Adele,Taylor Swift, The Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar… but the big story last year was streaming. The future is here and, despite the rise in vinyl, it looks like physical media’s reign has ended. We saw lots of debates about artists, writers and producers (not) getting paid, despite the explosion of a global market. In a world where computers should be able to create truly “transparent” tracking and accounting, the labels and rights holders are remaining vague about how much is coming and/or going out.
I currently use Google Play, as it is pays one of the highest rates (see here). This service on my phone, coupled with a Bluetooth Speaker and set of headphones, has revolutionized my listening habits and experience. Wi Fi is just about everywhere so data consumption for streaming is not an issue for me. I can find 98% of what I am looking for and I find their “recommendations/similar artists” sections to be decent. The one thing that I miss is the “rarities” but most of those are on You Tube and that is part of the service that I’m paying for so I don’t feel guilty about that. Through streaming, I rediscovered some past favorites such as Todd Snider, Josh Ritter, The Amazing Rhythm Aces, Jellyfish, Martin Sexton and many more.
I also saw some great live performances by artists such as Bettye Lavette, Dawes, First Aid Kit, Teddy Thompson and Ben Sollee. All this plus a brilliant new album by Jason Isbell…not a bad year.
When the price is right, you have to go for it..but I think these last two will do it for now.
I first heard about Magic AB in a video by Dave Pensado. This is a handy plug in utility that sits on your stereo output bus and let’s you compare your current mix with up to 9 (!) different reference mixes..from any audio source on your computer AND while bypassing the other plug ins that you may have on that bus.
You can loop sections, adjust levels by ear or metering (Crest Factor included) and save playlists for easy recall ie. by genre if you do mix/master in different styles. Highly recommended.
On the more creative side, those mad professors from Warsaw at PSP Audioware got me again with the PSP N20.
They offer a fully functional 15 day demo and installation is a breeze (no iLok!!!)..I took it for a spin..and was floored.
So what is this thing and why hasn’t it taken the world by storm? The GUI should be a clue to the answer to both questions. Here is a multi effect plug in that has just about everything you would need to be creative: large selection of audio effects (multi-mode filters/distortion/delay/pitch change/reverb/compression and more), 4 different ways to modulate them (LFO/2 ADSR Types/Step Sequencer) and a routing/modulation matrix that lets you put anything in any order and be modulated..by everything. There are also assignable knobs that can themselves be assigned to midi controllers..whew!!
You might think that all of this power might be hard to put into an easy to use interface..and you would be right. The routing part looks alarmingly similar to the decidedly “un-user friendly” algorithms of the Yamaha DX-7. But a quick run through the included (and well done) presets help to demystify the inner workings of this monster plug in.
Other beefs..? No manual (Video only), sound tends to be a little “digital” in the distortion area and the actual tiny lettering and numbers seem to be in”typewriter” font….not exactly “warm and fuzzy” in the GUI.
But…this unit has some of the best elements of what PSP excels at such as compression/delay/eq….and it’s all about the sound.
Demo it for yourself. Unique and also highly recommended.
They made me do it..they put it on sale at a ridiculous price for 72 hours and I couldn’t resist.
The PSP 608 MD is an amazing multi-delay with LFO Modulation, 8 Taps, Saturation and EQ and Reverb PER TAP and a great set of presets. I do love the Delay Designer in Logic (which has the additional “Pitch Transpose” parameter per tap) but I think that this baby is my new “Go To”. I had spoken to them about a simplified version of of this plug in but haven’t heard back in a while..I’ll keep you posted.
Lin Plug, a fantastic plug in company from Germany, has decided to discontinue support for their Drum Module,the RMV. I first started using it when it was the RMIV and it was a great resource for interesting and innovative drum sounds.
The RMV upped the ante with a larger library and many other features that should have taken the world (at least Dance/Hip Hop) by storm.
My composition Mac Program of choice has just had a major upgrade, one which includes Alchemy, an amazing synth that was created and developed by Camel Audio. It seems that Apple has bought the entire company so I imagine that we will be seeing the inclusion of Camel Space and Camel Phat in Logic before long.
This synth does most types of synthesis ( although I didn’t see FM or Wavetable) and even tackles Additive which has been a tough sell to the synth buying public so far. The Sampler module will import EXS samples and the Granular Module will take in standard wave files. The closest competition to Alchemy would probably be Omnisphere by Spectrasonics (which I don’t have).
There are quite a few performance upgrades in this update as well.
I am still waiting for Playlists and Channel Moving in The Mixer Page…please?
Summer always means “movies” to me so I was excited to be involved with writer/director Joe Benedetto’s new short “Hide The Sausage“. (No..it’s not some X rated flick but a play on words about the main character.)
I wrote the two original songs with eLLe Morgan that are sung in the movie by Victoria Gillette and Maxine Gordon. eLLe and I were invited to do “cameos” at the interiors shot in NYC at Duane Park…really fun cast and crew. When Joe sent me a picture lock, I wrote and recorded the score according to his notes,using Logic 10.
The $ 64,000 Question is…how to make it LOUD (competitively) without destroying the mix?
The newest contender for me is from Melda Productions, a software company based in Prague, Czech Republic. They make a complete line of audio plug ins as well as a few synth based ones. The one that I had to have was the M Multiband Limiter.
It can be a tricky beast to tame (LOTS of control and parameters) but the starting presets are excellent. This one is sitting on my master bus now (along with Fab Filter and PSP Xenon).
A fellow engineer showed me this plug in by Goodhertz called the Vulf Compressor. It’s a unique piece that combines a compressor with “wow” (as in warbly like an old turntable) and a “lo-fi” module. The main page:
Elegant in its’ simplicity, it sports a “wet/dry”slider on the bottom for blending your sonic mayhem with your original audio (if so desired).
So far, it’s been living on my drum bus (along with the PSP Old Timer) but I know it’s going to find a place on individual tracks as well.
If you are so inclined to go “under the hood” for some more detailed tweekage, Goodhertz has given you the option:
I’m glad that plug in manufacturers are taking this approach. The Fab Filter Pro L Limiter has a similar layout (but with additional “help” pop ups). Great plug in for brickwall limiting with excellent metering and built in ISP indicator.
I love this company…they make some of the best sounding DAW plug ins and each one adds it’s own sonic character (if you want it to) or acts transparently..your choice.
Just bought this one..very wow.
Thanks to David Weiss, I have a new, streamlined site where it will be easier for me to update things and stay current with what I’m up to…just in time for summer.