MusicTech.net http://www.musictech.net The World's Best Music Technology Website Fri, 24 Jun 2016 11:01:41 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 Spitfire Audio Announce Glass And Steel Availability http://www.musictech.net/2016/06/42957/ Fri, 24 Jun 2016 09:52:05 +0000 http://www.musictech.net/?p=42957
Spitfire Audio have announced the availability of Glass and Steel – a collection of mystical percussion sounds created from found glass and metal objects being hit. Read on for more info… Press Release Spitfire Audio, purveyors of the finest virtual instruments from the finest musical samples in the world, is proud to announce availability of GLASS […]

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Spitfire Audio have announced the availability of Glass and Steel – a collection of mystical percussion sounds created from found glass and metal objects being hit. Read on for more info…





Press Release
Spitfire Audio, purveyors of the finest virtual instruments from the finest musical samples in the world, is proud to announce availability of GLASS AND STEEL — a selection of mystical percussion sounds created from ‘found’ glass and metal objects being bowed, hit, and pinched by brilliant percussionist Paul Clarvis before being embedded into the company’s creative eDNA engine and served up as a sample- based virtual instrument for Native Instruments’ industry-standard KONTAKT platform with magically musical results — as of June 23…

Sampling sans stereotype screams alliteration; GLASS AND STEEL screams sampling sans stereotype! Indeed, it admirably avoids the sonic stereotype associated with certain recognisable instruments — think the posh-sounding harp, the meaningful piano, the sad cello, the nursery horror of a celeste, or the unfortunate fact that today’s television and film composers cannot use a marimba without being accused of aping American Beauty or Badlands.

But by its very nature, Spitfire Audio always strives to match the sonic characteristics of known instruments with those of lesser known — or, indeed, invented — ones so that equally effective compositional outcomes can be achieved… all the while avoiding such stereotypes!

So, GLASS AND STEEL is a by-product — both beautiful and musically mystical — of Spitfire Audio admirably rising to meet those compositional challenges head on. But its backstory began when company co-founder Christian Henson — an accomplished television and film composer in his own right — and the Spitfire Audio team began close sampling resonant glass, metal, and china objects many moons ago. As such, GLASS AND STEEL is a compilation of their efforts… a thesis, if you will.





Whilst the idea of using non-tuned, found sounds — items from kitchen cupboards, objects found in thrift stores around London — conjures up calamitous, catastrophic, and cheery compositions along the lines of percussive phenomenon STOMP (famed for using the body and ordinary objects to create a physical theatre performance), GLASS AND STEEL stands tall as an exemplary study on the power of instruments recorded under the microscope at minute levels of detail, where the harmonics weave spells and the sub-tones throb.

Such sounds have already worked their way onto scores as far reaching as emotional thrillers, detective procedurals, science fiction, fantasy, horrors, and beyond — right through to factual entertainment. Canny composers and members of the Spitfire Audio family who already have access to earlier incarnations of some of those sampled sounds have often likened them to a ‘Get Out Of Jail’ card!

Musical Monopoly allusions apart, by monopolising the talents of English percussionist par excellence Paul Clarvis, who valiantly and virtuosically bowed, hit, and pinched his way through a dazzling array of ‘found’ glass, metal, and crockery — including ‘tuned’ arrays — on the company’s dry stage at London’s Kings Cross, Spitfire Audio ensured that those beautiful and mystical GLASS AND STEEL sounds had the best possible start in life. Raw but beautiful best describes the resultant source material, which was meticulously recorded with an intimate intensity befitting its inspirational endgame.

Each and every one of GLASS AND STEEL’s sounds — sourced from 45 different glass and steel objects being beaten, bowed, and struck to create over 235 hand-curated presets, including epic cinematic rhythms and systems, disturbed morphs, beautiful ‘hand-blown’ pads, and tweaked raw sounds — has been exhaustively investigated, deeply sampled, and played to its strengths to gallantly give its user the most musical and mystical result possible.

Pay-off flows forth from so many presets that are the result of the tireless toil of so many talented individuals during so many man hours and range from the simple to the warped beyond recognition, courtesy of a series of extraordinary analogue and digital signal-warping chains that constitute Spitfire Audio’s award-winning eDNA (Electronic DNA) treatment; two sets of sounds can be used in conjunction with this monstrous script engine to quickly, dramatically, and awesomely create a new audio experience for the next generation of music-makers with out-of-the-box inspiration, stimulation, and satisfaction guaranteed! All ably demonstrate just how well those magically musical sounds can be pressed into service.

Simply put, this is tuned percussion from another world… why not add GLASS AND STEEL to your sample-based virtual instrument collection today and give your compositions the most musical and mystical makeover possible? Play to win while avoiding those sonic stereotypes associated with certain recognisable instruments. In a knockout blow to compositional conventions, even the most battle-hardened music- to-picture professional might be surprised as to where GLASS AND STEEL steers them, thanks to 3.3 GB of uncompressed .WAV files, featuring 3,153 of the finest musical samples in the world!

