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Issue 139 October 2014


Issue 139
October 2014

The magazine for producers, engineers and recording musicians

Are Native Instruments' new
keyboards game changers? Read
our world exclusive review

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MAKE MORE DUBSTEP www.musictech.net

MT139.cover.indd 1 04/09/2014 15:43

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Welcome MT

Expert Panel
Studio Hardware John Pickford
John is a studio engineer with over 25 years of
experience. He is a keen sound recording historian
and has a passion for valve-driven analogue
equipment and classic recording techniques.

Mixing/Mastering/Logic Mark Cousins

Mark specialises in sound design and cinematic
productions. He has recorded with orchestras
across Europe and is heavily involved in
soundtrack composition.
Careers Editor Rob Boffard
Rob Boffard is a sound designer with a
background in TV and radio work. He is a Reason
evangelist, and when not writing for MusicTech he
releases hip-hop music under the name Rob One.

Digital/Composition Andy Price

With a masters in songwriting and a vast interest
in music history and recording techniques, Andy It is my job to get excited over new gear and be
works daily on MusicTech.net as well as regularly
contributing to the magazine.
opinionated about music production
Recording & Guitar Tech Huw Price
technology. The things that I get excited and
A recording engineer since 1987, Huw has worked opinionated about at the moment are great-
with David Bowie, My Bloody Valentine, Primal
Scream, Depeche Mode, Nick Cave, Heidi Berry, looking hardware and the fact that we spend
Fad Gadget and countless others. too much time looking at computer screens
Scoring/Orchestral Keith Gemmell rather than listening to our mixes. Oh, and I love colourful
Keith specialises in areas where traditional flashing lights too…
music-making meets music technology, including
orchestral and jazz sample libraries, acoustic
So you’ll have to forgive me for going over the top on Native Instruments’ latest
virtual instruments and notation software. range of Komplete Kontrol keyboards, as they look great and (as I say repeatedly in
this issue) help you draw your software out of your computer into a more
Ableton Live & DJ’ing Liam O’Mullane hardware-centric environment.
Liam has worked as a D&B scratch DJ as well as
releasing dubstep, D&B and hardcore tracks. His This means you are less reliant on staring at your screen, so could potentially
passion is to master the production styles of the put that effort into creating your music and listening back to it. So we’ve swapped
latest genres using Live.
things about a little, making the Komplete Kontrol (world exclusive) review our lead
feature on p12. I hope you enjoy it – and the flashing lights – as much as I did
Reason & Mobile Hollin Jones
As well as teaching music technology, producing reviewing it. See you next month…
and writing soundtracks, Hollin is an expert on
everything Apple, mobile or computer-related, as Andy Jones Senior Editor
well as being an accomplished keyboard player.
Email andy.jones@anthem-publishing.com
Electronic Music Alex Holmes Send your tweets @AndyJonesMT (although don’t expect much tweeting from me)
Alex has been a computer musician for 15 years, Read my blogs at www.musictech.net
having a keen passion for beats, bass and all
forms of electronic music. He’s currently involved
in three different dance music projects.

Cubase Tim Hallas

Tim’s a music technology consultant and
education expert. As Cubase Editor he will be
bringing you a range of technique features for the
popular DAW over the coming months.

Pro Tools Mike Hillier

Mike spent five years at Metropolis Studios,
working alongside some of the best-known mix
and mastering engineers in the world. He is now
building his own studio in south London.

New to Music Tech?

VISIT OUR WEBSITE! Check out ouder
Head to our constantly updated website
Beg inners Gui
at musictech.n
for the latest news, reviews and 10 years’
worth of quality content – musictech.net

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35% and get the
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see page 66 for
full details.

MAGAZINE October 2014 |3

MT139.welcome.indd 3 04/09/2014 15:54

MT Contents

MT Contents
Issue 139 October 2014

After teasing us with glimpses and hints, Native Instruments’ new
kontroller is finally here. Andy Jones gives you the low-down on this
potential game changer…


22 44

22 20 Tech Tips:
ANUSHKA Instrument mic’ing
Max Wheeler talks tech and how he came to Read our essential advice on capturing
be fired by his childhood piano teacher… the perfect sound

4 | October 2014 MAGAZINE

MT139.contents.indd 4 04/09/2014 15:55

Contents MT

p68 MT Issue 139 Full listings…

006 | Advance Opinion, predictions
p71 and upcoming reviews
012 | Get Komplete Kontrol
The Latest Reviews NI’s new wonder-controller

AMS ADVANCE MUSIC p95 022 | Max Wheeler

The man behind Anushka

Arturia BeatStep | Chandler TG2-500
028 | Kraftwerk: The Man-Machine
German electronica at its finest


034 | NEW SERIES Producing
p75 music to picture

DAW Tutorials Cutting-edge production

039 | Processing the returns


044 | Instrument mic’ing

p48 048 | NEW SERIES Beat
programming and sound design
Genre Focus
p34 052 | Dirty dubstep, part 4
058 | NEW SERIES Composition
techniques: Intro to song forms
How to record…
062 | …lead vocals, part 3
066 | Subscribe and get free
digital editions, plus save 35%
068 | AMS Advance Music
Production Suite plug-ins
071 | Arturia BeatStep controller
073 | Genelec 8010A monitors
075 | Chandler TG2-500 preamp
079 | MeldaProduction
MTransient transient processor
Bluffer’s Guide
081 | Sonodyne SRP 400 monitors
083 | Blue Cat Audio MB-7 Mixer
084 | sE Electronics X1 T & X1 D mics
087 | IK Multimedia SampleTank 3
089 | PreSonus Notion 5 notation
090 | Bernhoft Islander app
093 | Steinberg WaveLab 8.5

106 095 | Akai APC40 mk11 & APC mini


096 | Mini Reviews
103 | 6 of the best… monitors
106 | Bluffer’s guide to music

technology, part 1
110 | Show off your studio
114 | On your MT DVD

MAGAZINE October 2014 |5

MT139.contents.indd 5 04/09/2014 15:55

MT Advance

Round-ups Analysis Industry insight

17 years ago Andy Jones was excited about hardware
becoming software. Now it’s the other way around…

hen I was invited to see the first glimpse of Above left: that I do need that tactile element. I need feedback, I need
Komplete Kontrol, I was struck by the looks, Mesmerised by the knobs and sliders and shiny things and lights. I’M SICK OF
flashing lights yet?
(yes, I am a sucker for how something looks) Read our in-depth MAKING MUSIC WITH A MOUSE!
and the fact that it integrates so well with all of verdict of Komplete Ableton’s Push was one of my first experiences of
Kontrol on p12…
NI’s software, effectively making it marry the software for the hardware ‘drawing out’ the software into the outside world.
perfect hardware/software relationship. That FM8 synth I’ve The other day I made a tune on Push (I’m no Push expert,
always loved now becomes alive in hardware with all of its we’re talking a simple tune) without looking at my laptop
most popular controls mapped to Komplete Kontrol. Yes, (much…). It replicates everything you do in the software, and
other controllers can control that software but none as more, drawing your attention away from your screen.
slickly as this… Native Instrument’s Maschine has done the same for
All of your Kontakt instruments are now replicated in drums and now Komplete Kontrol does it for just about every
hardware with all of their keyboard colour mapping instrument NI makes (and others, it has to be said – anything
illuminated with LEDs on the hardware keyboard. If these that runs in Kontakt can be controlled, or Kontrolled, by it).
had simply been flashing lights I’d have been impressed, but Komplete Kontrol, like Push, almost seems to suck the
the fact that they not only follow the software but help you software out of Kontakt and makes you feel like it is inserting
play chords, learn to play the keyboard and a whole lot more it firmly into a slick controller so that as you instantly switch
makes this one hell of a Kontroller. between instruments it’s almost like you are switching
But I think there’s more to it than that, and this keyboard between pieces of hardware. And that feels great. And, yes,
is yet another big step in music technology to get producers that is an admission that my 1997 self wanting a laptop to do
looking like artists rather than programmers. I reviewed everything was wrong. I guess hardware is back…
Arturia’s KeyLab (MT137) which attempts a similar thing by And I’m not alone in believing this. Last month we put a
marrying the French company’s vintage back catalogue with couple of messages on our Facebook page asking the
a hardware controller. Then there’s Roland’s System-1 in the audience there (now well over 100,000) to show off their
last issue of MusicTech that also blurs the hardware and studios, and we were shocked by the response. We had so
software lines, but Komplete Kontrol seemingly takes things many photos and replies we could launch a monthly
one step further. Five steps in fact, and that’s why we ask on magazine and website just to publish them, but the main
this month’s cover if it could be a game changer. I’ll explain. thing to come out of it is that it seems that the vast majority
of you are enjoying the wonders of hardware to make music.
Once upon a time… So, yes, the power of today’s studio is still firmly held by
In 1997 I launched a magazine about making music on a the computer but, with the likes of Maschine , Push and now
computer. Back then the dream was to make the computer Komplete Kontrol, it’s almost like we’ve wrestled control of
the most powerful instrument in the world. My own personal our instruments back from the computer. We want to be seen
dream was to do everything on a laptop, to make music, as musicians, composers and performers, not experts in
somewhat bizarrely, at an airport. In 2003 I finally did it, email and Excel, so hardware like this is vital.
albeit on a huge Sony VAIO the size of a typical supermarket. A strange state of affairs when you think about it. Back in
But, looking back, why did I (and we) want that? Why did we 1997 I was getting excited about my hardware becoming
want to make music within the confines of a virtual box with software and now I’m getting excited about my software
a mouse and a click. Yes, there’s the convenience of a coming alive in hardware. I guess there’s simply no pleasing
one-box approach, and, yes, we don’t need so much some people…
hardware, but that latter point is haunting me. I now realise The review is on p12 and the reader studios on p110. MT

6 | October 2014 MAGAZINE

MT139.advance.indd 6 04/09/2014 14:30

Keeping it simple,
Keeping it good!
After recently seeing his idol, DJ Optical, explain his DnB
production techniques, Liam O’Mullane shares his thoughts
on what makes good electronic music production.

very year we take part in a day-long music Top Right: Wedge
production event in Bristol called Digital Labz. The brought various bits
of kit including his
day consists of several seminars presented by some simple yet interesting
of the most revered names in electronic music sounding spring
reverb that’s based
production. This year was my personal favourite as it around PVC tubing.
included one of the most forward-thinking DnB producers: as he prefers an open sound and finds dynamic processing
DJ Optical. Alongside Ed Rush these two producers Below left: In his too squashed sounding. He instead leans towards channel
seminar, Optical
pioneered the tech-y sound in the later 90s and are still focussed on the core strip saturation and only does so with a few select
going strong today. Break also presented a seminar and is aspect of great processors that only slightly touch the sound, but the sum of
another DnB artist with a good 10 years of experience. sounding production the processing is what makes the difference.
– the science! Before
Although Optical and Break have both gained success mentioning anything
and respect within the scene, their techniques differ. on the creative side of The simple life
composition, he
Whereas Break shared his approach to EQing in detail, hammered home the
During my years at MusicTech I’ve interviewed a lot of
Optical explained that a sound won’t even make it into his importance of audio successful, well-known producers, engineers and do-it-all-
tracks if it doesn’t sound completely right from the outset. He quality control and yourself artists and it seems that a simplistic approach
how you can read a
explained that along with his minimal ‘only cut a bit of bass if waveform to get the coupled with an insanely high level of quality control is what
needed’ approach to EQing, he also doesn’t use compression, best results. separates the average producers from those who seem to be
worlds apart from the rest.
Bottom left: An
interesting source for This doesn’t mean that there’s never a time when a
new synth and SFX project might be sounding a bit ropey in terms of ideas or its
sounds was multiple
channels of feedback
sonics, but it’s this brutal approach to the final approval at
loops using auxiliary the end of a creative idea-storm that will put your work in the
sends so Wedge could higher band of quality where respect and longevity live.
control the amount of
each loop and then The pursuit of new ideas is highly important, and dubstep
shape them using EQ. artist Wedge, who gave a lecture earlier on in the day at
Digital Labz, shared his passion for recording strange sounds
with contact mics, building DIY spring reverbs and sampling
feedback loops for ideas and unique timbres. But at the end
of it all it’s the ability to judge the best ideas that is
paramount to creating something unique.
What surprised me most with Optical’s approach was his
choice of gear, as the majority of his synthetic sounds come
from a Sequential Circuits Pro One analogue synth. He
spends as long as it takes to get high quality and interesting
sounds to then capture as audio and further edit into catchy
basslines. No long processing chains, no layers of software
instruments to get the texture, just quality source sounds.
Optical went on to talk about his programming in terms of
the importance of groove, which is the other half of his
tried-and-tested approach to making music, but I think the
lesson to learn here is that the focus of quality needs to be at
the source. Take the time needed to get a good starting
sound and idea before moving forwards, no matter how long
that pursuit may take. If you’re songs aren’t working, don’t
blame the gear – re-focus on what you’re doing wrong with it
and push it as far as you can instead, because that’s where
the real magic lies.
Videos from this and previous years’ seminars are available
to purchase from www.digitallabz.co.uk MT

magazine October 2014 |7

MT139.advance.3aj.indd 7 04/09/2014 13:50

Advance MT


We have an amazing prize up for grabs this month. One lucky
reader will win the best synth we’ve reviewed this year: an incredible
Nord Lead A1 worth £1249!

Our friends over at Sound Technology have generously heart, hold a note, dial some dials and after five minutes,
supplied this month’s prize for one lucky MusicTech reader to you’ll be won over too…
get their hands on. The Nord Lead A1 is simply stunning – a
virtual analogue that is incredibly easy to program, has Before concluding…
hundreds of fantastic sounds and is a synth that even “A synth that is creative, addictive, simple and a joy to use.
non-programmers will find themselves getting involved The NL4 was excellent. This is like a ‘best of’ for people with
with. This is what MusicTech editor Andy Jones said when he valves as organs and wave-shapes as heartbeats. You can
reviewed it… program a synth. This synth…”

“I am genuinely surprised by the A1. It’s come from nowhere And then he went and bought one. But you might not have to…
– a totally unexpected synth from Nord with one of the
most ‘instant’ feature sets that I’ve ever used. And while it’s To win a Nord Lead A1 worth £1249, simply head to the
smaller than the Nord Lead 4 (in physical and sonic terms) I MusicTech website (www.musictech.net), and go to the
can’t help thinking that its simplicity, its creativity and its Competition link on the main page. Standard competition
quality will win it many friends. If you have an analogue rules apply, and the entries close on 16 October 2014.

MAGAZINE October 2014 |9

MT139.advance_Comp.indd 9 04/09/2014 16:00

Philipp S., purchase
Ph e ma

MusicTech.indd 1 26.08.2014 14:16:59

MusicTech.indd 2 26.08.2014 14:17:09
MT Reviews Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S-Series

MT Exclusive Review
In-depth review Hands-on guides Komplete 10 software news

Komplete Kontrol S-Series
Native Instruments has already set the music production world on fire with Maschine. But that
was ‘just’ for drums. Now it’s about to do the same for every other instrument. The Komplete
Kontrol S-Series are just that – complete controllers – but also unlike anything you’ll have seen
before. Andy Jones has the first one in the world and thinks it might help change everything…

Price S25, £429 K, so the line above was 49-note and, on test here, the 61. I keyboard. I have to admit, when I first
S49, £499 quite a dramatic would usually opt for a smaller one to saw this at a demo in London I thought
S61, £599
introduction but it’s not test (mostly down to lack of space in it was simply a cosmetic addition
Contact Native
Instruments often that we ‘hold the front my studio) but this time I specifically – Native Instruments trying to add a
01792 702701 page’ of the magazine for a review of asked for the 61-note to explore some little colour to our keyboards. How
Web www.native- anything. The last time we did it was of the many playing options that I will wrong I was, as we will see (a lot more
when we managed to get the world come on to later. on this later).
exclusive review of the much-hyped So after this light show you’re left
AIRA range from Roland. They turned First impressions with a couple of displays saying
out to be great and did what they set I wasn’t as excited as I am now when I ‘Connect Computer’ in a rather
Key Features out to do – properly emulate some first saw the keyboard. It was powered understated and direct way – ‘say
Komplete Kontrol
classic gear. down, looked like a black slab, quite please’, I thought. Connect it up and all
● Native Map But Native Instruments’ Komplete slick but not hinting at the excitement the LEDs above the keyboard light up
assigns key Kontrol Series could turn out to be a to come. Like Maschine before it, blue and the eight screens reveal
much bigger landmark within music though, (and thankfully an increasing which controller data they are set up
● Light Guide LED
keys making as they a) will revolutionise the amount of hardware these days, for. I was worried that the displays
● Smart Play way you control your music plug-ins including the aforementioned AIRA would suffer under high light
section for keys and, as importantly, b) could range) the real action is revealed when conditions but, as I write this on a
and chords
revolutionise the way you learn and you power the unit up. Electric life bright and sunny afternoon, they are
● Nine screens,
eight rotaries play music. seemingly courses into it and, for an perfectly visible and well designed
● Navigation There are three keyboards in the instance, this electricity sweeps – and they should be, as they are
section for on- S-Series range – fairly standard for through a set of multi-coloured LEDs, incredibly important to the whole
screen control
‘ranges’ these days. You get a 25-note, each positioned above a note on the Komplete Kontrol concept.

12 | October 2014 MAGAZINE

MT139.rev komplete kontrol.indd 12 04/09/2014 17:29

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S-Series Reviews MT

More than MIDI control them but we’ll be here all day as there Native Instruments claims is the first
So at this stage with the keyboard are so many). This is where those of its kind. The company is not talking
connected via USB you can use the screens – which Native calls Clear about lit keys to learn to play because
set-up simply as a MIDI controller – View screens – become important. that has been done before (see the
you’d be totally missing the point, but Connected to Komplete Kontrol box on p14 for more on that). Instead
you could! software, you can step through the Native is talking about how the Light
I happened to have Logic Pro X with various instruments and these become Guide LEDs interact with its
an instance of FM8 open as I automatically assigned to the eight Komplete software and other
connected the keyboard. I expected to most important parameters in the Kontakt or Reaktor instruments.
have to download at least a driver to instruments (typically filter cutoff and Anyone familiar with a typical
get everything up and running, but I resonance for synth instruments, for Kontakt instrument will know that
was pleasantly surprised to be playing example). This kind of auto mapping the keyboard is colour coded to
my beloved FM8 straight away. Not
much else worked, mind…
That is because, in order to get
Komplete Kontrol totally off the
You could use them as simple MIDI
ground, you will need to download
software. Owners of Komplete 9
controllers. You’d be totally missing the
onwards need the free Komplete
Kontrol software and if you want to
point, but you could…
use it as a regular MIDI controller with
certain other software you will need to has of course been done before but represent splits, key switches, zones
download the driver for that software there’s a certain elegance and or features typical to an instrument.
(Ableton Live has another step too but sophistication here and the With most vocal collections, for
this is detailed in the documentation). understated screens almost look like example West Africa, you select a
hardware labels, which as we’ll see sample over a set of green keys and
Main features adds to the immersive software-to- then play that sample with a blue key.
So now we move on to the main hardware experience that the You’ve probably guessed by now that
features, and get ready for a whole lot Komplete Kontrol system brings. the genius of Komplete Kontrol is that
of snazzy names for each section. First Next up we talk lights, and this is the LEDs replicate this concept, so
up we have Native Map (all of these where the real joy happens. This rather than staring at a computer
should have the trademark logo after system is called Light Guide, which screen you can look at what you are

magazine | October 2014 | 13

MT139.rev komplete kontrol.indd 13 04/09/2014 17:29

MT Reviews Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S-Series

a this section is for
b these multi-coloured c the Native Map
d the nine screens on
d this is where you jump
scales and chords, enabling Leds show key zones and technology automatically the front panel show the around your Komplete
both to be changed and switches from Kontakt (and maps key parameters for parameters assigned by instruments selecting each
played easily in conjunction some Reaktor) instruments, Komplete instruments to Native Map. these are and the presets contained
with Light Guide. so you don’t have to always these dials when the understated screens and within. Less time struggling
look at the software. instrument is selected. work well in all light with a mouse equals more
conditions. time to create!



actually playing on a proper beyond normal controllers, offering a later in the In Use section for more on
keyboard, which we (OK, I) are closer hardware experience with this). You can’t, then, keep your eyes
absolutely in favour of. software. It’s not totally perfect, completely off the screen but the
Navigation section does make
selecting what’s on it and moving

The additions of Clear View and Light around it very easy, which we’ll see…
The final section is Smart Play and

Guide feel like Komplete Kontrol is this is one of the areas I’m looking
forward to getting into, as the demo I

sucking software into the hardware had revealed a lot of chordal and
scale playing options.

Light Guide is the backbone of mind, as if I want the full ‘hardware’ In use
Komplete Kontrol S-Series and with experience I’d need the presets listed So let’s see if all these fancily named
Native Map takes these keyboards on the keyboard somewhere too (see features do the job. First up Komplete
Kontrol, the software. You will need to
install this but it’s a free download,
LIt KeyS.hASN’tthAt beeN doNe a learning aid for complicated scales and chords (as well as,
of course, simple learning to play) has not been done before. easy to use, and essentially a shell to
befoRe? (It’LL ALMoSt CeRtAINLy be Certainly not on any pro keyboards that I recall and certainly
bring all of your instruments together
doNe AGAIN…) not so elegantly. there’s also the added bonus that a
in one easy way for the Komplete
keyboard like this could also be used in low-lit live
At the launch of Komplete Kontrol S-Series I was so taken environments so you can actually see what you’re playing
with the ‘Led above the keys’ thing that I was amazed that it
Kontrol system to, well, control.
– possibly not what Native Instruments originally conceived
hadn’t been done before. Well it has. Sort of. there are a few it for, but there you go.
There’s a guide to its main features
keyboards on the market with keys that light up specifically As to the future, are we going to suddenly see a slew of opposite but if you consider it as just a
for learning songs, notably those like the yamaha eZ-220. I colourfully lit up keyboards? Maybe a range of synths that
was also reminded that a mini-key Casio keyboard from my way for the Navigation section on
play different colours dependent on the kind of sound
youth had lit keys (still available in the company’s played? Well the music technology hardware world has Komplete Kontrol to skip through your
up-to-date LK range) so it’s certainly not a new concept. certainly become a lot more colourful than it was when I instruments by name or preset type,
however, the way NI has implemented it not only to joined it nearly 30 years ago, and thank the Lord, as I love a
match the key split colours on its software but also to act as you wouldn’t be far wrong.
colourful light as much as the next man. It was all black,
black, black back in the 80s. Mind you there were a lot more You can use it as a standalone
fields around back then too. Ah, gentler times… application or as a plug-in within your
DAW. Simply select it as an instrument
shell – it’s essentially like Kontakt –
and it acts as the link between the
Kontrol keyboard and instruments.
You can, when it loads, select by
sound type, so select Bass, for
example, and all the bass presets from
every Komplete Instrument you have
Komplete Kontrol’s keys are lit by Leds shining on them, and are the first for a ‘pro’ keyboard. other keyboards are installed will be listed. So you can
available where the keys actually, light such as the Casio LK range (guess what ‘LK’ stands for…). for the iPad generation bundle everything together or go by
there’s a cool app with not-quite-as-cool-keyboard called IoN Piano Apprentice which helps you play via lit keys.
your favourite instrument.

14 | October 2014 magazine

MT139.rev komplete kontrol.indd 14 04/09/2014 17:29

MT Step-by-Step The software and the hardware

You’ll need the Komplete Kontrol software. It’s free,

01 easy to install and is fairly under whelming when
you first boot up. Press the Browse button in the
Navigation section on the
keyboard, though, and
suddenly all of your
instruments are listed. Now
you use the big dial control in
the Navigation to select your

We’re going to select the Android Choirs preset from

02 my (beloved) FM8. We could have done this by sound
type from the main browser
which filters every type of
sound from every instrument
you have installed – very useful
– or simply, as we have done
here, load in the FM7 Legacy
set and dialled down to it.

The beauty here is that once the preset is loaded

03 you get the FM8 synth on screen to tweak, but
also its main parameters are accessible from the
keyboard’s dials. Plus you get
the name of the preset within
screen number 9. It’s not quite
as intuitive a preset handling
system as Push’s but is still a
great way to navigate around
your software.

MT139.rev komplete kontrol.indd 15 04/09/2014 17:29

MT Reviews Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S-Series

It’s intuitive,
The Clear View screens
are just that
– understated and clean

easy to
manage and
encourages you
to use the
rather than the

We’ve used the example of an FM8 Once you’ve chosen your sound it is great to see the end result in the
preset which you can get to using the loaded in, complete with its hardware. I’ve used Ableton’s Push,
main rotary and cursors on the parameters mapped (Natively Mapped) where you get to navigate through the
keyboard, either by sound type or to Komplete Kontrol’s S61’s dials. The presets on the hardware rather than
simply by going through the FM8 name of the preset also appears on the the software, and while that is a more
banks with the cursor and dial. This first (left) screen which has no dial, ‘hardware immersive’ experience,
is the important bit of the S-Series – instead a left and right cursor to very Komplete Kontrol’s is different. You’re
as it makes it so easy to access key usefully select more banks of loading in each preset and a ton of
features very quickly – and Native has parameters for the eight dials to parameters, so this is more about
done it very well. It’s intuitive, easy to control (in our case we had up to 17 hands-on action. However, being able
manage and encourages you to use the banks to choose from but this will vary to select from presets listed on the
hardware to do it rather than the depending on preset and instrument). hardware is a bonus, so maybe this will
computer. It’s an incredibly slick system and come in a software update for the
Komplete Kontrol system.
A NOTE ON KOMPLETE 10 AND OTHER So that is the Navigation and Native
SOFTWARE… Mapping sections dealt with. They
You can pretty work, and the Clear View screens do
much set your watches them justice easily and quickly. In fact
by a Komplete software
update, and this time those screens have become my
there’s been some big favourite parts of the keyboard
additions. Both
(aside from the lights, naturally). They
Komplete 10 (€499)
and Komplete Ultimate display parameters clearly and the
(€999) feature six new simple bank left and right buttons
instruments: three
pianos and Rounds,
enable you to get very deeply into a
Kontour and Polyplex. sound very quickly.
I’ve had demos of all Again, this makes the Komplete
three of the
instruments and was Kontrol system experience more of a
pretty impressed with hardware one. As you step through
the scope of them.
the instruments selecting presets,
Almost obviously, there’s no doubting that the Komplete Rounds is a
Kontrol S-Series is at its best and most impressive when sound-design tool the addition of the Clear View screens
controlling Komplete (the software, that is). That’s what it is which enables you to and the Light Guide LEDs both
named as after all. Software that is Kontakt compatible, ie, morph and sequence in
real time. Kontour is a
replicating the main features of the
my favourite vocal collections from Best Service, still enjoys
some of the features of Komplete Kontrol S-Series including synth designed by NI software in such an attractive and
Light Guide, although Native Map might not be implemented founder Stephen clear way really does give the
(although could be with software updates). Even if you don’t Schmitt and
own any Komplete software you could just use it as a MIDI concentrates on impression that the keyboard is
keyboard and controller (with the right driver) but that is Top to bottom: Kontour, organic textures and sucking the software into the
actually an expensive option. It would be like buying a Polyplex and Rounds. harder tones. Lastly
hardware. It isn’t, of course, but the
mansion and not using the top floor. Or the swimming pool there’s Polyplex, a drum
because you don’t have the keys… or something. kit designer with random elements, and from what I heard implementation is stunning and that
So, anyway, used with Komplete (the software) the this is going to be a winner as it makes more unusual kit is the feeling you get.
Kontrol S-Series is at its most stunning so it’s worth having a choices – and therefore more unusual beats – just that bit
easier. We’ll be covering at least one of these in the next
Before we move on to Smart Play,
quick look at Komplete version 10, which was announced at
the same time as Komplete Kontrol. issue of MusicTech. just a quick note on using Komplete
Kontrol S61 as a DAW controller. There

16 | October 2014 MAGAZINE

MT139.rev komplete kontrol.indd 16 04/09/2014 17:29

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S-Series Reviews MT

are transport controls on the left-hand exploring further as I now fancy myself were a couple of comments. I’d agree
side and I’m happy to report they as a bit of a player and am sure this that is steep if you were to use them
worked brilliantly in Logic Pro X section will confirm it! just as controller keyboards but, of
without any problems. As always with Finally, phew, just a quick note on course, they’re not really designed
these things, though, you may need to the non-conformist pitch and mod for that. With Komplete 10 this range
download extras depending on the strips, which naturally have their own becomes something else entirely.
DAW you use. name: Touch Kontrol Strips! Needless They add another dimension to
So quickly on to Smart Play, and it’s to say these go further than your Kontakt instruments and give you
actually a simple two-button system typical pitch and mod wheels less screen time and more ‘me time’.
that replicates the Scale and Arp (although you can do those) and can be There are also at least two features:
buttons within the software that are assigned to loads of other functions for Smart Play and Light Guide that you
usually switched off as you load the live hands-on performance duties. won’t find on any other MIDI
preset up. Click the Arpeggiator button controller that work so well with
and you have all the options listed on So, any criticisms? Komplete Kontrol software.
the Clear View screens (and there are It’s all sounding very positive so far But there’s the rub; you’ll get the
many). Similarly the Scale button gives
you options to obviously change scale,
but also Easy Play which lets you play There’s the rub – in order to get the
pretty much any chord or any scale
without making mistakes. best out of the keyboard you will need to
You can change scales, play
chords with one finger… do pretty own a copy of Komplete 10
much anything you like, but the
overall attraction for me is that you but it can’t all be good, surely? best out of the keyboard only if you
can play it and never go wrong. When the range was announced own Komplete 9/10 software. The
It’s great fun and a learning tool some of our Facebook audience were cheapest combination then is the
whereby you can quickly learn what critical of the price. ‘£429 for a £429 S25 keyboard and then
notes make up chords and a whole lot 25-note controller keyboard!’ and Komplete 10 for £429 (Komplete
more. It’s a section that I will be ‘they are just controller keyboards’ Ultimate is now £849).

