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Issue 140 November 2014

OVER 1GB OF ROYALTY-FREE SAMPLES KATE BUSH HOUNDS OF LOVE


www.musictech.net

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Issue 140

November 2014

The magazine for producers, engineers and recording musicians

MUSIC TO
PICTURE

The techniques and technology behind


Hollywood scoring plus hands-on workshops

ELVES, MONKS,
WITCHES AND DEMONS
Meet the man putting the
magic into music making

KATE
BUSH

OVER

The recording
of HOUNDS
OF LOVE

ALL NEW
WORKSHOPS

The Best Reviews

OF ROYALTY-FREE
SAMPLES!

iZotope RX 4, Mystica, Boomstar


and over 20 other products tested

www.musictech.net

HOW TO RECORD GUITARS


BUILDING BEATS FROM SCRATCH
USING KEYS IN SONGWRITING
20 AUDIO RECORDING TIPS

MT140.cover.indd 1

REASON 8

1GB

Issue 140 November 2014

5.99

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02/10/2014 12:18

The Ultimate Ableton Setup


Integrate seamlessly with Ableton Live.
Get immediate hands-on control of session
view, mixer, effects and instruments.
Create your own custom layouts.
Focus on Your Music.

Also available:

www.novationmusic.com/launch

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
works daily on MusicTech.net as well as regularly
contributing to the magazine.

Recording & Guitar Tech Huw Price

A recording engineer since 1987, Huw has worked


with David Bowie, My Bloody Valentine, Primal
Scream, Depeche Mode, Nick Cave, Heidi Berry,
Fad Gadget and countless others.

Scoring/Orchestral Keith Gemmell

Keith specialises in areas where traditional


music-making meets music technology, including
orchestral and jazz sample libraries, acoustic
virtual instruments and notation software.

Ableton Live & DJing Liam OMullane

Liam has worked as a D&B scratch DJ as well as


releasing dubstep, D&B and hardcore tracks. His
passion is to master the production styles of the
latest genres using Live.

Reason & Mobile Hollin Jones

As well as teaching music technology, producing


and writing soundtracks, Hollin is an expert on
everything Apple, mobile or computer-related, as
well as being an accomplished keyboard player.

Electronic Music Alex Holmes

Alex has been a computer musician for 15 years,


having a keen passion for beats, bass and all
forms of electronic music. Hes currently involved
in three different dance music projects.

Cubase Tim Hallas

And theres me thinking that after last month,


where we pulled out the stops to bring you the
world exclusive review of NIs Komplete
Kontrol, this issue would be a serene and
relaxing one, all about music composition to
picture. But then Reason 8 barged its way
through the door right at the last minute demanding to be
reviewed like some stroppy, attention-seeking teenager, so
this issue has turned into a bit of a double-header. Twice
the excitement, if you like
Reason has always been that brash, loud DAW, eschewing any kind of grace and
elegance, just getting you straight to the instruments and the music, as soon as it
possibly can. No messing, straight in and out. And thats won it plenty of fans.
Version 8 was touted as a game changer arent new versions of anything touted as
such, though? but you can find out what we think on p6. And you can still learn
how Hollywood sound-tracking works on pages 12 and 40. (He says matter of factly
about one of the biggest concept articles weve written)
What that leaves for next issue is anyones guess. It does feel like weve had a
few issues where the big guns have been wheeled out and fired, so is there
anything left? Oh yes. You wont believe it, so until then
Andy Jones Senior Editor
Email andy.jones@anthem-publishing.com
Send your tweets @AndyJonesMT (although dont expect much tweeting from me)
Read my blogs at www.musictech.net

Tims 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.

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MAGAZINE November 2014

MT140.welcome.indd 3

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MT Contents

MT Contents
Issue 140 November 2014

12 MUSIC TO FILM:
THE HOLLYWOOD
SOUND
Mark Cousins looks at the
history of sound to picture,
examining how film audio
has enhanced some of the
greatest Hollywood
movies of all time and how
you too can compose
successfully for film

6 Reason 8
The latest version of the legendary DAW
is here read our exclusive review now!

Technique

Interview

24 CLOAKS, ELVES
MONKS & WITCHES

Eduardo Tarilonte talks about recording the


most fantastical libraries out there

4 | November 2014

MT140.contents.indd 4

59 How to record
acoustic guitar

The first part of our guide to recording


the most popular instrument of all

MAGAZINE

01/10/2014 14:13

Contents MT

MT Issue 140 Full listings

p79
p71

The Latest Reviews

p66

PROPELLERHEAD
REASON 8, IZOTOPE RX 4
Plus reviews from RME, Best Service and

024 | Eduardo Tarilonte


Recording witches, monks and
elves for award-winning libraries
LANDMARK PRODUCTIONS
034 | Kate Bush: Hounds of Love
The recording of the comeback
queens finest album

DAW Tutorials

AMAZING
NEW SERIES!

012 | Music To Picture


The complete guide to the
Hollywood sound
INDUSTRY GURU

p75

TC Electronic

COVER FEATURES
006 | Reason 8 Full review of
Propellerheads latest release

p40

TECHNIQUE
040 | Music to picture
Working with hit points
044 | Composition techniques
Understanding how keys work

p59

048 | Beats and sound design


Build beats from scratch
052 | 20 Pro Tips
for audio editing
059 | How to record
acoustic guitar, part 1
064 | Subscribe and get free
digital editions, plus save 35%
REVIEWS
066 | iZotope RX 4 audio restorer
069 | AMT The Riser dance effect

p48

Bluffers Guide

071 | Best Service Mystica vocal


sound library
073 | DIY RE Colour 500-series
075 | RME Fireface all-in-one
interface and mixer
079 | TC Alter Ego X4 delay stomp
081 | Boomstar SEM synth
083 | Warm Audio WA76 compressor
087 | sE SE5 condenser mic
089 | RND Shelford 5050 & 5051
(rather excellent) preamps

106
A BLUFFERS
GUIDE TO EQ

093 | Plugin Boutique VirtualCZ


095 | Mini Reviews
NEW REGULAR FEATURES
103 | 6 of the best
The greatest software libraries
106 | A bluffers guide to music
technology, part 2: EQ
110 | Show off your studio Another
chance for readers to show off
113 | Next month in MusicTech
114 | On your MT DVD
MAGAZINE November 2014

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MT Reviews Propellerhead Reason 8

MT Lead Review
In-depth review

Hands-on guide

New features tested

Details
Price Reason 8:
349/405/$449
Reason Essentials 8:
99/120/$129
Reason 8 Upgrade
(from any previous
Reason version):
89/129/$129
Contact
Sound Technology,
01462 480000
Web www.soundtech.
co.uk
System requirements
Dual-core CPU
Mac OS X 10.7 or later
Windows 7 or later
4GB RAM 3GB disk

Key Features

PROPELLERHEAD

Reason 8

Choice

Propellerhead has been making one of the


worlds best-loved DAWs for a while now, so
what does the new Reason 8 bring to the
party? Hollin Jones finds out

hen Reason was first


released it really shook
up the music
technology landscape.
Here was a selfcontained MIDI sequencer that didnt
support plug-ins (and still doesnt,
technically), but that was so much
easier and more fun to use than almost
anything else around at the time that it

6 | November 2014

MT140.rev Reason8.indd 6

quickly became a huge hit worldwide.


Although it has come a long way since
those early days, a version one user
could look at version eight and still
recognise it as a direct descendant.
Propellerhead has always practiced
evolution rather than revolution, save
for throwing us the odd surprise such
as combining Record and Reason into
one app and in the process making

Audio and MIDI


recording and
editing
Multiple bundled
effect and
instrument
modules
Sample into
modules
Unlimited Rack
Comprehensive
mixer
Free routing of
audio and CV
cables
Integrated
browser
Block-based
composition
Full automation
support
Easy MIDI
control via
Remote
ReGroove
quantizing
Automatic audio
slicing
Mastering FX
MIDI-out support
Batch export

Reason capable of audio tracking. And


so it is that Reason 8 doesnt throw out
the rule book, but it does build on what
is by now a very mature and stable
foundation to bring the application up
to date with modern workflow
methods and also the increasingly
popular flat look that is gradually
replacing the hyper-real metallic
textures and gradients of recent years.

So what is it?
Lets start with a quick recap for those
new to Reason. Its a dual-platform
MIDI and audio production
environment with a focus on the Rack,
a central area where you can load a
near-infinite number of instrument
and effect modules in order to
generate and process sound. You can
keep going until your computer runs
out of power, but Reason is so well
optimised for modern hardware that
any decent system should rarely come
close to suffering actual performance
problems. The sequencer enables you
to record, edit and arrange audio and
MIDI parts, and the mixer contains
pretty advanced channel strips and a
master processing section for shaping
your mixes.
Theres a lot of other stuff too, much
of which has been in Reason for a little
while. Automation of devices is
straightforward, and an integrated
system of internal controller
assignments means you can quickly
map controls to almost any parameter.
Reason uses virtual patch cables to
enable you to manually route sound
anywhere, with a similar system for
Control Voltage just like youd get in a

MAGAZINE

30/09/2014 14:21

Propellerhead Reason 8 Reviews MT

Method spot
Reason 8 has a redesigned, flatter look and a new integrated Browser that
enables you to preview audio samples and also drag and drop any module or
patch straight into the Rack. The sections are all linked too, so for example if
you click an insert effect patch button in the mixer or a Kong sample load
button, the Browser will update itself to show that folder or that section of the
sound bank. This quickly becomes second nature to work with, and really
speeds up workflow.

real vintage synth. A MIDI learn system


called Remote lets you hook up one or
more MIDI hardware controllers and
have several people performing and
recording from a single project. Audio
parts are automatically analysed for
tempo information and made elastic,
and theres an advanced groove
quantization system for MIDI called
ReGroove. Direct sampling is
available into many of the instrument
modules and a pop-up wave editor lets
you edit your samples easily. Rack
Extensions are available from
third-party developers to expand
your toolset.

relocation of the Browser. As Reason


has grown, and especially since the
introduction of Rack Extensions,
managing modules, presets and
samples has got harder. Dealing with
song samples had become fiddly and
you had to do it from the Tool window.
In Reason 8 theres an omnipresent

In with the new

browser (though it can be minimised)


that provides a unified way to access
all your instruments, effects, Rack
Extensions and samples. Modules are
grouped by category and theres easy
drag and drop of any module straight
into the rack. You can also drag and
drop patches from the Browser into
the Rack to create a device, and
clicking patch- or sample-load
buttons anywhere in the Rack or
mixer will correspondingly open the
relevant folder or section
automatically in the Browser.
Theres easy file system navigation,
favourites lists and text-based search
that show all patches that match a
query regardless of module type. One
thing thats no longer possible is live
previewing of instrument patches from
the Browser. You used to be able to
pre-load a patch and play it via MIDI
before loading it into the Rack, but a
consequence of the new workflow is
that you now have to load the module.
Its not a huge problem, but worth

Ive mentioned that Reason 8 doesnt


break massively with tradition, but
there is of course some new stuff. The
most obvious change is the new flat
look, with bumpy buttons and
gradients out, and flat, minimal
toolbars and menus in.
When you have been using version 8
for a while and then see screenshots
of version 7, it feels a bit like the
transition from iOS 6 to iOS 7. It didnt
feel like there was anything wrong
with the old version at the time, but
looking back, the new version is much
cleaner and more modern. The new
look doesnt particularly affect
usability, it just feels more up to date.
Some stuff has been moved around,
though, most notably a shortcut to
quantize settings in the Transport
panel, which is handy.