GLASS AND STEEL can be purchased and digitally downloaded from Spitfire Audio for £99.00 GBP/ $149.00 USD/€139.00 EUR from here: https://www.spitfireaudio.com/shop/a-z/glass-and-steel/

Note that Native Instruments’ KONTAKT 5 (full version) is required to run GLASS AND STEEL, while Spitfire Audio’s free Download Manager application for Mac or PC allows anyone to buy now and download anytime.

For more in-depth information, including several superb-sounding audio demos, please visit the dedicated GLASS AND STEEL webpage here: https://www.spitfireaudio.com/shop/a-z/glass-and-steel/

Watch Spitfire Audio co-founder and Director Paul Thomson’s ‘traditional’ GLASS AND STEEL video walkthrough here: https://youtu.be/k2UIt_DS12s

Watch Spitfire Audio co-founder and Director Christian Henson’s timely tour of the eDNA (Electronic DNA) interface in this In Depth video tutorial here: https://youtu.be/4vbDNsSFWKU

Watch Spitfire Audio’s newly-initiated In Action presentation feature for GLASS AND STEEL here: https://youtu.be/fAfRX3oDg9U

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ROLI Launch New Online Course With Erin Barra http://www.musictech.net/2016/06/roli-launch-new-online-course-with-erin-barra/ Thu, 23 Jun 2016 11:39:26 +0000 http://www.musictech.net/?p=42952 Erin Barra ROLI
The company that brought us the remarkable Seaboard GRAND and RISE, along with the NOISE app and EQUATOR software, have now launched a brand new online course aimed at newcomers to music production, using ROLI’s unique musical toolkit as a way in. The course is given by ex-MusicTech interviewee Erin Barra who is now an associate […]

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Erin Barra ROLI

The company that brought us the remarkable Seaboard GRAND and RISE, along with the NOISE app and EQUATOR software, have now launched a brand new online course aimed at newcomers to music production, using ROLI’s unique musical toolkit as a way in. The course is given by ex-MusicTech interviewee Erin Barra who is now an associate professor at the University of Berklee.


Erin Barra ROLI


The course covers a range of approaches, including training users to use the Seaboard to create music, using EQUATOR and then on to more advanced composition and electronic sound design. Ultimately Barra tasks students with two assignments which are then uploaded via the Blend platform.

See the first part of the new online course below and head to ROLI’s education homepage to access the full online course





Find out more by heading to ROLI.com

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Point Blank: Teenage Engineering OP-1 & Pocket Operators with Stefano Ritteri http://www.musictech.net/2016/06/point-blank-teenage-engineering/ Thu, 23 Jun 2016 10:49:10 +0000 http://www.musictech.net/?p=42948
In Point Blank’s latest spot they take a look at Teenage Engineering’s OP-1 & Pocket Operators with instructor Stefano Riterrri Despite being first announced back in 2009, nothing has come close to matching the innovative nature of the multi-award winning Teenage Engineering OP-1. Part synth, part sampler, its unique interface forces the user to think […]

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In Point Blank’s latest spot they take a look at Teenage Engineering’s OP-1 & Pocket Operators with instructor Stefano Riterrri





Despite being first announced back in 2009, nothing has come close to matching the innovative nature of the multi-award winning Teenage Engineering OP-1. Part synth, part sampler, its unique interface forces the user to think in different ways about how they make music.

A few years later, the Swedish company introduced their Pocket Operators – micro machines with a cheap and cheerful approach to synthesis. In this tutorial, Point Blank enlists PB instructor, producer and DJ Stefano Ritteri (Dirtybird, Defected) to demonstrate how you can use the OP-1 and Pocket Operators to create tracks on the road. Watch the video above and make sure you subscribe to the Point Blank YouTube channel for more free tutorials as well as special live events.

If you want to learn more about sound design, production, mixing, mastering and composition, our Online Master Diploma course is perfect for you. You can take it from anywhere in the world and, lasting for up to 64 weeks, it’s one of the school’s most comprehensive courses. With alumni like Claude VonStroke, Plastician and Jon Rundell, the quality speaks for itself. Find out more here.



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Win! 1 of 3 Fostex TR Series Headphones http://www.musictech.net/2016/06/win-fostex-tr-series/ Wed, 22 Jun 2016 10:14:17 +0000 http://www.musictech.net/?p=42942
We’ve got a brand new competition for our UK audience, you could win one of three Fostex TR Series Headphones in association with our good friends at SCV Distribution. The TR series were recently reviewed in the new issue of MusicTech Magazine, scoring 9/10 and receiving this glowing praise from reviewer Andy Price: “All in […]

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We’ve got a brand new competition for our UK audience, you could win one of three Fostex TR Series Headphones in association with our good friends at SCV Distribution.





The TR series were recently reviewed in the new issue of MusicTech Magazine, scoring 9/10 and receiving this glowing praise from reviewer Andy Price: “All in all, the Fostex TR Series, in all three variants, performed extremely well as both mixing and listening ’phones. Though we prefer them out-of-studio, they can still serve as high-quality, well-balanced studio monitors. The TR series is our new go-to ’phone choice for music listening.”

