Page 1

OVER 1GB OF SAMPLES FREE & 2.5 HOURS OF VIDEO

LOGIC PRO X 2016 THE IN-DEPTH GUIDE FOR THE CREATIVE MUSICIAN

LOGIC PRO X 2016 THE IN-DEPTH GUIDE FOR THE CREATIVE MUSICIAN

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO LOGIC PRO X

1.1GB

SAMPLES + 2.5 HRS VIDEO

Logic Pro X 2016 £8.99

Compiled by the Logic Pro Xperts from MusicTech MTF41.cover.indd 1

17/11/2015 11:11

ISBN 978-1-909590-38-0

9 781909 590380

www.musictech.net

43 pages of workshops – turn into a Logic power user! Freeware 50! The best free software for your Logic setup Great gear for your Logic studio revealed and rated Packed DVD! 1.1GB copyright-free samples & 2.5hrs of video 20 EQ & MIDI tips + THE guide to mastering


Welcome MTF

Welcome

… to Logic Pro X 2016, a special MusicTech Focus dedicated to Apple’s finest music production DAW. In this issue you’ll find everything you need to make better music with Logic, from turning scratch-pad melodies into full productions, to in-depth workshops on some of Logic’s greatest features. Kicking things off, there’s a huge feature on mixing which should have you polishing up any looped ideas that you have sat on your hard drive. There are also masterclasses on some of the instruments that come bundled with Logic including the ever faithful EXS sampler and the all-new Alchemy synth. We also look at some of the best new tech that you can buy for your Logic set-up including all the latest hardware and software. We even round up the best six items in various studio categories, hopefully taking the hard work out of your buying decisions. But it’s not just about parting with cash because we also reveal the best free plug-ins that run with Logic on p24. All in all, we should have you working better, faster and more productively with Logic and you can now bolster your set up with the best freebies going. Not bad for one, albeit very special issue of MusicTech. Enjoy the mag and keep those studio images (see page 38) coming! Andy Jones Senior Editor, MusicTech & MusicTech.net Email: andy.jones@anthem-publishing.com facebook: www.facebook.com/MusicTechMag Twitter @AndyJonesMT Instagram: musictech_official Tumblr: musictechofficial.tumblr.com

We should have you working better, faster and more productively with Logic…

Contributors Mark Cousins, Keith Gemmell, Alex Holmes, Hollin Jones, Huw Price MUSICTECH FOCUS MAGAZINE www.musictech.net Anthem Publishing Ltd Suite 6, Piccadilly House London Road, Bath BA1 6PL Tel +44 (0) 1225 489984 Fax +44 (0) 1225 489980 editorial@anthem-publishing.com Senior Editor Andy Jones andy.jones@anthem-publishing.com Art Editor Debra Barber debra.barber@anthem-publishing.com Digital Editor Andy Price andy.price@anthem-publishing.com Multimedia Editor Alex Holmes alex.holmes@anthem-publishing.com Business Dev. Manager Di Marsh di.marsh@anthem-publishing.com

Art Director Jenny Cook jenny.cook@anthem-publishing.com

All content copyright Anthem Publishing Ltd 2014 and 2015, all rights reserved. While we make every effort to ensure that the factual content of MusicTech Focus is correct we cannot take any responsibility nor be held accountable for any factual errors printed.

Managing Director Jon Bickley jon.bickley@anthem-publishing.com

Please make every effort to check quoted prices and product specifications with manufacturers prior to purchase. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or resold without the prior consent of Anthem Publishing Ltd.

Licensing enquiries Jon Bickley +44 (0) 1225 489984 www.anthem-publishing.com

MusicTech Focus recognises all copyrights contained within this issue. Where possible we acknowledge the copyright holder.

Publisher Simon Lewis simon.lewis@anthem-publishing.com

Printed by Polestar UK Print Ltd Tel +44 (0) 1582 678900

TEXTING MUSIC TECH TERMS AND CONDITIONS By entering MusicTech competitions you are agreeing to receive details of future promotions from Anthem Publishing Limited and related third parties. If you do not want to receive this information please text ‘NO INFO’ at the end of your message. Texts will be charged at the specified price plus one message at your standard network tariff rate.

Distributed by Marketforce (UK) Ltd The Blue Fin Building, 110 Southwark St, London SE1 0SU Tel +44 (0) 20 3148 3300 Subscriptions to MusicTech Magazine Tel +44 (0) 870 444 8468 Price (12 issues) £59.99 UK basic annual rate

FOCUS Ableton Live 8 Volume 2

MTF41.welcome.indd 3

| 03

17/11/2015 14:33


MTF Contents

Issue 41

Logic Pro X 2016

YOUR GUIDE TO LOGIC PRO X POWER!

Do you want to produce the perfect mix, or arrange tunes like a pro? Ever wondered what mastering is all about, or why the Alchemy synth in Logic is so highly regarded? How about complete guides to the EXS sampler and other Logic plug-ins? Or, better still, a guide to the best plug-ins that you can get COMPLETELY FREE. It’s all here in this very special issue… MTF Workshops

Start here…

What’s new in Logic 10.2? p6

Logic in p42-p78 depth Get the best from Logic as we

take an in-depth look at the EXS sampler, Alchemy and many more of the software’s finest features… 4 | Logic Pro X 2016

MTF41.contents.indd 4

Mix!

Mixing ideas in Logic… p8

Arrange!

Produce complete songs… p18

FOCUS

17/11/2015 14:29


Contents MTF

MTF41 Logic 2016 Full listings

MTF Feature

Freeware!

Revealed: the best free music software that runs on Logic… p24

WORKSHOPS & TUTORIALS: 008 | Mixing in Logic Mixing ideas into productions 018 | Arranging into Logic Turning ideas into tunes 042 | Cinematic synth bass 046 | VA synthesis with Alchemy 050 | Vintage Keys in depth 054 | EXS24 sample mapping 074 | Drum Kit Designer 078 | Alchemy granular synthesis 034 | 20 EQ Tips 090 | 20 Mobile Music Making Tips FEATURES

MTF Feature

Mastering: The Guide

Give your music a pro sound p58

024 | Freeware for Logic! The best free plug-ins you can get 038 | Show Off Your Studio 058 | Mastering: The Guide All you need to sound professional 070 | Bluffers Guide…to MIDI 082 | Interview: Aisling Brouwer Scoring hit TV shows 086 | 6 Ways… To get inspired BUYERS GUIDES: 6 OF THE BEST 040 | Headphones

20 Top Tips to…

EQ and mobile music making p34 & p90

068 | ‘Real’ plug-ins 088 | Preamps 128 | Hardware emulations SUBSCRIBE! 094 | MT & MTF offers here MTF REVIEWS 096 | PB Carbon Electra synth 098 | Heavyocity Gravity library 100 | Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2 102 | Best Service Era II library 104| Toontack Hip Hop EZX library 105| Sonokinetic Tutti Vox choir 106 | SBD Music I/O plug-in 107 | SL Cinematic Guitars plug-in

MTF 6 Of The Best

The best headphones, plug-ins, preamps and emulations revealed p40, p68, p88 & p108

108 | Korg iM1 classic synth app 110 | Siren Audio G& F plug-ins 111 | U-He Hive synth 112 | NI Emotive Strings library 113 | Project Sam Swing! library 114 | Zero-G Haunted Ground 116 | MunroSonic Egg 100 monitors 116 | Focusrite Clarett 8Pre 120-127 | Mini Reviews 130 | On your MTF DVD FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MTF41.contents.indd 5

|5

17/11/2015 14:30


MT Studio

APPLE’S FREE SYNTH

IT’S A KIND OF MAGIC

In case you missed it, Apple updated Logic to v10.2! Here’s our preview. Essentially, Apple is giving away a free synth – and a damn good one at that – to all registered Logic owners…

A

pple likes to drop updates to Logic on us without warning, but at least they are usually significant ones. So v10.2 might seem like only a small update, but there’s magic in that there decimal point. Logic 10.2 is available now and free to registered users. While the ability to upload your tracks to Apple Music Connect (account needed) was expected, and the additional Apple Loops (1000), update to Mainstage (3.2) and Force Trackpad additions are welcome, it’s Alchemy that has been tempting people to upgrade or even crossgrade. Alchemy is a huge sample manipulation synth with multiple engines, 3,000 presets, multiple effects, arpeggiator and advanced morphing features. It’s a not totally-unexpected update to a synth originally made by Camel Audio, a company acquired by Apple at the start of the year. But this is a much-updated Alchemy, and it is cleaner, bigger and very much fits into the Pro X environment. It has several synth engines: additive, spectral, granular synthesis and resynthesis, sampling and virtual analogue,

6 | Logic Pro X 2016

MTF41.Studio.indd 6

Alchemy is a free synth that gives users of other DAWs a compelling reason to give Logic a try

and allows you to import samples and manipulate them with these engines, or create your own instruments as you would in a sampler, as there are facilities to map, loop and group. There are even some on the MT team who wish this could be the replacement for the EXS24 sampler we’ve been waiting for. MT Logic expert Alex Holmes says: “It does everything that EXS does and more, with better filters, envelopes, etc. But it might be overkill for certain tasks – arguably a bit like how Ableton has got Simpler and Sampler”.

Sources times four Each sound within Alchemy uses up to four ‘sources’, utilising one or more of those engines. These are all-important, as it’s what you can do with them and how they interact that sets Alchemy apart. Mix them, morph them, modulate them, add effects or arpeggiate each. The Alchemy signal flow takes each of your four sources through three filters (in series or parallel), and the sources are then combined to go through (or bypass) a further two filters to an effects section. You can switch to one of three main UI views. ‘Advanced’ has options A, B, C or D for more detail on each of your sound sources. Switch to the Sampler tab and you can start the important business of importing your audio. Within the Global tab, you are in a mixer area, where you can blend the

FOCUS

13/11/2015 15:40


Advance MT

sources together. The main effects area is at the bottom of the GUI. The modulation section is as fully featured as you could ask for, with plentiful sources and destinations. Other options in Alchemy include an arpeggiator, offering easy access to patterns aplenty and hands-on access to parameters including Swing, Octaves, Rate and Latch, and there’s a Perform tab with eight quick variations of the selected sound. Alchemy very much follows the ‘one synth fits all’ philosophy of recent releases such as Blue II. You get just about every preset you could want within just about every electronic genre, and one listen to the demos might make you feel this is the only synth you’ll need for electronic music. There’s movement, lots of bass, soundscapes and textures. There are 300 Logic patches and more than 3,000 presets, and an optional and rather large 14GB download. Alchemy will bring much needed audio power to EXS users – they will be pleased that it allows EXS instruments to be loaded in, so all of Alchemy’s processing can be brought to the EXS party. Original Alchemy fans will love that it still exists and has compatibility with their creations. With the entire Logic package still costing just £150 – which is less than Alchemy used to cost on its own – maybe

Is Alchemy good enough for other DAW users to use Logic just as a synth? Possibly…

that raises the rather unusual prospect of some of the Logic haters out there buying the software just for Alchemy, and using it almost like a separate synth alongside another DAW. OK, maybe not, but either way, if you are a registered Logic user, Apple is giving you Alchemy for free, so download it now. If you’re a user of any other DAW, Apple just gave you another magical reason to give it a go, even if it’s mainly just for a bloody great synth. MTF

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MTF41.Studio.indd 7

|7

13/11/2015 15:41


MTF Technique Producing a track: Mixing in Logic Pro X

Logic Pro X MusicTech Focus 2016 Workshops

Level Beginner

Produce a track: Mixing in Logic Pro X Got lots of looped ideas on your hard drive? You need to mix them into a tune. In the first of two MusicTech Focus tutorials, we tell you how to prepare and produce a professional mix in Logic Pro X. In the next tutorial we’ll turn them into a finished arrangement …

L

ike pretty much every DAW/sequencer out there Logic is a very good piece of software to help you get your musical ideas down. If you have a catchy melody rolling around in your head you can input it via keyboard or mouse and have it trigger one of Logic’s many bundled instruments and eventually settle on a sound you like. At this stage you’ll probably want to add some drums or bass and it’s easy to have it looping around two, four or eight bars as you do this. Eventually you’ll build this looping section up to an amazing set of interacting melody parts – possibly even enough parts to fill out a song – and then… well, what exactly? It’s the point that many of us get to: lots of ideas over the space of just a few bars and it’s all looping along nicely, but where do we go from here? In truth this may not be the way you compose at all – you may write a complete song arrangement from the start – but the looping stage (as we shall now call it) is the starting point for many sequencer users. And why not? The software lends itself to looping ideas. It’s either easy to get ideas down this way or, let’s be honest, trigger accidental ideas with your MIDI melody part triggering a completely different sound to that which you intended it to at the start of the process! There’s nothing wrong with that – it’s one of the glorious side effects

of DAW composition – and those happy accidents have undoubtedly gone on to appear on countless hit singles and albums the world over. So this tutorial is concerned with taking those ideas within that 2, 4, or 8-bar loop, and turning them into a finished song by preparing and creating a good mix.

It’s the point that many of us get to: lots of ideas over the space of just a few bars but where do we go to from here? We’ll be looking at all sorts of aspects of mixing including panning, EQ and adding effects. Some producers prefer to get all of their mixing done right at the start and make the original loop full of ideas sound as great as possible. Some prefer to leap right into arranging before any of the levels

FOCUS ON GENRES V MIXING We focus very much on a typical band piece of music in this tutorial with drums, bass, two guitars, vocals and backing vocals, and show how you can mix, EQ and add effects to make the most of the space that a stereo mix gives you. With other genres you will have to mix differently. With pop music, for example, vocals tend to be a lot more important and as the catchy hook are mixed a bit louder than you’d find in, say, a rock track. With dance (right), the focus is very much on getting the solid beat and bass sorted so a lot of the mixing will make sure that the kick and bassline work together and are the backbone of the dance track. However whatever genre you use, many of the principles we discuss here are applicable. For example, you should always try and fill your stereo mix or at least make the most of the space it affords, and you should always be subtle with everything you try. Mix cautiously and you won’t create mayhem down the line. And remember, always mix at sensible levels: louder doesn’t mean better.

8 | Logic Pro X 2016

MTF41.TUT Mixing in Logic.indd 8

FOCUS

13/11/2015 15:48


Producing a track: Mixing in Logic Pro X Technique MTF

MTF Step-by-Step 1. Setting up your mix

Red

We’ll assume you have some great ideas as loops that you want to mix and arrange. If not load ours up (MTF41 Mix & arrange) and you’ll see it comprises bass, beats, drum loop, guitars, and a piano.

01

Orange

Yellow

Green

Blue

Indigo

Violet

First up, you might want to consider colour coding each part maybe matching the colours of the rainbow versus your frequency spectrum so the R.O.Y.G.B.I.V combo above corresponds to…

02

Keys (piano) --------> Vocals ---------------------> Electric guitar ------------->

higher strings

Bass guitar----------------> Kick & sub bass

Other percussion-----------------------> snare cymbal

Frequency in Hz 20 100 200

500

1000

2k

5k

10k

20k

The instruments are shown roughly where they sit across the frequency spectrum. Simply match that position to the colour so your bassiest sounds will be the reddest. You needn’t follow this rule…

Or you could just use the first letter rule, so bass (=blue), piano (pink), guitar (green), cymbals (cyan) that we’ve used. But do use some kind of system – it will help later. Use Opt>C to open the colours.

We’ve used different shades to represent the same instrument so dark green = bass guitar, light = lead guitar. We’ve also rearranged beats and bass to be at the bottom of the arrangement and vocals at the top. Again, no rules here but we like the bass at the bottom.

Next you can quite easily bolster your basic loop by adding a few extras here and there which will come to help add variety to your arrangement down the line. We’ve added an extra guitar part, for example, to add a little rhythm.

03

05

are truly mixed with balance, EQ and levels. Neither way is wrong or right. In truth we prefer to mix as we go, finding a decent preliminary mix will get our initial ideas sounding good enough to then arrange, but as ideas are added – as they usually are as we arrange – then these are blended in as we go. However this approach will not make a great tutorial! It will be all over the place as we veer between one

04

06

process and the other, so for simplicity’s sake we’re going to start by mixing our ideas and then arranging them in the next tutorial. We’ll also keep the tune fairly basic: some sampled beats, a couple of guitar parts, bass, drums and keys. Nothing special – we’re not writing a hit song, just demoing some techniques. Before we begin we should stress that we are pitching this tutorial at beginners to FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MTF41.TUT Mixing in Logic.indd 9

|9

13/11/2015 15:48


MTF Technique Producing a track: Mixing in Logic Pro X

mixing, although if you have a bunch of ideas stuck in loops on your hard drive, you could use some of the tips and techniques shown here to convert them into finished mixes, whatever your experience in music production.

full of ideas like this that have never gone beyond this stage! But before we begin it’s worth getting a few housekeeping things in order. Colouring tracks according to their type is a great idea and not just a fancy way of making your songs look flash. If you order and colour tracks in a logical way, it will make both the mixing and arranging processes faster and more intuitive. There are few hard and fast rules with track colouring

1. Setting up your mix We’ll assume you have a set of loops that you want to turn into a song. Like many producers you might have hard drives

MTF Step-by-Step 1. Setting up your mix (cont’d)

We often find that adding an extra kick track at this stage might help later in the arrangement, so we’ve done that and imported a different kick sound in to help bolster the one we have.

We’ve done the same with the snare only this time we like the one we have so we’ve highlighted it within the main loop, ready to copy it over to a new track.

Create a new track with the same parameters you have (Cmnd>D). Then Cmnd>C to copy the snare region you have highlighted and Cmnd>V to paste it to your new track. Or use Opt>click>drag.

Once you are happy with the number of extras you have added, clear all unwanted tracks in your main window simply by deleting them. You should also correctly order your MIDI and audio tracks.

It’s a good idea at this stage to have a selection of typical effects selected for each instrument so here we have highlighted some typical guitar effects including Logic’s Pedalboard.

Finally check your region names are what you want them to be. We like them to simply match our track names so Cntrl>Click each one and select ‘Rename Region’ to change them if you need to.

07

09

11

10 | Logic Pro X 2016

MTF41.TUT Mixing in Logic.indd 10

08

10

12

FOCUS

13/11/2015 15:48


Producing a track: Mixing in Logic Pro X Technique MTF

– you should simply choose a method and stick to it. Some use the colours of the rainbow (ROYGBIV) and match them with the frequency spectrum of the sounds that make up a song, so red would equal the bassiest sub part and violet the most trebly hats. Others choose the colours based on first letters so green = guitars, blue = bass, pink = percussion, violet = vocals. Logical? Doesn’t matter which, but stick to it! We’ve chosen this method and split parts of the same

instrument by shade (lead guitar = bright green, bass = dark). Next up you can easily bolster the number of parts you have by adding a few flourishes and extras at this stage. We added a rhythm guitar type sound to our track and some extra kick sounds to boost the beats for later. We also isolated the snare and gave that a track of its own in case we want to add more of that later as well. Once you have enough parts to start either your mixing,

MTF Step-by-Step 2. Levels and panning

Drums Keys (piano)

Electric guitar 1

Bass guitar

Vocals

Electric guitar 2

Think of your mix as a band on a stage Setting levels is an ongoing business but for now simply make sure that nothing is clipping in the red. We want to be mixing for extended periods at lower levels.

Picture your mix as on stage and spread your parts accordingly. This obviously works best if you are working on band-like music but whatever music you make, use the space and spread.

Good job we made a separate kick drum as we’ll start by keeping that locked to the centre of the pan position as it will be the backbone of the track.

The bass too stays in the central position. This might conflict with the kick drum as they both occupy similar frequencies but don’t worry, we’ll separate the two of them later in the process.

Now look at your imaginary stage on which your mix is playing and note the guitarists on either side of your drums. So place your first guitar to the right – not too far or they’ll fall off the stage!

Now place your second guitar about the same distance left – we’ve gone for +22 left and +30 right but feel free to experiment. Note the position change in your mix as you do it.

01

03

05

02

04

06

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MTF41.TUT Mixing in Logic.indd 11

| 11

13/11/2015 15:48


MTF Technique Producing a track: Mixing in Logic Pro X

MTF Step-by-Step 2. Levels and panning (cont’d)

Panning keyboard sounds such as the piano is a little more ‘suck it and see’. We’ve chosen to pan slightly right as our piano sits pretty well with the guitar in our mix.

With the backing vocals we are making room for a couple – pretend you have two singers on stage backing your main vocalist. So create another track with duplicate settings: Cmnd>D.

Either load in your own vocal or copy the backing vocal we had onto the new track using Cntrl>C and Cntrl>V, or try Opt>click>drag to copy the part onto the new track.

We’re simulating two vocalists standing to the side of the main singer by panning them left at positions +17 and +28. We’re using the same vocal take but it works better with two different ones.

You should – as with all of your panning – experiment with the backing vox position. In our example, it also works well placing them on either side of the lead vocal.

Bringing your lead vocalist in now, keep them central and lower the levels of the backing vocals so that they sit behind the main vocal as shown (the lead vocal is far left).

07

09

11

delete any extraneous channels, keeping just a couple of spare MIDI and audio tracks for adding ideas as you go. Also try to make the MIDI channels and audio channels run from least to most, top to bottom and in order within your arrangement, simply so they run left to right in your mixer.

2. Levels and panning We’ll start with the basics of mixing: levels and panning.

12 | Logic Pro X 2016

MTF41.TUT Mixing in Logic.indd 12

08

10

12

There’s every chance that you have already set the levels within your looping section so that you can hear each part and its impact. Within the tune in our example we did this as the section came together but do consider it as an ongoing process. For the moment keep your levels so that they aren’t clipping in the red, actually a couple of dB below this. You don’t want to be mixing for any period of time at excessive levels.

FOCUS

13/11/2015 15:48


Producing a track: Mixing in Logic Pro X Technique MTF

MTF Step-by-Step 3. Using EQ

Now we’re going to turn our attention to the EQ within our mix and see how some subtle changes to a channels EQ can help make a more favourable mix. We’ll highlight the piano part first.

It sounds fine in isolation but it gets a little lost in the mix. You could, of course, adjust its level to give it more presence in the mix but the danger here is that you’ll easily push it into the red.

Add an instance of the Channel EQ to the piano channel and adjust the level. Drag a pointer at maximum across as shown and you will hear a flanging effect – we’ll save that for the guitars!

For now pull the EQ up by 3-5dB at 300Hz and 3kHz to hear a lift which doesn’t push the level into the red. This is because we’ve identified some areas in the mix that were empty and filled them.

However now this piano is now slightly overwhelming the guitar which is sitting in a similar pan position in the mix. We could pan the guitar to a new place but, better still, let’s EQ it out of harm’s way! Add a channel EQ to the guitar part.

In order to make this guitar part distinct from the piano, boost it in a different frequency to those we just boosted on the guitar (300Hz and 3kHz) , this time 1.8kHz. Now both piano and guitar should be distinct even though they occupy the same pan position.

01

03

05

We’ll now look at panning (with the caveat that we’ll be constantly return to levels as we go). The music we are mixing is a basic band track with some very typical elements: guitar, bass, beats and vocals. Every mixing scenario is different but this is probably the most typical. Load the file on the DVD and you’ll see our couple of bars looping, all coloured up.

02

04

06

Now try to picture your mix as a band on stage. You’ll have drums in the middle, guitars on either side, the bass player standing to the side of the drums, vocalist front and centre, keyboards maybe off to one side. This is also how you can picture your mix. Obviously if you are doing a dance track with this is harder to do as there will be less ‘real’ instruments to picture, but the important thing to consider FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MTF41.TUT Mixing in Logic.indd 13

| 13

13/11/2015 15:48


MTF Technique Producing a track: Mixing in Logic Pro X

is to spread your instruments across your mix panning wise, as you would see them spread on stage. So basics first: your bass guitar and your kick drum can sit in the middle of your mix. It’s an easy one to start with. You may think that they clash by both sitting there and, in many cases, they will, but don’t worry as we’ll sort this later with some EQ-ing. Part of the reason for adding a separate kick earlier was that we could keep that central and add a

touch of effects to the rest of the percussion to give it some width – again we’ll come to this. Then we move on to the guitars and we’ll pan these left and right. As ever with panning don’t be too extreme, just experiment with gentle panning first of all. Onto the keys and we’ll also pan the piano a little to the right although this will be spread further later. The backing vocals are doubled and placed a little to the left – again

MTF Step-by-Step 3. Using EQ (cont’d)

Now turn to the bass and kick. With both of a similar frequency and occupying the same pan position they clash, especially where they coincide at the end of the loop as highlighted (yellow).

We’ll start with the kick and we’ll try and increase parts of its frequency and decrease the same parts of the bass frequency in a few steps time so they don’t clash any more.

You can go crazy and experiment here to demonstrate that the bass drum doesn’t just include bass frequencies. Lifting it dramatically like this drastically changes the sound…

However, now you should rein in the EQ at around 120Hz (where we found it to work best) and only nudge it up by 4-5dB as shown. This gives the kick a little extra clout.

Now turn to the picked bass and load a Channel EQ onto its channel and pull its frequency down by 4dB in the 100-150Hz area. By pulling it away from the kick you give the kick room to breathe.

We found that a side effect of all of this was that the bass area worked better but the guitars were more prominent so we reined them in by reducing their levels.

07

09

11

14 | Logic Pro X 2016

MTF41.TUT Mixing in Logic.indd 14

08

10

12

FOCUS

13/11/2015 15:48


Producing a track: Mixing in Logic Pro X Technique MTF

3. Using EQ

picture that there are a couple of backing vocalists standing to the left of the main vocalist. For our example we are doubling up one sample to show this but different samples would make a realer world example. Finally the lead vocal sits in the middle, a little louder than the backing vocals which you can now pull back a little bit. You should hear that everything sits a bit better in much of the stereo space provided.

OK we’re going to stretch that ‘band on stage’ analogy a bit more now. Think of your mix, as that band in three dimensions. You’ve sorted out the panning i.e. how the band are playing left to right. You could also consider those volume levels of each as how close they are standing to you. Now you should consider the EQ, maybe as the last of the three dimensions, up and down. OK, we admit we’re stretching the

MTF Step-by-Step 4. Using effects in mixing

We’ll start adding more effects from the bottom and work our way up, so select the kick drum. We’ve already EQ’d it and are quite happy with it but for the sake of this tutorial, we’ll add compression.

Logic comes with a whole raft of effects, and you’ll find the compressor under the Dynamics menu (second one in). It’s big, red and clear what’s going on.

Key in the following: threshold -10dB; attack 5ms; release 300ms; and ratio 6:1. It is very subtle but makes the kick very slightly more punchy. Use the Compare button, top left, to hear it.

While you have the compressor open, experiment with the other settings to see how far you can go. More extreme settings are shown with the Distortion on for a harder-edged dance sound.

Next the bass and the Plucked Bass Apple preset is preloaded with a compressor with these settings: threshold -10dB; attack 10ms; release 20 to 200ms; and ratio 2 to 3:1. Solo and loop it.

As Apple has done the hard work for us, let’s push the settings a little to: threshold -20dB; attack 15ms; release 150ms; and ratio 7:1. You’ll hear it become a little more nasal and less tight.

01

03

05

02

04

06

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MTF41.TUT Mixing in Logic.indd 15

| 15

13/11/2015 15:49


MTF Technique Producing a track: Mixing in Logic Pro X

MTF Step-by-Step 4. Using effects in mixing (cont’d)

Now we look at one of the guitar parts: the Guitar Sound. Again, as an Apple preset, this comes preloaded with effects on the Pedalboard plug in: the Double Dragon Overdrive as shown.

Remember when we experimented with EQ on the Guitar Sound part, we got a rather cool flanging sound by dramatically sweeping it. Load in the Flange Factory for a similar effect.

It sounds cool in isolation but less so in the mix. Try it on the Hard Rock guitar instead as it blends much better in the mix. We can also lessen the pan on each guitar here, a case of mix trial and error!

Now we turn to the piano part and think it could do with a touch of reverb. Not too much, though, so solo it and load up an instance of the Platinum Reverb. You can try some of the presets.

In fact we’re going to use one: Big Room. However we’ll reduce its size to 11m and increase the Mix parameter to 64% to give it more of a lift but still keep it subtle.

Now bring in a combination of compressor and reverb in on the sampled beat loop that we have used. We’ve used the Live Club preset, imagining that band on stage again…

07

09

11

analogy but the EQ of your mix should be considered as just as important a dimension as the panning and the levels, as with EQ you can reduce and lift sections of your mix just as dramatically. On a basic level EQ increases or decreases bass, treble and mid frequencies. In our mix we look at how a small amount of EQ can be used on a track to give it more lift without pushing its level into the red. We do this by lifting

16 | Logic Pro X 2016

MTF41.TUT Mixing in Logic.indd 16

08

10

12

specific parts of its EQ spectrum that perhaps aren’t so prominent elsewhere in the mix. We’re giving it energy by making it occupy parts of the mix that are empty. We show this by lifting the piano part in two specific frequency areas. We then home in on the guitar part that is sitting in a similar pan position to the piano, and then boost it at a different frequency, 1.8kHz, to separate it from the piano. In this way we’re using EQ to create a third dimension in which

FOCUS

13/11/2015 15:49


Producing a track: Mixing in Logic Pro X Technique MTF

MTF Step-by-Step 4. Using effects in mixing (cont’d)

Compression is also used with settings: threshold -20dB; attack 10ms; release 150ms; and ratio 3:1 which again is subtle but feel free to experiment with these and the sampled beat loop.

13

to place parts of our mix to give each one a distinction. So that’s using increased EQ to raise the impact of parts of our mix. Now we’re going to lower EQ on certain parts to help other parts breathe a little. Once we do this the individual parts may sound weaker in isolation, something that may go against the grain when producing music. But you have to consider them as part of the mix which is most important – look at the whole, not the part. So let’s return to the bass and kick clash that we introduced earlier, to give it some separation and give both parts some space and room to breathe, even though they occupy the same pan position and, initially anyway, a similar EQ position. By lowering the bass in a specific EQ, the kick becomes more prominent, a great production tip, especially for dance music where less is quite definitely more.

4. Using effects in mixing And so to the last part of this tutorial: adding affects to a mix. Here we are talking about adding subtle effects to beef up sounds, like compression on beats and bass. We’re also talking about the not so subtle effects like guitar flanging and distortion. Reverb might also make an appearance on certain elements just to make them shine a little. We’ve left the process of adding effects until last as we think that, in general, most of your main mixing can be done with the three previous parts of this tutorial – levels, panning, and EQ. Using other effects can radically change a mix and can very easily take it to a point beyond what you intended. It’s good practice, then, to be satisfied with your mix before you go too crazy with effects, and keep a safe copy of it somewhere now before you potentially mess it up. You could write a book on how to use effects effectively and creatively in mixing – indeed many people have. But there are some rules that you should take away from this, arguably the main one being ‘less is more’. If you’ve been making music for as long as we have you might return to mixes you made when you first discovered effects (think reverb!) and wonder why you ladled so much of it on, so be subtle, be careful – drizzle, don’t pour! We look at some effects specific to Logic including the rather great Pedalboard guitar effects – we have two guitar parts and they are preloaded with one part so use them! We

Finally you can experiment with some of the effects designed to go on the whole mix like the stereo-widening one as shown but we think this might be best left for a mastering tutorial…

14

also have a separate kick and snare so we can use some subtle compression here and maybe a touch of reverb on the main percussion loops to give it some width. We won’t touch on delays as these are probably the effects to be most careful with as you can quickly overfill a mix with out of control delays flying here, there and everywhere. We’ll finish by looking at some of the broader effects that you can apply to a complete mix, although we’d urge you to consider anything too broad as stepping into the mastering territory. (Mastering is the process – which includes using EQ, compression and limiting – that you generally apply to the complete finished stereo mix of a track to give it very much a

Depending on how creative you get when adding effects you may need to return to the mixing and EQ processes to re-tweak any changes you have made… professional sheen and it really requires a completely separate tutorial.) Adding effects can be a very creative process and you might find that some the things we discuss – particularly adding guitar effects – might make you reconsider the angle or the point of the song you are producing, perhaps even the style or the genre. It might be worth saving several versions then as you progress but don’t let it get too out of hand so that you lose the point of your original idea. Either way, you might have to return to the mixing process – particularly the second tutorial on these pages – if it gets too creative and readdress anything you add as levels and EQ might need retweaking, but rest assured, that’s all part of the fun of music production! In a future tutorial we’ll look at how to create a finished tune from this mix as we cover the arrangement. MTF FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MTF41.TUT Mixing in Logic.indd 17

| 17

13/11/2015 15:49


MTF Technique Producing a track: Arranging in Logic Pro X

Logic Pro X MusicTech Focus 2016 Workshops

Level Beginner

How to produce a track: Arranging in Logic Now we’ve mixed the elements within your song ideas and loops, it is time to start arranging them. In this tutorial we use some of Logic’s specific features to arrange song ideas and reveal a couple of short cuts to easily add variation to any arrangement …

I

n a previous tutorial ‘Produce a track: Mixing in Logic’, we took several looping parts of a song and balanced them together with some basic and not so basic mixing techniques. Now we’re ready to arrange them. In case you didn’t read that tutorial, to sum up: we mixed levels, panned, EQ’d and added effects and we’re now happy with the loop. It is a very typical band-type track with two guitars, bass, vocals and piano, plus some spare tracks for beats. The idea is that both that tutorial and this one will help you progress any ideas that you have – maybe those that have been kicking around for a while and perhaps you’ve not done much with. We will help you take these ideas and mix and arrange them. In truth those are both processes that you might typically do at the same time in music production – arranging and mixing as you go along. But we’ve decided to put them in separate tutorials to keep the message clear, so do bear in mind that as you read this one – you might need to adjust levels here or tweak effects there to make the parts work in your new arrangement and finished song. For many, this author included, the arranging part of music production can often be the trickiest, possibly a stumbling block. This is strange as sequencers and modern production technology make the process easy. Maybe the problem is that DAWs/sequencers make the initial looping process so very easy, that it is hard to get in a mind-set to move beyond it.

1. Basic arranging If you are having trouble moving beyond your 2, 4 or 8-bar loop, there’s one sure fire way to quickly get yourself out of the rut and that’s to select all (Cmnd>A) and repeat (Cmnd>R)! Specify how many copies you want and hit ok. Some may see this as too easy a solution, but it’s a great

The arranging part of music production can often be the trickiest and a stumbling block for many… way to get yourself an instant arrangement, or at least an arrangement that covers the right duration of the song that you are producing. For dance music it’s also a very quick way of building up tunes which – by the genre’s very definition and nature – are quite

FOCUS ON GENRES We focus very much on a typical rock/pop piece of music here, with the elements of a band song – drums, bass, two guitars, and so on – and how you would typically arrange them over an intro, verse and chorus. This, of course, varies depending on the genre of music (and can even vary within a genre). With dance music, for example, the focus might be, arguably should be, to just start the beats straight away so a DJ can mix your track into a set without having to worry about mixing the melody you have chosen. Then you can bring in the musical elements, followed typically by a big breakdown where the beats are dropped in favour of synths and pads and then the whole lot comes crashing back in for a huge dance climax. Arrangements can therefore be the vital ingredient within the genre you are working in.

18 | Logic Pro X 2016

MTF41.TUT Arranging in Logic.indd 18

FOCUS

13/11/2015 15:44


Producing a track: Arranging in Logic Pro X Technique MTF

MTF Step-by-Step 1. Basic arranging

We’ll use the same looping idea – now nicely mixed – from the previous tutorial on mixing. It has a couple of guitars, bass, piano and beats. Select all using Cmnd>A.

You can click Alt and then drag just a single copy as shown which doubles the length and is useful if you just want to add a couple of bars at this stage.

Far easier after you select all (Cmnd>A) is to Repeat (Cmnd>R) and type in the specific number of repeats of your 2-bar loop. We start with 15 but then double this to make 32 in total, that’s 64 bars.

Now select Logic Pro X’s Arrangement tab by clicking the blue icon at the top of the track list to the right which reveals Arrangement, Marker, Signature and Tempo tracks.

Press the + button on the Arrangement track and sections automatically appear, in this case every eight bars. Name each section (Intro, Verse, Chorus etc) using the drop down menu on each or simply click the title to name it whatever you want.

We’ve now copied enough of our original loop to cover 64 bars and have eight sections in our arrangement including Intro, Chorus, Bridge and Outro as shown.

01

03

05

repetitive. For rock music this is less the case so we’ll look at how to enhance an arrangement making it less repetitive. Adding to this, what you might call classic way of fleshing out an arrangement, is Logic Pro’s Arrangement feature that allows you to segment your song into typical and very recognisable sections. When looking at a typical song structure think of it in

02

04

06

terms of these sections: intro, verse, chorus, bridge and outro. Typically you will start with an intro, go into a verse, maybe two, then a chorus, bridge, verse, chorus, outro. For our song we want the intro to feature just the bass guitar and beats, the chorus everything, and the outro just the piano and beats. You can define each section however you want. We simply create Marker points for each section and FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MTF41.TUT Arranging in Logic.indd 19

| 19

13/11/2015 15:45


MTF Technique Producing a track: Arranging in Logic Pro X

just strip out the parts we don’t want from all of the repeated sections we made earlier. We can then audition these by pressing the Option button while clicking each Marker section in the Edit Window –it’s a great way to try out new arrangements without changing anything. We then use these Marker Points and sections to create a completely new arrangement by simply clicking and dragging the top of each Arrangement Part – which should

take everything below – to a new point in the song. Copy and paste the verse section, move it to later, swap the intro and outro… it’s easy to create the new arrangement you want by copying these big chunks at a time.

2. Variation and automation In the last tutorial we use some tricks to bolster up our arrangement and make it less repetitive, including returning

MTF Step-by-Step 1. Basic arranging (cont’d)

Now it’s time to introduce some Markers to your arrangement. For simplicity’s sake we are going to make them match our song sections in name and length. Press the + icon on the Marker track.

Open up the List Editor (icon to right of Metronome) and click the Marker tab listing the Markers you are creating. You can define the length here which we’ve set at 8 bars for each of the 8 sections.

Name your Markers. Again for simplicity’s sake we’re just naming them after the song sections. A short cut is to simply use the Marker drop-down and ‘Create from Arrangement Markers’ as shown.

Now start selecting how you want each part to sound. We’ve thinned the Intro down to just the bass and beats in ours, for example. We’ve also got the Chorus padded out with everything.

Once you have defined what parts play in each of your Marker sections like this you can audition each part by hitting the Option key while playing and then click the Marker as shown.

Now to build an arrangement up from your sections, simply click and drag the Arrangement section at the top and everything below will go with it. You can also copy sections like this.

07

09

11

20 | Logic Pro X 2016

MTF41.TUT Arranging in Logic.indd 20

08

10

12

FOCUS

13/11/2015 15:45


Producing a track: Arranging in Logic Pro X Technique MTF

to the beats that we looked at in the Mixing tutorial and using a similar technique to isolate certain elements to add a bit of variation. We’ll look at some specific processes common to all DAWs but especially accessible in Logic where you can beef up an arrangement with automation. Here you can add variation to looped sections by changing certain parameters over time. The brilliant thing about automation is that you can return to it and edit it at

any time so small tweaks can be made easily and mistakes corrected. In our example we show how to fade the drum track in as the intro of the song but you can automate and add effects, pan positions and a lot of other parameters to easily add changes in a mix. These are just some of the very quick ways to create arrangements within Logic and add a little variation while you are at it. We’ll look at others in a future workshop. MTF

MTF Step-by-Step 2. Variation and automation

Our track has repeated beats all the way through by way of a sampled drum loop. We can add our first change by highlighting a beat, in this case the snare, and cutting it using the scissors tool.

Either copy and paste it (Cntrl>C, Cntrl>V) on to a newly created snare track (Cmnd>D) or Option>Click>Drag to copy it to the new track. You can now move it around.

Move the new snare to a different point in the loop and even copy other beats. We’ve copied the kick so that this loop now opens with two kicks. It’s an easy way to add variation to existing loops.

Now it’s time to use basic automation to add variation. Click A to Show Automation on the Sampled Rock Beats track. Clicking on the Volume icon shows parameters that can be edited here.

Click Shift>Cntrl>Cmnd>1 or use the drop-down Mix menu to see a line that represents the parameter selected (volume). Recording fader (volume) movements will change this or simply click and drag it.

Click the first part and drag to zero and a second part to the top. Now the drums fade in automatically. Use this on many parameters within each track to add variation throughout a mix.

01

03

05

02

04

06

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MTF41.TUT Arranging in Logic.indd 21

| 21

13/11/2015 15:45


MusicTech.indd 1

11.11.2015 15:53:03


MUSIC IS OUR PASSION

MusicTech.indd 2

11.11.2015 15:53:07


MTF Feature Freeware!

MTF Feature

THE TOP

freeware plug-ins Fancy making music for nothing? For no outlay whatsoever? It’s time for MusicTech to round up the best freeware out there in all sorts of musicmaking categories, so sit back and enjoy the best free software available. FREEWARE Synths

Most freeware synths, it has to be said, follow the virtual analogue model, but we’ve tried to select as many different ones as possible… LINPLUG FREE ALPHA Virtual analogue LinPlug is one of the best plug-in developers out there, with big-name users including Paul Hartnoll, Pet Shop Boys, Vince Clarke and Boris Blank. The company also makes MT favourite Spectral, but this is a cut-down version of its Alpha synthesiser, which has been around for a while but is still a good VA synth capable of great sonic results, down largely to an architecture that comprises dual-waveform oscillators, a multimode filter and a great modulation matrix. The free version is fully functional, but ships with only a few presets. It’s still a worthy download, even after 15 years of doing the rounds. W: http://www.linplug.com/alpha. html Platform: Mac, PC

24 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT151.FreewarePt1+2.indd 24

GREEN OAK CRYSTAL Semi modular synth Crystal is still surprisingly all present and correct, and still going strong in the all-new Logic 10.2, after what seems like forever on both Mac and PC platforms. It’s a semi-modular synth with both subtractive and FM synthesis. You build, or indeed breed, sounds using parent waveshapes from categories such as Vintage, Atmospheres and Temp Sync’d, and the results stand up pretty well. OK, the GUI isn’t that pretty, but she ain’t bad for an old ’un, and there’s certainly enough control and options to wrestle some decent sounds out of it, with abundant modulation control and more than 90 parameters. Also available for iOS for $4.99. W: www.greenoak.com Platform: Mac, PC

STEINBERG MODEL-E Classic virtual analogue One of the first VST instruments released, Model-E is a classic soft synth in its own right, and four years ago Steinberg decided to release it for free. You can still download it, and the last still unsupported versions came out in 2011, so could well run on the latest systems. You get a quality synth with three oscillators and a noise generator, two envelope generators, a couple of filters, a stereo spread and a not inconsiderable 64 voices of polyphony, eight outputs and 128 memories. All things considered, it’s not totally unlike a MiniMoog in nature… W: www.steinberg.net/en/support/ unsupported_products/vst_classics_ vol_1.html Platform: Mac, PC

FOCUS

16/11/2015 09:02


Freeware! Feature MTF

U-HE ZEBRALETTE Virtual analogue synth

SYNTH1 Virtual Nord Lead Synth1 is a freeware synth classic, and has managed to survive and jump from system to system. It’s worth including on any best-of list, as it stands up sonically. Synth1 is modelled on a Nord Lead 2, one of the best hardware modelling synths. It’s not red nor pretty like a Nord, but has 128 presets, derived from a two-oscillator, FM and ring modulation engine with four types of filters, distortion, two LFOs, arpeggiator and 16 notes of polyphony. W: www.geocities.jp/daichi1969/ softsynth Platform: Mac, PC

Some freeware is clearly designed to plug the paid-for version, and some does that but is usable in its own right; this fits that category. U-he admits that “the idea is to use Zebralette to demonstrate the virtues of Zebra2’s oscillators to everybody out there, and perhaps even convince some of them that upgrading to Zebra2 might be a good idea,” but in producing Zebralette, the company has delivered a charming plug-in that has lots to admire. On top of that single oscillator are two LFOs, a multi-stage envelope and three onboard effects (chorus, EQ and delay). Some really great sounds can be produced, simple as that! W: www.u-he.com/cms/zebralette Platform: Mac, PC

DEXED Yamaha DX7 emulator Let’s face it, Dexed isn’t going to win any ‘come hither and play with me’ awards, as it doesn’t have what could be described as an enticing fascia. But nor did the Yamaha DX7 on which this is based. That was – is – a complex FM synth, and Dexed makes a very good stab at emulating its strings, its pads, its pianos and percussive sounds, and there’s plenty – too much – to edit, just like on the original. What you might well do, as (whisper) we did, is just dwell on the sound of the synth; and with 32 pre-loaded sounds you might stay there and dream for a while. They are superb and sum up happy memories of the original. Dexed is a great synth and, again, works well with the latest version of Logic. W: http://asb2m10.github.io/dexed Platform: Mac, PC

FREEWARE Effect!