Find my stuff
Related to the new interface design is
the second major new feature: the

mentioning. On the other hand you can


now drag and drop a patch straight
from the Browser onto a module in the
Rack to load it, which is nice.
The new Browser also has a Song
Samples section, relocated from the
Tool window, that makes dealing with
samples you have recorded or those

The most obvious change is the new flat


look, with bumpy buttons and gradients out,
and flat, minimal toolbars and menus in
used in instrument patches a bit
easier. Now you can edit, delete,
duplicate or export samples from here
and theres live previewing of audio
samples so you can hear them and
view their information prior to
dropping them in. Audio recordings
that you make in the sequencer are
treated differently to samples, and if
you want to bounce or export those
youll have to do it using the

The redesigned sequencer window is just one of the many welcome


refinements to the familiar Reason layout.

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30/09/2014 11:37

Propellerhead Reason 8 Reviews MT

Alternatives
Reasons appeal has always been its self-contained nature, so unlike most
DAWs it doesnt support plug-ins, except in a roundabout way by using ReWire.
As noted, Rack Extensions also provide a way to expand your system. Apples
Logic Pro X is effectively subsidised by Apple at 139.99 and is a very powerful
DAW with some great bundled content. Its Mac-only, though, and arguably not
as easy to get to grips with as Reason. The standard edition of Ableton Live
costs around the same as Reason and has 11GB of sounds but only comes
with three instruments and 37 effects. Ultimately Reason users tend to value
its accessibility and unique Rack system.

File>Export command or the


sequencers Bounce menu.

Rack em up
In terms of the modules that come
with Reason itself these are largely
unchanged, though its still a great
selection. Old staples such as
Subtractor and ReDrum sit alongside
the NN-XT multisampler, Kong Drum
Designer, Thor synth and others.
Theres cool retro delay from The Echo,
tempo-based trance effects from the
Alligator, pitch correction, voice
synthesis, dirt from the Pulverizer and
excellent dynamics processing from
the MClass effects, plus a fair few
other units. With Rack Extensions you
are free to try or buy from an evergrowing range by third-party
developers who make utilities,
instruments and effects of all kinds.
Rack Extensions kind of frees the
Props up from having to make so many
of their own modules, though they do
continue to be active in this area. The
only two new modules in Reason 8 are
called Softube Amp and Softube Bass
Amp, two amp/speaker emulators
developed in collaboration with
Softube (as the name suggests). These
will eventually supplant the Line 6
modules (still available) and are really
nice emulators that do a great job of
warming up stringed instruments but
also anything else you put through
them such as beats or vocals.
Beyond these are many smaller
changes and tweaks, some
rearrangement of the furniture, and
nice touches such as double-clicking to
add or remove notes in the MIDI editor.

version 8 feels like laying the


groundwork for bigger structural
changes in the future. There are
probably no really attention-grabbing
new features here, though if you look
at the package as a whole it is still
remarkably well-rounded. The new
Browser and Softube modules are
welcome additions, and the whole

For anyone on version 6 or below the


upgrade is a no-brainer as youll get a
bunch of new stuff in one fell swoop
thing feels slicker and more modern
with its new look.
For anyone on version 6 or below
the upgrade is a no-brainer, as youll
get a bunch of new stuff in one fell
swoop. For new users Reason 8 is an
excellent package, offering a great
selection of instruments and effects,
and a recording, composition and
production environment thats easy to
use but offers a depth of features
should you choose to use them.
Certainly the workflow is made
smoother by the new Browser, and
Propellerhead continues to do a
fantastic job of getting the tech-y

MT Verdict
+ New Browser really helps
improve workflow
+ New look is more modern
+ Still an excellent set of
modules supplied
+ Sequencer is powerful but
friendly
+ Mixer is advanced and
professional
+ Stable and well optimised for
modern hardware
+ Expandable with ReWire and
Rack Extensions
+ Send MIDI out to real hardware
+ New guitar processors sound good
+ Flexible window management
- Probably not a huge upgrade if
youre on version 7.1
- Still most effective on a twoscreen setup
- Function to play patches from the
Browser has gone
- Waveform editing could integrate
more cleanly into the workflow
Reason is still one of the best DAWs
out there, with a unique approach
to music production that offers
flexibility, power and a workflow
that prioritises creativity over
digging around in menus.

Reason to be cheerful?
Some clever stuff has doubtlessly
gone on behind the scenes with
Reason 8 in addition to the obvious
changes. Its always been among the
very best optimised and most stable
DAWs around, and in some ways

details out of the way of your musicmaking. Whether the upgrade from 7 to
8 is for you will depend on whether you
like the idea of an integrated browser,
new look and the new guitar modules.
What does seem likely is that more
stuff will be added in the next minor
updates, and for that you will need
Reason 8. MT

9/10

New modules such as the Softube Amp sit alongside Reason mainstays
Malstrm and NN-XT in the trademark Reason Rack.

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MT Feature The Hollywood sound

MT Feature

THE HOLLYWOOD
SOUND
Big-screen scores have evolved over decades of filmmaking, but
what really makes a piece of music truly cinematic?
Mark Cousins unlocks the secrets of soundtracks

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MAGAZINE

25/09/2014 13:55

The Hollywood sound Feature MT

combined with the sonic possibilities of new technology. Not


surprisingly, therefore, film music has been one of the most exciting
and progressive avenues for musical development over the last 60
years, arguably eclipsing the work of many concert hall composers.
In this feature were going to explore the evolution of film
music, and in particular the key ingredients that have come to
define the Hollywood sound. With so many cinematic sound
libraries appearing to offer the elusive Sound of Hollywood, as
well as increasing the desire to compose and produce music for
film and TV, its a timely exploration of the key practices and
approaches taken with screen music. Whether youre scoring a
large-scale action movie or composing for the small screen,
understanding the way screen music has developed over time and
the conventions it has adopted will ultimately inform and enhance
your working process.

From the top

Although few could deny the power of music, its early relationship
with cinema was a complicated one, fraught by both the logistical

Music can illuminate the


emotion and feeling behind a
scene far better than an image

ome of the greatest moments in cinema


arent just defined by moving images, but
by the dynamic combination of music and
picture. Films such as Stars Wars, Psycho,
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and
Inception have used music as a pivotal component in
the storytelling more than just aural wallpaper, they
are a device that a director and composer can actively exploit to
enhance the audience experience. Ultimately, its testament to the
power of music when allied with the right picture, and, in
particular, the visceral way music can illuminate the emotion and
feeling behind a scene far better than any moving image.
The journey that music has taken throughout the history of
cinema is both a fascinating insight into the changing role of
technology and the creative opportunities any screen-based
composer can exploit. In many ways, cinematic music has been
defined by both its ability to absorb great musical ideas and
conventions of the past (such as a symphony orchestra, for example,
or some of the great classical composers of the 19th century),

and technical difficulties of aligning music to picture. For early


silent films the only option was live music, either performed by a
pianist, a small ensemble or organist. In most situations the music
was simply improvised, although some of the more ambitious
studios and directors would create a suggested cue list of
pre-existing music especially selected for the film in question.
With the introduction of talkies in the 1920s, music could
finally be synchronised to picture; although early systems, such as
Vitaphone, were fraught with technical problems, either in their
ability to maintain synchronisation or the shockingly poor sound
quality of printing a soundtrack optically to film. Although
systems improved throughout the late 20s it took a while for
MAGAZINE November 2014

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25/09/2014 13:55

MT Feature The Hollywood sound

performing or recording with the stuffiness that had


come to be associated with the concert hall. Rather
than exclusively playing classical music, many of
Hollywoods musicians were used to moving between
musicals, big bands and the film music orchestra
something that had a significant effect on the
vibrancy of the playing. Equally, the sound engineers
at the time werent afraid to push the technology
they had at their disposal, often using creative
microphone positioning and a variety of other studio
techniques to enhance (rather than just capture) the
music they were recording.

Alfred Hitchcock knew the power


of marrying the right music to his
images, and his collaborations
with the legendary Bernard
Herrmann are classics.

The sound engineers of the


time werent afraid to push the
technology at their disposal
directors to see the artistic and cinematic potential
of synchronised, original music scores. Indeed, it
wasnt until Max Steiners music for King Kong in
1933 that the symphonic score finally made its first
real impact on the cinematic experience.

Bursting onto the scene


The golden age of Hollywood, and the point at which
music imprinted itself with a film audience, started
with the aforementioned King Kong and continued
through to the early 50s. One of the best composers
of the era, and somebody who illustrates the melting
pot of ideas that happened in Hollywood during the
1930s, was Erich Wolfgang Korngold (who eventually
won an Oscar for The Adventures Of Robin Hood).
Born into a Jewish home in Brno, Korngold was lured
to Hollywood as a means of escaping the rise of the
Nazi party. As such, he brought a direct lineage with
European romantic classical music, which is why the
sound of Hollywood owes much to the likes of
Mahler, Strauss and Wagner.
One key composition technique that Erich
Korngold brought to Hollywood was the idea of
leitmotif, popularised by Wagner. In many ways,
Korngold saw film music as a kind of wordless
opera, composing the music using the same rich,
symphonic colours and drama that inhabited a
Wagner opera. Key to this was the leitmotif concept,
where characters were given distinct themes that
could be re-used and adapted to help shape the
narrative journey of the piece. Even to this day,
leitmotif is a key component in how film music
works and how the director and composer lead you
through the narrative of the film.
Despite inheriting some of the ideas of European
classical music, Hollywood wasnt intent on

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A sound revolution
Like popular music, its interesting to note how
developments in technology changed the way
composers and directors thought about the role of
music. Throughout the 50s, 60s and 70s, therefore, film
music witnessed some major innovations, partly in
response to developments in recording technology
(particularly the advent of stereo recording), but also in
response to composers and directors seeing music in a
different way. One of the key players in Hollywoods
modernist phase was Bernard Herrmann, whos
pairing with Alfred Hitchcock arguably produced some
of the some of the most imaginative (and daring)
combinations of music and picture ever created.
Through a series of iconic scores for films including
Psycho, Vertigo and North by Northwest, Bernard
Herrmann demonstrated that sound itself, or more
specifically the colour of sound, was just as important
as melody and harmony. In many ways, Bernard
Herrmann seemed to actively avoid the romantic
trappings of a full-sized symphonic orchestra, often
assembling a unique combination of instruments

MAGAZINE

25/09/2014 13:56

that, for example, favoured woodwind rather than


luscious strings.
Bernard Herrmanns most famous score has to be
the music for Psycho, which, as a demonstration of
his philosophy and against some of what
Hitchcocks wanted was scored exclusively for
strings. Rather than scoring melodic lines full of
romantic vibrato, though, the strings were used in a
shockingly violent and atonal way. The infamous
shower scene, for example, was originally intended
to be devoid of music, but at Herrmanns insistence,
the addition of his infamous Murder cue complete
with its distinctive stabbing strings transformed
the intensity and impact of the scene.

The sound design trap


While much of this move towards sound-based
scores can be explained by artistically bold
decisions and parallels in contemporary music
(which also rejected all forms of traditional melody
and harmony), its interesting to note how the
quality of sound as noted by Bernard Herrmann
himself may have had a significant part to play.
Whereas composers of old could only really ensure
the melody translated over poor quality recording
and production, modernist film composers had far
more opportunities for their listeners to hear
subtleties in the music. Indeed, Bernard Herrmann
even went so far as to indicate pan positions on
some of his scores, demonstrating that studio
recording had become an important field of
opportunity for the contemporary film composer.
Of course the trap that all sound-based
composers face is the relation and crossover between
music and sound design. Pointedly, The Birds saw
Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann rejecting
music altogether in favour of abstract, electronically
generated sound effects (although Bernard Herrmann
was still credited as sound consultant). Todays film
world constantly struggles with this phenomenon,
both in respect to the complexity of sound design
now evident in major blockbusters but also (and more
pointedly) its volume, which often drowns out any
subtlety in the music!