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MT139.rev komplete kontrol.indd 17 04/09/2014 17:30

MT Reviews Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S-Series

MASCHINE AND WHAT NATIVE world too– in that the company is

INSTRUMENTS DID NEXT designing incredibly good looking
products that are solving problems
Left: Maschine won opens up a huge
number of other doors.
we quite often don’t know we have.
innovation of the year in the
MusicTech 2013 awards One of our other But once we solve those problems
Facebook comments using this incredibly sleek hardware
was ‘why don’t they
Below: The latest v2.0 bundle some software and software, we find we really can’t
Maschine software. with it?’ But that’s an live without it. Having used Komplete
Bottom: Maschine Studio is obvious next step. You
also available in white Kontrol with my Komplete
could have Komplete
Kontrol Acoustic (or instruments within Logic it’s not only
‘Acoustik’), Komplete brought them to life in a way no other
Kontrol Elektrik and
Komplete Kontrol
controller has, but it’s made me never
Synthetik, each want to use a mouse or pointer ever
bundled with again… It even makes me look back at
instruments from the
Kontakt universe how I used them previously and think
When we reviewed Maschine back in December 2013 Liam
O’Mullane was very much of the opinion that this
relevant to the name that it was two dimensional and now
(the latter being a
beat-making beast was ‘a hardware and software combo it’s a bit more 3D. Or maybe I’m just
huge bundle of synths,
that feels like hardware.’ He also created several great- being a tad melodramatic with that…
for example).*
sounding tunes and beats without using the computer
And they don’t have to be just Native Instruments ones. So, the question raised on the cover
screen, so with his similar conclusions to those I’ve made
How about Komplete Kontrol Vokal where my favourite Elf,
here it’s clear that Maschine and Komplete Kontrol are
monk and Gregorian collections are bundled?
of this magazine is ‘are the keyboards
sister products.
And Maschine started out life in black and you can now a game changer?’ and the answer is
So it’s also clear that Native want you to be making beats
get it in white and a limited edition gold (I even spotted one really that the game had already been
with Maschine Studio and doing everything else with the
in red). However I’m not sure this will be a path that Native
Komplete Kontrol S-Series. At the demo they were also very changed with the likes of Push and
will tread with Komplete Kontrol. Only Nord can get away
candid that the integration between Komplete software and
the keyboard series would hopefully get them to sell more
with red. White, maybe, but gold? You’d have to be Elton John Native’s Maschine. They started
to get away with that one. bringing software out of the computer.
hardware and software. Of course they want that, though,
they are a business like any other and I think they’ll succeed But the Komplete Kontrol series is an
* If you are reading this, Native Instruments, you can have
at both.
the name ideas – I’ll only take a small cut. important release in the history of
But the release of the Komplete Kontrol S-Series also
music production because it brings the
joy of those machines to a much larger
So that sounds expensive, right? and what is widely regarded as the audience of players who may be older,
Now I’m an old duffer in terms of finest collection of instruments and may be less dance orientated than
having been around in this industry content ever produced is not Push and Maschine users, or are
so you might not agree with me on the expensive. But that’s me talking, maybe just sick of poor software
following, but today’s producers are maybe you don’t agree. control. So you could say the S-Series
spoilt. I’m going to do a bit of an ‘in my Incidentally, while we’re talking has joined the game and could become
day’ dad rant now. The first synth I about the 25-key version I’d probably the most important player.
bought 25 years ago was £1035, about recommend the 49 over it. It’s only Actually let’s lose the game thing…
£5000 in today’s money. It did about £70 more and you might find that with Let’s just say that with them we can
0.5% of what the Komplete system all of the playing features available finally let the computer do what it
within Smart Play should be doing – computing! – and

I’m an old duffer so you may

will get you actually we can finally get on with what we
playing more, so you should be doing: making music and

not agree with me but I think that

might want to opt playing music. MT
for the bigger

today’s producers are spoilt

MT Verdict
verdict? S-SERIES
+ Amazing controller
and the ‘basic’ Komplete software Native Instruments has fast become
+ Lovely Light Guide system
bundle will do. Yes I know technology an ‘Apple’ of the music production + Rock-solid build
has brought all prices down but, world – and yes I do realise Apple are + Auto mapping of key parameters
come on, £858 for a superb keyboard still an Apple of the music production is great and fast
+ Easy to use

- You’ll need Komplete to enjoy it to

Alternatives Choice its full

There is nothing out there that does quite what these keyboards do, but there are some that do parts
very well. One of the better controllers that I’ve looked at recently was Korg’s Taktile. The 49-key
The Komplete Kontrol system
version weighs in at £279 and it features pads, an arpeggiator and good DAW control.
Perhaps a system that comes closest is Arturia’s KeyLab range (from brings Kontakt and Reaktor
£169 to £319) which attempts to marry hardware software to life, like having them all
with software by including a vast in hardware. An essential purchase
amount of presets from Arturia’s if you have Komplete, and after
software back catalogue which you can
control using assigned knobs and
Innovation seeing them in tandem you might
just consider both as the ultimate
sliders. If you want something that has lit music production package.

keys, check out the Casios in the box on
p14. And if you want something with nice
lights, get yourself a lava lamp.

18 | October 2014 MAGAZINE

MT139.rev komplete kontrol.indd 18 04/09/2014 17:30

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MT Feature Anushka

MT Feature Interview

Childhood piano lessons can make or break you. For
Max Wheeler, half of dance act Anushka, you can
easily argue the former (but not for the reasons
you’re thinking). Andy Jones breaks the Sylenth…

rom getting fired – yes, fired! – by his piano teacher at just ten
years of age, Max Wheeler has come a long way. He is half
of dance artists Anushka who have just put their
debut album, Broken Circuit, out on Gilles
Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings. With
major festival appearances under their belts, plus
a huge world tour and more to come, Anushka
are the current darlings of dance.
But Max doesn’t do music production in a
very typical way. As we’ll see, that

I had a mate, and we started

getting competitive over who
could make the best beats
early-years sacking led to multi-genre
music production, two label signings
and his current success. It’s an
interesting tale with an even more
interesting mix of gear: from mod
trackers to Push, from that piano to
two completely different gear set-ups,
so we’d best get on with it…

MusicTech: We might as well go back

to the start as it’s question number

22 | October 2014 MAGAZINE

MT139.Interview.indd 22 03/09/2014 11:14

Anushka Feature MT

one. How did you get into music production in

the first place?
Max Wheeler: I guess it goes back to when I had
piano lessons aged ten and I was fired by the teacher.
He basically got rid of all of his bad students and kept the
best, and I didn’t make the grade. I took it as a bit of
a challenge and had this little keyboard, a
Yamaha, I think, that you could sample
into. So I lost the lessons but got into
sampling all sorts of noises, playing
them back at different pitches, and I think
you could loop stuff on it too.
From there I got into mod trackers. I
had a mate who had worked out how to
make hip-hop beats on this shareware
one that he had. I had a really early Mac
and found the equivalent tracker for it.
Then we started getting competitive
over who could make the best beats on
these terrible bits of software. It was
around the time of the Aphex Twin and
The Prodigy and I was obsessed with these
electronic noises.

MT: When did you become successful?

MW: Well it progressed from there and
I ended up getting a record deal when
I was quite young doing hip-hop. So
that got me into more producing,
and more into sampling loads of

MAGAZINE October 2014 | 23

MT139.Interview.indd 23 03/09/2014 11:14

MT Feature Anushka

ideas. I’ve just got the new Mac Pro, which is

exciting, and I’ve got a UAD Apollo soundcard so I
use the UAD plugs quite a lot. I’ve got an MPC
Renaissance and it’s one of the things I use to
produce drums. I’ve got a Juno-6 which is MIDI’d
up, a Novation controller keyboard and also a
reel-to-reel tape recorder, which I use a lot to mess
about with stuff. I’ve got assorted foot pedals and
Focal monitors and sub to listen back to stuff.

MT: Nice monitors and set-up. What about the

software side?
MW: I use a lot of plug-ins: the Arturia range, Rob
Papen’s products, and I quite like the u-he stuff at
the moment too. I’ve just got the new Logic going
and now I have all my old 32-bit plug-ins working
I’m really enjoying it.

MT: I found the bridging software to run them was

a pain to use, to be honest, and gave up…
Photo: Luke Wright
MW: Yeah, same here, it was so annoying that I was

I started working with live

vinyl. I ended up getting an Akai MPC but didn’t
really use it for hip-hop! When that project ended I

musicians, but whenever I went

had quite a decent studio but was at a bit of a loose
end over what I wanted to do so I started working

back to the MPC I got excited

with live musicians, but whenever I went back to the
MPC I started to get excited again. I was learning a
lot from doing all this other music but was leaning
more to electronic music so I ended up eventually not using them, but we were on tour with Gorgon
Selected kit list (studio)
settling on my house music sound. City recently and one of them told me about the
● Akai MPC Renaissance
I started demo-ing this sound – house music, controller bridge software he uses called 32 Lives [by Sound
bass music, that kind of thing. In 2011 I met Victoria ● Apple Mac Pro Radix – Ed]. With this one you install it, run it, it
Port and I’d done this track called Yes Guess but it ● Apple Logic Pro X resurrects all the 32-bit plug-ins and it just works.
was an instrumental. I wasn’t expecting anyone to ● Various Arturia synths
● Focal CMS65 monitors
be able to write anything to it as it was pretty weird, and sub
MT: Brilliant I’ll have to try it as Sylenth1 was all
but she came back straight away and had done a ● Lennar Digital Sylenth1 over my music at one point and was still 32-bit
complete vocal on it. We got management off the ● Novation controller when I last looked, so consequently there are a lot
back of that and one of them knew Gilles Peterson. ● Reel-to-reel tape recorder of holes in my unfinished tracks (i.e., all of them)!
He sent that track to him and he played it on the ● Roland Juno-6 synth MW: Yeah, Sylenth1 was one of the main ones I was
● Various u-he plug-ins
radio the same day and we got signed to his label, using too!
● Universal Audio Apollo
Brownswood Recordings. interface
MT: So how does a typical track come together?
Studio tech Selected kit list (live) MW: Well it varies, really. Sometimes it will be
MT: What’s your philosophy on studio gear? ● Ableton Live
MW: I’ve started to believe in restricting your palette ● Apple MacBook Pro
a little. You have to go through that phase of getting ● Ableton Push
kit and loads of plug-ins, but when you find your
sound you realise it’s only four or five things that (Top) Max uses Logic in the
you are using, so it then becomes a case of seeing studio but breaks out Ableton
Push for gigs.
how you can become more creative with them. I (Right) Victoria Port’s vocals on
started to use a Roland Juno-6 on everything, the Yes Guess helped to catapult
Anushka to stardom.
MPC on everything and certain drum sounds, and
then I realised I had a good sound going on.
And when you are getting new kit every week and
your sound is changing because of it then it becomes
hard for people to follow what you’re doing. They’ll
hear your music and think it’s three or four different
producers, but for people to invest in something they
have to be able to hear some continuity.

MT: So tell us about your main studio bits…

MW: The core of it all is the MPC where I sketch out

24 | October 2014 magazine

MT139.Interview.indd 24 03/09/2014 11:14

MT Feature Anushka

starting with something Victoria has done and I’ll FAvouriTes, FAvouriTes, FAvouriTes…
build it up around that, other times she writes to my MT: Three gear questions, and they are all of the ‘what is your favourite…?’ variety.
production. With me, I’ll get some drum sounds into so, favourite synth plug-in?
the MPC. I like to get a sample of something in there MW: Hmm, difficult. What I seem to find is that every single plug-in is good for one
too, say, something from the Juno, which I then sound, so there are few things I’d use for everything. If I really had to narrow it down,
though, I probably use the Arturia Prophet V more than anything else. Predator
chop up using the MPC to get a basic loop. I’ll do
by Rob Papen has a couple of really big sounds too. But what I really like are the
maybe ten different sequences on the MPC, take the TAL free plug-ins that you can get. Because they’re free I can recommend them to
best two or three and export the stems into Logic. people and they can get them straight away, and I kind of like that whole ethos. And
That’s what’s good about the new MPC: the way you there’s one bass sound that is used all over the album from the TAL Elek7ro, so that
can chop things up and the stem export, which you kind of shows that you could spend all this money but if you take long enough with a
couldn’t do on the old one. Some people don’t get on free one you can find something that is really good.
with the Renaissance as well as me but I’ve been
MT: i think i know the answer to this one: favourite piece of hardware? MPC, right?
using an MPC for so long I really enjoy the new one. MW: I suppose I do have a massive soft spot for the MPC, but I also do for the Roland
Juno-6. And the Apollo is right up there too. But, yes, the MPC is the most definitive
A very different Live set-up… part of my sound…
MT: I saw that you did a demonstration of Ableton
Live and Push at the Ableton Open Day at Point MT: And finally, favourite plug-in effect?
MW: I’m getting obsessed with the u-he Satin tape saturation plug-in. For
Blank a few weeks ago, yet we’ve had no mention
something pretty cheap it does some very cool stuff. I really like the UAD tape
of those yet… reverb, too, which a lot of people don’t appreciate.
MW: Yes, my live set-up is very different from my

Photo: Luke Wright (Top) Max’s trusty Akai MPC is studio set-up. I’ve just found that for the live stuff
the cornerstone of his home
Ableton is amazing and pretty much all I use. And
studio set-up.
(Left) When playing live Max likes I’ve been getting more into Push and have started
the audience to have a sense of writing with it.
what he’s actually performing.
Push to me is somewhere between the MPC and
the APC that I was originally using to trigger
Ableton. So what I was doing on tour was taking
both the MPC and APC with me to control Ableton
but now I can just use Push, so when I’m touring
now I can put my laptop, soundcard and Push in the
carry-on luggage on the plane. Because we’re doing

26 | October 2014 magazine

MT139.Interview.indd 26 03/09/2014 11:15

Anushka Feature MT

(Top) The album is out now! tell. It’s an interesting one – what I might do
(Bottom) Bass and acoustic eventually is get more players in to do more of the
guitars sit next to Push
parts. What I really like is live drum programming,
so it will probably be me using Push for that.

MT: Finally, do you have any production advice you

can share?
MW: I worked with Nick Smith who had a project
called Long Range [fellow Brighton band also
featuring half of Orbital – Ed] and from him I picked
up the idea of subtractive EQ – taking away stuff
you don’t need. I do quite a lot of training and
teaching and it’s one thing I always talk about. The
gardening analogy I use is that it doesn’t matter
how many flowers you have because if there are
weeds everywhere you are not going to see them. MT

Anushka’s debut album, Broken Circuit, is out

now on Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings.

You can check Max’s Point Blank performance out

at www.pointblanklondon.com

The World is WaiTing

as anushka’s popularity grows, so there is demand for the act across the globe.
Max fills us in on what they have planned…

MW: It’s crazy, we have literally

just got back from Moscow – the
last gig I did was in Siberia! We’re
doing a festival in Croatia, Ibiza
Rocks and Majorca Rocks and
we’re also doing a new festival
in London called On Blackheath,
which is a kind of foodie and music
festival, so on the flier you have
so many shows it’s really nice to have the whole set
Michelin Star chefs lined up next
up in one bag. to the DJs!
The step sequencer on Push is amazing. To be So we’re busy for the rest of
able to sequence drums like that live is great, summer and then we’re on tour as
especially when you are doing it in low light we’ve released the album (Broken
conditions in a club. Circuit) and we’re doing a world
tour to promote that including
Japan and the US. There are more
MT: So how do you marry your two very different singles and videos on the way too.
studio and live set-ups together?
MW: It can get even more complicated. Most of the
time I’ll build the track in Logic, record Victoria,
work it, chop it up until we’re happy and then I send
off stems to be mixed for the final record. I’ll then
get stems back from the mix engineer to then put
into Ableton.
What I used to do was take the separate stems
into Ableton and then sequence them together live.
But what I’m starting to do now is decide which bits
I want to perform live and then put a backing track
together without those parts. So quite a lot of the
time I’ll have the track without drums and I’ll do
the drums live, or won’t have the keyboards on
another track so do those live. What a lot of people
do is trigger the stems live in Ableton but people The complete studio
can’t really tell what they are doing and I don’t is actually a self build
really know if that is performing – you know it is from scratch that
Max completed with
but the audience can’t hear or see any difference, so friends including the
I find the bits in the songs that are worth doing live shed it sits in
and then perform them in a way where people can

magazine October 2014 | 27

MT139.Interview.indd 27 03/09/2014 11:15

MT Landmark Productions Kraftwerk: The Man-Machine

Productions No. 31

The tracks
1. The Robots
2. Spacelab
3. Metropolis
4. The Model
5. Neon Lights
6. The Man-Machine


Engineers Leanard Jackson, Joschko Rudas Producers Ralf Hütter, Florian Schneider
It’s Kraftwerk’s definitive musical statement, producing a visual and sonic aesthetic and
presciently commenting on the encroachment of technology. Andy Price plugs in…

he finest hour of Germany’s premiere synth quartet, 1978’s flute, Farfisa and Hammond organs and electric piano to create their
The Man-Machine (or Die Mensch-Machine) finds Ralf Hütter, early instrumentals, later enlisting the help of Wolfgang Flür to provide
Florian Schneider and company gazing forward to an electronic rhythms using a very early drum machine. These initial
emotionless, technological future. How better to illustrate this records were very free-form and exploratory, and lacked real hooks and
novel concept than by utilising the most advanced musical technology adherence to song structures.
around at the time?
Kraftwerk’s career up until that point had already crossed Ich, roboter
boundaries, both social and musical. Formed by Ralf Hütter and Florian Eventually, after the release of Autobahn, the band began to settle into
Schneider at the Academy of Arts in Remscheid during 1970, the initially being a pioneering musical force to be reckoned with, funding and
two-piece outfit had an early fascination with sound design and utilised utilising novel new instruments such as the EMS Synthi AKS. When Karl

28 | October 2014 MAGAZINE

MT139.landmarks.indd 28 02/09/2014 15:17

Kraftwerk: The Man-Machine Landmark Productions MT

machines, the machines play us, it is really the exchange

Photo © Getty Images

and the friendship we have with the musical machines which
make us build a new music.”

Future proof
Previous records Autobahn, Radio-Activity and Trans Europe
Express had been adventurous yet also conceptually
watertight, with transport, radio and Europe, respectively,
being the dominant themes. This would continue on The
Man-Machine with a thematic merging of lyrics, imagery and
music to realise their vision of a future in which man and
machine have merged.
The mechanical whirring that kickstarts the record and
leads into opening track The Robots (or Die Roboter) is
Kraftwerk played with indicative of the bold approach to composition found
the idea of man throughout the album. The mysterious and ominous
becoming intertwined
electronic soundscape consisting of generated bleeps and
with machines.
bloops is a statement not just of musical direction but of the
record’s main theme – this is an album that explores man’s
Bartos was recruited the four-piece was complete. Bartos relationship with technology, or rather technology’s
brought with him unique and self-made percussion relationship with man. The synthetic 16th-note synth riff
instruments including a Deagan Vibraphone. that repeats throughout the song weaves and interacts with
The band recorded this and all previous (and later) albums the harsh and monotone vocoder’d lyrics that speak of
at their own purpose-built Kling Klang Studio. Initially an ‘charging our battery’ and ‘dancing mechanically’,
empty room in a workshop, it would become the Kraftwerk establishing an eerie and unsettling vibe from the get-go.
nerve centre in which all their compositions were created. At this point in musical history the vocoder was still a
Famously, the band never threw any of their older gear brand new innovation. The technology behind the unit was
away, retaining everything throughout their career and often originally conceived as a method of cleaning up phone
going back and re-using out-of-date equipment. They had signals, and it does not affect the human voice in so much as
one full-time engineer in the studio, but aside from his role it imposes its characteristics on another instrument. For
everything else was created and produced entirely by the four example, a synth would sound as if it were generating an
members of Kraftwerk, who often spent eight to ten hours a artificial voice using only the electronic elements available
day involved in intense studio sessions. At Kling Klang the to it by replicating the harmonic content and amplitude of a
carrier signal. Kraftwerk were one of the first bands to really

A remarkable piece of popularise this technology.

The instrumental that follows The Robots is nothing short

music the still sounds of wondrous. Spacelab is a distant, twinkly and somewhat
emotive piece of music with a throbbing, pulsating melody.

positively futuristic in 2014 The piece keeps this main melody running all the way
through but alters enough of the underlying sound bed and
counter melodies so that the track retains the listener’s
band set up two ‘Synthanoramas’ – essentially two 16-step interest. This combination of musical elements leaves the
custom-built analogue sequencers that the band would listener feeling that a long journey has just taken place
utilise on the vast majority of their output during the 70s. through a robotic, technological wonderland.
On The Man-Machine Kraftwerk dabbled with much of Metropolis paints a bleaker picture, the title evoking the
this older, vintage gear that they had accumulated over the obvious image of the golden robot in Fritz Lang’s early sci-fi
previous decade, including pieces of kit that were specially The exact Kling Klang kit
film that bears the same name. With an increased use of
commissioned for the band. They also made great use of list has always been a modulation and pitch-shifting in the intro, the main riff kicks
both the Minimoog and ARP Odyssey synths during the mystery but we’re pretty in over a minute into the composition before launching into a
sure they’ll have one of
composition stages of The Man-Machine. Ralf Hütter said of these in a cupboard in futuristic and pulse-pounding flight into alienation.
the band’s approach to the album: “We are playing the there somewhere…
Altered states
Perhaps the album’s standout, and certainly most popular,
track is The Model (or Das Model), a remarkable piece of
music that still sounds positively futuristic in 2014 and in
many ways has become Kraftwerk’s signature song. The
unique bassline was created with a Micromoog synth and is
supported by the song’s percussive hook. With an atypically
satirical lyric and a catchiness that secured them the
number one spot in the UK charts (three years after its initial
release!), The Model is one of Kraftwerk’s shining
achievements and is for many the gateway through which
the extraordinary music of this band is revealed.
Neon Lights has a musical, synthetic lightness, which is
juxtaposed by the dominant, strident percussion. An

MAGAZINE October 2014 | 29

MT139.landmarks.indd 29 02/09/2014 15:17

MT Landmark Productions Kraftwerk: The Man-Machine

Photo © Getty Images

The classic lineup: (L-R)
Florian Schneider, Karl
Bartos, Wolfgang Flür,
Ralf Hütter.

incredible piece with a production saturated with a range development of electronic music. Its sound would be a
of tones, in particular the second half when the song evolves massive influence on the burgeoning new wave and
into a flowing, technicolor masterpiece of lushly electro-pop scenes that would fully flower in the early 80s
orchestrated electronica. The evocative music and crooning before becoming absorbed into the mainstream in the 90s.
vocal paints a picture of gliding through a neon-stripped Electronic music journalist Simon Reynolds stated that
dystopian cityscape in an unrecognisable future. The Man-Machine cemented Kraftwerk’s “ancestral
The title track of the album closes the record. Beginning centrality” for the resulting synth-pop explosion. Kraftwerk
with a high-pitched repetitive synth riff and a distant were at the vanguard of electronic innovation and no better
bassline, the musical elements appear one at a time. This is this exemplified than on The Man-Machine. A Kraftwerk-
reverb-soaked composition retains the preceding track’s ian vibe would be detected in the chart-topping work of the
gliding quality and is the apotheosis of the record’s central glacial Gary Numan and Pet Shop Boys, and later in the
thematic and philosophical ideas. The vocoder’d and echo-y left-field experimentation of Radiohead and Björk.
vocal (likely generated with a Roland RE-201 Space Echo) The record’s sleeve artwork, using photography by
seemingly appears out of nowhere with repetitions of the Günther Fröhling, has become perhaps the most striking
words ‘man’ and ‘machine’, which electronically merge to and iconic image of the band. Angular and uniform on a
create an uncertain fusion of humanity and technology. red-and-black background in a constructivist art style is the
perfect visual counterpart to the sounds contained within,
Automaton for the people sounds which to this day continue to inspire and resonate
When The Man-Machine was released it didn’t exactly set with an increasingly technological world. MT
the world on fire; however, critical reaction was strong and
has only grown stronger, with the record being regarded as Thanks to KraftwerkFAQ.com for technical and
Kraftwerk’s magnum opus and an integral part of the equipment information.

The players:
Florian Ralf Hütter Karl Bartos Wolfgang Flür
Schneider Kraftwerk’s lead On this record, Percussionist Flür
Founder member of vocalist and Kraftwerk’s erstwhile also played a much
Kraftwerk and multi-instrumentalist, percussionist was larger role in the
self-confessed ‘sound Hütter co-devised the given songwriting making of The
fetishist’, Florian ideas that formed The credit for all the Man-Machine than
Schneider was a Man-Machine with tracks due to the on previous records.
driving force in Schneider, as well as increased importance His controversial
establishing the taking on the bulk of of rhythms and 2003 autobiography
concept for The production duties at electronic beats in was entitled I Was
Man-Machine. Kling Klang Studios. the band’s music. A Robot.

