Link, over to the ZT amp site.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Reason 4 Vocoder

Reason 4 Vocoder.

Reason (version 4) from Propellarhead becomes more and more powerful each time I learn new tricks. What I mean is that there is no end to the things that are possible when writing with Reason 4 . Just when you feel as if you know a thing or two about Reason 4 , WHAMM-O, you learn a new trick that then opens up even more possibilities for you. The amount of things you can do with Reason 4 are really endless.

This week I would like to discuss the Vocoder. You have all heard Vocoders used to create a robotic sort of synth voice. What I wish to cover is using percussion loops to trigger the Vocoder in order to get cool sounds from a virtual instrument (NN19) synth patch.

This might sound confusing, but I will not dive in too deep just yet, instead, I will let the professionals take you there.
Here is a link to some very well produced videos on the topic of explaining the Vocoder. Jump over to this link to “hear” what I am “typing out” for you. I am currently working on bringing you all video blog posts very soon, but for now words and images will have to suffice. I followed the same ideas as the video, just inserted a NN19 device in place of the Subtractor.

As you might know, I started this blog to become more familiar with products that are used by Home Recording enthusiasts, and to learn more about the things that I am not knowledgeable about. Vocoders are not something that I know a ton about, but I know enough to be considered look out!
Start with a blank song in
Reason 4 . Open up (hold down “shift” while clicking on the device that you wish to open and it opens without the cables) a Digital Vocoder, a mixer, NN19, and the DR. Rex loop player. Well keep it simple for today, but as I learn too, more might come along.

Front of Reason, for today's post.

Next, route the cables in this fashion.....

*The mixer main out puts will go to the rewire host, same as it ever was.....
*The left output of the Dr. Rex loop player goes to the “Modulator input” of the digital Vocoder.
*Both, the left and the right, outputs of the NN19 are connected to the “Carrier Input” of the digital Vocoder.
*Both, the left and right, outputs from the digital Vocoder get inserted in the mixer, at channel ones' left and right input.

Reasons cable patching for today's post.
Be sure to find a loop that you like for the Dr. Rex loop player and then find a cool patch for the NN19. I went with “Herbalize” for a loop, and a “DXRhoads” for a synth patch.

Now simply clicking on the Dr. Rex loop player, on the button labeled “Preview” will get the loop cycling thru. Now all you need to do is click on the NN19 device to select it, and play on your piano keyboard, oh lord......

Here is what is happening.
The NN19's patch is being fed into the Vocoder. However, it only can be heard as the loop triggers it to sound. This is very cool in that you can get some amazing sounding patches (Hello Moby) and get some interesting rhythms as well. I am so into this Vocoding thing, that a lot of time has passed since I started this post. What fun this is.

Like I said, today is a “learning day” for me as well. I just wanted to assist you in finding a great beginners Vocoder video, and to provide you with some images and text to help you along in the process.

Please feel free to subscribe today- just so you don't miss out on any up and coming news, reviews, and tut's for your favorite gear. Your comments are always welcome too, and I will post them as they come in. Remember, videos are a'coming to Home Recording Weekly, so by subscribing now you wont miss a thing! Heck, it is free!

Monday, January 11, 2010


Well, the good folks over at Platinum Samples have just released Joe Barresi's Evil Drums SDX, that is an expansion pack for Toontracks Superior Drummer 2.0 line of software. Glory Days indeed.

But just who is Joe Barresi you ask? In their own words........

“Joe Barresi is one of the busiest producer/engineers working today with an impressive list of credits including albums by Tool, Wolfmother, Queens Of The Stone Age, Weezer, Clutch, Pennywise, Turbonegro, Bad Religion, and many more.”

Very impressive indeed. Here is some more tech info from their site.....

“Featuring 6 full drum kits, 6 kick drums and 6 snares the Evil Drums Expansion Pack is unlike any other expansion pack available. Recorded to analog tape at two legendary rock studios using compression and EQ, Joe Barresi has captured a diverse ensemble of drum sounds with unprecedented detail and full bleed to create a unique and exquisitely evil expansion pack. Evil Drums also includes MIDI grooves performed by Pat Wilson (Weezer, The Special Goodness).

Platinum Samples is the first third party company to release Expansion Packs for Toontrack Music's best selling Superior Drummer® 2.0 software. The expansion pack requires that Superior Drummer® 2.0 be installed and is both Mac OS X and Windows compatible. Superior Drummer® 2.0 supports Digidesign's RTAS format, as well as VSTi and Audio Units technologies.”

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Reason Combinator.

A recent upgrade to Propellerhead Reason (version 4) has brought on a wave of fresh and exciting things to blog about. Upgrading from Reason version 2.5, there are some new instruments, effects, mastering effects, and the Combinator. This is not an instrument all by itself, but it can become one, and it can become our new best friend.
With a new version of Reason on my machine, I opted to give the older version to a family member, in hopes of him becoming hooked...... We'll see. Also, I am thinking ahead to spending time with him, riding the learning curve that comes with writing music with midi and working within Reason. So, what a great time to start posting about Reason s devices. Here is a crude and humble beginning.

With previous editions of Reason, I seemed to always long for a few things that I could not seem to perform. I wanted a way to add “some balls”, or bottom end thump to a kick drum, for just one idea. This would involve combining several different patches and different instruments all together as one. This finished “dream sound” could be triggered by just one press of a midi keyboard key.

