Back To The Bassline.. Simple Yet Effective!

Bassline101

So this mornings inbox contained a nice email from the good folks at TAL or Togu Audio Line as they are fully known, with a link to download a review copy of their anticipated new virtual synth plugin the Bassline 101…

Now the origins of the Bassline 101 plugin obviously belong to the Roland SH-101 and looking over the original feature set it quickly becomes clear that these guys have meticulously gone to great lengths to replicate the hardware offerings controls and functionality..

Now, as some of you may have figured out by now I don’t write the kind of reviews that go into technical details to the point of obsessive scientific comparison, measuring eq curves, harmonics or any of that audio voodoo mumbo jumbo so popular with people who often seem to just enjoy finding minor faults and criticising, or else they geek out so completely over stuff that they forget to actually make any music and enjoy the wonderful tools that are made available to us these days.

So instead I will tell you straight as a person who likes to get creative, get stuck straight in, who doesn’t want to read a manual until I’m stuck with something, just wants to open the plugin flip through some presets, tweak around, mess with it and feel whether the thing works or not, is it usable?, does it inspire any ideas straight away? Throw it into a track and get it on.. will it work for me?

The answer here is an undeniable yes!…

This thing is fun, but there’s also a lot more to it than there seems at first glance, trawling through the vast array of presets immediately displays the versatility of the instrument and you could indeed compose a whole track with just a bunch of instances of this plugin, nice drum sounds are found lurking within, good crunchy leads, amazing special effects and crazy sci-fi influenced pads and atmospheres.. Last but never least… The name on the door.. The reason we are here today…

The Basslines… Well what can I say, the sequencer section is easy to use, right away you can make some really cool stuff happen. From modern experimental arpeggio tones and dance music fuzzed out mayhem all the way back to classic acid house fuelled sequenced bass, there’s enough controls here to shape and twiddle away until you fashion something funky, but at the same time there is not too many controls that you become overwhelmed..

A good balance, those guys at Roland sure knew how to build a synth, in turn the guys at TAL have been smart enough to stick to the script and so also manage to deliver something special here in my opinion..

The sound of this plugin is good, We’ve all heard a lot of people claim that no software synth ever nailed the hardware sound, despite the fact that the ‘brains’ of the hardware synths are often just digital information on a chip… If something analogue is missing from a plugin synth you could speculate it’s the actual output stage from the hardware, but at the same time if you mixed down your software orientated tracks through some genuine analogue gear I suspect these naysayers might have trouble telling the difference, meanwhile the average person just enjoying the music you made would never stop dancing to remonstrate the fact that the bass line came from a plugin and not it’s hardware counterpart…

We should indeed be grateful to companies like this for their efforts and attention to detail, for instance I like the fact you can lock the sequencer / arp section of the synth and flip through different presets and change sounds whilst retaining what you’ve set up timing and tuning wise, very nice touch…. You can therefore mix and match and create hybrid presets to save as your own taking the sound from one and the arpeggio sequence from another…

Similar to the TAL UNO-X which I also use, I find the sound and tone on offer here is easily on par with offerings from much bigger names in the plugin world and way more expensive products out there available today..

In short, this instrument rocks, it sounds good, it’s easy to use (which is important to me) and at such an amazingly fair price..

$40 intro price rises to $60 after two months… An absolute deal not to be missed in my view…

Imagine explaining that this sort of product would even be available back when people splashed the cash on the hardware edition and could only have one instance available without instant recall?

I’m of to make some Bassline 101 inspired music… One of these presets was just what I was looking for but I can’t tell you which one…

You got to get your own! So go to: TAL-Togu Audio Line

and grab the demo version to see for yourself…

Or take my word and dive right in and buy a copy.. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed…

Recommended.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Chance Meeting, Making Contact and a Cool Tip..

20130626_114318

So a departure from software this time.. Instead I’m going to share a story with you and more importantly a great little tip that may make your day if you’ve been presented with the same problem as I had been having…

I sold a piece of equipment on Ebay, a guy came to collect on behalf of the buyer who had informed me that his techie would pick it up for him. After some brief back and forth on the phone via text regarding directions and times he showed up to collect.

After handing over the goods we got talking, I was interested in the fact this guy was a techie type as I use a hybrid setup for my production and utilise a lot of hardware, It’s not just because i’m Old School in this instance, I actually went back to hardware and re-incorporated it into my purely software setup because i’m of the opinion it actually sounds better and is more fun to work with.. tactile etc..

The techie who later became known to me as Gwyn Mathias is a lovely bloke, relaying interesting stories and opinions, we talked for a good while in his parked car outside my spot, at some point he mentioned that he had worked at Trident in the past, so as an owner of a Trident Trimix Console this was of particular interest to me, I explained that I have been experiencing a problem with an intermittent crackle and sometimes audio drop out which proves extremely annoying, I had tried to locate the source of this problem but found nothing.. Not being a tech guy myself my knowledge was limited at best… zero at worst… I poked about a bit… No joy!

So he tells me to try short patch cables between send and return on the master outputs in case the issue is corrosion or oxidisation on the normalised sockets… a good steer which I promise to try..