TAL SOFTWARE ELEK7RO Virtual analogue TAL’s Bass line was one of the best, emulating the Roland SH-101. Elek7ro is just as simple, and also available for Mac and PC – the former only 32-bit, but it stands up well against some of the big boys. It snarls, squelches and burps – with two main oscillators and a sub giving extra growl – and is well worth racking up with some of the more atmospheric offerings here. W: http://tal-software.com/products/ tal-elek7ro Platform: Mac/PC

U-HE ZEBRALETTE Virtual analogue synth

BLUE CAT FREEWARE PACK II

Some freeware is clearly designed to plug the paid-for version, and some does that but is usable in its own right; this fits that category. U-he admits that “the idea is to use Zebralette to demonstrate the virtues of Zebra2’s oscillators to everybody out there, and perhaps even convince some of them that upgrading to Zebra2 might be a good idea,” but in producing Zebralette, the company has delivered a charming plug-in that has lots to admire. On top of that single oscillator are two LFOs, a multi-stage envelope and three onboard effects (chorus, EQ and delay). Some really great sounds can be produced, simple as that! W: www.u-he.com/cms/zebralette Platform: Mac, PC

Blue Cat Audio makes a fantastic range of processing and analysis plug-ins, but finds time to give a few away for free, too. The second revision of the Freeware Pack contains some excellent mixing tools. The chorus is a vintage effect with variable delay, the flanger sounds great on everything from guitars and drums to vocals, and the phaser completes the round-up of modulation effects. Gain Suite contains a series of gain utilities that let you use MIDI automation to control the volume of several channels at the same time. FreqAnalyst is an excellent spectral analyser. W: www.bluecataudio.comProducts/ Bundle_FreewarePack Platform: Mac, PC

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016 |

MT151.FreewarePt1+2.indd 25

25

16/11/2015 09:03


MTF Feature Freeware!

FREEWARE Synths…con’d

DAT SOUNDS OBXD Classic synth emulator The website claims it’s not a direct copy, but OBXD does have enough of the original Oberheim OB-X’s features to make this one of the finest freeware synths out there. We downloaded the Mac version and had no problems getting it up and running within the latest version of Logic. We were treated to a great analogue synth with a couple of oscillators (plus noise source) and some fantastic soaring Oberheim leads. There are a couple of banks of presets to download, including a factory set of 34, which include lots of very typical OB sounds – a bit of brass, loads of the aforementioned leads and the odd modular movement – but there’s plenty of hands-on control and modulation to easily create your own. W: obxd.wordpress.com Platform: Mac, PC

U-HE TRIPLE CHEESE Comb filter synth

U-He loves a good synth, and a good freeware Mac one at that, with Triple Cheese not being the only U-He entry in our freeware chart by any means. Triple Cheese has been a firm freeware favourite for many years now, perhaps down to the fact that it is not doing the analogue ‘thing’, like so many other synths out there. Instead, it uses comb filtering and three ‘cheese modules’ to get a variety of sounds, including pads and plucked sounds. There are many banks – 13 on download – produced by various people and including a bank of different cheese types (we’re partial to a bit of Gouda), which all goes towards making this one of the most distinctive freeware synths on the planet, and one of the pieces of freeware you will keep. W: www.u-he.com/cms/triple-cheese Platform: Mac, PC

BRAIN CONTROL TUNEFISH4 Virtual analogue Tunefish is an interesting freeware synth. It’s ’analogue’ (OK, virtual analogue) in many ways and utilises a noise generator plus standard waveforms and less standard pulse waves for the oscillator section. Filters, plus a couple of envelopes and LFOs, make up a fairly robust feature set. It’s not the prettiest synth, but is capable of some varied sounds. It’s good to hear the developer being honest about its history and plans, and to see how dramatically the synth has developed over the years. It runs well on newer systems, too. W: www.tunefish-synth. com/?action=download Platform: Mac, PC

FREEWARE Real instruments

The best free plug-ins that emulate real or acoustic instruments… UVI WORKSTATION Multitimbral instrument host

UVI makes some excellent sound libraries, and these are hosted inside its UVI Workstation, available as a plug-in or standalone application. The app is free and comes with a few free demo instruments, including electric piano, analogue strings, jazz drums, Spanish guitar and synth bass. It also has some built-in effects and an onboard arpeggiator and mixer. If you choose to add paid instruments, they introduce extra features, but the demo version is unrestricted. As it can run in standalone mode it’s also good for live performance. W: www.uvi.net Platform: Mac, PC

26 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT151.FreewarePt1+2.indd 26

KONTAKT PLAYER FREE Multitimbral VI host Native Instruments’ Kontakt is arguably the world’s most popular software for hosting sampled virtual instruments. It also comes in a free Player version. You can also download the Kontakt Factory Selection for free. At 650MB, it’s a generous free sound set, split into five sections. Band contains 13 instruments. World has six exotic instruments, and Synth has synthesised leads, pads, basses and drum kits. Vintage contains classic analogue synths and keyboards, while Urban Beats has five drum loop production kits. W: www.native-instruments.com Platform: Mac, PC

BIGTICK TICKY CLAV Hohner Clavinet emulator

If you’ve ever heard a funk record or some 70s disco, you’ve almost certainly heard the sound of the Hohner Clavinet. The real thing is a massive wooden beast of a keyboard, so it makes sense to recreate it in software. Ticky Clav uses a synth engine based on a physical modeling algorithm, that reproduces the string vibration and the two pickups of the Clavinet Model C. The ‘click’ part comes from the key click that was such a big part of the sound of the original. There’s a built-in wah effect and selectable manual or auto wah. W: www.bigtickaudio.com Platform: Mac, PC

FOCUS

16/11/2015 09:03


‘SEEING RED’ Freeware! Feature MTF

When we see red we are far from angry. In fact we are over the moon with both The Phoenix HG15 and The Culture Vulture super 15 receiving awards. We must be doing something right!

MDRUMMER SMALL Sampled drum instrument Melda makes a huge range of effect and instrument plug-ins, and even gives some of them away for free. A smaller version of the paid version, MDrummer Small still comes with 500MB of samples, multisamples and rhythms. It’s available in all formats, and is also standalone on Windows (though not on the Mac). You get over 30 drum kits made up of more than 400 drum components, over 200 samples, 50 multisamples, 60 rhythms and more than 2,500 loops. It has a built-in sequencer for creating patterns and technology to help you humanise your beats. A demo version of MDrummer Large is also included, so you can check out whether or not you want to upgrade to get extra features. W: www.meldaproduction.com Platform: Mac, PC

THE PHOENIX HG15 A super-sounding mic amp and compressor with some eq thrown in, so effectively a “channel strip” with the unique Phoenix sound. 48v supplied, Air, Presence and HPF eqs. Side chain bass cut switch. Two can be coupled for stereo

THE CULTURE VULTURE super 15 All valve pro stereo distortion/enhancer. Can just “warm” a sound or Destroy it. Loads more tonal variations on this model plus new eqs. Can now be ordered with balanced inputs AND outputs (XLRs)

and now for something with a little Attitude . . .

COMBO MODEL F Virtual combo organ Combo organs from the 60s have remained popular, finding fans more recently in guitar-based bands. Since the originals are rare, expensive and hard to maintain, software is the way forward. Combo Model F is easy on the eye and has a four-octave keyboard with a harmonic range of six polyphonic octaves. There are four footage tabs and three treble voice tabs, plus a multi tone booster and knee level control, as well as a bass voice, playable from the grey keys. A vibrato pedal adds modulation to the signal, and there’s adjustable tuning per-note, a reverb unit, speaker cab simulation and velocity sensitivity. The whole thing works on modeling rather than sampling so it’s especially flexible. W: http://www.martinic.com/combof Platform: Mac, PC

THE LITTLE RED BUSTARD 16 input all valve summing mixer. She may be smaller than her big Fat brother, but she’s feisty and will fully drive your DAW! Clean yet warm until the Attitude is boosted and musical 2nd harmonics are added. The eyes may glow red when the output is high. The Air control adds a nice silky sheen to the mix. Channels are switched in pairs. 13-16 may be sent to centre.

A terrific summing mixer bringing NATURALITY to a mix.

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016 |

MT151.FreewarePt1+2.indd 27

27

16/11/2015 09:05


MTF Feature Freeware!

FREEWARE Creative effects

Freeware effects that you use for more creative purposes when mixing your music… A1 AUDIO A1TRIGGERGATE Sequenced rhythmic gate processor

SINEVIBES ZAP Audiocontrolled synthesiser

ACON DIGITAL MULTIPLY Phase randomising chorus

Disillusioned with a lack of suitable plug-ins, developer Alex Hilton started to build his own. A1 TriggerGate is a rhythmic gate audio processor that can be used to get the popular effects heard in dubstep, house and other electronic music. There’s a variable onboard step sequencer, where each beat consists of four steps, or three in triplet mode, and each step has a volume fader. There are integrated effects, too: low-pass filter, drive/distortion and echo/delay to keep things interesting. These don’t have tons of controls, but sound great. Although highly programmable, the effect also has a randomiser for punching in new settings instantly. W: www.alexhilton.net Platform: Mac, PC

This unusual plug-in for the Mac is a mini synth that is controlled by audio that you route into it. Beginning with an envelope follower that tracks the peaks of the signal, it applies this to the frequency of a monophonic oscillator. There are three oscillator waveform modes (pure sine, ring mod sine and phase mod sine), and Zap turns any sound source into dynamically generated basses, bleeps, blips, sweeps or glitches. In a similar way that VJ software makes graphics respond to the characteristics of incoming audio, so Zap does it with synthesised sound. It’s a quick way to beef up beats with auto-generated synth elements. W: www.sinevib.es/zap/ Platform: Mac

This chorus effect has a phase randomising filter that avoids unwanted comb filter effects. The plug-in can simulate up to six additional voices, and the pitch and loudness can be tweaked. You also get an EQ and a pre-delay section. There’s good workflow, and you get undo and redo capabilities, A/B of setups and a preset manager. It comes in VST or AAX formats for Windows and VST, AAX or AU on the Mac, in 32- or 64-bit versions, with support for 96kHz sample rates and mono or stereo processing. Audio examples are available on the website. W: http://acondigital.com/products/ multiply/TubeOhm/ALPHA-RAY-PIC. html Platform: Mac, PC

TAL CHORUS LX Juno-60 chorus module

CAMEL AUDIO CAMELCRUSHER Colouring multi-effect

This is about as simple as effects get, but still sounds great. Taken from the chorus section of a larger virtual instrument, it has the characteristics of the chorus section of the classic Roland Juno 60 synth. With two different modes, you also get a dry/wet control, a volume knob and a stereo width control to change the amount of separation the effect introduces. AAX format is supported on Mac and Windows, as well as VST on both and AU on the Mac. Chorus isn’t just the cheesy effect heard on synths in the 70s and 80s, but can also subtly add warmth and colouration to everything from drums to vocals. W: http://tal-software.com/products/ tal-chorus-lx Platform: Mac, PC

Although Camel Audio has been bought by Apple, some of its free plug-ins are still available to download online. CamelCrusher takes some of the processing technology from the company’s other multi-effects and puts it into a simple free effect. You get two distortion types: a warm, analogue modeled resonant low-pass filter, a very easy to use compressor with a ‘phat’ mode and a MIDI learn function, as well as a bunch of presets and a randomiser for instant inspiration. CamelCrusher is perfect for fattening up drums, vocals, synths and practically anything else, with its distinctive beefy sound. W: www.audiopluginsforfree.com/ camelcrusher Platform: Mac, PC

SINEVIBES ATOM Temposynced modulating filter Atom is a filter, but one focused on dynamic, tempo-sync’d modulation. With five different resonant filter types, each with three slope settings, you also get two modulators with multiple waveforms that run at rates from 1/128 note to 16 bars. There’s a chaos function that randomises the amplitude of each modulator cycle and a lag switch to smooth out the waveform curves. It also has an unusual interface, with simple graphics, rather than the kind of GUI you might be used to. With an advanced transport sync algorithm and support for tempo and time signature automation, it’s a great way to get rhythmic filtering into your music. W: www.sinevib.es/atom/ Platform: iOS

28 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT151.FreewarePt1+2.indd 28

FOCUS

16/11/2015 09:05

Focal


Freeware! Feature MTF

FREEWARE Drums & drum machines

Get your beats for free with our round-up of the best… MINISPILLAGE Drum synth module Minispillage comes from developer Audiospillage, and is a free, pro-quality drum synth plug-in with 64-bit DSP processing. It features three fully editable drum pads that can create a range of drum and percussion sounds: Bass Drum, Wood Drum and Electro Hi-Hat. The Bass Drum module uses a single oscillator with pitch sweep, internal FM and harmonic controls. The Wood Drum synthesises natural and synthetic timbres from log drums to toms, and the Hi Hat module is a six-oscillator closed and open hat generator with noise source and dual resonant filters. It’s more advanced than you might expect. W: http://www. audiospillage.com/minispillage.html Platform: Mac AU

HAHAHA DS-01 Drum synthesiser Electronic drum machines were always more flexible than sample-based ones because their sounds were generated using synthesis rather than sampling, and therefore much more open to manipulation. The curiously-named ‘hahaha DS-01’ isn’t particularly hilarious, but it is a straightforward drum synth that the developer claims “would have existed in 1983” if it had been a real product. The look is sparse, and you get eight synth sections, one for each drum type, from kick and snare to hi-hats and toms. The results are as you would expect: thoroughly 80s. Each sound can be extensively tweaked and has panning and volume controls. W: http://www.pethu.se/music/ instruments.html Platform: Mac, PC

TERAGON AUDIO KICKMAKER kick synth Some drum instruments are dedicated to making a single kind of drum sound. In EDM, kick sounds are very important, and Teragon Audio’s KickMaker is designed for creating kick drum sounds. It has four independent oscillators and a variety of effects. Each oscillator has its own ADSR curve for shaping the sound, and there’s a further ADSR section for the summed output of the oscillators. You load this instrument onto its own MIDI track and program the kick parts separately from your other beats, or use it to bolster existing drum parts by introducing heavier kick parts underneath existing patterns. W: http://teragonaudio.com/ KickMaker.html Platform: Mac

Focal Alpha

For the producer inside you.

Whether you’re an, engineer, producer, writer or DJ, the most important gear in your studio is your monitors. But the good ones are usually so expensive! Introducing the new Alpha 50, 65 & 80. Designed with brand new, Focal-manufactured drivers: aluminium inverted dome tweeter c/w new 5”, 6.5” & 8” polyglass woofers, all powered by dual Class AB amp’s. NEVER BEFORE HAS THIS PERFORMANCE BEEN AVAILABLE IN THIS PRICE RANGE.



www.scvdistribution.co.uk

Distributed by SCV Distribution: Call 03301 222500 for your nearest dealer

In stock now at: Absolute Music, Dawsons, Dolphin Music, Funky Junk, GAK, Gear4Music, Giraffe Audio, Guitar Guitar, Juno Records, Kazbar Systems, KMR, Music Maker (Dublin), Music Matter, Production Room, PMT, Red Dog Music, Rubadub, Scan Computers, Studioxchange, Westend DJ, Westend Production. FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016 |

MT151.FreewarePt1+2.indd 29 5-11-15.indd 1 Focal Alpha Series Ad MusicTech

29

16/11/2015 13:48 09:06 05/11/2015


MTF Feature Freeware!

FREEWARE Mixing Effects

These will affect your mix rather than your sound – ideal for balancing levels – and all free… TDR KOTELNIKOV Dynamics processor TDR Kotelnikov is a wideband dynamics processor, combining high-fidelity dynamic range control with musical flexibility. As a descendant of the TDR Feedback Compressor product family, Kotelnikov has inherited several unique features, such as a proven control scheme, individual release control for peak and RMS content, an intuitive user interface and powerful, state-of-the-art, high-precision algorithms. With 64-bit floating point processing, it offers a fast, natural-sounding compression, a sidechain high-pass filter and advanced stereo linking options for the stereo bus. It’s simple to use, yet also powerful and has won acclaim for its great sound and clever interface. W: www.tokyodawn.net/tdrkotelnikov Platform: Mac, PC

MIDI FX FREEZE MIDI effect converter MIDI modifiers are particularly useful when programming. Things such as chorders, arpeggiators and other tools that interpret your input to create more complex parts are all cool. But they remain virtual until you render them to audio, where you lose editability. This plug-in does it differently, by turning live-generated MIDI parts into editable regions on a MIDI track. From there, you can work with the parts directly, since they are no longer virtual. You insert the plug-in at the end of the MIDI effects plug-in chain and then use it to ‘freeze’ the MIDI part, whereupon it is rendered down to a MIDI event on the target track. If you work with arpeggiators and the like a lot, it’s a lifesaver. W: www.audiocr.com/midi-fx-freeze Platform: Mac

30 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT151.FreewarePt1+2.indd 30

LKJB LUFTIKUS Analogue EQ module It’s not entirely clear how to pronounce it, but Luftikus is a digital adaptation of an analogue EQ with fixed half-octave bands and additional high-frequency boost. It has bands at 10, 40, 160 and 640Hz, as well as a 2.5k shelf and mastering and analogue modes, depending on how you are using it. As an addition to the hardware, it allows deeper cuts and supports a keep-gain mode to avoid dramatic changes to overall gain while you are changing EQ settings. Sometimes, you want your EQs to be simple, and that’s what you get here. Nevertheless, it sounds great and can be a nice alternative to your bundled EQs that may have come with your DAW. W: www.kvraudio.com/product/ luftikus-by-lkjbinstruments.html Platform: Mac, PC

MINIMAL SYSTEM INSTRUMENTS FILTER BANK Multimode filter Filter Bank is a fantastic multimode filter for both producers and DJs. Combining five different filter types and LFOs with pure analogue-modelled dirt, this filter brings a cool-sounding effect to your productions. You get low and high pass, band pass, notch and peaking filters and an analogue knob, as well as LFOs and in and out controls. The developer also claims very low CPU usage, which is a bonus, and although it’s a 32-bit effect it should also work on 64-bit systems that use a bridge for backwards compatibility. A good trick is to automate the filters using your DAW or DJ software, perhaps while linked to a hardware controller, to create more organic filter movements. W: http://minimalsystem.com Platform: Mac, PC

FLUX BITTERSWEET 3 Audio transient manager Flux makes some pretty nifty apps, and also gives away a couple for free. BitterSweet 3 is a transient designer that can help to tame the transients in your audio material. Simply turn the large dial in the centre to either decrease or amplify the transients in the signal. Transient shaping is used to add attack to sounds; or when used in the opposite manner, to smooth them out and deaden the sound a little. It’s particularly handy for drums and emphasising or softening hi-hat cymbal parts, depending on what is required. Like all of Flux’s plug-ins, you get 64-bit support and up to eight channels of audio at 384kHz. W: www.fluxhome.com/products/ freewares/bittersweet-v3 Platform: Mac, PC

VOXENGO STEREO TOUCH Mid/ side stereo enhancer Stereo width can be an issue with some recordings. This effect transforms a monophonic track into a wider stereophonic track by using mid/side coding to alter it. It takes the mono signal and uses it to generate a stereo output signal, even supporting multichannel input and routing that to stereo too. It’s designed to work on mono sounds without very sharp transients, such as acoustic and overdriven guitars, synthetic pad sounds and vocals. The idea is you can take flat-sounding mono sources and widen them out without having to use a double-track recording technique. Try it on mono mic’d guitars and vocals. W: www.voxengo.com/product/ stereotouch Platform: Mac, PC

FOCUS

16/11/2015 09:07


Freeware! Feature MTF

FREEWARE Mastering effects

FREEWARE DAW

A round-up of free plug-ins used to make your mixes sound professional…

Complete DAWs, free? Yes, there are some available – here are the best…

A1STEREO CONTROL Stereo expansion and control processor Stereo expansion is often used in moderation during the mastering stage, though it can also be employed on individual tracks when mixing. The idea is to give your tracks more width and make them sound more expansive. One problem can be widening the bass end, as bass should remain centred to retain focus and power. The A1StereoControl has a solution for this in the Safe Bass algorithm, that centres all bass signal below a user-configurable threshold. Different pan laws and curves are supported, as well as a classic ‘balance’ mode and dual panning. Use it to add scope to your mixes and masters. W: www.alexhilton.net/A1AUDIO/ index.php/a1stereocontrol Platform: Mac, PC

KLANGHELM IVGI Saturation and distortion processor One of the perils of producing music in the digital domain is everything can sound too clean and clinical. The imperfections that came with recording to tape were often what gave the sound character. Some people try to reintroduce this warmth by adding saturation at the mixing or mastering stage. IVGI reacts dynamically to the input signal and can produce subtle saturation when applied to a master signal. It can also be used to distort tracks. The Controlled Randomness feature introduces drift and variance, and lets you alter the frequency dependency of the saturation with the response control. W: http:///www.klanghelm.com/IVGI. php Platform: Mac, PC

VLADG SOUND LIMITER NO.6 Multiband limiter

LVC AUDIO CLIPSHIFTER 2 Waveshaping audio plug-in

Limiting generally comes at the end of your mastering chain, and is the last stage in processing a track. Although your DAW may come with a limiter, it could be pretty basic, and Sound Limiter no.6 offers more options – all for free. There are five modules: an RMS compressor, peak limiter, highfrequency limiter, clipper and a true peak limiter. Brickwall and soft limiting are supported, and use different timing settings depending on the effect you want. Mid/side is supported, and there’s a multiband mode for more precise control over the limiting of different frequency bands. 4x oversampling is available, and you get retro level meters, and a choice of two GUIs. W: https://vladgsound.wordpress.com Platform: Mac, PC

ClipShifter is a waveshaping audio plugin that functions like a clippingstyle limiter, and can be used at all mixing stages, from distorting basses and drums to maximising mix buses and warming up mixes. The sonic characteristics of the clipping distortion can go from hard, brickwallstyle clipping to softer saturation with compression. It can be used in static or dynamic mode, and there’s an independent left/right or mid/side threshold control, as well as the ability to change the clip shape and adjust the harmonic content. This functionality is free, though there’s the option to pay to unlock more. W: lvcaudio.com/plugins/clipshifter Platform: Mac, PC

MULAB Cross-platform music production studio Believe it or not, some DAWs are free. MuLab works on Mac or PC and has a remarkable feature set. As good, in fact, as some entry-level paid DAWs. You get audio and MIDI multitracking, automation support, modular architecture and multicore CPU support. There’s support for REX files, slicing sampled drum loops, a streamlined mixer and a selection of synths, samplers and effects and various sample players. Native MUX modules can be mixed with VST plug-ins and there’s ReWire, a browser, drag and drop and multi-monitor support. W: www.mutools.com Platform: Mac, PC

STUDIO ONE PRIME Free version of popular DAW Presonus’s Studio One is an increasingly popular DAW for Mac and PC and though there’s a demo version, there’s also a free version in the form of Studio One Prime. This has some of the core features of the full version. It features an elegant single-window environment with drag and drop and multitouch support, unlimited audio tracks, as well as MIDI tracks, buss tracks and effects channels. You get the free Presence XT expandable sampler with a sound library, as well as nine audio effects including Ampire, Beat Delay, chorus, reverb and more. Check it out for a flavour of what it can do. W: www.presonus.com Platform: Mac, PC

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016 |

MT151.FreewarePt1+2.indd 31

31

16/11/2015 09:09


MTF Feature Freeware!

FREEWARE DAW…con’d

ARDOUR Recording and mixing environment As it offers the user unlimited channels, Ardour allows overlapping layered regions, non-overlapping regions or true destructive (single-file) regions. Tracks may be mono, stereo or multichannel. Flexible plug-in panner architecture allows sensible panning of multichannel tracks into buses. There’s much more, including extensive video support that is better than in many paid DAWs and supports extracting audio from video and modular support for using multiple machines. There’s full plug-in support, plus batch track export, non-destructive editing and comprehensive mixing and routing available. It’s particularly elegant for a free DAW, and can even give a fair few paid alternatives a run for their money. W: www.ardour.org Platform: Mac

OHM STUDIO Online collaborative DAW Ohm Studio is a very clever system that mixes a freely downloadable app for your Mac or PC with a cloud system that enables online real-time, multi-user collaboration on projects. It comes complete with a collection of plug-ins from Ohm Force, and also supports your local VST collection. When you share a project to the cloud, the software freezes the tracks, making the audio available to your collaborators. The company makes some free instruments and effects that can be downloaded, and also produces some commercial ones that you can purchase for a fairly modest price if you wish. The DAW itself is beautifully designed and slick, complete with the core tools that you need to record and mix your music. W: www.ohmforce.com Platform: Mac, PC

32 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT151.FreewarePt1+2.indd 32

FREEWARE DJ

There are plenty of free plug-ins out there aimed at the DJ. Here’s a round-up… VIRTUALDJ Crossplatform DJ software Despite some introductory spiel on its website about why anyone might want to use a digital DJ program instead of lugging around a big sack of vinyl, VirtualDJ is still a very widely downloaded and free app for Mac and PC. As well as being able to play video tracks, it has a good core set of DJ features, including effects such as flanging, echo, beat slicers, loopers and more. On the video side, it also has live video effects and transitions, and you can hook it up to a projector for live performance. It has plug and play compatibility with many DJ controller hardware units and a bunch of user-created scripts for download to add compatibility and mapping for even more controllers. W: www.virtualdj.com Platform: Mac, PC

SERATO DJ INTRO Scratching and beat matching DJ app Serato DJ Intro is a cut-down version of the company’s industry-leading Serato DJ software, and is available for free on both Mac and PC. It supports various hardware controllers, including the Denon DJ MC4000 and Pioneer DDJ-SB2, as well as four-deck mixing. You can beat match and scratch digital music files from your computer and use cue and loop points to jump around within a track. Sample slots alow you to drop samples into a live performance, and basic effects are available if you want to spice things up a little. Serato’s pedigree is excellent, so it’s worth looking into this. W: http://serato.com/dj-intro Platform: Mac, PC

CROSSDJ FREE DJ performance software CrossDJ comes in three versions, but the free edition is still surprisingly capable. It gives you two decks and three effects, two fully-featured video decks with 35 video transitions, camera integration and a titler, plus three video effects. You can record video output, though it will be watermarked in the free version. There’s iTunes support, and also iOS remote support. If you choose to step up to the main version – at a cost of $49 – you get quite a lot of extra stuff, or to the pro version for $89 you get a bunch of video extras. Mixvibes also makes CrossDJ for iOS, so that can be an inexpensive way of getting into the software if you own an iPad or iPhone. W: www.mixvibes.com Platform: Mac, PC

MIXXX Advanced DJ mixing software Mixxx is surprisingly adept for a free app, and has features you might expect to be restricted to paid software. You get two decks with time stretching and vinyl emulation support, as well as beat looping, hot cues and pitch bend. Multiple audio formats are supported, and there’s a crossfader and EQ. Four sampler decks let you drop in samples. The software can be skinned, and you can record your mixes to your computer and broadcast them over Shoutcast with gain normalisation, using the mic input for talking to your audience. MIDI controllers are supported for more hands-on control, and there’s support for timecoded vinyl. W: www.mixxx.org Platform: Mac, PC

FOCUS

16/11/2015 09:07


Freeware! Feature MTF

FREEWARE Guitar

The guitar gets a section to itself. Here’s a list of the best six-string free software… VB-1 Virtual bass instrument Although technically discontinued, Steinberg still makes its classic VB-1 available for download. It has made it free, too. It was a staple of early Cubase VST systems, and although a little basic it’s fun and can bring a proper electric bass sound to your tracks. It’s four-voice polyphonic, which is fine for bass, which is usually monotimbral, and has damper, pickup position, pick position and wave morph controls as well as a ramdomiser. In a world of mega-sample libraries, it’s a refreshing 4.3MB. W: http://www. steinberg.net/en/support/ unsupported_products/vst_classics_ vol_1.html Platform: Mac, PC

KEOLAB SPICY Acoustic guitar synth Acoustic guitars are pretty difficult instruments to recreate the sound of. You either use lots of samples, or as Keolab has done, model using synthesis to recreate the guitar tones. There are nine types of guitar here: four folk, two classical, one flamenco, one jumbo and one gypsy, as well as a choice of nylon or steel strings. It works like Kontakt in that you have MIDI keys for playing notes and then control keys for the playing articulations, such as legato, palm mute, harmonics, sustain or chord detection. There are different chord types and a strumming engine to recreate the action of playing. W: www.spicyguitar.com Platform: Mac, PC

VOXENGO TUBE AMP Virtual tube amplifier Tube Amp is an AU and VST plug-in that applies asymmetric tube triode overdrive usually found in single-tube microphone pre-amp boxes. The sound this plugin produces varies from a mild ’warm’ overdrive to a fuzzy distortion. It also includes a -6dB/oct low-pass filter that’s built into the plugin’s tube/ valve modeling equation, and can imitate a lower-quality tube triode. There’s a switchable output saturation stage, which can be used to overdrive the output signal and all the standard Voxengo plugin features, such as full multi-channel operation, channel routing and built-in oversampling. It’s great for guitars and for dirtying up sounds such as vocals, drums or synths. W: www.voxengo.com Platform: Mac, PC

FREEWARE Other

It’s just freeware that we could find no category for, but it’s still worthy of inclusion…

MULTIINSPECTOR FREE Audio analysis tool A simpler version of the more advanced MultiInspector, this free plug-in visualises up to four audio signals in real time in one window, and helps you identify overlapping frequencies. It’s a 31-band spectral analyser with multitrack functionality, though it’s limited to a sample rate of 44.1kHz. For more features, you can upgrade to the full version. Audio analysis is a vital part of the production process; by analysing your signal properly you can see where problematic areas occur in the mix and use EQ to fix them. Analysing with software is often more accurate because it’s not affected by things such as the room. W: www. vertexdsp.com Platform: Mac, PC

VOXENGO SPAN FFT analyser Span is a real-time FFT audio spectrum analyser that can be inserted on any track in your DAW to give you an accurate visual readout of what’s going on in the frequency and amplitude of the audio. It’s highly configurable, letting you specify FFT block sizes and visual slope, and supports multichannel analysis or displaying spectrums from two different channels or groups at the same time for comparison. You also get output metering with adjustable ballistics and metering time, headroom estimation and clipping detection, as well as correlation metering. It’s a really advanced plug-in, and not one you’d normally expect to get for free. W: www.voxengo.com/product/span/ Platform: Mac, PC

GRUNGELIZER Vinyl simulation This one lives on Steinberg’s “discontinued” area of the product download website, but it’s still available for free. Grungelizer used to be a part of Cubase, and was much loved by many people, hence the decision to keep it around, if unsupported. It’s deceptively simple, but sounds great and can be used to add variable amounts of vinyl sound to your tracks: anywhere from subtle trip-hop warmth right through to 1920s gramophone filth. You can even add simulated electrical hum to the signal. Although basic, it’s tremendous fun to use and actually comes in pretty handy for many tasks. If you’re lucky, it should still work on your Mac or PC. Get vinylising your tracks today! W: www.steinberg.net Platform: Mac, PC MTF

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016 |

MT151.FreewarePt1+2.indd 33

33

16/11/2015 09:09


MTF 20 Pro Tips EQ

EQ tips The EQ stage of mixing is vital in finding space for each instrument, making important moments punch through and eliminating clutter. Here’s our guide to getting it right… WATCH THE VERY TOP A common procedure when editing or mixing audio is to try to get rid of hiss on recorded audio tracks. These very high frequencies can often be found between 5kHz and 20kHz in the frequency range, depending on the material, so applying a high-cut filter with a narrow Q value should enable you to knock out the hiss while leaving other high frequencies that you want to keep intact. As ever, this is a matter of careful experimentation. Systems such as Dolby Noise Reduction used to get rid of hiss, but also usually made the whole track sound dull as a side effect. Since digital files don’t suffer from the same physical problems as tape, you can be fairly sure that if you get your top end sounding clean, it should be reproduced as such whatever it’s played back on.

01

01

Vocals need to cut through a mix, or at least be prominent and audible, and EQ is key to this CONTROL YOUR BODY More than any other tool, EQ is able to control the ‘body’ of a sound. Compression can play around with levels and presence, but to control the weight of a sound it’s usually to EQ that you will turn. For some parts, this means reducing bottom end and lower mids to reduce clutter in the mix, and for others it’s about adding weight by increasing those same frequencies.

02

ADD BASS WEIGHT To add weight to a track, try looking around the bottom end of the spectrum, gently boosting with an amount of around 10dB as you move around, until you find a point that seems to add the most body. Then find a frequency either double or half that value – so if it was 110Hz, go to 55Hz – and add a dB or two of boost there as well.

03

IT’S THE ENSEMBLE THAT MATTERS In a dense or complex arrangement, you may well find that two or more elements of a track are fighting to occupy the same frequency space. It might be impossible to EQ them to sound the same as they originally did and still make enough space for both of them. One trick is to EQ them in slightly different directions while keeping them sounding good in the context of a track. This doesn’t necessarily have to be extreme; for example, you could make one guitar part more bass-heavy and one more top-heavy. Solo’d up, they might sound odd, but the main thing is that they sit well in the context of the track. If there are parts of a track where a

04

34 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT151.Tips.indd 34

FOCUS

13/11/2015 14:11


EQ 20 Pro Tips MTF

sound plays solo or with less accompaniment, you can always automate the EQ to behave differently at those points, or duplicate the track and treat it separately. UNDERSTAND VOCAL REQUIREMENTS Vocals almost always need to cut through a mix, or at the very least be prominent and audible, and EQ is key to this – along with compression, of course. There are some good rules of thumb to observe. A lot of male vocals will, prior to treatment, have too much bass end on it to sit well in a mix, so rolling off some of this is usually a good tactic. A vocal that is too nasal or top-heavy, on the other hand, might benefit from the addition of some lower mids, and perhaps even bass. As vocals can sometimes vary over a large part of the frequency spectrum through the course of a song, you need to pay particular attention to their EQ. Multiband compression can also help to control unexpected peaks if a single band compressor isn’t quite doing it.

05

05

06 ORDER MATTERS As with any effect used as an insert, the point at which you apply EQ can have an effect on the end results. Imagine you applied an EQ that cut out a lot of bottom end, and then in the next insert slot applied a compressor. That would cause the compressor to behave in a specific way because it would be compressing a signal without much bass end. If the EQ was applied after the compressor, the EQ would be working on the compressed sound – the full frequency spectrum – rather than the compressor working on the EQ’d sound. The differences can be subtle or more noticeable, depending on the plug-ins you are using. If you are using EQ in your DAW’s mixer, rather than as a plug-in, be aware of what path the signal is taking on its journey from timeline to speakers.

07

COMPARE AND CONTRAST When it comes to getting a production right, you’ll do a lot of tweaking. Many EQ modules give you the ability to A/B between two presets, and sometimes as many as four. With almost any effect used during music production, this can be a really helpful thing to do, as it lets you non-destructively audition different treatments and flip between them. After extensive periods of listening, your ears get used to the way something sounds, and so sometimes a fresh perspective can be helpful. Consider, also, muting the EQ from time to time to remember exactly what you are adding or taking away from a part. EQ presets, whether in the form of plug-in or track presets in your DAW’s mixer, are also a good way to try different treatments while being able to roll back easily.

08

Consider muting the EQ from time to time to remember what you are adding or taking away PRE-TREAT CERTAIN SOUNDS When you are recording certain sounds, particularly vocals, it can be advisable to do a little EQ’ing on the channel into which the vocal is going to be recorded. Close-up vocals, in particular, can sound boomy in the singer’s headphones and lead to them not performing to their full potential. Knocking some bottom end off will help their vocal sit better in the headphone mix. Remember, however, the difference between doing this using a software channel strip where the EQ is not part of the take, and thus can be changed afterwards, and on your mic pre or interface, where the changes are a permanent part of the recording. It’s usually wise to record relatively clean and then EQ afterwards, but if a sound is particularly problematic at the low or high end, for example, it doesn’t hurt to mitigate this prior to recording.

06

Use an EQ like this to accurately remove high frequencies (far left) Different vocals have different EQ requirements; male vocals might need the bass reduced (above) Similarly knocking the bottom end off a vocal might help it sit better in headphones (top right)

GET UP CLOSE Between about 4 and 6kHz, you will find frequencies that control the clarity and ‘up-front’ quality of a track, so boosting in this range can make the music seem closer to the listener. At the very top end, from 6 to 16kHz, you get the ‘air’ that can be used to add sparkle to tracks. Pushing the very top end too hard can result in sibilance on vocals, or too much hiss, so be careful. Some EQ plug-ins even have an “add air” preset.

09

INVESTIGATE CHANNEL STRIPS All major DAWs feature EQ of some description on channels, often in the form of a channel strip. These usually contain some handy presets that you can dial in quickly to see how something will sound. One good use for this is to pull up a ‘telephone line’ or ‘old radio’-style EQ setup to quickly alter the sound, rather than having to spend time working out for yourself how such a curve might be set up. You can flip through presets to quickly audition different treatments; of course, every vocal is different so it’s unlikely a preset will be perfect from the get-go, but it’s usually a great starting point.

10

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT151.Tips.indd 35

| 35

13/11/2015 14:11


MTF 20 Pro Tips EQ

10

you need to be specific and try to isolate a certain frequency that can be found only by using a 30-band model, but more often than not, around six might be a good number to use. This stops you from over-complicating what need only be a fairly simple task. Sometimes, you might only need to use a high or low shelf, which involves just one EQ point, for the purposes of rolling off top or bottom end. When you start getting into 30-band territory, it can be overkill.

Some third-party plug-ins take the form of channel strips, notably Izotope’s Alloy and various models from Waves.

GET IN THE Q Many EQ modules, particularly parametric models, have a Q control for EQ points, and this is just as important in tailoring the character of the EQ as setting the frequency. Q controls the width of the EQ curve, and hence how much of the area around the frequency point is affected. With a narrow Q, one example of which would be a notch filter, only a very specific frequency is affected – and this makes it good for trying to pinpoint individual sounds within an audio signal. A wider Q value, on the other hand, affects more of the the frequencies around the main EQ point, often tailing off gently. This is better for pulling a broader frequency range up or down. Narrow Q values are often used for more surgical EQ, whereas gentler Q values are used commonly in mastering.

11

LESS CAN BE MORE Different EQ modules and plug-ins have different numbers of bands, and when they do you can often switch different bands on or off. Normally, you might find anything from two to 30 bands available to you. There are cases where

12

11

13

STRIP IT BACK When EQ’ing a whole track during mastering, some people like to start by knocking off the bottom end so that they can hear the middle and top in isolation. They adjust the lower and upper mids to get the sound good and firm, and the top so that it is bright but controlled. Then, bringing the bottom end back in will bolster the overall sound and you can EQ it accordingly. This stops you focusing too much on the bass end all the way through the EQ process. Of course, the end goal is a perfectly balanced sound, and how you go about it is less important than achieving it. Remember not to use EQ to compensate for volume – that should be done with compression, or multiband compression if necessary.

13

Channel strips are worth using for their presets (top left) Pinpoint specific frequencies with a narrow Q (below) For mastering you may want to drop the bottom end to hear the rest (above)

MAKE SPACE FOR COMPETING SOUNDS When EQ’ing during mixing, there are tricks to make elements in a similar frequency range sit together. The kick drum and the bass are two things that often get in each other’s way, so you could try cutting one at a specific frequency and boosting another at exactly the same frequency. You need to try to avoid situations where you have two EQ modules boosting at the exact same frequency. Ideally, you should create a space for each instrument to live in within the mix. Sidechained compression can also be used effectively here.

14

GET DEEP DOWN Sub bass lives between around 16 and 60Hz, and these sounds are often felt more than heard. Too much emphasis on them can make a track seem muddy and confused, so if this is happening, try using EQ to roll them off. Regular bass is somewhere between 60 and 250Hz, so playing around with these frequencies can add weight to the track or thin it out a little if it is sounding too boomy.

15

KEEP IT SIMPLE A lot of virtual instruments have EQ controls on them, and it’s important to remember that any presets you use may already have EQ applied. The same goes for presets on other effects plug-ins that you may have called up on other tracks. Try to EQ in as few places as possible, as this keeps the signal path a little simpler, and if you are troubleshooting it means fewer places to look to find a culprit.

16

36 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT151.Tips.indd 36

FOCUS

13/11/2015 14:11


EQ 20 Pro Tips MTF

16

CHOOSE AN EQ TYPE Parametric EQ is the kind that may come as part of your DAW, and offers a number of bands and usually the ability to draw in EQ points with the mouse and make Q settings. Graphic EQ is more often – though not exclusively – found in hardware form, and features a large number of physical sliders that can be used to control the shape of the sound. Linear Phase EQ is found only in software form, and allows EQ’ing without colouration of the sound.

18

18

Some EQ modules let you set the shape of the EQ curves applied at different frequencies UNDERSTAND CURVE SHAPES Some EQ modules, such as Fabfilter’s Pro-Q, let you set the shape of the EQ curves applied at different frequencies. These let you quickly dial in EQ characteristics without having to play around with lots of dials. The most common types of curves are bell, high and low shelf and high and low cut. By mixing and matching curve types on different frequencies within a single EQ module, you can more precisely control the character of the sound.

17

Know your EQ types (above right)… Some instruments have very usable EQs built in (above)… Getting hands on with an EQ controller is beneficial (below)

MASTER THE MIDS A lot of information in music exists in the mid range and it’s important to understand the difference between lower and upper mids. Simple EQs sometimes have a single mid control, but having two or even three for different parts of the mid range is much more flexible. You can generally set the crossover points of these sections on a more flexible EQ unit to tailor the boundaries to the material you are working with.

19

USE HANDS-ON CONTROLS Some EQ plug-ins can be made to learn from MIDI input, and where this is available you can connect a MIDI control surface and assign knobs to the EQ dials. While playing back, this would allow you to tweak EQ points and curves by hand, which can feel much more natural and intuitive than using the mouse. Some control surfaces are designed specifically for tasks such as this. MTF

20

20

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT151.Tips.indd 37

| 37

13/11/2015 14:11


MTF Show off your Logic studio

Show off your Logic studio

John Seput boasts an incredible amount of tech and guitars, plus that most important of studio items: a random toy (car in this case). Inset: a rack of gear with the ubiquItous blue strip lights – we love it…

We have some of your amazing Logic studios under the spotlight (or blue striplight). Go to the MusicTech Facebook to show yours off…

John Seput Contact: jseput@yahoo.com Key components: Focal Twin Be 6 & Yamaha HS50 monitors; Speck X-Sum mixer; Drawmer 1968 ME tube compressor; API A2D & PreSonus ADL 600 preamps; SPL2 monitor controller; 2x Speck ASC-T EQs; Lynx Aurora 8 & AES16e; Korg Triton ProX + various cards; Roland V-Synth XT & XV-5080; Yamaha Motif ES Rack; E-mu Orbit; Access Virus A; Korg MS2000R; Kurzweil K2VX; NI Maschine MK1; Arturia KeyLab 49 & SparkLE; many guitars! Which DAW and why? I have most of them: DP8, Logic X, Ableton, PT11, HarrisonMixBuss. I started with Performer 1.0 when it was MIDI, and even used to use Opcode Studio Vision. I mainly now use Logic for composing and Pro Tools for tracking and editing. I’m trying to get my head around Ableton and would like to start composing in that. Favourite gear? I have two special pieces of gear: the WashBurn Boogie Street Southern Cross replica, that I got as a birthday present from my

38 | Logic Pro X 2016

MTF41 SOYS.indd 38

wife, and a tube mono power amp that my father built many years ago. How do you use your studio? I work with select projects when I can. The studio is in a bedroom in my house, so when I record bands, the whole house gets taken over for isolation. Last year, I recorded a young band called Slow Hollows that are doing really well. We had the drums in the living room, the guitar amps in another bedroom, bass direct, etc. I’ve done some composing and sound design for games, some industrials, an album for my last band Division Six, and I do some keyboard tracks for another project. What annoys you about it? Well, I wish I had more space. The room can get cramped, and I think having more depth would help with my mixing. What is next on your shopping list? I want to check out the Roland JD-XA, or the Prophet 6 (I used to have a VS and Prophet 10). My current setup is mostly ‘in the box’,

and I’m missing having a keyboard I can truly interact with. The other piece of gear that interests me is the Allen & Heath GSR24 console. Before I went in the box, I had a GS3000-32 console, and I really miss that sound. Dream gear? I had a lot of vintage synths in the past… Yamaha DX1, CS-70M, Sequential Prophet 10 and VS, Roland MKS-80, 70, JD-800, JD-990, etc, Oberheim OB-X, Matrix 6, OB-MX, Minimoog D, Waldorf Microwave… I wish I had them all still, but space was an issue. I always wanted the Oberheim Matrix 12 or Expander. I was lucky enough to use both in college, and I always thought they were amazing synths (I do have the Arturia Matrix 12 version). Any advice? Get the best monitors and headphones you can afford, and make sure your room is set up correctly. Gear acquisition syndrome is real – make sure you have a balance of being a tech vs a composer or player. A lot of time can be spent with software updates.