30 | October 2014 magazine

MT139.landmarks.indd 30 02/09/2014 15:17

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MusicTech.indd 3 26.08.2014 14:18:08
Music is Our Passion


MusicTech.indd 4 26.08.2014 14:18:11

MT Technique Working with movies and markers

Powered by Requirements
NEW SERIES Producing Music To Picture Part 1 Our Producing

Working with
Music To Picture
feature is illustrated
using Logic but you
can apply the
principals to
DAW you use.

movies and markers

Welcome to the first of a new series of tutorials for producers aiming to work with film and
TV. Mark Cousins shows you the first stages: importing your movie file and creating a
series of markers that will form the backbone of your music-to-picture workflow.

his is the first part of a brand new MusicTech into your DAW. Establishing an ordered, methodical
series on producing music to picture. It’s a On the disc workflow will enable you to get the most from your music,
thriving industry and if you are not involved, it’s making it work seamlessly with the on-screen action and
certainly an area worth exploring. The idea of letting you quickly respond to revised picture cuts or
this series is to introduce concepts, explain Accompanying creative whims of the director.
project file included
principles and to give you some inspiration along the way. on the DVD In this workshop we’re going to look at the essential
The process of scoring music to picture requires a first stages of music-to-picture work: importing a video
balance of both technical and creative disciplines – file, placing markers, working with timecode and starting to
understanding how musical tools such as melody, harmony use tempo as a means of synchronising to picture.
and rhythm can be used to accompany a picture, along
Stay in sync
Scoring music to picture When you receive the video file to be scored, hopefully the
cut will be finalised at this point and you’ll have some

requires a balance of creative guidance from the director as to where they’d like the
music. Try to get a version with and without a so-called

and technical disciplines temp track, which uses pre-existing cues to illustrate how
the music might work.
Maintaining sync is all-important when you’re writing
with an appreciation of the technical logistics of music to picture, so it’s worth noting a few things before
synchronisation, working with virtual instruments, mixing you dive in with the composition process. Unless you’re
and file delivery. The all-important groundwork to this task, locking precisely to timecode, the simplest solution is to
therefore, is established as soon as you import the movie make use of the 2-pop placed at the start of the film. The


Given that you maintain the
absolute position of the 2-pop, the
ability to 100% lock to timecode
isn’t essential, but it can still be
beneficial, especially on longer
cues. If the film is supplied with
so-called burnt-in timecode (where
the timecode stamp for each frame
is indicated at the bottom of the
frame), it’s easy to match your
session start time with the first
frame of the movie file. Failing that,
of course, you can always use the
2-pop and set your session start
time to 00:59:58:00. When
exporting, always keep the 2-pop as
a reference, but it’s also worth
noting that the broadcast WAV
format (BWF) stores the start point
of the audio file as part of the WAV’s

34 | October 2014 MAGAZINE

MT139.tutorial logic.indd 34 02/09/2014 15:32

Working with movies and markers Technique MT

MT Step-by-Step Sync’ing and adding markers

To compose the music, you’ll be supplied with the most recent Create a new session in your DAW, and from the file menu choose
01 cut of the film. Ideally you’ll need to work with a version without
02 the option to import a movie file. The movie will then be placed
any music so that you can ensure your music doesn’t interfere with onto your DAW’s timeline with a series of thumbnails to show what’s
any important dialogue or sound effects. happening at any point.

To keep a close ear on the dialogue/music balance, it’s well worth The existing soundtrack might have a 2-pop at the start, which is
03 having it as a discrete track in the project’s mixer. Use the option
04 used as an ‘audio slate’ to mark two seconds before the picture
to Import Audio from Movie so that your DAW extracts the existing starts. Ensure you separate this out onto a spare track, as you’ll need
soundtrack as a new audio file. to print this with your final music mix.

Changing the SMPTE start time of your session (based on the If you’ve got space on your monitor it’s well worth running the
05 amount of pre-roll before the picture starts) can be helpful.
06 movie file in its own window, as well as opening a large SMPTE
Technically, you can also change the start time of the movie, which is time display. Use these two windows to keep a close eye on the time
useful if you need to quickly re-sync a new cut. and picture references in your music.

2-pop is a short, 1-frame burst test tone used to mark the composition process, and, in particular, ensure your music
position exactly two seconds before the picture starts (in syncs with key hit points in the movie. The first marker, of
timecode, this would be denoted as 00:59:58:00, with the course, will be after the couple of seconds of pre-roll (which
picture starting at 01:00:00:00). Assuming the 2-pop stays in will contain the all-important 2-pop), just as the picture
the same place, and is always printed at the start of your starts. Subsequent markers identify the important hit
music track, the editor has a quick and easy way of lining the points for your music, but it’s important to ensure that your
music back to picture. music doesn’t end up matching every edit point in the movie.
Once you’ve imported your movie you’ll then need to As you’re placing the markers, ensure that they’re locked
think about placing a series of markers that will guide your to the absolute SMPTE position rather than a relative ‘bars

MAGAZINE October 2014 | 35

MT139.tutorial logic.indd 35 02/09/2014 15:32

MT Technique Working with movies and markers

and beats’ placement, which is what most DAWs default to. lasts the precise length of the pre-roll. If the pre-roll
As you adjust the tempo – which is one of the key changes, simply adjust the tempo accordingly.
techniques for making your music conform to the hit points That’s it for part 1. As we’ll see later on in the series, the
– you need to ensure the markers stay fixed at their relative use of markers is a cornerstone in music-to-picture work,
timecode position. impacting on a variety of techniques a composer uses. MT
One immediate application of your markers is to set your This tutorial is endorsed by Point Blank. With courses in London, Online and
session so that the first bar of music matches the first now LA, Point Blank is The Global Music School. You can study sound to picture
frame of picture. By placing a tempo event at bar 2, and then on their Music Production Diploma courses, with pro industry tutors.
adjusting the tempo of bar 1, you can ensure the first bar More info here: www.pointblanklondon.com

MT Step-by-Step Sync’ing and adding markers… cont’d

Markers are essential for music-to-picture work, providing a Step through the rest of the movie file and continue inserting
07 precise reference for scene transitions and hit points in the
08 scene markers and hit points into your project’s timeline. You
picture. Locate your song position pointer at the appropriate position don’t need to mark every hit point, just the key locations that the music
in the movie and then create a New Marker. needs to align with.

Once you’ve placed your markers, ensure they’re locked to One immediately important task is to align the first bar of the
09 SMPTE rather than bars and beats. When you subsequently
10 music with the start of the picture. To do this we need to create
change the tempo the markers will stay in the correct alignment with two tempo events – one at the start of the movie, and another when
the picture, rather than moving to a new position. the picture/music starts.

By adjusting the tempo of the first bar we can synchronise the As we’ll see later on in the series, the use of markers is beneficial
11 beginning of the music cue with the start of the picture (in this
12 to a range of music-to-picture activities and really aids an
case, 120bpm, as it’s precisely two seconds). The tempo of the first cue efficient workflow. If the cut changes you’ll also be immediately aware
is then set at the start of bar two. of any issues that it raises.

36 | October 2014 magazine

MT139.tutorial logic.indd 36 02/09/2014 15:33

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Cutting-edge Production Technique MT

New Series Cutting-edge Production Techniques Our Cutting-edge

Processing the
workshops are
illustrated using Pro
Tools but you can
apply the principals
to whatever
DAW you use.

Effects sends don’t have to end with the effect itself – there’s still plenty of scope for more
sonic manipulation. Mike Hillier returns to the scene…

W Engineers will EQ, compress

atch any experienced mixer and you’ll see
they usually have a few go-to send effects

and process the returns just as

set up at the start of a session. On a DAW
the effects sends usually come up on their

they would any other track

own channel, and on an analogue desk
they will usually be patched into a few spare channels at
the end of the console. More often than not it’s the same
three or four effects patched in every time: a plate reverb, low-pass filters to top and tail the EQ curve, fixing the effect
a hall reverb, and a quarter-note delay, all ready to be return into a small frequency space. For some returns this is
brought up in the mix at any time without having to stop and all that is needed, while others, such as the main vocal
set up the patch. reverb, may require a little more attention. A high-pass filter
At first glance this may look like all the mixers are doing
– the signal is sent to the effect and the return is brought up
on the DAW/console. However, look closer and you will
notice that the signal is almost never
simply left alone. Mixers will EQ,
compress and otherwise process the
returns just as they would any other
track in the mix. In fact EQ’ing the
effects returns is one of the simplest
ways of helping a reverb or delay to sit
in the mix without taking up too much
space, and is something we do to every
effects send in every mix.

The colour and the shape

Many reverbs and delays have some
rudimentary built-in EQ, which can be
useful in shaping the reverb tone, much
like how the EQ on a guitar amp shapes
the sound. We will start by shaping the
reverb or delay with this, and then bring
up another dedicated channel EQ in the
next effect slot. Start by using high- and

Any compressor with a sidechain can be set up to
be used as a de-esser by keying the compressor
from an EQ’d version of the signal. To do this, send
the signal to an aux channel and EQ this to focus
in on the sibilance. This can be anywhere from
2-8kHz depending on the vocalist. Once you’ve
found the sibilance, route this to a new send
buss (but you needn’t bring it up on an aux) and
remove the EQ’d channel from the main mix by
setting the Output to ‘no output’. Finally, add a
compressor to the original channel with the
sidechain set to the buss coming from our
EQ’d sibilance channel.

MAGAZINE October 2014 | 39

MT139.Tut CPT.indd 39 02/09/2014 15:12


Find out more about TFP's amazing workflow and arsenal of content at M-AUDIO.COM/TFP
© 2014 inMusic Brands, Inc.
Cutting-edge Production Technique MT

as high as 300Hz and a low-pass as low as 6kHz are even out the signal before it hits the effect, creating a
common for this task: we’re not just cutting out small smoother, easier-to-place effect. This can help to prevent
amounts of the signal, we’re removing huge chunks of the any stray peaks from poking through over and over again
spectrum. Instantly you should hear your whole mix sound and is especially useful at keeping the reverb behind the dry
less muddy and more refined. Sometimes a small cut signal on very dynamic recordings.
around 1-2kHz can help to leave more room for the vocal and Similarly, a de-esser placed before the vocal reverb
lead instruments to cut through. can help to keep the sibilance from overpowering the
reverb – something that will instantly give away an
The big squeeze amateur mix.
Compression can also work wonders on a reverb or delay If instead of placing the compressor before the reverb/
send. Placed before the reverb/delay the compression will delay, you place it on the return signal, and then you can

MT Step-by-Step Processing the returns

Bring up your favourite reverb on a new aux channel and route the Use a high-pass filter to cut out much of the low-frequency mud
01 input to a spare buss. In the next insert slot, add an EQ. Any good
02 from the effect return, and a low-pass filter to place the return
parametric EQ with filters, such as Avid EQ III, will work well. further back and leave more room for the dry signals in the top end.

On a vocal reverb a little more attention may need to be paid to Add a compressor before the send effect to even out the
03 place the reverb. Pulling a little out at 1-2kHz can help to give
04 performance. This will prevent any louder sections from flooding
more presence and clarity to the dry vocal. the reverb and masking the main performance.

If your main problem is sibilance flooding the reverb (‘ess’ sounds Adding a compressor after the reverb will bring up the reverb tail,
05 that jump out in the mix and last for several seconds), then try
06 changing the natural sound of the reverb and giving a stronger
placing a de-esser before the vocal reverb. This should even out any sustain to the signal. Great for epic vocals.
sibilance peaks distracting from the main performance.

magazine October 2014 | 41

MT139.Tut CPT.indd 41 02/09/2014 15:12




w w w. s p i t f i r e a u d i o . c o m
Cutting-edge Production Technique MT

MT Step-by-Step Processing the returns… cont’d

If you key the compressor – placed after the reverb/delay – from Some plug-ins duck the wet signal in response to the dry signal. The
07 the dry signal you will bring the reverb or delay down during loud
08 Env Mod Rate controls the speed of the response, and the Feedback
passages. Set the release to bring the reverb up during quiet parts. and wet/dry mix can be modulated to duck in response to the signal.

For the Heroes vocal effect, set up three reverb auxes from the To emulate the increasing distance of each reverb, expand the
09 same send, each with a gate. The original effect had the gate after
10 reverb size and pre-delay so that the first is the close reverb, the
the reverb, but it’s a little easier with the gate before the reverb. second a little further, and the third a distant echo.

Once you have each reverb set up individually, set the thresholds To further emulate the increasing distance of each reverb you
11 of the gates leading to each reverb so that the close reverb is
12 could pull out more of the top end of the most distant reverb,
usually open, the middle reverb less often, and the far reverb only on either on the reverb itself or on an EQ added to the return.
the loudest sections of the song.

change the decay contour, which can be creatively inspiring. compression are the most common tools to use on effects
One very interesting trick when placing a compressor after a returns, the famous David Bowie Heroes vocal effect can be
reverb/delay is to key the compressor sidechain from the achieved with two or three different sized reverb sends,
dry signal. each with a gate.
Doing this will duck any delays while the dry signal is up The key here is to set the gate thresholds so that each
and only bring the level back up when the dry signal drops reverb only opens as the performance gets louder. Distortion
away, keeping the signal clean until a rest in the dry signal effects can be useful as well, especially with digital delays
leaves space for the delay to take over. Some delays, such to add a sense of grit back into the signal. Similarly, a chorus
as the Avid Dynamic Delay, can do this without any can be a really fun tool when added to a delay. We’ve also
additional compression, but it’s better to know how to had some success with tremolo on reverbs for creative
achieve the effect with any delay or reverb effect. EQ and sound-design applications. MT

magazine October 2014 | 43

MT139.Tut CPT.indd 43 02/09/2014 15:12

MT 20 Pro Tips Instrument mic’ing

Mic’ing Tips
It’s the most vital technique to master, as capturing a great sound is key to producing a
top-notch mix. Get the inside track with our essential advice…
02 It can be a good idea where possible to place combo
amps on a chair or a stand to isolate them from the floor, as
02 this will result in a cleaner sound. Also try placing amps away
from walls or the corners of rooms, as this tends to reduce
the likelihood of a booming effect that will be picked up by
the mic and colour the signal. If you’re dealing with amp cabs
and heads they’re usually too big to place on top of
something, though you could consider a couple of crates, like
you sometimes use at gigs to raise amps up to direct more
sound at the crowd. If the space you are recording in isn’t
perfect you can try boxing the amp and mic in using sofa
cushions or, at a pinch, a duvet. This will have the effect of
creating a kind of acoustic shielding that should remove
unwanted room ambience from the recording if you are
having problems with reflections.


03 Drums are probably the most technically difficult of all
instruments to record properly, but your approach should
reflect what you’re trying to achieve. A slick pop record might
well call for upwards of ten drum mics, lots of ambient room
mics and so on, but a more lo-fi kind of garage guitar track
might sound better with just a few well-placed microphones
picking up a grungier sound. This also means fewer drum
Getting your amp off
the floor will
eliminate unwanted
dirt (above).


01 A good starting place for recording acoustic guitars is to cleaner sound, or
fewer for a trashier
use a cardioid mic placed around 40cm from the guitar, firing one (right).
at the join of the neck and body. This usually offers a good, 03
well-balanced sound, and though it captures some of the
power coming from the sound hole it doesn’t dominate the
signal. With any live recording, experiment with moving the
mic around to see what works best for your particular
situation. As a general rule, moving the mic gradually further
up the neck will increase the high frequencies captured and
lessen the bottom end, whereas moving the mic closer to the
sound hole will add warmth and depth if your sound is overly
bright. Moving the mic further away from the guitar will create
more ambience but perhaps at the risk of losing some
definition. Placing the mic closer to the guitar will create a
more intimate and dry sound.

44 | October 2014 MAGAZINE

MT139.Tips.indd 44 02/09/2014 15:04

Instrument mic’ing 20 Pro Tips MT

tracks to juggle in the mix, though also less overall control of

the drum sound. Bleed is something that some producers get
obsessed with and it can be lessened by using very
directional mics, though you’re always likely to get some
signal leaking between them. Bleed can be minimised
through careful placement and also reduced using EQ after
recording, but it’s usually not a huge problem if a little signal
has bled between some of your drum mics.

04 Recording an acoustic piano can be particularly tricky
and you will almost always want two microphones to capture
the full range of the instrument: one nearer the bass end of
the body, and one nearer the top. For an upright piano you will
probably need to open the top lid, but if you remove the front
panel entirely you should be aware that this dramatically
alters the way the air resonates and fundamentally changes
the sound of the piano – even though this can sometimes be
an interesting effect to go for. You may want to angle two mics
in from above, or place one near the ear level of the player so
the sound they’re hearing is what gets captured. Some people
even place a mic around the back of the piano for a slightly
different effect.
presence and so on. Mics positioned closer to the floor will
When you record any kind of stringed instrument such
generally provide a bit more low end. Close mic’ing an amp is
the most common technique for capturing a harder, rockier
as a violin or cello, think about where the sound is actually Mic positioning can
guitar tone when the mic points straight at the speaker.
being generated. In the case of smaller instruments such as be crucial when Moved off centre, the tone softens a little. You can also try
the violin, the strings and sound holes are facing upwards, so recording guitar adding a second, ambient mic that you blend with the first,
it’s best to angle a mic from slightly above, adjusting the amplifiers (above). moving each around until you hit the precise spot that works
distance from the player to control the balance of direct for you. Any phasing problems should become apparent as
Recording from a
sound and room ambience. A cello is played at a different you monitor.
little further away
angle so you will find that pointing the mic more or less at 90° captures a similar
towards the bridge should capture it pretty accurately. As sound to that which HOW LOW CAN YOU GO?
ever, close mic’ing will give a more intense and intimate feel, the listener hears
07 Recording bass is much the same in terms of technique
and moving back a little will soften things. You can even try (below left). as recording guitars, with the possible exception that you
recording strings with stereo mics for a little more flexibility would never really record bass amps in stereo because bass
Use multiple
at the mix stage. To get a better ensemble effect when microphones for almost always has to sit at the centre of the stereo field.
recording several players, try a few mics placed in more more options Another thing to bear in mind is that a lot of general purpose
ambient positions a little further away. (below right). mics have a bass roll-off built in to deal with the proximity
effect caused by close mic’ing vocals and some other
sources. This can result in reduced bass capture, which you
don’t want if you’re trying to get a nice deep sound. If it’s
switchable you can always turn this off but it can be a good
idea to use either a non-vocal dynamic mic that has a flat
low-end response or a dedicated bass or kick drum
microphone, positioning it around 6-12in in front of the
speaker in the cabinet.
08 If you want a close mic’ed acoustic guitar sound but also
some room ambience you could either try an omni pattern
mic, or using two separate mics, one placed close by and one
further away (being sure to listen for phasing problems).
Mono mic’ing is often sufficient for many tracks, but it’s not
the only option you have. Positioning a single mic correctly is



06 A mic pointed at the centre of a speaker will give you
a brighter sound, and moving towards the edge smooths it
off and introduces more bass. Distance will affect the

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MT 20 Pro Tips Instrument mic’ing

fine, but having two mics in different places sometimes gives stereo effects in use that are modulating the way that signal
you greater flexibility when it comes to mixing. The DI’ed is directed to different cones. If you are able, set up several
sound produced by piezo pickups captures only the sound of mics 3-6in from the grille of the speaker. Then, listen to them
the strings, very little of the body and none of the room, and at a sensible volume and audition each one. Ideally you
so tends to result in an unnatural-sounding recording. But would want to have someone to move the mics for you until
recording it won’t affect the mic’d signal and it costs nothing you find the best position for the microphone you end up
to record an extra audio track. In some situations, blending a choosing. If you don’t have an assistant then put the guitar in
little of this signal with the mic recording can add weight and
11 the headphone mix, crank it up, stand in front of the amp and
body when balanced correctly. At the very worst, you can just move the mics until you get the right sound. This is all much
not use it if it doesn’t sound good. easier, of course, if you have someone to play guitar while you
arrange the mics.
09 If you are recording multiple musicians in a single space, CLASSIC MICS
bleed can become a real issue. A bit of hi-hat leaking into the
11 The classic mic for recording electric guitar is the Shure
tom mic isn’t a huge problem but lead guitar getting into the SM57, an inexpensive microphone and a staple of many
bass recording definitely is. And while you can fix some of this studios. They are often used in combination with a second
stuff in the mix with EQ and gating it’s better to try and stop it mic and the two channels either recorded to a single track or
happening in the first place. Sometimes, recording everyone double tracked and layered together later. Other popular
separately really kills the vibe of a track, so it’s better to microphones include the Sennheiser MD 421-II, t.bone RB
record people at the same time if you can. Your drummer 500, Royer R-121 and Neumann U 67, and of course each has
should ideally have some kind of isolation from other players its own characteristics.
since drums are so loud. One tip for guitars is to place amps
in a different room, mic them up and then feed the signal to
the player through headphones. This way the sound gets Using acoustic isolation like sE’s SPACE can help
you get the most out of your mic and the space
captured accurately and the guitarist can play with feeling,
you’re working in.
but there’s little or no bleed in the room itself.
On a multi-speaker guitar cab not every cone will sound
the same. Some are different sizes, or there may be some

A well-chosen all-round
condenser mic can fulfil a wide
variety of studio roles

People obsess about microphones sometimes, but the
truth is that a well-chosen all-round condenser mic can fulfill
a wide variety of studio roles from vocals and electric guitar
recording through to percussion and acoustic guitar. Combine
it with some acoustic treatment like an isolator and some
clever positioning and you’re able to achieve a lot with a fairly
simple mic.


13 Check stereo mics for phase cancellation by panning
them to the same spot and listening in mono. Retaining each
mic’s recordings on separate tracks will enable you to wait
until the mix stage to balance them properly. Another
interesting idea is to mic the front and back of an open-
backed cabinet. If you do, be sure to start by placing the mics
at an equal distance from the speaker itself and reversing the
phase of the rear mic.

14 When recording percussion such as bongos or a djembe
When an amp has more than one
cone, remember that its sound may you will get very different results depending on your mic
vary between cones (above). placement. A mic firing at the top of the skin will capture the

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Instrument mic’ing 20 Pro Tips MT

harder, more percussive slapping motion of the hand. A mic

pointed up inside the drum body from underneath will
capture the booming from inside the drum. Some people use
both mic positions at the same time and then balance the
two in the mix for a really percussive but meaty overall sound.


15 One common guitar amp mic’ing technique is to point consistent sound
one mic at the centre of the speaker and angle another with certain
instruments by using
across the face of the first mic towards the speaker edge.
clip-on mics (right).
Bring the mics up on the desk and route them both to one
track on tape or in your DAW. Flip one out of phase and Taking a dry feed
balance the two channels until the sound is really thin, then from an amp’s direct
flip the phase back and you should have a nice thick sound. out gives you more
options when mixing 18
guitars (below left).
Simply raising or lowering the lid of a grand piano can Get creative with
dramatically alter the way sound is picked up, as can moving using more than one
a microphone closer to the strings or further away. With a mic (below right).
18 Some instruments are particularly hard to capture with

A mic pointed up inside the a conventional mic: flutes and some other brass, such as
trumpets and saxophones, where the players move around.

drum body will capture the

There are categories of clip-on mic and they remain fixed to
the instrument rather than the performer having to play into a
static mic. For serious studio recording you’ll want to spend a
booming from inside bit of your budget on one of these, but it will be worth it.


lower lid you’ll get a more intimate sound, and with the lid
19 If two acoustic guitar mics are different distances away
raised, a bigger effect and more room ambience. Since grand from the guitar you can encounter phasing problems, so
pianos have huge soundboards you will almost always need many producers make sure they are equidistant to avoid the
to place one mic near the lower strings and one higher up to problem. If you want one to be further away for a specific kind
ensure you capture all the signal properly. of sound you can phase align the two parts in your sequencer
afterwards. If you want to get really creative you could try
placing one mic about 30cm from the neck and another firing
over the player’s shoulder, which can produce a sound much
more like what guitarists hear while playing.

20 Directionality can be crucial. An omnidirectional mic will
generally offer a more roomy sound, but a directional mic
should reject sound from the back and sides and just record
what you point it at. Some mics have switchable polar
patterns and others are just directional. Dynamic mics such
as the SM57 are often used to record amplified instruments
thanks to their directionality and high SPL tolerance. MT



17 When recording anything through an amp it can be a
good idea to take a feed from the direct output of the amp, if
it has one, to record on a separate track and then blend in
with the mic’d takes. This is worth trying if your guitar amp is
smaller, as the DI will give you all the bottom end whereas the
speaker might offer more character. Record both at the same
time and balance them afterwards, remembering that you
may need to reverse the phase of one of the sources.

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MT Technique Building multi-instruments and effects

NEW SERIES Beat Programming And Sound Design Our Beat

Building multi-
Programming And
Sound Design feature
is illustrated using
Reason but you can
apply the principals
to whatever
DAW you use.

instruments & effects

It’s another brand new MusicTech series! Beat programming and sound design are
fundamental aspects of music production and in this series Hollin Jones will guide you
through many aspects of both. In Part 1 he kicks off with multi-instruments and effects

n this new series of tutorials I’ll be focussing on many of In Reason, the Combinator was introduced precisely to
On the disc
the concepts behind sound design and beat give users a new way to use the included modules. And as
programming. The thinking is that if you get the Reason has matured, so the possibilities for patch-building
fundamental ingredients of a track together at the start have increased. The Combinator is particularly cool since
of the production process, what you bake (sorry) should project file included not only does it act as a container for multiple instruments
on the DVD
come out of the oven [too far now – Ed] in great shape. Or at and effects, it also enables you to add mixers and CV
least better shape than if you just throw some samples splitters and zone and map MIDI input internally, and the
together in your DAW. We’ll be using Reason as our example whole patch can be saved as a single entity. It’s possible to
DAW but hopefully you’ll find the principals can be applied do this sort of thing in other DAWs, but however you achieve
to whatever one you use. So, on to part 1 and we kick off it, using multi-patches has many benefits.
with combining instruments and effects…
Producers who have grown up working with computers Tuning up
and software are often amazed to learn, on working in a Let’s start with instruments. Although you can feed in MIDI
hardware-based studio, that you can only use one hardware data on more than one channel to trigger several sounds at
effects unit for one thing at once. True, you can route several once, or route a single MIDI track to multiple instrument
signals through the same effect, but that effect can only modules, many people prefer the simplicity of using a
have a single setting, and once it’s in use, it’s spoken for. single MIDI channel and keeping an instrument contained
Instruments fare a little better in this comparison, and within a Combinator.
workstations and synths have for many years enabled you to If you start with a mixer device you can create a kind of
create multi-zoned and layered patches, splitting or sub-project inside the Combinator, adding instruments and
combining different sounds across a keyboard. But even effects and using the mixer controls to submix them and
this is limited compared to the flexibility of software. then present the summed output to the main mixer as a

The Programmer section of any
Combinator is where you can
get creative with how your
sounds and effects are put
together. In the Key Mapping
section to the left you can
define which zones of the
keyboard will trigger which
instruments (remembering, of
course, that effects do not have
key zones since they are not
playable). Beneath this you can
set for any instrument whether
it is to receive or ignore various
kinds of input data such as
notes, pitch-bend, expression
and what its key range and
transposition settings should
be. To the right, the modulation
routing section enables you to
set on a per-device basis which
inputs will be sent to which
parameters. You can assign one
input to change more than one
parameter across multiple

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Building multi-instruments and effects Technique MT

MT Step-by-Step Creating a Combinator instrument

Start by creating a blank Combinator by selecting Create > Click inside the empty area at the base of the device and a red
01 Utilities > Combinator. It’s actually a container for other devices,
02 line will appear. Then right-click inside it and choose Utilities >
which is why it’s not initially listed as an instrument, but you will put Line Mixer 6:2. This will add a small mixer so that subsequent
devices into it next. devices will be routed to it, and its output passed to the main Combi
stereo outs.

You could achieve the same using the Create menu from the Repeat the process and add a Subtractor synth, then load a bass
03 menu bar, and also either start with a full mixer device if you plan
04 patch into it. You will find this has been routed to the first
to add lots of devices, or opt not to add a mixer if you’re creating a channel in your combi mixer. Add a second device, this time an NN-19
simpler multi-device. sampler, and load a lead patch.