He also said to try cleaning the contacts on my channel strip modules with a Fibre Glass pen and Kontakt Gold spray.. He says I should push the edge connectors in and out a couple of times whilst the Kontakt Gold is still wet but NOT sopping wet… This stuff claims to make connections better…

20130626_114434

We part company, i’d held him up long enough, he had places to go and stuff to fix no doubt.. Saving someone else day neither of us knowing he’d already made mine…

So straight away I tried the patch cables between insert send and return sockets.. Didn’t solve issue, crackle returned, not disheartened yet I went online, searched, found the fibre glass pen, I compared prices and the best deal I could find available was from http://stores.ebay.co.uk/crookedimaging

The order arrived the very next working day! It came with replacement tips too and I was excited to try this tip from Gwyn who’s been in the business for so many valuable years gaining experience.. Would it work?

The Kontakt Gold 2000 had not arrived yet but I was impatient to try this pen anyway, so I pulled out the master output, monitor and studio monitor modules from the console frame, plus channel thirteen which ironically also seems to have had a crackle issue… Set to work cleaning the contacts carefully with the fibre tipped pen…

20130626_114407

I took my time, I noticed it cleaned up the already fairly clean contacts in the way a burnishing jack might clean your sockets, ever so slightly abrasive fibre tip just takes back the greyish oxidisation and makes the contacts shine again… I make a note to still use the Kontakt Gold 2000 when it shows up but for now i’ll just give this a go…. This issue has been driving me crazy for a while after all, got to be worth a try!

I re-insert my modules into the console frame… Turn on the power, press play on my DAW…

All good… No crackles.. No cut out… But obviously with an intermittent problem it may happen at any given moment… So i’m waiting anxiously for the moment to come… For my heart to sink.. but no… nothing.. Time passes, Still all good…

Sometimes the problem occurs when everything has been powered down for a while so I wait until next morning..

Power up.. Run track.. Still all good! No more crackles, no drop outs… looks like (touch wood, in this case oak around my Trident Trimix) the problem just might be fixed! If you have this or a similar issue with a connection it might help you too!

A chance meeting, Contact made.. A cool tip… Problem seemingly solved!

Thanks to Gwynn Mathias!

Zz.

Posted in Maintenance, Studio Equipment | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

DaHornet – A Vintage Virtual Instrument.. Still Worth Having!

DaHornet

This time I’m taking a departure from the latest and greatest to show some love to an original old school vintage plugin (if there can be such a thing yet?

DaHornet from NuSofting was released many years back, I actually don’t remember when I first came across it but it could have even been way back in the dark ages of OS9..

Available originally as a freebie as I recall and still available if you search online, KVR has a link to it, there is a £9 fee to get the intel mac version.. It is only 32bit but maybe if enough people showed some love the developer might update it one last time? I live in hope!

So why bother writing about this plug now? Perhaps i Shouldn’t be sharing my secret weapons..

I do still use this instrument, it has its own thing going on, it’s almost as if the code itself is vintage and has a vibe, on one level I know this sounds stupid, but I can honestly say that when this plugin fits the track or provides the inspiration nothing else will do.. I don’t know if the developers coded it to try and emulate any specific ‘mojo’ but sometimes it seems to drift a small amount tuning wise, might just be the black and yellow GUI affecting the psyche.. Whatever the case, it’s doing something nice..

The sound of this synth is cool in my opinion, I like the low budget almost trashy vibe of it, I know there’s probably many people who will have a problem with this, but I do suspect there’s times when something being simple and free to buy (almost) installs a predjudice in people’s minds that it just can’t as good as the latest and greatest offerings from the big names.. Don’t be fooled, this little plugin can sometimes provide just what you need..

DaHornet is styled after the classic ‘Wasp’ analogue synth, and it’s controls are very minimal and simple to use, personally I like that, some of the more advanced soft synths I’ve tried can sound great but can sometimes have almost too many options and features, great if you’re a synths person who can fly around the parameters and hear what you want in your head before setting the controls for the heart of the funk… Otherwise you’ll likely be there forever lost amongst a million tiny knobs and faders, or you can dive into the presets and get tweaking from there.. So despite the simple controls on display here its worth mentioning that the presets in DaHornet are varied and interesting, providing fun inspiration when just jamming around to a track on your keyboard..

It’s simple, cheap or free, has a unique vibe to it.. You don’t really need any more reasons to go get this, it’s an oldie but goodie, you can’t really go wrong…

This deserves to be in your plugin folder I thoroughly recommend it.

Zz.

Posted in Music Production, virtual Instrument | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sample Magic AB – Such a simple yet brilliant plugin idea..

Screen shot 2013-06-02 at 20.52.05

Sometimes you just don’t know what you need until it’s right there in front of you…

So it was with this great little plugin available from http://www.samplemagic.com the SampleMagic AB plugin..

The extremely specific purpose of this plugin is to offer you the ability to compare the output of your stereo bus or master output to a piece of reference audio or a commercial reference track at the push of a button… Sounds like not much right?