FOCUS

13/11/2015 15:38


Show off your Logic studio MTF

Gareth Orme

LTL Records

Contact: garethorme@icloud.com

Interviewee: Bobbi Styles Contact: bobbi.l.style@ltlrecords.com

We like a person in shot now and again…

Love those mics and table…

Key components in your studio? Mac Pro; Logic Pro; Waves Mastering; JJP Analog; SSL4000 Bundle; Spectrasonics Omnisphere; NI Komplete 9 and Maschine 2; DSP-Quatro; BFD 2; too many sample libraries. Hardware: Dynaudio M2s; Apogee Digital Symphony; Avalon VT-737SM; UA LA-610 MKll; SSL Nucleus; NI Maschine 2; various analogue synths; JD-8000; Korg Triton; M-Audio AIR & Axiom 49 keyboards; PreSonus Monitor Station; and several electric guitars/ basses and classic mics. Which DAW do you use and why? I started on Cubase on an Atari 520 STF way back when, but since switching to Logic (2.5) many years ago it’s been my DAW of choice and now it’s Logic Pro X. I love the work flow and creative ease of use – the best solution for the way I work. I have Pro Tools if a client asks, but have not used it for two years. Favourite piece of gear? A tough one: My Dynaudio M2s. They’ve gone into every studio I’ve built or used in the last decade or more and I’ve relied on their amazing honesty of sound for over 15 years. Perfect or room for improvement? There’s an argument going on between Logic, M-Audio and the SSL Nucleus over who’s the main controller… How do you use your studio? I use my studio mainly for LTL Records and other labels artists, but I do work woth other artists and bands

not on any label, too, but the studio is not a hire-by-the-day studio. It’s an artist/label project studio, either for my productions of others on other labels. Saying that, I do find that I am mixing for bands and artists from around the world most of the time now. What is you dream piece of gear? Excuse me while I take 10 years to decide. Either an SSL Duality or Neve Genesys, either one 64-channel, primarily for their quality, and also for their DAW compatibility. Next on your shopping list? An SSL Sigma – I really want to have an SSL analogue summing box – and also Neve’s 5059 summing box. That way I can switch between the two classic-sounding analogue busses within my work flow One piece of advice? Get good speakers/monitors, one decent pre/ comp box and treat your space with whatever you can to kill bad audio reflections. Good speakers are essential, but a bad setup or bad room can kill any chance of a good mix. Don’t chase the loudness, gain stage correctly and go for mix quality not loudness. Also, stop watching the clock! Don’t write your song in the studio while paying for a studio by the hour. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse before you go into the studio. The studio services are free, it’s my sarcastic British humour you’re paying for… No, your girlfriend, her pics or videos are not acceptable currency.

Main components? UAD Apollo Twin Duo; Dynaudio BM5a MK2 monitors; UAD, Slate, Waves, Soundtoys & NI plug-ins; Apogee Duet 2; MOTU 8 Pre; Focusrite Platinum Octopre LE, TrakMaster and Voice Master; Frontier AlphaTrack; M-Audio Axiom Air 32; Akai LPK25; Presonus HP4. Which DAW? Logic Pro X. The choice when at university was either Logic Pro or Pro Tools. At the time, Logic had better features and was better value for money, whereas Pro Tools did not feature 64-bit architecture. Favourite gear? UA Apollo Twin Duo – a great little box of tricks. Unison technology is fantastic, and yields good results when it comes to preamp emulation. It also gives me access to the UAD plugin library, which I couldn’t work without. How do you use the studio? I record bands, but mostly it’s editing, mixing and mastering. We use it to record the MNFM unsigned podcast show. Next buy? I’m torn between a Neumann TLM103 mic and the Kemper Profiling Amp. The TLM will probably win – it was my mic of choice at uni – I really like its sound. Dream piece of kit? A Neve Genesys Black Hybrid 8. It would be a dream to work on a console that has eight channel strips with 1073 mic pres and four-band 88RS EQs, alongside full DAW control and motorised faders. It would be a lot of fun and make my workflow much easier. Advice? The most important studio component is the room. Spend time to understand acoustics, learn how to make your own treatment to save money and aim to get the flattest room response that you can. MTF FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MTF41 SOYS.indd 39

| 39

13/11/2015 15:38


MTF Buyer’s Guide Six of the best

Six of the best Hardware

Software

Mobile Tech

Details Price €229 Contact AIAIAI +45 35 34 63 54 Web aiaiai.dk

Accessories

Welcome to the MusicTech Focus Buyer’s Guide, where we round up some of the best products reviewed in MusicTech. This time, we look at some of the recent and not so recent headphones we’ve tested…

BEST All-rounders

Audio Technica AT-M70

B

Details

ang for buck, it was hard to beat our previous reference phones, the Audio Technica AT-M50s, but then along came the AT-M70s. At £299, they are not the cheapest on offer here but probably the best all-rounders. Reviewer Andy Jones said: “Because of the extra frequency response on the M70s, I expected more bass, but actually the opposite is true. If anything, there is now a noticeable clarity of the bass on the 70s compared to the 50s. It’s not muddy, but more defined, perhaps more accurate on dance music, and flatter. The M70s are accurate and great for long sessions – not a common combination – so perfect for mixing. The best just got better.”

Price £299 Contact Audio Technica 0113 277 1441 Web eu.audiotechnica.com/en

BEST Marmite

Telefunken EA THP-29

Y

ou will either absolutely love the look and feel of these or you will, like some in our office, not. But there’s no denying the sound and comfort of Telefunken’s latest – and who cares what they look like when you are wearing them? Reviewer Andy Jones said: “I have no difficulty recommending them. Sure, I have reservations about the plastic band – but its flexibility probably helps the isolation – and some

40 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT150.6OTB.indd 40

Details Price £129.60 Contact Unity Audio 01799 520786 Web www.telefunkenelektroakustik.com

BEST DIY

AIAIAI TMA-2 Modular

I

gnore the ‘Modular’ bit. The big draw with these phones is the fact that you can choose your bits and construct them yourself (and be tempted by combos that certain producers use). But your best bet is to choose the Studio ones that we tested, and which sound great, rather than risk making your own. Reviewer Andy Jones said: “As much as we like the concept of building and choosing your own components, for studio use that concept gets in the way of what are a great set of phones. Just go ‘Studio’ and you’ll be fine…”

may not agree with me about the Art Deco design, but if I’m wearing them, they’re comfortable and, more importantly, they sound great, then they’re winners to my ears. For the cash, then, there’s little to beat them. Plastik Fantastik! Like monitors, you need two pairs of phones for mixing: one for comfort and long sessions, and one for accuracy. There are few headphones that do the first job better than these.”

FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:43


Six of the best Buyer’s Guide MTF

BEST Flatness

Audeze EL-8

A

t the best part of £600, these are among the most expensive headphones around, but like good monitors they sound as flat as a pancake. Almost too flat, as reviewer Andy Jones said: “What this means is that for a pure listening experience some may find it a little underwhelming. I compare it to the first time I used truly flat monitors. I thought they weren’t as good as my cheaper ones, simply because they weren’t enhanced, so

sounded a little lifeless. But for ‘lifeless’ in mixing terms, read ‘useful’, because you will hear all the nooks and crannies of your mix, and there is a space around these that will enable some detailed meddling of it. You might not want to mix on the EL-8s for hours on end, but also like good, really flat monitors, you’ll end up with better mixes at the end of your sessions.” He concluded: “Those after enhancements and a more joyful, but dishonest listen, might need to aim lower.”

BEST Budget

Details Price £599 Contact Scan 01204 474747 Web www.scan.co.uk

M-Audio HDH50

Details Price £106.80 Contact InMusic, 01252 896040 Web www.m-audio.com

T

hese are (just about) the cheapest phones on offer here. Like monitors, we normally say go for the most expensive set you can, but if you really are pushed, these phones will do a decent enough job. They were also compared to a set

of cheaper M-Audios, reviewed in the same issue, and we concluded that they are definitely worth the extra £70, saying: “At £120, the HDH50s are a good buy, and offer a better mix experience and range than their cheaper brother.”

“You will hear the nooks and crannies and, like a good pair of really flat monitors, you’ll end up with better mixes at the end of your sessions…” BEST Price v quality

Shure SRH940

T

hese are standouts from Shure’s SRH headphone range, which has been setting standards for some time. At £179, they are probably the best value in that range, versus the features and sound you get. The frequency range traverses 5Hz to 35kHz, and at 322g they are light enough to remain comfortable for long

Details Price £179 Contact Shure via website Web www.shure.co.uk

listening sessions; sound-quality wise, they fit the bill too. While not as all-encompassing as some of the higher-priced ones here, they do offer a comfort v sound factor which is right up there with the best. Good value, good sound and isolation, plus great comfort. A very solid set of reference phones for various mixing situations. FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT150.6OTB.indd 41

| 41

13/11/2015 12:44


MTF Technique Creating cinematic synth bass

Powered by

Technique Logic in depth

Requirements

Creating cinematic synth bass Following Mark Cousins demonstrates how to add some powerful synth bass to your scoring to get an incredible cimematic low end to your music…

W

henever you think of driving cinematic scores you may well take a close look at how drums can be used to provide the energy behind an action cue. However, there is one key instrument that also helps with modern scoring – the synthesiser – in providing the harmonic ‘pulse’ to the music. Look at a range of contemporary film scores – from Hans Zimmer’s Dark Knight trilogy to Brian Tyler’s work with the Marvel films – and you’ll see how a pulsing synth bass forms an integral

On the disc Accompanying project file included on the DVD

The use of a consistent accent across multiple parts really helps to define the energy of the cue part of the score. The reason for this is two-fold. Firstly, synth bass can form an important harmonic foundation (often going deeper than the low end of the real orchestra), and secondly, its relentless, mechanical precision really helps drive the cue along.

your drum sequence. The use of a consistent accent across multiple parts really helps to define the energy of your cue, especially when you start to use some clever off-beat syncopation. The accent can be defined in two ways: either using velocity (as you’d expect) or by the use of octave switching, so that the bass part uses notes an octave higher to define accent points.

Push the envelope As well as using your own programmed MIDI sequences, you can also look at exploring features within the virtual instrument plug-ins themselves. One notable solution is the use of complex, rate-level envelope generators, which can be put to distinctive use on synths such as Massive, Omnisphere and Absynth (to name but a few). The envelopes can be routed through to a number of different parameters (filter cutoff, the amplifier, oscillator pitch and so on) to create a range of interesting pulsing effects, all triggered from a single MIDI note. An alternative approach is to use an arpeggiator, either on the instrument itself or as a MIDI plug-in, as a means of creating a 16th-note sequence. Beyond the basic

First steps To create your own pulsing synth bass, there are a number of creative options you can explore – both in respect of the means of creating the pulse and how to process and layer the sounds. Arguably the simplest solution is to program the sequence from scratch, usually using the step time input in your piano roll editor, or simply drawing in a series of 16th-note divisions. One key concept to pin down at this stage is whether you intend to use some form of accenting. While a relentless swathe of 16th notes can work well, it’s often useful to mirror the accent pattern that you’ve built up in

ARPEGGIATORS Arpeggiators can be a good source of pulse effects, especially if you exploit their full creative potential. Experimenting with the note order (up, down, random, and so on), as well as octave range, can bring some interesting serendipitous results. However, for a more predictable output, consider using its in-built step sequencer track lane, which is an integral feature of both Logic Pro X’s arpeggiator and the arpeggiator included in Omnisphere. Use the step sequencer track lane to define preset accent patterns, which can be mapped through to filter cutoff or amplifier level. If you’re feeling really adventurous, try setting a number of steps that’s deliberately wrong (15, for example) and then hear a unique syncopation effect that changes by 1/16th every bar!

42 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT150.TUT Logic.indd 42

FOCUS

13/11/2015 14:05


Creating cinematic synth bass Technique MTF

MTF Step-by-Step Synth bass

Working from a drum session – see files on the DVD – create a simple bass sequence using 16th notes. The sequence can either follow your chord progression (if you’re working with one) or stay fixed on the root note.

All the drum parts feature an accent pattern (four groups of three and two groups of two) that needs to be replicated in the synth part. To create the accents, we’ve used a combination of higher velocities and an octave shift.

Create an instance of Retro Synth for the bass part. We’re using a combination of sawtooth and square waves between the two oscillators, and plenty of Voice Detune under the Global controls to give the sound some fatness.

To give the sound some percussive bite, create a sharp filter envelope – setting: Attack 0ms, Decay 590ms, Sus 0 and Release 270ms. You’ll need to lower the cutoff and adjust the Env Depth control to get the desired amount of movement.

To create the accent, we can use two routes. Firstly, the Vel slider (found in the Filter Env section) can adjust the amount of Envelope Depth added by harder velocities. Also, look at the Velocity to Filter Cutoff option under the Settings tab.

Add a composite layer using another synth working with the same pattern. In this case, we’ve used Razor but added some cutoff modulation (via an automation track lane) to create more movement and interest in the additional layer.

01

03

05

sequence, think about how you can layer further instances, as well as using signal processing plug-ins. When it comes to effects, two of the best options are distortion and a tempo-synced delay. The distortion works wonders when you want to increase the amount of aggression in the cue – maybe starting from a subtle filtered synth bass to one that has a dense collection of harmonics that cut through the track. Likewise, a tempo-synced delay can increase the rhythmic interest, especially in situations when you’ve added some form of accent to the pattern.

02

04

06

Finger on the pulse The use of layering – both as a means of developing the cue over time and defining the top-to-bottom use of frequency space – often makes a big difference to the cue’s musical effectiveness. Think about carving a unique sound space for each part by varying a few key parameters. A harmonicallyrich synth pulse sound, for example, could have a clipped envelope with a short decay, allowing the sound to cut through, but not dominate the mix. Likewise, low-pass, band-pass and high-pass filters all have their part to play FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT150.TUT Logic.indd 43

| 43

13/11/2015 14:05


MTF Technique Creating cinematic synth bass

defining a unique part of the frequency spectrum. As you add parts, therefore, consider using different filter modes so that each has its own space. Although we’ve covered the key points here, there’s really a whole world of options for you to explore, particularly with the release of new software instruments that are either dedicated to the task of ‘synth pulses’ or particularly adept in that area. One perfect example of this is Output’s Signal, which includes a specifically designed Pulse Engine that

embeds many of the techniques described here into the front-end of the instrument. Ultimately, it’s the perfect way to embed the power of a synthesiser into a cutting-edge score, and a great way to give your music the energy and drive it deserves. MTF This tutorial is endorsed by Point Blank. With courses in London, online and now in LA, Point Blank is the Global Music School. You can study sound to picture on their Music Production Diploma courses, with pro industry tutors. More info here: www.pointblanklondon.com

MTF Step-by-Step Synth bass

Here’s another means of creating a ‘pulsing’ synth layer using Omnisphere. We’re starting from an initialised patch, using the SawSquare Fat waveform. Add a basic 12dB low-pass filter, increase the filter’s sustain and reduce its Velo setting to 0.

Press the Envelope Zoom magnifying glass. Click on the drop-down menu and select one of the Rhythmic Envelopes. Ensure both Loop and Sync are active, so that the pattern repeats and stays in time with your DAW’s tempo.

Return to the main Edit page to tweak the results. Set the amount of Env Depth to establish how much effect the envelope has. Also, tweak the Cutoff setting to establish the ‘base level’ for the envelope movement.

Adding some effects can really improve the overall sound. Move over to the FX page and insert the Tape Slammer and BMP Delay. As the delay is synced with the envelope movements, it adds a pleasing extra rhythmic dimension.

An Omnisphere patch has two layers (A and B, accessed via the tabs at the top of the Edit page), so try adding a sample-based layer on Layer B. You can use the Mix and Pan controls to balance the amounts of each layer.

Rather than modulating the filter, this time try using the Rhythmic Envelope feature to modulate the amplifier, which creates a form of key gating effect. You can either use the same envelope setting, or pick a different pattern for a syncopated effect.

07

09

11

44 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT150.TUT Logic.indd 44

08

10

12

FOCUS

13/11/2015 14:05


LOOPMASTERS.COM GREAT SOUNDS. SERIOUS INSPIRATION. The number one website dedicated to providing 100% royalty-free sample libraries for producers worldwide from the best sample labels on the planet.

THE SAMPLE BOUTIQUE


MTF Technique VA Synthesis with Alchemy

Powered by

Technique Logic in depth

VA Synthesis with Alchemy Alchemy is a tremendously versatile synth, but its VA engine is the real star of the show. Mark Cousins explore some classic subtractive sounds…

W

ith Granular, Additive and Formant-based synthesis modes, Alchemy is a complex and vast synthesizer that can take years to truly master. At its heart, however, Alchemy has a surprisingly easy-to-use virtual analogue (VA) synthesis engine, capable of producing many of the distinctive synthesizer sounds we’re used to hearing on a Moog, ARP or classic Roland synthesizer. While it might not be as immediate an instrument as Retro Synth, the sheer dexterity and sonic power of Alchemy’s VA engine is well worth closer inspection.

On the disc Accompanying project file included on the DVD

VA Basics Thanks to a clear and intuitive interface, the basic principles of VA synthesis on Alchemy are easy to understand. We start with four Sources (in Alchemy-speak)

The sheer dexterity and sonic power of Alchemy’s VA engine is well worth closer inspection… that form our four oscillators – A, B, C and D. In VA mode, the four sources can each be assigned a variety of starting waveshapes, including the classic Sawtooth, Pulse and Square as well as a variety of more esoteric, harmonicallycomplex waveshapes. The output of the oscillators is then passed on to two multimode filters, which can work in either parallel or serial configuration, before being passed to the amplifier. What seems an initially straightforward set of synthesis controls reveals additional depths and sonic powers as you move deeper into the architecture. Click on the source tabs on the top left-hand side of Alchemy’s interface and you’ll see an expanded set of controls for each Oscillator. One of these expanded controls – found at the far right-hand side

– are the Unison controls that double-up the oscillators with up to 16 additional voices. Add copious amounts of detune, and from just a single oscillator you can produce a sound of eight or more analogue synthesizers stacked on top of one another.

Filter fun For Logic Pro X users that are accustomed to working with the ES2, the serial/parallel filters should be easy to understand. Like the ES2, Alchemy has two filters that can either be used one after another (so that the output of the first filter feeds into the next), or in parallel where the two filters run concurrently. You can also route the four oscillators so that they address either Filter 1 or 2, making it possible to create some unique hybrid effects. In the walkthrough (starting opposite), we’ll take a look at one example that creates a hybrid pad sound routing a single oscillator to two filters running in low-pass and band-pass modes respectively. Modulation, of course, is the point at which any synthesizer starts to get interesting – mapping a variety of modulation sources (like envelopes and LFOs) through to any number of controls within the synthesizer. What makes Alchemy an exciting proposition is both the wealth of modulation sources available – including a Multi-stage Envelope Generator (MSEG) and Step Sequencer among all the usual Envelopes and LFOs – and the fact that they can be routed to any parameter within the synth.

Mod heaven To keep its operation intuitive, Alchemy’s modulation routing system works on a ‘last control touched’ principle. Adjust the filter cutoff, for example, and you’ll see Filter 1 Cutoff appear as a target in the modulation section. Simply click on the drop-down menu and you can select a modulation source from the comprehensive list. What’s particularly

VA ELEMENT CONTROLS The VA Element Control (found as part of the expanded Source options) has a number of detailed but important controls that relate specifically to the task of VA synthesis. When you load a Square or Pulse wave, for example, the Symmetry control acts as a Pulse Width control, which can be modulated to create the classical PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) effect. Sync creates a form of pitch-based distortion, whereby the wavecycles of two oscillators are locked together. Raising Sync increases the waveform distortion, and sounds really effective when controlled from an Envelope generator for the classic ‘sync sweep’ sound. As well as a Unison option, you can also activate a noise source, which is great for synth percussion effects, or adding a touch of grit into fast-moving sequencer lines.

46 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT153.TUT Logic.indd 46

FOCUS

13/11/2015 14:48


VA Synthesis with Alchemy Technique MTF

MTF Step-by-Step Alchemy VA Synthesis

Load an instance of Alchemy and start by initializing a blank patch using the Alchemy menu item File > Clear. You should now have a vanilla ‘Sawtooth’ patch. Now, move over to the Advanced tab to begin refining the sound.

Under the Advanced tab we can see a global overview of the current patch, moving between the four oscillators (A, B, C and D) at the top, through to the filter and amplifier. Click on the waveform name to select a new VA waveform.

Activate the second oscillator by clicking on the small B icon. Change the waveform assignment to Square – Arp and use the Tune control to shift the oscillator down 12 semitones from Oscillator A. This forms the sound of the sub oscillator.

Each oscillator has an expanded selection of controls, which you can see by clicking off the Global tab (in the top left-hand corner) and selecting A, B, C or D. Over the right-hand side we can increase the unison (Uni) voices and the amount of detune.

Once we’ve established the starting timbre it then gets passed through the filter. Using the drop-down menu you can select your filter type, which can include low-pass, band-pass and high-pass operation as well as various filter types like notch and formant.

We’re working with the 4-pole, Low-pass LP4 MG filter. Try reducing the cutoff and increasing the resonance to hear its sound. For a real Moog-like sound, try increasing the drive to add extra body and grit to the filter’s operation.

01

03

05

useful is the orange banding that wraps around the selected parameter, which gives you an idea of the amount of modulation being applied. Reduce the depth control, for example, and the band shrinks, having less of an impact on the destination parameter. Handily, this also provides a visual indication of how the depth interacts with the ‘base-level’, often reminding you to lower a parameter so it can be modulated correctly. The programmable modulation sources (including the

02

04

06

LFOs, AHDSR, MSEG and Step Sequencer) can all be accessed using tabs in the modulation area. If you’re using more than one LFO, AHDSR, MSEG and Step Sequencer note the ‘Current’ number parameter, which lets you step between the different iterations (like LFO1 and LFO2, for example). As evident on many of the presets, the Step Sequencer is a great way of adding movement and animation into your Alchemy patches, especially when you combine multiple track lanes and clever parameter routing. FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT153.TUT Logic.indd 47

| 47

13/11/2015 14:48


MTF Technique VA Synthesis with Alchemy

Going further

In keeping with the flexibility across the rest of the synth, Alchemy provides a total of five effect buses (A, B, C, D and Main) each of which can be assigned its own chain of effects. In theory, you can route individual oscillators directly to the effects section (bypassing the filters) or in the same way, route individual filter outs directly to their own effect bus. Combined with the flexibility filter routing, it means that you really exploit hybrid sounds, layering different filters and effects as part of the same patch.

If you’re thinking that the omission of Alchemy’s Granular, Additive, Formant and Sample-based synthesis leaves a gaping hole in your understanding of Alchemy, you need not worry. Understanding the architecture of Alchemy via the familiarity of VA synthesis is a great first step in a more comprehensive understanding of the synth. In truth, the more esoteric and unusual Source modules tap into this same architecture, so that what once seemed like an

MTF Step-by-Step Alchemy VA Synthesis (cont’d)

Adding filter modulation is easy. First make a few movements to cutoff and notice how the Modulation routing window (just beneath the oscillators) updates to include Filter 1 Cutoff as the Target. From the drop-down menu select AHDSR Env > New AHDSR.

With our routing established, the modulation area should have updated to display AHDSR 2. Set sustain to zero and program a fast decay and release. Notice the orange banding to illustrate the filter movements, which can be reduced using the depth control.

Now let’s add some vibrato via LFO1. Go to the expanded view of Oscillator A and wiggle the Fine-tuning control. As with filter, the Modulation routing window updates to show Tune Fine A as the target. Select LFO1 as the source.

Now adjust the LFO setting to fine tune the vibrato. Take the Sync control off and adjust the rate to your taste. You can also try experimenting with the Shape selection. There are some useful chaotic waveshapes like ‘Disrupted Cycle’.

To demonstrate the parallel filters, let’s create a basic PWM pad sound. From a reset patch setting, select the Pulse 50 – Arp waveform for Oscillator 1. Modulate the Sym control using LFO1, with rate around 12 o’clock and depth at 2 o’clock.

Setup a soft LP4 MG setting on the filter. Modulate filter cutoff so that it tracks the keyboard, using Note Property > Key Follow as the modulation source. As you move up the keyboard note how the filter also opens up.

07

09

11

48 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT153.TUT Logic.indd 48

08

10

12

FOCUS

13/11/2015 14:48


VA Synthesis with Alchemy Technique MTF

oscillator has miraculously transformed a granular synth engine. Although the source module changes, the route through the synth – including the filters, FX routing and modulation routing – remains the same. In a future workshop, therefore, we’ll take a look at some of the more advanced features of Alchemy and how they can be used to produce highly contemporary sounds, rather than the old-school analogue patches we’ve explored this time. As you’ll see, Alchemy is a deep and

complex musical instrument, but one that really rewards time spent with it, thanks to an intuitive interface and an almost limitless set of possibilities to explore. Look out for more in a future tutorial. MTF This tutorial is endorsed by Point Blank Music School, which specialises in courses on production, sound engineering, the music business, singing, radio production, DJ skills and film production, all run by top British music producers and media professionals, with regular visits from legends in music and media. www.pointblanklondon.com

MTF Step-by-Step Alchemy VA Synthesis (cont’d)

Make sure the F1/F2 control is at 12 o’clock on Oscillator A. Activate the second filter and select the BP4 MG mode. Move the cutoff control and hear its sweep in addition to the low-pass filter. The two filters are working in parallel.

Now add some modulation of Filter 2 Cutoff using LFO2 (as LFO1 is currently being used to modulate waveform symmetry). Set the depth to a relatively shallow amount, and adjust the speed so that the movement is a slow undulation.

By default, AHDSR1 is automatically routed through to the amplifier. Select the AHDSR tab, therefore, and increase the attack and release to create a more pad-like volume envelope. You might also want to lower sustain slightly and increase the decay.

There’s a wealth of modulation potential in Alchemy, including a fantastic step sequencer. Setup a new modulation routing for Filter 2 Cutoff (in addition to the existing KeyFollow routing) using Sequencer1 as the source.

Open the Sequencer tab and adjust each of the 16 preset steps. Create a different value for each step so that you create a repeating sample-and-hold type pattern. This can have a subtle or extreme effect on the filter by varying the depth.

Alchemy has its own four-bus effects engine, which can be individual addressed by the two filters. Change the filter output setting from FX Main to FX A and B respectively. Effects are instantiated at the bottom of the interface.

13

15

17

14

16

18

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT153.TUT Logic.indd 49

| 49

13/11/2015 14:48


MTF Technique Getting the best from Vintage Keys

Powered by

Technique Logic in depth

Getting the best from Vintage Keys

Logic Pro X’s Vintage Electric Piano and Vintage Clav are some of the finest keyboard emulations available. Mark Cousins goes retro.

A

long with the Vintage B3, the Vintage Electric Piano and Vintage Clav form the trio of vintage keyboard instruments included with Logic Pro X. The appeal of these vintage keyboard emulations is easy to see. Firstly, they provide an instant splash of retro charm to any music they grace – whether it’s a rusty old fender Rhodes in a trip-hop inspired composition, or a more funkalicious Clavinet adding a distinctive 70s vibe. Secondly, they respond and play like musical instruments, with unique sonic quirks and a sound that responds to the dynamics and shape of your playing. Rather than being based on samples of an existing instrument, Logic Pro X’s Vintage Electric Piano and Vintage Clav are both examples of modelled instruments. Rather than simply recording an old Rhodes, software engineers

On the disc Accompanying project file included on the DVD

They provide an instant splash of retro charm to any music they grace – from trip hop to funk… looked at how these instruments behave – the sonic traits of its basic sound, and how its timbre changes in response to the player’s performance and the controls found on the instrument. Although much harder to code, modelled instruments are often highly responsive to your playing and as another bonus, editable in ways that sample-based instrument can never compete with.

Like the real thing Pleasingly, both Vintage Clav and Vintage Electric Piano sound ‘on the money’ right from the moment you load the default setting, which is testament to the detail on the modelling. One parameter that you might want to immediately explore, though, is the choice of model, found in the top left-hand corner. In effect, the model selects a

completely different instrument, so that, in the example of the Vintage Electric Piano, you might move between the sound of a Fender Rhodes and that of a classic 200A Wurlitzer (the quintessential Supertramp keyboard sound, in other words). You’ll also find different model numbers, Stage and Suitcase models, as well as clean and ‘distressed’ versions. To keep their operation intuitive and as close to the originals and possible, both the main pages on the Vintage Clav and Vintage Electric Piano feature a simplified control set similar to what you’d find on the original instrument. In the case of the Vintage Electric Piano, the original controls were relatively limited (just Bass Boost and volume) although some units would feature tremolo controls, replicated in the bottom right-hand corner of the interface. Instead, the main controls of the Vintage Electric Piano focus on the additional effects that many players use – chorus and phasing – as well as some basic colouristic tweaking in the form of drive and EQ.

Vintage Clav up close Compared to the Vintage Electric Piano, the Vintage Clav controls are slightly more esoteric and less intuitive to the newcomer, thanks to six elusive rocker switches covering the filter and pickup operation. To modify the tone of the Clavinet, the original D6 had a series of rocker switches (Brilliant, Treble, Medium And Soft) that operated as a series of band-pass filters running in parallel. In theory, the rocker switch is active when it’s set towards the player. As such, the original unit produced no sound when all the rocker switches were away from you – a behaviour that (perhaps thankfully) hasn’t been modelled on Logic’s Vintage Clav. Creating your chosen timbre on the Vintage Clav, therefore, either means using just a single rocker switch to plant the

CHANGING PICKUP POSITION One of the more intriguing aspects of the Vintage Clav modelling controls is the ability to reposition the pickups. To understand how this works it’s best to start with just one pickup (rocker position C) and move the pickup to hear the different sounds. Positioned horizontally at the middle of the string, the sound is at its strongest, throughout the entire keyboard range. As you move the pickup upwards or downwards the sound becomes thinner, and if the pickup is angled slightly, the sound becomes thinner towards the top and bottom of the keyboard. Add a second pickup, with or without phase reversal and a degree of pickup-based stereo width, and you can achieve some pleasing hybrid tones that balance the thinner and fatter sounds of the instrument.

50 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT154.TUT Logic.indd 50

FOCUS

13/11/2015 15:24


Getting the best from Vintage Keys Technique MTF

MTF Step-by-Step Vintage Keys

The drop-down menu in the top left-hand corner of the Vintage Electric Piano lets you select the various models on offer. As well as the Rhodes models (like Suitcase Mark I), there are also models of various Hohner and Wurlitzer pianos.

The tremolo effect is synonymous with Electric Piano, providing a characteristic ‘wobbling’ effect. Raise the Intensity control (also controlled via the Mod Wheel) to hear more of the tremolo effect – from a light shimmering, to a noticeable amplitude modulation.

As well as intensity, the rate of the tremolo effect is another important control. For example, you could use a slow undulating tremolo that syncs to the tempo of the track, or use a faster vibratolike rate that runs out-of-sync with the track.

Stereo is easy to overlook, but its role is just as vital. At 180º, the tremolo wobbles between the two speakers, alternating left then right. At 0º the tremolo is amplitude modulation, where the volume of the piano is pulsed up and down accordingly.

Adding a small amount of drive is a great way of beefing-up the bell-like sound of an Electric Piano. Use small amounts of Type I for a little extra body, or more extreme amounts of Type II for a heavier distortion on lead lines.

For a more ballad-like tone to your Electric Piano, try using the Chorus and Phaser modules. Of the two effects, Chorus has a softer sound, especially on lower Intensity setting, while the Phaser has a more pronounced and noticeable sweeping effect.

01

03

05

Clavinet’s timbre in a distinct part of the frequency spectrum, or a more full sound that uses a combination of the rocker switches, or indeed all the switches in tandem. The other rocker switches govern the pickup selection, much like the pickup selection on an electric guitar. With C active, the A/B switch moves between the Neck and Bridge pickup, with A having a warmer sound to B. With D active, both pickups are used, but this time the A/B rocker switch

02

04

06

controls phase, again result in the B sound being thinner than A. Both the original Clavinet and Fender Rhodes were examples of an electro mechanical musical instrument that used a combination of physical components (tines in the case of the Fender Rhodes and steel strings in the case of the Clavinet) and electromagnetic pickups to amplify the sound. As such, there’s a distinct similarity between the FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT154.TUT Logic.indd 51

| 51

13/11/2015 15:24


MTF Technique Getting the best from Vintage Keys

sound of an electric guitar and that of the Vintage Electric Piano and Vintage Clav. Indeed, given the need to play through an amplifier to be heard in a rehearsal, most players would play their instrument through an available guitar amp like the Fender Twin Reverb, or even use guitarists’ footpedals, like chorus and phasers, to liven-up the sound. Given these similarities, it makes great sense to pair

both instruments with instances of Pedalboard and Amp Designer, with Pedalboard’s output flowing into Amp Designer. The use of Amp Designer adds distinctive mid-range colouration, and if you use a touch of drive, an added layer of distortion, these can help define the instrument’s place in the mix. The use of Pedalboard also increases the possibility of using effects, giving a greater variety of chorus and wah-wah options (in addition to those

MTF Step-by-Step Vintage Keys

For an authentic low-fi sound, consider playing the Vintage Electric Piano through an instance of Amp Designer, as players would have done in the 60s and 70s. You’ll want to lower the drive on the instrument itself, so start by exploring the cleaner amp tones.

This patch takes the amplifier concept one stage further, adding an instance of Pedalboard before Amp Designer. A combination of Tape Delay and Phase Tripper produce a suitably psychedelic sound, with both the delay and phaser being coloured by the amp.

Here’s a contrasting setting, using the Transparent Preamp and just a touch of colouration from the speaker cabinet and ribbon mic. Placing an instance of Space Designer after Amp Designer places the speaker in a natural-sounding virtual room.

Like the Vintage Electric Piano, the Vintage Clav includes a range of different models, some more realistic than others. The Classic I and II models are closest to the original Clavinet sound, with Vintage I and II offering a more ‘aged’ sound.

The filter rocker switches can be a bit confusing. With the rocker switch towards you, the accompanying filter band is active. In essence, these are four band-pass filters (Brilliant, Treble, Medium and Soft), each progressively lower in the audio spectrum.

If you want the Clavinet to sit in a narrow part of the frequency spectrum, use just a single filter band setting, with Brilliant being the shrillest. For a fuller setting, consider using two, three or four of the bands in tandem.

07

09

11

52 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT154.TUT Logic.indd 52

08

10

12

FOCUS

13/11/2015 15:24


Getting the best from Vintage Keys Technique MTF

found on the instrument themselves) as well as the addition of effects like delay that aren’t found on either instrument.

damper noise, for example, or the stiffness of the string, you might find that the input of the Details page over the broad sound of the instrument to be relatively negligible. Ultimately, the fun of these plug-ins is to use them like the real instrument – in other words, they should be played ‘by hand’ and subject to copious amounts of abuse thanks to an array of footpedals and an amplifier turned (of course) up to 11! MTF

More depth Going deeper still, both instruments offer a Details page that lets you mod the instrument with incredible levels of detail. Although it’s nice to have control over aspects like

MTF Step-by-Step Vintage Keys As with the filters, the pickup selection might not be that intuitive at first. With the C button engaged, the A and B rocker switches move between the neck and bridge pickups, much like the pickups (and tone) on an electric guitar.

Pickup position D uses both Neck and Bridge pickups together, with the A/B rocker now working a phase inversion switch. As before, the sonic principles are similar to that of an electric guitar, with the out-of-phase option sounding thinner.

The original Clavinet had a mono output, but the Vintage Clav has two options for creating stereo width. The Pickup mode only works when you use two pickups (rocker switch D), while the Key mode simply pans according to keyboard position.

The Effects tab offers some in-built effects options that would have been originally paired with the Clavinet. The wah effect can be set to track your playing by raising the envelope control. The addition of a phaser brings a pleasing 70s vibe.

If you want to control the wah independently, and not have it track your playing, consider changing the default MIDI controller assignment from a foot controller to the modulation wheel. The current controller setup can be found under the Details tab.

Like Electric Piano, Vintage Clav pairs well with an instance of Pedalboard and Amp Designer. Pedalboard can increase the effect options – including a variety of phasing, wah and delay effects – while Amp Designer adds pleasing mid-range colouration.

13

15

17

14

16

18

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT154.TUT Logic.indd 53

| 53

13/11/2015 15:24


MTF Technique EXS24 Sample Mapping

Powered by

Technique Logic in depth

EXS24 Sample Mapping Creating your own EXS24 instruments can be a quick and intuitive process, opening a wealth of creative potential. Mark Cousins gets mapping.

W

hile the EXS24 might not be the most elegant part of the Logic Pro X experience, it is certainly a superbly functional instrument and an essential part of the overall Logic workflow. Turning a collection of samples – either taken from our cover DVD, or recorded by your own hands – into a fully-fledge sampled based instrument needn’t take more than just a few mouse clicks. Once saved, these newly created instruments can become an essential part of your sound palette, accessible across the entirety of your Logic projects.

On the disc Accompanying project file included on the DVD

Mapping success One key component that can confuse new users is the difference between the EXS24 instrument plug-in, which you instantiate into your track list or mixer, and the

Turning samples into a fullyfledged instrument needn’t take more than a few mouse clicks so-called EXS24 Instrument Editor. In essence, the EXS24 Instrument plug-in is the front-end of the sampler, complete with a set of synthesizer-like controls that can be used to modify the sample playback – using envelope generators, for example, to shape the amplitude over time, or the filter to gauge-out harmonic information. The EXS24 Editor, which sits ‘behind’ the EXS24 plug-in, mainly deals with the mapping of samples, although as we’ll see, there are also some other creative sound manipulation techniques up its sleeve that are well worth closer inspection! Creating a new instrument from scratch begins with an empty instance of the EXS24. To open the editor press the small Edit button in the top right-hand corner of the EXS24 plug-in. The editor window works as a graphic

representation of your instrument’s mapping, with a keyboard across the bottom of the window. From here we can see a list of the samples used in our instrument, along with their relative position on the keyboard, the number of keys that they span across, as well as how they respond to velocity.

Zone out Technically speaking, an EXS24 instrument is comprised of a series of zones, with each zone containing a sample of your choice. To make sample mapping quick-and-easy, the EXS24 supports dragging-and-dropping directly onto the editor, which is arguably easiest to achieve using Logic’s built-in file browser. The importing process works intelligently so that, for example, you can drag just one sample over a single note and have it mapped accordingly, or drag a collection of samples and have them auto mapped across a series of consecutive keys. Once imported, you’ll note that each zone has its own set of parameters. Basic controls like volume and pan let you mix the samples – maybe panning some drum samples across the stereo image, for example, or sitting a reverberated snare sample behind a dry snare. Tuning controls can either be used correctively (re-tuning a sampled bass note with poor intonation, for example) or creatively, particularly in the example of re-tuning drum samples. Other creative options include the option to reverse the sample playback, which is well worth using in conjunction with the in-built sample editor (accessible via a drop-down menu in the Audio File column) to adjust the start and end points. To keep your EXS24 instrument organized it’s possible to make use of the Groups feature. The groups are listed down the left-hand side of the editor window, and work much the same as playlists in iTunes - simply select your required zones and drag them across into the Groups list. Once

DATA MANAGEMENT Remember to store all your sample data in a clear, organized way, arguably making some optimization in respect to the speed of the hard drive (which will affect how many voices you can stream). An external drive, connected via a fast connection protocol like FireWire 800 or USB 3, or an additional internal drive, should be considered essential, reserved solely for the task of sample streaming. The Instruments themselves, which only contain the mapping data, are relatively small and are best stored as part of your library, under Music > Audio Music Apps > Sampler Instruments. Instruments in this folder will appear at the root level of the EXS24’s instrument list and can be accessed from any of your Logic projects.

54 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT155.TUT Logic.indd 54

FOCUS

13/11/2015 15:28


EXS24 Sample Mapping Technique MTF

MTF Step-by-Step EXS24 in depth

Create an empty instance of EXS24 and then press the Edit button in the top right-hand corner to open the EXS24 editor. Resize the editor window and then open the All Files media browser in Logic’s main window. Locate your samples using the browser.

Samples in the browser can be dragged-and-dropped into the EXS24 editor. In this case, we’ve dragged each sound group across separately, using the ‘Contiguous zones starting at the key the file was dropped…’ option to auto-map the samples accordingly.

Each zone (which contains the sample we’ve imported) has its own tuning, pan and level controls. This is useful with our drum samples, letting us pan the hi-hat samples hard left and right, for example, or attenuate the level of the Hi-Q zones.

One particularly creative option is the ability to reverse a zone. Try this on one of the snares. Open the sample editor (using the drop-down menu in the Audio File column) so that you can change the end marker, which is currently the start point.

For complicated EXS24 instruments it’s useful to organize zones into groups. As we performed an incremental import, Logic has created an accompanying Group, which we re-name. Alternatively, select the zones and use the local menu option Group > New Group.

Once you’re happy with the instrument using the local menu Instrument > Save As to permanently store your creation. Logic defaults to the Sampler Instruments folder in your Library, which will mean all song can access the same instrument.

01

03

05

set, Groups can be used as a selective zone display tool, which is useful for large multisampling instruments, or as means of accessing some of the EXS24’s advanced mapping features, such as Release Triggering.

Front panel controls Moving back to the EXS24 instrument plug-in we can now see how it works as the front-end to the instrument we’ve created. In effect, the controls here – including filters,

02

04

06

envelopes, LFOs, a modulation matrix and tuning functions – are applied globally across all the zones making it a quick-and-easy way of changing the sound of the instrument en-masse. If you want to keep the panel settings with the instrument, remember to use EXS24’s Option menu to select Save Settings To Instrument, otherwise the panel simply returns to its default setting each time you load the instrument. Once you’ve mastered the key principles of sample FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT155.TUT Logic.indd 55

| 55

13/11/2015 15:28


MTF Technique EXS24 Sample Mapping

mapping with the EXS24 you can soon start to apply it in all your production work. Even with Native instruments’ Kontakt residing in our plug-in folder, the EXS24 remains our first choice for DIY sampling, largely because of the speedy and efficient way it can integrate into our day-to-day workflow with Logic Pro X. Ultimately, the quicker you can map the samples, the less interruption there is to your creative process, giving

you more time to explore the creative potential of sampling in your music. MTF This tutorial is endorsed by Point Blank Music School, which specialises in courses on production, sound engineering, the music business, singing, radio production, DJ skills and film production, all run by top British music producers and media professionals, with regular visits from legends in music and media. For more information go to www.pointblanklondon.com

MTF Step-by-Step EXS24 in depth (cont’d)

While the Instrument Editor deals with mapping the samples, the front-panel of the EXS24 handles a number of important parameters. For example, with a drum instrument we might want to reduce the velocity scaling using the bottom half of the Level slider.

Env 2 controls the amplitude envelope of the sample. Try reducing sustain to 0 and then gradually lower the decay to produce a more clipped envelope. This is also interesting with either a raised or lowered tuning using the Tune control.

Move over to the C Saw patch on Instrument 2 to understand the filter. To make the filter active switch the Off button to on. Adjust the cutoff, resonance and drive to taste, using the tabs to move between high-pass, low-pass and band-pass operation.