By default, playing MIDI notes will trigger both instruments at the Here you will see the devices displayed in a list. In the Key
05 same time using the same notes. That’s fine if you want them
06 Mapping section, either scroll left and right and pick up the zone
layered but not if you want them split. Click on the Show Programmer handles for an instrument, or select the module and enter values in the
button on the Combinator to make some changes. Key Range Lo / Hi boxes to set their key zones.

stereo feed. Apart from anything else this makes your task Reason doesn’t call its multi-effects ‘effects chains’, but
of mixing a project much simpler, as all the instruments that’s essentially what they are. In fact if you click on the
inside the multi-instrument are pre-mixed and you can Edit Inserts button in Reason’s mixer it leaps you straight to
control them all from a single fader. a specially adapted Combinator attached to the audio
Multi-instruments can also be great fun to play live as device for that track in the Rack, which is used for hosting
they give you much more depth than using one sound at a chains of effects.
time. By splitting the keyboard and then using several layers You can achieve all sorts of stuff with effects chains,
in different zones you can quickly mix and match sounds. from advanced guitar processing to specific kinds of vocal

magazine October 2014 | 49

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MT Technique Building multi-instruments and effects

treatment and anything else you need. These effect Combis routing. So next time you have spent ages zoning and
not only have assignable quick control shortcuts but also a layering a bunch of modules together to create an awesome
modulation routing section so that external CCs and CV mega-synth or set up a really cool effects processing chain,
input can be used to alter their parameters in real time. remember to save it as a multi-patch. Even if it didn’t start
The Combinator is a particularly flexible interface: you out as one you can always choose Edit > Combine to create
can drag devices into and out of it, combine and uncombine one. Then it will always be available to load in any project, or
groups of instruments and effects, and even break internal even to share with other users. MT

MT Step-by-Step Creating a Combinator instrument… cont’d

In this example we have set the Subtractor to be in the left hand Now add an effect to the Combi using the same Add command as
07 with the sampler in the right, and they don’t overlap. Although you
08 before. Here it’s a Scream 4 distortion unit added with the
could overlap them if you want some notes to trigger both. You can Subtractor selected. You will see that it gets auto-routed, so you don’t
repeat this with as many instruments as you like, zoning and layering. have to manually do anything to make it work.

Note that the effect device appears in the Programmer but has In the Target column, click to assign a parameter that Rotary
09 10 control 1 will affect. The options available here change according
no zone because it is not playable; however, it can be controlled.
Select it and go to the Modulation Routing section on the right and to which module you are working with, so some will have lots of
click on the Rotary 1 control. available parameters.

Set Min and Max possible values in the box on the right (typically Click on the Combinator’s Save Patch button to save it out as a
11 0 and 127) and you will find that this control now changes that
12 patch that can be called up in any project. Combinator patches
parameter. You can repeat this for as many instruments and effects as are tiny as they are just a set of instructions, and there are, of course,
you like within a Combinator for great results. plenty to get stuck into in the Factory Sound Bank.

50 | October 2014 magazine

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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
MT Technique How to produce… Dirty Dubstep

Technique How to produce…

Dirty Dubstep Part 4

Ready to lay it all out? Liam O’Mullane and Christopher Pearson guide you through
the twists and turns of a successful dubstep arrangement and get you one step
closer to your final product…

f you’ve followed us from part one you’ll be aware that approach is down to how DJs have increasingly become
there are many ways to start a track from scratch. You On the disc centre stage in the industry over the last 30 years.
might start with a musical idea that inspires a song or Because DJs tend to play mix-friendly tracks and shun the
maybe a bass hook that’s just begging to be written trickier side of dance music, over time this has forced
around. Regardless of how you go about the task of example audio files
producers into more simplistic arrangements to be sure
composition it’s a rarity to write in the order that the song included on the DVD their music is playable.
plays, i.e. from intro to ending. It’s more likely that you’ll Classically termed a ‘club’ or ‘DJ friendly’ mix, this format
write from the meat outwards, as this is where most ideas is traditionally six or more minutes in duration and extends
happen. The surrounding sections are then designed around the ideas from a shorter three-minute ‘radio friendly’
it to guide the listener on their journey. version. Though the format for a club mix hasn’t changed
Bearing this in mind, this penultimate part in our dirty that much the duration has, especially with dubstep.
dubstep series will focus on taking our meat and turning it Many dirty dubstep tracks these days only last around
into a full, delicious meal. Although it’s rare to carry out four-and-a-half minutes, which inevitably means they cut to
arrangement work in the running order a track is built, for the chase quicker. This shorter duration also means that
clarity’s sake we’ll talk you through each section in a linear the songs are more radio friendly, but with this comes the
fashion, from the first bar to the last. need to have strong ideas that will catch the listener’s
attention from the very outset. So whereas the

It’s a rarity to traditional club mix might have a long, drawn-out

introduction that enables the DJ to mix the track in for a

compose all the parts while before anything major happens, now it needs to get to
the point pretty quickly.

in the order that the A typical arrangement format goes like this: intro, drop,
alternative drop, breakdown, drop, alternative drop, outro.

song plays This isn’t a strict rule as there may be a breakdown before
the drop, multiple breakdowns or none later on, and so on,
but you should get the idea of the order in which each
The ‘stock’ format section is introduced. Although the second repeat of the
Although there are distinct sonic and rhythmic differences drop may not be strictly identical to the first time it’s played,
between this sub-genre of dubstep and other forms of a simple duplication of the parts when laying your
club-friendly dance music, song arrangements are arrangement out is a good start, but we’ll get to that later
becoming more and more universal these days. This unified on. First let’s break down the format above and separate
each part into their respective functions.

TRANSITION EDITS In the beginning

Once a track has a fuller form you can step back and
listen to it as a whole before making decisions on what Intros are obviously a precursor of
might need to be nipped and tucked for further what’s to come later in the track. You’d
improvement. Transitions between song sections are
one of these decisions and they need to be smooth usually expect an inclusion of some
and unobtrusive. light rhythm work provided by perhaps
To achieve this you can play with a few techniques
some sparse hi-hats or a catchy
such as using a slowly creeping, sweeping sound to
cover the transition, or removing some complex percussion phrase. The DJ uses this
content so there’s a sense of breath in the song’s section as a metronome for mixing and
density. These can both be used, though; for instance,
you could simplify drum editing a bar or two before the
also helps the audience stay in sync
end of a section, and where a drummer may play a fill, with the track should it be played from
instead introduce the sweeping sound before the next the beginning – rewind!
section begins. This will create suspense by stripping
down the track’s drive for a moment to have another Introductions usually include some
sound sweep through before a new section starts. unique sonic elements, but leading
Another approach is similar to how you can borrow
sounds tend to be borrowed from, or
parts of a main drop to tease in an intro, but instead (Above) Here we’ve borrowed parts from
you’re borrowing parts from the section to come. This the breakdown section and teased them musically associated with, a main
is especially useful to help smooth a drastic change in beforehand through simplifying their drop’s hook. There is a reason for this over an apparent
that’s about to happen by preparing the listener to content and fading them in to smooth
some degree. over the transition.
laziness – a focal or memorable motif from the main drop in
some form can help an audience identify the upcoming

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How to produce… Dirty Dubstep Technique MT

track during a DJ mix (providing they’ve heard the track MT Step-by-Step Reverse engineering an intro
before, of course). This creates a sense of excitement and
anticipation for the listener. This most commonly surfaces
through a form of effect variation, such as filtering, to tease
in what’s to come.
Musically associated ideas can be anything from leads
and SFX to strong rhythmic motifs. These work as a less
obvious way to guide the listener to the drop but they do
need to have a melodic or rhythmic association with the
main drop. Bearing this in mind, it’s good practice to create
these sounds over the drop at first to build them in context,
then move them to earlier in the song over the intro to create
a sense of build or lead-in.

Dropping science
The drop is the part of a song that people recall when they
think of a track. It’s where all the energy lies and what all the
excitement is about. In dubstep, the intricacy, bass melody
and full body of other musical elements live here, the rest of
The intro is at its fullest before a drop or breakdown, so start here and work
the song is almost superfluous to a dancefloor – it’s all 01 your way backwards while chopping content away. Intro content should
about guiding the listener to this point in your song and then
always create a slightly lower energy level than the drop, so bass is usually
guiding them to the second iteration, making sure they removed and drum tracks have less content.
appreciate the second drop by arrangement dynamics.
This section has probably been the core focus of your
composition from the outset for this very reason and it
makes or breaks a track, so we have little to discuss here for
the elements you might choose to include. However, if you
wish to go for a common 32-bar section, variation is
something to focus on to sustain interest over time. In part
three of this series (issue 138 of MTM) we already discussed
how you can choose to unite or offset sounds such as your
bass and drum parts while programming a drop to add

The drop is the part

of the song that people
recall – it’s where all
the energy lies 02 Paste a new copy of all content before this section and then mute parts to
audition what can be either removed entirely, partially edited down to be
more sparse, or teased through the use of filtering, volume or other audio effects
processing that can mask a sound.
variation, but finding some other occasional sounds outside
of those for accenting can be a good trick for variation too,
as it introduces new timbres.
The drop and alt-drop in our example track consist of the
same 32-bar bass sequence, doubled, but we’ve inserted
new sounds in the alt-drop half and edited it to change the
rhythm as well. The alternative drop in our example isn’t as
drastic a switch as some songs have. For instance, the drop
may consist of two main bass ideas that interact and play
off each other.
This technique is referred to as ‘Q&A’ and is how our
bassline has worked when adding the second element in
our alt-drop. For further development, another element can
be added, bringing a third party to the conversation, which
can be joined by another, and another, and so on. Just try to
use a few core elements to lead the musical phrase
throughout for continuity and musicality for the listener to
latch on to.
Another trick to introduce a musical section is to create a looping-like effect
03 where you duplicate a short first section of the phrase for a section before it
Start breaking down plays in its entirety. This works especially well when used in conjunction with
Regardless of where breakdowns live in your arrangement filtering for a DJ-like effect.
their purpose is to both let a listener take a break and

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MT technique How to produce… Dirty Dubstep

MT step-by-step creating a second drop decoRative sounds

From chopped vocal ditties to foley sounds or synthetic effects,
additional interests that surround the main elements in a track
can really help to let a record shine. these elements can help
establish new song sections by introducing a new sound that
hasn’t been present in a song up until that point. alternatively, a
stripped-down song section can benefit from flutters of sonic
interest to give them life and a little ear candy. these smaller
details can go a long way and are a great excuse to get creative in
or out of the lab.
if you have a portable recorder, phone, or any device capable of
audio capture, leave the studio space in the search for sounds. if
you like to write songs with a theme, think about what sounds that
theme might entail. trying to recreate and record them is a very
creative process and gives you an excuse to escape the mouse and
keyboard for a while if you’re computer-bound with your music.
alternatively, if you love your mouse and keyboard, explore
combining different layers of samples from your arsenal of
instruments, effects processing and any other audio mangling
techniques you may not normally go for. From this you can
stumble across happy accidents that can then be re-sampled,
edited and generally taken further through experimentation to
achieve unique sounds to augment your song.

When it comes to your second drop, explore being bold – a memorable first and
01 second drop will make your track more desirable and likely to be played for
longer in a DJ set. Switching the accenting on your drum groove to a 4/4 style can lift
the drive of your track, and although key changing is often associated with cheesy boy
bands, when done well it’s a powerful tool to keep building up energy levels
throughout your song. iMaGe BoX

Though they’re not at the forefront of your track, decorative sounds

should be given close attention, as this is where you can work on
another level for unique timbre and textures.

heighten the impact of the drop that’s to come by

lowering the energy level from the section that’s come
immediately before.
In this genre the main sections tend to lead into a
single breakdown, or into a pre-breakdown where the
aggressive midrange of the bass dissipates in favour of
a melody or other inoffensive elements. For instance,
the pre-breakdown in our example track replaces the
main bass parts with a floating synth line and new vocal
edit. This introduces some breathing space into the
To truly understand arrangements we recommend you grab a small selection of
02 your favourite dubstep tracks and start slicing them up into sections. This will

dJs rarely allow a

help you identify how many sections there are and how much is repeated.

second drop to be heard

before they’ve mixed
into another song
track before it slowly filters out to an ambient
breakdown prior to the second drop. As the drums are
now mostly absent it gives us the room to explore
expressive musicality, which we’ve achieved through the
use of ambient pads and delicate tones.

Rinse and repeat

When it comes to other repeated sections like the
second drop and alt-drop, there are two schools of
When you’re considering where to add or remove layers of information in your thought on how this should be approached. The first is
03 track to enhance arrangement dynamics, remember where the peaks and to simply copy the earlier sections and just repeat
troughs need to be to guide the listener. them; after all, most DJs these days rarely allow a
second drop to be heard before they’ve mixed into

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MT Technique How to produce… Dirty Dubstep

another song. But if you want your tracks to have a bit MT Step-by-Step Creating risers and descenders
more musical merit and also increase the chance of a
full play in a club, make a significant change to this
second drop to distinguish it from the first and further
increase the track’s energy levels.
A simple yet effective way to raise energy levels is to
alter a sonic or rhythmic aspect of the drums. Adding a
thin-sounding ride or crash cymbal layer to play on the
beat is a common yet still effective practice in the
genre. If done right, fundamental reprogramming of the
drum pattern and bass parts from the first drop can
create a drastic switch for this second drop.
If you’re feeling brave, don’t believe that this section
has to simply be a repeat of the first drop at all. So,
though it’s not commonplace by any standards, a
strong, independent second drop, complementing the
song as a whole, has the ability to make your music
stand out and be more than the flavour of the week in a
DJ’s crate.
At its most fundamental level, a synthetic rising or descending sound can be
01 used to help get to or from one song section to the next. Any synth with a
The ultimate goal fundamental waveform can be used like a saw wave for clarity. Then draw in a held
The outro is quite open-ended in terms of its note over 4, 8, 16 bars, etc, and automate MIDI pitchbend from zero to its highest value.
execution, and if you’re here you’ve already experienced Make sure the pitch-wheel is set to a musical interval such as one or two octaves.
the ups and downs of production along the way. Outros
are usually the last piece of the puzzle and can be
relatively straightforward.
By simply copying a short portion from an intro or
breakdown with no elements of crescendo you can
achieve a passable ending to your song. This is short,

An outro can be
another opportunity to
explore artistic flair in
your track
sweet, and a quick exit. Alternatively, a more traditional
approach is to remove track elements one by one to For an increase in intensity add an LFO to amplitude and automate its depth of
02 modulation so the volume fluctuates faster when the pitch is at its highest
filter out density over time. Much like our advice to be
value. This could also be an LFO controlling pitch for a wobbly tone, or any other
bold when creating a second drop, an outro can be
parameter to help amplify the effect of this sound in the mix.
another opportunity to explore even more artistic flair
– there aren’t any set rules here, so musical freedom is
entirely yours.

The end is nigh

Before we move on to our fifth and final instalment in
this series, it’s time to recap where we’ve been and what
we expect you to have achieved before it’s time to mix
and pre-master our dirty dubstep track.
We’ve worked on bass, drums and groove production
while sharing various methods to expand ideas and
craft a final arrangement. This has been a lot of work so
far and we encourage you to follow us through to the
end. By this, we mean even if your ideas aren’t chart
topping at this stage, the value of seeing this song
through to the end outweighs waiting until you have a
perfect song to mix. Yes, it may not get you signed, it
mightn’t even give you a track to play out for yourself,
As well as parameter exploration, try effects as well. An effect that generates
but it will teach you the hardest part of the music 03 stereo width such as chorus can have its dry/wet control automated so a sound
making game – completing your work! We’ll see you goes from mono to stereo as it grows in intensity. Or perhaps increase saturation on a
next time for the mixing treatment… MT distortion unit while keeping the output level controlled so there’s an increase in
frequency content over time.

56 | October 2014 magazine

MT139.tut genre pt4.indd 56 02/09/2014 15:13


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Mtechi139.indd 1 29/08/2014 15:25

MT Technique Introduction to song forms

New Series Composition techniques Our Composition

Introduction to
Techniques features
are illustrated using
Cubase but you can
apply the principals
to whatever
DAW you use.

song forms
All the tech knowledge and gear in the world won’t compensate for a lack of songwriting
know-how, so Andy Price is here to bring your compositional skills up to scratch.

elcome to a brand new series here at Of course, perhaps the primary ingredient in any artistic
MusicTech. In these tutorials we’re going to On the disc endeavour is having that mysterious artistic drive to
be looking at a pivotal aspect of music create. Don’t despair if you’re not feeling particularly
making that is often taken for granted or creative, sometimes we all experience inspiration lulls
forgotten about, and that is the actual Accompanying (and yes, often complete blanks as well!).
project file included
song composition process itself. Songwriting in a on the DVD Our technology is here to help not hinder, though, and
traditional sense hasn’t really been covered in these pages there’s so many different routes to take with developing
before in any great depth, however it’s a technical aspect of your songwriting that simply didn’t exist as little as five
music making which is crucial to all, from performer to years ago (see Focus On… below for a few recommended
producer to listener. tools) to jolt you back into a more creative and productive
With this new series we want to take a song from its frame of mind.
rawest, barest form and demonstrate how we turn that
Word of mouth

It’s an aspect of music making Depending on what genre you work in, lyrics have varying
degrees of importance. Arguably they’re a vital necessity for

that is crucial to performers, contemporary pop. We’ll be covering lyrical approaches in a

future instalment but, as this is MusicTech and not Lyrics

producers and listeners Monthly, most of our attention is going to be placed upon
the music and arrangements of our songs.
I would argue that a good vocal melody with enough
spark into a fully realised track, using our DAW, apps and memorable movement is sufficient to hook in a listener
any other technology available to help us make our if you’re not particularly adept with words and
decisions along the way. storytelling. Although I know that a vast swathe of
songwriters will disagree!
Start your engine In this preliminary part we’re going to be taking a look
My DAW of choice over the next few months will be Cubase at song forms, ie, the overview and structure of your
7.5, and as we progress into the mixing stage further down
the line I’ll highlight some of the important and creatively
stimulating additions to this software that I’ve found when
producing my own compositions. If you’re not a Cubase user,
though, fear not, as the vast majority of these initial
principles are applicable to any DAW.

This latest iteration of Cubase features a range of helpful and
flexible tools to assist you should you be facing a creative
drought. Chord Tracks is perhaps the most useful, in particular
the Chord Assistant tab from which Cubase automatically
suggests a chord sequence based on your initial root chord. This
can be scaled to varying degrees of complexity. You simply add
the chord ‘events’, which don’t generate sounds in themselves but
act as instructions to your MIDI instruments. This feature has
been invaluable not just for helping to fix songs that have reached
a creative dead end but also to suggest possibilities that normally
wouldn’t have occurred. There are several apps with similar
functionality: ChordPolyPad, Chordion and Chordbot are
recommended tools for the modern songwriter.

58 | October 2014 MAGAZINE

MT139.tutorial cubase.indd 58 02/09/2014 15:27

Introduction to song forms Technique MT

MT Step-by-Step ABAB and AABA form

A: Verse
B: Chorus
A: Verse
B: Chorus
Certainly the most popular song form, and one which the vast A strong chorus hook is essential and is very much the crux of the
01 majority of modern songs adhere to is ABAB form (aka, verse-
02 composition. Verses set up the lyrical and musical themes, and
chorus-verse). It is where most amateur songwriters start and is often with the Cubase hub you can set up your project to be tailored to the
the form songwriters can find themselves stuck writing in. song form you’re writing in to make life a little easier.

A: Verse
A: Verse
B: Bridge
A: Verse
AABA form (also known as 32-bar form) utilises a bridge (the B Each section should consist of eight bars, including the bridge,
03 part of the song, which can also be referred to as a refrain) but no
04 before resolving back into the A section. You can also add an
standardised chorus. Instead the verse (or A) usually follows a rhyming, instrumental section (a second B) before the final A.
repetitive structure; for example, Deck the Halls.

In AABA form the song’s hook must be included in the verse, as To avoid falling into your usual chordal routines in these forms, I
05 this is the central repetitive element of a chorus-less song. Most
06 strongly recommend upping the complexity on the Chord
ABAB songs use the verses as a build to the chorus. Assistant (or other such tools) to expand your ideas.

song. Most popular music operates with a typical verse/ instrument, turn on your computer or even simply start
chorus layout, although it isn’t always the case that these humming a new tune to yourself!
elements must necessarily contain the central ‘hook’ of Song forms act as a map of your musical elements,
the song: intros, bridges, lead parts and even rhythms can directing your approach to song-building and acting as a
stand out just as much and be considered the central template for you to challenge yourself by working a little
motif of the song. differently. Each of these forms requires that you approach
In the following steps we’ll explain the ins and outs of your songs with different mindsets. For example, with an
some of the most popular song forms that you can adhere AAAA structure it is fundamental that the verse is both
to or simply use as starting points when planning your lyrically and melodically engaging, whereas this is less
next track, ie, before you even pick up and plug in your important in ABAB form which requires your verse to build

MAGAZINE October 2014 | 59

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MT Technique Introduction to song forms

to a chorus. Even if you’re not an instrumentalist then these is not intended to be a soulless and artificial guide to
techniques can still be applied. Being a virtuoso performer mechanically manufacturing a song by filling in the
is not essential, but getting to know your chords will become blanks on a template of some sort – it is a collection of
very important. the best forms, techniques and approaches to max out
your songwriting resources so your creativity has a much
Sing, sang, sung bigger field to explore. So let’s begin by going through some
There are as many schools of thought on songwriting and of the most common song forms and some basic exercises
songcraft as there are songs and, appropriately, this series to kick things off. MT

MT Step-by-Step AAAA form

A: Verse Verse 1: Introduction

A: Verse Verse 2: Variation
A: Verse Verse 3: Elaboration
A: Verse Verse 4: Resolution
AAAA form (also referred to as strophic form) is the oldest song Writing an AAAA form song is straightforward in as much as all
01 structure, being most popular amongst folk and country
02 you need is one part. The key distinction with AAAA form is that
musicians. Artists such as Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash utilised this there is no build to a chorus or bridge. Musically everything remains
approach when writing their lyrically dense compositions. fundamentally the same to support an evolving lyrical narrative.

Write a simple three- or four-chord loop. What is essential for Alternatively listen to and use the DVD audio file (AAAA – Demo 1)
03 AAAA form songs is a sequence that resolves back into the initial
04 and you’ll be able to hear how I’ve arranged a simple chord loop
chord at the end of each section. This loop will continue throughout the to demonstrate. The loop is played in standard 4/4 time at 110bpm,
composition, so there is plenty of scope for melodic manoeuvre. and consists of F, Dm, C and F.

As you can hear, this constant repetitive loop sounds a little

05 empty, but musically speaking we can add interest by improvising
06 Listen to (AAAA – Demo 2) to hear how I’ve added more
interesting musical elements. See what melodies and/or lyrics
with instruments or plug-ins until we cotton on to some interesting you can add to either of these audio files or your own AAAA-structured
hooks and melodies to keep the listener interested. songs and email them to andy.price@anthem-publishing.com.

60 | October 2014 MAGAZINE

MT139.tutorial cubase.indd 60 02/09/2014 15:27

distributed by Audio-Technica
MT How to record

MT How to record…
lead vocals Part 3
In the third part of our recording series John Pickford
looks at processing the recorded signal with some great
tips on EQ and compression…

62 | October 2014 MAGAZINE

MT139.How to record.indd 62 02/09/2014 14:30

How to record MT

Now that you have captured your

killer vocal take, perhaps by compiling
The Audio-Technica ATM510 is
(comping) the best bits from several
a great vocal mic and very
passes, you can begin to think about reasonably priced at
how the vocal should sit in the mix. Of around £90.
course, as with any audio, all manner of effects can
be used to alter and enhance the basic signal.
We’ve all heard heavily processed vocals that have
been filtered and distorted to sound like they are
being fed through an ancient radio or telephone for
a ‘lo-fi’ effect. And, in more recent years, auto-
tuning software has been audibly used for its own
robot-like sound.
These extreme processes are the stuff of
experimentation and beyond the scope of this
article; however, assuming you are aiming for a
reasonably natural sound we will look at how
effects such as reverb, delay, EQ and compression the performance could be
accidentally deleted. In this

All manner of effects can be

predominantly digital age, with
non-destructive drop-ins and the

used to alter and enhance the

ability to ear-mark and edit specific
pieces of audio, this is no longer a

basic vocal track

problem. However, in some
situations it may be preferable to
adopt the traditional method of
gating the vocal to remove low-level
can be employed to give your vocal performance a noise. In either case, a creative decision
professional finish. must be made regarding the amount of
breath sound that is desirable. Many
Solitary man pop recordings work perfectly well
When listened to in isolation (solo’d), many CONTACTS with no audible breathing at all, but
unprocessed vocal tracks are quite ‘dirty’, meaning AKG some breathing sounds will add a
01462 480000
they may contain unwanted noises such as www.soundtech.co.uk
sense of realism to the performance.
lip-smacking, throat clearing and heavy breathing. AUDIO-TECHNICA Once you have a nice, clean vocal
It’s a good idea to deal with these issues before 0113 277 1441 track, you can start to think about
creative effects are brought into play. www.audio-technica.com making it work within the context of
The simplest way to get rid of extraneous noise SE ELECTRONICS the backing. While it is useful to listen
0845 500 2500
is to erase it. Way back when all recording was www.seelectronics.com to a solo’d vocal in order to remove
analogue this could be tricky, as a crucial part of noise, all other creative processes such

MT Step-by-Step Dynamic control

Many vocalists sing with a dynamic When compressing vocals during the For an interesting effect try parallel
01 range that is far too broad for
02 recording process, select a low ratio of
03 compression. Split the vocal signal and
commercial recordings, meaning that the around 2:1 with reasonably fast attack and send one channel to a compressor while
loudest parts jump out while the quietest release times – around 10ms attack and leaving the other unprocessed. The trick here
sections get completely buried in the mix. 100ms release should do the trick – and aim is to use a high ratio (try 10:1) but keep the
Before reaching for the dials on your for around 3-4dB of gain reduction on the threshold low so that just the loudest peaks
compressor, try some level-automation by peaks. During the mix, the vocal can be given a are squashed. Use fast response times to get
manually riding the fader to reduce the peaks firmer squeeze with a higher ratio, but don’t the sound pumping and blend with the
and push forward more softly sung phrases. overdo it. Remember that further compression unaffected channel. This should give a very
This technique can be employed both during during the final mixing and mastering stages punchy vocal sound that still retains plenty of
the recording and mixing stages. will also help the vocal sit in the mix. natural dynamics.