We’ve got all three variants – the open (TR70), closed (TR80) and Semi-open (TR90) which we’ll allocate to three winners we select once the competition ends.

To enter the competition all you have to do is sign up to our competition list below

Enter Your Details Here

* indicates required




*The competition will end on Thursday July 7th – All data collected will be shared with our trusted commercial partner SCV Distribution

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The New Issue of MusicTech Is On Sale June 30th http://www.musictech.net/2016/06/musictech-magazine-160/ Wed, 22 Jun 2016 09:26:05 +0000 http://www.musictech.net/?p=42935
The new issue of MusicTech magazine is on sale Thursday June 30th and this month we’ve got a huge synth special featuring the 12 best soft synths, a feature of getting the 7 deadliest synth sounds, the ultimate OB-6 review and the Roland Juno story, we’ve also got in depth workshops on songwriting, channel grouping, […]

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The new issue of MusicTech magazine is on sale Thursday June 30th and this month we’ve got a huge synth special featuring the 12 best soft synths, a feature of getting the 7 deadliest synth sounds, the ultimate OB-6 review and the Roland Juno story, we’ve also got in depth workshops on songwriting, channel grouping, Live’s simpler and top 20 production tips. Plus reviews of all the latest products and a whopping DVD…




This Month’s MusicTech Magazine Includes

  • Synth Special –  In our huge collection of synth features we have the 7 deadliest synth sounds, how to get a kick out of your modular setup, a review of the DSI OB-6 and the Roland Juno story
  • Ekkoes Interview –   Studio secrets and The League!
  • Emika Interview –  An in-depth chat with the Anglo-Czech producer and sound designer
  • Industry Guru: Aston Mics –  We chat with the company re-inventing the mic!
  • Tutorials –  This month tutorials for Logic, Cubase & Live covering songwriting, Live’s simpler and VCA & group channels
  • Reviews –  This month we have reviews of Orchestral Tools Nocturne Cello, Golden Age Project Comp-3A, Sonic Academy Kick 2, Sonimus EQ Suite and much more…
  • Show off your Studio –  The latest shots and studio chat from our readers
  • Ultimate Synths
  • DVD –  A jam-packed DVD with over 3GB of specially curated synth content





Buy Online From The Anthem Store Here

  

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Propellerhead Release Reason 9 http://www.musictech.net/2016/06/propellerhead-release-reason-9/ Tue, 21 Jun 2016 13:43:49 +0000 http://www.musictech.net/?p=42927
Today is the day – Propellerhead have released Reason 9 for the world to enjoy. This latest version the increasingly popular DAW features 1000 new synth patches, a new pitch editing feature to polish your vocal recordings to perfection and Reason’s new Player devices that facilitate more fluid composition. Read on for the full details… […]

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Today is the day – Propellerhead have released Reason 9 for the world to enjoy. This latest version the increasingly popular DAW features 1000 new synth patches, a new pitch editing feature to polish your vocal recordings to perfection and Reason’s new Player devices that facilitate more fluid composition. Read on for the full details…





Official Info

Propellerhead Releases Reason 9 Music Production Software – Create more music and get inspired with exciting new devices, sounds, and creative tools

Stockholm, Sweden, June 21, 2016 – Propellerhead Software today announced that Reason 9 software is now available for purchase. Reason 9 builds on the award-winning Reason platform by introducing a host of new devices, sounds, and creative tools that inspire music makers to create more and better music from initial concept to a polished song.

“We’ve seen unprecedented interest in Reason 9 since the beta launched last month, with over 70,000 viewers tuning in to watch our Facebook live stream events,” said Mattias Häggström Gerdt, Propellerhead Product Marketing Manager. “Now we’re excited to make this latest version available to everyone. With new Player devices, new sounds, Pitch Edit, numerous workflow enhancements, and the addition of our popular Pulsar dual-channel LFO synth, Reason 9 is the best version yet for taking musical ideas from inspiration to completion.”

Reason 9 introduces three Player devices that instantly transform any MIDI input into compelling music. Note Echo creates rhythmic, pitched MIDI delays for melodies, drum rolls, and more. Scales & Chords turns simple melodies into beautiful harmonies and chords so you can stay focused on the music making. Transpose notes to a selected scale and automatically generate chords for your song, no music theory required. Dual Arpeggio transforms chords into intricate and inspiring rhythms. From classic up-and-down to polyphonic and polyrhythmic, Dual Arpeggio breathes new life into any instrument in your Reason rack.





Reason’s new Pitch Edit mode helps you produce flawless vocals. Fix out-of-tune notes, adjust vibrato, change your timing, create new melodies from your recording, change the dynamics, and more. Audio to MIDI lets you convert your vocals to MIDI notes for endless sound manipulation possibilities.

Reason 9 also comes with 1000 new cutting-edge sounds to ignite your creativity. Whether you make chart-topping anthems or the sound of the underground, Reason’s new sound bank will take your music to the next level. The legendary Reason rack is also enhanced with key workflow improvements and darker theme options, perfect for late-night studio sessions.