Now let’s add some filter modulation using LFO 2. All the LFOs have the advantage of being MIDI-syncable, moving the rate control to the left of the zero point on a 1/16 setting. Set the waveshape to the sawtooth option.

The EXS24’s modulation matrix is much the same as that of the ES2. First select a destination (in this case, filter cutoff) and then pick LFO2 as the source. Set the amount of modulation using the slider on the right-hand side of the routing path.

Settings on the front panel are temporary unless written to the mapping data created in the EXS24 Editor. To do this, use the EXS24 Option menu and select Save Settings To Instrument so that your panel settings are stored with the mapping data.

07

09

11

56 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT155.TUT Logic.indd 56

08

10

12

FOCUS

13/11/2015 15:28


FIRST WITH REVIEWS FIRST WITH NEWS HAVE YOU CLICKED? Powered by

Magazine

www.musictech.net MT .net ad.indd 1

17/11/2015 10:31


MTF Feature Mastering: The Guide

Mastering: The Guide MTF Feature Mastering

Mastering is your final chance to make your song shine and sit comfortably alongside the other tracks on an EP or album. Mike Hillier explains everything you need to know…

M

ixing and mastering require two very different mindsets. In the mix, your focus should be jumping constantly from the minutiae to the big picture and back again. Does the attack on the kick drum compressor let enough through? Is the release letting go before the next hit? Does this extra compression on the kick mean it is now masking the bass guitar? You have hundreds, perhaps thousands of parameters at your control, each capable of making tiny changes that could cascade down to fundamentally change the whole mix. However, if you want to make a change to any one channel you can jump quickly into the mix and alter that one sound. If the vocal needs something more to help it punch through, you can quickly grab a saturation tool, a parallel compressor, a delay or even an EQ. Any of these different tools could be the right one to help the vocal punch through. However, in mastering your focus is almost always on the big picture; you should be thinking not only about this one song, but how this song sits next to other songs, both on the album it is being released on, and also others by artists in a similar genre. Your tools are broader in spectrum. Any compressor you add will be applied to the whole mix; there are ways of narrowing the focus, mid-side or multiband techniques; but should you want the vocal to punch through, the tools you have are likely to impact on considerably more of the mix than were you to make a similar change in the mix. For this reason, it can be very difficult to master your own mixes. If you think the

58 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT149.Feature Mastering.indd 58

vocal needs to punch through more, that decision should have been made in the mix. Any attempt to decide what in your own mix needs to change begs the question, ‘was the mix really finished?’ Getting another perspective on your mix is the one reason we recommend you find an accomplished mastering engineer whose work you enjoy, to build a relationship with. Alternatively, why not find a friend to share mastering duties with? You can master their mixes, while they master yours. If you hope to one day become a seasoned pro at mastering, this is a great way to get your first few masters under your belt.

Listen, listen, listen When you receive a new song to master, it can be very tempting to simply revert to a sort of ‘mastering by numbers’ approach. Boosting the low-end and the top in a basic ‘smile’ curve, adding width to the top-end, and mono-ing the subs, adding your favourite stereo compressor and colour tools and then bashing on a mastering limiter at the end – maybe even a multiband limiter with a mastering preset in place. This primitive approach to mastering has become all too common, and not only among inexperienced producers mastering their own tracks, but also among a few seasoned pros who ought to know better. But mastering a track will require far more consideration of the specifics of the individual mix than any presets or even rough ‘go-to’ selections could possibly allow. The golden rule of mastering is to ‘do no harm’. The goal is to bring the most out of the mix, not to change it, nor to impose your own mark on it, simply because

FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:01


Mastering: The Guide Feature MTF

The golden rule of mastering is to ‘do no harm’. The goal is to bring the most out of the mix, not change it you can. You don’t need to push the mix through all of your most expensive processors, as tempting as that can be. The best mastering engineers in the world know when to throw the kitchen sink at a mix, and when to do nothing at all. So before you reach for even a single processor, take the time to listen to the mix several times. Listen closely and determine what needs to be done, then set about doing that, and only that. Ask yourself what you do and do not like about the mix. Is there anything in the mix that pulls your attention out of the song? A click, a sibilant vocal, or piercing cymbals for example. Are any frequencies too present? Are any frequencies lacking? Are these problems constant, or things that occur only at certain moments? If they’re constant, you should be thinking about which EQ to use to change that, and if they’re only at certain Quiztones Another excellent tool for improving your critical listening is Quiztones from Audiofile Engineering. This application lets you test your ability to hear frequencies (both using sine waves, or EQ applied to music) and gain differences. Quiztones is available for Mac, iOS and Android: http://quiztones.com. ●

DDPi The final process in mastering is often to supply the necessary files for the replication in whatever formats are required. For digital distribution, this may only be 24-bit .WAV files, but for CDs a special DDPi file is required. Some DAWs can export DDPi files natively, while others may require a dedicated DDPi plugin, such as the HOFA DDP Generator – see http://hofaplugins.de/en. ●

moments, do you automate the EQ, or use a dynamic EQ, or a multiband compressor? Do all the elements of the mix sit together well? Or could it use a little extra glue from a compressor. Compare the mix to other similar songs, most importantly the other songs on the album or EP your are mastering, if that is applicable, but also to other songs in the genre. Compared to these songs, how does the frequency content in this one compare? How wide does this song sound compared to the others? Does the vocal sit above the instrumental bed by a similar amount? How loud does this mix sound compared to the others? Once you have answers to all of these questions, you are ready to start processing the song. With this in mind, you may find that 90 per cent of your masters still end up using the same chain. You may even find that you use the same settings within this chain a lot of the time, but you will be doing it for the right reasons; and you will also know, most importantly, when not to use these tools, and when to break out some other tools that you may use infrequently. What will make you stand out from a machine, or a poor mastering engineer, is your ability FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT149.Feature Mastering.indd 59

| 59

13/11/2015 12:01


MTF Feature Mastering: The Guide

MTF Walkthrough A beginner’s guide to critical listening

02

In the EQ, engage the low-pass filter, and set it to play back only the sub-region.

Load your reference track into a new channel in the mix, then add an instance of a clean EQ, such as FabFilter Pro-Q 2.

Copy the EQ and its settings onto the track you want to master, and switch back and forth using the X-OR Solo mode, listening to the impact of the sub-frequencies in your track compared to the reference.

01

03

Move the filter in both channels up, to allow more of the bass end, and add a high-pass filter to remove the sub-frequencies. Again, compare the two tracks.

04

Continue moving the two filters up in tandem, or use a wide band-pass filter, to compare each of the important sections in each mix.

05

60 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT149.Feature Mastering.indd 60

Finally, remove the low-pass filter, and leave only the high-pass filter to listen to the high-end only. This is the hardest bit to get right, as you may struggle to hear some of these frequencies entirely.

06

FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:01


Mastering: The Guide Feature MTF

Mastering reverb Reverb is not a process that is used often in mastering, and while many all-in-one mastering applications will include a reverb, it should be reserved for the rare occasions when you are fixing a bad mix, or trying to match two disparate mixes recorded in different locations. ●

to critically analyse a track and bring only what is needed to improve on the mix.

Plan your actions In this tutorial we’ll be using audio on the DVD (or at www.musictech.net) a mix of Anchor by HART, and will focus on it as we pass it through the mastering stage. The song was mixed by Mario Leal, who did an excellent job, not only getting the mix right, but focusing just enough attention on the master buss to make the master a fairly easy job. Alongside the mix, Mario provided a couple of Coldplay tracks as references – Up In Flames, from Mylo Xyloto, and Magic, from Ghost Stories. So we loaded copies of these into our session alongside the final mix. It is a good rule to always open up a good line of communication with the artist, the mixer, producer and anyone else who might have a say in the finished master at this stage, as this will help you to get an idea of what they each feel needs to be brought out in the master. It can also be helpful to provide some mix feedback, especially if the mixer is inexperienced; this may even give you an opportunity to have the mixer correct any issues you might have spotted in the mix and send a new mix, preventing you from having to find a way to “fix it in mastering” – a task (and phrase) that should always be avoided, where possible. With Anchor, our first thoughts are that a little more excitement could be brought in with a little more top-end, especially if we’re to try to match the tonality of the reference tracks, while the bass needs a little more energy – but not so much as to become overbearing. In the low midrange, we want to bring separation between the kick and bass, while a little higher we need to try to bring power to the guitars and vocals. This frequency range can be troublesome. Too much energy and you risk the mix sounding muddy, too little and it will sound thin. Getting everything just right, then, is the key to a great master. Using an M/S matrix, we can listen to the sides (the difference portion of the matrix), to hear only those parts of the mix that are panned out from the centre. The sides of Anchor are mostly reverbs and delays, with an electric piano-type sound fairly prominently mixed wide. There is also a little guitar, some violin and BVs. So, any compression or EQ we add to the sides is going to affect only these elements. The primary bass elements, the kick and bass are mono, although a small amount of both of these is feeding a stereo reverb. However, there is still a fair amount of sub-frequency energy in the sides, which we’d prefer to see sitting more squarely in the centre of the mix. With so much of the mix in the centre, bringing up the sides is mostly going to add reverb to the mix, which is often also a consequence of bringing up the levels; so for now at least, we probably don’t need to be bringing any additional width. But we can safely EQ the mid (or

mono sum) portion of the signal to alter the beat, bass and vocal without too much effect on the sides. The reference tracks are both quite loud masters, so we know we’re going to have to try to get some extra level out of the mix. Some of this perceived extra level will come from the added brightness – a trick frequently overused by mastering engineers, but one that does need some care, as too much can spoil the mix. The rest of the extra level has to come from dynamics processing. With all this decided before we’ve added a single plugin, we now have a road map for the track. This means any plugins we add, at least initially, should be ones that will help us approach directly the issues we’ve already discovered; so, as one would expect, we are going to reach for an EQ, a mid-side EQ, a compressor and a limiter.

The first pass We like to make any M/S alterations early in the signal chain, and so we have opted to add the Brainworx bx-digital V2 plugin first in our chain (we actually add it in Insert position two, for reasons that will become apparent). This EQ is a clear favourite of ours for this task, as it not only has five bands on each channel, plus high- and low-pass filters, but also clear controls over the M/S matrix, including a stereo width knob, L/R balance, and separate M and S pan controls. Placing the M/S EQ before the first dynamics module in our chain enables us to control how the dynamics module will respond to the width elements of our track. In the next position, we add an instance of the UBK Clariphonic DSP. This is a parallel EQ, with two high-frequency shelves (and so can be used only to add level, not as a subtractive EQ). The controls on the Clariphonic are a little esoteric, but in short the Focus engine adds midrange, while the Clarity engine adds high-end – with shelves as high as 37kHz. Again, we want to place this before the first dynamics module; this is to improve our signal-to-noise ratio when using a compressor, and to compensate for any loss of high-end that the compressor may introduce. The final EQ we’re going to add is the UAD Manley Massive Passive Mastering Edition. This EQ has four parametric bands, in addition to high- and low-pass filters, and is to our ears one of the sweetest-sounding EQs we’ve worked with. It isn’t great at detailed precision EQing, but it can transform a track with only a few boosts or cuts, and its control over the midrange is among the best we’ve ever heard. Unlike the previous two effects, the Massive Passive is going to be positioned after any dynamics processing, so we generally leave a few spaces clear for adding additional compressors, expanders, de-essers, ISRC In addition to the audio, metadata can be stored in some file formats. The most important of these is the ISRC code. ISRC codes are the International Standard Recording Codes, used to uniquely identify songs, similar to ISBN codes on books. Each code should be 12 characters long, and will help royalty collection agencies to identify recordings in order to make payments. You can buy them and get more info from the PPL: www.ppluk.com/I-Make-Music/Why-ShouldI-Become-A-Member/What-is-an-ISRC. ●

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT149.Feature Mastering.indd 61

| 61

13/11/2015 12:01


MTF Feature Mastering: The Guide

MTF Walkthrough Comparing compressors

Duplicate the track onto another channel, and copy the pre-compression EQ, then add the next compressor. If you’re using outboard hardware before the compressor, or DSP processing using a processor, such as a UAD, and running out of processing, you can buss one track to multiple auxes with EQ on the original and compression on the aux channels.

03

With the pre-compression EQ already in place, add the first compressor you want to try; here, we’re using the FabFilter Pro-C.

01

04

Set the parameters of the first compressor to provide the best-sounding compression you can achieve for the track you are working on. Let the compressor guide you, and experiment with any built-in interesting features. Pro-C, for instance, can model three different compression types.

02

Now add your next compressor. Don’t be tempted to listen back, or to try to replicate the first compressor sound – let the new compressor guide your sound towards what that compressor is best at. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for as many compressors as you want to try. Don’t go overboard here, though, more than three or four options will take quite a while to set up, and you may find it difficult to decide between them.

05

Finally, level match each of the newly compressed channels, and using X-OR solo mode, switch between each to decide on your favourite. If you have a friend close to hand, get them to do the switching while you keep your eyes closed, so as not to bias yourself in favour of any one unit.

06

62 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT149.Feature Mastering.indd 62

FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:01


Mastering: The Guide Feature MTF

multiband processors, etc – even when we think we know we want to use only one of these. For the compressor, we’re going to use the much-venerated UAD Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor. But not before passing the mix through a variety of alternatives to see which brings out the right character in the mix. Determining this is tough, and over time we have developed an intuition that has helped us to move quickly towards the right compressor for the job; but we still find ourselves duplicating the track over several channels in our DAW and testing it with a selection of compressors. In this example, we’re also testing the UAD Neve 33609, and our own hardware quad VCA compressor – a clone of the classic SSL 4000 G buss compressor, with additional side-chain options and improved stereo Daniel Pattison, aka HART Like last month, we have again chosen to look at Anchor by HART in this article (www.facebook.com/ hart.musica). The track was recorded by Ben Walker (www.bensroom.co.uk) with additional recordings by Mario Leal and George Murphy and string arrangements by Nico Muhly. The track was mixed by Mario Leal (www.mario-leal.com). ●

handling. It is important not to get caught up in a hardware versus software debate, or any initial preferences for certain GUIs here, and blind A/B testing yourself after a short break can often result in an unexpected conclusion – as here where we might have been tempted to go with the hardware out of preference for breaking out of the box. When comparing compressors like this, it can be tempting to try to match the effect of the first with all subsequent models, but this will give an inherent advantage to the first, which is allowed to do the best it can, while all others are simply cloning it. Instead, we like to ignore all previous settings and simply try to set the compressor to work its magic the best it can each time, comparing the – occasionally quite different – results to determine our preference. Finally, we have added a brick-wall limiter; this is going to serve a dual purpose – to add a small amount of level to the track if necessary, and secondly to ensure peaks are controlled. As with the compressor, it can be useful to set up two or more limiters to see which works best for the track in question, especially if you have several high-quality ones. In this instance, we’re using the UAD Precision Limiter, which has been a staple of our mastering chain for some while, beating all our own alternatives every time.

Further changes With these tools in place, we can start to make all the changes we feel are necessary to bring our mix to sounding more like a finished master. During this process, you will undoubtedly find new changes you want to make: a boost in the low-end, intended to add weight to the kick, might reveal additional energy in the bass, which will in turn spoil the kick. These almost circular problems can sometimes be adjusted with slight alterations to the EQ curves, and at other times can require additional processing to be added. It’s not uncommon for our final master to gain and lose two or

Using outboard If you really want to make it as a mastering engineer, sooner or later you’re going to need to invest in some outboard analogue hardware. Mastering versions of many compressors and EQs are available, but frequently at much-inflated prices compared to the standard versions. This is because instead of potentiometers, mastering editions usually have switches with dedicated stereo-matched resistors to ensure far superior stereo accuracy and improved recall, often within 0.1dB. ●

three processors as we settle on the final sound of the track. Sometimes, a high-end boost can bring just the right polish to most of the track, while revealing a problem with the hi-hat or cymbals, which may be fixed with a multiband compressor or de-esser. Compression can reveal a muddiness in the reverb, which is tough to fix in mastering, but there are tools, such as iZotope RX, UAD Precision K-Stereo and Zynaptiq Unveil, as well as M/S processing, if the sides don’t contain too much other information. It is important to constantly be comparing your initial unmastered mix with the master in its current state, as well as each individual change. To this end, it is useful to have a system set up to quickly bypass all your processors. The simplest method is to duplicate the track in your DAW, one with the processors, and one without, and switch between each one using solos. You can adjust for any gain changes by adjusting the level of the louder (usually, but not always the master) down, so that any comparison is being done at relatively similar levels. We prefer to use Meterplugs Perception to achieve this with a single channel. You’ll note that earlier we left the first Insert slot free; this was so we can place an instance of Perception Source, with Perception Control added at the end of our Master channel fader. Perception handles not only switching from pre- to post-processing, but also level matching and sample-accurate sync. With Anchor, after our first pass with the processing, we still aren’t happy with what’s happening in the low-end. We’re using more EQ than we would like to try to shape the bottom-end, and while we’re getting enough weight on the kick, things are starting to sound a little murky between each beat of the kick drum. To compensate for this, we’re going to add an instance of UAD Precision Multiband and engage the LF band, leaving all the other bands off. Then we set this band to the Gate mode with a very low ratio (1.1:1), and tune the frequency and envelope to pull out some low-end between each beat of the kick. This will give us the freedom to add in as much weight to the kick as we want, without also adding mud between kicks; in fact, on the contrary, between kicks the sub-frequencies will be pulled back, giving the bass elements more room to shine. By this point, the mix is beginning to take on the sound we were hoping for; however, with so many synthetic elements in the track, and having opted for in-the-box processors at every stage, we’ll also add a little extra warmth with the UAD ATR-102 tape simulator. This also gives us a little bit more level, both through subtle compression, and additional harmonics – as well as softening off any harsh transients, which FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT149.Feature Mastering.indd 63

| 63

13/11/2015 12:01


MTF Feature Mastering: The Guide

are done at the original sample rate and bit depth of the mix, which should be at least 44.1kHz/24-bit. We then produce a dithered 44.1kHz/16-bit “CD quality” version, as well as any other files the artist wants. The exact signal chain we’ve used here on Anchor is something that will almost certainly not work on any other track, but the process by which we came to the decision to apply that processing is something that can easily be applied to any song. While each time it may produce a different signal chain, you can be confident that the signal chain it results in is one that has been specifically engineered for that one track. When working with albums or EPs, you will need to reference all of the other tracks on the EP/album as you work through, trying to give each a sense of being part of the whole work. It is often useful to employ similar signal chains; however, this does not mean that each has to be identical, simply that as each processor has its own colour, you can quickly get a similar colour on another track by using a similar processor. We often use the same compressor, limiter and at least one EQ on every track, but will also allow ourselves freedom to apply other processing as necessary, as well as to remove any of these processors as they are no longer required. Check www.musictech.net for audio exmples to go with this feature. MTF

Monitoring ● Nearfield monitors are the de facto standard in mixing, and many mastering engineers also rely on them, but a good pair of full-range speakers can be just as useful in mastering situations. ATC and PMC are the most common names to be found in the bigbudget mastering houses, but Unity Audio, Genelec and Barefoot all make slightly more affordable fullrange monitors.

means we don’t have to push the final brick-wall limiter so hard to get the track as loud as we want it. Finally, all our processing has brought the stereo image in a little. This is a common consequence of compression and limiting on the master buss, as well as with cutting frequencies on the sides with an M/S EQ, so we return to the Brainworx bx_digital V2 and dialled the stereo width knob up a little. This essentially turns up the difference channel in the matrix before it is all summed back together. In the previous part of this feature, we looked at creating a number of different versions of the mix. With the master of the basic mix done, we now import these additional mixes to different playlists within our DAW, and pass each one through the same processing. This takes very little time, and means the versions will all have the same polish as the final mix. All bounces

MTF Walkthrough Setting a multiband compressor

Turn the solo band off to hear the whole mix. Be sure to use linear-phase crossovers. Engage that mode, as this will produce the least phase distortion in your mix, although it will also produce the greatest amount of latency.

03

Add a multiband compressor to the mastering chain – we place it just before our full-band compressor, if we’re using one.

01

Here, we’re using the UAD Precision Multiband. We’ve used the solo band function to solo only the lowest-frequency band, and we’ve scrubbed through the range to find the cut-off frequency that is just the sub-frequencies of the kick. You don’t need to use every band, usually one or two is more than enough.

02

Use a very low ratio, a moderate attack and a closely timed release, and dial down the threshold until gain reduction starts to bring the compressor into action.

04

64 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT149.Feature Mastering.indd 64

Set the compressor to act heavily while you focus on attack and release settings. Dial the threshold and ratio down.

05

Bypass and compare the processed signal with the unprocessed to be sure that you have made an improvement.

06

FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:01


VOTED “BEST ELECTRONIC MUSIC SCHOOL” - DJ MAG ENROL NOW FOR JANUARY TERM W W W. P O I N T B L A N K LO N D O N . C O M For course enquiries call +44(0)20 7729 4884 or email advice@pointblanklondon.com


MusicTech G&B.indd 1

11.11.2015 15:51:28


MUSIC IS OUR PASSION

MusicTech G&B.indd 2

11.11.2015 15:51:34


MTF Buyer’s Guide Six of the best

Six of the best Hardware

Software

Mobile Tech

Accessories

Welcome to another MusicTech Buyer’s Guide where we round up some of the best products recently reviewed at MusicTech. This time it’s the best software that emulates real instruments. Who needs to learn the real thing these days?

BEST Grand piano

Garritan CFX Concert Grand Details Price £199 Contact Time + Space 01837 55200 Web www.garritan.com

G

arritan Abbey Road Studios CFX Concert Grand – to give it its full name – is a recreation of Yamaha’s nine-foot, hand-built grand piano. It requires 122GB of free hard drive space, but there’s also a compact version that only requires 24.5GB. Reviewer Keith Gemmell said: “Tonally, the hand-built CFX piano is superb, rich and powerful, but also capable of great elegance, all of which has been beautifully captured by the Abbey Road engineers. It is one of the finest virtual pianos available – simply beautiful.” He concluded: “A fine virtual grand piano with a beautifully rich tone, a no-nonsense GUI and essential controls. It is up there with the best.”

BEST Horns

NI Session Horns Pro

T

his is an expanded version of Session Horns, this time with a 30GB sound library, plus the inclusion of articulations and solo instruments. Where the original provides many of the features required for fast but small-size horn section writing, especially for musicians with limited arranging experience, Session Horns PRO expands the principle further. We said: “If you produce music where funky horns, both vintage and modern, are an important ingredient, Session Horns PRO ought to be on your hard drive.”

68 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT147.6OTB.indd 68

Details Price £249 Contact NI 0845 5272006 Web www.nativeinstruments.com

Details Price £80 Contact Time & Space 01837 552100 Web www.zero-g.co.uk

BEST Live flutes

Perpetuo Live Flute Phrases

Z

ero-G’s flute instrument might be an oldie but it’s a goody. Perpetuo Live Flute Phrases is an 8GB collection of thousands of live, recorded phrases compressed down to 4.6GB using Kontakt’s lossless compression technology. The library features mainly arpeggios, runs and rhythm types, which are available as slurred and staccato patterns. All were played live by a flautist from the Liverpool Philharmonic and built from three-bar loops for natural variation. Reviewer Keith Gemmell said: “All in all, this is a very flexible pre-recorded phrase and pattern library that works great on its own and, importantly, blends well with other orchestral libraries. An excellent tool for creating rhythmic patterns for upfront flute ensembles and for subtle background work in cinematic-style productions.”

FOCUS

13/11/2015 11:30


Six of the best Buyer’s Guide MTF

BEST Modeled flutes

Samplemodeling The Flutes

W

here Perpetuo Live Flute Phrases (see previous page) does virtual flutes by way of high quality samples, Samplemodeling’s approach is by way of, and the clue is in the name, modeling. The company employs Synchronus Wavelength Acoustic Modeling (SWAM) which uses samples and physical modeling for an ultra realistic result. Keith Gemmell said: “The instruments load quickly and are instantly playable. They’re remarkably

pliable and very responsive straight out of the box with an excellent centre display that shows exactly which real-time articulations and controllers are being triggered.” He concluded: “Samplemodeing’s The Flutes provides a highly malleable playing experience and a great alternative to the traditional sample library flutes, which can be difficult to play in real time. Only slightly let down by a less-than-vibrant tone for classical styles, but great for jazz!”

Details Price £228 Contact via website Web www. samplemodeling.com

BEST Emulator

EZkeys Mellotoon

O

kay, this is not an emulation of a real instrument, exactly, more of a recreation of a real instrument emulator (if you see what we mean). But as the Mellotron has become a classic in its own right we thought this software

Details Price £103 Contact Time + Space T: 01837 55200 Web www. toontrack.com

“A very flexible phrase and pattern library that works great on its own and blends well with other libraries” Details

BEST Grand variety

E-Instruments Session Keys Grand

S

version worthy of inclusion. Reviewer Keith Gemmell said: “Top-notch 1960s Mellotron recreation – the strings in particular. Add a MIDI library and the songwriting and educational tools to the equation and we have a superb value-for-money package.”

ession Keys Grand S and Y are two acoustic grands, recorded in great detail, that aim to put concert-ready sounds at your fingertips. At just under 5GB apiece they run in the free or full version of the Kontakt player. Reviewer Hollin Jones said: “These are excellent performers that will help you to incorporate almost

Price €99 each €159 for the bundle Contact E-Instrument via website Web www.e-instruments. com

any kind of grand piano sound you like into your tracks, and they’re excellent for solo performance as well. Opens up complex musical figures even to those without advanced keyboard skills.” And concluded: “A great-sounding and playable piano with excellent sound-shaping controls and innovative generators.” FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT147.6OTB.indd 69

| 69

13/11/2015 11:30


MTF Feature A bluffer’s guide to MIDI

MTF Feature Music Technology

A BLUFFER’S GUIDE TO MIDI Get your head round MIDI and you’ve got your head round music production. Rob Boffard explains the ins and outs…

M

IDI can be one of the most mystifying parts of music production. Although its basic purpose can be intuitive with a little bit of practice, unlocking its hidden depths often takes a lot of time, especially if you’ve never encountered it before. But it is crucially important to know how it works, especially if you want to produce anything involving software instruments. That’s because all manufacturers of DAWs – from Apple to Avid to Ableton to Propellerheads rely on it. It’s the Rosetta Stone of music production; a common language that enables any device and any software program to talk to each other. If you can master MIDI, if you can work out how it functions and make it part of your toolkit, then your production will become much faster, and the results will be as slick as they come.

MIDI Magic Musical Instrument Digital Interface: that’s what MIDI stands for. We don’t really want to go in-depth into its history (there’s plenty online if you’d like to find out more) – this is a Bluffer’s Guide, after all – but what you need to know is that it came to fruition in the early 1980s as part of a collaboration between engineers Dave Smith and Chet Wood, and several synthesiser companies such as Korg, Moog and Roland. Smith and Wood initiated this, because the market had just got far too complicated. There were too many protocols, and too many devices, and it was becoming increasingly difficult for them to talk to each other. MIDI was the solution.

70 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT148.Bluffers Guide.indd 70

FOCUS

13/11/2015 11:35


A bluffer’s guide to MIDI Feature MTF

By having your software instruments respond to properties of your MIDI notes, you can put together interesting effects.

But forget the history. The best way to understand MIDI is to talk about what it is now. We’ll get to the complicated information that a MIDI sequence can contain in a minute. For now, we’re just going to talk about the basics. The easiest way to understand this is to pull up your favoured A single MIDI note. This one is perfectly in time, locked in place on the grid. DAW, and load up a software instrument. I’ll use Reason, but you can use any one you like. Once you’ve queued up your Tech terms instrument, you’ll need to go into the sequencer, where you’ll see a virtual ● NOTE: a single keyboard (or equivalent) running vertically. Running horizontally along from that piece of MIDI data, keyboard should be a line-up of rigid blocks. usually expressed as a slim rectangle and Find the pencil tool, which is usually located in the toolbar, and click one of displayed on a grid. those blocks. You’ll notice it will fill in. There: you’ve just drawn a MIDI note. Instructs an instrument Now, if you press play, your software instrument will play a sound when the to play audio. marker reaches the note. You can play these back at any tempo you like, and they ● VELOCITY: a method will stay in time. of simulating the At its most basic, a MIDI note is an indication for an instrument to play a perceived loudness note. A much-used analogy is that of an orchestra. If the instruments are the of a given MIDI note. violins, horns, woodwinds and the like, then the MIDI notes are the sheet music. Measured in units They tell the orchestra what to play. By arranging MIDI notes in sequence, from 0 to 127. running up and down the chords on the keyboard, you can create complex ● QUANTISATION: the melodies. This is why MIDI notes are so popular in electronic music production. process where MIDI It’s worth remembering that MIDI notes, beyond just being sheet music, are a notes are snapped to way the different instruments are able to communicate with each other. It their nearest spot on enables you to play a note on a physical keyboard (called a MIDI controller) and the grid in order to compensate for have it appear as MIDI data on your screen. That’s important, by the way: MIDI is human playing, and not sound. By itself, it can’t do a damn thing. If you draw a MIDI note without an retain timing. instrument connected to it, nothing will play. It’s just data, and it relies on the context it’s being used in for the outcome.

Up a level But of course, MIDI programming is a lot more complex than simple instructions for an instrument to play a note. Let’s start with one of the most common ways of treating a MIDI note: velocity. If you hit a piano key hard, the sound it plays will be much louder than if you just pushed it down gently. MIDI has the same principle encoded in it. The higher the velocity, the louder the note. The advantage of this is that you can tweak the volumes of individual notes on a particular track, instead of having to automate the track fader. Velocity gives you a hugely versatile way of controlling your sound. You could, for example, set your instrument to only trigger certain effects at certain velocities. Try doing this with a filter that has the MIDI velocity as its source, and get it to activate only when the velocity crosses a certain threshold. Velocity is usually measured from 0 to 127, so it’s easy to set an exact value for it. This particular trick has endless applications. One we really like is setting different samples to trigger at different velocities, which can really bring some life to a track. At this point, we need to stress that not all techniques will be available on all instruments, and it’s crucial that you spend time getting to know your favoured software instruments before playing around with this. There are other ways of controlling the character of a MIDI note, but they are largely restricted to the software instruments themselves. You can apply envelopes to the notes, changing their attack, decay, sustain and release settings. You can apply filters to them. Some DAWs even let you adjust the fine pitch of

● CONTROLLER: a device that’s used to input and sequence MIDI notes. Usually this is a keyboard, or set of pads.

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT148.Bluffers Guide.indd 71

| 71

13/11/2015 11:35


MTF Feature A bluffer’s guide to MIDI

the MIDI notes, adding a human element to your compositions. But really, once you understand how MIDI notes and their velocities work, you’ll find it extremely easy to start composing. And since we’ve got onto composing, there is an additional concept it’s worth giving your head around: quantisation. Essentially, all MIDI notes are displayed on a grid – but when they’re being recorded, particularly if you’re using a MIDI controller, perfect timing is often elusive. By switching on quantisation, you essentially ‘lock’ each note to its closest segment in the grid, resulting in perfect time, every time. Quantisation is always desirable (it can sound a little robotic if applied too heavily) but it’s a real boon when you’re recording.

Fine tuning There are a few advanced applications of MIDI that you can use once you’ve got the hang of things. We’re going to go into a few of them now, although we’re

You can layer your MIDI notes to create complex chords.

Once you understand how MIDI notes work, you’ll find it easy to start composing not going to spend too much time on the individual steps to pull them off. This is because they’re largely dependent on individual DAWs. One of the most fun ways of employing this is using the MIDI notes to trigger external instruments, not just software ones. In this way, you can use the data to get a MIDI controller, like a set of pads, talking to another instrument like a hardware synth, and using one to play the other. It takes a little bit of work to set up, but if you find yourself with a lot of different instruments and one preferred control method, then this is a neat way to streamline your work.

Here, we are adjusting the note’s velocity. This will control its perceived loudness.

72 | March Logic Pro 2015 X 2016

MT148.Bluffers Guide.indd 72

As we mentioned earlier, you can also use MIDI data like velocity and note on/note off to trigger certain aspects of the software instrument. This gives you very fine grained control, and allows you to come up with some seriously wild effects. Also, because you can draw multiple MIDI notes into one track, including on top of one another at different octaves, it’s easy to create complex chords and layered effects. One of the lesser-known ways of creating MIDI is to extract it from audio information. DAWs such as Ableton are known for enabling users to do this. Essentially, it means that you can input a piece of recorded audio and extract pitches and note locations from it. This is a great way to create accompanying parts to a recording. In addition, one of the big pluses of MIDI composition is that it is highly portable. What we mean by this is that because the notes are simply bits of data, and contain no actual audio information themselves, it’s really easy to port them over to another computer and continue working on it there. As long as you’re using the same DAW, and using the same instruments and effects, you will easily be able to move back and forth between the two. In fairness, this is less important these days now that even the smallest flash drive has multiple gigabytes of space, but it’s a useful tool to illustrate what MIDI is and how it works. It’s data, and nothing more. Every DAW will treat MIDI slightly differently, display it differently, and enable you to do more with it. So experiment, and switch between them until you’ve found one you like. MTF This feature is endorsed by SSR which has been providing professional education training in the audio engineering industry for over 30 years. With campuses in London, Manchester, Jakarta and Singapore, SSR has gained a healthy reputation within the music industry for producing well trained, professional graduates across the globe.

MAGAZINEFOCUS

13/11/2015 11:35


Read on any device, anytime!

Download your FREE app today FREE PREVIEW ISSUE SINGLE ISSUES JUST £2.99 SUBSCRIBE FOR JUST £16.99 Search Music Tech magazine and download your FREE app today

MT App ad A4.indd 1

17/11/2015 11:27


MTF Technique Mixing drums with Drum Kit Designer

Powered by

Technique Logic in depth

Mixing drums with Drum Kit Designer Exploiting Drum Kit Designer’s Multi Output functionality can create some stunningly realistic acoustic drum tracks. Mark Cousins takes a closer look.

W

hether you program drum patterns from scratch or use Drummer to create complete rhythm tracks in seconds, the sonic dexterity of Drum Kit Designer forms the backbone of realistic acoustic drums in Logic Pro X. Indeed, it’s easy to get distracted by the options in Drummer – including the different genres, drummer identities and performance qualities – and forget the possibilities offered by Drum Kit Designer. In this workshop, therefore, we are going to take a closer look at Drum Kit Designer, seeing how you can assemble and mix the kit to create your perfect drum sound.

On the disc Accompanying project file included on the DVD

Drum kit basics In essence, Drum Kit Designer works as Logic’s own version of a virtual drummer plug-in, designed to work in

In essence Drum Kit Designer works as Logic’s own version of a virtual drummer plug-in… conjunction with a Drummer track, which provides the all-important MIDI grooves. While it’s possible to use the two elements together (a Drummer track and the Drum Kit Designer instrument) it’s also possible to use them separately, using Drum Kit Designer with a collection of third-party imported MIDI grooves, for example, or as a sound source for your own rhythm programming. On the surface, Drum Kit Designer seems like a relatively straightforward instrument plug-in, although once you factor-in some of the multi output options (more on this in a minute) and the wealth of audio plug-ins in Logic, the sonic possibilities become almost limitless. The ‘Designer’ element, of course, lets you build a customized kit using a variety of mutlisampled components – kicks, snares, toms and cymbals – that can be selected from drop-down kit piece menus on the left-hand side. To gain complete access to Logic’s full range of kit elements, ensure you’ve downloaded the Multi-Output Kits as well as the Producer Patches. Once you’ve loaded a kit element you can then tweak a number of editable parameters on a per kit-piece basis. Easily the most important parameter is Tune, which lets you raise or lower the pitch of the drum accordingly – making a snare crisper with a higher tuning, for example, or

74 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT156.TUT Logic.indd 74

a kick drum flabbier with lower tuning. In addition to Tune, you’ll also find a Dampening control, which rolls-off some of the high-end as well as reducing the sustain, as well as a basic Gain control for level adjustment.

Multiple personalities The real power behind Drum Kit Designer comes when it’s run in Multi Output mode. You can select this mode when you first load up the instrument, rather than picking the CPU and RAM-light Stereo mode (which is what a new Drummer track defaults to). In Multi Output mode you get significantly more drum kit elements to play with and, more importantly, access to individual faders for each part of the kit and the allimportant room mics. You’ll also notice some extra parameters in Drum Kit Designer’s edit pane, including the option of adding leak between mics, as well as switching the kit elements between two different room mics. To access the extra channels, you’ll need to press on the small + icon in the mixer area, with a total of 16 outputs all being accessible. In Multi Output mode, triggering the snare will play back samples across multiple channels, including snare top and bottom mics, the overheads, room mics and the bleed

PRODUCER KITS The Producer Kits, which are available via the Channel Strip Library, are Multi Output versions of the Stereo Kits, complete with all the mix settings (including compression, EQ and reverbs) for each channel. If you don’t want to mix the drum kit from scratch, The Producer Kits are a quick-and-easy solution to a great sound, with the ability to expand the kit and adjust individual elements, like the kick drum EQ, if you need to. For anyone learning music production, the Producer Kits are also a great insight into how a professional might approach mixing a drum kit, seeing compression and equalization settings for each kit element.

FOCUS

13/11/2015 15:32


Mixing drums with Drum Kit Designer Technique MTF

MTF Step-by-Step Mixing with Drum Kit Designer

Assuming that you’ve downloaded the Multi Output versions of Drum Kit Designer (Logic Pro X > Download Additional Content), instantiate Drum Kit Designer, ensuring that you pick the MultiOutput option, rather than the standard stereo version.

As the title suggests, Drum Kit Designer lets you assemble a custom kit from a variety of kit components. Try swapping the various kit pieces using the information box (activated from the small i icon) to give you some indication as to its sound.

On the right-hand side of Drum Kit Designer’s interface you’ll find a series of options that let you tweak each kit element. Working with the Classic Chrome snare, which has a prominent ‘tone’, try increasing the tune parameter to raise the pitch of the snare.

Click on the small + next to the Drum Kit Designer (in the mixer area) to gain full access to the separate mic channels. Each successive click adds a further output to the mixer, culminating in the hand clap as the last channel.

With the drum loop playing, turn down the active faders so that you can build the mix from scratch. The first channel is now effectively the overhead mics, followed by the spot mics for kick, snare, and so on, and then the room mics.

Let’s start our drum mix with the two kick drum mics: Kick In and Kick Out. Using the EQ we can accentuate the key characteristics, like the beater hit around 2kHz on the Kick In channel, and the low-end power around 80Hz on the Kick Out channel.

01

03

05

as the snare ‘spills’ onto other mics on the kit. As a result, mixing with Drum Kit Designer is much the same as mixing a real kit – creating a close mic’ed 70s sound with an emphasis on the spot mics, or something more ambient and roomy with a bias towards the room mics.

Processing Kit Of course, the real benefit of the Multi Output kit is the

02

04

06

ability to apply unique processing to each part of the kit. Compression and EQ are important tools in this application – using EQ to change to tonal colour of each kit element while compression is used to control the dynamics and add body to the kit. In that respect, it’s well worth playing with the different models found on Logic’s compressor and contrasting those with different parts of the kit. Use the VCA modes for FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT156.TUT Logic.indd 75

| 75

13/11/2015 15:32


MTF Technique Mixing drums with Drum Kit Designer

lighter compression, while the Vintage FET compressor works well on channels where you want to add a more characterful compression sound, particularly on the snare or room mics. In addition to compression and EQ, you’ll also want to look at using bus sends from the individual channels, either to add ambience effects, like delay and reverb, or treatments like parallel compression. Rather than applying

reverb wholesale (as you would in Stereo mode), the use of reverb can be directed – either adding a touch more room to the overheads, for example, or following a 80s production ethic and applying a lot of reverb to just the snare. Likewise, parallel compression can be feed just from the kick and snare channels, which is a great way of adding power and body to the kit with sacrificing transient detail or the sound of the cymbals.

MTF Step-by-Step Mixing with Drum Kit Designer (cont’d)

Adding compression to the two kick channels adds body and dynamic control to the sound. We’ve used the Studio VCA model to keep the sonic footprint input of the compressor discrete, using a ratio of 3:1 and a slow attack to preserve transient detail.

The Snare Top channel contains most of the key ingredients in our snare sound. Starting with EQ, we’ve cut the low-end below 80Hz, added some body around 138Hz, a mid range dip at 730Hz and some presence above 5kHz.

By contrast to the kick channels, our snare compression is much more heavy-handed, hence the choice of the Studio FET model. We’ve used a relatively fast attack and release 3:1 ratio and adjusted the threshold so that you can hear the compressor’s movements.

Solo the overhead mics on the first channel. With an acoustic kit, it’s often the case that you’ll apply EQ to attenuate the kick from the overheads. Using Drum Kit Designer, though, we can simply select the kick and move the overheads slider to Off.

The combination of EQ and compression helps sit the overheads in the mix, with a top-end lift around 7.7kHz and the Vintage VCA compressor. Use a low ratio (1.4:1) and low threshold so that the compressor ‘glues’ the sound of the kit together.

The room mics add natural ambience, but also work surprisingly well when they’re heavily compressed. Again, we’ve used the Studio FET model for its heavier style of compression. Experiment with the release time to get a pleasing ‘pumping’ sound over the kit.

07

09

11

76 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT156.TUT Logic.indd 76

08

10

12

FOCUS

13/11/2015 15:32


Mixing drums with Drum Kit Designer Technique MTF

Virtual drummer

extra choice when it comes to kit pieces, there’s little doubt that the combination of a Multi Output Drum Kit Designer and Logic’s audio plug-ins actually exceeds what can be delivered on rival solutions. MTF This tutorial is endorsed by Point Blank. With courses in London, online and now in LA, Point Blank is the Global Music School. You can study sound to picture on their Music Production Diploma courses, with pro industry tutors. More info here: www.pointblanklondon.com.

While other virtual drumming solutions pack a lot into a single plug-in, the elegance of Drum Kit Designer means that it can fully integrate the instrument into your working environment with the minimum of fuss, moving between the immediacy of a Stereo instance for basic programming activities, to a fully-fledged Multi Output kit when it comes to mixing. While some third-party solutions might offer

MTF Step-by-Step Mixing with Drum Kit Designer (cont’d)

In situations where you’re compressing the whole kit it’s often the case that the kick drum can have too much affect on gain reduction. Use the compressor’s side chain, therefore, to filter out the kick, using the HP mode set around 130Hz.

Drum Kit Designer offers two different room mics, with Room B having a monaural sound. Try moving the snare out of Room A and placing it in Room B, maybe contrasting different EQ and compression treatment between the rooms.

The Leak channel captures the bleed between the various mics and can be pulled into the mix for a more naturalistic sound. Leak also works well as a lo-fi channel, in this case being sent through some Pedalboard distortion before being sat (quietly) in the mix.

Even with the room mics you might want to add more ambience to the kit, particularly where you need a bigger ambience. Create bus sends from the kit elements you want to process, with the overheads and spot mics often being a good choice.

Select the desired ambience using an instance of Space Designer placed across the insert path. Use the aux fader level to set the amount of reverb in the mix, or increase send levels on the respective spot mics if you want more reverb.

To keep your mixer tidy, select all the drum channels and then use the menu option Track > Create Track Stack. Pick the summing option and you’ll be able to pack away all the channels but still have a master bus of the combined result.

13

15

17

14

16

18

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT156.TUT Logic.indd 77

| 77

13/11/2015 15:32


MTF Technique Granular Synthesis with Alchemy

Powered by

Technique Logic in depth

Granular synthesis with Alchemy Delving deep into Alchemy’s granular synthesis engine can yield some unique-sounding textures. Mark Cousins unlocks the power of the grain.

P

rogramming your own sounds on Alchemy is a rewarding process, with a wealth of source options, modulation routings, filter types, FX modules and so on, all to be explored. Some of Alchemy’s more unique sonic traits are born from its ability to work with sample-based sources, using tools like additive, spectral and granular synthesis. For those that haven’t explored these sound design techniques, it can be little overwhelming to know where to begin, both from a creative standpoint, but also in relation

On the disc Accompanying project file included on the DVD

We’ll explore the basics of granular synthesis and the applications of the technology to the range of new parameters – like Grain Density, RTime and so on – that you’ll start to encounter. In this workshop, therefore, we are going to take a closer look at one of Alchemy’s advanced sound design engines – the Granular module. As well as understanding the basics of granular synthesis, we’ll also explore some practical applications of the technology, as well as how it integrates with Alchemy’s more traditional synthesis tools, like filters, step sequencers and LFOs.

selection, either loading WAV files from Alchemy’s own sound library (many of which are designed to suit granular applications) or from a source of your own choosing, simply by dragging-and-dropping audio files into the Drop Zone. Before you import the sample, though, you need to choose which Analysis mode you intend to work with, which, in turn, relates to your choice of sound engine. In the case of granular synthesis, we can either pick the Sampler or Granular Analysis Mode (found in the bottom left-hand corner of the interface) before we press the Import button. In effect, the two modes are interchangeable, so that we can freely move between conventional sample-based playback and that of granular synthesis. The reasons for choosing either the Granular engine or conventional sample-based playback are apparent when you move between the two modes. With sample-based playback, the pitch and the duration of the sample are interlinked – in other words, as we raise the pitch, the duration becomes shorter and vice versa. Granular, on the other hand, uses a series of sound grains (short looped portions of the audio file, in other words) to build the output, ultimately leading to pitch and duration of the sound being completely independent of one another. Two of the most important parameters for a Granular source are Position and Speed. Speed, of course, can be freely changed

Grain store As with the Additive, Spectral and Formant modules, Alchemy’s Granular engine is designed to work with sample-based sources. To begin a granular patch in Alchemy, therefore, you’ll need to import an audio file into the corresponding Source (A, B, C or D). You can access the browser via the drop-down menu under the Source

EXS24 IMPORT For those that feel restricted by the synthesis possibilities offered by the EXS24, it’s reassuring to note that Alchemy features an EXS24 import option. You can access the EXS24 import in the same way that you import conventional audio files. Simply browse the corresponding EXS24 instrument, and press the Import button. As with audio files, you’ll want to select the correct analysis method, either using the Sampler option; if you largely interested in combing the samples with VA waveforms and filters, or the Granular, Additive or Spectral modules; if you want you want to be more sonically creative. Note that the importing process isn’t 100% accurate to the original instrument, as Alchemy needs to consolidate velocity layers and so on. For simple instruments, though, you should find the import faithful to original mapping.

78 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT157.TUT Logic.indd 78

FOCUS

13/11/2015 15:33


Granular Synthesis with Alchemy Technique MTF

MTF Step-by-Step Alchemy granular synthesis

Start from an initialized patch (File>Clear, from Alchemy’s own internal menu). Go to the Advanced tab and pick Import Audio from the drop-down menu that accompanies the Source selection, which will currently be in its default Saw setting.

You can important a range of sample material into Alchemy, including its a diverse collection of sample data. We’re pulling the Filter Sweep C3 (in our Logic project) file over to the Dropzone, selecting Sample as the Analysis Mode and pressing Import.

The filter sweep has been imported as a conventional sample, with just a Reverse control and Volume parameter. Playing the sample up and down the keyboard results in the playback being shorted and lengthened accordingly, as well as changing in pitch.

Now move over to the Granular tab and activate the Granular mode. With Granular active, Alchemy plays the audio file as a series of Grains. Notice now that the duration of the filter sweep is the same wherever you play on the keyboard.

With the sweep held in its Granular form, we gain new flexibility over the playback of the sample data. Reducing speed slows the progression through the sweep, stepping through the grains slower without affecting the pitch of the playback.

Taking the granular concept to an extreme, we can reduce Speed to zero, creating an effect similar to ‘freezing’ time. With the Speed at zero, try moving the Position control to hear the sound slowly sweep through the harmonic spectrum.

01

03

05

without any affect on pitch, even going to an extreme where the sound appears ‘frozen’ in time. In the case of Speed being at its slowest setting, Position then becomes a means of stepping through the sample data, much in the same way you might step through a wavetable. Add modulation to the Position control – either in the form of an LFO, envelope generator or step sequencer – and the wavetable-like qualities are complete, creating shimmering ‘granular’ pads, for example, or radical timbral changes with an LFO set to a sample-and-hold waveshape.

02

04

06

To better understand the sound of granular synthesis, it’s well worth adjusting some of the grain parameters to hear the process in action. For example, Density and Grain Size are two fundamentally important parameters in the overall granular effect. To hear a single grain, reduce the Density to its lowest setting and then adjust the Size parameter. With settings around 140-230ms, you’ll hear an effect similar to an audio gate being opened and closed, playing back short snippets of audio based on the Speed and Position parameters. As you move through the audio FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT157.TUT Logic.indd 79

| 79

13/11/2015 15:33


MTF Technique Granular Synthesis with Alchemy

file, therefore, the grain ‘window’ changes, almost like a series of sonic snapshots. Rather than using just a single grain, most granular sounds use a number of simultaneous grains to produce a smooth and continuous output. Even so, you’ll want to trade-off the Grain Density and Size to get the results you’re after. A more ‘textural’ application of granular synthesis (maybe using a noisy, almost percussive sound source) might favour low-density settings and a relatively large

grain size. If you’re interested in smooth granular pads where the sounds morphs between different harmonic states – then you’ll want to increase the grain density and adjust the size to taste. Once you understand the mechanics behind granular synthesis, the musical applications soon start to become apparent. Ideally, the best audio files for granular synthesis involve a sound that clearly changes over time, rather than sounding relatively static. As one of the examples illustrates

MTF Step-by-Step Alchemy granular synthesis (cont’d)

The Density and Size of the grains can have a big effect on the sonic output of Alchemy. Try reducing Density to zero to hear just a single grain, which can be varied, using the Size parameter, from 2 to 230ms.

Coarse Size and Density settings can be effective (especially on textural sample data), but if you’re seeking a smoother overall sound you’ll want to use a larger amount of grains, via the Density setting, and grain sizes greater than 140ms.

The RTime control adds small time variables between each grain. Try reducing RTime to its lowest setting to see how sterile the granular engine can sound without these variations. On the whole, 3% seems a good default.

As the name suggests, RPan introduces random panning artefacts into the grain distribution, and are a great way of adding stereo information to a mono source. Hear the effect in action using a low density/large size setting.

Having understood the basics, let’s take a look at two granular treatments – a granular pad sound and then a granular sequence effect. Initialize the sound and import the Granular Piano C3 sample that’s residing in our Logic project.

Rather than stepping through the sound in a conventional fashion, route the LFO through to the Position parameters and set speed to 0. Reduce to the depth so that the sound ‘shimmers’ around a portion of the piano sample.

07

09

11

80 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT157.TUT Logic.indd 80

08

10

12

FOCUS

13/11/2015 15:33


Granular Synthesis with Alchemy Technique MTF

in the walkthrough, you can achieve some interesting results using synth sweeps, creating granular twists on many classic subtractive sounds. You can also get some great results using music phrases as granular sources, especially ethnic instruments, which can have erratic or unusual timbral changes over their duration. Once you’ve set up the basics of your granular texture, it’s then a case of using traditional subtractive tools to enhance the effect you’re trying to achieve –

whether it’s adding animation to the grain movement using LFOs and Envelopes, or using signal processing tools like filters to accentuate the timbral colour you’re after. For example, if you want a warmer grain sound with some of the edges smoothed off, pick a low-pass filter, or if you want to accentuate the texture of the grains, try using a high-pass filter. Ultimately, the more you play with granular synthesis, the more you’ll appreciate the extra set of tonal colours it delivers. MTF

MTF Step-by-Step Alchemy granular synthesis (cont’d)

To add some warmth and further interest to the pad sound, we’ve used a second LFO to subtly modulate the tuning (Fine). You could also edit the amplifier’s AHDSR to have a more graduated attack and decay so that it’s more pad-like.

To complete the patch (which sounds best an octave above its original pitch), try adding a 2-pole low-pass filter and a touch of delay. Also experiment with high-pass filtering, which is useful where you want the results to have more texture.

Open up another instance of Alchemy (importing the same sample) to explore another sound. We’re using the step sequencer to modulate position, rather than the LFO. The result is a sound that appears to jump between different portions of the audio.

To exaggerate the movement, we’ve also routed the sequencer through to the LP2 MG filter, with a medium amount of release and small amount of drive for extra body. As the filter mirrors the granular shifts, it helps define the timbral movement.

Routing LFO1 through to the main Volume control lets us shape the amplitude for each step of the sequence. Use the Ramp Down shape options and set its Rate to 1/16ths (assuming you have the Sync option enabled).

It’s worth remembering that the FX section can also be modulated. Rather than reverb and delay being static effects, therefore, we’ve used the same step sequencer to modulate the FX mix, so that the higher valued steps have more effect.

13

15

17

14

16

18

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT157.TUT Logic.indd 81

| 81

13/11/2015 15:33


MTF Industry Guru Aisling Brouwer

MTF Feature Interview

INDUSTRY GURU AISLING BROUWER If you have ever wanted your music to score major TV and film productions, you could do worse than taking advice from someone who has been there and done that. MusicTech talks to Aisling Brouwer about how to succeed in the world of media music composition‌

82 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT149.interviewGuru.indd 82

FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:02


Aisling Brouwer Industry Guru MTF

T

he chances are you’ve realised that writing pop music is only for the brave and that getting music syncs for TV and film is where your creative focus could and possibly should lie. In fact, this has become one of the prime outlets for today’s music producers’ output, because there are more TV shows, video games and films produced than ever before, all requiring soundtracks of one kind or another. But it can be a difficult area to break in to. Aisling Brouwer has scored major TV shows such as The Apprentice, The Calling and The Taste. Her set-up has already appeared in MusicTech’s Show Off Your Studio feature, but we were so impressed with her musical CV that we had to get her in for a MusicTech guru grilling…

Aisling Brouwer has built an impressive CV of TV and film soundtrack work since moving to the UK

MusicTech Focus: How did you get into music production and working on TV and film composition? Aisling Brouwer: I have been writing and producing music ever since I was a kid, but initially started as a singer/songwriter. After moving to the UK to study songwriting, I decided to change my course to music and film composition with an aim to focus on writing music for the screen. I spent my second year studying in Los Angeles as an exchange student and, encouraged by my tutors, I started approaching the film, animation and theatre departments to

I am struck by how accessible music technology has become to people with less experience instigate collaborations. These projects confirmed this was the path I wanted to go down, and during my MA in composition for film and TV, I started working as a freelance composer for several London-based companies. I met Dru Masters and was given the opportunity to pitch for one of the series he was scoring for the BBC (The Big Allotment Challenge). Luckily, he liked it and I started several more projects with Workhouse Music. Once the ball was rolling, I started getting in other projects and I moved to London to pursue the career full-time. MTF: What was your original goal? AB: It was to be able to sustain myself from music alone, and write music for film in particular. The problem with film is that unless you are working on big projects, the budgets are often derived from personal funds – and therefore TV and production music can be a more lucrative starting point. I fell into writing for TV and documentary series, and try to balance that with film, trailer, production music, and personal creative projects. I have achieved the goal of writing music for a living for now, but I don’t believe in chasing one isolated goal in my career – my objective is to challenge myself, push my work further, and be creatively innovative.

MTF: What have been your most successful projects? AB: I’d like to think my most recent projects are always more successful than the last few, and I always treat every new project like it’s the best thing I’ve worked on. I don’t think my career has spanned long enough yet to pick one out of the hat that’s peaked my career, but I guess the one that jumps out on my CV the most is the 10th series of The Apprentice. Working with Workhouse Music, I got the chance to work on some great TV series for BBC, Channel 4 and TLC – but in terms of my best musical work I am proud of some of the tracks I’ve written for production music, film music and even personal projects that sent me down new compositional paths. MTF: What do you think about the way music production technology has progressed? How has this been good or bad for the media composer? AB: A decade ago, I had just bought my first DAW and was recording mostly in other people’s studios with more experienced engineers and producers, so I am mostly struck by how accessible music technology has become to people with less experience. The interfaces have become much more intuitive, and it is no longer necessary to own a vast amount of hardware equipment and expensive gear in order to produce good music. Given that I spent the past seven years moving cities nearly every year, and was back and forth between the US, the UK and The Netherlands, I could transport a fair amount of my studio without too much effort; this had considerable advantages. On the other hand, one could argue that because music technology has become so widely available, and much more affordable, it tends to make the competition tougher. Distinguishing your sound from the masses, and competing with a much larger pool of composers, producers and artists can be a complicated process – and keeping up with new developments equally challenging. There is a rawness and authenticity to production that is lost when everything is so easily perfected digitally, and demos no longer suffice if they are actually demos when pitching against so many people – they should more or less be the final product for the project. MTF: What happens with a typical commission? AB: Depending on whether I’m working directly with the series producer/director/creative or through an FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT149.interviewGuru.indd 83

| 83

13/11/2015 12:02


MTF Industry Guru Aisling Brouwer

agency/music production company this varies hugely. If I’m involved from the beginning, there are usually several meetings, coffees, and spotting sessions to talk through the overall aims of the project, and in what ways the music can serve to achieve this. More often than not, a temp track and/ or reference music has been added during the edit. Rarely, the composition comes before the edit. If this is the case, or if the track is production/library music, I write the track according to the stylistic brief but not directly to picture. Most of the time, however, the music is the last thing to be added, and thus the deadlines can be exceedingly tight. Once I’ve established the musical palette, I start by tempo mapping and marking the various hits, builds, fades, transitions and so on. I then get cracking on establishing the main compositional elements and try to do most of my mixing and processing along the way to avoid changing the sound too much at the end. If the project isn’t under a tight deadline, the composition usually goes back and forth between the composer and the client a few times to make room for adjustments, tweaks and variations before the final version is delivered and the project concluded. MTF: You must get asked about music production and breaking in to the industry all the time. What do you get asked about the most? AB: I think because I’ve written for orchestral ensembles quite a lot, I often get asked about my arrangement and production techniques concerning

As well as being versatile, try to figure out where your strengths lie and build on those the amalgamation of classical and commercial music. Most of the emails I get, however, are more inquisitive about how to break into the industry, which companies to approach, which sound libraries or plugins I use, or just general advice on making money from composition. I think it’s useful for any composer to have a basic knowledge on orchestration and arrangement (The Study of Orchestration, by Adler, is great), as you will never get the full potential out of ensemble instruments if you’re pitching them in the wrong register or layering them inefficiently. Never pan orchestral patches that have been recorded in their original layout, or the whole ensemble will sound incoherent. I tend to try to find natural-sounding patches so that some light reverb, compression and creative EQ are sufficient to create an authentic sound. Waves MV2 is wonderful for getting the best out of a sound. MTF: Are there any particular production processes that trouble you on scoring projects? AB: One that I am completely guilty of myself is

84 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT149.interviewGuru.indd 84

Forever changes MT: What is the future of music production in less than 100 words? AB: Unfortunately, I suspect the large increase in use of production and library music will continue to surge, and therefore composers and music companies will have to find new ways in which to work around and alongside this. Large conventions such as NAMM and Musikmesse constantly exhibit exciting new turns in music production technology that will continue to shape and innovate music production worldwide; and given how much has changed in the last decade, it is difficult to imagine what the next 10 years will bring, but also exciting!

overwriting a piece. It is so easy to get carried away and to keep adding layers to an arrangement, but I usually end up stripping off half of it at the end of the process. The advice passed on to me back then was be confident with the sounds you use, let them cut through and remember that in most cases, less is more. MTF: What advice would you give anyone entering the world of music production with the view to making a living from it? AB: It sounds dull, but networking really does make all the difference. Approach as many people as you can and listen to what they have to say or any advice they can give you. Aside from getting to know directors, producers, and liaising with agencies, it can also be valuable to develop relationships with other composers, because often work is delegated between them if they are unable to complete projects on their own. Be confident in your own abilities, but never stop learning from others. I often send mixes off to friends who are producers/engineers/composers, and no matter how finished I think a track is, there is always something a fresh pair of ears will pick up on, that you may have missed. Be disciplined enough to keep yourself constructively busy, even if you have a period of less work. Most importantly, be open to new opportunities and don’t get too hung up on ‘only working on certain projects’, or achieving a certain goal immediately – it’s the jobs you do in-between that define you and build your skill set. As well as being versatile, try to figure out where your strengths lie and build on these. Just because you want to be versatile, doesn’t mean you have to be able to create every single genre of music, so pick your battles and develop a style of your own that people can identify you by. MTF: Finally, what are you working on now, and where can people find out more about you and your work? AB: I am currently in development with some exciting new projects, and I try to update my website: www.aislingbrouwer.com and soundcloud: www.soundcloud.com/aisling-brouwer as frequently as possible. The documentary series Extraordinary Pregnancies has just started on TLC Discovery Networks International, and I hope to release an EP later this year of my personal projects as well – so keep an ear out! MTF

FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:02


HERITAGE REDEFIN ED audient console MIC PRES on your desktop

8 CH MIC PRE & ADC WITH HMX & IRON HMX is our own custom harmonic distortion control. Similar to vintage valve preamplifier designs of the 1960s, HMX provides a sweet, thick tone that will sound incredible on anything from drums to electric guitars. Plus it sounds killer on bass!

TRY OUR CUSTOM HARMONIC DISTORTION!

IRON uses a custom British transformer with a high voltage MOSFET drive network designed to recreate that sparkly, “sounds like a record” signature of 1970’s recording. Instantly add sparkle, growl and so much more with one twist of a knob!

TRY OUR ALL NEW VARIABLE TRANSFORMER! SATURATION!

www.audient.com


MTF Feature 6 Ways To…Get Inspired 01

MTF Feature 6 Ways To…

6 WAYS TO GET INSPIRED W

Inspiration is essential to musicians, but it can be an elusive and fickle beast. Rob Boffard brings you his six tips to make sure your creative well doesn’t run dry…

riters often talk about their muses. Stephen King’s muse, according to him, is an old guy who sits around all day, smoking cigars and doling out nuggets of genius for King to make into stories (judging by King’s track record, this must happen quite a lot). While it’s not often put as explicitly as that, musicians have muses as well. We might not have a personified imaginary friend, but we do have places from where we get inspiration… except when it refuses to come. Inspiration is a very fickle thing, and it’s easy to find yourself without any at a crucial moment. Here are six ways to get that inspiration back. 01

Listen to something else

Seriously, anything. At all. As long as it’s not the genre you actually create music in. If you spend your time creating drum ’n’ bass, then turn off your regular playlist and bump some hip-hop instead. Or rock. Or classical. Doesn’t matter – as long as it’s something different to what you normally bump. The science behind this is that your brain needs to switch off to make the right connections. Harvard scientist Dr Shelley Carson calls this ‘divergent thinking’, and it’s about the

86 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT151.6 ways.indd 86

mind defocusing from the current project and being allowed to just drift, letting it make the connections it needs to. And on that note… 02

Capture it

You don’t get to control when inspiration strikes. It can happen in the shower, at the shops, as you’re falling asleep; and if you forget the details, you’ll have lost it forever. So you need – absolutely need – something to capture it on. Since the inspiration is musical, that means something that can record sound. With smartphones and their assorted apps, there have never been more ways to jot down an idea. There are dozens available, most of sufficient quality to put down a quick idea, even if it’s a hummed melody or beatboxed beat. We like Apple’s Garageband (free on iOS), Propellerhead Figure (also free) and FL Studio (paid, on Android). They aren’t as fully-featured as most DAWs, but they’re fantastic for putting down bare-bones ideas. 03

Get out

Following on from that: sometimes, you need a change of scenery. It sounds so obvious – and that’s the problem, because it’s a trick that can often be

FOCUS

13/11/2015 14:06


6 Ways To… Get Inspired Feature MTF

02

overlooked. Do whatever you have to do: go for a walk, go for a run, go watch a movie, go play an XBox, go kick around a football. As long as it takes you out of the studio for a bit. It gives you distance from the material, lets your mind wander a little and gives those overworked neurons a break. If you’re really clever, you’ll find a way to make your brain perform different creative tasks. Video games are perfect – the benefits of playing them have been well documented, and as much as it might not look it, taking down a tricky boss or beating a particular area is a creative act. Yes, we’re giving you permission to go gaming. It’s work. Totally. 04

Show up

Inspiration doesn’t always appear from nowhere like magic. Sometimes, it can come simply because your brain is primed to give it to you. If you can train your

03

02

Do whatever you have to do: go for a walk, watch a movie, play an XBox, kick around a football… brain to be in a regular creative space, then you’ll find that inspiration comes that much more easily. A simple way to do this is simply to work on music production at the same time each day – difficult if you have a day job/ significant other/children, but still very possible. And by doing this, you’ll very quickly find that solving difficult problems or getting that much-needed inspiration becomes easy. Your brain actually has a process known as neuroplasticity, referring to the ability to form new connections between neurons – and if you make a habit of taking the time and space to form those connections, you’ll be sorted. 05

05

06

06

There are no bad ideas

We’ve all been there. You start a session bursting with creative energy, and within an hour you have something that sounds like a cat being put through a combine harvester. You hate both it and yourself, and you close without saving, wanting to expunge the thing from your brain. Next time that happens, hold up. Save it. Put it somewhere – hell, put it in a file called Terrible Ideas. When you’re stuck for inspiration, months or years down the track, dig into that folder. You’ll still probably go “God, what was I thinking?” but you’ll have the benefit of distance, and you’ll be able to see what made you make those production decisions in the first place.

Collaborate

You know what makes inspiration happen? Other people. Even if you’re a total introverted loner, getting together with someone for a pint or on-line can spark ideas – especially if that someone is a fellow producer-friend. Better yet: get together in-studio, and work on a track together. This comes back to the Terrible Ideas folder – forget how it sounds, just enjoy the back-andforth. You’d be surprised at the great ideas that can come out of sessions like this, and it works even better if there are more than two of you. Another mind can take you in directions you’d never have gone in by yourself. MTF FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT151.6 ways.indd 87

| 87

13/11/2015 14:06


MTF Buyer’s Guide Six of the best

Six of the best Hardware

Software

Mobile Tech

Accessories

It’s the MTF Buyer’s Guide where we round up some of the best products reviewed in recent months here at MusicTech. This time we have a selection of mic preamps, one of the most important elements in your signal chain…

Details Price £2,749 Contact AMS/Neve 01282 457011 Web www.ams-neve. com

BEST Transparancy

LEV Solutions Integrity 2

T

h Integrity 2 is one of a small number of pre amps that has been designed from the ground up, making no claims to emulate equipment from the past, and MT reviewer John Pickford admired this refreshing approach. “The unit thrives on being devoid of obvious character, preferring to be faithful to the character of the microphones used with it.” He went on to conclude: “the quality of

sound is excellent, with plenty of gain and a vanishingly low noise floor. It is a thoroughly modern and original design that does not rely on vintage credentials, focusing on precise amplification that remains faithful to the source material. Those who desire controls or want a rose-tinted sound presentation should look elsewhere, but if transparency and truth are important to you, go for it.”

Thermionic Culture The Rooster 2

A

lso featuring an EQ, Rooster 2 is an update of Thermionic’s award-winning Rooster preamp. MT reviewer John Pickford said: “this is a first-rate tracking device that, with the delicious EQ and Attitude, can breathe life into the dullest sounds. It is a superb sounding preamplifier with a rock ’n’ roll heart.” He then concluded that: “nothing compares to a top-quality valve preamp, especially when recording digitally, and the Rooster 2 is up there with the very best.”

88 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT149.6OTB.indd 88

BEST Tones

BEST It’s a 1073! Details Price £1,499 Contact KMR Audio Tel: 020 8445 2446 Web www.levsolutions. com

Neve 1073 DPX

T Details Price £1,845 + VAT Contact Thermionic Culture 01279 414770 Web www. thermionicculture. com

he original 1073 has been the mic pre of choice for engineers across the globe for four decades, and has inspired countless other designs. Indeed Neve itself has produced several variations, this being the latest and incorporating the company’s legendary three-band equaliser. Reviewer John Pickford said: “Other boutique designs that major on transparency might like to think of themselves as the Rolls Royce of microphone pres, but this one is the Aston Martin – the one that we all really want to own. The 1073 DPX is a world-class product, built to last and provide years of sterling service. Imitations do not come with pride of ownership.”

FOCUS

13/11/2015 11:49


Six of the best Buyer’s Guide MTF

BEST Beatles

Chandler TG2-500

C

handler is the only hardware company that has any kind of license to rebuild or re-engineer any of the classic hardware that was a part of EMI’s suite of studios in the 60s and 70s – including, of course, the mighty Abbey Road. (Check out MT146 for more.) The TG2-500 then, you won’t be surprised to hear, is based on the TG12428 preamp featured in EMI’s TG series of consoles that were used to record many classic albums, such as The Beatles’ Abbey

Road (1969) and Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon (1973). Reviewer John Pickford said when reviewing it back in MT139: “The TG2-500 is a lovely sounding microphone pre-amplifier with a bright, full-range sound. It’s a no-nonsense unit that gets on with its job of amplifying microphones and line-level sources without the addition of tone controls, filters or metering. The refined 1970s Abbey Road Studio sound is unmistakable – solid-state has never sounded better.”

Details Price £659 Contact 01799 520786 Web www.chandlerlimited.com

BEST Flexibility

RND 511

W

e reviewed the RND511 alongside the 517 but found it to be ever so slightly more flexible. Reviewer Mike Hillier said: “Both are great preamps, easily worthy of finding

themselves in the best studios in the world. Were we to equip a studio with just these preamps – not a terrible proposition – we’d prefer to have a bank of 511s. It’s an incredible sounding preamp, a worthy addition to any rig.”

Details Price £520 Contact Sonic Distribution, 0845 500 2 500 Web www.rupertneve.com

“The Abbey Road sound is unmistakeable. Solid state has never sounded better” BEST Vintage

Great River MP-500NV

G

reat River doesn’t claim to clone any particular preamp, but has worked-up a design with a distinctive vintage sound of much-loved consoles. And it’s clear there’s a touch of Neve 1073 here, albeit with top-drawer components to bring that classic 70s vibe into the 21st century. John Pickford said: “It certainly lives up to its vintage credentials with a full-range, expansive sound that

doesn’t stifle the signal in a way that the inputs of budget analogue mixers can. Rather, it seems to enhance the basic character of microphones with a nature that is very appealing. Anyone looking to inject some proper old-school mojo into their recordings should audition one,” and concluded: “the preamp has a euphonic nature that flatters most sources in a similar way to the legendary Neve 1073s. It is highly recommended.”

Details Price £838 Contact Unity Audio, 01799 520786 Web www.greweb.com FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT149.6OTB.indd 89

| 89

13/11/2015 11:50


MTF 20 Pro Tips Mobile music-making tips

Mobile musicmaking tips Creating professional-sounding musical projects on iOS devices is becoming easier all the time, with dedicated equipment for phones and tablets. Here’s our essential guide… KEEP IT TIDY You will need to practise good housekeeping and resource management on your iOS device, just like you do on your computer – perhaps even more so. Whereas computers can be upgraded with more RAM, faster hard drives and sometimes even new CPUs, iOS devices can’t, and so the amount of power available to you is determined by the particular device you have. Very broadly speaking, an iPad 3 or newer and an iPhone 5 or newer are the baselines for decent performance – and the newer the better. There are some good rules of thumb to remember; make sure you have a decent amount of storage space free. Force quit apps you’re not using and restart prior to any serious audio work. Switch on Do Not Disturb so you don’t get calls, texts and other notifications in the middle of trying to record.

conventional MIDI gear to your iOS device. Windows and Mac users can also use networked MIDI over wi-fi to iOS, though latency can be an issue.

01

GET A MIDI INPUT DEVICE Touchscreens are great, but a dedicated MIDI input device will make your life much easier if you work on the move a lot. IK Multimedia makes lots of these: the iRig Pads, Keys and Blueboard in different versions. The company also makes the iRig MIDI, which can be used to connect

The importance of getting decent headphones cannot be overestimated. Don’t skimp…

02

90 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT149.Tips.indd 90

GET A GOOD SET OF HEADPHONES The importance of getting some decent headphones cannot be overestimated. Aim for closed-back, over-ear models, as these will stop sound leakage if you’re working in a public space. They should be comfortable, too, for long periods of listening, and preferably pretty lightweight if you’re carrying them around. Don’t skimp on these, since a good pair will serve you well.

03

A MIDI input device such as the iRig Keys, below, is a very good idea…

FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:42


Mobile music-making tips 20 Pro Tips MTF

USE A CONTROLLER APP iOS controller apps are sometimes bound to a specific desktop application, and at other times are assignable to control anything that can receive MIDI. Setting up a controller app means you can perform live, or join a jam session. Ableton Live and Traktor are particularly well catered for when it comes to iOS controller apps.

06

WORK REMOTELY Steinberg’s VST Connect allows users in different parts of the world to video chat and record audio and MIDI directly into Cubase in high quality. The free Studio Pass app lets someone broadcast a mix live to your phone as well as video chatting with you. So you can let people audition mixes and sessions without them having to be present.

07

MASTER YOUR MUSIC It’s even possible to master your tracks on an iPad. Probably the best app for this is Positive Grid’s Final Touch, which is amazingly powerful considering it runs on a mobile device. There’s also an app called Audio Mastering, which is a little more technical but similarly priced.

08

SEND AUDIO BETWEEN APPS As music-making on iOS has become more of a serious proposition, Apple has beefed up the core technologies of the system to help you out. One of the most useful capabilities in iOS is Inter-App Audio, which allows you to send audio between different apps, despite them not being on screen at the same time. So, for example, you could load a standalone synth and then route it into a mobile DAW, using virtual MIDI to trigger it, and then record the results – all inside the iPad. It’s also how new solutions such as the Music IO app work: you just need an app that acts as a hub for the audio streams. There’s also Audiobus, which is actually a third-party app, but enables a similar thing, with a little more flexibility for routing audio internally.

09

BUY AN AMP/EFFECTS SIM Guitar effects have been one of the most popular uses for iOS devices, and they’re better than ever. Tools such as BIAS FX, AmpliTube and JamUp provide great functionality for guitarists. Add an interface, even one as simple as the iRig, and you can monitor and play with minimum fuss.

04

PLUG IN A MIC There are an increasing number of microphones coming onto the market that plug directly into your iOS device, typically using a Lightning connector, because the older 30-pin version was discontinued some time ago. The benefits of this are pretty clear in that such a model would allow you to plug in wherever you happened to be with no extra interfaces or cabling required and record a performance. Admittedly, only with a single mic, but this is enough for simpler recording tasks. They range in form and price, depending on whether you want something more conventional and hand-held or more ambient and omnidirectional. There’s Blue Mics’ Mikey Digital, Apogee’s MiC 96K, Zoom’s iQ6, IK’s iRig Mic and HD, Blue’s Spark Digital, Samson’s C01U and several more. Some are better suited to the studio and some to field recording.

05

(Above) Amp simulators such as BIAS FX, AmpliTube and JamUp come with dozens of effects, too (Below right) When your projects start to get serious, you’re going to need some external storage (Below left) More and more mics that plug in to your iOs device are available.

GET SOME EXTERNAL STORAGE iOS devices have never had expandable storage and probably never will. The base 16GB configuration of iPhones and iPads is not really enough to do lots of recording on, or hold more than a few high-quality DAWs and instruments – which can easily run to 1GB each. So you might find yourself constantly struggling for space, but there is a workaround. Not everyone knows about the existence of wireless hard drives. These are fairly affordable standard hard drives that have Wi-Fi built in, and usually a companion iOS app as well. They can be used independently of a computer or an internet connection to transfer files to and from your iOS device. They’re maybe not suitable for recording directly to because of latency, but you can use them to manage your data without having to lug a laptop around. Especially useful for saving and loading projects on the move.

10

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT149.Tips.indd 91

| 91

13/11/2015 12:42


MTF 20 Pro Tips Mobile music-making tips

TRANSFER BETWEEN DESKTOP AND DEVICE Increasingly, larger developers have started to bring together their mobile and desktop offerings, though it’s still the case that not every DAW has a mobile equivalent. If you are looking to get started, or happen to already have a desktop DAW and want to combine it with a mobile equivalent, you can sort something out that will let you start a project on the move and then transfer it back to the desktop for more heavyweight work, either via the cloud or via iTunes file sharing. Some of the more prominent systems that do this include NI’s iMaschine and Maschine desktop, Steinberg’s Cubasis and Cubase, GarageBand for iOS and GarageBand or Logic Pro on the desktop, FL Studio Mobile HD and FL Studio for PC – and in a slightly different way, Propellerheads’ Take, Figure and Reason combo.

14

USE THE CLOUD Take advantage of cloud services to transfer projects between your iOS device and computer, or to upload your finished tracks directly to streaming services. Some of the most commonly implemented cloud sharing options in iOS apps are Apple’s iCloud, Dropbox, Box, SoundCloud and Facebook. You get a standard storage allowance with most services, that’s adequate for many users, though you can of course pay to expand this. Even if you don’t use the cloud to transfer or share material with others, it can be useful simply as a backup technique to ensure you always have a saved copy of a project stored somewhere other than the device itself. Bear in mind, also, that if you are uploading data over a cellular connection, a DAW project with a few WAV audio tracks can quickly burn through several hundred MB of your data allowance.

15

LINK UP TO YOUR DESKTOP Historically, iOS and the desktop have been two separate worlds, and getting data from one to the other has meant exporting to iTunes or uploading it to the cloud first, then re-importing into your computer. The system called Music IO (www.musicioapp.com) does away with this. It uses a server app for the Mac (with Windows support planned) and an app on your iOS device, plus a VST/AU plug-in to seamlessly incorporate both systems, using only the regular USB cable you already utilise to charge the device. Four tracks of stereo audio can be sent bi-directionally between iOS and OS X, and MIDI can be sent too. This means you can record audio from iOS synths into your DAW, trigger iOS instruments from your Mac and even use iOS effects apps, such as guitar processors.

11

(Above) Music IO is invaluable for linking your iOS and desktop projects (Below right) An iPad dock could be a good alternative to buying a second MIDI or audio interface.

iTrack Pocket is a stand for your phone with an integrated high-quality microphone

GET A DOCK FOR YOUR DEVICE If you already have a desktop audio and MIDI interface, you may not want to buy another one simply to add proper I/O to your iPad. In this case, you could consider an iPad Dock, such as the Alesis IO Dock or the Focusrite iTrack Dock. These are designed to physically hold an iPad, and can often be connected to a phone as well, even if it’s not held securely in place. Be sure to choose a dock that suits your iPad model, since there is some variation in what’s compatible. They add phantom power, XLR audio, hardware MIDI and USB connectivity in various configurations; and if you plan on using your iPad for music a lot, can even replace a computer setup. Smaller accessories are available, too – many from IK Multimedia, such as the iRig MIDI 2, iRig HD and iRig Mic to name but a few. Each of these brings a specific kind of I/O to your device, and usually at a lower price point.

16

RECORD WITH ITRACK POCKET You can record audio and video of yourself from an iPhone at the same time, but in higher fidelity than the built-in mic allows. Focusrite’s iTrack Pocket is a clever device that is a stand for your phone with an integrated

17

PACK SOME CABLES Always carry a couple of cables if you’re planning to record anything on your travels. A simple mini-jack-to-minijack, a small-to-big adaptor and a mini-jack-to-phono cable will allow you to record from almost any instrument or audio device into your iOS device. There’s no need to carry interfaces, though of course if you do, you will benefit from better audio fidelity.

12

MAKE SOME FIELD RECORDINGS iOS devices make surprisingly good field recorders, though you are better off not simply relying on their built-in microphones to do the job. The addition of a dedicated field mic, such as IK’s iRig Mic Field, or a Blue Microphones model, will greatly enhance the clarity of any recordings you make. Radio producers and interviewers often use an iPhone with a specialised mic attached, and you can too.

13

92 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT149.Tips.indd 92

FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:42


Mobile music-making tips 20 Pro Tips MTF

It might sound obvious, but if you’re making music on the move you’ll need a proper mobile DAW (Above) An interface that can connect to both desktop and mobile devices will save you time (Left) Focusrite’s iTrack Pocket will improve the quality of your recordings (Below) Mobile DAWs are highly capable and not as expensive as you might expect.

INVEST IN A MOBILE DAW It might sound obvious, but if you’re making music on the move you will need a proper mobile DAW. These are now amazingly capable and dwarf the simple four-track recorders that were standard when iOS first allowed third-party apps. At the very affordable end, there’s GarageBand; and for a little more, FL Studio Mobile HD, NanoStudio and Cubasis. All of these work differently, but support virtual effects and instruments, audio and MIDI recording and editing, and even mastering. Some, such as Tabletop and Auria, are even more advanced and allow adding modules. If you’re going to spend a few quid on a decent mobile DAW (and they’re still much cheaper than desktop versions), you’ll want to add some kind of audio and MIDI I/O device, as there’s no point spending on one part of the system and skimping on the other. MTF

20

high-quality microphone and also a guitar line in with amp simulation. Record audio and video, apply the mastering effects and upload to YouTube. DON’T RUN OUT OF BATTERIES If you’re making music on the go, always carry a battery pack to avoid running out of juice at crucial moments. Compact ones can cost more, but if you don’t mind a big brick, you can charge for hours without going near the mains. Remember that charging will tie up your Lightning port.

18

GO MULTI-FUNCTIONAL Getting audio and MIDI into and out of your iOS device is key to leveraging its power as a music-making platform. You have a number of options, but an increasingly popular one is to choose an audio and MIDI interface that has both desktop and iOS compatibility. Thanks to Apple’s CoreMIDI and CoreAudio frameworks, developers are able to design interfaces that can be plugged into a Mac, PC or iPad or iPhone and work right away. The benefits are obvious: you get pro-quality inputs and outputs in a device that can be used both on the move and back in your studio. Check that an interface does specifically have iOS support, because not all do. However, more and more are becoming compatible: smaller models from Steinberg, Apogee and Focusrite to name but a few.

19

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT149.Tips.indd 93

| 93

13/11/2015 12:42


CHOOSE YOUR SUBSCRIPTION PACKAGE SAVE 40%

THE BUNDLE SUBSCRIPTION…

• FREE Novation Launchpad Mini Mk2 • Save 40% on the single copy prices* • Just £64.99 every 12 months on Direct Debit* • Free UK delivery direct to your door • Access to the app through iTunes, Kindle Fire and Android

CODE - XGIFT15B

SAVE 25%

THE PRINT SUBSCRIPTION…

• FREE Novation Launchpad Mini Mk2 • Save 25% on the shop price* • Just £53.50 every 12 months on Direct Debit* • Free UK delivery direct to your door

CODE - XGIFT15

OTHER PAYMENT METHODS

Unfortunately, the gift is not available with these offers below

SAVE 40%

PRINT + DIGITAL…

• UK – £64 for 12 issues by credit/debit card, save 40% • Europe – €61 every 6 issues by continuous credit card, saving 40% • Australia – $77 every 6 issues by continuous credit card, saving 40% • Rest of World – £40 every 6 issues by Continuous credit Card

MT153.subs.indd 60

SAVE 40%

PRINT ONLY…

• UK – £43 for 12 issues by credit/debit card, save 40% • Europe – €45 every 6 issues by continuous credit card, saving 40% • Australia – $53 every 6 issues by continuous credit card, saving 40% • Rest of World – £29.97 every 6 issues by continuous credit card • USA – $57 every 6 issues by continuous credit card, saving 40%

17/11/2015 11:36


er off on pti cri bs su as tm ris Ch

FREE Novation Launchpad Mini MK2 When you subscribe to h t r o W .99 £69

This compact Launchpad grid instrument for Ableton Live gives you 64 mini pads for triggering clips, playing drum beats, controlling your mixer and doing just about anything else, all while making amazing performance videos for YouTube. It’s just like a Launchpad, but smaller! The Launchpad Mini Mk2 retains the features and functionality of the original Launchpad Mini, but it connects to the Launchpad App using only the camera connection kit, as well as Ableton Live, and retaining its FL Studio functionality.

TWO EASY WAYS TO SUBSCRIBE anthem.subscribeonline.co.uk/ musictech ENTER XGIFT15B (bundle) OR XGIFT15 (print only) in the promo code box

0844 844 0398

Calls cost 7 pence per minute plus your phone company’s access charge

Overseas readers +44 1795 592849 QUOTING CODE XGIFT15B (bundle) OR XGIFT15 (print only)

OFFER ENDS 31 DECEMBER 2015 CODE XGIFT15/XGIFT15B Your subscription will start with the next available issue unless you state otherwise. There are 12 issues in a year. The gift is subject to availability. If stock becomes exhausted, we reserve the right to substitute it for a gift of a similar value. Please order by 10 December to ensure delivery of the gift before Christmas. Also, if you order by 10 December, you will receive a free Christmas card to give to the recipient (if it’s not yourself!). *UK-only saving. The print saving is calculated against the cover price x 12 issues. The bundle saving is based on buying 12 print copies in a shop plus 12 digital single copies. Details of how to access your digital editions will be sent to you with acknowledgement of your subscription order. Please provide your email address for this.

MT153.subs.indd 61

17/11/2015 11:37


MTF Reviews Plugin Boutique Carbon Electra

Value

€£$ PLUGIN BOUTIQUE

Carbon Electra In a world where we seem to be going hardware synth mad, do we need another dance-based subtractive soft synth? Andy Jones plugs in to Carbon Electra… Details Price $99/£59 Contact Plugin Boutique Web www.pluginboutique. com

T

he world has gone, it must be said, a little hardware nuts. While at one time we all thought that everything studio-wise was heading into our laptops, we now find that there is

Whatever the reason, hardware is most definitely back, especially hardware synths. So you’d have to have a pretty good story to launch a soft synth now. Yet with VirtualCZ, Plugin Boutique had just that when I reviewed

Nothing on the synth is as garish or sleazy as the name implies, or is it just me that thinks it sounds like a synth porn star? Key Features ● 4 analoguestyle syncable oscillators ● 600 artist and factory presets ● Six filter types ● Effective effects section ● Step envelope for editing volume, filter and pitch ● Compressed ‘hot’ output

a huge and somewhat unexplained appetite for hardware. It’s almost as if people don’t realise that you can do music production pretty well all on a laptop. Or that they do realise it and, well, they simply don’t want to. Or there’s the theory that is growing in popularity that music production has simply become more of a hobby that looks amazing; the cool aesthetic of the environment being as important as the process and end result (and in some cases, a little more so…).

96 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT150.REV Carbon Electra.indd 96

it a few months back: a great emulation of a classic synth series that few had attempted. But do we really need another soft synth with an analogue bent and a subtractive heart? And do we need another synth – hard or soft – with dance music as its focus?

Carbon copy I first approached Carbon Electra slightly blind, I have to say. Reviewing it on holiday without internet access, I had no preliminary information, no

hype, nothing. This probably turned out to be a good thing, because looking at the synth’s spec cold, you could be forgiven for muttering ‘nothing to see here’ and moving on; just another subtractive soft synth with a bunch of oscillators and relatively cool add-ons. Good job I didn’t judge it by its cover… At Carbon Electra’s heart lie four sync-able oscillators with adjustable pulse widths, FM and selectable waveshapes. There’s a filter section with six filter types; a fairly simple effects section (that includes chorus, distortion, delay and EQ); and a flexible (if again quite simple) LFO section. Nothing to get too excited about so far, although I do already like the fact that it is simple, with everything within reach – all in front of you, no hidden menus, so it’s easy to get your head around. I also like the sound of the step editor, which can be assigned to pitch, volume and cut-off. Then there’s the fact that the synth has a top range of current and not-so-current producers drafted in to bulk out its presets, so you have everyone from Carl Cox to Faze Action contributing sounds.

FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:49


Plugin Boutique Carbon Electra Reviews MTF

Even with these big names, however, Carbon Electra is not quite as coollooking as its name suggests. But then, how could it be? Like me, you might have been expecting neon flashes of brilliance with each tweak, maybe lightning bolts on each preset change, or maybe a fluorescent blue backdrop (so in vogue at the moment with our Show Off Your Studio entrants). Sure, there are graphical displays for the filter, mixer and step editor, but nothing jumps out nor is as garish and sleazy as the name implies – or is it just me that thinks it sounds like a synth porn star? [Yes. It is – Ed]. However, as

shines through – perhaps down to what PB describe as the synth’s “ability to run the amp section ‘too hot’… creating a modern hyper-compressed sound.” The end results are therefore surprisingly good, well beyond even the wider electronic dance boundaries I’ve set. We’re also talking some great FM-like percussive sounds – not beats you understand, just more shimmering and melodic, fast-attack ‘real’ sounds. So Carbon Electra’s not ‘just’ dance; it has plenty of added bells and whistles. This is perhaps down mostly to the additional features I’ve touched upon. They might not sound too

I’m a little embarrassed at how good these happy accidents sound – I did program the original notes though, OK? a VirtualCZ fan, I should really have expected more than looks, and 10 minutes after booting the synth up I was sucked into the Carbon Electra world, but possibly not for the reasons that I should have been…

Carbon footprint If Carbon Electra has a market, it is clearly dance. One look down the list of producers and you’ll realise that, and – if not – Factory preset names that reference Prodigy (synth and band) and 90s jungle, plus a whole host of other genres, will certainly bring home the point. But, actually, the remit is a lot wider – it’s a broader sweep of electronic music that this synth covers, so there are all sorts of arpeggiations, basses and leads across the factory presets that, yes, hark back and forth between dance old and new, but also straddle more traditional genres of electronic music – there’s plenty of ambient, soundscape, scoring and electronica in there, too. But it was when I threw it at a bunch of old 8-bar loop ideas that I had the most fun. These snippets of songs have never gone beyond initial loops – bits and pieces I’ve had around for ages, many of which I never thought I’d rescue from my hard drive. However, some of Electra’s sounds really did breathe new life into them – not necessarily the dance life that was perhaps intended, but energy nonetheless. There’s a great movement in many of them, and the sound quality

dramatic, but they do broaden the synth’s sonic footprint. The Step Envelope section, for example, proves to be a lot more flexible in practice than its spec implies – as do the effects. Again, this is down very much to the fact that everything is displayed in front of you, so you are drawn in to edit and tweak – which the synth’s programmers and named producers have clearly been busy doing.

We’ve run out of carbon puns… I won’t go through all of the whopping 600 factory and artist presets – you will find a good selection of bass, lead, pad, key, chord, arpeggiator and effect sounds across generations of dance music and genres. Instead, I’ll try to sum up what the extras bring – and there’s a definite sense of movement. Just play with the Step Envelope section for maximum impact with minimum fuss. It’s so easy to adjust the pitch, filter cutoff and volume of the notes played, and the rate at which they are played – all defined by 18 different waveshapes – and get something completely different but at the same time very usable, very quickly. Going back to that boast about running the output amp too hot and, after my auditions, I’m starting to believe it – the synth’s sounds definitely cut through the mixes I tried it on, especially those old looping ideas. Basses really bring the bottom end of mixes to life, and some of the leads and incidental effects add angles to tracks

Alternatives For some great dance sounds, I looked at LinPlug’s Spectral ($149) synth about a year ago. It’s a great synth and has four oscillators, in common with Electra, but does boast a lot more in terms of control and movement – and is pretty easy to use, too (although maybe not quite as easy as CE). Rob Papen’s Blue-II ($179) also springs to mind, not so much based on architecture but on some of the sounds you get – mind you, that synth does seem to cover everything, with an extraordinary number of onboard presets.

I can only dream of. In fact, I’m a little embarrassed at how good some of these happy accidental preset inclusions sound (I did program the original notes so they are all mine, OK?!).

Are friends Electra? (Sorry) So, it turns out that Carbon Electra is one synth that is not as easy to lazily pigeon-hole as I’d originally anticipated. Yes, it’s aimed at dance producers, but work (not too hard) with it and you’ll get a lot more out. It’s easy, fun and packed full of potential, and I’ll be resurrecting a few lost causes with it over the next few weeks. If we could have lightning flashes and luminous blue controls for v2, though, that would be the fluorescent icing on the cake… MTF

MTF Verdict + Good and varied sound that cuts through mixes + Very easy to use, and it’s all there in front of you + Surprisingly wide sonics + Simple but very effective Step Envelope and effects sections + Good producer presets + Inexpensive - Not as cool looking as it could be - Some controls a bit bland - Lacks immediate appeal… which could be a good thing! Don’t judge a synth by its look – nor indeed its name. The Carbon Electra sounds great, and is very easy to get more from. It also has a sound that will not only act as the backbone to many a dance track, but one that could bring a lot to a variety of other genres, and bring old ideas back to life.

8/10

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT150.REV Carbon Electra.indd 97

| 97

13/11/2015 12:49


MTF Reviews Heavyocity Gravity

Choice

9/10 9 9/ 10 HEAVYOCITY

Gravity

Libraries for soundtrack composers are at something of a peak in popularity. Andy Jones loads up Heavyocity’s latest, which uses vast swathes of hands-on control and customisation in an attempt to lift it well above the rest…

Details Price $449 Contact sales@heavyocity. com Web www.heavyocity.com

Key features ● 12GB library ● 2,200 sound sources; 815 snapshots; 325 motion presets; 780 pads; 390 stings; 19 riser menus; 9 hit menus ● AU, VST, DXi, AAX, RTAS, Standalone ● Requires Kontakt 5 player

I

t would be easy to think that today’s media composer – that is a soundtrack producer for film, TV and video games – has it too easy. With libraries comprising gigabytes of data becoming 10 a penny (almost) and sample collections available every month with magazines such as MusicTech [you mean there are others? – Ed] the soundtrack artist has never had it so good. Or have they? Yes and no. With so many collections of samples, loops and instruments available, the bar to entry is now so low that pretty much anyone can attempt to have a go at scoring film. Like music production before it, everyone having the tools to do so is not necessarily ‘a good thing’. So, while there might seem to be more collections than ever being reviewed in MusicTech, each one is fighting for a unique position, or is – as Stella Artois used to claim – reassuringly expensive, to filter out some of the unwashed masses…

Rising above Heavyocity’s Gravity is a bit of both. With a price tag of $449, it is by no means the cheapest collection out there. And with more hands-on tweaking and customising tools available than your average collection, it is more of an active instrument than a passive library.

98 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT149.REV Gravity.indd 98

So while the aims and audience of the collection will quickly become obvious – think tension-building scores to back high-drama, horror, sci-fi, or anything needing atmosphere, basically – there is hopefully enough going on in the manipulation department to make Gravity more about being inspired than copying; it’s more about being

and the ‘Aggressive, Ethereal, Experimental and Unnerving’ categories are as descriptive as it gets. Each pad comprises three layers, which you can tweak individually, in terms of volume, ADSR envelope, pitch and panning. Each layer can be modulated with several parameters and shaped with an EQ page that has a three-band EQ and

Gravity is about being inspired – more about being the sheep dog than the sheep the sheep dog than the sheep. Hopefully, anyway…

The only way is… Installation is via the Continuata installer, itself a small download and one that you paste your code into, select your destination and let the 12GB download do its thing. Gravity opens within Kontakt as an instrument, as normal, and you are immediately presented with some filmic sonic options: pads, hits, stings and risers; as each has a set of unique parameters, I should look at them in turn. The Gravity pads comprise four descriptive types

five filter types (with the cut-off able to be modulated by four parameters). This is just the opening salvo in Gravity’s hands-on control arsenal, offering familiar analogue-style sound synthesis over what we will see and hear are very non-analogue sound sources (despite many actually being created on modular systems). The second section has 48 hits, and you get four parts: Sub, Impact, Whoosh (swell) and Tail with which to create them, as well as a ‘Hit Designer’ to combine them. There’s also a Random button that is great fun for some fast creativity. Again, the individual parts

FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:05


Heavyocity Gravity Reviews MTF

GRAVITY: PADS SCREEN Within the Pads section, you can adjust the levels of the three parts (centre), effects (left) and ADSR (right).

1

MOTION: THE PARTS Gravity has a very neat Motion section, which – especially for pads – provides a great way to alter a sound’s pitch, pan or volume over time.

1

can each be EQd on a separate page. The third section is for stings, and contains more than 450 atonal, tonal, reverse, sweep and metallic effects. They are set out in tuned menus for easy audition, and can again be EQ’d (and filtered) and have envelopes edited. The final section comprises 72 hybrid risers and 45 orchestral risers, which are tempo synced with three layers: Hybrid/Organic, Synthetic and Effects. The hands-on editing features here are similar to the pads section, with volume, panning, EQ, etc, plus a designer page for the three layers. So this all sounds great in theory; how about in practice?

All rise The Pads section is the most musical, and those descriptions really do nail it. Everything is here for ethereal and atmosphere, but also for fear and tension. The front panel makes

GRAVITY: EQ All sections have EQ and filter options. Here are those for the Pads, allowing access to the three parts.

2

MOTION: DRAWING IN THE CHANGES Each of the three parts can be edited over time simply by drawing in changes. Here, all three will rise to the end of the cycle, and that cycle length can also be edited.

2

dramatic sound shaping truly present and correct, and you’ll find yourself drawn into it and making changes – as you really should do. The Hits section, too, is a bit of a success story. I’m not sure about some of the categorization, as to me they all add a lot of impact, but you can combine and tweak away to get some great results. Stings, too, is an area where you can get some fine detail and incidental hits and elements for any genre, not just film music. Adventurous dance musicians, for example, could take Gravity and incorporate a lot of the elements here into deep and sparse house tracks. Only the Riser section didn’t really excite me as much as the rest. This isn’t really a fault of the section itself, more of a tiredness of the riser effect – it’s been overused a little, but that’s just my opinion!

Alternatives There are stacks of libraries to help you score just about anything, so – as always – check out sample collections from the big sample companies such as Loopmasters, Samplephonics et al. Of the instruments and collections I’ve looked at of late, Orbit springs to mind as a film scoring tool that very much offers a fantastical set of sounds with hands-on creativity. It’s a bit more about the ambience and textures, as opposed to the hits and rises, but the two do complement each other well. Surprisingly in some ways, Zero-G’s Haunted Ground (reviewed in this issue) also springs to mind, as it has some terrifying moments – which Gravity also excels at. See the review on p90 for more.

GRAVITY: PUNISH & TWIST Two massive controls allow you to sweep through a bunch of parameters with one big dial.

3

MOTION: CHAINING Edit each of the parts and save up to eight versions. Chain them together for maximum effect over time. Here, I have chained together eight parts.

3

I have only one other criticism, and that is that the controls look a bit lacklustre and can get lost against the background. It’s a shame they couldn’t be more colourful or textured like the massive controls for Punish and Twist. That aside – and it’s a small gripe – Gravity is a superb collection, made even better by the extra control. You might have to invest more money, but put the time in and, with Gravity on your side, you could be streets ahead of – or (sorry) above – the competition. MTF

MTF Verdict + Amazing collection of sounds + Pads especially brilliant + Incredible recordings + Great array of hits + Design sections very handy + Hands-on control takes it above most other collections - While the risers are good, they do by their nature get a bit samey - Relatively expensive – could be a bonus, as only the serious will buy Gravity is a great library in its own right, but there are enough hands-on features to take the sounds into new dimensions. It’s both inspirational and creative. Be the sheep dog!

9/10

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT149.REV Gravity.indd 99

| 99

13/11/2015 12:05


MTF Reviews Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2

SPECTRASONICS

Excellence

Omnisphere 2

10/10

With a wealth of new features, Omnisphere finally reaches v2 seven years after its initial release. Mark Cousins goes stratospheric with the most eagerly-awaited release of the year… Details Manufacturer Spectrasonics Price £285 Contact www. spectrasonics.net

S

ince its release in 2008, Omnisphere has proved itself to be one of the most consistently useful and versatile software instruments. Its success is testament to both the wealth of included sound content that you’d expect from a Spectrasonics product, and also the surprising amount of raw synthesis power packaged into Omnisphere’s sound engine. From its Granular Synthesis modes through to the complex rate-level envelope generators, there’s plenty to keep the avid knob-twiddler happy. Yet despite this apparent complexity, Omnisphere is an immediate and easy-to-use instrument packed full of greatsounding patches!

New generation Key Features ● Over 12,000 inspiring sounds ● Audio Import ● Over 400 new DSP waveforms ● Wavetable synthesis ● 58 FX units

Now Spectrasonics has taken a long hard look at Omnisphere and developed the next generation of its cutting-edge synthesiser and neatly called it Omnisphere 2. Pleasingly, the ethos and overall appearance of Omnisphere remains largely the same, so despite a slightly widened interface (now incorporating a slimmed-down browser window) existing users will feel

100 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT150.REV Omnisphere.indd 100

immediately at home. Look under the bonnet, though, and you’ll soon see how far-reaching the improvements are in Omnisphere 2, with a list of new features almost as long as a fullyfledged DAW upgrade… Although Omnisphere 2 is available as a product in its own right, most existing Omnisphere users will be keen to take advantage of the $249 upgrade. As you’d expect, this upgrade is available to buy from Spectrasonics’ web store, necessitating a 20GB download for the new Soundsource content included with the instrument. The install merges with and replaces your existing Omnisphere, updating the STEAM folder and upgrading the instrument plug-in to version 2. All existing projects will now load in Omnisphere 2, with the original Omnisphere becoming nothing but a distant memory.

DIY Omnisphere Arguably one of the most exciting new features is the ability to import your own audio files into Omnisphere 2’s sound engine, which can then be modified using everything from vowel-based filters to granular

synthesisers and a new Innerspace effects unit (more on this later). The audio import is navigated through the Soundsource Browser using a new tab called User Audio. You can import single audio files up to 24-bit 192kHz resolution, which are then written into the STEAM folder so that they can be recalled at any point in the future. Coupled with the excellent Granular Synthesis module, the Audio Import works best creating ambient soundscapes, where an original musical phrase is stretched, looped and mangled far beyond its original form. There’s also plenty of fun to be had swapping existing Soundsources in the current patch for your own samplebased material, which can create plenty of interesting serendipitous results. Obviously, the Audio Import feature doesn’t seek to replicate the multisampled dexterity of a fully-fledged software sampler, but it does offer an excellent route into the unique sonic world of Omnisphere 2 that many comparable instruments don’t offer. Those who like to build patches using the in-built DSP oscillators will be pleased to note some significant improvements in that department.

FOCUS

13/11/2015 14:03


Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2 Reviews MTF

Whereas the original Omnisphere had just four DSP waveforms, there are now more than 400 to choose from, all configured as morphing wavetables, much like the waveforms in Native Instruments’ Massive. Add eight new filter types into the equation (including some great vowel-based effects), a new Unison Drift model and an increased FM Depth/Ring Mod, and you can see where many of the new patches get their hard-edged electronic sound.

Casual browsing While many musicians will enjoy the added sonic depths possible from programming your own sounds, there’s little doubt that a large number of Omnisphere 2 users will be content simply exploring the list of over 12,000 sounds included with the instrument. New Soundsource content, which accounts for most of the 20GB download, includes extra ‘Psychoacoustic’ samples, Circuit Bent Soundsources and a wealth of melodic phrases that are perfect fodder for the Granular engine. In addition to the new patches in the familiar Omnisphere

tweaked, with improved sound organisation and a great new Sound Match feature that enables you to find similar sounds quickly and easily. One of the more intriguing and creative developments in the Patch Browser has to be the Sound Lock feature. Sound Lock works by preserving an aspect of a patch – such as the Arpeggiator, Envelopes or Mod Matrix – while you browse alternative sounds. It could be, for example, that you like the movement in one of the ARP+BPM patches, but want to explore different timbres and Soundsources applied to the same Arp/Envelope settings. Sound Lock, therefore, is a great way of creating hybrid patches with just a few mouse clicks, and a useful means of negating the ‘train spotter’ effect, where other musicians and producers spot Omnisphere presets in your music!

More effects Adding to an already well-stocked collection of effects, Omnisphere 2 now features 25 additional effects modules, bringing the current total to 58. New

Omnisphere 2 is proof that Spectrasonics loves Omnisphere just as much as we do style (organic, abstract, pulsing and so on) it’s pleasing to note a new Spotlight EDM library that demonstrates just how contemporary Omnisphere 2’s synth engine can sound. Of course, having a patch library of more than 12,000 sounds can be both a blessing and a curse, so it’s interesting just how much effort has been expended on the Patch Browsing functionality. This is immediately noticeable in the Mini Browser that populates the left-hand side of Omnisphere 2’s interface, which makes browsing far quicker than before. The full-sized browser has also been In-use tip Some of the best Soundsources for the granular engine are musical phrases. Try searching for Soundsources with the PHR prefix under the Soundsource Browser (the Gamelan Orch samples are our favorite choice). Once loaded, enable the Granular engine under the Oscillator Zoom page. Notice how the sound appears ‘scattered’ – qualities that you can adapt using Grain Depth and Intensity controls.

models include a wealth of extra distortion and amp modelling effects, some vintage phasers, flangers and a chorus unit, as well as some more contemporary offerings in the form of Quad Resonators and Innerspace. The Innerspace works as a form of ‘textural’ impulse response processor, imposing the characteristics of a wealth of samples (such as Coin Dropper or Electric Power Tower) on the output of Omnisphere. Ultimately, there’s far more included in the Omnisphere 2 upgrade than we could possibly hope to cover, so it’s well worth looking at the new features list online to see what else is on offer. Almost every part of Omnisphere has been revised, tweaked or expanded in some way, with often seemingly simple transformations having a profound impact on what Omnisphere 2 can do. From the Arpeggiator’s new Note Transposition features, to an expanded set of Modulation options, Omnisphere 2 exudes creative potential!

Alternatives Omnisphere 2 has a sound of its own, but there are other means of getting similar results from other software instruments. Native Instruments’ Absynth (£169) includes a Granular Synthesis module and imparts the same organic-like quality on many of its sounds. We’d also argue that the expanded DSP waveforms and their wavetable-like operation mimic the sound and operation of Native Instruments’ Massive (£169), which is a popular tool among many EDM producers. Ultimately, the ‘Omni’ moniker is an apt description, with few other instruments offering the sheer breadth of imaginative, other worldy sounds as Omnisphere 2.

Omni potent Having developed one of the most feature-rich virtual instruments ever produced, it would be fair to say that Spectrasonics had its work cut out trying to improve on the original Omnisphere. More than a means of simply extracting a $249 upgrade fee from its users, Omnisphere 2 is a complete root and branch rethink on the initial release – a ‘wouldn’t it be great if…’ brainstorm that’s delivered an instrument that has never sounded better, nor offered a greater amount of creative potential. If nothing else, Omnisphere 2 is proof that Spectrasonics loves Omnisphere just as much as we do, and that its unique blend of electronic and ‘psychoacoustic’ sound is here to stay! Even seven years after the release of the original Omnisphere, it’s a telling sign that a stream of new instruments and sample libraries seek to sell themselves as ‘the ultimate Omnisphere killer’. While some developers have got close to Spectrasonics’ greatness, there’s little doubt that a revitalised Omnisphere will arguably set a new gold standard for the next five years – an instrument that many developers will seek to emulate, but few will succeed in equalling. Thanks to some genuinely innovative features, not to mention a wealth of extra sonic material to play with, it’s hard to imagine any software instrument delivering the same breadth and sheer sonic excellence as Omnisphere 2 does. MTF

MTF Verdict + Exhaustive upgrade + Expanded synthesis options + Audio file import + More effects units - Might take a lifetime to explore! A superb upgrade on one of the finest virtual instruments money can buy. Omnisphere 2 oozes class and sophistication and should be an essential purchase for all.

10/10

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT150.REV Omnisphere.indd 101

| 101

13/11/2015 14:03


MTF Reviews Best Service Era II Medieval Legends

BEST SERVICE

ERA II Medieval Legends Eduardo Tarilonte is the busiest man in the worlds of sound design and fantasy; and when these worlds collide, the results are majestic and glorious. Andy Jones takes delivery of his latest title to discover, well, a new era…

A

while back, Era II arrived in the MusicTech offices with some drama. Perhaps I should have expected it given the collection’s themes of high fantasy, dragons and princesses. And given the man behind it – MT favourite Eduardo Tarilonte, the man who spawned such wondrous collections as Shevannia, Cantus and Altus – maybe I should have even expected it to be delivered by arrow, perhaps with orcs involved somewhere down the line. But a limited edition certificate, poster and money pouch certainly piqued my interest. No money in the pouch, sadly, just a mysterious chess piece –a King since you ask – which turned out to be a 32GB USB stick with the software on it. Whether you get this drama (and chess piece) is uncertain, but you will get its all-important contents, and luckily the collection easily matches the drama of its delivery…

The dawning of the age Installation is straightforward. If you are lucky, it’s by way of your chess piece or by download. You can even, rather quaintly, opt for a boxed DVD version. It’s a 20.9GB collection, one of the

102 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT149.REV Era 2.indd 102

Details Price €259 Tel +49 (0) 89 45228920 Web www.bestservice.de

Choice

9/10 9 9/ 10 biggest around and especially hefty for an Eduardo collection, but there’s a lot in it. Before we get into that, though, it’s worth mentioning the new Best Service player that Era II comes with, as it’s certainly the first time I’ve come across

you’ll find parameters such as levels for Wood or Pluck Noise, and these vary for each instrument you load. There’s also, usefully, an Info sub menu, where you get details about the instrument you have loaded and what is available

If you think it’s just lute strumming then think again (although that’s there too)

Key features ● 20.9GB library ● 10 flutes, 8 reed, 3 brass, 9 bowed strings, 4 war horns, 13 plucked strings, 3 keyboards, 20 percussive instruments, 1 singing voice ● AU, VST, Mac, PC, standalone

it. It is, as you might expect, a shell from which to run Era and other BS titles, and the engine appears as an instrument within your DAW, like any other plug-in. You then load in Era’s presets within it – as you would with Kontakt, either stepping through using the up and down arrows or loading new options in via a browser on the right-hand side of the screen. You can use the Quick Edit menu as your main instrument area, as it has the Era ‘front panel’ and a few of the main dials and sliders (for volume, effects ADSR and more). Here, you can also access a Controls sub menu, where

sample-wise – chords, legatos and so on – mapped across the keyboard. It’s a useful section and when you explore it, the scale and detail of what is in the collection quickly becomes apparent.

A lot And there really is an astonishing amount going on, research-wise, instrument-wise and sonics-wise. It’s a collection of early folklore instrumentation, with all sorts of obscure examples from around the world. So if you think it comprises some clichéd lute strumming, then think again – Eduardo and his team have left

FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:03


Best Service Era II Medieval Legends Reviews MTF

ERA II: MAIN SCREEN Within the Best Service Player, use the Quick Edit menu to play the main parameters of Era.

ERA II: CONTROLS Access more of each instruments’ parameters within the Controls sub menu. Here, four are working.

ERA II: INFO Useful background detail on your chosen instrument in the Info sub menu, plus key mapping.

BEST SERVICE ENGINE: THE BROWSER The new BS Engine, here showing the Browser and loading the same Era II 2 Holed Flute sound as above.

BEST SERVICE ENGINE: PRO EDIT The Pro Edit menu allows access to more parameters, including, in this case, LFOs.

BEST SERVICE ENGINE: MIXER AND MORE You can also go deeper within the engine to access main parameters or mixer routing options.

1

4

no medieval stone unturned (although that lute is thankfully included, too). Instrument-wise, there are Brass, Key, Wind, String, Voice and Percussion categories, but comparisons to a traditional orchestra end there. This is about boisterous gents singing about rum in a tavern while a fidule plays in the background; or bagpipes and war horns sounding while armies gather. It’s Eduardo, it’s fantasy, it’s taking some ancient but very real instruments – gothic harp anyone? – and putting them into a new fantastical context. And, typically, there’s a set of soundscapes that acts as a full stop to the collection – almost a throwaway folder, but to my mind full of some of the best combinations of sounds in the collection; and as ever I want more! Finally, quality-wise, as it’s Eduardo, you know that each instrument is recorded superbly – and we love the

2

5

recording detail supplied (a Neumann U87 before you ask) – and mapped correctly (not too extremely), with lovely variations in playing style also easily available across different keys. So it’s a thoroughly astonishing collection – a museum of ancient instrumentation and a fantastic resource. At the very least, it’s a record of times and instruments gone by, but for today’s producer it’s a wealth of history to tap in to and slightly left-of-centre instrumentation to make your compositions stand out from the rest. And in that sense, it scores higher than other Tarilonte collections simply because you can apply it to so many more genres, as it’s less specific. So it’s a worthy update to Era, but those who opted for the original should check the Best Service website, as they will own a lot of it; although we think, on balance, the €99 update cost is well

Alternatives It would be very easy – and somewhat lazy – of me to say that if you want something fantastical, stick with Eduardo, as he really is the ‘go to’ man when it comes to these collections. Still my favourite has to be Shevannia: The Voice Of Elves, but in reality it’s not comparable with Era II in terms of content, concentrating as it does on voices and atmospheres. You can read more about the differences in these collections – some subtle, some not so – in my individual reviews at MusicTech.net. I also wonder if there will be some kind of ‘best of Eduardo’ out at some point, or is that really just some kind of high fantasy?

3

6

worth it. And those new to the Era world? Well on the strength of Era II, it really is time to take a visit. MTF Note: As we go to press, we hear the Limited Edition collection of Era II has sold out, and that it contained extra soundscapes and two voices: Bard and Heroica. While this is a shame, these extras might become available in 12 months’ time.

MTF Verdict + Fantastic-sounding instruments + Some great left-field inclusions + All well recorded + Additional playing styles and variations very useful + It’s a sonic museum! + It’s Eduardo! - Era I owners should check the extras before deciding to update - The limited edition has sold out Era II could be seen as a great collection for instrument completists, but it’s been put together in such a way that we can all discover some amazing new sounds and textures, and apply them to many different styles of production

9/10

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT149.REV Era 2.indd 103

| 103

13/11/2015 12:03


MTF Reviews Toontrack Hip Hop EZX

if you prefer you can record notes into a MIDI track in your DAW instead and edit conventionally there. You can change playing styles easily, swapping open and closed cymbal hit types, full and side snares and many more, to tweak the kit.

Mix it up

TOONTRACK

Hip Hop EZX

Hip-hop has its own requirements when it comes to beats. Hollin Jones finds out if Toontrack’s latest expansion pack can do the business…

E

Zdrummer is one of the most popular sample-based drum instruments around, partly thanks to its friendly interface and features such as the innovative Song Builder that enable you to create backing tracks. It runs as a plug-in as well as a standalone application. It’s also expandable, and one of the latest expansion packs is Hip Hop! EZX, produced by Mattias Eklund and Alexander Juneblad. This pack requires an existing installation of EZdrummer 2 or Superior Drummer 2.4.2 to be present on your system. Unlike some other samplebased ecosystems there isn’t a free version of a player in which you can load it. This might be an issue for anyone who wants the sounds but doesn’t already have the player software, though in fairness since the expansion pack is designed to take advantage of most of EZdrummer’s features, it’s not a surprise that it requires an existing install of some kind. The installation process is simple and, once completed, the collection appears as a list of kits and as a selection of preset patterns in the MIDI browser. You can mix and match these, and this applies to any other kits and patterns you have in your library. Everything follows your host tempo and since loops are MIDI triggered, time stretching isn’t a problem.

Boom bap There are 22 kit presets featuring 16 acoustic snares and 18 acoustic kick

104 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT148.REV Toontrack.indd 104

Details Price €69 Contact Time+Space 01837 55200 Web www.toontrack.com System requirements EZdrummer 2 or Superior Drummer 2.4.2 2GB hard disk space 2GB RAM

Key features ● 22 mix-ready kits ● 16 acoustic snares ● 18 acoustic kick drums ● Hundreds of acoustic and electronic percussions sounds ● Custom MIDI grooves ● Tweakable playing styles ● Multichannel audio out routing ● Master effects

drums, as well as hundreds of acoustic and electronic percussion sounds – a full list of the samples is available on the website. Graphic-heavy drum instruments haven’t historically always been the most efficient to actually use, but EZdrummer and this expansion pack make a good job of it. Each sound in use is mapped to an on-screen element, and wherever you see an arrow, it means that element can be swapped out for a different one. In fact, clicking the arrow not only reveals a list of alternative hits for that slot but also volume and pitch controls, plus the current MIDI mapping details. There’s no visual or audible lag in triggering the sounds with the mouse (which some instruments suffer from) and in addition to MIDI keyboard mapping, there are options to connect and map MIDI drum kits as well, which generally offers a better playing experience for drummers. The kits cover a lot of ground, from vintage funk-based hip-hop through to modern-day neo-soul and southern trap. The patterns are really well put together, and mixing and matching patterns with kits can produce some interesting results. Of course a vintage beat with a vintage kit has a classic kind of a sound, but swapping the kit and playing a boom bap beat with more modern, electronic drums can sound excellent as well. You can drag loops into the timeline and make some edits, removing notes by type, though there’s no direct MIDI grid edit as you’d get in a DAW. That said,

There’s an onboard mixer section with the ability to send up to 16 individual outs for more flexible mixing in your DAW, and for processing individual sounds through external effects. EZdrummer has some effects of its own though they seem to work on the master output of the kit and it’s not possible to swap them out, merely to have them on or off and change their settings. The Song Creator feature is handy though, allowing you to build verses, choruses, fills and so on. For more serious work you’ll want to use it inside a DAW to take full advantage of the more advanced MIDI and effect processing features that are available to you there. The hip-hop drum sounds in this expansion pack are excellent and cover a wide range of styles, from classic hip-hop through to more processed, filtered and affected kits. It’s a shame you can’t modify effects chains inside EZdrummer (this is possible in Superior Drummer) though you can easily route channels out and process them externally, which isn’t a huge hassle. The preset patterns are very useable and you are, of course, free to program your own beats and make extensive changes to kits and the playing styles of each individual hit. If you happen to own EZdrummer, then this pack comes highly recommended. MTF

MTF Verdict + Excellent hip-hop drum sounds + Great MIDI loops + Mix and match kits and patterns + Route creatively into DAW mixer + Easy-to-use interface + Covers lots of stylistic bases + Decent price - You need at least EZdrummer 2 already installed - No free ‘player’ option - No full MIDI editing in the app - Can’t modify effects chains An excellent collection of hip-hop beats covering many styles. You’ll need EZdrummer 2 though, which is arguably limited in a few areas.

8/10

FOCUS

13/11/2015 11:49


Sonokinetic Tutti Vox - Cinematic Choir Reviews MTF

Alternatives

SONOKINETIC

Tutti Vox Cinematic Choir After a string of orchestral products with a stylish GUI and a unique way of working, Sonokinetic has released a cinematic choir library in a similar vein. Keith Gemmell sings its praises… Details Price €299 Contact via website Web www. sonokinetic.net Minimum System Requirements NI Kontakt and free Kontakt Player 5.1 and up

Key Features ● 48-piece Cinematic Choir (SATB) ● 3 Kontakt instruments: Tutti Vox Core – Glissandi, Clusters, Vocal FX, Tonal & Atonal Beds; Tutti Vox Lingua – Chants & Sustains; Tutti Vox Spoken – Spoken words and Phrases ● 16- & 24-bit formats

A

lthough not exactly commonplace, there are several conventional high-end choir libraries around that allow you to program complete soprano, alto, tenor and bass choral works – some with word builders, others with just oohs and aahs. Sonokinetic’s new 48-piece choir library, though, is rather different in that the content is geared mainly towards producing cinematic choir effects. However, melody writing has not been abandoned completely, because there’s also a phrase builder for constructing conventional tunes and harmonies. A third section contains a selection of spoken words. Everything was recorded in the same hall as sister libraries Capriccio, Grosso, Minimal, Da Capo, Tutti and Vivace. As such, the ambient sound of Tutti Vox blends well with all of them.

Core blimey The bulk of the library consists of a Tutti Vox Core patch, with an amazing collection of the kinds of choir effects most libraries only touch upon – atonal risers, falls, crescendi, decrescendi, clusters, ethereal beds and constantly evolving soundscapes, some over 40 seconds long. There are plenty of whispers, words and shouts, too. If you’ve not used any other Sonokinetic products before, with so

much information to cram in, you might find the GUI a little intimidating. If so, the online videos should be your first port of call. However, if you’re familiar with Capriccio or Grosso, you’ll feel at home straight away because all three programs are conceptually similar. Also, there is a help screen available with useful information about each aspect of the interface. Unless you choose the alternative light patch, there are four microphone positions (Close, Decca Tree, Wide and Far). However, they cannot be mixed, and whichever one you choose will affect the entire patch. A workaround is to open a second patch on a different track, select a different microphone position and mix them in your DAW. Just as in Grosso and Capriccio, icons are used to visually represent the different phrases on offer. It’s a neat system, once you get used to it. If you read music, though, you might find it easier to select phrases using the notation supplied. This is what the singers worked to when they recorded them. The phrases themselves are numerous, and divided into four categories: Glissandi, Vocal FX, Beds Atonal and Beds Tonal. With such an abundance of material in the Tutti Vox Core patch, inevitably, some phrases are rather similar to each other, and after a while a certain air of sameness begins to creep in.

Most choir libraries contain effects of some sort, but they are often something of an afterthought. That’s not the case with Requiem, which has more than 1,000 effects articulations. Voxos, too, has a large range of effects and clusters split into male and female sections. VSL’s Choir features a much smaller range of SATB creepy voices.

Latin lingo Two further patches, Tutti Vox Lingua and Tutti Vox Spoken, are for constructing sung phrases and spoken words respectively. In the case of Lingua, the process is quite complicated, and for that reason two options are available: Quick Play and Advanced. The words, naturally enough for what is a cinematic program, sound Latin, but are mostly fantasy words, built around oft-used vowels and consonants. In Quick Play mode, very effective phrases can be easily produced, but it’s worth the extra effort to learn how to use the advanced section, which features a full SATB choir. Impressively, each section can sing different words simultaneously. As a cinematic choir library, Tutti Vox is exceptional with an enormous variety of choral effects and depth of control. However, it is complex software with a fairly deep learning curve, and some video watching and manual reading are essential to get the best from it. Although conceptually similar to Tutti, Grosso and Capriccio, the vast amount of material is overwhelming, and in places rather similar. For that reason, we didn’t find it quite as inspirational as the other products in this series. That said, there’s much to commend it – a new approach to choir sampling, a very realistic sound with unique and highly imaginative phrases, and all the necessary ingredients for cinematic productions. In other words, a first-class library that’s well up to the usual high Sonokinetic standards. MTF

MTF Verdict + Imaginative choir effects + Compatible with other Sonokinetic libraries + Good phrase builder - Awkward mic mixing - Some effects rather similar One of a kind, a complete library crammed with imaginative choir effects, along with sung phrases, spoken words, an excellent phrase builder and good editing facilities.

8/10

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT151.REV Tutti/Vox.indd 105

| 105

13/11/2015 14:10


MTF Reviews Secret Base Design Music IO

For PC & Mac that allows you to send audio and MIDI back and forth between your Mac (Windows support is coming) and your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. It does all this using your standard USB charging cable, so no extra hardware is required.

Your serve

Value

€£$ Innovation

SECRET BASE DESIGN

Music IO

Choice

9/10 9 9/ 10

The mobile and desktop music worlds have been frustratingly disconnected for too long. Hollin Jones discovers all that is about to change with Music IO…

F

or all the ways in which iOS has become a very capable and competent platform for making music with the many advanced apps and processors that now exist on it, there’s still a gulf between the mobile and desktop worlds when it comes to continuity of workflow. Put simply, meshing the two platforms together for music is fiddly at best, involving either swapping project files via the cloud or iTunes’ file sharing section, or essentially sampling audio from one device to another. Neither is particularly satisfactory in 2015. Enter Music IO, a simple but potentially revolutionary new concept that aims to address this problem. Not everyone wants to buy an iPad dock: as good as they are, it’s extra expense and you probably already own an audio and MIDI interface for your computer anyway. Music IO is a three-part system

106 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT149.REV MusicIO.indd 106

Details Price £7.99 Contact Via website Web www. musicioapp.com System requirements iOS 7 Mac OS X 10.7

Key Features ● VST and AU plug-ins ● Stream four channels of 32-bit stereo audio in both directions ● Link iOS and OS X ● Bi-directional MIDI ● Uses Inter-App Audio ● BridgeClock MIDI sync ● Configurable latency and monitoring

The first part of the system is a lightweight server app that runs on your Mac and acts as a gateway for the two devices to communicate. There are also special VST and AU plug-ins (one of each format) that are inserted into audio tracks in your DAW to enable the flow of audio back and forth. On the iOS device, an app uses Inter-App Audio, CoreAudio and CoreMIDI to act as a hub for compatible instruments, DAWs and effects processors. The idea is that everything becomes linked, so you can play your iOS synth from a MIDI keyboard attached to your Mac and record the audio straight back into the Mac at the same time. Alternatively, you can send an audio track out from your Mac’s DAW to be processed by a guitar module on your iPad and, again, record it back to the Mac. This all happens down a single Lightning or 30-pin Dock connector cable. The potential uses of such a system are clear to see. You’ve been able to incorporate external music hardware into a DAW fairly easily for some years, but iOS devices’ limited native port offerings have always meant buying a special adaptor or iOS-compatible interface – until now. In practice, it works very well. Your IAA-compatible apps appear inside the iOS app, and you can load up to four instruments per instance of the plug-in. Sound is transmitted in 32-bit stereo back and forth, and tapping on an app on the iPad will open it and enable you to use its controls, while sound continues to be transmitted in the background.

In practice To record in your DAW, you need to insert the plug-in onto an audio track then set its output to a group or bus channel. Then, you create a second audio track with its input set to that group or bus, and the plug-in funnels sound from the input of one channel out to the other. This is ever so slightly long-winded – it would be ideal to be able to do it on a single track – but it’s far from being a deal breaker. You

manage monitoring using the Mac server app and, also, latency compensation both here and in the iOS app. I found it was possible to achieve latency so low it was basically non-existent, although it felt like this was related, to an extent, to the specific iOS app in use. Some apps exhibited a little more latency and some a little less, though none were particularly problematic. Music IO also sends MIDI back and forth, and once connected, the iOS device appears as a source and destination to your system. This is even easier than audio since MIDI just flows between the two and, as noted, you can use your Mac and any hardware connected to it to trigger the iOS instruments, so no extra interfaces are required. Again, latency is extremely low, which is not surprising since MIDI needs far less bandwidth than audio to stream across a connection. Music IO is a clever solution to a problem in the music technology world: how to literally bring your iOS instruments and effects into your desktop DAW setup. This, it manages commendably and without any extra cables or accessories. There are a few elements that could be smoother and more refined, but development seems to be constant and the list of upcoming features on the website – connecting multiple iOS devices, sample rate conversion – suggests great things ahead for this software. If you’re looking for a way to unify your iOS and OS X music platforms, this is the best solution around. MTF

MTF Verdict + Really works + Requires no extra hardware + Affordable + Integrate iOS and OS X better than ever before + Enables use of iPad/iPhone as a second computer + Very low latency is possible - No Windows version yet - Latency can be at the mercy of the apps you use - A few minor workflow rough edges A deceptively simple way to link iOS and OS X for audio and MIDI and unlock the full creative potential of your iPad.

9/10

FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:22


Sample Logic Cinematic Guitars Infinity Reviews MTF

SAMPLE LOGIC

Cinematic Guitars Infinity

Choice

Guitars are perfect for scoring, but can Sample Logic really deliver 2,400 trillion sounds? Hollin Jones finds out…

G

uitars are one of the most sonically diverse instruments around, thanks to the vast number of ways they can be played, recorded and processed. When it comes to sound design, many of the most interesting uses for guitars don’t involve conventional playing techniques at all, which is where Cinematic Guitars comes in. This latest release from acclaimed virtual instrument developer Sample Logic actually combines four collections into one location to create a 25GB sample and synthesis-based monster that’s targeted at sound designers and composers. It runs in Kontakt Player free or full versions, and as such can be a standalone or a plugin-based instrument.

Details Name Cinematic Guitars Infinity Manufacturer Sample Logic Price $599.99, upgrade pricing available Contact via website Web www.samplelogic. com Minimum System Requirements Kontakt 5 Player or Kontakt 5 Retail Mac OS X 10.8, Intel Core 2 Duo Windows 7 4GB RAM

Four in one What you get is all three Cinematic Guitars collections, plus the Infinity collection, which is a somewhat different beast. The first three increase in complexity and capability as you go, since each version is newer than the one before. Versions 1 and 2 are very serviceable collections of sampled and processed guitar sounds, and version 3 – which is in fact completely new – adds a lot more control in the area of effects and tweaking. It also has a step animator for creating dynamic and sequenced patches, and all three collections are great for sound design and composition. There are sound beds, loops, textures and percussive patches, that range from deep and ominous through to bright and airy. Clever use is

9/10 9 9/ 10

made of effects to add depth and width to the sampled guitars, and many of the patches are altered so much that they don’t sound like guitars but more like ethereal synthesisers. When you get to the Infinity instrument, things get really interesting. With a much more advanced design, it enables you to morph up to eight sound sources through four sound cores and blend them using the 3D mixer, which Sample Logic claims is a first for the Kontakt platform. The four cores orbit around a central mixer, and each one has identical controls and can be switched on or off. For each category, there are presets that can be loaded for each core. Then there’s a volume control with a step animator for creating movement; a panner, also with its own animator; and another configurable animator section, where you can draw in steps, choose from presets or morph between two sequences. Multiply these options by the four cores and you have a huge amount of flexibility.

Work in 3D Key Features ● 25GB sound library ● Four collections in one ● 4 soundcores, 8 sound sources ● XY slider and 3D mixer ● Step animator ● Randomiser ● Multiple effects ● 2,000 sounds

In the centre is the 3D mixer, providing a way to morph organically between all the active cores, which alter their luminance accordingly: a nice touch. You’re also able to record and play back movements in the mixer, and there are presets available for this, too. In a second tab, the large step animator from CG3 is also available, so you won’t want for animation options. Moving down, you get to the effects section, with six effects – each with a control

panel and plenty of knobs and buttons. A stereo widener is also available, and there’s a master cut section, as well as a randomiser button that will punch in all-new settings. Sample Logic claims that between the various sections and combinations of settings there are more than 2,400 trillion possible setups in Infinity. While I’m not about to test them all, it’s pretty safe to say that there is an incredible amount of tweaking you can do at almost every stage of the instrument. Many of the 750 presets are eminently usable straight out of the box and would fit perfectly into any TV, movie or game score – or indeed modern music production. It’s really nicely designed, too, with an advanced yet clear interface that pushes the limit of what’s possible with Kontakt.

To Infinity… and beyond If there’s anything to watch out for, it’s that you don’t get overwhelmed by the number of options. It’s sometimes necessary to solo one of the cores while editing it, so you can hear what effects your changes are having. That’s not a criticism, more a way to ensure that you use the many sections to their full potential. It’s also often easy to make quick changes to get the result you want, such as moving the mixer or turning an animator on or off to calm a patch down or liven it up. This is a powerful, comprehensive scoring instrument with the depth of editing features that some users will require, yet a ‘plug and play’ immediacy that will suit those looking for cinema-ready sounds without spending too much time digging around. MTF

MTF Verdict + Sounds incredible + Perfect for scoring and sound design + Huge amount of content + Almost infinitely tweakable + Infinity is extremely flexible + 3D Mixer and XY sliders help creativity + Friendly design - Multitude of options could become overwhelming - CG 1 and 2 maybe not as impressive as the newer components A superb cinematic scoring instrument with a wealth of features and near-infinite customisation options.