MAGAZINE October 2014 | 63

MT139.How to record.indd 63 02/09/2014 14:41

MT How to record

as EQ and compression are best performed with

the whole mix playing.
It’s very tempting to solo a vocal and start
EQ’ing, as you can hear the effect more clearly. The
trouble with this approach is that when the
backing track is brought back in your EQ (or
compression) settings will not necessarily work
and you will have wasted time. This applies to all
aspects of mixing – remember, the listener will
never hear your vocal in isolation, so always make

All singers have

their own unique voice,
and EQ enhancement The Reflexion

decisions must be Filter designed

especially for

made to suit them

changes to tone and dynamics with the rest
of the track playing. balance – generally a thinning of sound – and then
We’ve already looked at how a pop back-off a touch to restore the desirable tonal
shield should be used to minimise range. Another problem that affects many vocal
intrusive plosive sounds but unwanted recordings is sibilance, which over-emphasises ‘s’
low-frequency content caused by these sounds. See our step-by-step section below for
sounds will still be captured to some more ways to deal with this.
extent, which will clutter-up space needed
for kick drums, bass guitars and other Suits you
bottom-heavy instruments. The best way As all singers have their own unique voice, any EQ
to free-up this space is to employ a enhancement decisions must be made to suit them.
low-cut filter, set so that spurious But as a basic guide, boosting between around
low-frequency energy is eliminated 10kHz and 20kHz will add a sense of air and space
without altering the basic vocal tone. to the sound, while a subtle broad lift centred
To achieve this, dial-in the filter until around 3kHz will give presence to the sound,
you start to hear a change in tonal helping it to stand out in the mix. The downside is

MT Step-by-Step De-essing and equalisation

Sibilance – an over-emphasis of ‘s’ Using the ‘EQ boost feeding a Cutting some low-mid frequencies
01 sounds – is a common problem.
02 compressor’ method can also be used to
03 between 350Hz and 700Hz will reduce
De-esser plug-ins are widely available but tame harsh or aggressive sounds that often congestion or muddiness, particularly if the
need careful setting up so as not to leave occur around the 2-3kHz region, especially vocal needs to cut through a busy mix. It’s
your vocalist with a lisp. A more traditional during loud passages. Sometimes this can usually better to cut offending low
approach to de-essing involves using EQ to produce a more natural result than using EQ to frequencies when clarity is needed than to
boost the sibilance (usually around 7kHz) and cut these frequencies, as the vocal will remain boost the midrange. Where EQ boost often
then sending the signal to a compressor that unaffected during quieter sections. If you need benefits vocals is in the top end. Try boosting
effectively turns down the offending sound. to tame the vocal at all volume levels you can from around 5kHz upwards to add a touch of
Another method is to chop out all of the ‘s’ still use the boost section of your equaliser to sparkle and from 10kHz for added air and
sounds and EQ the sibilant track before sweep through the midrange to pinpoint the space. The golden rule to EQ’ing vocals is to
blending it back in. harshness and then cut. experiment within the context of the mix.

64 | October 2014 MAGAZINE

MT139.How to record.indd 64 02/09/2014 14:40

How to record MT

that boosting high-mid frequencies can emphasise sufficient microphone technique to

harshness, so you may find that cutting some deliver an even-sounding vocal, so
low-mid frequencies between 200Hz and 700Hz some form of manipulation by the
works better at sitting the vocals in the mix while engineer is almost always necessary.
remaining clear and present. A lot of these Compressors are commonly used to
decisions will depend upon what else is going on, level-out peaks although sometimes
and only by experimenting while the whole mix is better results can be achieved by
playing will you find the settings that work best. manually riding the vocal fader; our
Dynamic control is essential to produce a truly step-by-step section on p63 offers
great vocal sound: very few vocalists have some handy tips on this subject.

Dymanic control is So, you have your lead vocal with a
good tonal balance and decent
essential to produce a dynamic range. Sometimes this is
all you need for your final sound,
truly great vocal sound, but in many cases some form of
reverb is desirable.
so some manipulation Again, the amount – and length
– of reverb used is an artistic
is usually necessary decision that should be made to
complement the track. Generally,
slower ballad-type songs can handle
longer reverb times than faster
material. Traditionally, plate reverbs
have proved popular, and many
bigger studios (such as Abbey Road)
have there own excellent-sounding
echo chambers.
It’s often desirable to use a short
pre-delay of around 100ms to help
keep the main vocal sound distinct
from its reverb, and many vocal reverb
plug-ins will have this feature built in.
Adding reverb may accentuate any sibilance
and many engineers like to roll off some
high frequencies from the reverb return to
compensate. Another way around this is to
filter the vocal sound being sent to the
reverb, rolling off both high and low-
frequency content to give a smooth sound
that won’t cloud your mix.
Another fine mic: the Repeat echo/delay is another effect that has
C414 from AKG (above). been widely used on pop vocal recordings for
sE make some great vocal decades. Many early rock ’n’ roll records featured a
mics (left). slap-back tape echo sound on the lead vocal, while
advances in tape-echo design, such as the
legendary Roland Space Echo, offered much longer
delay times. Digital technology now enables us to
fine-tune delay times to match the tempo of the
track exactly, if desired, while stereo delay effects
can add an incredible sense of space to a vocal
track. Very short delay times of around 80ms will
produce a double-tracked effect, but we’ll focus on
all aspects of double-tracking in a future feature.
Now that we have examined the many aspects of
vocal recording, from choosing the best time to
record and keeping your singer motivated and
refreshed, to selecting and positioning
microphones and processing the result, you should
now have the confidence and know-how to capture
that killer performance and experiment with the
results to produce an ear-catching, radio-friendly
vocal sound. MT

MAGAZINE October 2014 | 65

MT139.How to record.indd 65 02/09/2014 14:40

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MT139.subs.indd 67 04/09/2014 16:10

MT Reviews AIR Music Technology Advance Music Production Suite

MT Reviews
Hardware Software Mobile Technology Samples

Find out the formats that the plug-ins come in and choose
what will work best with your DAW.

specific plugs get installed these days.

Besides which, installing and


registering them could take longer than
it takes to write this review…

Advance Music Value

Install. And register.
If I was being picky here I’d have
expected a ‘shell-like’ installation

Production Suite
system where you get to choose from
the whole list, click enter and sit back
and watch your hard drive fill. But
sometimes I think I live in a fantasy
Price $599 (UK street
land because, of course, it’s not going to
The Advance Music Production Suite promises 60+ £479.99)
be that simple. But to be fair, it’s not
Contact InMusic
full instruments, effects and sample packs worth Europe +44 01252 ATM’s fault, and again the company has
$5000 but retails at just over a tenth of that price. ‘Too Web
stated very clearly what you can and
can’t expect, so some plugs need to be
good to be true?’ asks Andy Jones. com installed individually, some as choices
from groups.

ne hard drive, many, many have been around for a few years but As for choosing what you want, the
virtual instruments, effects it’s still a worthy inclusion. And as for drive simply lists the plug-ins in
and samples. If you were to the cut-down version thing, this is company order alphabetically. A better
pay for the content on this strongly refuted on the AIR Music Key Features way of choosing is to visit the AMT
drive separately it would, at one time, Technology website which states that: ● 60+ plug-in website and select by category, as
have cost around ten times the asking “All software programs, effects, and effects and there’s a list of plugs by screenshot
price. AIR Music Technology have sample collections are full, unlimited sample with short descriptions – enough to tell
created it – actually, rather assembled versions complete with full- collections you if you want to install each, anyway.
● 8.37GB of Prime
it. The company has included a bundle functionality, registration and Loop samples
There’s also a list by format/plug-in
of its own plug-ins alongside those authorization rights, and ● Two collections platform under the FAQ section.
from around 16 other companies. In manufacturer-entitled support.” of Camel Audio So I’m opting for AMT’s Hybrid 3 and
total you get over 60 plug-ins and To test that claim I’m going to install Sonivox’s Wobble 2 and Twist 2. It has to
● Products from 17
sample collections. some but not all. I suspect you won’t companies be noted that many of the instruments
I know what you’re thinking: these want everything included here, and if ● 33 instruments come from Sonivox and AMT, although I
are cut-down versions or old versions your hard drive is as full as mine you’ll ● 17 effects did note FabFilter’s excellent Twin 2
of the plug-ins. Well, it seems not. Sure, probably have a tough selection ● Total installation and Way Out Ware’s superb emulation
is 200GB
some like iZotope’s Stutter Edit might process whereby only the best or very of the ARP 2600 in there as well which I

68 | October 2014 MAGAZINE

MT139.Rev Ams.indd 68 03/09/2014 11:18

AIR Music Technology Advance Music Production Suite Reviews MT

already own. Twin 2 is a superb synth

that is great for electronica and dance
Software collections like this are few and far between, as you are
with lots of presets with plenty of talking about vast quantities of data. The closest is Native
movement. Way Out Ware’s ARP Instruments Komplete and Komplete Ultimate (£429 and £849,
respectively), which will be at version 10 by the time you read this.
emulation is, from memory, almost Ultimate is more expensive than Advance Music Production Suite
more realistic than Arturia’s, with a but is a stunning collection that NI seems to be able to add to
gritty and dirty (in a good way) sound. massively each year, 2014 being no exception with at least three
great-looking additions (see musictech.net and this month’s
Effects wise I opt for – and I have to Advance on p6 for more). The whole package now integrates with
admit I’m feeling like a kid in a sweet Native’s Komplete Kontrol hardware, which we’re talking about
almost too much this month! NI software also operates through its
shop at this point – D16’s Devastor,
‘Service Centre’, which is not without fault but does make
FXpansion’s Bloom and the installation slightly less painful.
aforementioned iZotope Stutter Edit.
The effects take less than five
minutes each to install and AMT’s and quite sure how). Finally Hybrid 3 comes
Sonivox’s instrument installers make it First impressions are good, especially packed to the rafters with presets –
easy to install all of the companies’ Bloom which has already beefed up rather like Rob Papen’s Blue in this
instrument plugs in one go. many of my parts and has some great, respect and others. It has lots of
I suspected that booting Logic up descriptive presets that take the hard modulation possibilities and overall
might reveal some difficulties but when work out of knowing where to apply enough going on to get huge sounds.
its AU scanner found six new them to. Stutter Edit is looking slightly If you want more detail of some of
unregistered plug-ins in one go it tried dated and requires maximum strength the other plug-ins check out older
to offer registration for each and glasses. It’s consequently quite fiddly reviews at www.musictech.net.
quickly fell over. A better Logic solution but still sounds great. Devastor is I could pick out individual highlights
is to ‘ignore’ the new plug-ins and probably the one I’ll end up using most, of Advance Music Production Suite
install them within the software using with a simple but effective interface that are worth buying it for alone
the serial numbers on the cards and a plug-in that simply works with a (FabFilter Twin being one for certain).
provided with the drive. Obviously there big range of different sounds. Try it in But like I have said previously, this is
will be registration processes to go extreme mode on your drum loops for more about the package as a whole
through, serial numbers to enter and something a bit different… and in that respect there’s little to
general faffing around whenever any The synths are super (you can never argue about on a ‘cost versus what you
software these days is authorised, but have too many). Wobble 2 is perhaps a get’ level. Had I simply chosen the
plug-ins I’d wanted from the list they
would have cost well in excess of the

The ARP 2600 emulation is almost asking price. Throw in the rest and you
have an absolute bargain.

more realistic than Arturia’s, with a dirty, Then there is the additional sample
content I haven’t mentioned yet which

gritty (in a good way) sound includes two collections of presets

from Camel Audio for Alchemy Player
and 16 collections from Prime Loops
you knew that, and it’s no tougher here bit too big and grimy for someone of my covering everything from dubstep to
than anywhere else. years but it’s probably going to find use cinematic. And ‘variety’ can certainly be
The Sonivox and AMT ones were in music it was not intended for – applied to the whole of Advanced
probably the most straightforward, with always a good way to treat any Music Production Suite. MT
authorising links appearing on your instrument, in my book. Twist 2 is one
desktop. After five registrations – and to sit down and play with. Explore its MT Verdict
feeling I’d given too much information morphing capabilities and you will
to the internet, I mean do you really quickly come up with new sound + Great range of plug-ins…
+ …for an equally great price
need my middle name, Sonivox?! – I am designs (often in my case without being + Varied instruments cover
up and running, although the AMT and all bases
Sonivox plugs were initially not + Neat compact drive
recognised by Logic but this was + Good variety of sample content
quickly sorted after contacting AIR
- Leans towards a few companies
Music Technology (you too might need rather than all equally
to move a few folders into the right - No overall shell to install
place). It’s taken the best part of an - Not advised to install on the
hour by this point so I’d advise blocking drive itself
off a morning if you’re installing more Whatever music you make you’ll
than me, which undoubtedly you will. find something within its sleek, red
And if you’re doing the lot in one sitting, drive and it’s pretty much certain
good luck! that once you’ve picked and chosen
what you want from the vast
As to the plug-ins themselves, this collection, you’ll have saved a tidy
review is really about the overall picture Either select the plug-ins you want to install from this handy A-Z sum of money along the way.

and the process, but suffice to say I am manufacturer list, or head over to airmusictech.com/advance/ to view
screenshots and short descriptions of each.
happy with the range I’ve downloaded.

MAGAZINE October 2014 | 69

MT139.Rev Ams.indd 69 03/09/2014 11:18

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Arturia BeatStep Reviews MT

non-computer based controls such as

CV as well, though it’s easy to make all
the assignments in the software then
use BeatStep in standalone mode.
In MIDI controller mode, as well as
playing beats you can use the pads as
switches or to send program and bank
change messages, and in Step
Sequence mode you can enter 16-step
sequences easily, using the knobs to set

10/10 pitches and the pads to assign notes on

or off. The scale function also means
you can ensure only the correct notes

ARTURIA some MIDI hardware and then switch

for any given scale are available to you.
It’s best suited to beats or monophonic

modes and use BeatStep to launch parts like basses or synth leads, but the
clips in Live, or control Logic’s transport. addition of the knobs means it’s also
Thanks to the straightforward layout good for synth parameter tweaking and
this is very intuitive to do: simply press DAW control.
the control / sequencer button to toggle BeatStep is an excellent little MIDI
If you thought triggering MIDI hardware between modes and the light scheme controller. For triggering in software it’s
and software meant using two changes too, red for controller and blue intuitive and fun to use, and it also
for sequencing. So you might be using works as a MIDI hardware trigger and
different devices, think again. Hollin the device’s internal sequencer to sequencer via its more old-school
Jones road tests Arturia’s BeatStep… trigger a pattern, but then flip modes to outputs. Best of all these can be used
use the knobs to start tweaking synth concurrently by switching modes on the
parameters. With a bit of practice it’s fly. The setup software is well designed,

Details rturia has made a number of easy to pick up. and the unit itself is sturdy and fun to
Price €99 successful inroads into the use. At this price, BeatStep is a great
Contact Via website hardware market after many Look and feel choice for anyone working with
Web www.arturia.com
years of developing its range of The hardware has 16 backlit pads and MIDI-triggered instruments, be they in
Minimum System
Requirements classic synth emulations. Where some 16 knobs, as well as a data dial that can hardware or software form. MT
Windows 7 or higher of its other hardware has been control both level and rate parameters.
Mac OS X 10.7 or higher physically quite large, the French Underneath this are play and stop Alternatives
company is now going compact with commands, mode switch, external sync Akai’s LPD8 is even more compact with just
Dual core 2GHz CPU or
hardware synths such as the Micro and button, MIDI channel select, preset eight pads and knobs and is available for
around £35. It does take portability to the
Mini Brutes, and now also the BeatStep store and recall and a shift button extreme, and for that you sacrifice the full
MIDI controller. Designed to cater for which enables access to a secondary complement of pads and dials. Going in the
other direction, NI’s Maschine Mikro for £299
the modern mobile producer, it has a function for all the pads. These are comes with the full Maschine software and
few more tricks up its sleeve than may marked on the faceplate and include is physically larger. It has a MIDI mode too, so
at first be apparent. scale type and playback resolution. it can be used for more generic controlling,
plus there’s the Controller Editor software for
Physically the box itself is small but Sometimes this kind of stuff can be a making assignments.
sturdy and a little heavier than you bit fiddly to use, but Arturia has done a
might have expected, though this good job with the workflow and it’s all
makes it reassuringly stable when in pretty friendly.
use. It has rubber feet and a Kensington Plugged into a Mac, BeatStep was
lock port, and receives power over mini able to control any MIDI instrument I
USB from your Mac or PC, or from an pointed it at including those in Reason, MT Verdict
optional USB power adaptor if you’re Logic and Live. It’s so small and portable
+ Very sturdy and well designed
Key Features using it in standalone mode. It’s class that it would definitely suit anyone + Gentle learning curve
● Controller or compliant so no drivers are required on making music on the move or with + Control hardware as easily as
sequencer either platform and it also works with limited studio space, and indeed it’s a software
iPads via Apple’s Camera Connection fun and powerful music creation tool in + Use all modes at once
● 16 velocity
+ Tiny footprint
and pressure Kit. When you’re working with a its own right regardless of your working
sensitive pads
+ Flexible setup options via
computer you will be sending MIDI over methods. Although it has no onboard software
● 16 encoders
the USB connection, but there are also display, you can manage all its settings + Class compliant
● Onboard
sequencer outputs for a conventional MIDI jack as and customise templates using the free + Makes MIDI triggering fun
● USB, MIDI, CV well as Gate- and CV-out ports on the MIDI Control Center software. This gives
and Gate outputs - Nothing at this price
side. This means it can work you control over all assignable
● Internal and
independently of a computer, hooked parameters on the hardware and the An excellent MIDI controller that
external clocking
● iPad up to any MIDI-capable instrument as ability to store them as presets. So for unites the worlds of software
compatibility well as more advanced devices that can example you could set up a map for and hardware at a price that’s
● Standalone hard to ignore.
receive control voltage signal. your favourite VST, then another to
possible Interestingly, all the outputs can be
used at once so you could be triggering
control a Logic project and so on, and
switch between them. This applies to
MAGAZINE October 2014 | 71

MT139.Rev.Beatstep.indd 71 04/09/2014 12:30

Genelec 8010A Reviews MT

As a tiny speaker with professional audio
quality that can be carried anywhere, the 8010A
occupies a class of its own. Although somewhat
larger, you could check out the Adam A3X (£138
each) or the Focal CMS 40 (£284 each). The CMS
40 also comes with removable mesh grilles for
the woofer and tweeter.

a relief to discover that it get its juice ears. Alternatively the 8010A can be
from the mains rather than a wall wart. mounted on a bracket or stand.
There are no fiddly link cables and each Just like the pictures, the sound
unit has its own Class D amplification belies the actual size. Only this time it’s
and controls. way bigger than you would ever expect.
Admittedly our listening room isn’t
Size matters especially large, but the 8010A filled
The 3in woofer gets 80W of power and the space with crystal clear and wide
the ¾in metal dome tweeter gets 50W. open sound.
This might seem a bit like dropping a V8 Fired up next to a pair of Focal CMS
engine into a Fiat 500, but it’s all about 40s we had to touch the cones on more
headroom rather than sheer volume. than one occasion to determine which
The input connector is a balanced XLR monitors we were listening to. The
input but it can be connected to an Focals were a touch softer and
unbalanced source using a suitable smoother, while the 8010A displayed

GENELEC Excellence adaptor. Another feature is Genelec’s the more airy and open treble that

Intelligent Signal Sensing (ISS) circuitry, many would associate with Genelec.

which switches the monitor to standby Granted, the bass extension isn’t
when no audio input is detected. Switch exactly bowel troubling but we have
on takes about half a second, but used monitors with enclosures two or
owners who find this hard to live with three times the size that would struggle
can disable the ISS function. to convey quite as much bass energy.

It may look like the 6010, but with newly Another dipswitch sets the input
sensitivity. The default setting is
When set up as conventional monitors
we felt quite happy mixing on the 8010s
designed amps and XLR inputs the ‘Normal’ – predictably enough – and the right away. It’s also interesting to note
Genelec 8010A promises to be a pro- dipswitch changes this to -10dB.
Genelec advises that you choose the
that the 8010A is compatible with
Genelec’s 7050B subwoofer.
quality monitoring system that you can setting that provides the desired Placed on a desktop either side of a
carry on the bus. Huw Price downsizes. playback level and resolution for your computer screen the results were still
system’s volume control. impressive, but we opted to augment
Frequency response adjustment is the desktop filter with a -4dB bass tilt
next up. Bass tilt provides three levels to tighten the low end (your experience

lthough clearly described as of attenuation: -2dB, -4dB and -6dB at may differ depending on the resonance
Price £259 each
‘extremely compact’ the bijou 100Hz. In addition the Desktop Control of your desk). To summarise, the word
020 8962 5080 dimensions of the 8010A still switch activates a 4dB cut at 200Hz. that springs to mind is ‘extraordinary’. MT
Web came as something of a The manual includes a very useful chart
www.genelec.com surprise when we took them out of their with suggested settings for various MT Verdict
packaging. Designed to enable working scenarios. For instance, the
“professionals to work in compact recommended Bass Tilt settings are + Sonically transparent
+ Impressive bass handling
studios and on the move” they’re so -2dB for reverberant rooms, -4dB for
+ Frequency adjustment switches
small that you could probably use them proximity to walls and -6dB if the 8010A + Fiendishly clever swivel mount
in a cupboard. The promotional shots has to be placed in a corner. + Effortlessly practical and
showing a user putting a pair of 8010A portable
Key Features
monitors into a shoulder bag are Full tilt + Versatile placement options
● Max SPL: 96dB + Auto standby
● Frequency entirely plausible. Genelec’s four-cornered rubber base is + Steady off-axis response
response: 67Hz - With that in mind, Genelec protect one of our favourite features. As well as + Genelec carry bag is available
the woofer and tweeter with metal providing anti-slip decoupling, a clever
● Power: Bass
covers and all the connections and metal clip attachment enables the - High volume exposes enclosure
25W Class D/
Treble 25W
switches are tucked neatly out of 8010A to fire upwards and downwards
● 3in bass driver harm’s way. As well as being portable, as well as straight. We started with the A remarkable set of monitors
● ¾in metal dome
Genelec also promises that the 8010A 8010A placed on top of our usual that provides a professional
is an accurate monitoring tool, but we’ll monitors and aimed them down. Then quality reference at medium
● Dimensions: 195
x 121 x 116 mm listening levels in an effortlessly
get on to that later. we placed them on our desktop and
● Weight: 1.5kg
portable format.

Although the 8010A physically aimed them up. It’s a simple and
● Connections:
XLR input
resembles a computer speaker more elegant solution that ensures the
than a conventional studio nearfield, it’s tweeter is always directed towards your

MAGAZINE October 2014 | 73

MT139.Rev.Genelec.indd 73 02/09/2014 14:45

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Chandler TG2-500 Pre Amp Reviews MT

The Neve 88RLB (£834) is a 500 series mic/
line pre-amplifier with DI that has a neutral
and transparent sound. For those on a budget,
Lindell’s 6X-500 (£229) is a fine transformer-
balanced mic-pre that offers 65dB of gain
along with some excellent Pultec-style EQ.
Astonishing value for money.

eight-track recording – a far cry from Internally, the unit is very neatly laid
the eight in/four out capability of the out with top-quality components
outgoing REDD.51 valve desk. used throughout.

Classically trained You got the look

As Chandler points out, the TG12428 Visually, the TG2-500 has an
preamp, on which the TG2-500 is based, authentically vintage look that retains
was featured in EMI’s TG series of the battleship-grey finish of those
consoles that were used to record many legendary 60s and 70s desks.
classic albums, such as The Beatles’ Chicken-head style controls are
Abbey Road (1969) and Pink Floyd’s The provided for Coarse Gain, Fine Gain and
Dark Side of the Moon (1973) . Both of Output, further adding to the retro look.
these records have a warm, smooth and It’s not all about looking the part,
clear sound that is the defining though, and the briefest of use is all
character of these preamps. that is needed to reveal that this is a
To hear for yourself, compare the high-quality unit.
Choice sound of these recordings to Pink The Course Gain control, which

Floyd’s debut album and The provides up to 50dB of gain in 5dB
Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts steps, feels nicely firm without any
Club Band (both 1967) recorded on clunkiness, while the Fine Gain

CHANDLER EMI’s earlier valve desk. All these control offers a further +/- 10dB of gain

albums were recorded in the same via a smooth-as-silk continuously
studios, with the same mics and largely variable pot, giving a maximum of 60dB
the same outboard gear, yet the later gain at full pelt; the output control is
TG-powered recordings have a much also continuously variable.

Pre Amp
more modern sound that is obviously A small but robust switch is provided
more ‘hi-fi’. to select either microphone or line
The TG2-500’s microphone input, while a similar switch gives the
pre-amplifier and line amplifier are option of an input impedance of 300 or
discrete, transformer-balanced designs 1200 ohms. Two push-buttons are
It’s may not look like much but this identical to the ones found in some of situated at the bottom of the front
handy unit could be what your desk is
missing. John Pickford fires it up…
The authentically vintage look
retains the battleship grey of
Details nce upon a time when what
Price £659
01799 520786
we now know as vintage
audio design was cutting- those legendary desks
edge technology, the sound
chandlerlimited.com and reputation of a studio was largely Chandler’s full-sized units, including panel to select phantom power and
defined by its mixing desk. And a large the highly acclaimed TG2 Pre Amp / DI invert phase, respectively.
Key Features part of the desk’s sound was defined by unit. Designer Wade Goeke, owner of So, Chandler have got the look and
● Discrete the character of its microphone Chandler Ltd, admits that developing feel of the unit right, deftly avoiding the
transformer- pre-amplifiers. When EMI unveiled its the TG2-500 has taken a considerable clutter and fiddly nature that plagues
balanced input
and output TG12345 mixing console in 1968 it was amount of time with a number of many lunch-box designs, but what
● Fine gain setting very much at the cutting edge of engineering options explored before about the sound? Well, it was
● Switchable recording technology. Not only did it settling on the design we have here. The immediately obvious that the TG2-500
employ state-of-the-art solid state time and effort seems to have paid off is one serious preamp.
● Variable output
control components it also featured 24 input as the final product is a thing of beauty, Plugging in an AKG C414 to listen to
channels and eight outputs, enabling built to the highest specification. some spoken words from a familiar

MAGAZINE October 2014 | 75

MT139.Rev.Chandler.indd 75 03/09/2014 11:20

MT Reviews Chandler TG2-500 Pre Amp

human voice – always a good test of a

unit’s true nature – revealed a very
pleasing and slightly euphonic
character that is just on the bright side
of neutral. Compared with the mic
preamps in our DDA console, the
TG2-500 gave a larger-than-life sound
that made the desk channel sound a
tad flat and utilitarian.
Later, when using the unit to record
music, the TG2-500 proved to be an
excellent performer capable of
capturing the fullness of bass our classic condensers, the TG2-500 sound, especially those who have
instruments as well as the detail of sounded great on everything we fed it. limited space for outboard equipment.
treble-heavy source material. The slight And with 60dB of available gain, even And while the amount of precise gain
upper-mid and top-end emphasis our insensitive Coles 4038s didn’t make control on offer is impressive, that is all
imparts a presence that sounded it run out of steam. you get – apart from phantom power
particularly good on guitars, both Although the TG2-500 has no EQ or and phase reverse there are no other
electric and acoustic, and on certain filters of any kind, a certain amount of features such as a pad, high-pass filter
vocalists. Recording a lead vocal with
our Neumann U 67 gave superb results,
the forward nature of the TG2-500
complementing our dark-sounding
It didn’t matter what we used,
Neumann perfectly.
An A/B test alongside our reference
the TG2-500 sounded great on
Earlybird valve preamp highlighted this
characteristic, revealing the TG2-500’s
everything we fed it
glossy upper registers to be somewhat
more obvious than the more even- tone control can be achieved by or DI input that you often find on
handed and sweeter high frequencies experimenting with both the impedance microphone preamps.
of the valve unit. Still, the high- settings and the output of the unit in That said, what you get for your
frequencies are clean, clear and relation to the input signal. Selecting money is a lot of superlative
extended, the unit displaying a gently 300 ohms brings out the punch and amplification with an impeccable
rising response that accentuates sheen solidity of the Chandler’s sound, while heritage, one that you’d have to traverse
rather than sparkle. the 1200 ohm option offers a more many zebra crossings to equal. MT
Low frequencies are dealt with sprightly tone with an extended, airy
superbly – the preamp can handle treble. A certain amount of edge can be
sub-sonic audio with aplomb and there achieved by driving the unit’s input gain MT Verdict
are no audible lumps and bumps in the hard and lowering the output level – the
+ Classic Abbey Road sound
mid-bass region where inferior cleanest tones are produced with the + Excellent build and finish
products sometimes hype the response output at maximum and moderate + Precise gain control
to give a false impression of depth. input gain. + Ease of use
What you get is a firm, deep and taut
- No filters or attenuation (pad)
bottom end that has plenty of punch Sound choice - Lack of metering
and grunt. The broad midrange is open, This new Chandler preamp is a
vivid and well lit, with a bright welcome addition to the 500 series The TG2-500 is a lovely sounding
characteristic that manages to format and will undoubtedly be a hit microphone pre-amplifier with a
bright, full-range sound. It’s a
remain nice and smooth without any with lovers of grown-up analogue
no-nonsense unit that gets on with
harsh side-effects. its job of amplifying microphones
Method spot and line-level sources without the
Modern vintage The TG2-500 is a straight-ahead mic/line pre that is intuitive to use. addition of tone controls, filters or
During our time with this new-but-old However, despite the lack of tone controls, a variety of sounds can be metering. The refined 1970s Abbey
produced by careful manipulation of the parameters on offer. For a Road Studio sound is
Chandler design we recorded a wide superb clean vocal sound, select 1200 ohms and set the output control to unmistakable – solid-state has
variety of instruments and voices using maximum, then simply dial in enough input gain to achieve a suitable level.
never sounded better.