Reason 9 also now includes the popular Pulsar dual channel LFO—previously available as a Rack Extension ($49) via the Propellerhead shop. Use Pulsar to introduce variation to your sounds, create entirely new ones using its advanced and flexible modulation, or load up any of the masterfully crafted presets for instant inspiration.





Download Here

Pricing and availability
Reason 9 is available as a direct download from Propellerhead’s website or from an authorized dealer.

Reason 9 will be available for purchase worldwide on June 21, 2016 at the following suggested retail pricing:

Reason 9 EUR €405 / USD $449
Reason Essentials 9 EUR €120 / USD $129
Reason 9 Upgrade (from any previous Reason version) EUR €129 / USD $129

Propellerhead is offering a grace period for customers who purchased Reason 8 on or after May 1, 2016. Purchasing and registering a qualifying product today makes users eligible for a free upgrade to Reason 9 instantly when it becomes available. For details see: propellerheads.se/freeupgrade

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Show Off Your Studio – Weekly Roundup 30 http://www.musictech.net/2016/06/show-off-your-studio-weekly-roundup-30/ Tue, 21 Jun 2016 12:22:42 +0000 http://www.musictech.net/?p=42906
It’s hard to believe we’ve now done 30 roundups of your #showoffyourstudio images (as well as our regular, interview series of features too!) If anything the submissions have got better in recent weeks, with some truly staggering shots being shared across our social media walls and inboxes. Here’s our latest collection… Here’s another shot from […]

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It’s hard to believe we’ve now done 30 roundups of your #showoffyourstudio images (as well as our regular, interview series of features too!) If anything the submissions have got better in recent weeks, with some truly staggering shots being shared across our social media walls and inboxes. Here’s our latest collection…


Amazing Studio

Here’s another shot from the studio of Adam Zwiazek, this time he’s actually in it. Looks like a great environment in which to work



Cool Studio

Lots of very fun gadgets all linked together form the studio space of Joseph Morrison




A very cool room, and a very efficiently arranged studio here in this shot sent in by Agustin de la Torre




Avi Dust sent us this pic of his awesome little physical-mixer based setup, like the custom-made desk!




A simple but cool setup in this shot sent in to us by Bam Nano-k Bloc




A gear heavy studio, lots of hardware in what appears to be a roof based studio! Thanks Ben Armstrong




The fantastic pro studio of Clovis Noprog Dlc, love that desktop wallpaper!




A colourful collection of gear lined up in the studio of Deni Udorović




What instrument do you think Derek Whitaker‎ plays? a great studio setup with an axe-heavy flavour!




Do you think Grysza Em has enough acoustic treatment!? Jeepers – it’s like a wasps’s nest




Above and below is the studio of Juraj Klička, above features him smiling by his desk while below we see him hard at work with his studio-dog







We’ve got a bit of a theme going of actually seeing the music makers in their studio shots this week – here’s the previously featured Martha Plachetka composing



Martijn Naber sent us this shot of his compact little studio – jam full of awesome kit!




A tidy and well ordered studio here in this shot sent into us by Ryan Dieffenbach.


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Ableton Live Tutorial: Envelopes and Automation http://www.musictech.net/2016/06/ableton-live-tutorial-envelopes-and-automation/ Tue, 21 Jun 2016 09:57:42 +0000 http://www.musictech.net/?p=42877
It’s time to augment your Ableton Live shows and productions with a more organic, evolving vibe by using envelopes and automation to the max! Martin Delaney maps his MIDI… For this tutorial you’ll need the project file – download here Automation is the process of recording mixer or device moves for playback later. The recorded movements […]

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It’s time to augment your Ableton Live shows and productions with a more organic, evolving vibe by using envelopes and automation to the max! Martin Delaney maps his MIDI…




For this tutorial you’ll need the project file – download here

Automation is the process of recording mixer or device moves for playback later. The recorded movements appear inside Ableton Live as red objects called envelopes and breakpoints.

We can use automation in the mixer, in MIDI tracks, for instruments, MIDI effects, audio effects and in audio tracks for audio effects. We can add automation by drawing it with a mouse or recording from a MIDI controller like a Novation Launch Control or Ableton’s Push; we can apply automation at clip and track levels.

We use automation for three reasons: because there are jobs where we just don’t have enough hands or fingers to move everything that needs moving; because we often need to recall and repeat certain actions; and because the sound of movement, the sound of controls being tweaked, is a vital part of electronic music production.

Synth sounds and effects without some kind of movement can be horribly sterile, so automation becomes part of the arrangement. Throughout this tutorial, we’re mostly using Session View, but rest assured that Arrangement View automation works along the same lines.

Automation can be applied to anything that responds to MIDI. As well as using it within Live’s audio and MIDI tracks, it can be sending out to external software or hardware,
like VJ applications, synthesisers, and lighting rigs. Our example Live set contains both MIDI and audio tracks and clips – they can all be automated to various degrees. If you can’t see the clip envelopes, you’ll need to click the little black ‘e’ button near the bottom left of the screen, and then click on the Envelope’s box name to make sure you’re editing in the right place.