This is what I wanted. Most importantly, I longed for a way to write midi more simply for one instrument that triggered these layered sounds, instead of writing separate midi tracks in order to “sound” many different instruments at the same time. It sure would make life easier for me as I could also tweak the amount, or mix of each instruments output from just one place. I could also add effects to each patch, or the whole sum of the patches together as one.
Collapsed view of Combinator and instruments inside it.

To my rescue, the Combinator, found in Reason 4, from Propellerhead. Now we can all create multiple layered instruments, make them as simple or as complex as we wish, and then save them in Reason (as a Combinator patch) for later use. After all, why go through the trouble of creating a multiple layered monster if we cant call it up later. What if this new layered sound becomes a writers “back bone sound”? Perhaps a new multiple layered drum sound will now become my signature sound that separates my sound from everyone else'......
Creating your own Combinator patch is very simple. The hardest part about layering samples in the Combinator is knowing when to stop! To get going, simply start a new session in Reason. Open up, or “create” a new Combinator, by looking under the “Create” menu drop down list.

Creating the Combinator.

Next, I like to open up a mixer. I like to keep things simple, so I tend to use the 6 channel mixer most often. This makes for six “layers” of sounds, but, also the mixer is smaller in size so you don't have to scroll up and down as often in the Reason interface.

Creating the 6 line mixer.

Now you can start creating instruments, all inside the Combinator itself. I opted for two NN-19 units, and one Subtractor. This is simply just one example of what is possible, and with the Combinator the sky is the limit!

Creating the two NN19's.

Creating the Subtractor synth.

For this particular Combinator patch that I was creating I wanted to get a piano sound that also had some bass guitar in it, and also some long sustaining strings in it too. This called for two NN-19's to cover the strings and the piano, and the Subtractor supplied the bass sample.

Notice that You can control each of the three instruments overall output, quickly and easily, by adjusting the different instrument levels of the 6 channel mixer. This makes dialing in the perfect sound a breeze.

Adding effects to your new Combinator sound creation is easy too, as they become a “aux send/return loop” in the 6 channel mixer.

Combinator patch created, without reverb above, with reverb below.

You can opt to “effect” each instrument separately, or the entire Combinator instrument as a whole. I decided to add reverb to the 6 channel mixer (as an effects loop) just so that I could add reverb to the piano only. I wanted the pianos long decay to come more to the front, and this really helped to make that happen.
Perhaps the best feature here is that we can save this new Combinator patch, name it, and re-call it later.
Saving the Combinator patches that you create is very easy. Look under the “File” drop down menu and select “Save Combinator patch as” and then follow along. Make sure to come up with a name that you will remember for your new creation, or make the names descriptive as you can.

Saving the new Combinator patch.

By the way, I saved my new Combinator patch in the folder titled “Combinator backdrops”. I am not too sure where they should go, but it saved it and opened it up later, so that does work.

Combinator backdrops folder.

When the time comes for you to re-open your newly created Combinator patch/instrument, let's say in a new song, the steps involved are just as simple as it was to create your new sounds. All you will need to do is to first open up a blank Combinator in any
Reason song. Next, right click on the Combinators' name (or taped on name tag) and then select “Browse patches” from the small drop down menu. Lastly, double click on the patch that you want to open, and then you are making music.

Kudos to Propellerhead for coming up with such an elegant solution to such a common problem. I would have upgraded a lot sooner had I known the ease in which all of this Combinator stuff worked. I will admit that this is not a new upgrade or version, but if you are just getting to know Reason software, then you might find this post helpful.

As always, thanks for stopping by, and make sure that you become a subscriber today! Put this blog into your favorites list, and be sure to tell a friend.
I have placed (what I feel are) some the best sites/blogs for all of us home recording nuts to visit often over to your right hand side, so please feel free to check those sites out as well.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Newest finds for the new year.

I recently came across Billy Penns', or "the Pennalizer", great music blog. The title of his informative blog is"300 Guitars" Here is the link, and on his blog you will find everything musical.

"The Pennalizer" posts videos all the time and with such topics as electronic mods, guitar repair and tune up advice, reviews on cool gear, and even tips to help keep your arms in shape. This guy knows what he is talking about. He really aims to help us all remain free of the chronic ailments that guitarists can get with years of gigging. If you have not seen his blog site, now is the time. Be sure to add his
300 Guitars blog to your favorites.

It is at 300 Guitars that I first was introduced to the coolest, loudest, littlest amp in the world. The “ZT Lunchbox amp” link here, is not just a novelty, instead this amp sounds amazing! I would rather have one of these instead of moving a monster “full stack” of 4x12 cabs with an amp head on top. This little amp and one microphone should take care of most of your coffee house sized venues. This is one very cool amp. I would love to review one of these here at Home Recording Weekly blog, hint, hint, hint........

Another very cool blog that I must share, comes from Allen “Big Al” Wagner. Check out the great posts at his Home Studio Guru blog. Here you will find tons and tons of the best and most relevant music production related videos that we all seem to seek out. Very informative indeed. Great job, Big Al!!

Lastly I will add that with the NAMM show up and coming, many new and exciting products are soon to make their debut. I am getting giddy just thinking about the reviews coming soon to the Home Recording Weekly blog.

Just to make sure that you do not miss out, add this site to your favorites now, or simply subscribe today! Thanks for stopping by, and make sure to check out the cool sites posted here today, as well as our sponsor Toontrack.