If a harder, more saturated tone is required, select 300 ohms, ease back
several different types of microphone. It on the output level and increase the amount of input gain to produce a
didn’t seem to matter whether we used tougher, edgier sound with a touch of grit.
an inexpensive dynamic type or one of

76 | October 2014 MAGAZINE

MT139.Rev.Chandler.indd 76 03/09/2014 11:20

LS-12 & LS-14
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15060 LS12/14.indd 1 10/01/2014 13:43

MeldaProduction MTransient Reviews MT

Native Instruments’ Transient Master is a
much more stripped-down take on transient
processing, with just three controls: attack,
sustain and gain. At £89 it costs more than
MTransient, although it is available as part
of Komplete 9 as well. It doesn’t have the
expanded feature set or fine
grain controls, though it
is arguably simpler to just
pick up and use if that’s
your thing.

For PC
& Mac

Easy and Edit. In Easy mode you get percussion or rhythm guitars. Used the
access to five sections to control the other way, to pump up or down, it can

effect. The Processor tab enables you to add a heavily compressed sound to
change attack, saturation, resolution your beats, all the way from gentle
and output gain. The Shaper and pumping to really squeezed,
Compression tabs enable you to dial in pressurised drums.
variable settings for how the processor If you work with beats a lot you will
If you need to really take control of the responds to transients and how it really benefit from adding a dedicated
attack in your tracks, you need a shapes them. transient processor to your arsenal of
In the Pumping section you can set tools and this is certainly amongst the
transient processor. Hollin Jones takes how much ‘pump’ effect is applied to best on the market. With both simple
on MeldaProduction’s MTransient… the signal, something that is especially and advanced modes it will suit
useful for dealing with electronic drum beginners and expert users alike, and
parts where you might want to actively although there’s a great depth of

Details zech developer introduce this kind of effect. Finally, the features available you can always just
Price €59 MeldaProduction makes a Detector window shows you how the call up a preset – there’s even an online
Contact wide range of audio signal is being processed over time and preset exchange feature built right into
Via website
processing plug-ins, including has a switchable view to show time or the effect.
www. some excellent free bundles, and has a level meters. Melda’s plug-ins all share a common
meldaproduction.com generous policy of free-for-life updates framework and are almost like
Minimum System for any paid plug-in that you purchase. Going deeper mini-apps in themselves with multiple
Windows XP or higher They also tend to be at the more Switching into Edit mode gives you menus, links and tools. The interface is
OS X 10.5 or higher affordable end of the spectrum. The more advanced control over the skinnable too, so you can tweak it to
new MTransient is a transient processing. You get to set up the your liking. For the price, this is a
processor that’s designed to alter the ‘multiparameters’ here, which can be useful and powerful plug-in with a
character of attacking sounds in any linked to hardware controls via MIDI great depth of features that can also be
rhythmic material. learn. Click on any of these and you used in simple mode if you prefer, and
Transient processing is usually open a separate assignment window will add punch and drive to your
associated with drums or other where you can access any of the rhythmic tracks. MT
rhythmic tracks and deals with available parameters in the effect. As
enhancing or controlling the well as the transient editing features, MT Verdict
prominence and attack of hits such as MTransient has all of Melda’s usual
+ Simple or advanced user modes
snares and cymbals or rhythm guitars. goodies that expand the utility of the
+ Get control over transients
Key Features When mixing you generally want your effect beyond simple signal processing. + Reduce reverb
● Dual user drums to cut through the mix just the The thing about transient + Increase attack and drive
interface right amount to be punchy and driving. processing is that it is, on the whole, a + Great saturation sound
● Visualisation + Eight comparison slots
Using EQ to bring out the attack of drum fairly subtle change to a sound when
+ M/S or regular operation
● Four multi- sounds can have unwanted side effects you’re using it to boost the attack. + Lifetime free updates
parameters such as pulling up background hiss or Nonetheless it can really help a part to + ABCD effect morphing
● Tube saturation making the sound too sharp and cut through, adding sparkle and
● M/S, single - May seem daunting for beginners
channel or up
top-heavy. What you actually need to do urgency to the snare and cymbals that
- Though configurable, visually a
to 8-channel is emphasise the attack rather than the you certainly miss as soon as you
little unpolished
surround high frequencies, and that’s what a bypass the plug-in.
transient designer does. MTransient uses tube saturation to A great transient designer for
● Automatic gain
compensation Some transient designers have a warm up the sound as it is being controlling or accentuating any
rhythmic material, with advanced
● Adjustable pretty basic feature set but MTransient processed and the overall result is very
upsampling features for those who want them.

has lots of controls should you prefer to good. You can use it to tighten up a part,
● Preset exchange
get more hands-on with your adding punch and drive both to
● MIDI Learn
processing. There are two main views: acoustic and electronic beats or

MAGAZINE October 2014 | 79

MT139.Rev.Melda.indd 79 02/09/2014 14:47

Sonodyne SRP 400 Reviews MT

contemporary, with a look that

closely resembles many of
In this price range you could check out the
Sonodyne’s competitors – most Genelec M030AM (£265 each). The SRP 400 is
noticeably Focal’s CMS 40. priced at the same level as the highly regarded
Focal CMS 40 (£253 each) and for a bit extra
We wouldn’t suggest there’s you could benefit from the comprehensive
anything untoward going on, adjustment features of the EVE Audio SC205
though. Modern production (£307 each).

methods and materials are enabling

monitor manufacturers to move away there is plenty of depth to the sound
from the compromises inherent in stage. We were also able to discern
traditional rectangular MDF boxes, and plenty of detail from bass instruments,

Price £499 (pair)
moulded aluminium enclosures make it
easier to incorporate rounded edges,
with pick attack and finger noise
coming through clearly on electric and

SRP 400
Contact waveguides and non-parallel surfaces. double bass.
Synthax Audio UK
01727 829 750
What’s more they are extremely rigid However, we did sense some
Web and non-resonant. Since the laws of colouration in the upper mids that gave
www.sonodyne.com physics define good practice in monitor the SRP 400 a slightly forced and harsh
enclosure design and selection of quality. To be fair this was more
The Sonodyne Reference materials, it’s inevitable that things are noticeable with acoustic than
Professional Series of becoming more homogenised.
Even so, the powder-coated finish is
electric music. On the plus side the
treble has a pleasingly open and
active monitors features very well done and it’s available in three sweet quality and the bass is
Key Features
aluminium enclosures ● Two-way
colours. Seeing a standby switch on the particularly impressive.
front panel is always something to In fact the SRP 400 has way more
with powder coat biamplifier
speaker cheer about, plus the SRP 400 has bass extension than we would expect
finishes and promises a ● Magnetically
shielded 4.5in
M6-size mounting points on its base for a speaker of its size. And far from
and back. The SRP 400 also has a being an illusion caused by upper bass
‘first step into CURV cone
woofer front-mounted level control with a hype, the SRP 400 remains remarkably
professional monitoring’. ● Magnetically
shielded 26mm
centre indent at 0dB, and a 6dB boost even and manages to track the
at maximum. rhythmic energy of dubby basslines
Huw Price puts the SRP silk dome
with custom with aplomb. Best of all, we were unable
400 through its paces. waveguide
● Vented
Switched on to detect any port chuffing.
The SRP 400 has both XLR and TRS jack There’s a lot to like about the SRP

enclosure with
onodyne Electronics has been front-firing balanced inputs. Since they are wired in 400 and Sonodyne’s UK distributor
making professional audio aerodynamic parallel the second input can be used advises that the aforementioned upper
products in India since the to daisy-chain the signal. Three midrange colouration smooths out once
● Frequency
1980s, often designing and response (±2dB) frequency adjustment switches are the SRP 400 is properly played in. We’re
manufacturing projects for other 75Hz-22kHz mounted on the rear panel. Bass not entirely convinced that the SRP 400
companies. However, Sonodyne has ● Useable Roll-Off reduces low frequency content will actually demonstrate how mixes
frequency range
become a well-established brand in its (-10dB) 65Hz- by 6dB per octave below 100Hz, and will translate to smaller speakers
own right in monitor manufacturing. 25kHz Treble Tilt induces a 2dB cut at 4kHz to because it sounds a bit too good, but
The SRP range comprises five ● THD (at 95dB compensate for excessively live rooms that’s no bad thing. MT
SPL) 80Hz-
two-way active monitors with woofer 200Hz < 3%; or close listening positions.
diameters ranging from 8in to 3.5in. The >200Hz <1% Although the manual states that the
● Amplifier power
MT Verdict
SRP 400 we’re reviewing in this issue is Bass Tilt feature has three settings
before clipping
the second smallest in the series, with a LF: 25W, HF: 25W there are only two switches, providing a + Power switch on front
4.5in CURV cone polypropylene woofer ● Inputs: balanced -2dB or -4dB cut at 100Hz. The + Level control also on front
XLR & TRS jack + Impressive bass extension
and a 1in silk dome tweeter set within a maximum -6dB roll off is achieved with
● Crossover + Airy treble
waveguide. On-board analogue both switches engaged. + No port chuffing
frequency: 3kHz
amplifiers operating in Class AB provide ● Bass roll-off The on-board amplification may be + Plenty of volume
25W of bi-amplified power to each 100Hz, 6dB / all analogue but DSP technology is + Respectable imaging
driver and maximum SPL is claimed to octave used for signal processing. According to
● Bass tilt: -2dB, - No automatic standby mode
be 100dB. -4dB, -6dB at
Sonodyne’s spokesperson it works on - Slightly harsh upper mids
100Hz the time domain to optimise off-axis
Pressure mounts ● Treble tilt: -2 dB response and control directivity. DSP is A very likeable and useable active
Where Sonodyne’s older SM series at 4kHz
preferred to analogue because it’s not nearfield with an impressive range
● Front-mounted of features, but some of the
featured handmade and hand-finished gain control and as “tedious”, and quality control is competition sounds more refined
enclosures, the company has since power switch markedly less challenging. and may make more extensive use
invested in expensive pressure ● Protection for of DSP processing.

moulding equipment to form their overheat , RFI, A/B testing
latest front-ported aluminium switch on/off The SRP 400 is a solid little performer.
enclosures. The result is very sleek and transients Stereo imaging is fairly precise and

MAGAZINE October 2014 | 81

MT139.Rev.Sonodyne.indd 81 02/09/2014 14:53

Blue Cat Audio MB-7 Mixer Reviews MT

separately. That’s possible with other Alternatives

multiband processors, but the Ozone’s iZotope is technically a mastering suite,
and as such doesn’t have the mixing features
difference here is the range of tools
of the MB-7. It can’t host plug-ins itself, but
available on each channel. then few effects can. If you’re willing to spend
To begin with you get mixer-style the time you can achieve similar results using
lots of different plug-ins in your DAW’s mixer,
controls for each frequency band, though it can be a slog.
including stereo faders, pan, solo, mute
and bypass controls. This is a bit like EQ
in the sense that it lets you pull
different frequencies up and down, but
it’s more flexible because it also gives
you the ability to pan frequencies within
a sound and link and unlink the left and
Choice Innovation right channels within each frequency

band. In fact you can also link multiple
faders across frequencies and even
across several instances of the plug-in capable of advanced side-chaining.
for an incredible level of control. There’s Automation is supported, and there’s
also internal grouping of channels. full MIDI control including quick access
Here’s where things get really to MIDI learn for most parameters.

BLUE CAT AUDIO interesting: each frequency band can

be processed by other plug-ins, in VST
The MB-7 is in some ways an
answer to a problem I hadn’t realised

MB-7 Mixer
or AU format with two slots pre- and existed. Of course people use multiband
two post-fader per channel. So you can processing all the time, and the process
selectively affect any part of a signal of loading these things into a project
using any plug-in from your library, hadn’t seemed particularly arduous
Why take five plug-ins into the studio applying reverb only to the upper mids, until I used the MB-7, at which point I

when you could do it all with one? or compression just to the bottom end,
for example. And thanks to the
wondered why other tasks couldn’t be
as simple as this was making things.
Hollin Jones uncovers the time-saving user-definable crossover points you It’s true that you might not use every
secrets of Blue Cat Audio’s shiny new can isolate sounds relatively easily.
This is possible using a range of
feature at the same time: sometimes
you’ll want to pull a couple of
MB-7 Mixer… other tools, of course, but only at some frequencies up or down and compress
considerable effort. Here it’s a breeze, them, other times you might need to
and perfectly accessible even to the change the panning on a specific

lue Cat Audio makes a range less experienced producer. It also frequency. This plug-in brings such a
Price €99 ex VAT
of advanced audio plug-ins, enables you to achieve this kind of stuff range of tools together in one easy-to-
Via website processors and analysers with in simpler applications such as wave use interface that it’s an incredibly
Web a distinct look and an almost editors that may not have advanced useful thing to have around. MT
www.bluecataudio. forensic approach to working with mixer, routing and plug-in technology
sound. Its latest is a new version of the like DAWs do.
Minimum System
Requirements MB-7 Mixer, a rather unique plug-in
MT Verdict
Windows XP or higher, that behaves like a standalone mixing What’s it for? + Incredibly useful
with SSE2-enabled + Combines multiple tools in
device despite itself running inside a Blue Cat lists a range of possible uses
DAW or a wave editor. for the MB-7 but you can probably one location
Mac OS X 10.5 or
+ Easy to learn and use
higher, with Intel You can apply the MB-7 to any audio already anticipate a few of them for
processor + Get amazing control over
track, be it an individual source, a group yourself. The ability to break any sound different frequencies
Compatible host,
either DirectX, VST, or a stereo mix of a whole song. It seamlessly into up to seven frequency + Pan, mix and effect within a
RTAS or AAX combines a lot of different tools into a bands and then tweak and process specific sound
single plug-in and is billed as a each one using many of the tools you’d + Process any frequency through
Key Features any plug-in
“multiband mixing console and VST/AU find in a mixing console is remarkably + Highly flexible interface
● Up to seven
host”. It does indeed do all this stuff, so useful. The developers suggest uses + Well designed
● Multi format it’s something of a jack of all trades. You such as multiband level correction and + Inexpensive
● Four VST / AU can have anywhere between one and stereo widening, VST hosting, frequency
slots per band - You can do this using a combo of
seven bands and the plug-in’s interface isolation, mastering, VST plug-in bridge other tools, though it’s much
● Grouping and
automatically adjusts itself to and selectively processing specific more fiddly.
channel linking
● Live spectral accommodate them. Frequency frequencies, amongst others.
feedback boundaries can be set by dragging There’s a mono switch on the master A clever and genuinely useful
● Full automation plug-in that combines multiple
markers just like you would with a fader for mono compatibility checking,
and MIDI control tools to give you an amazing level of
multiband compressor. and Blue Cat’s usual comprehensive control over almost any aspect of
● Configurable
interface The idea is that you can split any interface tools are available, providing any frequency within a sound.
● Link across sound, be it a single instrument or a menus and right-click shortcuts to Perfect for mixing or sound shaping.
whole stereo mix, into a number of
frequency bands and process each one
setup and presets. There’s no latency
involved in using the plug-in and it’s
MAGAZINE October 2014 | 83

MT139.Rev.BlueCat.indd 83 02/09/2014 14:44

MT Reviews sE Electronics X1 T and X1 D

preamp over standard XLR. The X1 T has Alternatives

a fixed cardioid polar pattern, and The sE X1 T and X1 D are quite different beasts.
switches for a 10dB pad and high-pass The X1 T is surprisingly good for a budget
filter on the mic. valve mic, and if you already have a small mic
collection and are looking for an inexpensive
For many engineers, valve mics are a means of adding one with a little more flavour
go-to choice for lead vocals, as the extra this should definitely be up for consideration.
excitement brought out by the valve can The X1 D on the other hand is a unique tool
at this price. It is less expensive than many
help the vocal to sit above everything in dynamic kick mics, and far more versatile.
the mix – and the X1 T does exactly that.
On our voice the X1 T produces a
smooth, clear response with a slight beater attack, along with the full-
push around the upper mids, which bodied bass of the instrument.
helps to add clarity and definition to the This decision to make the X1 D a
vocal, while a subtle high-end lift will full-frequency mic makes it far more
add a shine on any signal passing useful as a generic percussion
through it. By contrast the bottom end microphone. The fast transient nature
seems a little light, and while it works means you capture everything, and
on our vocal it may not be perfect for whether it’s a cajón or a simple shaker
everybody and would make us think the signal can be shaped as you require,
twice before settling on this mic for without coming pre-shaped for a kick,
Value some other duties such as acoustic and also means you can get a more

€£$ guitar, bass or some percussion.

At only £349, the X1 T is one of the
vintage-sounding kick without much
work. In fact after hearing how versatile
least expensive valve mics we’ve come it sounds, we’d be interested in trying a
across, but it has a sonic quality that set of X1 Ds on toms too.

SE ELECTRONICS puts it among mics well outside this

price bracket.
Well-balanced kick mics often make
good bass guitar mics, and the X1 D is

X1 T and X1 D
The mic comes in a flight case that’s no exception. It captures plenty of detail
designed to carry all the accessories, through the midrange with a good,
including the power supply and strong low end. On slap bass the
seven-core cable, but does not come percussive nature of the instrument is
with a shock-mount, only a standard crystal clear,.
The impressive X1 range from sE mic clip. At this price, though, it isn’t
surprising to see the shock-mount
In our discussions with sE they were
keen to point out that the X1 D also
Electronics continues to grow and overlooked, and sE Electronics will sell makes a good rap vocal mic. So we set it
grow. Mike Hillier checks out the latest you a shock-mount as part of their up and tried our hand at rapping. The X1
Isolation Pack, along with a pop shield, D does actually make for a very
additions to the line-up. for £49. high-quality vocal mic, with all of our
vocalisations captured in terrific detail.
Tub thumpin’ This wouldn’t be our first choice for all

Details hen sE launched the The X1 D is a large-diaphragm rap vocalists, but for faster styles where
Price X1 T £349, original X1 we were very condenser microphone, using a similar every articulation has to be captured in
X1 D £199
impressed at the quality titanium capsule to sE’s T2 microphone, incredible detail it would certainly make
Contact 0845 500
2500 they were able to achieve and is designed specifically for drums our shortlist.
Web www. with such an inexpensive microphone. and percussion duties. The X1 D has a Unlike the X1 T, the X1 D doesn’t
seelectronics.com Featuring handcrafted and tested fixed side-address cardioid capsule, come with any accessories, just an
Key Features capsules the X1 really was a standout integrated switchable 10dB pad and integrated mount. Again, if you want a
X1 T microphone in its price range. Not high-pass filter. Because it’s built for shock-mount the sE Isolation pack can
● Flight case happy to rest on its laurels sE has taken use on high SPL instruments such as be purchased separately. Despite this,
● Dedicated power the X1 chassis and created an entire kick drums, the X1 D has a dynamic both microphones represent terrific
range of mics, adding the X1 R ribbon range of 170dB SPL, which is value for money and sound great. MT
● Seven-pin mic
cable to power mic, the X1 USB mic that we looked at in staggeringly high even when compared
supply MT136, and the two mics we’re looking to similar dynamic microphones.
● Stand clip at here: the X1 T and X1 D. Unlike some microphones designed
MT Verdict
● Integrated
for kick drums the X1 D doesn’t have a + Great-sounding mics
ECC83A valve
First up great chunk of the midrange scooped + Pad and HPF switching
X1 D The X1 T is a valve mic built around an out. This makes it a far more versatile
- Fixed cardioid
● Titanium ECC83A (a low-noise version of the microphone, but also means you don’t - No shock-mount
ubiquitous ECC83/12AX7) valve. The get the instant modern kick drum
addition of the ECC83A valve to the X1 sound. However, the X1 D does have These two new mics make excellent
● Integrated
mount design means a dedicated power quite a distinctive sound all of its own additions to the sE X1 range. Great
● Three-year
mics at a great price.
supply has to be used with the X1 T, and thanks to the quick transient response
this connects via a provided seven-core
cable and then connects to your mic
of the titanium capsule. This helps to
capture the high-frequency click of the
84 | October 2014 MAGAZINE

MT139.Rev.sEXIT&XID.indd 84 02/09/2014 14:51

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MTF35.ad.indd 1 07/08/2014 10:56

IK Multimedia SampleTank 3 Reviews MT

workflow and utility over the slightly Alternatives

more showy metal effect of version 2. NI’s Kontakt 5 at £399 is a more complex beast,
There are three main sections: Play, Mix providing a sample recording and editing
environment as well as 1000 instruments and
and Edit. In the Play section you can 43GB of samples. It’s a much more in-depth
select from the 4000 instruments and environment to work in, although if you have
loops, which are divided into 21 no real interest in the minutiae of sample
editing and would prefer to just play and use
categories and include 2500 drum and instruments, it may well be overkill.
percussion loops, and 2000 MIDI files
which can be dragged and dropped
onto keys for triggering.

Quick controls
The 16 parts appear on the right-hand
side of the window and can either be
assigned unique MIDI channels or can
share channels for the purposes of
layering: put a pad and a piano together,

IK MULTIMEDIA for example, and you can alter volume orchestral instruments. Thanks to the

and pan quickly. Instruments are quality of the samples and the
searchable by type (multi, instrument on-board effects, processing the
and pattern) and there’s also a Live instruments generally works very well
mode where you can set up groups of and provides an excellent pool of
instruments and effects and then flip textures from which to build up tracks.
It’s been a long time coming, but was it between live setups with a single click, Above all, it’s easier to use than before

worth the wait? Hollin Jones lifts the which is ideal for performing.
At the base of the window is a virtual
thanks to the streamlined interface and
some nice design touches.
lid on SampleTank 3… keyboard and a master control panel Novice users shouldn’t have trouble
where you can control the zoning of figuring out how to get started with

Details ampleTank was one of IK instruments and also access MIDI learn SampleTank 3 and for the more
Price €239.99 Multimedia’s first products, and quick control assignment. There’s a adventurous, macros and the edit
Crossgrade from and helped to pioneer the use Macro panel that provides quick access section provide more in-depth control.
any paid IK product,
€159.99 of sample-based ‘real’ to the key parameters of any sound, and Although useful as a go-to sound
Contact instruments in the music technology an FX panel where you can assign any source for all sorts of projects it’s
+44 (0)1223 234414 world. In the ten years since version 2 of the 55 bundled effects derived from important to note that this is also
was released, technology has sprinted the AmpliTube and T-RackS apps. There designed to be used for gigs via its Live
com forward and there are now countless are five slots per sound and the choice mode, which takes a lot of the hassle
Minimum System virtual instruments that use samples to is good, including amp sims, dynamics, out of creating and using split and
generate sound. The question then EQ, reverbs, delays and more. layered multi-patches on stage. While
OS X 10.7 or higher
Windows 7 or higher becomes, what does this new version of The Mix section provides a good it’s true that there’s perhaps nothing
34GB hard drive space SampleTank bring to the party? The selection of controls that enable you to really cutting edge here in terms of
short answer is: quite a lot. blend the 16 channels, route their sounds, what you do get is a polished
outputs individually, and manage insert and competent instrument to form the
What’s new? slots and panning. The master channel basis of a really solid studio setup. MT
Re-engineered as a 64-bit app, has five effect slots, too, for processing
SampleTank 3 still works in standalone the main outs. The Edit section enables MT Verdict
mode or as a plug-in. Its operation is you to access the three synthesis
+ Very easy to learn and use
broadly the same in both modes, except engines (STRETCH, PS/TS and + Instruments sound good
that when run as a plug-in it will sync to resampling), which control the way the + Great on-board effects
the master host tempo and integrate its samples are processed for playback. + Live mode is well designed
32 available outputs into your DAW’s You can tweak a whole range of things + Very broad selection of sounds
+ Use MIDI loops internally
mixer. In standalone mode it can route here including sample stretching, LFOs,
Key Features + Load your own sampled
these outputs to physical channels on filters, tuning, envelopes, polyphony, instruments
● Standalone
or plug-in
your audio interface. transposition and more, and there’s a + Friendly browser system
operation The full content install is a hefty useful part chooser on the right for + Powerful synth edit section
● 16-part 33GB but you can direct these files to a navigation. The use of synthesis
multitimbral - No actual waveform editing or
secondary or external hard drive during alongside the sampled sounds means recording
● 16 stereo
outputs the installation process. You can load you can sculpt and shape timbres much - Some DAWs now come with a
● 33GB of samples your own sampled instruments into more than you might imagine. bundled ‘catch-all’ sound module
and 4000 sounds SampleTank provided the files have
and loops An excellent staple multi-
● 55 effects
been correctly edited and named, Sounds good? instrument that will fulfil lots of
● Live mode although it doesn’t have any native SampleTank 3 provides a very broad roles in your music-making process,
● Layer and split audio recording capability of its own. selection of sounds to work with and and is also great for live
sounds As you might expect after such a these are, by and large, very good, from performance duties.
● Three synthesis
long gap between versions, SampleTank
3 has a new interface that prioritises
stately grand pianos through fat synths,
heavy drums, rumbling basses and
MAGAZINE October 2014 | 87

MT139.Rev.ST3.indd 87 02/09/2014 14:55


Visit our stand # 1146 at the 137th AES Convention

Los Angeles Oct 10-12, 2014

PreSonus Notion 5 Reviews MT

using notation is becoming increasingly Alternatives

common, and composers and Apart from their flagship products, both
educators will surely welcome the new Avid’s Sibelius and Make Music’s Finale sell
synchronised video window. Timecode budget editions. Sibelius First (£120) has
comprehensive notation facilities and sounds
is displayed above the score, hitpoints and score video export. Finale’s PrintMusic
can be inserted and selections of music ($120) is good value and shares many
notation features with its big brother, but it’s
can be set to a duration or end time. It
limited to 24 staves and doesn’t include the
also supports an impressive amount of Garritan sounds.
the newer video formats including MP4,
WMV, H.264, MPEG, MOV, AVI, M4V and
3GP – an area where the competition cautionary key and time signatures plus
lags behind somewhat. This is all very a useful repeat bar function (create a
impressive but it would be even more so repeat measure with a first-time ending
if, like Sibelius, Notion scores could also and Notion automatically creates a
Choice be exported as videos for personal second-time measure or as many

website or YouTube viewing. endings as you need). For lead sheets,
On the audio front, sample rates can rhythm slashes have been added along
now be changed and three PreSonus with several chord symbol
effects from Studio One – EQ, limiter enhancements and an updated

PRESONUS and compressor – are now integrated in

the program along with the already
chord library, which should certainly
please songwriters.