You can run tons of automation on a single clip at the same time which is a great way to experiment and see how much movement you can get from just one little sample or MIDI part. As mentioned in the tutorial, you can draw curves as well as straight lines, something that I use to get fades to behave the way I want.





You also have the option to record automation, as well as drawing it in. Many feel drawing is too clinical and by using the recording method they get a better vibe; you can record mouse movements, but it probably won’t feel so musical. If that’s good for you, do it – a big part of that vibe is about recording with a hardware controller. Controllers such as Push are good for this, as they assign themselves to Live’s controls – you don’t need to do any mapping. Before recording, make sure the Automation Arm button is lit yellow if you want to successfully record automation in either view.

You should think about the MIDI Preferences option where you can choose to record automation into Armed Tracks Only, or All Tracks (I use the first). You can tell if automation’s being recorded, because you’ll see red dots appear on the controls you’re moving.

If you’re automating a looping clip, make sure you’re done by the end of the clip, otherwise you’ll be overwriting the envelope you created on the first pass. As already stated, envelopes work with clips in both views; they’re ‘portable’, too. Drag a clip containing automation from the Session View to the Arrangement,
and the automation within the clip is converted to track automation.

Drag a clip from the Arrangement View to the Session View and anything automated relating to that clip is converted to clip automation. In Arrangement View, you can see many lanes of automation per track by unfolding the track, clicking the little + sign, and choosing what automation you want to see, again indicated by red dots. Repeat as necessary!

We can also automate third-party plug-ins, thanks to the Unfold Device Parameters button in the default plug-in view. Click on that, then the Configure button and you can add as many elements as you like from the plug-in in question – click on a plug-in control to add it to the list. Once added there, you can automate them as usual (Push 2 now supports VST and AUs – some will map automatically, some won’t, so this method is still helpful).

Unlinking envelopes is one of my favourite things. Try it with the clips in the example set. Even more than with linked envelopes, unlinking adds so much sonic ‘value’ to a simple part. There are some non-Ableton tools that we can use to simplify some automation tasks; the Waves Vocal Rider plug-in is a good example. Automating vocals can be tedious – going through and riding the volume fader again and again through the song (you’ll also be using limiters and compressors to manage the dynamics).

Vocal Rider does what the name suggests: set your desired output levels, and it’ll ride an onscreen fader throughout the track, keeping your levels under control. This does a great job of smoothing out vocal tracks. If needed, you can ‘print’ the automation from Vocal Rider to your track as ‘normal’ track automation, as well. However you choose to add them and use them, clip envelopes are at the very least really useful and, at best, they’re an amazingly powerful creative tool that will make your mix active and more interesting.

Focus On Push and Clip Envelopes

Being an Ableton product, Push of course has deeper out-of-the-box integration than anybody else’s controller, and that applies to automation in spades.
Just press that red Automate button while you’re recording, and capture clip envelopes in real time, for whatever parameters Push’s encoders are running at the time. Things can get pretty loose when you record envelopes like this, so luckily for me… er, us… there’s an Undo button as well! Seriously, though, this takes the ‘doing your homework by drawing envelopes in’ vibe out of clip automation, and fits in great with Live’s overall workflow.

Step by Step – Envelopes and Automation In Ableton Live



Ableton Live Envelopes 1


1: Let’s work with clip and track automation. <downloadable here, there’s an example Live set containing audio and MIDI clips to get started. You’ll need a MIDI controller with knobs or faders, or both.


Live Envelopes


2: We can start with a simple bit of clip automation on the ‘lead’ clip – that track already has a Ping Pong Delay loaded. Double-click on the clip body so you can view the waveform.





3: Click on the little black ‘e’ button to reveal the envelope box. Click on the top of the editor, then click on the top chooser box and select ‘Ping Pong Delay’ if that isn’t showing already.





4: In the lower chooser, select Dry/Wet. This controls the amount of delay effect over the clip’s length. In the waveform display at the right, there’s a dotted red line going across – that’s the envelope.





5: Click on the envelope at the beginning of bar 2, adding a dot (breakpoint). Click at the end of the envelope to create another breakpoint and drag that upwards to 75% (the value is displayed).





6: Play the clip and hear the Ping Pong mix change over time. You might’ve noticed that every parameter from Ping Pong is available to automate and, yes, you can use envelopes for them all at once!



Click Here To Continue





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Ableton Live Tutorial: Envelopes and Automation – Part Two http://www.musictech.net/2016/06/ableton-live-envelopes-and-automation-2/ Tue, 21 Jun 2016 09:57:37 +0000 http://www.musictech.net/?p=42878
In the second part of his tutorial looking at envelopes and automation, Martin Delaney assesses the best methods to create and construct… 7: If you want something that changes in a more blocky rhythmic way, tap ‘b’ on the computer keyboard for a pencil, which you can use to draw in values defined by your […]

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In the second part of his tutorial looking at envelopes and automation, Martin Delaney assesses the best methods to create and construct…





7: If you want something that changes in a more blocky rhythmic way, tap ‘b’ on the computer keyboard for a pencil, which you can use to draw in values defined by your current grid settings.





