Web Clips for January 2009

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p14 | Download of the Month: Music Engineering Tools' Straightliner (Win)

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Web Clip 1: This clip uses four instances of Straightliner. All the sequencer-like action is generated by the synth's looping breakpoint envelopes.

p14 | Option-Click: Touch That Dial

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Web Clip 1: First you''ll hear a straight MIDI drum groove, and then the same groove with pitch-bends overdubbed. The bend range is two octaves.

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Web Clip 2: Using a joystick rather than a wheel can make it easier to perform expressive pitch-bend trills. First you''ll hear a two-finger trill, then a joystick trill (the bend range is two semitones). Finally, you''ll hear a lick incorporating joystick trills.

p20 | Pro/File: Crunching Code | Ant Neely

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Web Clip 1: Here''s an exerpt from “Scratch ReDux,” Neely''s remix of the subthunk tune, “Scratch,” which features compression of the rhythm section tracks using Reason''s Scream Sound Reduction Unit effect.

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Web Clip 2: This clip from “Springfield” includes voice samples Neely got from the Prelinger archive.

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Web Clip 3: In this excerpt from the title cut, “Not Fit for Human Consumption,” notice Neely''s use of Morse code patterns.

p22 | ProFile: Solitary Sound Maker: Lindstrom

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Web Clip 1: An excerpt from “The Long Way Home,” one of three tunes on the CD.

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Web Clip 2: “Grand Ideas” is the shortest tune on the CD, running “only” 10:38. This excerpt features the glassy sounding syntn patch played on a Yamaha FS1R.

p26 | Space Is the Place, Part 2

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Web Clip 1a: An excerpt from the original mix of “Armadillo” by The Goat Family. When the band came in for mastering they had some concerns about the low end on their recording, particularly the sound of an authentic washtub bass. My opinion was that the bass had been over-compressed and boosted to the point that it dominated the entire right side of the mix. What you hear in this sample is the initial mastered version with a severe low-shelving cut. In addition I felt that many instruments in the mix were too compressed. This resulted in a loss of transients, and an overall dynamic flatness that was not suited to an acoustic string band recording.

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Web Clip 1b: An excerpt from the remixed version of “Armadillo” as it appears on The Goat Family self-released CD All We Need (no label, 2008) Engineer Kevin Cunningham reduced the compression on the washtub bass, turned it down in the mix, and lessened mix bus compression on this piece as well as most of the songs on the CD. At the end of the remix it is easy to hear that the bass has plenty of presence and sustain, while much of its natural decay and unique acoustical properties have been restored. Note also how the depth dimension and overall spaciousness of the entire mix has been improved through Kevin''s skilled efforts to clean up the low end and reduce compression before mastering.

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Web Clip 2a: An excerpt from the original mix of “Shots” by Blatty (aka David Blatty). My initial evaluation of David''s pre-mastering mixes was that they were among the densest productions I had ever worked on. Vocals were generally under-mixed or simply unable to compete with a backing that was thick with distorted guitars, resonant keyboard washes, long reverbs, and doubling. The artist did a lot of his layering specifically on choruses. This practice resulted in a 6 dB boost (an apparent doubling of overall gain) on the chorus of “Shots” after mastering compression was applied. Although I applaud Blatty''s approach to creating dynamics with overdubs, this kind of extreme layering made the verses sound small by comparison.

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Web Clip 2b: An excerpt from the released version of “Shots” remixed by the artist and myself for his Ghosts, Ghosts, Ghosts CD (Sadface, QQQ year). The major mixing differences you will hear on this version are a reduction or attenuation of tracks on the chorus (i.e. there were six distorted guitar tracks and multiple keyboards), a reduction of reverb level and length, and an increase in bass and overall warmth. Individual track EQ, combined with a reduction of midrangy keyboard layers, has brought down upper midrange content significantly to make the timbre less fatiguing. Note that the verse sounds fuller and louder relative to the sparser chorus arrangement, and there are still dramatic dynamic changes from the instrumental to the verse to the chorus. —Myles Boisen

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Web Clip 3a: An excerpt from the original mix of Rube Waddell''s “Spongiform Encephalopathy” (i.e. Mad Cow disease.) Engineer Wink Paine had come to me for help with mixing his project, and needed advice on the low end of his productions in particular. With an arrangement that included tuba, a marching band bass drum, tabla drums, a robust slide guitar and singer Mahatma Boom Boom''s commanding voice, this mix was certainly in need of some low end clarity and space. I also felt that the timbre overall relied too much on a “smile curve”, with lots of low and high end but not much midrange tone on the acoustic instruments.

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Web Clip 3b: An excerpt of “Spongiform Encephalopathy”, from Rube Waddell''s Greatest Hits CD (2006, no label,) remixed by Wink Paine and myself. To deal with the low end murkiness I established a hierarchy of bass instruments: bass drum ED''ed to be the lowest in the vertical dimension, tuba above that with a vastly different EQH and level than the original, tabla drums above the tuba with broader midrange, and low end shelving cuts to the guitar, banjo, and voice. Getting the low end of these tracks sorted out and bringing up the tuba brought this track much closer to the band''s live sound, which I was quite familiar with. In addition, this approach made it easy to hear how well-recorded and warm most of the basic tracks were, and solved the smile-curve problem as well. Along the way I also lessened the compression on the tablas and guitar to make the backing breathe more, and backed off the compression on the voice to assure its sinister dominance over the mix.

p59 | Making Tracks: Surround in Pro Tools LE and M-Powered

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Web Clip 1: This Pro Tools LE session demonstrates how to create true multichannel drum-track compression.

p60 | Sound Design Workshop: Klangumwandler Redux

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Web Clip 1: This Rhodes piano clip from Big Fish Audio Nu Jazz City 2 is first heard unprocessed, then with Virsyn Prism used solely for EQ, and finally with frequency shifts of less than a semitone using a 50 percent wet/dry mix.

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Web Clip 2: This drum clip from Big Fish Audio Nu Jazz City 2 is first heard unprocessed, then with the lowest three frequency bands shifted to move the kick-drum up about a major third. The level of the higher bands is also rolled off slightly.

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Web Clip 3: This bass clip from Big Fish Audio Nu Jazz City 2 is first heard unprocessed then with varying shift amounts to bands from 750 to 1,100 Hz. Prism's envelope follower is also used to bend the shifts, creating a subtle scat-singing effect.

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Web Clip 4: Web Clips 1 through 3 are combined in a Prism-processed trio.

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Web Clip 5: A short speech clip is unprocessed, has lower bands shifted up while higher bands are shifted down, has higher bands shifted up while lower bands are shifted down, and finally adds a fast LFO to the previous shift.

p68 | Review: Moog Music Moog Guitar Paul Vo Collector Edition

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Web Clip 1: This was recorded direct through IK Multimedia''s Amplitube 2 software. For this clip I used the Moog Guitar''s mute feature in conjunction with its Articulated Moog Filter setting (which applies the filter effect based on how hard you pluck or pick the strings) to get the sitar-like sound that you hear playing over the tabla loop.

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Web Clip 2: This was recorded direct through IK Multimedia''s Amplitube 2 software. In this example, the Filter Toggle is set on Moog Filter, which makes the control pedal into a wah. I also had the controlled sustain setting on.

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Web Clip 3: This was recorded direct through IK Multimedia''s Amplitube 2 software. This gives you an example of the feedback you can get from the sustain features. Using the Full Sustain setting and a high-gain amp model in Amplitube 2, I got some pretty wild feedback. I was able to taper off the feedback at the very end by rolling back the Vo Power knob, which controls the amount of the sustain and mute features.

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Web Clip 4: This was recorded direct through IK Multimedia''s Amplitube 2 software. With the Full Sustain setting on, but the Vo Power rolled back to about half, I was able to play this example in which I would hit a chord and let it ring/sustain, while I played a melody on top by sliding around on (mainly) one string with my right hand on the fretboard. Sometimes the guitar produces some unexpected, and very cool sounds when you''re sustaining a note, such as the whistle-like tones that you hear near the end of the example.

p76 | Review: Yamaha Pocketrak 2G

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Web Clip 1: This clip is a live club recording of a jazz trio using the Pocketrak''s internal microphone.

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Web Clip 2: This clip is the same jazz trio recorded with an Audio-Technica AT825 instead of the internal mic.

p81 | Quick Pick: Future Audio Workshop Circle 1.0.2 (Mac/Win)

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Web Clip 1: Five Circle presets were used in this clip: two sequenced, two percussion, and one evolving pad.

p82 | Quick Pick: Antares Audio Technologies Avox 2 (Mac/Win)

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Web Clip 1: This Rova Saxophone Quartet loop from Rarefaction RovaMatic sampling CD (rarefaction.com) is heard first unprocessed, then processed by Throat with gradual changes to the vocal-tract settings followed by changes in the glottal waveform and breathiness parameters.

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Web Clip 2: Here a variety of vocal speech and singing clips are used for Articulator's control signal, and a chordal clip and noise are used for audio sources.

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Web Clip 3: A short speech clip is repeated while automation manipulates Mutator's Shift Pitch, Throat Length, Throat Width, Mutation, and Dialect knobs.

p83 | Quick Pick: Soniccouture Balinese Gamelan (Mac/Win)

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Web Clip 1: Here is the sound of one set of metallophones playing as a pair. The instruments are left ringing and also damped.

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Web Clip 2: The Velocity and timing settings are set intentionally high so you can hear their effect. This causes random variation in the loudness and the exact time when the instrument is struck. With a more subtle setting you can replicate the slight variations that would be found in a live performance. (Web Clip 01 actually has such a setting.)

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Web Clip 3: Here''s another example of high settings for Velocity and random timing variations. In this case the Calung and Jegog (a lower-pitched metallophone) are playing together.

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Web Clip 4: This is a sample of the large and small gongs. The first gong heard, the largest one, is struck four times at different Velocities so you can hear how the “bloom” of the harmonics changes realistically with increasing strike Velocity.

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Web Clip 5: The small cymbals of the Ceng Ceng can ring or be stopped. The Gentorak, somewhat like a bell-tree, is also illustrated in this example.

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Web Clip 6: This example uses another of the metallophones.

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Web Clip 7: Two drums are sampled with various kinds of hits, including a strike with a wooden drumstick called a pangul.

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Web Clip 8: Soniccoutoure provides a Kontakt-compatible tuning script, which is used in this example. This means you can tune any Kontakt instrument to match the Balinese Gamelan. In this case, I applied the tuning to a harpsichord for illustration.