Notion 5
existing reverb and guitar amp. These Apart from the new video feature
offer nothing fancy but they work well and the inclusion of PreSonus’ effects,
enough, are easy to configure and are Notion 5 might appear to some to be a
all that’s needed for the average rather modest upgrade. That said, the
Modern-day composers orchestral score. You can, of course, add extra notation and layout improvements
third-party VST effects, although this is are a valuable addition to what is
expect their notation limited to just four at a time. undoubtedly a unique program that
software to provide a Delivering stems is often a crosses the boundaries of both notation
requirement these days for media and DAW software. As notation
rapid workflow and composers, and in keeping with its software it lacks many of the advanced
high-quality playback. Details other DAW-like features these can now features of Finale and Sibelius but
Price £118
So how does Notion 5 Contact Via website
be bounced and exported as either
Master, Busses or Instrument. These
clearly compensates for this with its
excellent audio facilities and a fast
fare? Keith Gemmell Web
www.presonus.com can then be imported into a DAW for workflow. It also remains the only
sums up the score. Minimum System
further work. Again this is a feature that
other notation programs lack. For more
notation software that enables you to
work fully standalone on an iPad.
Mac OS X 10.7 or later
control, though, it’s usually best to Recommended as an upgrade for

ecently acquired by PreSonus, Intel Core Solo 1.8GHz export MIDI or MusicXML files into a existing users and an obvious choice for
Notion music notation processor DAW and rework the musical data from new users who need a no-frills
Windows 7 or 8 (32- or
software has now reached 64-bit) there or use ReWire. New presets for notation package. MT
version 5. With an excellent Intel Pentium 4 2GHz various sample libraries have been
DAW-style mixer and orchestral sample
2GB RAM (4GB or
added too, most notably for the MT Verdict
library it’s gained a reputation as a more recommended) high-end LA Scoring Strings.
8GB free hard-drive + DAW-style mixer
credible alternative to the more With a good selection of interactive + Good orchestral samples
expensive advanced notation software tools, entering notes has always been a + Wide video format support
packages such as Finale and Sibelius. breeze in Notion. The process is now + Excellent note entry
It comes with many new features easier still with the introduction of new
Key Features - No video score export
including scoring to picture, the Finale and Sibelius keyboard shortcuts.
● LSO orchestral - Limited third-party VST inserts
inclusion of PreSonus effects and new samples These apply to the numeric keypad and
note entry, lead sheet and layout ● Interactive note are great timesavers if you happen to Notion 5 continues to improve and
entry tools impress with its new features, and
features. We look mainly at the new have a full-sized computer keyboard or
● iPad support is probably the best choice for
features here but if you need more an external keypad.
● New video notation newbies and general
general information about Notion, window educational use. Very user
reviews of versions 3 and 4 are available ● Wide video Note perfect? friendly, sensibly priced and a good
at www.musictech.net. format support Although still nowhere near as choice for musicians who don’t
● MIDI Sequencer require the sophistication of Finale
staff comprehensive as the larger notation
or Sibelius.
Quick flicks programs, several note-entry features
● NT tempo
With many public domain videos freely mode (live have appeared in this latest version
available on the web, writing to picture including cross-staff notation,

MAGAZINE October 2014 | 89

MT139.Rev.Notion5.indd 89 02/09/2014 14:49

MT Reviews Bernhoft Islander app

a new social media channel? Just Alternatives

update the app. On the flipside it’s all Back in 2011, Björk released what many
virtual – not great if you’re the kind of considered to be the first ‘album app’, Biophilia.
person that likes to actually hold a copy Far more experimental, it offers an art-driven
interface and has tracks available as in-app
of the thing you’ve paid for. purchases and, remarkably, MIDI-out to drive
external instruments. It’s as much an art piece
as a commercial venture, but you can expect
Pony up to see more conventional album apps appear
Before we get into the details it’s worth in the not-too-distant future as mobile device
stating that the developer gives a usage continues to rocket.
ballpark figure of “tens of thousands” to
produce an app like this. A similar
amount, they say, to producing a
high-end music video. So as things
stand it’s not really accessible for most
people. That said, technology gets
For PC cheaper over time and this almost
& Mac certainly will as well.
The app is a hefty 1.48GB download
because it contains HD versions of the

HD360 LTD album tracks in uncompressed format.

The photography is very slick and the
one, nicely designed location in the app.
The regular album is on iTunes for £7.99,

whole thing looks almost more like a and when you buy the HD app the
catalogue model shoot, so you can see music is locked into it so you can’t
where at least some of the development actually do anything with it except play

Islander app
costs went. The HD music player is it inside the app. So for the extra £6
actually pretty simple and the fidelity is you’re getting a nice experience and
excellent, even if you’ll need some some fun toys.
higher-end headphones to really What is perhaps more interesting
appreciate it. There’s also a section for a than the content of the app is what it
The future of music has been digital for digital version of liner notes and a photo represents. Releasing albums as apps
gallery and social media section with is potentially a great idea, the bundling
ages, but could an app be the next live feeds, as well as a merchandise of extra content and the ability to
step? Hollin Jones explores Bernhoft store section. You’d need to be a fan to update online offering some excellent

Islander’s offering… shell out for the app, but it does at least
centralise all the different ways in
ways for artists to interact with fans
and build audiences. This app feels like
which you can follow an artist. a first step towards something more

Details nce in a while we get to look at There’s a video area and, more interesting, even if the price of access is
Price £13.99 something that’s a bit different interestingly, a 360˚ video that lets you going to have to come down
Contact App Store from the usual fare that spin around a room and zoom in and significantly before it’s a realistic
Web App Store
crosses our desks. It’s been out by pinching, a bit like old QuickTime prospect for smaller acts. MT
Minimum system
requirements iPad or clear for some time that traditional CD VR movies used to, as the band plays
iPhone sales are on the wane and that mobile live. You can also tap to see more
MT Verdict
apps are massively in the ascendant, so information on each band member.
it was only a matter of time until Oddly enough for an app that makes + An interesting new approach to
someone released an album app (albeit great play of the HD tag, the movie is releasing music
+ HD audio sounds great
in conjunction with a traditional quite heavily compressed and a little
+ 360˚ video is novel
release, not in place of one). The idea of juddery, though it’s still novel to be able + Follow an artist from one location
an all-encompassing release isn’t new, to zoom around a live video. + New content can be added via
of course: enhanced audio CDs with Next up, a Loop Station area enables updates
multimedia content first appeared you to trigger loops and samples from a + Looks very slick
decades ago, and there have always song and effectively remix or rebuild the - Music is locked into the app
been boxsets with videos, posters, track. It’s pretty basic, but will probably - The 360˚ video is a little
special editions and so on. be fun for fans. Similarly the Studio compressed
HD360 is a tech startup that has section gives you a basic set of faders, - Loop and studio sections are fun
but basic
translated these ideas into an app for synced lyrics and the ability to pan and
- You can follow an artist online
Key Features iPad and iPhone, and it works much as add reverb to the stems of a song as for free
● HD audio you might imagine. The artist in this well as recording your own sounds. - Cost of app development
● 360˚ video case is Jarle Bernhoft but we’re not As it stands, this app is by and large prohibitive for most
● Remix using really looking at the music he makes, one for fans only, and if you’re not overly
loops A slick app and an intriguing nod
more at how the app is put together and taken with the music of this particular towards potential new future ways
● ‘Studio’ mode
● Photo and video whether this could, as claimed, be the artist then no amount of slick in-app to release music digitally, though
content future of releasing music. The clear animation is likely to change that. It’s probably mainly of interest to
● Social media and advantage of an app over any kind of also true that you could find a lot of this existing fans for now.
physical media is that it can be updated
over the air. Released a new video or got
kind of content elsewhere online,
though it is at least gathered together in
90 | October 2014 MAGAZINE

MT139.Rev.Islander.indd 90 02/09/2014 14:47

fort14 ad:Layout 1 05/06/2014 16:45 Page 1

The series includes 10”, 12” and 15” bass

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MTM App ad A4.indd 1 04/09/2014 16:06
Steinberg WaveLab 8.5 Reviews MT

some of the more time-consuming export a project to a number of different

aspects of audio production that can file formats at the same time by setting
really weigh you down in everyday up several formats in the export window
situations. The first major new feature and using format presets, then it’s a
is Watch Folders: system-level folders sort of ‘fire and forget’ thing where you
that will automatically process files hit OK and it outputs them all. The
that are placed into them. applications are clear, and this saves
You have to go into WaveLab’s Batch you having to constantly access the
Processor workspace to set one up, and export dialog.
then apply a processing preset to act on
specific (or all) types of audio files Making waves?
For PC
& Mac dropped into that folder. You can set up The updates to WaveLab 8.5 are
processor chains just like track presets definitely worth having for users of
in your DAW, so they could, for example, version 8. There was a ton of new stuff

STEINBERG convert formats, apply limiting and

normalisation or any other combination
in version 8 as well, so for users of
earlier versions, leaping straight to 8.5

WaveLab 8.5
of tools. The process runs at system will bring you a lot of excellent features
level so it can operate without WaveLab that you may not currently have. It’s
needing to be open, which is clever. undoubtedly one of the most powerful
It’s not entirely transparent just how and capable wave editors and audio

When you need to take control of your you get this stuff up and running
initially, and even poking around the
processing and analysis environments,
and will help you to get complete
audio files, Steinberg offers a help files requires a bit of work. This is a control of almost any kind of audio.
comprehensive solution. Hollin Jones legacy of the sheer amount of things
that WaveLab has taken on over time,
There’s still a lingering issue around
the look and feel of WaveLab. Although
gets to grips with the latest version… coupled with a user interface that the interface is configurable to an
remains a bit fiddly. It’s better than it extent, it’s still very busy, and finding
used to be but there’s still room for out how to achieve things can be a little

Details aveLab was one of the improvement, especially when frustrating at first. Menus, submenus
Price Full version, first software wave Steinberg’s DAW software really leads and small icons abound and while this
£448 editors to hit the pro audio the way when it comes to usability. is a consequence of WaveLab’s history
Upgrade from
WaveLab 8, £41
world way back in 1995, and the huge effort that would be
Upgrade from and since then it has gained a stack of Encode this! involved in a total rewrite, let’s not
WaveLab Elements features (including, a few years ago, Next up is the Encoder Checker, a nifty forget that Steinberg did just that with
8, £366
Mac compatibility). It’s not a new feature that generates a multi- Cubase once already in the leap from
Contact Via website
conventional DAW but it is a real Swiss stream preview of the original source Cubase VST to SX many years back, and
www.steinberg.net Army Knife of audio tools, able to cover audio plus up to three encoded streams the result has been a smoother, more
Minimum System everything from analysis and repair with configurable quality settings and a consistent and friendlier application.
through multi-speaker monitoring, CD real-time FFT graph. You can flip WaveLab is supremely powerful, and a
Windows 7 or 8
Mac OS X 10.8 creation and batch processing. between the streams with no clicks or re-think of its sprawling interface
Dual core CPU perceivable latency to hear how each certainly wouldn’t do any harm. MT
Back to the Lab one sounds. This has been available in
For many years, WaveLab was the go-to plug-in format, notably the Sonnox MT Verdict
mastering application for many Fraunhofer Pro-Codec (£295), for some
+ Amazingly powerful
producers working on computers. And time, but it’s great to have it as part of + New workflow features can
even though DAWs such as Cubase and WaveLab. There’s expanded format significantly save time
Logic are now much more support including AAC encoding for + Multi-speaker management
Key Features accomplished than before when paired Apple devices. is great
+ Batch processing is powerful
● 384kHz, 24-bit with mastering plug-ins, the level of Also new is multi-format rendering,
support + Great audio analysis tools
forensic detail that WaveLab offers is potentially a + Check encoded streams in
● Over 1000
audio tracks
still impressive. It can handle files at up huge timesaver. real time
supported to 384kHz and 24-bit, has unlimited You can now + Advanced metering
● Audio montage undo and redo, specialised speaker + Get right inside your audio
● Batch management for switching speaker Alternatives
processing - Not Retina-ready on Mac
sets in software along with advanced WaveLab Elements - Interface still cluttered
● Advanced audio 8 is significantly
metering and editing tools and some great plug-ins - Could do with a graphical
cheaper at just
editing including iZotope’s MBIT+ dithering, £82, and while it overhaul
● 35 bundled lacks some of the
Voxengo’s CurveEQ and more, as well as Still an excellent choice for all
higher-end features it still has much of the core
● EBU-compliant support for all your own VSTs. functionality for audio editing. Sony’s Sound kinds of audio metering and editing,
loudness You’ll find a detailed list of all Forge is dual platform, although the Windows and comes with some great new
metering version is significantly more well-established encoding and batch processing
WaveLab’s features on Steinberg’s
● Watch folders than the Mac version (in fact, the two are alike tools. The GUI could do with some
website but we’ll concentrate here on really in name only). You can achieve some of
● Encoder checker spring cleaning, though.

what’s new in version 8.5. The changes the same things using your DAW as well, though
● AAC encoder
you get an awful lot of extra functionality with a
● Audio recording are almost all in the areas of dedicated app such as WaveLab.
productivity and workflow, and address

MAGAZINE October 2014 | 93

MT139.Rev.Wavelab.indd 93 02/09/2014 15:03

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APC40 mkII & APC mini Reviews MT

build that we expect from Akai but

they’ve slightly revised the knob style to
a tapered shape. A huge bugbear with
the mkI was its requirement to be run
off mains power, which is now solved as
the mkII is buss powered via USB.
The APC mini’s clip launching grid is
much more compact than Novation’s
Launchpad, which allows space for the
nine faders. These are a welcome
feature as they’re essential for quick
channel level access or expressive
mapping within Live. They are, however,
very short-throw faders and quite
recessed, so it’s more of a ‘finger from

above to move’ type of situation than a
fader you can grab and rag around. But

APC40 mkII
they’re handy nonetheless and not as
Choice cheap feeling as other low-profile

9/10 faders we’ve experienced in the past.
Like the APC40 mkII, the whole unit is

& APC mini

very low-profile and we can imagine
both units could easily fit into a
expect for the huge difference in price medium-sized laptop bag.
compared with the APC40 mkII, it offers
The iconic APC40 Ableton Live a lower level of control. But it does have Stage presence
controller gets a revamp and gives birth nine low-profile faders, which is
generous for the price. The APC Key 25
Focussing on the APC40 mkII alone
there’s some clever revision going on
to new offspring. Liam O’Mullane finds is a keyboard variant of the range, and with how Akai has approached the
out what these have to offer compared as the name suggests it includes 25 design of certain buttons. Buttons you
mini keys for more traditional music really don’t want to accidentally trigger
with other dedicated Live controllers. control, and instead of the mini’s faders
it sports eight knobs.

Details ast your memory back to early Throughout the new range the most
Price 2009 and you may not have noticeable difference to the older APC
APC40 mkII, £289.99 been familiar with the 40 and APC 20 is the choice to ditch
APC mini, £77.99
APC Key 25, £99.99 colourful LED grids we are now square clip launching pads and
Contact used to seeing in live electronic and DJ maximise space by going rectangular.
inMusic shows. The original APC40, which both Though the APC’s never had velocity-
01252 896040
Akai and Ableton developed, was the sensitive pads we’ve seen quite a few
www.akaipro.com first of its generation of purpose-built finger drummers using the mkI for
Ableton Live controllers that included performances, so this change in shape
these clip launching grids. There have may exclude them from these newer
since been various competing products products. But the majority of potential
Key Features
released for Live control and each one users will intend to use the pads for just
APC40 MKII Alternatives
takes a slightly different angle with clip launching, and for that purpose
● 5 x 8 multi- The APC mini is most comparable to Novation’s
colour RGB clip their choice of features. they are perfectly fine. Launchpad Mini (£79), which offers a square-
launching pads The APC40 mkI had nine faders, a shaped grid at the cost of having no faders or
other form of continuous, hands-on parameter
● Logical layout crossfader, an 8x5 launch grid and Slick and slender control. There isn’t a huge range of comparative
● Crossfader
various knobs and buttons to navigate At first glance there are many options to the APC40 mkII, as the crossfader
around your session. Still to this day it’s noticeable differences between the is quite a unique feature alongside a clip
launching grid. Existing owners of Live 9 may
● Low profile fader a very good-quality and well thought- APC40 mkII and the mkI; its rectangular want to consider upping their investment for
out controller, but times have moved on body shape being one of the biggest. Push (€499), as it offers all the 40’s features
● Bundled aside from the fader controls and crossfader
software and so have the competition, so the This is due to a new, more logical layout
assigning. But if those aren’t an issue, or you
includes Live mkII is a welcome update. Two of track knobs now being in line with can budget for a small fader controller to go
Lite other APC products have also been each track. The unit’s height is also now with it, Push offers much more in terms of
APC MINI integrated hardware control of Live.
released around the same time, one very low-profile, which makes it more
● Nine short-throw
faders being the APC mini, which we’ll also be bag friendly than the mkI (which also
● Tri-colour lit 8 x exploring here. suffered from having easily bendable
8 clip launching Much like Novation’s response to the fader stems). The mkII has rectified this
● Bundled
APC40 with the Launchpad, the mini issue by slightly recessing them. The
software seems to be a very similar product, crossfader feels the same as the mkI
includes Live offering an 8x8 grid for more clip access with light action and minimal sidewards
● Compact design
at any one time. Sessions can be play for dextrous fader work. Macro and
navigated to some degree, but as you’d track control knobs are the usual solid

MAGAZINE October 2014 | 95

MT139.Rev.Akai/2 minis.indd 95 04/09/2014 12:32

MT Reviews APC40 mkII & APC mini

general, the unit just makes a bit more access to solo, mute, track select and
sense to move around, and the play/ record arm. The first eight faders can
stop button for Live’s transport is now also move from volume control to pan,
on the top of the unit rather than with send and device control.
the mk1 when it was so close to the The new APC range is definitely
crossfader that accidental triggering worth considering and may put Akai
was a potential hazard. back on top of the affordable Ableton
The mini doesn’t feature RGB pads Live control marketplace. We
but it’s just as easy to work with for recommend all APC40 mkI users to
launching clips as its bigger brother, check the mkII out, and for those
even though the pads are smaller. looking at a clip launcher with tactile
These pads feel just as solid as the APC control at a low price, the mini is also
We tested the RGB pad colour against the colour variations in Live and
they matched incredibly well, making it much easier to colour code 40 mkII and shift functionality gives you worth a look. MT
your sounds for visual clarity in a live situation.

MT Verdict APC40 mkII MT Verdict APC mini

in the heat of a gig are recessed, while
all other rubberised pads stand proud + Slimline profile + Slimline profile
of the unit for easy access. It’s a shame + Slick crossfader feel + Very compact considering the
+ RGB pads have great colour feature set
track arm, cross-fader assignment, matching to Live + Great value
track mute and solo buttons aren’t also
recessed as they are also undesirable - Not enough buttons recessed to - Very recessed faders
for accidental triggering. avoid accidental triggering - Rectangular buttons may not suit
- Quite expensive when compared finger drummers
Among the revised layout to fit the
to Push
rectangular body shape, the navigation Lots of features for such a small
control to move around Session View is This is a good example of a and fairly priced device. We
now just above the crossfader for easy follow-up release outdoing the recommend checking this out for a
original as it answers most mkI practical yet highly portable Live
access (and while on the topic of easy
user’s gripes. controller.

8/10 9/10
access the pads now have RGB lighting,
which means they mimic different
colours and shades to clips in Live). In

IK Multimedia Curved Horizon

iLoud Manufacturer Mode Audio
Price £12
Contact Via website
Manufacturer IK Multimedia
Web modeaudio.com
Price €199.99

Contact Via website ode Audio has done
something quite unusual
Web www.ikmultimedia.com
here in that it has

e’re a bit late to the iLoud programmed some analogue-
party, but we’ve recently sounding presets (well ‘vintage’
been using these in the anyway) for a synth regarded for
Key Features
office and thought they deserved its warm sheen. The sounds on
● 15 pads
a brief review. IK Multimedia is Key Features
offer are a selection of pads, ● 10 basses
primarily known for mobile-based ● 40W power
basses, synths and chords often ● 10 classic
recording peripherals and the ● Bluetooth with a little bit of ‘analogue’ synth
iLoud ostensibly continues the and stereo variability thrown in. So the ● 5 chord
analogue line presets
trend by being a portable input
basses, for example, might come
● 5 lead synth
Bluetooth studio monitoring ● 10-hour with a bit of phasing movement or ● 5 pluck synth
system for iPad-based mixing. battery time noise. It’s also effective on some of ● 50 MIDI loops
Our go-to tracks for monitor ● iRig input for the leads – the Gamma preset is (bass, synths
guitars and and chords)
testing all sounded great, with dynamic mics particularly good and cuts right
surprising clarity for such a small through in a very in-your-face way.
unit. Bass could be heavier but There are only 50 sounds but it is MT Verdict
that’s unsurprising given the MT Verdict only 12 quid, and what is here
If you want to dirty your FM8
small woofer. IK boast of the The iLoud is pretty great, would suit a surprising number of synth up a little and add a bit
iLoud’s ‘studio style’ fidelity and despite a few niggles, and genres from ambient to of vintage warmth this is a
although it’s better than most certainly holds its own against soundtrack, electronic shoe- great preset pack, and it’s
larger mobile speakers. also quite cheap.
mobile speaker systems we’ve gazing music and maybe even
tried it doesn’t quite live up to
that assertion. MT
8/10 dirty dance. Add in 50 MIDI files
and it’s a fine little collection. MT
96 | October 2014 MAGAZINE

MT139.Rev.Akai/2 minis.indd 96 04/09/2014 12:32

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Mini Reviews MT

Synth Deep House

DNA: Korg Key Features
& Garage Key Features

● 54 multi- ● Drums, top
sampled loops, synths,
Manufacturer Wave Alchemy
patches from bass, vocals
the Korg Price £34.95 and FX
Manufacturer Loopmasters MonoPoly ● Inspired
● Raw and Contact info@loopmasters.com
Price £17.95 by Dusky,
layered Disclosure,
Web www.loopmasters.com/
Contact info@loopmasters.com analogue Justin Martin &
oscillators plus labels/4-Wave-Alchemy Shadow Child
Web www.loopmasters.com custom sounds ● 805MB worth

● 1.5GB of 24-bit ave Alchemy presents of 24-bit audio

audio, 3200 ● Comes in
oopmasters’ new DNA series samples their take on the current
WAV, REX2 and
aims to capture the building ● Patches for deep house scene with a Apple Loops
blocks of a range of vintage Kontakt, EXS24, slightly harder and more formats; Live 9
HALion, NN-XT and Maschine
synths, with the first tackling and SFZ Choice techno-influenced pack inspired
versions also
Korg’s 4 VCO MonoPoly ● Ableton by the likes of Dusky, Shadow available
instrument. The pack offers up 54 Live Pack with Child, and Hot Since 82. There are ● Includes 168
additional MIDI loops and
multi-sampled sampler patches folders of drum, bass, synth and
focusing on providing the raw
channel strips
keys loops, plus top & groove and
16 sampler Excellence
instruments for
analogue waveforms in a number chopped vocal loops all at 122 and Kontakt, NN-XT,
of oscillator combinations, plus MT Verdict 124bpm. You’ll also find chord and Battery, HALion
and SFZ
several custom patches for bass As long as you’re willing to put bass MIDI patterns, and a handful
and lead sounds. If you’re looking in some sound design work of excellent bass and drum hits.
for complex ready-made sounds, and aren’t put off by the lack Everything here has a satisfying MT Verdict
of round-robin sampling,
then this collection may crunch and weight to it, with
then this pack is an excellent An expertly produced pack of
disappoint. However, for sound way to bring the raw sound subtle but innovative production inspiring and useable loops
designers seeking high-quality of the Korg MonoPoly into that manages to sound current yet and sounds, with a crunchy,
oscillator waveforms to use as a your tracks. original, and avoids some of the modern finish.
starting point this is an
intriguing proposition. MT
9/10 clichés we’ve heard in other deep
house packs. MT

Low End: The Egoist

Definitive Guide Manufacturer Sugar Bytes

for Producers Price €99

Contact info@sugar-bytes.de Key Features
Manufacturer Samplecraze Web www.sugar-bytes.de ● Creative
Price $25

instrument for
goist is a user-friendly use in DAWs and
Contact info@samplecraze.com standalone
Key Features groove instrument with a
Web www.samplecraze.com slick GUI that’s divided into ● Load, slice,
● 310-page sequence and
ebook on mixing three sections: the Slicer, for manipulate

rum layering master Eddie bass and low arranging and manipulating a samples
Bazil sets his sights on sample into 16 slices; a Bass & ● Move and
● Written by randomise
unveiling the secrets of low Eddie Bazil Beat page for sequencing basic sequences
end, with this new ebook aimed at ● PDF format ideas using the built-in beat box for instant
with plenty of variations
dance, pop and urban producers. screengrabs
and synth; and lastly there’s an
● Play patterns
The PDF book is divided into 11 ● Over 1GB of effects page where you can step and sequencer
chapters covering side-chaining, 24-bit/44.1kHz sequence seven different FX. steps using the
example audio keyboard
filtering and EQ, parallel Clearly the star here is the Choice
● Uses a large ● Onboard
processing, phase, compression range of up-to- sampler section, which is where bass, beat and
and limiting, saturation, M/S date VSTs you’ll spend most of your time and FX units for
processing, 808s and 909s, and where the real fun and creativity sketching out
more, with over a GB of before and MT Verdict occurs. The effects section is also
after audio examples. Although we excellent, and although the bass
Slightly muddled layout aside,
found ourselves getting a little lost
this is a great resource for
and drum sequencers are a little MT Verdict
in places, especially with intermediate and pro level limited they are a nice addition for
A beautifully-designed, fun
matching up the audio files, this is producers looking for sketching out ideas when and inspiring groovebox
a tip-filled gold mine of highly next-level bass mixing tips working outside of a DAW. Egoist that can help kick-start
advanced bass mixing techniques and techniques. is well worth checking out if your creativity.
that’s packed with useful
real-world examples. MT
8/10 you’re in the market for a handy
musical sketch pad. MT
MAGAZINE October 2014 | 99

MT139 reviews minis.indd 99 02/09/2014 14:20

Mini Reviews MT

Break: EDM Hooks

Symmetry and Drops
Drum & Key Features
Manufacturer Loopmasters
Key Features
● Hooks, drops,

Price £29.95 kicks, snares
● Full suite of and more
DnB production Contact info@loopmasters.com ● 1.19GB of 24-
sounds bit audio
Manufacturer Loopmasters ● Apple Loops, Web www.loopmasters.com
● Includes 88
Live pack, Refill MIDI files
Price £29.95

and Zip package
formats DM and general bass music ● Sampler
Contact info@loopmasters.com presets for
● 214 loops and sound designer Dan Larsson
Web www.loopmasters.com over 340 one- has made a very well- HALion, EXS24,
shot samples NN-XT and SFZ
produced EDM package, which

● 970MB of 24-
panning across both loop bit audio offers both a large range of ● Available in
and one-shot formats, ● 82 sampler complete production kits for you Apple Loops,
presets for Choice
drums, bass, keys, synths, to arrange and jam with and a Refill and Live
Kontakt, formats
SFX and more there are plenty of HALion, NN-XT, collection of sample-based
varied DnB samples and the EXS24 and SFZ instruments to program with your
quality level is excellent own musical ideas. Huge-
throughout. There’s no fixed style sounding and tuned kicks and MT Verdict
to the drums except that they all snares dominate the mix for a An excellent pack for those
MT Verdict who want a lot of pre-
have a rich, and pardon the pun, solid groove and come in a variety
break-like texture to them for that A very well-produced sample of flavours to place your big-room prepared musical material to
pack that will serve any DnB craft into their own
sampled drums sound. A good lead on top of. MIDI files are also productions or use within DJ/
head’s audio toolbox for a long
range of heavy bass tones is period of time. Loads of drum included with various hooks for live sets. The sound is right
included, as well as some rich and textures and some incredibly you to use or modify. These and there’s a lot of musical
animate string sounds. The keys rich musical instruments to sounds are huge and buzzy, and starting points included for
play with. the price.
section is interesting with plenty the production level of each
of jazz-like, discordant chords to
set a dark mood for your tracks. MT
9/10 sound is ready to go and satisfying
to use. MT