Well, if you’ve ever been in that position of trying to finish a mix and looking for a certain soundscape, your ears are a bit tired, been listening and messing with our mix so long you’ve lost track (#excusethepun) of how it’s really sounding, you want to listen to the mix of another track that is similar but have to open the file on a new track, external media player, iTunes or whatever… Flicking between tracks, stopping one, starting the other..level balancing.. Hassle!

No longer, this great plugin sits silently on your master outputs and you load your reference track into it from anywhere on your computer, you can even load multiple references if you like…

You decide which of your loaded reference pieces of audio will be ‘B’ and activate it very simply, then whilst playing your song or arrangement in your DAW you just hit the ‘B’ button and instead of your track you hear the reference song you selected.. Then to switch back to your song and tweak your tracks, EQ, compression, limiter or whatever you just hit the ‘A’ button..

To go further, should you wish to get deeper, you can set your reference tracks to certain start points and create loops to concentrate on the sound of certain sections of the reference audio, also another major coup is that if you have any processing going on on your master bus you don’t have to turn it on and off to do the A B comparison because this plugin is doing that for you automatically… Cool!

Sounds so simple?, it is as simple as that.. But what this does for workflow in actual use is stunning, it makes a fiddly stupid task elegant and easy, it is such a valuable thing to have and I totally applaud Sample Magic for making this thing a reality…

I love a good idea and this is a classic example of a simple yet damn good idea.. It’s nothing super technical, nothing that’ll claim to give you vintage tone or analogue flavour… It won’t help you win the loudness war… But it will help you make a good mix decision a little easier when you need the guidance of a reference track without all the hassle…

Really good innovation, these guys saw a little hole in the DAW experience and they ‘plugged’ it!

#excusethepun

Lastly, the price is really, really reasonable, so go get this plugin from: http://www.samplemagic.com

I highly recommend it!

One Love.

Zz.

Posted in Music Production, Sample Magic AB | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Music Studio 2 – Producing tracks on an iPad…

image

Having arrived in beautiful Corfu and having had a swim in the lovely azure sea, eaten a delicious meal of fresh local cuisine.. Of course as evening rolled on my mind wandered to relaxing and making some music, armed with just an iPad having prised Marlon’s eight year old hands from it, insisting that he’d played enough Minecraft for now I was ready to get down…

So the obvious first port of call making music on an iPad is of course Garage Band and as a loooong time Logic specialist I went the Garage Band route straight away, don’t get me wrong i think it’s great… Love the interface and for the price.. Who needs anything else?

Me… Possibly you?

This is where Music Studio 2 from xewton enters… Instantly you find it’s intuitive, the first thing that happened for me was I could import some audio I’d emailed myself from my Samsung phone by just choosing Music Studio from the pop up in the iPad mail app when I selected the file straight from my inbox..

Seconds later I was mapping parts of the audio to keys in a user defined sampler program and playing the samples into the sequencer and had a nice lil vibe bouncing right away.. Cool!

You can trigger the samples via virtual keyboard or virtual pads mpd style, all user configurable… It’s starting to feel more ‘pro’ than Garage Band now… Interesting..

The instruments you get with the lite (free) version of MS2 soon persuaded me to buy the full version and all the add ons… Still wasn’t expensive for what I ended up with…

You can create instruments and audio tracks in the sequencer, edit midi notes really nicely, quantise is good and MS2 offers more choices in time signatures than GB too…

But best of all you are not limited to eight tracks, you can build complex arrangements, move and copy sections easily, once you know your way around (which happens fast) you feel much more like you’re working on your favourite proper DAW rather than in the fun land ambience of Garage Band.. In short, this feels less like a toy…

I’m not the type to go on and on about every technical detail, man I haven’t checked it all yet… But on a vibes level..this thing rocks.. It’s got effects too… In fact there is so much I haven’t mentioned.. You can record vocals with the iPad mic, it is compatible with all sorts of other software and hardware.. There is too much to bother saying or you reading..

Go get he freebie and see how long it takes you to feel compelled to upgrade! My conclusion is that this app is dope! find more at: http://www.xewton.com
Lastly though, the one thing I really don’t like about this piece of software?

The name… What kind of lack of imagination did you have to have to make something as cool as this and not think of a better name than ‘Music Studio? They could have gone so many ways, chosen a single word like ‘Instinct’ or the more techy. Approach like ‘Future Studio App’ or even abstract stupidness like ‘Fractal Sound Tools’..

Calling it Music Studio is like when Bill Hicks talks about promoting ‘Orange Drink’…
Zz.

Posted in Music Production | Leave a comment

Welcome….

DeckComicLetterBox

Welcome to the Deckwrecka Review… Here I will share experiences, thoughts and opinions on whatever i’m checking out if it seems as though someone else might find it cool or I just can’t resist sharing whatever it is with whoever cares to take a look…

New products, events, parties, music, films, books… even restaurants and airlines… you name it, if it’s going down, you might hear about it here..

If you find something interesting here and you like it, please share it, like it, comment, holla back… It’s all good..

One Love

Zz.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment