Sunday, March 18, 2012

EZKeys Grand Piano from Toontrack!

What a complete joy EZKeys Grand Piano is to work with! When was the last time that you heard someone say that about a plug in?

I have found the new midi piano writing tool for all of the music that I will write from now on! EZKeys from Toontrack! I actually found myself letting everyone that I came in contact with know that I have found the best midi piano plug in ever. I have never done that before either.

I can't believe how good EZKeys sounds! Top that off with an amazingly fast workflow, and the ease of tuning the included midi files to music that you have already recorded, and a true winner is born. Truth is, that within 30 minutes, I had found the perfect midi files for a new theme song, for my new podcast that is in the works. I easily cut, copied, and pasted the midi files to taste, in minutes flat, to better fit within my tracks. Then, with a super fast chord change here and there, my work was done! I love that! I used to spend hours upon hours writting midi for piano.


The EZKeys interface is so darn simple to use. Each genre of included midi files has several choices for each of the parts of a song (intro, verse, chorus, ect.) All you need to do is audition them, and then, as you find that perfect midi file, grab it! Drag and drop the midi file that best suits your tracks into the plug ins midi workflow area. Don't worry if it is in a wrong key, too long, or too short. Listen to what is being played. Why? Because you can simply use the provided tools to cut it up, copy and paste the midi parts around, just to get the midi performance perfect. I do that very thing in the video. Once you cut and paste to taste, you simply join the splices to make one long file. Dragging and dropping this "new long midi file (sequence) into your daw is easy, and a song was born. In the past, I often have written my midi in, note by note, but those days might just be over.

is just too darn fast to work with for me to ever go back.

EZKeys works fine as a stand alone instrument too! The sounds are wonderful, and the effects, like reverb, are just amazing. You might want EZKeys just for the stand alone qualities alone! It sounds this good! I am also using my favorite Toontrack plug in for the drums too, in the video, and that is Superior Drummer 2.0. However, EZDrummer is just as good, and it will do almost everything that Superior Drummer 2.0 will, except for the mixing and effects parts of the software.

I can envision some new sample packs and different piano types in the works, but this is not fact. Just one of my dreams for the future. If Toontrack repeats what they have done for EZDrummer and Superior Drummer 2.0, with both midi packs and kit/studio packs, then we are in for a long ride! Lets all pray that the past repeats itself!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Quiztones Frequency Ear Training

Quiztones Frequency Ear Training for Mac & iOS demo and review!

From the Quiztones website: "Quiztones is a frequency ear trainer for amateur and professional audio engineers, producers, and musicians."

What an awesome tool, and a fantastic idea Quiztones is! If you find yourself mixing, mastering, or just using EQ, you will need to train your ears. Training your ears is fundamental, but how does one get the training? Here is the tool that makes learning fun! First, here is how Quiztones Frequency Ear Training for Mac & iOS works!

Quiztones is broken down into two separate tests. The two tests are called "Tones", and EQ".

The tests that fall under "Tones" play sample frequencies and then supplies you with four answers to choose from. Three of the four answers are close, but only is correct. You only need to pay attention to the sample, and make your guess. I was very impressed the first time through! My score, however, was not as impressive, a 575. But that is the whole point. I need to get better at knowing the spectrum, and this is a fun way to get better! In fact, this was a great, and a fun way to learn how to pay attention to what I was hearing. The 4 answers, supplied for us to choose from, are close to each other, as to be a better challenge. What I mean by this, is that you have to think about what you just heard as you make your choices. There are no giveaways here.

The second test option, "EQ", is where I find myself spending most of my time. This section plays samples of instruments, or entire songs, and then applies a chosen frequency boost or cut to that. You can audition the sample over and over, and you can toggle the "applied EQ" on and off. This makes "Hearing" the applied EQ easier, and choosing less like guess work. Here is a list of what is inside the "EQ" part of the app.....

The "EQ" section of Quiztones has many choices from which to choose from. There are Music Library, Acoustic guitar, Bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Orchestra, Piano, Pink noise, Strings,
Strings 2, and Vocals. All of these instrument selections have sub-categories to select from, such as "Easy +10db", "Hard +6db", and "Hard -10 db". The "db" part is how much (in decibels) or how less of the "EQ" is applied to the samples. The samples are well recorded, and make this app so much more than some sort of game. I am learning here, um, and keeping score!

Choosing the "Music library" selection actually imports audio (that you select) into it, and then
Quiztones adds the frequencies of question to that song. This makes perfect sense too. Wouldn't it be great to hear a particular frequency boost in a piece that we already recognize, forward and backwards, and then decide which frequency range it is? After all, don't we often ad an EQ onto a master buss? This makes sense for the mastering folks out there too.

Head over to the Quiztones website and grab the app for yourself today! It will work on Macs, and Iphone/Ipod touch. For 4.99 U.S.D., my ears are going up in worth each time I play through a "set".