8: Another variation: you don’t always want a flat line progressing from one point to another, so we’ve got curves! Mouse near a section of an envelope, hold ‘Alt’, and drag that into a curve.





9: If drawing red lines doesn’t do it for you, relax, you can record envelopes instead. This works from any input, whether you’re dragging your mouse or trackpad, or using a MIDI keyboard, or Push.





10: Try it. Click the Automation Arm and Session Record buttons, arm the Pad track, then launch the clip. View the Auto Filter and move the frequency and resonance controls as the clip loops.





11: Red dots will appear on the cutoff and resonance values on the Auto Filter, and you’ll see the controls move on subsequent passes. Double-click on the clip to see the envelopes you’ve added.





12: Using a hardware controller is great, as you can do more than one thing at once, so you could be recording two types of automation simultaneously. But you can also overdub more passes, if you like.





13: After drawing or recording, you might want to change or tidy your envelopes. Practise with the ones you’ve recorded today. Move breakpoints by dragging them. Click a breakpoint to delete it.





14:  Change straight lines to curves as mentioned. Delete entire sections of an envelope by clicking and dragging to highlight it, then typing Delete. This is a great way to straighten out ragged fades.





15: A highlighted section can also be copied and pasted to the same or another envelope, or even another track. It’s a tool you can use to apply envelopes to different parameters than originally intended.





16: You can also separate envelope length from the length of the loop, so a one-bar clip can have a four-bar envelope, for example. This makes a huge difference to the organic nature of using clips.





17: Click the Linked button to unlink the envelope and enter a new length for it. Be aware that this applies to each envelope – they can all be different, which can lead to some deep textures!





18: Add Redux to the percussion track, and automate ‘Sample Hard’ so it goes from 0 to 150 over four bars, so you can hear that crunch come in over several repeats of the looping clip.



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Miles Showell Interview – Half Speed Mastering at Abbey Road Studios http://www.musictech.net/2016/06/miles-showell-interview-half-speed-mastering/ Mon, 20 Jun 2016 14:48:22 +0000 http://www.musictech.net/?p=42867 Miles Showell In-studio
Universal has just released six classic albums which have been through a half-speed mastering process at Abbey Road. MusicTech speaks to Miles Showell, the engineer behind the process, about his setup and why half speed is better than full… Abbey Road is certainly maintaining its status as one of the world’s busiest studios at the […]

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Miles Showell In-studio

Universal has just released six classic albums which have been through a half-speed mastering process at Abbey Road. MusicTech speaks to Miles Showell, the engineer behind the process, about his setup and why half speed is better than full…


Miles Showell In-studio


Abbey Road is certainly maintaining its status as one of the world’s busiest studios at the moment. As well as being ‘that’ iconic recording studio, it is the place to record film soundtracks, and has now become a centre of mastering excellence with a half-speed mastering service recently used on six famous albums from the Universal back catalogue, including The Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main Street; Ghost In The Machine by The Police and Simple Minds’ New Gold Dream. The remastered albums are available as limited editions, pressed on 180g vinyl, and with ‘deluxe packaging that includes a certificate of authenticity from Abbey Road’.

Half-speed mastering is a process that aims for ‘a superior listening experience with a new level of depth and clarity’, via superior high-frequency response and very solid and stable stereo images.

The mastering engineer behind this process is Miles Showell, who has worked in the area of mastering or post production since 1984, where he started as a junior engineer at Utopia Studios in Primrose Hill: “making countless cups of tea and coffee and in charge of making export analogue-tape copies of production masters and the running of tens of thousands of cassettes.” He worked there for five years before being “let loose on the Neumann disc-cutting lathe un-supervised”. From there, he moved to Copymasters/Masterpiece in 1989, then Metropolis in 1998, before joining the team at Abbey Road in 2013.

Miles has worked on a huge and diverse catalogue of recordings, including music by Dido, Iggy Azalea, CeeLo Green, Above & Beyond, Ed Sheeran, The Beatles, Disclosure, Phil Collins, Andy Burrows, George Michael, The Rolling Stones, ZHU, Underworld and Sophie Ellis-Bextor. Here, he talks exclusively to MusicTech about half-speed mastering and its use on the new album releases.

MusicTech: Hello Miles, so tell us a little about the set up you have for mastering at Abbey Road…

Miles Showell: The main components in my mastering room (aside from my ears) are the PMC MB2 XBD monitors. PMC build truly fabulous monitors, which give incredible detail and are accurate even at low listening levels. Other equipment includes equalisers from Sontec (432C), Manley (Massive Passive Mastering Edition), Maselec (MEA-2), EMI (TG 12410) and Dangerous Music (BAX EQ). For compression and limiting, I have access to Shadow Hills Industries (Mastering Edition) dual optical/discrete compressor, as well as Maselec and Elysia.