9/10

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT150.REV Cinematic.indd 107

| 107

13/11/2015 12:50


MTF Reviews Korg iM1

Excellence

10/10 KORG

iM1 The release of Korg’s classic 1980s digital synth for iOS has Andy Jones re-opening a three-decade old wound. Can he gain ‘closure’ and actually tell us if it’s any good? We doubt it… Details Kit iM1 Manufacturer Korg Price £14.99 Distributor Korg UK/App store Contact Tel: +44-190-8304600 Web www.korg.co.uk/ iTunes Requires iOS 8 or later

Key Features ● Runs on: iPad Gen3/4, Air 1/2, mini 1/2/3 ● Polyphony: 2 to 64 notes, depending on iPad (Air 2 = 64) ● Modes: Combo plus 8-part multi ● Sounds: up to 3,300 with expansion cards (450 without) ● Performance: via MIDI keyboard, touch Kaoss and keyboard

I

’m actually shaking a little bit while writing this. Just a tiny bit. I’m reviewing Korg’s iM1 – the ‘M1 synth for the iPad’ – and have hit ‘that’ Universe preset. Suddenly, I’m instantly transported back to my music technology college 25 years ago, to the midst of a ‘frankly rather ridiculous, but still bugs me more than I care to admit’

The ‘bloody M1’ No, even I can’t deny the impact that the Korg M1 synth (‘workstation’ if I must) had on, well, everything. Alongside the Roland D-50 and Yamaha DX7, it bolstered its Japanese makers’

Loads of big-padded, fake acoustic stuff; loads of ‘LA’; loads of old brass; loads of unsubtle late 80s sh*t; loads of money! argument over which company made the first synth workstation. Was it Roland, with the D-20 – the synth I owned? Or was it Korg’s M1 – my friend Jon’s keyboard? Whoever won that particular geek-ument is lost in the mists of time (it was me) – but it’s now largely immaterial. One of said keyboards went on to sell gazillions, becoming the synth of the late 80s and early 90s, appearing in the TOTP rig every week and basically soundtracking an entire generation. The other ended up in the second-hand pages of a magazine. (I got £150 for it, if you must

108 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT149.REV Korg M1i.indd 108

ask – just over a tenth of the student grant I spent on it).

coffers during the transition from analogue to digital synthesis and it certainly defined an era in music, although I actually happen to think that the era in question wasn’t all that good. Dreadful even. From about 1984 to 1989 the world of pop music went, for want of a better expression, ‘totally tits up’, and the M1 and its ilk were largely responsible (alongside Stock Aitken And Waterman). Luckily, then, Korg’s designers – and let’s give them a bloody big pat on the back, as they’re on a bit of a roll at the moment – have opted to produce the

M1 in all of its glory (and inglory, if that is a word), plus a lot more besides. Load it up and you get six sound packs included, plus options to increase these (just like adding cards to the original); and a very neat touch is that when I booted up Korg’s excellent Gadget, it gave me the option to load in iM1 to join the brilliant range of synths and drum machines in that app. Great stuff so far…

The Universe and everything So, to the presets, and I have to say that they easily transformed me into my 21-year old, rather stupid self. They are there, although the rather bland original front panel of the synth is not (thankfully) as present as you’ll find on Korg’s ‘analogue’ iOS ports. Instead, you get parameters to play with and instant hands-on control, something the original never had – unless you squinted through menu after menu. You get 100 sounds in each of the first three ‘banks’ (M1, M1EX and Memory), plus 50 each in Synth1, Drums1 and Orchestra1. Optional expansion cards available include M1 Card Pack (16 titles) and T1 Card Pack (11 titles), each just £3.99, which I’ll be reviewing next month in MusicTech. Of the ones supplied, for anyone who is in any way ‘M1-orientated’, it’s

FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:05


Korg iM1 Reviews MTF

the wondrous and aggravating journey you will have expected. On one hand, you get those amazing Combinations (great walls of sound or Splits to play entire keyboard parts) and presets like the aforementioned Universe (so good it appeared on every Gary Numan album during his ‘fallow’ period). But then, in what seems like random preset ordering, you end up with a corny sax preset straight out of a low-rent 1980s porn film… This means you get, then, what you damn well should: an M1 – pianos aplenty; loads of digital; loads of big (shoulder) pads; loads of fake acoustics; loads of ‘LA’; loads of old brass; loads of big, in your face unsubtle late 80s sh*t; loads of money! So, if you want ethereal walls of atmosphere that launched a thousand Enyas you’ve come to the right place [mmm, a thousand Enyas – Ed]. But this is the M1, so you’ve also come to the Alternatives A real Korg M1 and a couple of Kaoss pads. Oh and some expansion cards. Or get yourself a Roland D-20. I know someone who can do you a really good deal.

right place for a big dollop of Black Forest Gateaux. But you knew that. That’s why you’ve read this far. As I said, the M1 was infuriating. It was second to none when it came to creating atmosphere, but it was also the synth that overdid the digital thing so much that it arguably (and I am stretching history just a little here) ended up kick-starting dance music as people rebelled against it. (I’m not still thinking about that three-decade argument at all, you understand).

And… calm Well that review was ‘a journey’ if ever there was one. And a very bitter version of me would conclude that the M1 wasn’t as good as everyone said, and that this app deserves to go the way of the D-20. But with the extras Korg has added, I simply can’t make that argument. There’s the fact that you can effectively use it as a multitimbral sound module in your studio set-up; the fact that you get the Kaoss pads to give you extra control; the fact that you get true control over the sounds and extra parameters that we all wanted at the time; and finally the fact that you can

MTF Verdict + Great sound + Great price + Easier to use than the original + Fantastic new additions add lots of real-time options + Some brilliant presets + it’s an M1 - It’s an M1 - Some terrible presets. As there should be… - It wasn’t the first original synth workstation (well someone had to say it) It’s an M1 but, like the cars around at the time of the original, Korg has added not just go-faster stripes but a new engine, new stereo, new reflective paint and a blonde sitting in the passenger seat with more peroxide than the whole of 1989. A page 3 stunner of a synth.

AT2020 USBi

T50RP Mk3 Manufacturer Fostex Price £115

Manufacturer Audio Technica

Contact SCV Distribution

Price £179

T: +44 (0)3301 222500

Contact Audio Technica

E: sales@scvdistribution.co.uk

T: 0113 277 1441

W: www.scvdistribution.co.uk

E: sales@audio-technica.co.uk

10/10

Choice

9/10 9 9/ 10

W: eu.audio-technica.com

F

ostex’s RP series of headphones recently moved to Mk3, but already has a great reputation in studio circles for close monitoring. The first thing to note is that you may need a headphone amp to drive them at high levels, because a flat frequency response has effectively resulted in a lower sensitivity. What this means is that they are suited for long and accurate mixing sessions. The volume limitation forces sensible listening, while the flat response really doesn’t flatter, nor does it lie. What you hear, particularly bass-wise (not so much highmids), is accurate. They won’t suit those after ‘loud’, but such accuracy at this price is rare. MTF

expand its palette by thousands of sounds that came out long after the original. In fact, all I can say is top marks Korg, it’s a souped up M1 even I can’t argue with. And all I can now say to Roland is ‘Your turn?’ MTF

T Key Features ● Type: Semi-open ● Frequency response: 15Hz35kHz ● Impedance: 50 ohms ● Max i/p: 3000mW ● Sensitivity: 92dB (at 1kHz, 1mW) ● Weight: 315g

MTF Verdict Great accuracy for those after an unflattering signal for less of a cash outlay.

8/10

his is the third incarnation of the AT2020 that we’ve looked at, and it’s fast becoming a ‘go-to’ mic for all sorts of applications. This ‘i’ version is extending that list because the ‘i’ stands for iOS (the clue is in the picture), and it features a Lightning cable on top of a great set of accessories. The mic is one of the best USBs out there – negligible noise, little colouration where you don’t want it and a great sparkle, all brought into your mobile devices. We’ve not been convinced of the iPad’s complete studio credentials until some releases for it this year, and this further seals the deal. MTF

Key Features ● Cardioid USB mic ● Up to 24-bit 96kHz recording ● Freq Response: 20Hz to 20kHz ● Dimensions (mm): 162x52 ● Accessories: stand mount, protective pouch; tripod desk stand; USB and Lightning cables

MTF Verdict The original scored well, as did the USB version, and so the ‘i;’ completes a hat-trick for AT. The 2020 is a superb mic solution all round…

9/10

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT149.REV Korg M1i.indd 109

| 109

13/11/2015 12:05


MTF Reviews Siren Audio Generative and Feedback

before you start you will need to give the manual a pretty thorough read: the quick start manual at the very least, and preferably the main manual as well. These aren’t really ‘pick up and play’ tools, you’ll need to invest some time in learning how they work even if you’re quite experienced with music technology. This is often the case with applications that have been built in Max/MSP, as they can be pretty esoteric and experimental.

My generation

SIREN AUDIO

Generative and Feedback Sometimes you want to make your own unique soundscapes. Hollin Jones unwraps the unusual – and very affordable – Generative and Feedback from Siren Audio

M

ax/MSP is something that not all musicians have heard of, but those who have studied synthesis almost certainly will have. It’s an environment for building software instruments and effects, and it’s been around for quite a few years, gaining functionality as time has passed. Unlike coding applications from scratch, Max/ MSP provides a bunch of audio-specific building blocks to help a developer get started, though it’s still no joke actually making something that works. Play around with it for a little while and you’ll quickly start to appreciate the difficulty of building your own software. Generative and Feedback are two processors from independent developer Siren Audio. Built in Max, they run on Mac or PC and are standalone applications, not plug-ins. Authorisation is done via a challenge and response system, and you need to email a code off to get an unlock key back. Once that’s done, the apps are fully functional. It’s worth noting that

110 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT149.REV Siren.indd 110

Details Price Feedback 2 £25 Generative 2 £30 Both bundled together £50 Contact Via website Web www.sirenaudio. co.uk System requirements Windows XP or higher Mac OS X 10.4.11 or higher 4GB RAM Java installation

Key Features ● Granular synthesis ● Onboard effects ● Randomisers ● Record output ● Create drones, loops and textures ● Load your own files ● Fine-grained control of audio processing ● Live input

Let’s begin with Generative. This is designed to transform sound from a file or an external input into evolving soundscapes by using granular synthesis. The idea is that synthesis parameters constantly change, as do playback position, volume and panning. You can load a sample or specify any audio input on your system to get sound into the processor. Each granular device must have a number of segments that get used as destinations for its playhead or playback position. Once a sample is inside the instrument, it is analysed and the results are used to drive the granular synthesis engine. There are a number of controls inside the main area of the application’s window, and some are contextual, changing based on what you select. Truthfully, you have to wrap your head around what the app is actually trying to do before you can start to properly navigate around. Filters are available at different stages in the signal path and there are aux channels and effects, too, such as delay, distortion and reverb. Contrast in the interface could be a little stronger, as sometimes buttons don’t initially seem to be buttons: it’s all a bit dark. When you do get a sound running and being processed, the results are suitably experimental and ambient. These kinds of sounds are increasingly popular, not just for installations but also soundtracks for movies and TV, as composers look to go beyond regular synth sounds and create entirely new soundscapes and textures. Generative can certainly do that, though you’ll benefit from being willing to delve into its deeper workings.

Good feedback? Feedback 2 is a different beast and takes audio from a file or external input and sends it to 20 different delays, each

with its own delay time, time variation and gain settings. The idea is that the compressed output of these delays is fed back into the delay line, the result being the possibility of creating infinite feedback. As such, it’s designed to be good for creating layered sounds, drones, loops and textures. This is not dissimilar to Generative, though the way it’s achieved is not the same. In addition to the delays, there are other effects, including compression, filtering, reverb and distortion, and the output of the app can be recorded to a file in fairly flexible ways, letting you choose which parts of the signal chain get recorded. Again, it’s a little complex to look at, though the layout is easier to trace signal through than is the case in Generative. Its results are very experimental and great for building textures, drones and loops.

Sound of the Siren These are two powerful audio processors that will be of great appeal to those with a keen interest in synthesis and sound design. They’re not for beginners, and it’s true that turning sound into more complex sound is a feature available elsewhere, such as in Izotope’s Iris synth. That being said, these are significantly more affordable and similarly powerful, provided you’re willing to get into the nuts and bolts of how they work. Demo versions are available that, although feature-limited, will give you an idea of what they’re all about. At such affordable prices, dipping a toe into the water isn’t all that much of a gamble. MTF

MTF Verdict + Great for textures and experimental sounds + Ideal for soundtrack work + Makes unique sounds + Very affordable + Teaches you about signal processing + Compatible with older OSes - Quite a learning curve - Interfaces could be a little clearer - Requires investing some time to get the best results Unusual, but powerful signal processors with tons of in-depth control for those willing to take advantage of them.

8/10

FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:24


U-He Hive Reviews MTF

Choice

9/10 9 9/ 10 U-HE

Hive To make your tracks sound unique, you need a synth that’s powerful and adaptable but doesn’t blind you with science. Hollin Jones gets together with U-He’s Hive… Details Kit Hive Manufacturer U-He Price $149 Distributor U-He Contact Via website Web www.u-he.com System requirements Mac OS X 10.5 or higher Windows XP or higher 1GB RAM Multicore CPU with SSE2

G

erman developer U-He has been steadily growing its stable of software instruments and effects over recent years and the latest is Hive, a soft synth that’s designed to be light on your CPU and easy to use even for beginners. It comes in all major formats for Mac and PC and will run on operating systems that have been more or less abandoned by most software, as well as the latest versions of Mac OS X and Windows.

Look and feel

Key Features ● 2 oscillators, 2 sub oscillators ● 3 synth engine characters ● Up to 16x unison per oscillator ● 2 multimode filters ● Arpeggiator and step sequencer ● 12-slot modulation matrix ● 7 effects ● Drag and drop mod assignment ● MIDI learn

Although the synth looks quite busy, it’s been designed to operate as far as possible in a single window to cut down on the need to open lots of separate sections. Thanks to some clever workflow design, it’s rather easier to navigate and work with than an initial glance might suggest, and the colour scheme is easy on the eye. At its heart are two oscillators, each with a sub oscillator and a full set of controls. Oscillators can be set to mono, poly, duo or legato modes, with up to 16 voices of unison. The osc sections, like most other parts of the synth, have dropdown menus attached that give you access to presets for each section. So it’s possible to call up a preset for any section rather than having to alter the whole instrument using a master preset. This is something that’s being used more often in soft synths, and it’s great from a user perspective. You can, of course, save section presets of your own too. The synth engine has three switchable characters: Normal, Dirty and Clean, and after leaving the oscillators, signal passes to the two

multimode filter sections. The filter controls can be locked by right-clicking on any parameter and choosing Lock. This is really useful, as it means no accidental altering of a parameter you’ve spent ages getting right. There’s also MIDI learn available to assign any hardware to almost any control inside the interface. Beneath the filters are separate amp and mod envelope sections, as well as LFOs – all with detailed yet easy-to-follow controls and dropdown preset menus – invaluable for calling up your favourite settings. The large central area is where you can start to make things a little more interesting. It has two main sections, the first of which is an arpeggiator and sequencer. Punch in the note, velocity and expression settings required, add ties and alter the swing, attack and direction, plus a bunch of other parameters, and it’s easy to create cool sequences in a couple of minutes. It’s a fun and friendly system for animating your sounds, but also has plenty of depth and options. The second part of the central area concerns effects, and there are seven that can be used at once, and even dragged and dropped into a different order to change the way they interact. As elsewhere, this is easy to follow, and each effect has its own controls, with presets also available. At the base of the synth is the modulation matrix, and there are 12 slots available with two targets per slot. You can choose parameters from a list, open a preset or drag and drop from the source slot to any compatible destination inside the interface. So to assign any slot, you just drag it to the control you want to modulate. This kind

of setup is becoming increasingly common and it’s very welcome here, making assignment straightforward.

Hive mind? For all Hive’s undeniable depth of programming and tweaking capabilities, its 2,700 presets are excellent and you may well end up using a lot of them as they stand. The sheer number on offer means that in addition to the kind of stuff you would expect – dubstep basses, trance leads, acid sequences – you get a fair amount of stuff that’s a bit more gentle: shimmering pads, delicate arpeggios and the like. It’s probably geared more towards heavy sounds, but it’s capable of subtlety, too. And thanks to the eminently approachable interface, turning one sound into another isn’t difficult. Hive covers a great deal of sonic territory and should find a home in almost any setup as a great go-to synth for cutting-edge production. MTF

MTF Verdict + Good, friendly workflow + Panel presets are very useful + Excellent preset patches in many styles + Powerful arpeggiator + Flexible effects + Clever modulation assignment + Highly tweakable + Adaptable to different genres - No VST3 version A very solid and adaptable synth for a range of electronic and other styles of production. Great workflow and tons of presets.

9/10

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT150.REV Hive.indd 111

| 111

13/11/2015 12:51


MTF Reviews Native Instruments Emotive Strings

Sound editing is limited, which is not such a bad thing with this type of prerecorded material where speed and efficiency is all important. Two types of set EQ, a normal or wide stereo image and close or stage mic choices, are all that’s available apart from a basic convolution reverb.

Sweet themes

NATIVE INSTRUMENTS

Emotive Strings Emotive Strings is full of moving legato string phrases and arpeggios. Keith Gemmell is overcome with emotion… Details Price £249 Contact NI 0845 5272006 Web www.nativeinstruments.com Minimum system requirements Free Kontakt 5 player or Kontakt 5. Download: 21.2GB (28GB compressed).

A

fter the success of Action Strings, it was always on the cards that Dynamedion would produce a calmer sister library to compliment the former library’s inherent aggression. Well, it’s arrived and it’s called Emotive Strings. As expected, the format is very similar to Action Strings, with 175 string orchestra phrases, two microphone settings and 64 themes, which are groups of up to five phrases that work well together. The free Kontakt 5 player is required to run it.

Melody maker

Key features ● Instant legato string phrases ● Fast scoring results ● Motion picture appeal

Ease of use and fast scoring are the main objectives here and a MIDI keyboard controller, complete with Mod Wheel is needed to achieve them. Just like Action Strings, all the phrases are contained within a single instrument, so there’s no tedious browser searching. Once loaded in Kontakt, everything is plain sailing. Phrases are selected with the left hand and played with the right. They are, of course, pre-recorded but much can be done to manipulate them including altering their pitch, either completely or at any point in the phrase. You can load up to ten at a time, depending on the type of phrase selected.

112 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT147.Rev Emotive Strings.indd 112

Alternatives Grosso and Capriccio (€299): both work on a similar principle to Emotive Strings but are more complicated to use, although never difficult. Also, they’re both cheaper and, as well as strings, they cover woodwinds, brass and percussion sections.

Single Pitch mode is probably the most useful because you can play chords and melodies using straight and triplet patterns as well as ostinatos. Automatic divisi also comes into play with Single Pitch mode: play two notes and the string section is divided into two sections with the same number of players retained. In Melodic mode, phrases can be switched between major and minor with velocity control. Also with Emotives you can build legato melodies and runs from phrases that were played legato during recording. These ebb and flow beautifully in conjunction with the modulation wheel. Whereas Action Strings was chock full of aggressive phrases and ostinatos, Emotive Strings is much gentler with plenty of smooth, flowing legato lines. Ostinatos are also present, of course, because modern film and game music demands them but here they are played legato and more and suited to subtle background work. The phrases are short, simple, effective and vibrato free, ideal for blending with other libraries. You can’t add vibrato but, again, much can be achieved emotionally with the mod wheel.

Much of the material has a dreamy, haunting quality about it and that’s reflected in the theme titles – Storyteller, Dancing Snow, Hollow Winds, to name just a few. Others, though, have a sturdier character such as Last Stand and Shadow Hunters, adding variety to the menu. It would be easy to snobbishly dismiss Emotive Strings as just another set of pre-recorded phrases but there’s no denying their usefulness, especially for busy composers on a tight deadline. Yes, there are limitations, particularly when it comes to editing the sound and stereo positioning and, of course, you can’t get at the individual string sections, but an awful lot can be achieved with this library – we found it very inspirational. The collection has a polished sound from the start, and musical material extracted and analysed from hit movie scores should kick-start just about any composer with a mental block. Also, once you get moving you probably won’t be able to stop because as well as blending the material with other instruments, it’s even possible to crreate melodies and even complete compositions with this library. If you’re looking for a very easy-touse simple string library, this is it. If you’re familiar with Action Strings you’ll have no trouble adapting because the basic structure of both libraries is the same. Emotive’s musical material, though, has a much lighter, smoother character and a haunting quality. MTF

MTF Verdict + Expressive string phrases + Simple to use + Ideal for motion picture work + Fast workflow - Limited sound editing - Can’t access individual sections The perfect partner for Action Strings, Emotive Strings is a brilliant piece of simple-to-use phrase-based software for quickly scoring haunting legato string lines.

8/10

FOCUS

13/11/2015 11:34


ProjectSAM Swing! Reviews MTF

Alternatives There’s nothing else around at present to match the eclectic mix of light-hearted jazzy instruments and ensembles offered by Swing! Garritan’s Jazz & Big Band is perhaps the closest match for ease of use, with an abundance of ensembles and solo instruments suitable for light jazzy scoring, but it’s nowhere near as stylised.

PROJECTSAM

Innovation

Swing!

Choice

9/10 9 9/ 10

Choose your style

Looking for a light-hearted, jazzy approach to film scoring? You’ll find it in this new library. Keith Gemmell gets into his swing… Details Kit Swing! - The Jazzy Film Scoring Library Publisher ProjectSAM Price $349 Contact Via website Web www.projectsam.com Minimum System Requirements Minimum Kontakt version: 5.4.2 Mac: OS X 10.8 or higher PC: Windows 7 or 8

Key Features ● Big band ensemble articulations ● Brass section: mutes and solo instruments ● Sax ensemble articulations ● Guitars, basses and jazz drums ● Tempo sync guitar and drum grooves ● Script switches intelligently to half or double tempo ● On-screen velocity and modwheel mapping

M

ention the term ‘cinematic sampling’ to most musicians and blockbuster trailer music or scores such as the Batman series spring to mind. What about the gentler styles of music, though, required for many other score types, such as dramas, comedies, nostalgia, film noir or children’s films – not to mention music for games? These genres are often neglected by sample library developers. ProjectSAM, an innovator of ensemble-style cinematic sampling, has produced its fair share of the heavy stuff in the past, but has redressed the balance with this latest offering, Swing! – a jazzy film scoring library. It runs in Kontakt 5.4.2 and up and the free Kontakt Player. Recorded in two different locations (the concert hall used for Symphobia and a studio environment), Swing is divided into two main sections: a comprehensive collection of big band ensembles and lead instruments, plus 17 multis in various styles, ranging from light Hawaiian and Parisian music to heavier West Side Story-type swing.

Swing low Swing! encompasses an eclectic mixture of instruments and ensembles. Notable patches, for example, are as diverse as a jolly lap steel guitar and a couple of deep and moody low ensembles featuring trombones and a contrabassoon - very film noir. There’s also a juicy big band legato, an

Playing ranges are somewhat restricted, too, and frustration soon crept in when we couldn’t play the next note in our mental melody line because it was just out of range. That said, in our experience, restriction is often an advantage – a route to creativity, and Swing! is perfect in that respect. Go with the flow, don’t fight it and the results will be excellent.

evocative gypsy guitar and a clutch of big band ensembles, complete with sax and brass sections. The saxophones, however, were recorded as ensembles – only with no solo instruments. The brass, too, is strong on ensembles, but does contain some muted solo trumpets and trombones. In keeping with the playful feel of much of this library, the rhythm section is necessarily lightweight, featuring acoustic guitars and ukeleles. Note the lack of a piano (apart from a toy one for lead work). It’s just not needed. Double basses, Fender basses and three percussion sets underpin the strummers – a useful GM drum kit and another containing some excellent snare brush fills, cymbal rolls and flams. The third one is devoted to finger snaps. The interface is excellent – minimal on the surface, but with an impressive variety of controllable features accessed using the keyboard, velocity range and modwheel. The coloured keyboard ranges are self explanatory, but the modwheel and velocity controls are more complex – controlling, as they do, many different features such as staccatos, mutes, vibrato, slides and so on. It’s no big deal once you get used to it, but some patches are tricky to play accurately in real-time without a fair bit of velocity curve editing, either in the software itself, on the keyboard controller or within the DAW that you’re working with.

The multis are intriguing, each designed for a specific musical context or genre, with titles such as A Game Of Chess, Aloha, Django, Opening Night, Tango Shoes and Trench Coat. Inspiration is the priority here, and the imaginative instrument combinations on offer should enable you to make light work of creative composition. While it’s entitled Swing!, this is in no way a heavy big band library, although it’s possible to produce that type of music to a certain extent. It’s much lighter than that, and really rather playful with a healthy mixture of light jazz swing and lively big band ensembles, some containing the seemingly bizarre combination of gentle ukeleles and screaming high trumpets. In theory, that shouldn’t work, but somehow it does - and sounds quite brilliant as a result. Despite its slightly restrictive features, this a special library, totally unique and highly recommended to musicians who like producing music with a lighter touch for films, games and commercials. MTF

MTF Verdict + Light-hearted feel + Sounds blend well + Very stylised – in a good way + Highly controllable - Range restrictions - Limited solo instruments - Tricky velocity control Swing! is a brilliant library, that’s totally unique with a light-hearted mix of styles for jazzy film scores - enjoyable to work with and a very creative tool.

9/10

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT150.REV Swing.indd 113

| 113

13/11/2015 14:04


MTF Reviews Zero-G Haunted Ground

Alternatives Of course, sample companies such as Loopmasters supply all sorts of sound effects and atmospheres but tend to go for more musical or genre-led collections, although Samplephonics does have ethereal guitar collections and a sci-fi one on sale that might offer something sinister. Better still, you could have a lot of fun searching for some of the original vinyl recordings of some of those old scratchy BBC sound-effect libraries I mention in the text and have pictured here (it was Vol.13 for the record). Rather less fun – and a whole lot more sound effects – can be had by buying the originals on a hard drive from companies such as www. sound-ideas.com for around $600 (for everything!), or more simply from iTunes for around £2.50 a download. So take your pick, but always check under the bed before you part with your cash…

ZERO-G

Haunted Ground

Need creepy effects and atmospheres for your game or film soundtracks? Or are you a producer carving out terror in dark musical genres? Andy Jones opens his laptop under the sheets…

I

do like a good old creepy, abandoned place. Perhaps it’s an unhealthy fascination with post-apocalyptic movies, or perhaps I’ve been tempted by too much Facebook ‘see the creepiest photos of abandoned places on earth’ click bait. Haunted Ground is inspired by the character of such places, and sound designer Adam Pietruszko took a year to come up with a collection designed to ‘give insight into the afterlife of these seemingly dead and quiet buildings’, and to imagine ‘the ghosts of workers and inhabitants roam the rooms, halls, corridors and attics, longing for the life that had been taken away from their homes. The machines, furnaces and tools remember their duties, but their shift is over’. Creepy stuff, then…

Details Title Haunted Ground Manufacturer Zero-G Price £55.95 Distributor Time+Space Contact +44(0)1837 55200 Web www.timespace.com

Creating the creep Haunted Ground reminds me a little of a collection of BBC sound effects that I had on vinyl when I was a kid, one put together by Beeb boffins recording things such as knives cutting through cabbages to simulate decapitation (really!). Pietruszko’s methods are somewhat more up to date, in that he uses a few choice studio items that he is refreshingly happy to divulge, including ‘using a semi-modular analogue synth setup – a Moog Little

114 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT149.REV Zero-G.indd 114

Key Features ● 1.665GB download ● 652 Acidized Wav files; 652 AIFF Apple Loops; 751 Kontakt Insts; 751 EXS24 Insts; 751 HALion Insts; 751 NN-XT Instruments

Phatty Tribute Edition with CV Out Mod, a collection of Moog Moogerfooger analogue effects and a WMD Geiger Counter digital wave-shaping distortion unit. No vegetables, then, were killed in the recording of this collection… The results are spread across four categories: Entities and Spirits, Exploration Echoes, Forgotten Atmosphere and Forsaken Technologies, and while you could probably argue over which goes where until the (very probably decapitated) cows come home, it’s nice to see an attempt to categorise a collection that could be so difficult to label. And, on the whole, it’s a very successful collection. Sure, synth fans will ‘know’ that a little LFO wobble here and there can easily create similar effects, and will ‘see’ how he did it, but Adam has also employed sufficient – but not overpowering – effects to take everything beyond its constituent parts to the other side of eerie. Highlights include some of the Entities, which offer a sound reminiscent of the blast of noise the aliens made in the (not actually that bad) remake of War Of The Worlds. Not quite as terrifying, but well worth a blast at your neighbours at 3am*. The collection excels with these drone types, and also echoey physical effects – stuff hitting other stuff, things being dragged, other items incorporating

lift shafts – that kind of industrial noise, only in a far creepier context. You could use some of the sounds – particularly in the Exploration Echoes folder – as incidental effects across many other genres of music (deep house tracks are often made by great incidental flourishes, and there are many on offer here), and in the Forsaken Technologies folder there are even musical ideas that you could use to underpin tunes – with basslines especially. But that would be slightly missing the main point, though, as this is full of warped atmosphere to be used as soundscapes rather than melodies. And in that sense, you might find it a little samey with some of the sub-categories over flabby (I don’t really need to buy so many Electrical Fault sounds when I have a studio full of loose plugs that give me the same sound). Nor is it a collection to turn to if you have very specific needs. Indeed, you get the impression that you need to listen to it and then do the music, rather than the other way around, to make the most of it. But that, at the very least, makes it an inspirational place to start all manner of dark work… MTF * Blasting neighbours with ghostly noises at 3am is not encouraged by MusicTech nor Anthem Publishing.

MTF Verdict + Very high-quality recordings + Good variety of formats + Descriptive categories work (on the whole) + Can be used as inspiration + Will work well with additional effects added + Some are genuinely scary - Very specific - Some sub-categories have rather too many only slight variations - Not easy to find specifics, as titles can be vague Specific frights may be hard to find, but the haunts are here, plus a ghoul lot more. That’s the spirit, etc

7/10

FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:24


An USiptio cr bs su r! fe of

SAVE 40% When you subscribe to MT

If you’re reading MusicTech from the USA, we’ve got a special offer just for you! Take out a subscription today and pay just $57 every 6 issues – that’s just $9.50 an issue.

SAVE

40% Just $9.50 per issue

DIAL TOLL FREE

800 428 3003 QUOTE CODE XSINGLE15

ORDER ONLINE AT

www.imsnews.com/musictech ENTER CODE XSINGLE15

MusicTech magazine subscriptions are now handled in North America by IMS News. Call at local rates, in your hours and pay in US/Canadian dollars.

MTF41.US subs.1db.indd 5

17/11/2015 11:31


MTF Reviews MunroSonic Egg100 Monitoring System

MUNROSONIC

Egg100 Monitoring System MunroSonic has added a new smaller monitor to its range. Mike Hillier cracks open the Egg100 Monitoring System… Details Manufacturer sE Munro Price £1,299 Contact Sonic Distribution Web www. munrosonic.com

Key Features ● Stereo active control unit with two 30W RMS power amplifiers ● Bass reflex speakers ● Two-way passive crossover ● 25mm HF unit ● 100mm LF unit ● Two-year warranty

T

he MunroSonic Egg100 Monitoring System is the new smaller sibling to the distinctive Egg150 Monitoring System. Like its bigger brother, the Egg100 is a complete system, comprising dedicated left and right speakers, coupled with a control unit and amplifier. The speaker design uses the same curved, infinite baffle design as the Egg150’s in the distinctive egg shape, but with a smaller enclosure housing a four-inch driver.

Simple set-up Setting up the Egg100 in our studio was a fairly simple process; the speakers come with two-metre Speakon cables to connect to the control unit, and unlike the larger Egg150 system there are no Aux inputs, just a pair of XLR inputs. Also gone is the Mid EQ, leaving the front panel much simplified, with only a volume pot, power switch and headphone port. On the side of the unit are recessed HF and LF filters, enabling

116 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT150.REV Egg.indd 116

close room equalisation of the speakers, with precision potentiometers giving up to 10dB attenuation on each channel. Our

perhaps have been called the Egg Cup. The Nest enables you to tilt the speakers to correctly align the system to your workspace, without blocking the

The Egg100 is a complete system, comprising left and right speakers and a control unit studio has been treated, and we have a fair amount of space between the speaker stands and the nearest wall, so we opted to simply roll a small amount of high frequency from the top end, while leaving the bottom end flat. In smaller spaces, however, it may be useful to also dial out a little bit of the low-end. The Egg100 system comes with a newly designed vibration damping stand, which has been named the Egg Nest, although given its shape it should

port. Correct alignment of the system isn’t quite as easy as it was with the Egg150 system, however, as the clever little blue LED, which made aligning the Small alternatives Genelec 8010s make for a more portable system than the Egg100, as the amp is built into the speaker itself. However, this has other compromises in sound quality, which MunroSonic has been able to avoid by keeping the two separate. Both would make excellent small monitors, and will sound far superior to a larger system in a small room.

FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:50


MunroSonic Egg100 Monitoring System Reviews MTF

larger Egg speakers so simple, is absent.

Sounds familiar The first thing we noticed when comparing the Egg100 with our own Egg150 system in the studio was how similar the overall sound was. The larger system sounded bigger, having more low-end, but the soundstage was remarkably similar, and the system sounded similarly detailed and open, with plenty of fast transients. Anyone used to working on one set of these speakers will be able to transfer to the other quickly. We spent a while getting used to the system with favourite mixes of our own, and a few from our reference tracks selection, before setting off on a mix to see how it would translate from the Egg100s to bigger systems. We began with a piano-led folky piece, with a

speakers, was still holding the track together, gluing the string arrangement to the guitars. Switching to mono, the track folded up a little, and some of the string elements started to sit on top of each other, but the vocal was still evident above the instrumental bed, and the kick, snare and bass guitar were still driving the song forward. Most noticeably, the bottom end seemed to be just right, with the bass guitar sat above the sub-frequencies of the kick, and no noticeable thinness from our scooping of the kick. Nothing we would be embarrassed handing over to a mastering engineer.

multiband compressor on the low-end of the bass to ensure it kept a solid consistency at the bottom. The end result sounded great on these speakers. Switching first to our larger rig, and then to headphones, it was

The larger system sounded bigger, but the soundstage was remarkably similar fairly big arrangement taking in a string quartet, acoustic and electric guitars, full drum kit and electric bass. The biggest issue was the midrange, which was incredibly busy, with so many instruments vying for space. The midrange on the Egg100 system is very focused, however, and with plenty of spatial detail, finding a space for each element was quite simple. The next issue was the kick drum, which was sounding muddy and seemingly occupying the same space as the bass guitar. The kick has plenty of energy, so we opted to scoop out some low-mids, making room for the bass guitar in the process, and then used a

obvious that our mix was translating well. The midrange elements all maintained their own space. The piano, which we had worked hard to sit in the stereo field with enough width to sound like a full grand piano, but not so much as to steal all the bandwidth in both

No yolk

The Egg100 comes in red, white or black with a dedicated control unit and amplifier (above)

For anyone working in a small room, the Egg100 system is a great option, and MunroSonic tells us it’s working on a sub-woofer to be paired with the system, should anyone want to add that low-end back in. In an ideal world, we’d be working in bigger rooms on more full-range systems; but with more and more of our time spent in small spaces, systems such as the Egg100 are a necessity, so it’s a good idea to invest in a great system such as this. MTF

MTF Verdict + Comes in red, white or black + Dedicated external amplifier and control unit + Excellent stereo soundstage and transient response - Too small for large rooms - Simplified control unit The Egg100 Monitoring System produces a big sound from a small package.

8/10

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT150.REV Egg.indd 117

| 117

13/11/2015 12:51


MTF Reviews Focusrite Clarett 8Pre

FOCUSRITE

Choice

9/10 9 9/ 10

Clarett 8Pre

Focusrite’s latest high-end interfaces not only look stunning but are touted as ‘better, faster and easier’ with new Control software to boot. Andy Jones checks out the new 8Pre… Details Price £899 Contact Focusrite T: +44 1494 462246 E: sales@focusrite. com W: http://uk.focusrite. com/

Key Features ● 18 in, 20 out Thunderbolt interface ● Low latency means you can use your DAW plug-ins in real time when recording ● Eight pres with ‘Air’ feature for added recorded realism. ● 24/192 conversion with up to 119dB dynamic range ● Focusrite Control with mixer workflow and Red 2 & Red 3 AAX, AU & VST plug-in suite, ● Supported sample rates: 44. 48, 88.2, 96, 176, 192 kHz

F

ocusrite does a good interface, we all know that. We also know that the company does a lot of interfaces so perhaps a quick recap is in order before we jump in to look at its latest, the Clarett 8Pre. Broadly speaking, Focusrite splits its ranges by interface protocol, so the Forte, iTrack and Scarlett ranges are all USB2.0; the Saffire all FireWire 400/800 (with a Thunderbolt option); the Clarett (on test here) is Thunderbolt only; while Rednet is Ethernet. I’ve made that sound quite simple, but anomalies and additions do crop up: the Saffire 6 is USB and there’s the iOS standard, which Focusrite has covered with iTrack Solo and iTrack Dock. Like I say, easy. So Clarett is Thunderbolt only, and the future: a superfast connection standard present on later Macs (Windows compatibility on the way) including the Mac I’m testing it with. There’s no Thunderbolt cable present in the box and I’ve moaned about lack of cables with Focusrite gear in the past (Saffire PRO required a FireWire to Thunderbolt one). The company states that including one will add too much to the price so would rather leave this optional purchase up to the user.

Software too We also need to talk interfacing software too. As you probably know, most interfaces come with a layer of

118 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT152.REV Focusrite Clarett 8Pre 2pp.indd 118

software that sits between your DAW and interface, a necessary evil, I always say. This is, after all, the only software the interface manufacturer can control as the DAW itself is produced by one of a dozen other companies. This software, then, should provide you with a stable environment within which to control and route your audio from and to your interface and DAW. In Clarett’s case it’s the newly-updated

a flexible recording beast for multiple mic set-ups, with the eight mic pres able to take up all sorts of duties: from drum kit to complete band recording, or, as with me, simply having a bunch of analogue gear plugged into and playing alongside my soft synths. With a host of outputs combined with the Control software, you can route pretty much any in with any out, so set monitor mixes for different players or

8Pre really does make using your DAW plug-ins for latency free processing a reality Control software, which certainly looks slicker than the Saffire MixControl software I’m used to. So, lots to cover…

In use The 8Pre has 18 audio inputs and 20 outs with eight analogue ins and 10 outs plus eight ADAT I/Os and stereo S/ PDIF I/O making up the remainder. Channels 7 to 10 are shared with both headphone outs – each with independent rotaries and front panel connections. Inputs 1 and 2 are also located on the front panel and eight rotaries next to these control input levels across the eight analogue ins. It’s

have a couple of separate headphone mixes – easily enough connectivity and routing flexibility for lots of scenarios. Getting Clarett up and running was almost stupidly straightforward with my MacBook running Logic Pro 10.2. I downloaded the latest version of the Control software (1.0.2 at time of writing) and Logic picked up the device straightaway. A quick firmware update and we were good to go – a surprisingly quick process compared to some of my experiences with other interfaces (including, it has to be said one of Focusrite’s older Saffires) where a certain amount of ordering of power-

FOCUS

17/11/2015 11:12


Focusrite Clarett 8Pre Reviews MTF

ups might be required to get software and hardware talking. Not here, though; the outputs on Clarett’s screen were flickering with Logic’s straight away. Focusrite Control is a big improvement over MixControl in terms of looks. It is clean, almost app-like in nature – you can see it transferring to an iPad easily. The layout is straightforward with outputs running top (monitors) to bottom (ADAT) on the left of the screen. Inputs meanwhile run from left to right with all selectable from a menu to the right. Similarly the 20 DAW playback channels are shown below, again all selectable so you can show as many or as few as you wish. Device Settings, including monitor set-up and line or instruments inputs for channels 1 and 2, are accessed with the other tab. Again, it’s all very straightforward and a lot more obvious than with other interfacing software. The other main selling point with Control is the addition of its own plug-in suite of Focusrite Red EQs and compressors, all neatly displayed on screen and to add extra versatility if needed. As good as they are, in truth there other features that now require attention…

Speed v quality Clarett is touted as ‘better, faster and easier’. So far it’s scored well on the last point, both in terms of setting up and the software, but what of the other two? Speed comes down to latency so another recap is in order. We’re talking about the amount of time it takes for a signal to get through an interface and processed by your computer before being spewed out again. That time depends on your computer, the sample rate (quality) of your audio, and how you set up your buffer size (the lower the better). You may use a higher sample rate so need a large buffer size to handle the extra data (or else your CPU might struggle, resulting in audible crackling). This means a larger latency and an audible gap betwixt the note

pressing and hearing. Not good. There are direct monitor or ultra low latency features that reduce latency but Clarett is Thunderbolt, so a fast connection standard. And the big gain with this kind of speed is the ability to use your DAW plug-ins when recording, so no extra hardware processing is needed… When testing it, though, there are a lot of variables: number of tracks, effects, processor load etc. And if you are just mixing prerecorded audio, latency isn’t such an issue – only really a factor in live playing or monitoring an input instrument. I set the interface up with both external instruments and internal Logic soft synths and internal fx processing. In practice, I was able to get it down to 3ms without any problems on a new(ish) Mac, so nothing to worry about at all. Dramatically increasing the buffer size to maximum (which wasn’t actually necessary) resulted in 23ms. Even pushing it with plug-ins heaped on to push the processor didn’t really change the results. Certainly, in this instance, 8Pre really does make using your DAW plug-ins for real-time latency free recording a reality. In terms of quality I actually lined Clarett up with a much cheaper option: sister company Novation’s Audio Hub. I also dug out a Prism Titan that we’re looking at thanks to its new found lower price tag, but it is still close to three times the cost of an 8Pre. In my tests I’d say the Titan edged it for certain tracks – the depth of sound is there and breadth is slightly greater although I’d probably struggle to point one out above another every time in a blind test. Against the cheaper option the Clarett does have more presence and its mic pres came into their own with some of my analogue gear, transferring the bass brilliantly on my Sub 37. I even dared plug in my new purchase Lewitt microphone – no I’m not thinking of becoming a singer, it’s merely a test item. The result again was good in a transparent way, little

Slick, slim and detailed, the Clarret 8Pre front panel has thenow usual two inputs for channels 1 and 2 and level controls for 8 inputs and mic pres with correspoding LEDS. Two independant headphone outs also add a great deal of front panel connecting flexibility. Above, around the back you get just as much connection flexibility.

colouration but there seems to be a presence added that is hard to define but very positive and largely thanks to the ‘Air’ sound on the mic pres. This adds a clarity and power to vocals, emulating as it does, Focusrite’s ISA.

Conclusion Overall then Clarett does everything it sets out to do and very well. It’s certainly ‘better’ with some great mic pres offering superb recording and the routing software offering the ultimate in recording flexibility. ‘Easier’ too with that Control software taking the strain out of having to use another layer of software with your DAW – I especially like the fact that you can simply display the channels you are using rather than every one, used or otherwise. And finally, ‘faster’? I’ll admit that my recording tests probably aren’t exhaustive – I’m looking at this as a device to plug multiple instruments into a DAW set-up with less live monitoring needed than some might need – but 8Pre performed admirably well, with zero latency and it will give multirecordists their speed. One other thing: Focusrite seems to have nailed any compatibility issues – certainly with Logic – as this interface was as solid as anything during the test (which did involve constantly plugging and unplugging three different interfaces). So a very solid interface for a whole host of applications – very highly recommended indeed. MTF

MTF Verdict + Fantastic routing flexibility + Promises low latency… and delivers it + Rock solid + Control software is a joy + Easy to set up - Windows compatibility not available at time of writing (is promised though) Better, faster, easier it certainly is. And flexible and rock solid too. Thunderbolts are go (sorry).

