Saturday, 25 June 2011

Love For Battle: Breaking Down The Mix

Love For Battle by Reflekshun

Basically, everything is done in the box with software here, running Logic Pro 9. Most of the orchestral instruments are played on Vienna Instruments Pro, using the VSL Special Edition Bundle. I layered the VSL Glockenspiel with Tonehammer's Circle Bells to give it a nice full bell sound. The Grand Piano is from Synthogy Ivory II (Huge fan of this)

The key to the sound of the instruments I'm using here was layering, I often stacked as many as 8 different articulations together. The violins include both solo and 14 Violins sampled articulations of: sustained, legato, portamento and tremolo. Normally it would be questionable to stack such a variety of articulations, but I feel it works in this setting because of the dreamy waveyness of the song itself.. Much of the workflow speed came from this method. Having these layers with polyphonic legato turned on (Thanks to VI Pro) allowed me to play one take for a polyphonic violin section and it would sound fairly natural and interesting straight away.

I used 2 x VSS3 reverbs (using TC Powercore) for the space. I had set as a short reverb and the other set as a dreamy long reverb for those instruments i really wanted to add dreamyness and wash to. Because I wanted more of a surreal and glossy sound, I chose to use synthetic reverb instead of convolution.

As for mixing I chose to use Waves SSL plugins for the EQ and Compression, and the occasional Waves API plugin for EQ and Compression. I also used a mix of Waves and TC Powercore plugins for mastering. I mastered this track fairly loud for an orchestral track, to be more listenable outside of a game setting (I think this is different to what many pros do, but it felt right).

You may notice the choirs feeling like they fade in unnaturally, it was a choice between that slow attack or a fairly unnatural and musically inappropriate (for this song) sounding sampled choir attack.. It is important to remember that the musicality of a sound (i.e. it has a clear purpose, even if that purpose is to be purposeless) can sell a feeling to the listener, which is often more important than the realism of the sound itself.

I used VSL Soprano Choirs for the choir, I'm looking at buying Tonehammer's Requiem for that added depth and realism!

I hope this gives some of you a few ideas and context for some of the work you're doing. If you have any more questions, tips or opinions for me, please leave me a comment below!

Thanks for reading :)

Friday, 17 June 2011

Stealing the spotlight with mixing

You can have a mix so amazing that the original artist no longer has the spotlight.

This is potentially good for:
- Your Ego
- Comments you may get from your mixing peers
- A few people that value a good mix over a good song

This is potentially bad for:
- The Song
- The Original Artist
- Most people who end up (not) listening to the song

Just remember what comes first - the song

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Treasure Chest: Zero Vector

White Noise Audio is a small company that makes very unique PC audio plugins.

A personal favourite which left an impression on me is Zero Vector. A synth I used years ago for strange and boutique use. If you aren't so much into making those strange noises, this synth might pursuade you otherwise.

Heres why it's special to me:

- Unique fluffy, soothing, strange quality
- Unique Oscillators and Waveforms
- Vector Pad (a 3-way triangle modulation pad)
- Memorable interface

If you have a PC, you can try the demo here:

Saturday, 4 June 2011


Sometimes you might make a decision that is very questionable, seemingly wrong to everyone else. That decision obviously sets you apart from everyone else.

If it feels right in your own heart, do it.

Have faith and have fun..

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Battery 3 - Why I love it

Lately I've been experiementing with different beat machines, the one that I've come back to and wins by a long shot is Battery. There is one big reason for me -

Flow: There is a clear flow in battery's interface.

- The top half is all about drum pads - easily color coded, and each pad lights up when hit for an instant understanding of what is going on.

- The Bottom half is tabbed, and flows from left to right - and makes sense.

- Starts with the sample graphic: I always want to see this first, to help identify a sample visually in my mind, and how I can shape it. Envelope shaping is overlaid on the sample graphic itself - giving you a clear understanding of what these otherwise cryptic knobs are doing to the shape of the original sample. There is also a big bonus here: the Vintage sampler mode with different sampler emulations for a more natural sound.

- The next 4 tabs allow for down and dirty stuff: like voice management, humanizing, and velocity sample layering, wave editing and looping.

- Then we have the very easy modulation and effects pages: it's easy to modulate a nice bit of LP filter with velocity, or have use a random square wave LFO to modulate slightly random pitches and avoid the machine gun effect.

- Finally there is also the sample browser - it could be larger, but it is very convenient to drag samples you like into straight into a drum pad.

This is my personal experience, and I have heard many others. Please feel free to enlighten us if you have any other faves!

Sunday, 29 May 2011

To Bit Or Not To Bit... (64-bit vs 32-bit)

So I've spent some quality time fucking around with 64-bit and 32-bit settings in OSX and in Logic.

3 Points:

- We are in an awkward transition phase
We either have too little memory (32-bit) or too little compatibility (64-bit)

- 32-bit AU Bridge
Apple's solution for running old 32-bit plugins in 64-bit logic works, but isn't rock solid (stability / compatability)

- Many plugins are still 32-bit only
Big names such as: Waves bundles, Synthogy Ivory, Soundtoys and many others, have to run using this almost stable 32-bit AU Bridge.

Considering stability is such a high priority for most professionals, I feel that logic is not quite ready for 64-bit.

Let us hope that this awkward period comes to an end soon!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Apogee Duet 2

The Apogee Duet 2 was released just a couple months ago, all the goodies of its original 2-in, 2-out firewire interface, but not without the awkward firewire cable.

- USB baby!
- Bus powered
- OLED Color screen for metering and tracking knob controls.
- Independent headphone mix
- 2-in, 4-out

And of course you're going to get those very crisp mic-pres..

Very nice upgrade.. I'm considering selling my duet to make the change.. if only so I never have to deal with the horrible epic fail mistake that is the Firewire 800 Cable plugs.

Monday, 23 May 2011

A Pop Musician's Role

You'll find that a lot of music that becomes popular pushes an attitude or lifestyle further than the average Joe or Jane.

An artist who pushes limits more than socially typical becomes a conduit for the masses who want to feel this excitement and 'out of bounds' land, in safety, in abundance and under their own terms.

Even a song inspired by late nights - a time where many have decided is too late to be awake, because there is work in the morning, and it is unsafe to break the rules of sleep time - contains an element or a vibration, that is 'out of bounds'. Now safely available for the listener, under their own terms.

In this way, an artist is someone who lives lives out of the bounds of the masses, exploring things the masses are unconfident or unwilling to explore. An artist is someone who does this and reports back to the masses, with the help of a beat, a melody, a relate-able and easy to follow story.

This is just one small example of a pop star's role that I feel isn't explored much.

What role does a pop star have in your life?

Lacie Minimus

Just setup a 1TB Lacie Minimus as a Time Machine backup for all projects and settings. I haven't been this impressed with a hard drive for years.

Lacie Minimus
Good points:
- Very Solid Build
- Smallest 3.5" External I've seen
- Beautiful elegant design
- Good decoupling from base
- Reliable
- Quiet Sonically
- Visually Quiet
- Instant setup

Bad points:
- AC powered (it is a desktop device)
- USB 2.0/3.0 (not suitable for high speed data streaming on a mac, good for backup)