All of the analogue equipment in the chain can be used in either sum and difference (middle and side) or linear stereo modes. Pretty much everything has click-stop pots, which allow accurate re-setting. The digital workstation I use is a SADiE version 6 and the converters are from Benchmark.

All the digital equipment in the chain is locked down with very stable external word-clock generators and connected together via an in-house designed and built proprietary digital patch system. The sole reason for choosing the equipment is for the ultimate transparency and sound quality. Build quality is also of paramount importance, it is no good having the sound of a particular piece of gear drifting day by day. In mastering, you need absolute stability and repeatability.


Miles Showell 2

And the winner of this month’s Show off your Studio award is… Miles Howell. All glory to the monolithic PMC MB2 XBD monitors which Miles describes as “truly fabulous” with “incredible detail”



MT: Can you tell us a little about the mastering process within a typical job?

MS: No two jobs are the same, but the most important part of mastering is to listen to what is there in the recording. It’s all too easy to dive straight in and start fiddling with it without hearing how a mix will develop and change over the length of the track.

Until I know what is going to happen in a particular song, I can’t really make an authoritative decision on what should or, equally importantly, should not be done. However, I’m of the school of thought that less is more. Despite having access to some of the very best gear ever produced, running a recording through an equaliser or a compressor will have a bearing on the sound.

It’s important to gauge whether the gain I’ll get from adding, for example, some EQ to a track is worth the loss imposed by putting said EQ into the signal path. Some mixes I get are fabulous and need nothing adding or taking away; in these cases, the best thing I can do is be brave and admit there’s nothing I can bring to the party, just because I can screw in lots of EQ, it doesn’t mean I should.

However, this isn’t always the case – very often, I get mixes sent to me that are not mixed in the most ideal environment or on the most ideal equipment. This is what mastering is for: to resolve any issues that may have cropped up somewhere along the line.

MT: Tell us about half-speed mastering – how does it differ?

MS: Half-speed mastering is a vinyl-cutting process where both the source is played out and the cutting lathe is running at half the real-time rate (effectively the source and the disc cutting lathe are locked together, but both are running at precisely half the correct speed). The advantage of this is the system is not stressed.

The cutter-head draws somewhere between a quarter to a third of the current from the drive amplifiers than would be required for real-time cutting, and the recording stylus has twice as long to carve the intricate groove into the lacquer master disc. All the difficult-to-cut high-end frequencies become relatively easy-to-cut mid-range frequencies. This results in cuts that have excellent high-frequency response (treble) and very solid and stable stereo images.

Remember, the only way a pressing plant can press a really high-quality record is if the process starts with a really high-quality cut. Unfortunately, however, it’s not as simple as running everything at half rate. There is an EQ curve (RIAA) applied to all vinyl records and by running the lathe at half speed, all the frequencies are wrong.

Abbey Road have installed custom designed and built RIAA filters into the cutting amplifiers that feed the modified VMS 80 lathe. These custom filters apply the correct EQ curve when cutting at half-speed.

MT: How did your relationship with Universal Records begin, and why did they choose the half-speed mastering route?

MS: Universal own Abbey Road, as it was one of the assets they acquired when they bought EMI. I am freelance here, but shortly after starting, I was able to persuade the management that half-speed mastering was worth the investment.

Initial feedback from my early clients was so good that it was the management who approached Universal and said, “you have a fabulous library of recordings and we have a world expert on half-speed mastering in the team. There is resurgence in vinyl sales and a demand for good-quality pressings.

Therefore, why do we not get together and create the highest quality vinyl records possible, by pooling our resources and playing to all of our strengths?” Universal thought it was an excellent idea and here we are, with the first six albums in this series just released.





MT: What were your specific goals with these masters? Did anything stand out that needed dealing with initially?

MS: My goal was to transfer as faithfully as possible these recordings to disc. In this series, I was able to master all-but-one of the albums (the Rolling Stones being the exception, they own their recordings and they have complete control on how their music is presented).

I used the less-is-more approach as mentioned above and absolutely avoided all digital limiting, as this is the death of good sound and totally unnecessary for vinyl records.

MT: We’re guessing each album gave you a different set of challenges…

MS: One of the problems I had with on one of the recordings was where the master tape had been damaged by being played at some point in its history on a tape machine that had not been de-magnetised correctly. This had caused damage to the tape in the form of random, very loud clicks, rendering it unusable. However, as I was working with a high-resolution digital transfer, I was able to remove these clicks using a digital-restoration tool while leaving the surrounding audio intact by making hundreds of tiny edits.

Only the clicks were treated, as if I were to pass the entire track through a de-clicker, it would have had the unwanted side effect of softening the impact of the drums and sucking the ‘air’ out of the recording.

My method is extremely time consuming, but produces the very best result – which was the point of this series of albums. Another problem would be the well-known one of persuading 1970s and 80s vintage analogue tape to play! However, this can be temporarily resolved by baking the tapes at low temperature in a special incubator for 24 to 36 hours. Abbey Road has two incubators in the building and plenty of experience at baking tape.

Miles Showell Imparts Wisdom

MusicTech: What advice would you give anyone entering the world of mastering, or indeed the recording industry as a whole, wanting to make a decent living?

Miles Showell: In the current climate, it’s very difficult. But if you are determined, my advice would be: trust what your ears and gut feeling are telling you. When it all boils down, this is all any of us really have.

MT: What advice would you give to our readers on mastering their own music? Is there any process they can apply that will help; any simple tricks that they can use?

MS: Not really, apart from trusting your ears. The big problem with home mastering is the monitors. It’s difficult to know what needs doing to a mix if you aren’t hearing it accurately. There are many semi-professional monitors that are coloured to make everything sound nice.

This really is not a lot of good for mastering as, if there is an issue, I need to hear it so I can get it there and do my best to solve it. My PMCs can be incredibly cruel and expose a problem if it is there – however, the upside is that if a mix is wonderful, I can hear it in all its detail.

MT: What was the most challenging process?

MS: The most challenging process by far – as well as the Achilles’ heel of half-speed mastering – is de-essing, which is often required to avoid sibilance (vocal distortion on the record). None of the tools I would ordinarily use for de-essing work at half speed, so I need to pre-treat everything by capturing all the audio at high-resolution digital, then treating every “sss” or “t” sound in every vocal on every song before progressing.

Because I wanted these cuts to be as good as possible, I used a similar process to the click removal already mentioned. It would have been easy to slap a de-esser across the signal path when making the high-resolution transfer, but the de-esser would not be able to differentiate between a bright vocal or a snare drum, hi-hat, bright guitar, tambourine and other high-energy sounds that don’t require any reduction.

Again, my method is slow and time consuming, but only treats the offending vocal problems and leaves the rest of the music untouched.


Miles Howell at work

Miles using the half-speed lathe. Half speed mastering requires a custom approach to EQ, and specific techniques for processes such as de-essing



MT: Was there ever a time where you couldn’t improve the sound i.e. was it good enough to start with?

MS: In this half-speed series for Universal, the best-sounding album for me was John Martyn’s Solid Air. The tapes were in fabulous condition and they sounded divine. I barely did anything to the sound. Most of the tracks on this album were pretty much a flat transfer straight from the Dolby A decoder to the ADC feeding the workstation. Another great-sounding album was Simple Minds’ New Gold Dream – the half-inch masters were lovely sounding.

MT: What have you got planned for the future at Abbey Road?

MS: This is pretty difficult to answer, as most upcoming projects have carefully planned marketing campaigns attached to them and I run the risk of letting the cat out of the bag by discussing them! However, I can tell you I have recently completed the mastering for the new album by Gallant and he is unbelievably good.

He has an amazing dynamic range and always seems to know when to hold back and when to let it go. He also has a searing falsetto that would put Prince to shame.

MT: Finally, what is the future of music production in less than 100 words?

MS: If only I knew the answer to that question, I would design a super-sophisticated plug-in and sell it for millions to Avid!

MusicTech: How would you describe mastering, compared to the mixing or production process?

Miles Showell: Mastering is a very specific and specialised role and requires a different skillset to production and mixing. I need to take a step back and look at the big picture, whereas production requires a very detailed focus on every individual component within a mix. I see production and mastering as separate but complementary roles.

MT: What is the biggest mistake that mix engineers typically make before submitting their work for mastering?

MS: Mixers often feel the need to make their mix loud so it competes with other already mastered tracks. This is often driven by requests by record company people and/or management, who may be scared that their artist is not loud enough. In reality, a great mix should not be pumped to the max, but be allowed to breathe.

The only way to achieve really hot levels is with extreme compression and limiting. The problem is that compression is something that cannot be undone. If there has been some weird EQ put on a track, to some extent I can un-EQ it, but once a mix has been squashed and ‘pumped’, it cannot be undone.

My advice would be do a pumped version by all means, but don’t make this the master, always run a clean mix using as much mix-bus compression as is needed to make it feel good, but without the extra limiting to get it to compete with already mastered material. Then send both the clean and ‘pumped’ versions to mastering, as it is good to know what everyone is used to hearing. In most cases, I can match or even beat the ‘pumped’ level, but get there cleaner and more transparently.



Miles, happy in his technological playground



MT: Conversely, is there anything they can do to a mix to benefit the mastering process later?

MS: Aside from avoiding compression and limiting as I mentioned before, I would advise that the low end be kept in the middle of the mix. For vinyl work, stereo bass is a big no-no, as the cutting stylus tries to cut in four directions at the same time and ends up lifting out of the disc.

Even if the track is never going to go near vinyl, stereo bass is not a nice sensation for the listener, particularly if the listener is wearing headphones. Try it yourself – do a track with super-wide bass, then put on some headphones and go for a walk. You will probably feel sea sick pretty quickly.

The post Miles Showell Interview – Half Speed Mastering at Abbey Road Studios appeared first on MusicTech.net.

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