9/10

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT152.REV Focusrite Clarett 8Pre 2pp.indd 119

| 119

17/11/2015 11:12


MTF Mini Reviews

ELA M80 Manufacturer Telefunken USA Price £229 Contact Unity Audio Tel: 01799 520786 Web www.telefunken-elektroakustik.com

T

he M80 arrived in a sizeable cardboard tube designed to look like it contained fireworks. Inside there was a zip up pouch containing a stand clip and an unusually smart hand held dynamic microphone complete with rubbery black finish for good grip and low reflectivity, a nickel plated capsule grille and arguably the most iconic badge logo in the microphone world. Several decades after its introduction the venerable Shure SM58 is still the live vocal microphone all others are pitted against. The M80 is intended to present an alternative to the SM58’s “midrange-laden” tone. We are also promised “condenser-like” performance with the rugged attributes of a traditional dynamic. To achieve this Telefunken USA has developed a low mass capsule with a

Key features ● Cardioid moving coil capsule ● AMI/TABFunkenwerk output transformer ● Output impedance 200 Ohms ● Frequency response 30Hz – 18KHz ● Dimensions – 48mm x 184mm ● Weight 371.39g

super thin diaphragm. The capsule assembly is designed to reduce proximity effect, thereby allowing vocals more low-end clarity and airy top end. Inside there’s also a custom wound transformer from the highly regarded US manufacturer, AMI/TABFunkenwerk. As you would expect the pickup pattern is cardioid and the quoted frequency response extends from 30Hz up to 18KHz. The M80 measures 48mm by 184mm and weighs in at just over 370g. As well as vocal applications, the M80 is also recommended for snare drum and electric guitars – in the studio as well as on stage. The frequency response is anything but flat and this is reflected in the

Fischer Viola Manufacturer Embertone Price $125 Contact via website Web www.embertone.com

M

usician’s humour can be cruel sometimes and viola jokes are commonplace in many a band room. They are said to have originated as far back as the early 1700s when, after being appointed head of an Italian orchestra, a young violinist was such a bad timekeeper that he was demoted to playing the viola. Back then the violas were mostly assigned filler parts. Today, of course, they are an integral part of the symphony orchestra. There are many fine soloists around now, too, like Christopher Fischer, the violist performing on Embertone’s new virtual instrument, the Fischer Viola. Embertone’s other string instruments, the Blakus Cello and Friedlander Violin are renowned, not only for their immediate playability, but also for being highly configurable. It was no surprise, then, to discover that their new viola, based on similar principles,

120 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT149.REV minis.indd 120

Choice

proved very expressive to play. This is largely due to the extensive sampling of the legato transitions at two dynamic levels, one whispery quiet, the other somewhat louder. It’s a heavy CPU feature, though, but can be switched off for normal sustained playing. The other three articulations are staccato, pizzicato and tremolo, each extensively configurable and controllable. For example the staccato length can be altered with CC control as you play. Clever scripting also provides up to eight players in ensemble mode with options to humanize, randomize, alter their intonation and pan each one. Dynamics, slurs, bow position, portamento and vibrato, all can be CC controlled and keyswitches can be

9/10 9 9/ 10 Key features ● Dual layer legato transitions (soft/ louder) ● True legato bow change/slurs/ slides ● Phase-aligned dynamic morphing Bow positioning between bridge and fingerboard ● Controllable vibrato ● 8-player ensemble mode ● Dynamic/flexible keyswitches

sound. The M80’s upper mid and treble lift is pronounced and certainly reminiscent of some small capsule condensers. Fortunately feedback resistance is impressive and handling noise is low. At a short-ish distance the midrange and low mids sound somewhat lacking in body, but the engineered frequency response makes sense when the M80 is addressed as intended – up close and personal. The tone fills out nicely, without becoming boomy or losing intelligibility. MTF

MTF Verdict The M80 comes with enhanced detail and attenuated problem frequencies straight out of the box. It even has a preset HPF at around 250Hz. The SM58 is ubiquitous for a reason. It works really well on PA systems that are equalized for its sonic signature. In contrast the M80 would be more effective with flat response PA systems and vocalists who sing up close – perhaps to backing tracks rather than a band. The M80 is not ‘better’ per se, but what it is is a genuine high quality alternative.

8/10

customized. For iPad and Android tablet owners an app is available for advanced Fischer control and a special template is included in the documentation folder. Embertone highly recommend its use if possible. That said, we didn’t, and everything worked amazingly well with a conventional keyboard and modwheel. We can’t fault the Fischer Violin in any way really except perhaps for its rather dark interface (a woody imitation viola) and peering at small red text on a black background, isn’t exactly conducive to a fast workflow. However, it scores heavily where things matter most: tone, musicality and an abundance of highly configurable controls. Looking for a virtual solo viola? You won’t go wrong with this one. MTF

MTF Verdict The Fischer viola is a very expressive instrument to play from the off and, at the same time, highly controllable. The option to have up to eight individual players is very useful for blending with other library sections. Highly recommended.

9/10

FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:06


Mini Reviews MTF

Bombstrikes Presents Bass Funk

Mainroom Techno Production in Live

Manufacturer Loopmasters

by Paul Maddox

Price £29.95

Publisher Producertech

Contact info@loopmasters.com

Price £29.99

Web www.loopmasters.com

T

his is a heavy-weight collection of breaks, glitch and bass funk samples created by producers from the hugely successful Bombstrikes label. There are patches spread across a range of punchy drum hits, whooping zaps and fx, bass, guitars and subs, plus some excellent female vocal adlibs. You’ll also find 202 loops including party breaks, 808 glitch, and tearing bass and lead lines, alongside heavily processed and chunky live funk bass, guitar and drums. Some of the loops are a tad over processed, but this is countered by the excellent live break loops. Overall it has fun and well programmed patterns, and a fair amount of variety. MTF

Key features

Contact via website

● Bass funk, midtempo breaks, and glitch samples ● 726MB of 24-bit Audio, Acid WAV, Apple Loops, Live Pack, ReFill, REX2 ● 64 Sampler patches for Kontakt, HALion, EXS24, Kong, NN-XT & SFZ ● 202 loops & 310 one-shots ● Written and produced by artists on the Bombstrikes label

P

MTF Verdict A punchy collection of well programmed riffs, and simple but chunky beats, backed up by some excellent live instrument loops and vocal adlibs.

8/10

aul Maddox takes a journey into the hypnotic world of mainroom techno in this tutorial. It is divided into 11 modules and totals over 2 hours, with all the relevant Live project files, plus 150MB of bonus samples from Loopmasters. Maddox starts off by laying down the beats before adding textures and atmosphere, and processing the entire drum group. Later he looks at creating modular synth arps using M4L devices and macros, and chord stabs and pads to fill out the track. It isn’t a complete track walkthrough but Maddox covers the main elements in a concise manner, and has plenty of top programming tips. MTF

Key features ● Mainroom techno sound design in Live 9 ● Over 2 hours of video ● 11 modules ● Written and presented by Paul Maddox ● 150MB of free Loopmasters samples plus accompanying Live project

MTF Verdict A concise tutorial on crafting mainroom techno sounds with some excellent sound design tips that make good use of Live’s built-in tools and devices.

9/10

Balearic Disco Author Loopmasters Price £34.95

Manufacturer Loopmasters

Contact info@loopmasters.com

Price £29.95

Web www.loopmasters.com

Contact info@loopmasters.com

T

Web www.loopmasters.com

L

9/10 9 9/ 10

Web www.live-courses.com

Classic 90s House Vol2

oopmasters has teamed up with UK producer Audio Jacker for another collection of soulful, jackin’ 90s house. There’s a hefty 1.3GB, spread across 12 folders of loops, 8 construction kits, and a bunch of one-shots with 33 accompanying sampler patches. The production here has a gentle simplicity, with reverb on most loops and hits, but when each element is combined it forms a well-balanced, cohesive mix. There are chunky live bass loops, some satisfying piano and Rhodes chord progressions, and a useful folder featuring a single funk guitar riff in different keys. Despite a fair amount of repetition and simplicity in some, there are plenty of useful riffs for any house producer to get stuck in to. MTF

Choice

Key features ● Over 1.3GB worth of 24-bit, classic 90s house audio at 122bpm ● Available in Acid WAV, Apple Loops, REX2, Live Pack and ReFill formats ● Inspired by Roger Sanchez, Todd Terry & Erick Morillo ● 98 hits with 33 sampler patches ● Written and produced by Audio Jacker

MTF Verdict Repetition of riffs aside, this is a well written pack with some excellent chord progressions and clean production that could be used as a good starting point to your tracks.

8/10

his pack contains a large collection of 80s synth pop and Italo disco inspired loops, with a mixture of vintage synths and real instruments, recorded to tape through an all analogue signal path. It has 9 folders of chunky acoustic drums; spaced out guitars processed through vintage pedals; nostalgic synths, pads and keys; and bulky analogue bass patterns. The percussion and live elements give the drums an organic energy, and the lush synth loops are all well programmed and processed. We’d have liked some presented in a playable instrument format, and found some drum and music loops to be a little too full. However, everything here is well written, and the shear number of loops means you’re sure to find some great hooks. MTF

Key features ● Over 1.3GB worth of 24-bit, 80s synth pop audio ● Available in Acid WAV + REX2 and Apple Loops + REX2 formats ● Features vintage synths and real instruments ● 100 to 120bpm, A, C & G minor ● Inspired by Aeroplane, Todd Terje, Lindstrom and more

MTF Verdict Although there are no instruments and some of the loops are a little too full, the majority of this massive, analogue sounding library is packed with hooks and retro charm.

8/10

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT149.REV minis.indd 121

| 121

13/11/2015 12:06


MTF Mini Reviews

AMP1 Manufacturer BluGuitar Price £485 Contact JHS 01132 865381 Web www.bluguitar.com/english/AMP1.html

Key Features ● 100 watts of guitar power ● 4 independent channels ● Pedal format design ● Live, studio and practice applications

T

he AMP1 is an unusual analogue guitar amp in pedal format. It features four independent voice channels and a 100-watt class-D power amp – at the core of which is a Russian sub-miniature vacuum tube. This is where you want your thermionics if you’re looking for authentic valve-style character, punch and assertiveness. You can run the AMP1 into any cab, go direct to the desk or simply practise

using headphones. And it’s small enough to take anywhere. While the voice channels: Clean, Vintage, Classic and Modern, aren’t ‘modelled’ on specific amps, the first three deliver Fender-ish, Vox-ish and Marshall-ish characteristics respectively. Modern is designed for the high-gain metal arena. As well as the necessary ins/outs, there’s an effects send/return and a remote port – this can be converted to a MIDI port with a proprietary cable. The unit’s top panel features Master Volume, Bass, Middle, Treble and Reverb. There are globals and there’s a separate clean channel Volume, and Gain and Master controls for the other channels – which have their own selector. Independent tweaks to channel tone and volume can be made using the mini preset controls on the unit’s left-hand side. Here, you’ll also find a control for the Boost level, series/ parallel effect loop switching and a noise gate. Channel switching is easy: the left-hand tromp switch toggles you between clean and whichever

Apogee Groove Price £249 Contact Sonic Distribution 0845 500 2500 Web www.apogeedigital.com

T

122 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT150.REV minis.indd 122

Key Features ● USB 2.0 ● 24-bit / 192kHz audio ● Eight ESS Sabre DACs ● 3.5mm headphone jack ● 10Hz-20kHz frequency response (+/-0.2dB)

MTF Verdict BluGuitar’s Amp1 delivers a good range and quality of tones and with great customisation. A big sound from a small box…

8/10

only two buttons: volume up and volume down. A mini-jack port at the opposite side to the USB port provides a connection to your headphones. Sound-wise, the Groove is a considerable improvement over the headphone port on our MacBook; the response is clean and clear without any artificial enhancement – a disappointing feature found on far too many PC laptops. Transients are detailed and the low-end tracking is excellent. We compared a mix using our Lynx Aurora converters through the headphone amp in our MunroSonic Egg amplifier (a £4,000 chain) to the Groove, and were very impressed with the Groove – which had perhaps a little sweetness in the upper mid-range when compared to our studio chain. If you find yourself frequently editing audio on the move, or you simply want better audio quality from your system, the Groove has to be worth a listen. MTF

Manufacturer Apogee

he Apogee Groove is a small USB headphone amp aimed at bringing studio-quality audio to your laptop listening on the go. The interface itself is barely bigger than a packet of chewing gum, and while lightweight, the Groove is built of aluminium and has a solid feel. For convenience when carrying the Groove, it comes with a small carry pouch, that’s big enough for both the Groove and the supplied USB cable. The Groove packs four ESS Sabre DACs into each of its channels, to achieve a dynamic range of 117dB and incredibly low distortion characteristics. Groove connects to your Mac or PC via USB, drawing power through the USB connection. Three LEDs on the top of the device provide quick visual feedback for level indication. There are

secondary channel you’ve selected. The middle switch activates the boost, and the third is reverb on/off. The unit can be reconfigured so that each switch gives you a specific amp sound. Adding the Remote1 controller creates a further 36 memory locations. The AMP1 sounds great – right across the palate of available sounds. There’s plenty of clarity and definition when you need it, and a totally customisable range of top-quality overdrive sounds. With a cab connected, there’s a noticeable change of tone colour in the headphones (a little less mid and a bit more bite) because of the power amp’s reaction to the current feedback. Different speakers and arrays inevitably have an effect on the overall sound, but this can be tailored to personal choice. Considering its diminutive footprint, the AMP1 can get extremely loud! MTF

MTF Verdict

Choice

9/10 9 9/ 10

A great-sounding, lightweight headphone amp and DAC. The Groove will make editing audio on the move a pleasure.

9/10

FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:55


Mini Reviews MTF

Dub & Reggae Sirens

Value

€£$

Publisher Loopmasters Price £8.95 Contact info@loopmasters.com

Choice

Web www.loopmasters.com

9/10 9 9/ 10

T

his new sample pack from Loopmasters does exactly what it says on the cover. It simply sets to be the definitive collection of dub sirens, with 87 of the most common siren sounds provided raw so that you can add your own effects, and several folders that have been processed through an array of analogue and digital delays and effect boxes. Both the classic NJD siren (40 sounds included), and more versatile Roots TS1 MK2 (74 sounds included) are present, alongside a variety of synths – including the Moog Voyager, Pro One, Elektron Analog Keys, and Korg Kaossilator, plus you get some real foghorns and air sirens thrown in for good measure. There

more rounded collection. At the time of writing the collection is in a sale making what is already a bargain an even more excellentvalue pack. MTF are also a handful of bonus effects sounds and seven sampler patches, so that you can easily play all the sounds. In total you get over 250 different siren effects which vary more broadly than you might initially think. The Moog-based ones are perhaps not surprisingly deep and squelchy, while the circuit bent and 8-bit collections

Price £77.28 Contact Studiospares T: 020 8208 9930 E: sales@studiospares.com W: www.studiospares.com

A thorough and versatile collection of excellent analogue and digital-sounding dub sounds that’s an essential purchase for anyone looking for warm-sounding effects. It really does do what it says on the packet and is the definitive set of dub sirens.

9/10

Publisher Big Fish Audio Price £139

Key Features ● 12U adjustable rack and case ● Removable lid ● Dims. mm 540W x 600D x 200H. ● Weight 8kg

Contact +44(0)1837 55200 Web www.timespace.com

A

W

e’re loving the resurgence in studio hardware and all of the accessories that go with it. This is almost genius in its simplicity: a carry case that doubles as a pop up 19-inch rack unit. It’s designed more for transportation than as a permanent fixture but its pop up nature (at a definable angle too) also makes it great for the studio – just make sure the lock bolts slot in correctly. Unlike a lot of protective gear it’s fairly light too, so very practical. Using it as a permanent studio rack doubled as transport case will depend on your 19-inch rack gear’s depth – so do check your sizes – but if you’ve got it, flaunt it with this. MTF

MTF Verdict are both a little more esoteric. Overall, though, there’s a surprising amount of variety here, from in-your-face chirps to distant wails, and the Dub Beams and Alien Chatters are both surprisingly usable. With both of your classic sirens well represented and the added effects you couldn’t really ask for a

Ambient Black

Pop up Mixer case Manufacturer Trojan

Key Features ● 254 analogue and digital dub siren effects ● 514MB of 24-bit audio ● Includes the NJD Siren and Roots TS1 MK2 ● Nine sampler patches for EXS24, HALion, Kontakt, NN-XT, SFZ

Choice

9/10 9 9/ 10 MTF Verdict It’s cheap, solid, and light and if your gear is the right depth, will show it off in the studio and take it on the road.

9/10

mbient Black, from Big Fish Audio, is the sister library to Ambient White, and focuses on aggressive, atonal and industrial sounds for ambient music. The instrument loads into Kontakt 5 or the Kontakt 5 Player, and contains 6.5GB of audio and 280 patches, including thunderous basses; unsettling drones and atmospheres; epic, distorted percussive and melodic instruments; and looped rhythms and terrifying effects. Various organic sound sources and found sounds were used, alongside synths and prepared instruments, which were then pushed with extreme sound design techniques. You don’t get much control over the patches, with sliders for distortion, lo-fi, limiter, EQ, reverb and delay, but the sounds are extremely well designed. MTF

Key Features ● Dark and industrial sounds ● Over 6.5GB of uncompressed Wav audio ● Loads into Kontakt 5 or the Kontakt 5 Player ● Over 280 instrument patches ● Organic and electronic sound sources

MTF Verdict Although lacking slightly in editing flexibility, this is an incredibly well-produced collection of terrifying and unsettling sounds that would be an excellent toolkit for anyone working on dark music or media projects.

8/10

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT150.REV minis.indd 123

| 123

13/11/2015 12:55


MTF Mini Reviews

Sennheiser ClipMic Digital Manufacturer Sennheiser Price £178.80 Contact via website Web http://en-uk.sennheiser.com

T

echnology has opened the doors to many to make music. But it has also made it possible for people in the 21st century to be – or pretend to be – all kinds of other people they’d only dreamed of before. The internet has made us critics of film, TV and video games (and just about everything else, come to think of it); mobile phones have made us all photographers; and social media networks have made it possible to make contact with and interview our icons. And without wishing to sound too paranoid, those latter two mean that anyone can now be a journalist*. Yes, with a decent mobile device you can not only record anyone and anything, but also video them. Your iOS device can now record any event – even help you create a music video if you

Choice

9/10 9 9/ 10 Key Features ● Clip mic features Sennheiser ME2 capsule ● Apogee PureDigital A/D converter ● Mic, clip, wind shield, carry pouch ● Lightning connector ● Requires iOS 8

want. But the first thing that any budding journalist or videographer falls down on is the sound – a decent mic is needed. Usually, these are so large that they negate the point of ‘mobile’, often being weightier or bulkier than the device you are recording with. Enter the Sennheiser ClipMic digital to be, as the company says, “your entry into the professional league for mobile recording with iOS devices”. For the very specific price of £178.80, you don’t feel as if you are getting a lot – it’s a clip mic and it feels

as though it weighs less than the packaging. But don’t let that deceive you, as it uses an Apogee 24-bit/96 kHz A/D convertor and features a Sennheiser ME 2 capsule. You also get a version of the Metarecorder app (although there are many other free ones available). The omnidirectional mic results in a sound for your iOS device far better than we’ve been able to use at shows such as NAMM and Frankfurt – shows that have destroyed our videos in the past with such high background noise – so we’ll definitely be taking this on our next trip. ClipMic Digital makes the process of getting audio into your device simple, elegant and nononsense. It’s not cheap but, hey kids, think of all the money your new career could make you.** MTF * Not anyone can be a journalist, don’t take our jobs. ** There’s none to be made in journalism, honest.

MTF Verdict Unobtrusive, high-quality mic that will bolster your audio quality and give you pro results.

9/10

Unlocking Creativity

IK Multimedia iRig Mic Studio

Publisher Hal Leonard Books

Manufacturer IK Multimedia

Price $24.99

Price £127.92

Contact via website

Contact via website

Web www.halleonardbooks.com

Web www.ikmultimedia.com

A

n unusual book on many levels, as record producer Michael Beinhorn attempts to outline some key points on how to unlock the creativity of artists working on collaborative projects. As a producer who has worked on many notable recordings, with artists including Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ozzy Osbourne, Soundgarden and more, you’d think Beinhorn would have the experience to comment. Certainly, the chapters on communication, creativity and roles are an insightful read, even though he goes down a few ‘kids today, eh?’ blind alleys. You also get the impression that bringing out the creativity in an artist might well be down simply to getting on with them, giving them space to shine

124 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT150.REV minis(p124+125).indd 124

A and maybe challenging them a bit, but that would make a very short book. Otherwise, this is a great insight into how wide a record producer’s role is these days. MTF

MTF Verdict A little clinical and list-heavy, but Beinhorn makes some valid points. You might not agree with all of them, but it’s a good read nonetheless.

7/10

nother mic dedicated to mobile devices – so the intro to the above review applies again – although this is aimed more at musicians and less at the practical do-it-all mobile market. You get a weighty, full-bodied mic and connections for every device, including Android (with which we tested it). The mic works very well in plug ’n’ play fashion, recording effortlessly within seconds of unboxing. The headphone adaptor and level meters are great features – as is the stand mount. We’d pick the Sennheiser for portability and converter quality, but the iRig Mic Studio is a great package with everything included for every mobile device – not just iOS – and a good mobile offering to take from studio to studio. MTF

Key Features ● Largediaphragm capsule mic ● Includes Lightning, Micro-USB OTG and USB cables ● 24-bit/ 44.1/48Khz sampling rate ● Headphone output ● Colour LED ● Portable tripod stand

MTF Verdict A great package to up your phone and tablet recording quality. Good price – and for Android users, too.

8/10

FOCUS

13/11/2015 14:02


Mini Reviews MTF

ER•4 microPro

Performance P840

Manufacturer Etymotic

Manufacturer Ultrasone

Price £179

Price £159

Contact info@loopmasters.com

Contact Synthax T: +44 (0) 1727 821 870

Web www.etymotic.com

E: info@synthax.co.uk

T

his kind of money for a pair of in-ear headphones means they must be good, right? Well, Etymotic claims to be at the forefront of the technology, and the company’s ER•4pt boasts an incredibly flat response. And if you want to be impressed with noise cancellation – not always something you’d associate with the in-ear type – then these might be worth it. But you do have to be a fan of in-ear headphones, as these need to be inserted deeply into your ear canals, otherwise we found the response lacked definition in the low end and was quite harsh. If you absolutely need the practicality of (very) in-ear ’phones, then these are probably as good as it gets. If not, there are better and less intrusive ‘outer’ models for the money. MTF

W: www.synthax.co.uk

W

Key Features ● FR: 20Hz-16kHz ● Impedance (@1kHz): 100ohms ● Sensitivity (@1 kHz) SPL at 0.1v: 90dB ● Maximum Output (SPL): 122dB ● Noise Isolation: 35-42dB

MTF Verdict Fine for in-ear monitoring, but we’d probably favour a good set of on-ear headphones for the money.

7/10

Great comfort and noise isolation make these headphones ideal for long listening and mixing sessions.

8/10

Price £24.95 (Live Pack, NI Maschine), £17.95 (one shots & sampler patches)

Price £29.95

Contact info@loopmasters.com

Contact info@loopmasters.com

T

MTF Verdict

Publisher Niche Audio

Publisher Loopmasters

his pack from Loopmasters sees Author, aka Jack Sparrow and Ruckspin, take on the deep ambient side of dubstep. The 2.2GB pack is available in WAV, Apple Loops, LivePack and ReFill formats stuffed with heavy subs, drum loops, cinematic riffs, Foley recordings and special FX percussion. You also get two video tutorials, 120 MIDI files, Logic channel strips, and 64 sampler instruments to accompany the one-shot hits and multi-sampled instruments. Although well written, we were a little disappointed with the bass, drum and music loops. However, where this pack shines is in the organic Foley and percussion sounds. MTF

e’re taking a look at a couple of models in the latest Ultrasone headphone range, starting with the P840. Ultrasone wanted to design these with maximum comfort, so you’d forget they are on your head, and at just 274g and complete with very large flexible pads, they certainly fit well and feel good. They also score well for cancellation – they don’t use an active system, but are well designed to insulate against external noise. They have a little too much focus on the bass in terms of sound, but a good spatial feel and a very pleasing overall quality – great headphones for long sessions. MTF

Pure Analog

Author – Dubstep Colours Web www.loopmasters.com

Key Features ● FR: 10Hz-25kHz ● Impedance: 32ohms ● Driver size: PET, 40mm ● SPL: 96 dB ● Accessories: 3m straight & 1.2m cable, 6.3mm adaptor, case ● Weight (excluding cord): 274g

Web www.timespace.com, www.loopmasters.com

Key Features ● 1.5 GB+ worth of 24-bit/44.1kHz audio ● 120 MIDI files, 192 REX2 files, 7 Logic presets ● 64 sampler patches for EXS24, HALion, Kontakt, Kong, NN-XT, SFZ ● 2 bonus video tutorials ● Written and produced by Author

N

MTF Verdict A large pack with some fantastic organic textures and hits, plus strips, some decent instrument sounds and useful MIDI files and channels, let down only by some slightly pedestrian loops.

8/10

iche Audio had a clear goal for its latest pack: to program all sounds from scratch using analogue gear. The result is a fat collection of drum, percussion and FX hits, resonant bass sounds, techno chord stabs, and deep evolving pads. The pack was programmed for Maschine, but is also available in LivePack and WAV formats with 15 sampler instruments. Each kit is either single sounds or a collection of individual hits on the left of the keyboard, and several chromatic instruments to the right. Many analogue drum machines and synths were captured through vintage analogue preamps and tube distortion units, and you can really feel the weight. MTF

Key Features ● Requires Live 9.2+ or NI Maschine V2.2.3+ ● Started projects with programmed patterns ● Wav version with 15 patches for EXS24, HALion, Kontakt, NNXT and SFZ ● 296 24-bit samples ● 100% analogue notes and drum hits

MTF Verdict A fat-sounding collection of analogue sounds that can be used to add some warmth to your projects, with some particularly tasty drum and percussion hits.

8/10

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT150.REV minis(p124+125).indd 125

| 125

13/11/2015 14:02


MTF Mini Reviews

Classic Hip Hop Cuts

● Vintage hiphop beats and instrumental loops ● 415 loops and one-shots, 64-120bpm ● 24-bit Acid WAV, Apple Loops or REX2 formats ● 27 sampler instruments ● Recorded on an MPC and then passed though analogue tape

Manufacturer Samplephonics Price £34.70 Contact info@samplephonics.com

Web www.samplephonics.com

T

he golden era of hip-hop was when the art of sampling really began. Classic Hip Hop Cuts, from Samplephonics, looks to capture that vintage, crate-digging sound, with 415 loops and one-shots in your choice of Acid WAV, Apple Loops or REX2, captured on an MPC and processed through analogue tape. You’ll find folders of chunky drum loops, dusty Rhodes chords, wonky arpeggios and synths, funky guitar licks, and chopped-up pianos and saxophones. There’s also a handful of drum hits, effects and slightly odd synths, with patches for Kontakt, Ableton, HALion, Mach 5, EXS24, NN-XT and Sfz. Although everything here has an

Boom Bap Beats & Bits

Key features

Manufacturer Samplephonics Price £34.70 Contact info@samplephonics.com

Web www.samplephonics.com

C

authentic warmth and lo-fi quality, we occasionally found the tape noise a little overbearing on certain loops. Overall, though, this is an interesting library with a decent amount of variety and some inspiring loops and riffs. MTF

MTF Verdict The odd bit of excessive tape noise aside, this is a varied and inspiring pack with some interesting, song-starting loop ideas that are ready to be chopped and manipulated.

7/10

Reel People Sounds For The Soul Vol1 Key features

Manufacturer Loopmasters Price £29.95 Contact info@loopmasters.com Web www.loopmasters.com

S

ounds for the Soul is a new collection of live and programmed funk and soul loops, played by expert musicians and produced and recorded by Reel People leader, and founder of Papa Records, Oli Lazerus. There are over 300 loops, 200 one-shots and 34 sampler patches, plus the Apple Loops version has a special Logic X demo song arrangement. You’ll find heaps of breaks and broken beats, live bass and guitar, grooving keys, brass and flutes, and deep synth riffs. The playing style and the finish are tight, but natural and not too squashed or compressed. The moderately sized collection of drum, effects and chord hits is a nice addition, but the real stars are the expertly

126 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT148.REV minis.indd 126

Choice

9/10 9 9/ 10

● Live funk and soul loops and hits ● 696MB of 24-bit/44.1kHz audio ● 34 sampler patches for Kontakt, HALion, EXS24, Kong, NNXT & SFZ ● Over 300 loops and 200 one-shots ● Recorded and produced by Oli Lazerus

played loops, that form a great library for anyone looking to add an organic edge to their tracks. MTF

MTF Verdict Another great collection from Reel People that puts usable, soulful live funk loops at your fingertips. It’s great for injecting some human feel into your tracks.

9/10

ontinuing the hip-hop theme, and the perfect accompaniment to the Classic Hip Hop Cuts pack, we have Boom Bap Beats & Bits, also from Samplephonics. Created by production duo RiggleBeats & Illiterate, the library contains 99 drum loops in raw and supercrunchy tube versions, plus 50 percussion loops and 100 drum one-shots with accompanying sampler patches. There’s plenty of variety, with a mixture of lo-fi, saturated shuffles, and cleaner, more spacious and punchy rhythms. All the loops have the classic MPC looseness and groove, and we defy anyone to listen to this pack without involuntarily nodding their head. The one-shot hits are a

Key features ● Chunky boom bap hip-hop beats and hits ● Available in Acid WAV, Apple Loops, or REX2 formats ● 4 sampler patches for EXS24, Ableton, HALion, Kontakt, Mach 5, Maschine NN-XT and SFZ ● 79-97bpm ● Produced by RiggleBeats & Illiterate

welcome addition and form a decent, characterful drum kit. Although this is a relatively pricey pack given the amount of content on offer, the quality throughout is excellent and it would make an excellent drum toolkit for any hip-hop producer. MTF

MTF Verdict A characterful pack of authentic, chunky hip-hop beats and hits with a raw saturated finish.

8/10

Fostex T40RP Mk3

Manufacturer Fostex Price £115 Contact SCV Distribution T: +44 (0)3301 222500 E: sales@scvdistribution.co.uk W: www.scvdistribution.co.uk

W

e looked at Fostex’s new T50RP Mk3 headphones recently and now it’s the turn of the T40RP Mk3. The 40’s are closed headphones (as opposed to the 50’s semi-open). The words ‘Focused bass’ on the box could indicate ‘enhanced bass’ which we don’t want to hear and indeed didn’t hear. In fact the response we experienced was very similar despite slightly different specs in this department. The closed nature means slightly less spill and more isolation from the outside world. Sensitivity is again traded off for a flat response but we’ll take accuracy over volume any day

Key Features ● Type: Closed ● Frequency Response: 20Hz 35kHz ● Impedance: 50ohms ● Max i/p: 3000mW ● Sensitivity: 91dB (at 1kHz, 1mW) ● Weight: 315g

and, like the 50s, this kind of accuracy at this kind of price is always welcome. MTF

MTF Verdict Comfortable and accurate: more headphones that will suit longer mixing sessions.

8/10

FOCUS

13/11/2015 11:35


Mini Reviews MTF

Rode NT-USB Manufacturer Rode Price £129 Contact Source Distribution Tel: 020 8962 5080 Web www.rode.com

U

SB mics are now big business and ship in huge numbers, thanks to their wide mobile compatibility, ease of use and increasingly low cost. Plug n play is, of course, a great help – especially when it works, as it tends to here. And we’ve also seen the quality levels rise, with models from sE in particular scoring well in MusicTech. Rode is wading in with its NT-USB, carrying the NT name from a range of mics that have already been very well received (we looked at the NT1-A some time ago, and it has featured regularly in our best condenser mic guides). The NT-USB is priced competitively and ships with an effective shield, stand and a ruddy great big long USB cable – at last! We’d almost pay the

Choice

9/10 9 9/ 10 Key features ● USB studio mic ● Pop shield, tripod desk stand, ring mount, storage pouch and 6m USB cable, all in the box ● 3.5mm stereo headphone jack for monitoring ● Frequency range: 20Hz-20kHz ● Max SPL: 110dB SPL (@ 1kHz) ● Weight: 520g

asking price for that alone. If only other companies would appreciate the producer’s need for USB length! Plug n play works well, especially with our Mac, where you simply see it in your preferences, so we were up and running in Logic very quickly. Sound-wise, the mic punches well above its weight – as you’d expect with ‘Rode’ written on it. With vocals, there’s a pleasing presence at the bottom end,

Moog Theremini

Manufacturer Moog Price £259 Contact Source Distribution Tel: 020 8962 5080 Web www.moogmusic.com

T

he theremin is one of the earliest pieces of music technology out there. You’ll have seen performances of people making wobbly Forbidden Planet sci-fi noises using 20th Century wireless technology (electromagnetic fields) to change pitch and volume with either hand, using invisible (death) rays. Moog has ‘done’ the theremin before, but this is arguably the company’s most accessible release. It’s cheap, easy to use and comes with 32 presets, so you

Key features ● 32 presets ● 2 outs + headphone out ● Pitch/CV out ● User-selectable scale and root note (stored per preset) ● Selectable note ranges ● Built-in speaker ● Adjustable delay effect ● Built-in tuner allows you to learn pitch and scales ● 58x10x17cm ● Weight 1.3kg

can do more than just ‘that’ sci-fi whistle. But before we get on to that… Setting up is straightforward. Simply plug in the antenna (which is stored on its underside), go through a (simple) calibrating setup and then use your left hand to adjust volume and your right for the pitch. We might have made that sound easier than we found it, as setting up in an office full of computers didn’t do the unit any favours – an empty room with little to interfere with an instrument that relies on EM waves turned out to be a much better option. The unit itself is very cool-looking, kind of like a Jetsons spaceship, and ideal for that 50s vibe. It’s a little plasticky – maybe a surprise for those expecting Moog wood, but perhaps not

which might well be a welcome characteristic for podcasting, as well as traditional vocal recording. Indeed, the higher bass register, as well as the higher treble reaches, is prominent, giving a great overall tone, offering an air of authority and a ‘BBC’ feel. You can see the mic used mostly on vocals, as USB mics lend themselves to all sorts of computer-based malarkey. We’d be very happy to use the NT-USB for anything of this ilk, and you’ll see it being used on some of the increasing number of YouTube commentaries (on video games and just about everything else), by people who are after a quality mic to give their solutions, thoughts and opinions even more gravitas. Vocals aside, you could use it as a good all-rounder, it’s a great USB mic, easy to use and suitable for a wide range of tasks. A no-brainer, really. MTF

MTF Verdict A great package with a superb, quality feel about it. Great sound will give your recordings a pro feel for a non-pro price. Just at home in the studio as it is in your podcast.

9/10

considering the price. Changing scales is a bit of revelation, and you’ll find yourself learning more about the subject in two minutes playing the Theremini than in a previous lifetime of listening to music theory –the scales are laid out on-screen and the sounds are a flick of the wrist away. All manner of parameters – some obvious, such as pitch and note range – are adjustable, and there’s even a delay effect to add some variation. And talking of variation, the 32 presets take it away – but not too far – from that eerie whistle; in truth, most are of that ilk, and we could have done with some more varied tones to really experiment with. However, for those after an easy intro to the world of the theremin and the other-worldly nature of its sound (it’s also worth delving deeper into the fascinating life of its inventor if you have time), there’s no easier way. MTF

MTF Verdict An easy theremin to get into, both practically and financially. It’s a little lightweight, but bang for buck this thing whistles like no other.

8/10

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT148.REV minis.indd 127

| 127

13/11/2015 11:36


MTF Buyer’s Guide Six of the best

Six of the best Hardware

Software

Mobile Tech

Accessories

It’s the final MusicTech Buyer’s Guide, where we round up some of the best products recently reviewed at MusicTech. For this last part, we look at some of the best hardware emulations of classic gear we’ve tested…

BEST Synth range

The Boomstar range

Chandler REDD.47

T

he original REDD.47 preamps were used in the EMI desks made famous for their use in legendary recordings by The Beatles at Abbey Road. Reviewer John Pickford said of this Chandler version: “From a purely sonic point of view, the

128 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT151.6OTB.indd 128

Details Price P49: £1,499 P28: £720 Contact KMR 0208 445 2446 Web www.peluso microphonelab. com

Details Price £799 Contact MSL Pro +44(0)207 1180133, email contact@mslpro.co.uk Web www.mslpro.co.uk

T

he Boomstar range of synths from Studio Electronics has been with us for some time, but a limited production has kept it fairly low in profile. But those in the know – us included, naturally – rave about it, as it comprises some of the best ‘new’ analogue synths on the market – the fact that each model emulates an iconic classic synth makes it even more desirable. Reviewer Andy Jones said: “The bottom line is that Boomstar is a masterclass in analogue synthesis: unpredictable, rarely off the money, and often incredible. The Boomstar range has true analogue, classic sounds, combined with an uncompromising nod to the past, and it is all the better for it.”

BEST Beatles

REDD.47 has the authentic EMI sound that has been unavailable for almost half a century. The REDD.47 is an accurate-sounding recreation. For anyone wanting to Get Back to that classic 1960s sound, this is truly a fab (four) product.”

Details Price £2,149.99 Contact Nova 020 3589 2530 Web www. chandlerlimited. com

BEST Mics

Peluso P28 & P49 mics

T

he Peluso P range takes inspiration from a few classic mics. The P49 was created for people who wanted a mic with the characteristics of a Neumann M49, while the P28 was designed with elements of the Neumann KM54 and the AKG C28. On the former, reviewer Huw Price said: “It gives you all the vintage Neumann flavours you could want, with less need to ‘finesse’ the tone with equalisation.” On the P28, he said: “It always sounds good, and we found it impressive for clear and breathy vocals as well as general instrument recording.” Overall, he concluded: “Two more vintage boxes have been ticked. Somebody has to meet the demand for microphones that the original companies are no longer willing to manufacture, and the Peluso P49 and P28 more than fit the bill.”

FOCUS

13/11/2015 14:08


Six of the best Buyer’s Guide MTF

Details

BEST Dance classics

Price TR-8 £359 TB-3 £215 Contact +44(0)1792 702701 Web www.roland.co.uk

Roland AIRA

T

he ‘secrecy’ and consequent hype that surrounded the launch of Roland’s AIRA range could never really be matched by the quality of the resulting products – emulations of Roland’s classic dance hardware. But the TR-8 and TB-3, emulations of the TR-808 drum machine and TB-303 bassline respectively, are certainly up there with the best emulations of that hardware, and certainly the best emulations that Roland has ever released of its own

products. Reviewer Andy Jones said: “The The TB-3 and TR-8 are both innovative and important. They look extremely cool and they sound just, well, damn close. But their importance is that they are priced in exactly the right way to get the next generation of producers off their sorry sofas and actually performing again. The TR-8 is a great-sounding and great-looking drum machine and the TB-3 sound is on the money, and the extra sounds make this a great buy.”

Details Price £649 Contact Nova 020 3589 2530 Web www.warmaudio.com

BEST EQ

Warm Audio EQP-WA

W

ith the EQP-WA, Warm Audio has turned its attention to emulating what is arguably the most iconic equaliser of all time: the Pultec EQP-1A. Reviewer John Pickford said: “Don’t make the mistake

of thinking that the low price of the EQP-WA equates with low quality. This can hold its own in comparison with any Pultec-styled EQ. It is a superb product that punches way above its weight. As a creative, musical sonic shaper, it’s second to none.”

“The TR-8 and TB-3 emulations of the TR-808 drum machine and TB-303 bassline are the best that Roland has ever released” BEST Classic synth

Korg/ARP Odyssey

T

his is so close to the original that it almost fits in the ‘remake’ category, but as it’s a smaller version and not (truly) built by the original company, we’ll settle for one of the best emulations of one of the best classic analogue synths out there. Andy Jones said: “We’d certainly recommend it to those after the

original experience on a budget, and to those who want to audition one of the greatest synths on a smaller scale. The new ARP Odyssey has the character of the original, and matches it on many levels. It has extra sonics, comes in a

Details handy case and is a great buy for classic lovers. But it is ‘just’ an analogue, so preset hunters beware…”

Price £799 Contact Korg via website Web www.korg.co.uk

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT151.6OTB.indd 129

| 129

13/11/2015 14:08


MTF On Your DVD

Logic Pro X has plenty to get your teeth into, with a vast range of instruments, effects and features, especially with the latest update that brings with it the amazing Alchemy synth and sampler. Whether you’re looking to delve into these new features or check out the native plug-ins, we’ve got you covered with the Logic Focus DVD. You’ll find over 2.5 hours of pro tuition from Groove 3, Point Blank Music School, Producertech and SubBass Academy covering Alchemy, mixing techniques, tips and tricks and more. We’ve got the latest software demos, freeware plug-in tools and promo videos, and royalty-free samples from Loopmasters and Equinox Sounds. Finally we have all the files you need to follow along with the workshops. MTF On the disc Over 2.5 Hours of pro video tuition

ALCHEMY The experts at Groove 3 have provided a selection of pro tutorials to help guide you through Logic Pro X. First we have 6 videos looking at the filters, morphing, sequencer and arpeggiator in the new Alchemy instrument.

MIDI FX, DRUMMER, SUB KICK, DIRECTION MIXER Next we have chapters that take a closer look at the Chord Trigger MIDI FX, the Direction Mixer plug-in, Drummer, how to record with effects, how to create a gated drum reverb effect, and using the Test Oscillator to create a sub kick.

CREATIVE TIPS AND MIXING TECHNIQUES A bunch of QuickTips and production videos from Point Blank Music School looking at creative vocal sidechaining, quantising drum stems, and how to use stem mixing to mix down bass and vocals within a track.

ORGAN RIFFS, DRUM BUS PROCESSING AND NI MASCHINE Producertech and Logic-Courses.com have provided 3 tutorials looking at how to create a classic house organ riff, how to process the drum buss for drum and bass beats, and a step-by-step guide to using NI’s Maschine in Logic Pro X.

D RAMIREZ PRODUCTION TIPS SubBass Academy and veteran producer D Ramirez take an in-depth look at making bass riffs in Logic by layering instruments, and also at the mastering channel strip using a range of high-quality 3rd party compressors, EQs and processors.

LOOPMASTERS FREE SAMPLES Loopmasters has provided a heavyweight collection of loops from Author Dubstep Colours, Back to Techno, Darius Strossian Real House Collection, Dread Recordings 3, Dub Pistols Smoking Dubs, Future House Sessions, Kate Wild Vocal Hooks, Leftwing and Kody In Tech and more.

01

04

130 | Logic Pro X 2016

MTF41.your disc.indd 130

02

05

03

06

FOCUS

13/11/2015 15:50


On Your DVD MTF

MTF Your Disc MTF DVD 41 Logic Pro X 2016 PROMOTIONAL VIDEOS

We’ve got over 900MB of videos showcasing the latest plug-ins and hardware including a range of cutting-edge synths and software instruments from Roland, Yamaha, Best Service, Heavyocity, Impact Soundworks, Nord, Output, Plugin Boutique, Sample Logic, Sonokinetic, Spectrasonics, Vir2 and Zero-G . You’ll also find high-end processing from D16, Elysia, and iZotope, plus top of the range audio channel strips and effects from dbx, Digitech, and Roland.

SOFTWARE DEMOS

Although Logic now features a huge range of excellent tools and instruments, you may want to supplement your plug-in library with a few choice additions. From cutting edge processors and creative effects, to analogue modelled synths, we’ve rounded up a range of demo and freeware software for you to try out. You’ll find synths, EQs, compressors, limiters, filters, delays, bitcrushers, stereo tools and mastering suites to help perfect your tracks.

USING OUR WORKSHOPS

Whether you’re looking to brush up on your programming skills, delve into Logic’s new features, or improve your mixes, we’ve got you covered with a host of Logic workshops. Where appropriate, you’ll find hi-res images, project files and audio on the disc so you can follow along at home. Be sure to copy all the files to your computer before opening a project.

AUDIO LOOPS & HITS

On the disc

YOUR DVD CONTENT FILES

ZIP FILES To maximise the amount of content we can bring you on each DVD, the video, tutorial and samples files are supplied compressed (‘zipped’). Mac users should be able to decompress ZIP files simply by double-clicking on them; PC users may need to download a utility such as WinZip (www.winzip.com). TUTORIAL FILES The software tutorials that feature in each issue of MTF are almost always accompanied by files and audio so you can work through them on your system. These files are zipped to reduce the space they occupy on the DVD.

Download them to your hard drive and unzip them to access the individual files (remembering to eject the DVD to prevent your computer from slowing down).

WHAT IS ROYALTY-FREE?

Any MTF DVD content marked ‘royalty-free’ can be used in your own original compositions (even commercial ones). You may not, however, resell these samples in any other form.

DEFECTIVE DISCS

In the unlikely event that your disc is defective, please return it to: Disc Returns, Anthem Publishing, Suite 6, Piccadilly House, London, Bath BA1 6PL. We will

We’ve got a whole load of royalty-free samples from Loopmasters, Equinox Sounds and MusicTech for you to use in your tracks. All files are in 24-bit WAV or Apple Loops format, with a mixture of dubbed out textures and instrumental loops, heavyweight drums, soulful vocals, big sounding synth hooks, organic electronics, tech house grooves and more across a range of different genres.

endeavour to supply you with a replacement disc immediately. Please note that we’re unable to provide technical support for the software on the MTF DVD – please check our website at www.musictech.net for any known problems.

MISSING YOUR DISC?

If your disc is missing, contact us at editorial@anthempublishing.com with your full postal address and the issue number. We will only supply replacement discs up to six months after the on-sale date of each MusicTech Focus (three months after a regular issue of MusicTech).

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MTF41.your disc.indd 131

| 131

13/11/2015 15:50


 
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you