Key Features Conductr

● 25 pressure- Manufacturer Patchworks
sensitive smart
keys Price Basic version: Free
● Compact Complete upgrade: £15.49
Contact via website

● USB-buss
powered Web www.conductr.net
● CV controller
and interface

Manufacturer Keith McMillen t’s been just over a year since Key Features
Instruments gate and three other CV signals to we first assessed Conductr, and ● Full, split
Price £139 sequence and modulate external the latest 1.2 update is worthy or quartered
screen views
Contact MSL Professional CV-based hardware, so you can of a re-look. This controller app for for 1, 2, 3 or 4
0207 118 0133 get some very expressive control Ableton Live covers normal modules
with analogue synths or just use functionality such as clip ● Easy to use
Web www.keithmcmillen.com and map XY-4D
the device as a hub between your launching, master controls and a

hough it may seem pricey hardware instruments and your mixer module, but the real gem ● iPad 1
for a very slimline 25-key DAW. We’ve had a lot of fun with here is the new XY-4D controller. compatible and
controller, there’s so much this and it makes the unit a This XY pad offers custom control upwards
● Works over
packed into this unit that it could worthwhile consideration for of any parameter and uniquely Wi-Fi network or
prove to be great value for studio or live use. MT uses pinch and tap gestures as ad-hoc set-ups
particular needs. The first unique well as the usual movements. This
aspect is the rubberised keys that uses a very simple learn system
MT Verdict MT Verdict
output pressure and can be used that enables you to click the
for modulation control. They’re Another unique device from desired parameter in Live and A simple yet powerful app for
KMI that offers more than the controlling Live without too
velocity sensitive and feature a norm within a compact map it as you please to the various
much information on your iPad
control called Tilt that enables you keyboard controller. It’s worth 4D controls. Devices can be
at any one time. We
to move your finger up or down a checking out if you want a mapped to turn on from touching recommend trying the free
key during play to control pitch higher level of expression the pad, then the other three version to see if it ticks your
within a very small footprint. boxes before upgrading.
data – a fantastic expression tool! parameters are able to be mapped
The other trick up this device’s
sleeve is its ability to send out
8/10 however you like, making this a
very versatile controller. MT
MAGAZINE October 2014 | 101

MT139 reviews minis.indd 101 02/09/2014 14:23

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MT139.US subs.indd 5 04/09/2014 16:02

Six of the best Buyer’s Guide MT

Six of the best

Hardware Software Mobile Technology Samples
£490 (pair)
Fender GBI
Welcome to a brand new MusicTech Buyer’s Guide where we 01342 331700
round up some of the best products recently reviewed in the www.fender.com

magazine. We kick it off with the most important of studio

items: the monitor…


Eris 4.5
Given those caveats the sound quality
was absolutely remarkable. Of all three
Eris monitors they have the finest bass
definition, but it is possible to detect

some roll-off in the lowest frequencies.

he Eris range is brand new from The imaging was also remarkably crisp,
PreSonus. MT monitor expert and although the obvious application
Eris E4.5: £169 (pair)

Huw Price was particularly may be use with computers we’d have Contact
taken with the 4.5s, which only no qualms about integrating them into Source Distribution
weigh in at £169 for the pair! Huw said: our studio monitor setup. 020 8962 5080
Web www.
“We hadn’t expected that much from “These are not expensive

them because they resemble computer monitors but they punch way above their co.uk
speakers and are priced accordingly. price point. ”

or these monitors Fender and
Focal have teamed up to

Audio The
produce a set of high-quality
mobile speakers, the thinking
being that you can mix anywhere. And

Rock Mk2
they sound great according to Huw…
“Judged purely as studio monitors,
the level of detail and solidity of the
imaging is certainly commensurate with

hese are inspiring in terms of the price point. However, more
looks and, fortunately, sound conventional competitors might offer an
as good. Huw Price says: extra degree of user adjustment.
“The depth of the Details “The defining feature is that the
soundstage is something special. After Price
Passport Studio system can be locked
some experimentation with toe-in, we £2,199 (pair) together and transported without the
found the left/right imaging impressive Contact need to preserve the original packaging
Unity Audio
too. The Rocks may not be the ideal or buy a flight case. Then you simply
01799 520786
choice if you do a lot of location Web split them, set them up and they’re good
recording but in all other regards these www.unity to go. This is a cleverly designed,
are no-compromise nearfields that carefully thought out and affordable
slotted straight into our setup. ” product that fills a niche in the market.”

MAGAZINE October 2014 | 103

MT139.6 of the best.indd 103 02/09/2014 14:24

MT Buyer’s Guide Six of the best


t the top end of the budget level. The depth of the soundstage is
there’s a lot of choice, but the incredible and left/right imaging is
twotwo.6s from PMC are about as crisp as it gets.
MusicTech editor Andy Jones’ “If you prefer listening to your
choice, and Huw agrees… speakers rather than listening to the
“The principal reason the twotwo.6s music, these may not be for you. But if
are outstanding is that nothing stands you want a clear and neutral window
out. There’s no low-mid hump, forward into what’s going on with your mix, the
midrange or glassy treble sheen and the twotwo.6s deliver everything you could
balance remains constant regardless of ask for.”


Its delicious, classic sound is Price £4192 (pair)

Contact HHB

a refreshing change from

020 8962 5000
Web www.pmc-

unforgiving modern boxes


MAD 1920s
Price 2.1 system
£879. SC204 £480
(pair). TS107 £399

Contact Nova
020 3589 2530
Web www.

ur hardware expert John
Pickford is a MAD fan (that’s
BEST 2.1 SYSTEM My Audio Design). Here’s
what he had to say about the

company’s latest release…
“My Audio Design has created a
wonderful monitor with the 1920s. Its

& TS107
delicious, classic sound is a refreshing
change from the unforgiving nature of
many modern boxes and it’s equally at
home relaying both minimal acoustic

ve has released many a good recordings and complex mixes of all
monitor in a relatively short kinds. A very well thought-out and
period of time. Huw price says sophisticated design.”
of this 2.1 system…
“If you haven’t listened to monitors Details
with folded ribbon tweeters before, the Price £2,350
treble response may surprise you. The Contact
My Audio Design
SC204s are bright but they’re not in the 020 8123 9789
least bit edgy and the overall character Web www.
is smooth and refined. It’s a superb- madengland.com
sounding, full-frequency system with
user-friendly features that’s particularly
well suited to smaller rooms.”

104 | October 2014 MAGAZINE

MT139.6 of the best.indd 104 02/09/2014 14:24

The Music Production Expo
is the essential event for
anyone interested in making
and recording music.

Full of the latest equipment from the

world’s biggest brands, .MPX
provides the perfect chance for
visitors to get hands-on with new

NOV 14-15


MT Feature A bluffer’s guide to music technology

MT Feature Music Technology

TECHNOLOGY If you’re bursting with musical ideas but don’t know how to realise
them then this is the series for you. Rob Boffard guides you through
the music-making maze, starting at the very beginning…

roducing music is a bit like snowboarding. You need equipment to do it,
and you have to have a basic understanding of what you’re doing, but
you’re probably going to fall flat on your face a few times. Simply
admiring good snowboarders or knowing the general principles of
snowboarding aren’t going to be enough. If you want to carve up a
slope you need to put a little time into working out how it’s all done.
Now that we’ve got the mangled metaphors out of the way, welcome to our
bluffer’s guide to music technology. If you’re just getting started in making music
then this is the perfect primer for how it all works. In the months to come we’ll
focus on different aspects of producing music, but for now we’re just going to
look at the big concepts: the mountain, if you will, rather than the boards and
boots and bindings.

Open the DAW

This may come as a total shock to you, but in 2014 music is mostly created using
computers. That’s not particularly interesting or informative but you might not
know just how it’s done, or exactly what goes on when a producer sits down at a
computer to make some music. Back in the day, the centre of the music studio

106 | October 2014 MAGAZINE

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A bluffer’s guide to music technology Feature MT

was a big mixing desk.

In many cases it still is,
but it’s not as crucial as
it once was. Every piece
of sound went into that
desk, and after having
processing applied to it,
it all came out the other
end. Outside of big
studios you won’t find
too many enormous
mixing desks. What you
will find, though, are
their 21st-century
equivalent: DAWs. Logic Pro’s mixer pops up when you press X on the keyboard. Instant access to the levels, pan controls
Nobody has ever been and effects on all your tracks.

able to pin down if you

pronounce it ‘Door’ or ‘Dee-Ay-Double-You’. Frankly, it doesn’t matter. Pick the Tech terms
one you like best. It stands for Digital Audio Workstation, and it’s almost always ● DAW: Digital Audio
the hub of any producer’s world. It contains a sequencer, where pieces of audio Workstation. The place
are arranged and edited, a mixer, where their levels are changed, and a whole where everything
host of effects and instruments that you can use to mess with existing sounds or happens. Nobody knows
create new ones. how to pronounce it.
You’ll find plenty of DAWs on the market, and you’ll need to spend a bit of
time figuring out which one you like using. This should be the deciding factor: piece of equipment
you absolutely have to be comfortable with the program you’re working with, that handles the audio
and so it pays to audition them before shelling out your hard-earned. There are signals. Can either be
several big names and they all have their own strengths and weaknesses. internal or external to
Pro Tools is a big, powerful, industry-standard program, but it’s also finicky your computer.
and expensive and difficult to get to grips with (plus, dealing with Avid, the
● MONITORS: A fancy
company that makes it, will drive you insane). Logic Pro is Apple’s own program, name for speakers.
and is versatile and great to use, even if it is Mac only. Reason is a music- They come in various
focussed software package with dozens of dedicated instruments – perfect for flavours, such as near-
production, but quite unusual and hard to learn. Then there’s Cubase, Audition, field monitors, which
Soundation, Ableton, and more… are smaller and used in
home studios.
Any DAW is intimidating to learn. But put the time and effort in and you’ll
discover something interesting: whatever each DAW’s personality, they all work ● INTERFACE: The box
in roughly the same way. that you plug everything

You’ll find plenty of DAWs on

Realising this is a into. It receives audio
powerful moment, signals (from your
because once you can computer or your

the market, and you’ll need to use one DAW, you can, in instruments) and tells
it where to go (speakers

figure out which one you like

theory, use them all.
or headphones).

The big three

Music production is
divided into three distinct segments: composing, mixing and mastering. No
matter what kind of music you make, whether you’re in a big, multi-room studio
or hunched in front of your laptop, that’s how it goes.
Composing is the act of making music. It’s the process of taking an idea in
your head and putting it into recorded form. This might happen with an entire
band or it might be you and your DAW and a couple of software instruments
bashing out a drum beat. Doesn’t matter. If you’re recording something, or
creating it, then you’re composing.
Then there’s mixing. This is also pretty simple: you’re taking all the elements
of your song and blending them together. This is all about adjusting volume
levels, panning left or right, and applying effects to sharpen up sounds (don’t
worry, we’ll deal with effects in a subsequent instalment). You’re looking to take
the separate channels and put them together so that they sound awesome.
We’re not going to lie to you: the mixing stage is hard. It requires you to
develop a good ear, put in a lot of time, and gain a good dose of experience. But

MAGAZINE October 2014 | 107

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MT Feature A bluffer’s guide to music technology

you can’t skip it, and the only way to get good at it is
to do lots of it.
Then there’s mastering. This is about taking your
finished track and putting an extra layer of shine on
it. Imagine you’ve cooked a nice meal, blending all
these different ingredients together and using the
perfect amount of spices. You don’t just slop it out
into a polystyrene kebab box you’ve got lying around.
No, you find the nicest plate you’ve got.
Mastering is the plate. The process beefs up the
sound, makes the volume consistent throughout the
track, and puts an extra layer of polish on it.
Mastering is a dark art – you can do it on your own,
but it’ll be much better if you let a pro do it. That’s
not just because they’ll have the best-sounding
studio and the most heavyweight equipment, it’s also
because they can bring a fresh set of ears.

Hard and soft Meet Reason. It uses a rack system to line up software instruments for you to use. Hit tab, and the rack
flips around to the back where there are cables you can rearrange.
There’s nothing to stop you making music with just a
laptop and a DAW. It can be done. But you’ll be in a
much better situation if you can invest in some good one, such as the MBox that ships with Pro
hardware, particularly when you stop composing Tools, will enable you to control your instrument
and start mixing. No matter how good your computer levels, the main volume, and how much of anything
is, its soundcard is not going to give you the results you’re hearing at any given time.
you want. Speaking of instruments, they’ll all connect to
The easiest bits of gear to get your head around that interface. Whether it’s a keyboard, a guitar and
are headphones and speakers, or monitors as they’re amp, or a microphone, they’ll all eventually come
known in music making. You want ones that aren’t back to the interface. If you have a lot of instruments
going to colour your mix – what that means is that (if you’re in a band, for example) then you’ll be
they absolutely have to pump out the sound as it is, needing a bigger interface with a lot more inputs.
rather than increasing the bass or treble. This is not Just you and your DAW? A single input will be fine.
the place for a pair of Beats by Dre cans. When you’re And you might have guessed this already, but a
mixing, the most important thing is to know exactly mixing desk is just an interface with faders on it. It’s
how your mix sounds, and monitors and headphones not just the computer’s external soundcard, it lets
that can give you this – known as a ‘flat’ response –

There’s nothing to stop you

are worth spending money on.
Of course, you could just plug them right into

making music with just a laptop

your computer. If you’re an idiot. A much better
option is to invest in an interface. This is essentially

and a DAW. It can be done

an external soundcard for your computer, one which
you can plug all your equipment into and then
connect back to your computer (usually via USB). A

you get direct physical control over the parameters

of your track. The big, classic desks are renowned for
providing a pleasing colour to the sound – a quality
that translates as warm and rich when it hits the ear.
Not every desk will do this, but there’s certainly an
argument for investing in your own. It’s a nice-to-
have, though, not an absolute.
By the way: remember those effects we
mentioned? They can come in hardware format too,
usually in big rectangular units that can be slotted
into dedicated ‘racks’. They perform in exactly the
same way as their software equivalents, shaping and
moulding the sound, it’s just that to use them you
send audio to them from your computer and then the
effect sends it back all nicely processed.
So. DAWs, the three stages of music making, and
hardware. That’s the mountain you’re standing on
You can master your tracks on your own computer, using programs such as iZotope Ozone, pictured
top of. Next time, we’ll take a look at how to get
here. But you won’t get good results with a bad hardware setup.
down it. MT

108 | October 2014 MAGAZINE

MT139.feat Bluffer's Guide.indd 108 04/09/2014 12:29


On sale now £8.99 with free DVD. Digital version £5.99.

Available at WHSmith (UK), Barnes & Noble (USA) and all good
bookstores in Australia, Canada, and throughout Europe.
Or order online at www.musictech.net/tag/focus

MTF35.ad.indd 1 04/09/2014 09:14

MT Show off your studio

Show off your studio

We asked for studio pictures and hundreds of you
responded… It’s another new MusicTech series in
which you show off your studios!

e asked the MusicTech Facebook and
Twitter audiences to send us a picture of
their studio sets ups (#showoffyourstudio)
and were stunned by the response. We’ve
since interviewed some of the
respondents for more details, and here they are. If you
want your space to be featured in the magazine then add
your picture to our regular Facebook Show Off Your
Studio posts…

A ‘home’ recording studio based in

Kennesaw, Georgia, USA

SoundGasm Studio
Interviewee: Kyle Bryson (owner/engineer/producer)
Contact: Kyle@soundgasm.com

What are some of the key back in the day, and I wanted was quite surreal to have people
components in your studio? something close to them. working in such a professional studio
Top of the list are: 1956 Hammond express curiosity about our place.
C3 with a Leslie 147, a full Gretsch How often would you say you spend
Catalina Maple Series drum kit, in your studio per week? Is it perfect already or is there
several guitar amps including a Around 30-40 hours a week. room for improvement?
Marshall JCM800, and a variety of The rooms were tested multiple
guitars, mics and other instruments. How do you use your studio? times, and we made several changes
Other gear includes Yamaha HS8 SoundGasm Studio is used for to ensure we had an amazing space
monitors, Eurodesk MX9000, MoTu recording bands, hip-hop artists, to track in. We also have plans for a
2408Mk3 and 24 I/O converters. classical musicians, and other local second tracking room that is
talent around town. When it’s not currently under construction. 
Which DAW do you use and why? being used for a recording studio I
We run Cubase 7.5 and Avid Pro spend my time jamming with a few What is next on your studio
Tools 11 on multiple custom-built bands, and with the other musicians shopping list and why?
Windows 7 Pro-based computers in the family. Preamps, preamps, preamps. You can
running on i7 4790 core processors never have too many preamps, and
with 32GB RAM and RAID systems. Do you have any interesting we want options.
Cubase is our main DAW, but we are studio-based anecdotes?
beginning to use Pro Tools for The Murray SoundLab is a $46 What is the one piece of advice you
tracking and editing because it is million professional studio down the would give someone just starting
more intuitive, and Cubase for street from my house. The first time I to build their own studio?
mixing down due to the workflow. walked into their control room two Take your time and do it right. The
guys I had not seen since middle saying goes, “You can’t rush art.”
What is your favourite piece of school were working there. When I You’re going to be making art in the
gear and why? told them about SoundGasm Studio studio, so take your time to perfect
Right now it’s my Yamaha HS8 they said they had already heard of your art. Besides, a good-sounding
monitors. I love those monitors. the build through the grapevine and room is just as important as any
Everybody loved the NS10s from they were wanting to hear/see it. It piece of gear you could invest in.

110 | October 2014 MAGAZINE

MT139 Show off your studio.indd 110 03/09/2014 15:59

Show off your studio MT

Wax Recording Studio SynthLab

Interviewee: Jean-Baptiste Pilon Interviewee: Sotiris Gougousis
Web: jbpilon.com waxrecordingstudio.info Contact: www.facebook.com/pages/
and the EQs are great. It’s the same
Web: www.cdbaby.com/Artist/
desk as the legendary Daptone
studio in New York.

How often would you say you

spend in your studio per week?
Wax is a professional studio based in From 16 to 50 hours maybe. It really
Dalston, London. depends on the projects we have.

What are some of the key Perfect or room for improvement?

components? We could improve the microphone
Trident Series 65 desk; 8 x collection and get some more Sotiris Gougousis’ home
Telefunken preamps; Neve, Altec, hardware (compressors, EQ and studio based in Crete
Summit Audio, vintage Shure plate reverb for a start).
preamps; Mojave MA-200 (Royer), Tell us about the main
Neumann, AKG, Coles, Sontronics, What is next on your studio components…
Beyerdynamic, Sennheiser, Sony, shopping list and why? Many soft synths and sound
Shure, Audix, Telefunken mics; and A Neumann U 47 clone because that’s libraries, keyboards and rack synths,
loads of instruments. the microphone. But it’s also way too along with guitars, a Yamaha RY30, a
expensive for us to get the real one, Celtic harp, a theremin (Moog
Which DAW do you use and why? so a clone will have to do. I’m Etherwave Plus), monitors, mics…
Pro Tools – it’s the most reliable. thinking Peluso or Pearlman. the list goes on!

What is your favourite piece of What is your dream piece of gear Which DAW?
gear and why? and why? Cubase, as I’ve grown up using it and
Our Trident desk. It’s full of body, Probably a vintage API desk because I feel comfortable with it. Plus I
character, can go from clean to dirty, they sound and look awesome! believe it’s more powerful than any
other DAW.

Big Wheels Studio Favourite piece of gear?

It’s a tie between the Yamaha EX5
Interviewee: Frédéric Devanlay and the Novation Supernova.
Web: www.bigwheels-sounddesign.com
How often are you in your studio?
What are some of the key makes rich and deep bass Usually three or four times a week I
components? frequencies and the 33609 on the get ‘lost’ in there…
Barefoot Sound MicroMain 27, drum is famous for a pumping and
Genelec 1032A, Yamaha NS10 and dynamic sound. How do you use your studio?
Blue Sky 5.1 monitors; Amek Big 44 I am mainly recording my own
series mixer; Avalon preamp; Tube How do you use the studio? music, but lately I have started
Tech LCA 2B compressor, Neve 1076 I work professionally as a sound producing tracks for others as well.
rack; UAD 33609 compressor; PCM60 designer. My Zero-G Cyberstorm My main method of composing is
& PCM70; Eventide H3000, Nord library was made there. setting up suitable sounds on all
Lead synth; Novation Bass Station. keyboards and then improvising on
Any studio anecdotes? them while recording everything, so
Which DAW? During a vocal session, a girl singer nothing gets lost, and edit later on.
Steinberg Nuendo and Pro Tools. asked me to turn off the light of the
studio and when I turned back to What is next on your studio
Favourite gear? talk to her from the control room she shopping list?
My best piece is the 1076 EQ and was in her underwear! Oops! Sorry… A Kurzweil PC3K8 because of the
UAD 33609 compressor. The 1076 superb sounds and keyboard feel.
Any advice to people setting up a
studio? What is your dream piece of gear?
Focus on gaining knowledge of the I’d love to have a Yamaha CP70.
room and speakers. Have a
comfortable seat and two good Any advice?
screens, as most of your time will be Buy one machine at a time, learn
sat in front of them. When you are everything about it and then buy the
mixing, turn off the screens and next piece. Otherwise you won’t take
Professional studio based in Paris
work with your ears. full advantage of their potential.

MAGAZINE October 2014 | 111

MT139 Show off your studio.indd 111 03/09/2014 15:59

Next Month MT

What’s in Issue 140 On sale 17 October

What it is and what it means: the complete guide to
making EQ work for you and your music…
How To Record Plus

Elektron Analog Rytm

CAPTURE THE (Yes we promised it last month
PERFECT GUITAR but they still haven’t sent it!)

The Experts (see p3) 1479-4187, is published monthly (12 times

Rob Boffard, Mark Cousins, Keith per year) by Anthem Publishing c/o
Gemmell, Tim Hallas, Mike Hillier, Hollin USACAN Media Dist. Srv. Corp.at 26 Power
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MAGAZINE November 2010 | 112

MT139.next.indd 112 04/09/2014 15:39


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MT Your Disc

It’s time to get a little dark and twisted with our

DVD139 4GB+ PC&Mac exclusive pack of cinematic textures. There are

YourDisc also tutorials looking at mixing in Live, creating FX

and risers, plus you can check out the latest
demos and tutorials, and much more!


Size 532MB Format 24-bit/44.1kHz WAV

When you move away from the obvious,
sound design becomes an infinite playground of
possibilities. This month’s lead pack comes from
Bristol-based producer Tom Popperwell, and

features 109 ambient, cinematic effects loops that
can be used for media productions or simply to
add organic depth to your tracks. You’ll find four
folders of layered 80, 122, 140 and 174bpm loops,

with separate versions for the ambience and the
rhythm sounds. Many of the tones were created
by using a single one-sample tick that was then
processed multiple times through reverbs, tape
machines and lo-fi guitar effects, and then pitched
down to create otherworldly drones and grooves.



 Size 792MB Format 24-bit/44.1kHz WAV, MIDI
This month’s selection from Equinox Sounds
  Size 238MB Format MOV
London-based production school Point Blank presents a chat with
course tutor Anthony Chapman (Franz Ferdinand, Klaxons, Rudimental) on
features five massive trap construction kits inspired the topic of the new Mixing Dance Music course. Chapman gives a preview
by artists such as Lil Wayne, Drumma Boy, Drake and of what is covered along with a whole load of top production tips including
more. Each of these inventive instrumentals is over a how to create complex multi-tap delay lines, gain automation tricks, adding
minute long, with tempos ranging from 136 to a synthesised sub hit to bulk out a kick drum, a list of his favourite free
164bpm. Each folder contains a demo of the whole plug-ins, and finishing off by answering questions submitted from the
track plus WAV and MIDI loops of the constituent internet. For best performance, be sure to copy all the videos to your hard
parts that include kicks, snares, hats, claps, FX, drive before viewing. Web www.pointblanklondon.com
bass, leads and more. Web www.equinoxsounds.com



An insanely powerful instrument from Tone2 that’s
essentially four synths in one. Features include 14 synthesis
methods, 38 exclusive filter types, 46 oscillator types, 32
effects, a master effects section, psychoacoustic
(WINDOWS, MAC OS X) processing, flexible preset management and over 3000
Get clean, pro-sounding vocals with this
presets. www.tone2.com
easy-to-use de-esser from XILS-Lab. A
dual-signal path with solo buttons and ACON DIGITAL MULTIPLY FULL//SOFTWARE
real-time frequency graph makes it easy to (WINDOWS, MAC OS X)
isolate sibilance and plosive detection, and two A versatile chorus effect with a unique twist. Multiply can
EQs help fine-tune sounds. www.xils-lab.com widen the spatial image or create special effects, with up to
six additional voices with phase randomising filters to avoid
DEMO//SOFTWARE unwanted comb effects, a built-in EQ, pre-delay, and the
ability to modulate each voice’s pitch and volume.
U-HE ACE (WINDOWS, www.acondigital.com
A range of different modules and a FULL//SOFTWARE SOUND DUST HAMMR BASS & CHORDS
clear layout help make ACE (Any Cable (WINDOWS, MAC OS X,
Everywhere) a great choice for anyone REQUIRES KONTAKT 4+)
looking to explore modular synthesis. Developed as part of the HamMR suite with organ
Create complex sounds and signal supremo Mikey Rowe, Bass & Chords offers a 400MB
paths by routing modules together in Kontakt instrument sampled from a 1959 Hammond
interesting ways. B3. A split keyboard gives an octave of bass notes
www.u-he.com alongside two octaves of major and minor chords.

114 | October 2014 MAGAZINE

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Your Disc MT


//BREAK DNB,   Size 232MB Format 24-bit/44.1 kHz WAV

We’ve got a tasty batch of futuristic-sounding loops
and samples for you this month, taken from Loopmasters’

WIDEBOYS HOUSE & latest releases. To accompany the reviews on pp99-101

there are raucous and highly technical DnB sounds taken


from Break’s Symmetry Drum & Bass pack, and big
analogue loops made with the instruments in the Synth
DNA Korg MonoPoly pack. Next up you’ll find deep and
beautiful arps and riffs from CAPSUN Chill Trap and
Future RnB, and live breaks at a range of different bpms
from Jungle Drummer Urban Beats. Finally, there are acid
riffs and warehouse drums taken from Neurodriver
Elemental Techno, and skippy garage grooves from
Wideboys Essential Deep House & Garage 2.
Web www.loopmasters.com




 Size 793MB Format MOV

The Sonic Academy team take a look
through their Ultimate FX 2 pack, whilst
building up new sounds and answering a
  Size 188MB Format MOV,
Loop+ has provided another
host of questions on the topic of crafting FX and risers. Topics
helping of cracking videos:
include when to use FX in a dance track and how to balance them
there’s an excerpt from the new ‘Loop Expert’ Ableton
with other elements, along with a look at how to recreate the risers
Production course on creating polyrhythms; Rob Talbott
found in several commercial recordings. Most techniques are shown
gives an overview of Egoist from Sugar Bytes, and the
in Logic X, with a few shown in Live 9, although everything is
Philicorda vintage-retro organ Kontakt instrument from
transferable to other DAWs. You’ll also find a handful of demo
Sonas; and there’s a look at the Dubstep Kicks expansion
samples taken from the UFX 2 pack, plus a demo of Sonic Academy’s
pack for Plugin Boutique’s BigKick kick drum design
ANA soft synth, which was used to make many of the effects.
plug-in. Web www.loopmasters.com/loopplus/
Web www.sonicacademy.com

MAGAZINE October 2014 | 115

MT139.dvd pages.indd 115 04/09/2014 16:48


Pure and natural like nothing before

designed for music professionals, the k812
superior reference headphones provide the most accurate
balance for mixing, mastering and music production.

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