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MT Feature The Hollywood sound

The birth of the blockbuster


One of the biggest ironies in the development of film
music is that at a time when recording technology
was advancing exponentially, Hollywood decided to
take its biggest step backwards into the sound of its
past. The film that ushered this change was Star
Wars, which despite being ahead of its time in
respect to special effects actually had some
surprisingly old school music references.
Shot much like an old serialised B-movie from the
40s or 50s and populated by spaceships that looked
decidedly rusty, Star Wars wasnt in the same shiny
universe populated by other science fiction films.
With a story borrowing much from westerns,
combined with a medieval tale of a princess locked
in dark castle, it made sense that the music paid a
similar reference to the golden days of Hollywood,
and in particular the work of Korngold in the 30s
and 40s. Whereas previous science fiction films had
alienating soundtracks, Star Wars felt immediately
familiar, carefully referencing the aforementioned
Korngold along with Gustav Holsts The Planets,
Edward Elgar and Igor Stravinsky.

Leitmotif mastery
One of the key techniques John Williams returned to
with Star Wars was the Korngold/Wagner concept of
leitmotif. Indeed its hard to separate John Williams

MT Spotlight Technique

Recording a
Hollywood
Soundtrack

he way that an orchestra is recorded for a Hollywood


soundtrack hasnt changed greatly since the late 50s,
although the technology surrounding the recording, editing
and mixing has evolved radically. Even if you dont intend to
record an orchestra its highly likely youll encounter the principles
behind it, especially in relation to modern-day orchestral libraries
that use multiple microphone sets.
The key to recording an orchestra is to capture the life and energy
of the ensemble as a whole, which is why stereo microphones tend to
form the body of the sound. The main stereo setup is a three-mic
array (left/centre/right) called a Decca Tree, first developed by
engineers at Decca records for recording classical music.
The left and right channels of the Decca Tree are positioned
around 2m apart, almost directly above the conductors head, and
capture a large part of the width of the orchestra. The centre mic,
though, is positioned approximately 1.5m ahead of the L/R mics, and
thanks to the Law of the First Wavefront (also known as the
Precedence Effect) it ensures that the centre of the soundstage
gains a small psychoacoustic advantage over the L/R mics.
Although the Decca Tree captures a good image of the orchestra it
can sometimes miss some of the symphonic width of the
soundstage, especially in relation to some of the double basses or
the back desk of the first violins that are placed at the extreme

16 | November 2014

MT140.cover feat.indd 16

edges of the orchestra. The outriggers therefore, are an ultra-wide


stereo pair, positioned halfway between the centre of the
soundstage and the extreme left- or right-hand side. On their
own these outriggers sound too wide, but couple them with the
Decca Tree and the soundstage gains an important extra width
and dimensionality.
The final piece of the recording puzzle is the spot mics, which
are used to provide extra focus and detail to the instrument
groups, partially as a result of their relative proximity to the
instrument/s in questions. In the case of the strings a spot mic
will be used for each desk, whereas members of the woodwind
section may well get a different spot mic for each instrument:
such as flute one, flute two, oboe and so on.
The key to using these three microphone positions Decca
Tree, outriggers and spots is how theyre blended together. In the
case of the spot microphones theyre best used to reinforce the
main sound from the Decca Tree, especially with instruments such
as the woodwinds that are often placed at some distance from the
conductor. This is particularly important if an instrument is used
in a solo context, where the addition of the spot microphone can
really help the instrument articulate itself over the rest of the mix.

MAGAZINE

02/10/2014 14:11

The Hollywood sound Feature MT

distinctive leitmotifs from the films they were


created for: whether its Darth Vaders imposing
Imperial March, The Force Theme, or The Raiders
March association with Indiana Jones. His skill
wasnt just an ability to write a strong melody,
though and remember how important such a
melody was as part of the plot of the John
Williams scored Close Encounters Of A Third Kind
as his real genius was how he strategically
deployed the leitmotif.
The key to strong leitmotif writing isnt just the
tune itself (although a memorable hook certainly
helps here) but how its embedded and quoted in the
soundtrack. In E.T., for example, we never hear the

John Williams real genius lay


in how he strategically deployed
the leitmotif
theme started fully throughout the first half of the
film, instead hearing just short snippets, often
played on solo flutes. When E.T. finally takes to the
sky on Elliotts bike we finally have the pay-off and
hear the theme in full, played in all its symphonic
glory. Deployed in this way, the leitmotif lent an
emotional gravity and completeness to the scene that
wouldnt have happened had the theme already been
played countless times before.
Following the success of Star Wars, the orchestral
Korngold-esque score became a ubiquitous part of
the blockbuster experience. What might have been a
passing phase of the development of music in film
quickly reestablished itself as the de facto sound of
Hollywood. Indeed, without Star Wars the use of an
orchestra on soundtrack recordings could have
easily faded out, replaced by smaller eclectic
ensembles, like those used by Ennio Morricone, or
even pop music, as became the standard throughout
the 60s and early 70s. The orchestras reinstatement,
therefore, brought about a second golden age of
Hollywood, with a string of Spielberg/Williams epics
that cemented the idea of a symphony orchestra
being at the heart of the Hollywood sound.

Vangelis soundtracks for


Chariots of Fire and Blade
Runner are landmark works,
and remain hugely popular to
this day.

milestone in what we now accept as the


contemporary Hollywood sound. Significantly, Blade
Runner illustrates that the symphonic orchestra and
synthesizer can be equals that an electronic score
neednt be restricted to conveying a limited number
of emotions or feelings. Arguably, Vangelis was
ahead of his time, as even he struggled to really
capitalise on the success of these first two films,
possibly restricted by the limitations of technology
available in the early 80s.
Moving into the 90s we saw a resurgence in
scores dictated by the directors record collections
(think: any Tarantino film) and the emotive and
sparse piano-driven themes laid out by Thomas
Newman (Shawshank Redemption, American
Beauty) are still being played (and imitated) across
films and TV documentaries to this day, but the new
century has brought new themes.

Contemporary Hollywood
If theres one composer whos wholeheartedly
embraced and capitalised on the possibilities of new
technology, though, it has to be Hans Zimmer. From
relatively humble beginnings (writing the theme tune
for the BBCs Going For Gold back in the 80s), Hans
Zimmer has revolutionised the sound of Hollywood
and the role of music in film in much the same way
as Erich Korngold, Bernard Herrmann and John
Williams did before him.
Like a growing number of technology-based
media composers, Hans Zimmer is notable for his
lack of formal music training. In interviews, he has
suggested he spent as little as two weeks learning
piano, instead preferring to spend his time
modifying his instrument to create new sounds.
Clearly these early experiences have shaped his

Electric dreams
Despite the apparent success of Star Wars and the
flood of other orchestral soundtracks that followed it,
the more electronically-driven score was still making
slow and steady progress. One key shift came with
Vangelis scores for Chariots of Fire and, more notably,
Blade Runner. Up until these two films, the
assumption was that an electronic score could offer
little in the way of humanity, thanks to its other
world-y sound, so perfectly optimised in Forbidden
Planet in 1956. Vangelis sound world was different,
using instruments such as the Yamaha CS80 in an
almost symphonic way, all drenched in sumptuous
Lexicon 224 reverb that imbued the Blade Runner
soundtrack with a tangible sense of atmosphere.
The sound of Blade Runner marks a significant

MAGAZINE November 2014

MT140.cover feat.indd 17

| 17

02/10/2014 14:11

MT Feature The Hollywood sound

Buyers Guide: Hollywood Sample Libraries


Although there are plenty of orchestral libraries to be
found on the market, some are more successful than
others at capturing the Hollywood sound. Heres our
pick of the best:

From early efforts such as Rain


Man to his later collaborations
with Christopher Nolan on the
Batman trilogy and Inception,
Hans Zimmer has continued to
innovate and produce
exceptional soundtracks.

approach to music, following a more intuitive


approach that blurs the lines between the studio,
electronic instruments and the orchestra.
For someone who has grown to have such a large
impact on film music, Hans Zimmers rise through
the ranks has been a great demonstration of dogged
determination. His early scores, for example, werent
the powerful blockbusters action films hes known
for now, but relatively light and breezy numbers
such as Driving Miss Daisy, Rain Man and The Lion
King. Although these scores all featured real
instruments, Zimmers key selling point, which
distinguished him from many other composers
working at the time, was the extensive use of
sampling technology, notably a Fairlight CMI and
other early samplers such as the Roland S-760.
With films such as Crimson Tide, The Thin Red
Line and Gladiator, Hans Zimmer started to shape a
sound that would come to define contemporary
Hollywood. One of the most significant
developments from a musical perspective was one of
scale and impact, understanding that the only way to
beat an increasingly powerful use of sound design
was to be louder and bigger than the competition!
Rather than just working with a live orchestra,
therefore, Hans Zimmers soundtracks fused samples
and real instruments to create a sound of truly
larger than Wagner proportions.

Sound and vision


Another interesting distinction of Hans Zimmers
music is the way it merges the two leading
approaches to film music leitmotif and sounddriven score. Like John Williams, Hans Zimmers
scores use plenty of leitmotif concepts, but rather
than these being melodically or harmonically source
theyre often driven by sound. As such its often hard
to whistle a tune from a Hans Zimmer soundtrack,
but when you hear its sonic fingerprint the braam
from Inception, the Jokers distorted cello ostinato in
The Dark Knight, or the thunderous cacophony of
drums from Man of Steel youll be instantly
transported to the film in question.
In many ways, Hans Zimmers sound-driven

18 | November 2014

MT140.cover feat.indd 18

Spitfire Audio Albion 1


(349)
Spitfire Audio seems to
release a new library on a
month-by-month basis,
but their first offering
Albion 1 is still one of the
finest and most affordable
ways of capturing the
widescreen Hollywood
sound. Albion 1 covers the
full orchestra, but divides
the library into distinct
sections: high strings, for example, or low brass.
As a result you get the sound of multiple players
performing as one, creating a more epic sound than
libraries that split things down on an instrument-byinstrument basis.
ProjectSAM
Symphobia 2 (695)
ProjectSAMs
Symphobia series
covers three volumes,
but its arguably
Symphobia 2 thats
the most versatile of
the three options. Like
Albion, Symphobia 2 is
often recorded in instrument groups, which gives the
library plenty of width and punch where it needs it.
Theres also a good range of true legato instruments,
which capture the transitions between notes, as
well as a wealth of FX patches for more experimental
writing.
Sonokinetic Da
Capo ($299)
Sonokinetics Da
Capo is a unique
Kontakt-based
instrument,
designed to
present a complete
multisampled
orchestra at your
fingertips. The highly visual interface enables you
to assemble custom groupings of instruments and
articulations maybe pizzicato strings and staccato
woodwind on your left hand, for example, with legato
high brass on your right that create a surprisingly big
cinematic sound all from the one Kontakt instrument.

approach is one that matches the look and feel of


contemporary cinema. Visually, the use of colour
grading has become an essential part of how a
director influences your response to an image on
screen, changing the relative hues, saturation or
colour balance of each frame. It follows that music
or, specifically, the sound of the music should also
reference these tonal shifts. As an example, note how
Hans Zimmers soundtracks tonally match the dark
blues and blacks used in Christopher Nolans Batman
trilogy, blurring sound and vision in one entity. Whats

MAGAZINE

25/09/2014 13:56

MT Feature The Hollywood sound

Essential Listening

yet it isnt heard in isolation, instead forming part of a


wide timbral palette that reflects the scale and
proportion of whats seen on screen. Crucially, the
orchestra often forms the humanity of the music while
the rest of the sound palette whether its thundering
taikos, deep subsonic synths or aggressive drums
creates the energy and driving impact of the cue.
Of course, where film music will go next is
anyones guess, but theres little doubt that it will
change and evolve in response to changes in
filmmaking. Todays film scores are being driven by a
lot of new talent that takes elements of all that we
have discussed in this feature. Composers include
the likes of Clint Mansell (Requiem for a Dream,
and Black Swan), Cliff Martinez (Drive, and all his
work with Steven Soderbergh) and Johnny
Greenwood (There Will Be Blood).
Yet maybe John Williams returning to score the
new series of CGI-light Star Wars films will see a
return to the older, more tuneful days of film music,
or will the lines between sound design and music
become even more blurred? Excitingly, though,
technology has evolved to the extent that anyone can
now start producing cinematic music with little
more than a laptop and a well-stocked collection of
Kontakt libraries. Who knows, maybe the real
future of Hollywood lies with one of these
musicians and the radical new ideas
they might bring MT

Star Wars
John Williams
Star Wars reignited the
traditional Hollywood
score, ushering in
a series of colorful
orchestral soundtracks
(many by John Williams
himself) that still
dominate cinematic
music to this day. Star
Wars is a masterpiece in leitmotif writing where the
themes have become as famous as the characters
themselves, as well as defining the narrative journey
across all six films.

Vertigo
Bernard Herrmann
The pairing of Bernard
Herrmann and Alfred
Hitchcock undoubtedly
produced some of the
finest combinations
of music and images
ever created. Just
listening to the first few
opening bars of Prelude
and Rooftop from the Vertigo soundtrack perfectly
illustrates Bernard Herrmanns genius, with its
undulating arpeggios on strings, harp and vibraphone
punctuated by strident low brass.
Inception
Hans Zimmer
Inception is Hans
Zimmers finest work
and a perfect pairing
of sound and picture,
even to a point where
the music embeds itself
into the narrative of the
film. The sound of the
kick, a song by dith
Piaf, is re-orchestrated and slowed-down multiple
times so that we hear it just like the characters in the
film do.

Modern sample libraries put the


power of the orchestra at your
fingertips.

interesting is how linked the music and the pictures


become. Whereas Williams soundtracks stand up to
listening away from their filmic settings, Zimmers
work doesnt translate so well. Embedded into a film
like Inception, though, and its clear that the movie
and the film are transformed both are greater than
the sum of their parts.

A new hope
Rather than throwing away the orchestra, as happened
in the 50s and 60s, the sound of contemporary
Hollywood seems to embrace both the cinematic sound
that we all know and love, as well as pushing new
sonic boundaries that challenge and alert our ears
attention. The sound of a 400-year-old musical
phenomenon the symphony orchestra is
still a crucial part of
our
cinematic experience,

20 | November 2014

MT140.cover feat.indd 20

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MT Feature Eduardo Tarilonte

MT Feature Interview

INDUSTRY GURU
Eduardo Tarilonte is producing some of the best sample
libraries around, taking us on mystical journeys to
places and times both real and fantastical. Andy Jones
meets the man at the forefront of sound design

f you are of a certain age you might remember the pop/dance phenomenon
that was Enigma. It was an act formed by Michael Cretu that very much
tapped into the chilled Ibizan vibes that were doing the rounds during the
first sunset of dance music around the early-to-mid 90s. Cretus Enigma
embraced the post-rave feel with laid-back grooves, sensual female vocals
and monks. Gregorian chants would be his key ingredient and helped him shift

I started off playing accordion


but I got hooked on synths the
first time I heard them
millions of his debut album MCMXC a.D. in 1990, and between that and a
half-dozen follow-ups he racked up 100 Platinum sales awards across the world.
Not bad for some beats and chants.
Fast forward to 2014 and monks, fantasy and mystery are very much back in
vogue, certainly in the world of sample libraries. This is, in part of course, down
to the success of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies but its also down to

24 | November 2014

MT140.Interview.indd 24

MAGAZINE

25/09/2014 09:46

Eduardo Tarilonte Feature MT

one Eduardo Tarilonte and his Best Service libraries. MusicTech was one of the
first to pile plaudits on Tarilontes early Forest Kingdom series, but its been his
vocal fantasy series that has put him on the sound designing map. Precision
vocal recordings have made these essential packages for anyone wanting
original soundscapes, whispering, chanting, spoken word and phrases within a
wide variety of genres. Hes covered everything from elves (Shevannai) to the
Renaissance (Altus) while Mystica (reviewed on p71) offers bewitching female
vocals that act as a counterpoint to the Gregorian chanting from Cantus.
And that Gregorian chanting brings us full circle back to Enigma, because so
good is Cantus that Mr. Michael Cretu himself has endorsed it. And so good are
the rest of Tarilontes collections that we are endorsing him with this coveted
MusicTech Industry Guru interview
MusicTech: How did you get into recording in the first place?
Eduardo Tarilonte: I started my career as a musician, although my dream was
being a soundtrack composer. When I was a child I started playing accordion
but I got hooked on synthesizers the first time I listened to them. I remember
during my childhood playing lots of soundtracks, TV themes and Jean Michel
Jarre music on a Technics organ. I still remember the day that I could afford my
first Korg synth it took me almost two years to pay for it! But I was then
composing every single day, so when I turned 18 I decided to dedicate my life to
music and fight for my dream of being a composer. Over the next 14 years I
struggled to make a living from music, playing in many bands, mainly folk and
Celtic and rock, while I composed music for some TV companies.
Despite all the troubles, which were a lot, I never gave up.
Besides synths there was something I loved even more: virtual
instruments. I am 41, so when I started, the idea of making a
great mock-up just with a computer was almost a dream, but I
had the chance to see how that world evolved. Of course, I never
thought I could end up being a sample library developer! In 2004
I composed a track using a library from Bela D Media. I was
surprised when they contacted me asking if they could use it as
an official demo. Of course I said yes!
Some months later, Frank Belardino, the owner of the
company, asked me if I would like to be a sample library
developer. I was shocked, but didnt think twice, since virtual
instruments were fascinating to me. I started to think what I
could do to create a great sample library. Since I was playing in
Celtic groups for a long time, I decided to make a Celtic sample
library dedicated to winds: Celtic Wind. It was released in 2006
and was one of the first ones to use the advantages of the new

Eduardo
Tarilonte

MAGAZINE November 2014

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| 25

25/09/2014 09:46

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Eduardo Tarilonte Feature MT

Kontakt 2 scripting. The success of it took me by


surprise. I think one of the secrets was that I
carefully recorded all of the noises of the
instruments to add them later in a controllable way.
I also focused on the playability: one instrument
with all the articulations in a single patch.
Thats how I started, and of course I got addicted
to developing since the very first second. After that
more libraries were released with great reviews. In
2009 I contacted Best Service and, since then, we
have had a great business relationship and an even
better friendship.

(Above) As you can see, its a


dead serious business making
sample libraries

MT: Do you have a recording philosophy, something


that you personally bring to the studio?

I think that using the right


sound is important to get the
right feeling and get inspired
ET: Its clear that music is about emotions, and the
same is applied to recording and producing. For me
it is not so important having great gear but more
about what you record or produce in terms of
transmitting emotions or the inner essence.
MT: Tell us a little about your studio main
components, how it came together
ET: I have a room at home where I do all of the
post-production for my sample libraries. For
recording sessions I always hire a professional
recording studio. I am very picky when it come to
the sound and not every place is good to record.

Since I record many different musicians I tend to


hire a recording studio close to where the players
live if they cannot come to the city where I am.
My favourite gear for recording is simple:
Neumann mics and Avalon preamps. For editing, I
use WaveLab to cut and edit samples and Cubase for
my demos. I also use Melodyne for extra tuning.
MT: How would a track typically start structurewise and then progress?
ET: It depends. I usually start with some string pads
to create the general harmonic idea. After that I
start to elaborate a melody or some arrangements.
If I like the idea then I start to see which
instruments fit better to the arrangements. I think
that using the right sound is important to get the
right feeling and get inspired. Thats why sample
libraries are so great to compose with. Listening to
the exact instrument sound while composing is
magic. That was just a dream 15 years ago.
MT: What are your favourite sound-generating
studio tools?
ET: I play accordion, Celtic harp and keyboards. No
guitars. I am not a huge fan of real synths as I prefer
virtual instruments for that. Everything in my
studio is virtual. I just record real things to sample
them. My favourite software tools for sound are
Kontakt, Absynth, Zebra, Alchemy and Omnisphere.
And as I said before, I couldnt live without Cubase
and WaveLab.
MT: And what plug-ins or outboard do you find
most creative?
ET: For plug-ins I love iZotope. I use RX 4 Advanced,
Ozone 5, Alloy 2 and Iris. All these are very

MAGAZINE November 2014

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25/09/2014 09:46

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Eduardo Tarilonte Feature MT

THE BEST SERVICE CONNECTION

versatile, easy to use and completely reliable in


terms of performance.
MT: What advice have you picked up from working
in the industry?
ET: I know it sounds like a clich, but keeping on is
the best advice ever. In my case, struggling for 15
years is a pretty good example of that. Its not easy,
but this is not a short-term business you need
many years to improve, get contacts, etc.
Another important point is to be yourself. I have
never been interested in doing the same things
others do. Its okay we all have our likes but if
you want to be good at something you must be
yourself. No-one will do what you do better than
you. If you emulate others then you will never be
able to express what you have inside, and music is
all about that. Over the business or any other thing,
making music, producing, developing sample
libraries is about expressing your inner world for
others to enjoy.
MT: And advice from all your years working in
the studio?
ET: Ive learned that if you want to do something
exactly as you want, you have to do it by yourself.
You cannot request others to do it because they will
do it their way, not your way, even if you tell them
exactly how to do it. I am very picky about how I
want things to be recorded, not only in terms of
sound but also in terms of how everything is played
thats probably the most important point. Also,

(Below) Eduardo Tarilontes


success is a product of years of
hard graft coupled with a deep
understanding of what makes a
piece of music sing.

Be yourself I have never


been interested in doing the
same things that others do

MT: How did you get involved with the Best Service
vocal collections?
ET: As I explained I started my career as a composer,
but soon I realised that virtual instruments were
even more appealing. In 2009 I started to work with
Best Service. That was my best decision so far as
not only did I get perfect business partners but also
best friends. A big part of my success is thanks to
Best Service. Regarding the vocal libraries they
have always been in my mind since the beginning,
but there is no doubt that vocals are the hardest
thing to sample. You can tweak any sample from any
instrument and it still sounds good, but if you tweak
a vocal sample even slightly it will sound fake
One of the first things I wanted to do when I
started developing vocal libraries was a playable
library: something easy to use in a single patch
like the other instruments I did before. So, a mix
between true legato and words and syllables was
a must. Thats how the auto vowel idea came up.
I wanted to be able to play words and syllables
and blend them with the true legato articulation
automatically. So I recorded true legato in five
vowels there is no playable vocal library without a
good true legato. The auto vowel feature looks like
something simple and logical once you play it, but no
one had done it before.
Another decision I had to make was choosing to
be able to write and sing almost everything or not.
In my opinion a library with a full word builder will
never sound good even with the technological tools
and advancements we have nowadays, so I decided
to record quite a few words that could be split later
to create a lot of sonic possibilities. I prefer to create
a real feeling of a spoken language without any
meaning rather than being able to write everything
and having it sound fake.
Speaking about Cantus and Mystica, one of my
main goals was recording the choirs without filtering
the samples. I wanted the real sound. Many choir
libraries sound great, but you can notice that some
have been heavily filtered to avoid resonance issues.
That removes the soul from them and doesnt allow
you to use them in an out-of-the-box context.
It has been a huge challenge, but since I love
challenges I will still release more vocal libraries. I
have learned a lot since Shevannai was released.
MT: Where did the idea and inspiration come from to
produce the range in the first place?
ET: Shevannai was my first vocal library and its
inspiration came from The Lord of the Rings. When I
listened to the track Twilight and Shadow featuring
Rene Fleming I was so impressed that I said
to myself: I must sample a vocal library able to
transmit such deep feelings. That was in 2009 and
Shevannai was released in 2013. That shows that
I take a lot of care to record exactly what I want. It
took me a long time to find the right singer. After
Shevannai, the dream of recording a Gregorian choir
came true. My main inspiration has always been to
create emotional yet cinematic sample libraries.

MAGAZINE November 2014

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25/09/2014 09:46

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Eduardo Tarilonte Feature MT

The player has to perform


every single sample as if he
were playing a beautiful melody
(Above) Eduardos latest
collection, Mystica, is based
around recordings of eight
female vocalists read our
in-depth verdict on p71.
(Left) We suspected as much
already, but we think its now
fair to say that Eduardo is a big
fan of monks.

get a robotic sample library. If I had a secret, it


would definitely be capturing the soul.
MT: What is on your studio gear wish list?
ET: Well, I am the kind of person that doesnt need
everything in order to be happy, but I would love a
big Avid mixer/controller.

once you get in the studio you must really


concentrate to get the best out of the recording
session. If something fails, you will have to come
back to the studio and hire the musicians again.

MT: What would you like to see developed in terms


of studio technology and why?
ET: I would love to see some kind of advancement in
terms of WAV manipulation to create even better
virtual instruments. In my opinion, Kontakt
scripting and Melodyne have been the most
innovative tools in the past years for such a task.

MT: Talk us through at least one of your production


tricks or processes that you tend to use most often
and that perhaps defines your sound over others
ET: There are no real tricks besides recording
exactly what you want. The most important thing I
have learned is that the recordings are the most
crucial thing in developing a sample library.
Another vital element is keeping in mind that
recording samples, although it is sometimes boring,
must be like playing music. You must always remind
the player that he has to play every single sample as
if he were playing a beautiful melody. Capturing the
soul of the player is extremely important when you
put all the pieces of the puzzle together in the final
stage. If you record something without soul you will

MT: Tell us about your latest release, Mystica


ET: Ive always been a Gregorian choir lover. When I
started developing sample libraries in 2005, one of
my first dreams was to record a true Gregorian
monk choir, but at that time I didnt have enough
resources to do it, nor the experience I have now.
After releasing Cantus: Gregorian Chants I
thought about doing the same but with a female
choir. The most important point about Mystica is
that it is incredibly versatile. It has a unique and
absolutely evocative tone. There are too many
libraries with epic choirs, but none with that
emotional yet epic feeling. Besides the beautiful
sound and possibilities it offers to a composer, I am
especially proud of how the true legato sounds.

MAGAZINE November 2014

MT140.Interview.indd 31

| 31

25/09/2014 09:47

MT Feature Eduardo Tarilonte

Mystica is amazing working standalone, but when


blended with Cantus you have an unbelievable choir
sound. A dream come true.

THE RECORDING PROCESS


Eduardo has experienced all sorts of recording
situations. Here he details some of the specific
methods he uses when recording vocalists
MT: You must have used a variety of vocal recording
techniques along the way. Tell us about your most
commonly used method, and about some other
techniques that youve learned
ET: For solo voices I like just one close mic to
capture every nuance. For choirs, I use different
mic positions that are mixed at the end. There is no
general rule, you have to go there and test which one
is better for the sound you want to capture. One of
the things I have learned is that close micing, while
great for capturing the real sound, is not always
the best method since you can get more unwanted
noises from the instrument than you would expect.
Recording samples is not the same as recording
for an album. It must sound good out of the box,
must be clean, and must be perfect. So my advice is
to take all the time you need trying some different
mic positions before recording in order to make sure
you get the right sound.
MT: What is the biggest challenge you face when
recording the collections and why?
ET: Recording vocals is always challenging. The
singers dont always have perfect voices, and their
voices dont sound the same after long recording
sessions, and thats a real problem I am always
paying special attention to that. No matter if
you record two different notes on a Monday and
Wednesday, they have to sound the same when you
play them on your keyboard. I am always concerned
about that fact and I am extremely careful about it.
Every hour I go back and check if the sound is still
exactly the same. That also happens with some
ancient instruments because of reed humidity and
other factors.
MT: Were huge fans of not just the vocal parts but
also the soundscapes. Tell us how these were put
together and the inspiration behind them
ET: I have always been a fan of new-age music
and was fascinated with how inspiring the sound
textures could be. When I make a soundscape I have
two things in mind: it must sound natural, and you
must travel to an imaginary place when you play
it. I started making soundscapes because I had
the feeling that most of the synth pads were too
electronic. My soundscapes always have to be at
least 70% natural sound. The synth part is just to
add power and magic to it.

Selected kit list


Accordion
Celtic harp
Celemony Melodyne
iZotope Alloy 2
iZotope Iris
iZotope Ozone 5
RX 4 Advanced
Native Instruments
Absynth
Native Instruments
Kontakt
Spectrasonics Omnisphere
Steinberg Cubase
Steinberg WaveLab
u-he Zebra
Various Neumann
microphones
Various Avalon preamps
Waves Alchemy

(Below) Eduardo always uses a


top-notch studio for recording,
but, for him, the most important
part of the process is to capture
the soul of the performer.

MT: Tell us a little about your process


ET: The first part is having an idea. I like to think of
sample libraries as a book of adventures or a movie.
It must tell something, express an idea and a
feeling, from the cover design to how you will be
touched when you play the first notes on your
keyboard. I dont like releasing just a bunch of
samples and instruments.
Once I have the idea and a title for it, I start
looking for the players carefully. I need to record a
player that really understands what he or she is
doing and who is able to transmit their deepest
feelings to every single sample. Finding the right
musician is probably the most time-consuming task.
The recording sessions are always thrilling and
scary at the same time. If you fail, there is nothing
you can do later. I am always nervous. I dont like
tweaking samples, so the recordings must be clean
and perfect. Once the recording sessions are
finished and okay thats when I am sure the sample
library will be finally released.
After that comes the most tedious and boring
part: editing samples. Its endless. You can do it fast
if youre skilled from years of experience, but you
also must listen to every sample again to make sure
everything is fine.
Once the edits are done, mapping and
programming is next. Thats my favourite part: you
can start to listen to how the instruments sound
and get an idea of the final result.
While all these parts of the process are
happening I also take care of the cover design and
the interface, so they are ready when the
instruments begin to be programmed. Its a huge
effort in terms of work and money and also a risk,
since you wont know the final result until almost
the end of the whole process. But you know, no risk,
no glory!
MT: Which of your collections are you most proud
of and why?
ET: Thats a tough question! I would say Forest
Kingdom because it is full of amazing and inspiring
sounds; Era because you can find unbelievable
ancient instruments; Desert Winds because of its
duduk with six different true legatos; Cantus
because its absolutely inspiring; and Mystica for
the same reason and because of its beautiful true
legato. But there is no collection I am not proud of,
otherwise it wouldnt have been released.
MT: Finally, what have you got planned for the
near future?
ET: Although I still want to release more vocal
libraries, whats next is Era 2 [sequel to Era:
Medieval Legends]. Its gonna be a huge upgrade not
only in terms of new instruments and sounds, but
also the new Engine player version which, among
other things, will improve the user interface. MT

32 | November 2014

MT140.Interview.indd 32

MAGAZINE

25/09/2014 09:47

THE KOMPLETE INSTRUMENT.

www.the-komplete-instrument.com

MT Landmark Productions Kate Bush: Hounds of Love

Landmark
Productions No. 32

The tracks

1. Running up That Hill (A


Deal With God)
2. Hounds of Love
3. The Big Sky
4. Mother Stands for
Comfort
5. Cloudbusting
6. And Dream of Sheep
7. Under Ice
8. Waking the Witch
9. Watching You
Without Me
10. Jig of Life
11. Hello Earth
12. The Morning Fog

KATE BUSH: HOUNDS OF LOVE

Engineers Del Palmer, Haydn Bendall, Brian Tench, Paul Hardiman, Nigel Walker,
James Guthrie Producer Kate Bush Produced at Wickham Farm Home Studio
In light of her glorious return to the stage weve decided to revisit Kate Bushs
finest hour. The textured, melodic Hounds of Love found the artist firing on all
cylinders. Andy Price throws his shoes into the lake

hen Kate Bush first materialised out of the ether in the


latter half of the 70s the popular music world was more
than a little perplexed. Plucked from relative obscurity by
Pink Floyds David Gilmour, Bush released her suitably
proggy breakthrough smash Wuthering Heights and resulting LP The
Kick Inside in 1978. Over the next few years she gained a sizeable
following with a series of increasingly experimental and musically

34 | November 2014

MT140.LandmarksKateBush.indd 34

diverse records, reaching glorious heights with her 1985 masterwork


Hounds of Love.
Perhaps taking inspiration from David Bowies Berlin trilogy, Bush
conceptually divided the record into two distinct halves. The first, more
mainstream-friendly side being subtitled Hounds of Love while the
second side consisted of more impressionistic music and was subtitled
The Ninth Wave the title of a poem by one of her towering literary

MAGAZINE

25/09/2014 09:49

Kate Bush: Hounds of Love Landmark Productions MT

The Fairlight CMI (which


stands for Computer
Music Instrument) was a
key tool in the realisation
of Hounds of Love.

growl the word throw on this, the albums title track. Hounds
of Love kicks off with the sampled phrase Its in the trees, its
coming! (taken from horror movie Night of the Demon) before
exploding into a gorgeous synth-underbed, pulsing with a big
drum sound. Very soon Bush once again demonstrates her
powerful vocal range, and even though a fascinating musical
tapestry is created here it is this vocal that is impossible to
ignore. The songs synth-pad base is countered by a folk-y,
repetitive string section that serves to fuel the paper-thin
tension evoked by Bushs singing.
The Big Sky is dominated by a funky, bouncy bass guitar,
multi-tracked vocals and what is essentially a singular hook
that is repeated throughout the song. The simplistic guitar riff
that kicks in towards the songs conclusion serves as a
secondary hook before Bushs gospel chorus of multi-tracked
vocals rounds off the song in an unexpected way.

And now for something completely different

influences: Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Enlisting the help of her


long-term boyfriend and musical collaborator, Del Palmer,
and a team of engineers, including James Guthrie who
worked on (amongst other records) Pink Floyds audacious
The Wall, recording began at Bushs recently constructed
48-track studio, which she had built in an old barn situated
next to her family home.
Bush would describe building her own studio as the best
decision I ever made, and she kitted it out with the most
up-to-date music technology of the time: LinnDrum

A rich variety of expressive


composition, and thoughtful yet
experimental production

Mother Stands for Comfort distinctly shifts the tone. The


opening three tracks joyous mania makes way for a more
contemplative air as Bush lyrically reflects on the protective
relationship between a mother and son despite the sons
wrongdoings (murder?) he knows that his mother will always
protect him. The track features the kinetic, fretless bass of
Eberhard Weber, who collaborated with Bush on preceding
album The Dreaming. His flowing, moving bass is the key
element of this track, which also features a lovely matching
piano/vocal melody, unusual distant whistling and a curious
backward phasing effect.
Cloudbusting is a sample-heavy composition that Bush
wrote and arranged on the Fairlight CMI. Discovering the
Fairlight gave me a whole new writing tool, as well as an
arranging tool, Bush told Option magazine in 1990, like the
difference between writing a song on a piano or on a guitar.
With a Fairlight youve got everything: a tremendous range of
things. It completely opened me up to sounds and textures,
and I could experiment with these in a way I could never have
done without it.
The heart-wrenchingly beautiful and cinematic And
Dream of Sheep begins the Ninth Wave section of the record.

machines, a vast array of synths and, most importantly, her


Fairlight CMI sampler, which she had utilised heavily on
preceding album The Dreaming and would incorporate in a
very forward-thinking way on Hounds of Love and future
productions. She composed the bulk of the albums material
with the Fairlight after using a Yamaha CS-80 as her primary
composition tool on previous albums. Talking to Electronic
Music Maker in 1982 Bush said that what attracted her to the
Fairlight was its ability to create very human, animal,
emotional sounds that dont actually sound like a machine. I
think in a way thats what Ive been waiting for.

Opening track Running up That Hill was one of a handful of


tracks written by Bush on piano, and is a song sweeping with
majesty, yearning and power. The musical landscape is
defined by the instantly familiar skittish synth riff and
insistent drum machine beat. Electric guitar plays its part too,
peppering itself through the latter half of the track in little
mini-furious fuzzy freak-outs. All the while Bushs dramatic
and emotive vocals take centre stage. Multi-tracked vocals
compete and bolster the lush melody.
Take your shoes off, and throoow them in a lake! Bush
then impetuously commands, elongating with a compelling

Building her own studio


gave Kate the time and
space to fully explore
and realise her unique
musical visions.

Photo Getty Images

Run to the hills

MAGAZINE November 2014

MT140.LandmarksKateBush.indd 35

| 35

25/09/2014 09:49

Bushs vocals are touchingly soft, layered over glacial piano


chords and sampled sound effects that include unsettling
disconnected voices and distant seagulls, evoking Dark Side
of the Moon-era Pink Floyd.
Under Ice is a dramatic and scene-setting piece that
features multi-layered vocals, building to a climax that never
comes. Bush used her home studio as an instrument when
creating this sides seven-song suite. Shortly after building
her studio, Bush told MTV that when you work
experimentally it actually becomes prohibitive because it
costs money to work in a commercial studio. Plus the
distractions. So you have to find your own place, and youve
got to get the best equipment in there that you can afford!
The eighth track Waking the Witch is a chilling piece of
textured sound. A freaky, whispered voice states wake up
with an ominous swelling piano chord kicking off the
composition (which is actually recorded backwards) resolving
into a sampled voice saying this is your early morning call
before exploding into a sea of chopped-up myriad voices
insisting that the listener (or Bush herself) wakes up. Crazed
piano and guitar arpeggios then form an uneasy,
uncomfortable musical landscape as the track conjures an
image of a witch trial. Watching You Without Me is the perfect
comedown from the insanity of the previous aural onslaught.
The next piece of music Jig of Life is undeniably Celtic in
influence, complete with violins, pipes and, yes a jig-able
rhythm. However, as this is Kate Bush nothing is quite as it
seems: the melody takes a dark and spooky turn as her vocals
get more demented. Halfway through, the song breaks down
into a violin solo before poetic, Irish vocals (provided by Kates
brother Paddy) kick in. Jig of Life was (appropriately) arranged
by Riverdance composer Bill Whelan.
Hello Earth commences with more sampled voices, this
time, incongruously, of astronauts, before settling into a more
traditional piece of music a melodically gorgeous piano
ballad that grows in power as the track continues. The track
then seemingly stops, as a male vocal chorus kicks in. The
effect is unnerving; shortly after, the musical elements of the
song then re-assert themselves.
The albums final song The Morning Fog satisfactorily
resolves the album both musically and thematically with an
uplifting and sprightly melody. Bushs lyrics are positive,
referring to being born again and how much she loves her
various family members, as Del Palmers sterling bass work
keeps the various musical elements together. Though the
song is short it works as a piece of musical punctuation,
bringing Bushs most aurally stimulating work to a close.

Photo Getty Images

MT Landmark Productions Kate Bush: Hounds of Love

Her residency at the


Hammersmith Apollo
may be at an end, but
weve got a feeling thats
far from the last well
hear from Kate Bush

Dont give up
As were sure youre aware, the music world has been
all-a-fluster of late due to Bush returning to live performance.
She has just finished a 22-night residency at the
Hammersmith Apollo, and the Before the Dawn show focuses

on most of the music from Hounds of Love, with The Ninth


Wave side being dramatically brought to life around Bush in a
conceptual extravaganza. Its thrilling that after all these
years this work is gaining widespread exposure and Bush has
the resources to fully realise her vision live, utilising not only
music but theatre, dance and film.
Its no surprise that Hounds of Love is regarded as the
Bush magnum opus, with a rich variety of progressive
composition, thoughtful yet experimental production, and a
clarity of vision that puts her head and shoulders above many
of her 80s pop contemporaries. Hounds of Love rewards each
listen and arguably catches the spirit of Kate Bush more
distinctly than any of her other albums . MT

The players:
Kate Bush

Conceptual singer/
songwriter and
producer, Bush created
her own studio at
Wickham Farm, giving
her the freedom and
time to craft her
musical landscapes.

36 | November 2014

MT140.LandmarksKateBush.indd 36

Del Palmer

Longtime Bush band


member, studio bassist
and boyfriend, Del
Palmer worked with
Kate on track
composition and also
led the studio
engineering team.

Paddy Bush

Kates multiinstrumentalist
brother Paddy
contributed guitar,
mandolin and a variety
of other unusual
instruments, including
the didgeridoo!

James Guthrie

Best known for his


work with Pink Floyd
on The Wall, Guthrie
worked with Bush
engineering the record,
and conducted the
orchestral sessions
for Cloudbusting.

MAGAZINE

25/09/2014 09:49

STEP ASIDE

MEET THE NEW KING OF DANCE PRODUCTION

Find out more about TFP's amazing workflow and arsenal of content at

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23.09.2014 16:06:39

Music is Our Passion

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23.09.2014 16:06:39

MT Technique Working with hit points

Technique Producing Music To Picture, Part 2

Powered by

Working with
hit points

Requirements
Our Producing
Music To Picture
feature is illustrated
using Logic but you
can apply the
principals to
whatever
DAW you use.

Getting your soundtrack to follow the action on screen is an essential part of composing
music to picture. Mark Cousins shows you how to hit your marks.

ne of the most important skills of any film and


TV soundtrack composer is the ability to lock
their music to the action thats happening on
screen. Although it would be foolish to spot
every action with some form of musical
gesture (unless youre scoring a Tom and Jerry
animation, that is), it is important that your music follows
the broad pace of the cut as well as marking key points in
the narrative.
To do this, a composer will often resort to a variety of
techniques such as varying the time signature, tempo and

On the disc
Accompanying
project file included
on the DVD

Its important that your music


follows the pace and marks key
points in the narrative
pulse of a cue, so that the music discretely aligns itself
with the action on screen.
As we saw in last months workshop the key initial stage
of the compositional process is the establishment of a
series of SMPTE-locked markers, which can be used as a
visual guide to ensure your timeline and musical structure
matches the action on screen. What should become
apparent in this workshop is that the amount and relative
density of the markers is often critical to the success of the
final score. Put simply, placing too many markers will make
your music unnecessarily complicated, whereas a few
well-chosen markers will mean that the task of aligning the
music becomes simpler.

overall pace and energy of the scene. So, although a


tempo of 158bpm might mean that you can hit each and
every marker, it could be too fast for the action
happening on screen. The beauty of working with a DAW,
of course, is that you can quickly audition a variety of
options and immediately hear and see the relative merits
of each solution.
In situations where your current tempo doesnt result in
the music aligning itself with the hit points you can adopt a
variety of different solutions. Arguably the simplest
solution is a time signature change, so that the marker hits
the downbeat of a new bar. A bar might be cut short, for
example, so that a 4/4 bar becomes 3/4; to facilitate the hit
point arriving earlier, or a beat added (making a 5/4
measure); or if the music needs to be extended to the next
hit point. Musically speaking, the addition or subtraction of
a beat can be a relatively transparent modification that
most casual listeners will miss.
Where marker points fall off the beat, youll
need to consider the

Just in time
Before diving in at the deep end its worth considering the
broad overarching tempo of your cue, balancing the need to
precisely hit all the markers as well as matching the

THE WONDERS OF TIMECODE


Before the invention of the DAW, composers used a variety of
mathematical techniques to ensure their music aligned to picture. Even
with a DAW, though, these techniques can still be a good way of finding a
best-fit tempo, especially when you have a variety of hit points to match.
Luckily a number of online calculation tools (like the one found at www.
fransabsil.nl/htm/eventhit.htm) can help you in the task. Frans Absils
calculator lets you input a series of hit points in m:ss:dd format, which it
then uses to calculate a number of recommended tempo suggestions,
alongside an Error amount for each point. Remember that the music
neednt be 100% sample accurate, so youll be able to get away with more
errors than you might first think!

40 | November 2014

MT140.Tutorial Logic.indd 40

MAGAZINE

25/09/2014 10:15

Working with hit points Technique MT

MT Step-by-Step Aligning your markers

Following on from the last workshop, you should have imported


a video file and placed a series of SMPTE-locked markers. Weve
also allotted for a two-pop at the start, as well as marking the
beginning of the picture.

Were using the first bar to cover the two-pop, so well leave this
at 120bpm unless you want more silence before the music
starts. On bar two, therefore, insert a new tempo event that will form
the basic tempo of our cue.

Adjust the tempo event on bar two to find a best fit for the given
hit points. Ideally the markers should align themselves with a
downbeat or a subdivision of the bar. 98bpm works well, but were
going to choose 128bpm for a faster cue.

In situations where the marker falls mid bar, you always have the
option to spot the action with a music feature say, a chord stab
or percussive effect on the accompanying beat. If the hit point
needs more impact, though, this isnt a good strategy.

Where you want to align the marker to a downbeat, consider


inserting a time signature change, such as taking a 4/4 bar to
3/4, or stretching it to 5/4. Executed correctly, the addition or removal
of a beat shouldnt be too conspicuous.

For trickier alignments you can always use a small bar of silence
before a given marker point, something that can also work to
your musical advantage. To start with, place two tempo events at the
beginning and end of your chosen bar.

01

03

05

use of tempo changes as means of stretching or


compressing the music ahead of a hit point. The issue with
tempo changes is that they can start to become noticeable
to the listener, unless you can keep them within one or two
beats-per-minute of change. One interesting work-around is
to align your tempo change with a bar of silence, or at the
very least, a bar thats devoid of any noticeable rhythmic
movement or pulse. When applied to an empty bar, the
tempo change becomes like a form of elastic padding,

02

04

06

enabling you to slip in the subsequent musical material in a


precise and relatively subtle way.
Used in a considered way (rather than just as a necessity),
tempo can serve as both a musical tool and help you meet
the next hit point. Raising the tempo of an action cue is a
great way of adding tension, whereas gradual rises and falls
of tempo can be a useful way of changing the shape of a
cue, so that the music comes down from a high, for
example, or that theres a subtle lift at the end. Dont forget
MAGAZINE November 2014 |

MT140.Tutorial Logic.indd 41

41

25/09/2014 10:15

MT Technique Working with hit points

that even the slightest change of tempo can have a big


effect on the feel of the music, even though the listener
might not be completely aware of what youve done.
Whatever solution you adopt its important to remember
the role and function of the music and the need to make
your transformations and tweaks in a transparent way.
Ultimately, as soon as the listener hears the music being
deliberately modified in some way, youve shattered the
illusion the music is now subservient to the picture, rather

than the two forms working in conjunction. Establishing the


correct grid has a transformative effect on the rest of the
process, enabling you to concentrate on the notes, harmony
and arrangement, rather than being constantly distracted
by the mechanics of aligning your music to picture. MT
This tutorial is endorsed by Point Blank. With courses in London, online and
now LA, Point Blank is The Global Music School. You can study sound to picture
on their Music Production Diploma courses, with pro industry tutors.
More info here: www.pointblanklondon.com

MT Step-by-Step Aligning your markers contd

Adjusting the tempo of your silent bar will enable you to precisely
align the next marker. Raise the tempo to pull the marker closer,
lower it to move it away. Consider using a reverse sound to fill the gap,
or just leave it empty for dramatic effect!

Used carefully, tempo changes can be a useful tool to help pull


your music into shape. A gradual rallentando or accelerando can
discreetly pull your music into line, as well as changing the feel of the
cue, arguably increasing or decreasing its pace.

While it wont necessarily help align your music to a hit point, its
also interesting to contrast simple time signatures (like 4/4) and
compound time signatures with a triplet feel (12/8). To maintain the
4/4 pulse, though, youll need to raise the tempo.

Starting off in your original 4/4 tempo, insert a new region and
then ensure that it is time-locked to SMPTE. Now, when you
change to 12/8 notice how the region effectively becomes shorter than
a bar, as the DAW is counting triplets as quavers.

Increase the tempo at the same point as you inserted a time


signature event, raising it so that the length of the region is equal
to the bar length. In this case, 150bpm in 4/4 becomes 225bpm in 12/8,
maintaining the same 4/4 pulse but in 12/8.

Another interesting work-around is to use you DAWs score


writing abilities. Inserting a metronome marking (on a dotted
crochet setting) will enable you to see the equivalent 4/4 pulse. If your
new tempo is correct it should match the old 4/4 tempo.

07

09

11

42 | November 2014

MT140.Tutorial Logic.indd 42

08

10

12

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MT Technique Understanding how keys work

Requirements

New Series Composition Techniques, Part 2

Understanding how
keys work

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

Before we begin composing we need to understand the importance of keys and how a
working knowledge of them can help us devise creative ideas. Andy Price explains

n this instalment of our new songwriting series were


going to be taking a closer look at the foundations on
which our songs are built musically by analysing diatonic
keys. If you started songwriting without any theoretical
music education (as I did) then you might have,
subconsciously, picked up the principles of keys and scales
by ear, perhaps without even realising. Thats not to say this
tutorial is therefore unimportant for the by ear songwriter,
as understanding exactly what youre doing technically
when you write a song, even after the fact, can be hugely
illuminating and improve your abilities. So without further
ado, lets delve into the theory

A key is the major or


minor scale that a piece of
music revolves around
Ive got the key

On the disc
Accompanying
project file included
on the DVD

There are 12 major keys, which generally have a more


upbeat and positive sound, and 12 corresponding minor
keys, which evoke a more emotive and sad response in the
listener. Combined there are 24 keys that can be used to
create your songs. It can be confusing, however, as some
people refer to the flat and sharp keys differently. For
example, some people may refer to the key of Db as C#, but
nothing has changed, its the same key (the individual note
names will have changed to sharps or flats too). Its best to
establish early on how youre going to refer to these notes to
eliminate any confusion when writing.

Notes of note
Harmonically, the notes in each key all lead back to the
tonic, as a sense of resolution is achieved when we end up
back there. Music is considered tonal when it adheres to
this structure, and the human ear (and brain) experiences
pleasure when resolution is achieved through the use of
keys and tonics. When the whole piece doesnt adhere to
this you might call the music

A key is the major or minor scale that a piece of music


revolves around. In each key there are seven major diatonic
chords each of these correlates with the seven notes in
each keys scale. However, the more musically savvy among
you may realise that some chords can be used in more than
one key: A major, for example, can be used in the key of A, D
and E. If a song is played in the key of C, then all the
ingredients that make up that song, such as the chords and
melody, conform to those same seven notes.
The root note of each key is referred to as the
tonic. In the same way that the root note of a chord
acts as the musical foundation, the tonic of a key is
the centre of the seven notes in the key. For example,
the root note of the C major scale is the note C.

FOCUS ON THE CIRCLE OF FIFTHS


The circle of fifths illustration was first devised by German
composer Johann David Heinichen in 1728, and helps to
understand the relationships between notes, both in a chordal
sense and in terms of key. The reason it is best to demonstrate
this in a circular wheel is because as you go clockwise around the
circle the notes increase by a perfect fifth. For example, the fifth
note in the key of D is A, and the fifth note in the key of A is E. The
circle of fifths is an easy way of finding out what key your song is
in, or useful as a resource to plan your composition. It will also aid
you in understanding just what a chord is theoretically. It will also
help you in determining the relative minors of each key.

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MT140.tutorial cubase.indd 44

MAGAZINE

25/09/2014 10:11

Understanding how keys work Technique MT

MT Step-by-Step Transposing with the circle of fifths

Key of F Major
F, G, A, B , C, D, E
Every key has three major chords contained within: the first,
fourth and fifth chords are the majors. The fourth chord is a
perfect fourth from the first (the tonic) and the fifth chord is a
perfect fifth away.

As you can see on the circle of fifths, the root notes of the fourth
and fifth chords are arranged to the left and the right of the
tonic note, therefore you can easily work out the notes that make up
your chords.

03

Useable chords for your songs can all be found in the same
quadrant as the chord youve started on using chords from
opposite areas of the circle usually results in dissonance.

The circle makes it simple to transpose your compositions into


other keys. For example, once youve written a song in the key of C
you can easily find the corresponding chords in a different key by
simply looking at the circle.

Use the circle to write a four-chord loop in a major key, then, by


referring to the circle, shift the composition up by a perfect fifth
(the next note/chord on the circle from your starting point).

This can be a great way to alter the atmosphere and mood of your
compositions practice upping your keys by a fifth often and
soon the process will stick. Your DAW makes this process even simpler.

01

05

atonal this can be interesting, although for the most


part its unpleasant to listen to.
The next time you listen to a piece of music try and
isolate the tonic (usually a song will end with the tonic as
it serves as the perfect resolution). However many songs,
such as prog or jazz compositions, have multiple parts (in
effect, multiple mini-songs joined together) and so may
have different tonics throughout as the song evolves.
This may all seem dreary and overly technical but
having a working knowledge of the reason why certain

02

04

06

chords work and sound the way they do can really help you
on your artistic journey. Writing music may come from the
heart and you may have already written great music before
reading this feature. Indeed, dont limit yourself if you
stumble upon a chordal combination that strangely works,
despite not being part of the same key, then by all means
use it to build a piece of music. I hope this has given you a
solid overview of how keys work if you grasp the theory it
will make the songwriting process far easier the next time
you sit down to write a future classic! MT
MAGAZINE

MT140.tutorial cubase.indd 45

November 2014 | 45

02/10/2014 14:14

MT Technique Understanding how keys work

MT Step-by-Step Relative minors

An important aspect of fully understanding your keys is grasping


the relative minors. When a minor key shares the same sharps or
flats as a major key it is referred to as the relative minor. In
composition its always handy to know what minor routes you can take.

Look at the circle of fifths. As you can see, the major keys and
corresponding minors are handily arranged, with the minors
laying within the circle. Memorising these relationships
subconsciously is crucial.

The tonic of a relative minor is the sixth note of a major key. For
example, the sixth note in the C major scale is A. Am is therefore
the relative minor of the C Major scale.

Using the same composition youve upped by a fifth in the


previous step-by-step, add a second four-chord section that
uses your new keys relative minor. Cubases Chord Assistant (covered
in MT139) can help you here.

01

03

02

04

03

Now its quite possible that this new section sounds completely
unlike the initial four-chord major loop you began with, and may
be totally dissimilar to anything youd write otherwise, so use this as a
starting point for an entirely new composition.

05

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MT140.tutorial cubase.indd 46

As you can hear, using the circle of fifths to tweak your chords is
undeniably useful and can quite often lead you into musical areas
youd perhaps not naturally go for. Over time youll detect a keys
relative minors by ear!

06

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25/09/2014 10:11

eDNA
ELECTRONIC DNA

PHASE #ONE...

EARTH

ORGANIC SYNTHESIS
S P I T F I R E
w w w. s p i t f i r e a u d i o . c o m

MT Technique Build beats from scratch

NEW SERIES Beat Programming And Sound Design pt.2

Build beats
from scratch

Requirements
Our Beat
Programming And
Sound Design feature
is illustrated using
Reason but you can
apply the principals
to whatever
DAW you use.

In the second part of his beat programming and sound design series Hollin
Jones build his own beats from scratch. And its easy!

rum synthesis isnt new, in fact it was way back


at the turn of the 1980s when Roland released
the TR-808 as a cheaper alternative to the
rudimentary sample-based drum machines of
the day, such as the LinnDrum. At the time,
people didnt know what to make of these artificial drum
sounds but they quickly caught on, and as electronic music
came of age in the 80s, synth drums were clearly here to
stay. The fact that they didnt sound like real acoustic drums
became their main selling point.
With software, everything got easier and virtual
instruments brought drum synthesis to the world of
computers. Reason always had the ReDrum, but later also
gained the Kong Drum Designer, a much more synthfocused beat platform with an emphasis on creating sounds
from scratch rather than just tweaking samples to make
drum parts. Drum and percussion sounds are particularly
well suited to being generated by synthesis because they
tend to be short, percussive and attack-heavy all things
that suit waveforms and filters. The technology to make
synth drums is far easier to use than the science behind
synthesizing horns or pianos, for example.
Reasons self-contained design and popularity with the
dance crowd meant that Kong was very well-received and
could be seamlessly integrated into the rack with features
such as full CV support, separate channel output routing
and so on. Its also incredibly friendly to use for sound
design, unlike some other drum synthesizers, with sixteen
pads, each one able to hold a drum generator module. In
reality some of these can be sample-based so its not purely
synthesized, though you can make synth-only drum patches
or mix and match the two.

On the disc
Accompanying
project file included
on the DVD

all freely swappable and their controls are straightforward.


At worst, you can just tweak things until you get a sound you
like. For more control, concentrate on pitch, tuning, damping
and other parameters and then use the onboard effects
slots to process each drum sound individually and the buss
effects to shape the overall output of the module.
Theres more to Kong than just designing drum hits. The
pad grid has a system of quick controls that enable you to
control mute and solo, and assign different drums to
specific pads to break the conventional layout of pads.
Certain pads also have multiple Hit Types, meaning you can
control the way a pad is struck by setting, for example, a
centre snare hit or an edge or off-centre strike. Its possible
to make other settings per-pad, including level for
submixing a kit before its signals are sent out to the mixer,
pan, tone and pitch, buss and aux send effect levels. As
previously mentioned you can also split any channel off
manually for separate audio processing.

Going further
If youre looking to get even further into drum synthesis its
not just Kong that can do it, even though its Reasons
dedicated drum synth. Many other synths from many

King of Kong
The genius of Kong is that you really dont have to be a synth
expert to build your own custom drum kits. The modules are

OTHER SYNTH SOURCES


Although Kong is both accessible and hugely powerful, you can use any of
Reasons synths or more or less any programmable software synth to
generate rhythmic or synthesized drum sounds. In the Factory sound
library you will find presets inside the folders for the other synths, such as
Subtractor, that are labelled as drums or percussion. Often these only
make a single sound, mapped across the whole keyboard, and since its
not sampled its pitch will not change depending on the note you play.
Although its a slightly more long-winded way to put together a kit you
could do so inside a Combinator fairly easily and it also opens up all the
sound generation capabilities of the other modules to further increase
your sonic palette.

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MT140.TUT.reason.indd 48

MAGAZINE

25/09/2014 10:05

Build beats from scratch Technique MT

MT Step-by-Step Creating your own drum sounds

Load an instance of Kong and youll find it has a preset patch


already loaded. With the module selected, go to Edit > Reset
Device and all settings will be cleared out so you are free to start
designing your own drum kit.

Click the Drum 1 pad, then click the Show Drum and FX button to
open the module area. From the Drum Module area, click on the
Selector menu and choose a generator type. Here we have chosen a
Synth Bass Drum.

Hit the pad or press a key to trigger the sound. Use the knobs
on the generator to control pitch, tone, click parameters and
attack and decay times. You can easily design a cool-sounding kick
drum sound.

Move on to Pad 2 and this time select a snare module. Here its a
Physical Snare Drum, and you can alter the pitch, tuning, snare
tension and how much signal from underneath the snare is included in
the signal.

Move to the FX1 slot for the snare module and use the menu to
add an effect. Weve chosen an Overdrive / Resonator unit and
dialed in some drive and resonance to give the snare sound more bite
and power.

Repeat for the second FX slot if you like to add more processing.
Weve chosen a Tape Echo unit and modified the feedback and
dry / wet level to create a pleasing dub-style echo on the snare, which
remains tempo-synced.

01

03

05

DAWs can make percussive noises, with Thor, Subtractor


and Malstrm all capable of using their oscillator and filter
banks to do the job. This is true of almost any synth: as
noted earlier, rhythmic sounds are particularly good to
synthesize, and playing with attack and decay times,
oscillators, filters and LFOs can yield some great electronic
beat components. The Rack Extensions store is an excellent
source of more specialised third-party modules for
achieving this kind of stuff too.

02

04

06

Synth drums are great because they are much easier to


shape and control at a fundamental level than sampled
drum noises. When you control the waveforms that are
generating the sound and the filters that are shaping them
your mastery over them is total. You can also make sounds
that are pretty extreme: kick drums deeper and longer than
anything a real bass drum could ever manage, snares that
are sharper and crunchier than a real snare drum, plus, of
course, the classic electronic tom sound thats not much
MAGAZINE November 2014

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| 49

25/09/2014 10:05

MT Technique Build beats from scratch

MT Step-by-Step Creating your own drum sounds contd

Do the same for as many of the remaining drum pads as you like
to continue creating the kit. You can have as many snares, hi-hats,
kicks and toms as you like, so maybe consider using two or three
different snares within a kit for variety.

07

In the Pad Group section, hit the Q button to open Quick Control
view and you will be able to control link, mute or alt settings for
any pad. For example you can use this to make one pad, when struck,
also trigger another pad.

08

the Buss and Master FX slots you can assign effects to process
10 In
the whole signal. Buss effect send levels can be controlled per

Some drum types have multiple hit types available such as


centre or edge snare hits. Open the Quick Controls for this section
and you can assign hit types quickly for any pad at a glance across the
whole grid.

pad in the main LCD area of Kong at the top left. Aux levels relate to
any connected aux effects you may have added.

Hit Tab to spin the rack around and you will see individual channel
outputs for all 16 modules in Kong. Pick any of these up to route it
manually or right-click to see a list of available destinations anywhere
inside the project.

Kong can even process external audio signals. From the rear
panel, right-click on the Audio Input jacks to direct sound from
anywhere else inside the Rack into Kongs effects. Reason will only let
you patch together compatible ports so its safe.

09

11

like a real tom but is a staple of 1980s drum production.


Hi-hats can be spitty and sharp, and overall the drum
sounds are consistent and uniform.
Programming them is also a slightly different affair to
working with real drums. They tend to respond better to a
more mechanical, sequenced approach, as was always the
case with early drum machines. Reason has pattern
sequencers, drum and pattern lanes and can accept MIDI
input from an external MIDI sequencer, either in hardware

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MT140.TUT.reason.indd 50

12

form or as a VST or AU plug-in running in a ReWire host such


as Logic or Cubase. Or via USB from a hardware pad or other
input device.
Ultimately, using synth drums can be a great way to go
beyond more conventional drum parts, to build and shape
completely unique kits and sounds and make something
that is completely your own. With dedicated synth plug-ins,
most DAWs should make that way easier than you might
have imagined. MT

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25/09/2014 10:05

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MT 20 Pro Tips Audio editing

Audio

Editing Tips
Youve finished your recording sessions, and now its time to process your audio. Get on the
fast track to sonic success with Hollin Joness essential advice

02

ZOOM IN
Software enables you to zoom in on any waveform to
sample level, and this gives you a great deal of power.
Glitches or other events that last for only a fraction of a
second can be identified and processed or corrected by
zooming right down. The finer the zoom level the quicker the
playhead will disappear offscreen, so it can be a good idea to
set up a loop and disable autoscrolling as this will probably
drive you mad otherwise.

02

01
The accuracy of your
edits will be heavily
affected by your snap
settings (above).

BE MINDFUL OF SNAP SETTINGS


With audio, as when editing anything in a DAW or a wave
editor, keep an eye on whether snapping is switched on and
what it is set to. If its set to a high value such as bar or you
will find precise edits almost impossible to make. On the
other hand, if you are trying to cut a whole bar of audio you
will want snap-to-bar switched on. As long as your audio is in
time, using a snap value will help you make precise edits. A
snap value of 1/16 or finer is usually helpful for working with
transients inside an audio event. If you turn snapping off you
get complete free rein to move events, but its also easy to
accidentally de-sync your sound by doing this.

01

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MT140.Tips.3aj.indd 52

Dig right down to the


lowest level of your
audio with the zoom
tool (above right).

USE SPECTROGRAPHIC EDITING


Regular waveforms are fine for seeing the amplitude
and duration of audio files, but thats about it. Spectrographic
analysis, on the other hand, can show you multiple visual
representations of the frequencies and amplitudes inside a
sound based on the type of view that you select. Even better,
they provide you with a way to edit sounds in whole new ways.
Imagine you have a recording of the perfect vocal take but in
the background theres a car horn thats crept into the
recording this would be tricky to remove using EQ because
the frequencies of both sounds cross over to an extent. A
spectrographic editor such as iZotopes RX or Sonys

03

MAGAZINE

29/09/2014 08:46

Audio editing 20 Pro Tips MT

05

03

SpectraLayers Pro can show you this sound separately and


you can then paint it out, take a noise print or perform a
number of other processes to reach inside the sound file.
PROCESS IN PLACE
All serious software will let you apply audio processing
to files, such as normalization, fades, reverse and usually also
plug-ins as well. One interesting trick in some software is to
process effects and other tools in place on a file. This means
opening the audio file in the sample editor, isolating a
section of the waveform where you want to apply the
processing and then gluing it into the file. This doesnt
require you to cut the clip up first, and, for example, is a great
way to insert some silence, to perform an EQ cut on one word
or sound inside an existing clip, or to reverse a couple of notes
from the middle of a guitar take. By processing inside the clip
you can avoid cutting it up, though that approach is available
to you too, of course.

04

Spetrographic
analysis will give
you a whole new
view of your audio
(above left).
Cant get a perfect
take in one go?
Simply paste
together the best bits
of multiple passes
(above right).
(Below left) Process
isolated parts of your
audio without having
to cut it up first.
(Below right) Learn
how to batch process
to save huuuge
amounts of time.

software will have a name for it) and audition each one.
Maybe youll find the first line of take one sounded great,
then the next line of take three, then the last bit of take one
again. By cutting or marking each take appropriately you can
build a perfect take from the constituent clips. Mini
crossfaders are often available to smooth the transitions
between takes.
BATCH PROCESS AUDIO FILES
This is more applicable to situations where you have
already made edits or set up plug-in chains and you want to
apply the same settings to a number of files. Loading lots of
audio tracks into a DAW, applying a track preset to each one
and then exporting them as stems is possible but its a
long-winded approach. Ideally what you want to do is batch
process all your sounds at once. Software such as Sound
Forge or WaveLab has built-in batch processing options. With
these tools you can make all your settings for a single audio
file, say, for example, a plug-in and EQ chain to clean up some
voiceover recordings, and then apply it to a bunch of files at
once. Hit go and leave it to work. Its a massive timesaver and
you can even sometimes specify things such as auto fades at
the start and end of each file, further saving you time.

06

04

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF COMPOSITING


Many DAWs support comping, which is the selection of
multiple passes or versions of an audio clip and their
combination into one, finished, perfect take. The usual way to
achieve this is to record in a loop between the left and right
locators, making sure your software is set to keep each take,
mute it and record a new version with each pass. Then once
you have stopped recording, go into the takes editor (your

05

06

MAGAZINE November 2014

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29/09/2014 08:46

MT 20 Pro Tips Audio editing

USE TIME- AND PITCH-STRETCHING


Any mid-level or better DAW will support time- and
pitch-stretching of audio. They have different names: Flex
Time and Pitch in Logic, Hitpoints in Cubase, and so on.
Time-stretching is useful to make a clip fit the tempo of your
project regardless of its original speed. Spend a little time
properly editing its start and end points (since your DAW will
work on clip length rather than waveform) and you should be
able to snap it to a bar marker to fit it to the project.
Alternatively, stretch audio without worrying about snapping
to create some special effects, such as extreme slowdowns.
Tempo-stretching can be done without affecting pitch, and
the reverse is also true. Change the pitch of audio and you can
conform it to your project key, duplicate a part to create
harmonies and process a clip differently through your mixer.

source audio and quickly turn it into something much more


exciting, cut up and dynamic. Since its an effect, everything
remains virtual until you choose to bounce down, so the sky is
the limit when it comes to creativity.

07

10

RENDER DOWN AND DUPLICATE PARTS


When you work on digital audio, edits that you make are
generally nondestructive, and that means you can usually go
back to any step and undo it. Sometimes, though, certain
kinds of edit are only possible on a real audio clip and not on
one thats being effected. Effects are generated in real time
and therefore you couldnt, for example, slice up a delayed
clip because the software would analyse the source clip, not
the sound of the delays since they were still virtual. The way
around this is to simply bounce (not freeze) a copy of an
audio part down either by exporting and re-importing it or
by printing it to a new track internally. Then, any slice
analysis is performed on the effected file, which will look
very different to the original. Since you have copies of both
you can keep the original too and decide which one to use for
what purpose.

08

USE SPECIAL FX PLUG-INS


Youll probably be aware of regular plug-ins such as EQ,
compressors and reverbs, but there are quite a few effects
out there that are capable of much more extreme sound
processing. There was a time when to get cut-up effects you
basically had to physically cut up all your audio parts and
process them through tons of effects. Now its much simpler
with effects such as Turnado, BreakTweaker or Stutter Edit.
These multi-effects simulate complex edits and processing,
but instead of taking hours to work on they can be performed
with a couple of clicks. You can take fairly ordinary-sounding

09

09

This means you shouldnt


get any nasty clipping caused
by clashing waveforms

Quickly create
presets with
groove extraction
tool (above).

Make sure you fully


explore your plug-in
folder and take
advantage of the
more out there
effects (below).

EXTRACT GROOVE
Many DAWs will enable you to extract the groove from
either a MIDI or an audio part, store this as a quantization
preset and then apply this to another part. So you can impose
your own groove maps onto recorded or sampled audio parts
using this technique to change their feel. Software such as
Melodyne and Cubase also lets you extract pitch data to MIDI;
so, for example, you can analyse a vocal take and create a
MIDI-triggered duplicate.

10

CHEAT USING COPY AND PASTE


Sometimes you will find that your recordings have
some performance errors in them and theres no
opportunity to do any retakes to fix them, perhaps because
the performer is no longer available. A good way to patch over
such errors is to identify similar or identical passages in a
take that were performed correctly and then isolate, cut out
and copy and paste these into the location of the incorrect
part. This takes more skill than you might think, since there
may be small variations in timing or feel between the part
youre pasting in and the time segment youre pasting it into.
But with some careful nudging and perhaps even a little
slicing and groove quantization of the audio, you can usually
make it fit in, and if you do the job seamlessly nobody will
ever know the difference.

11

SNAP-TO-ZERO CROSSINGS
Many DAWs have a snap to zero crossings option that
you can turn on when editing audio waveforms. This works
independently of your main application snap settings and
ensures that a cut is not made at a point in the waveform
where signal exists, but rather where the level is zero. This
means that when you edit two parts together you shouldnt
get any nasty clipping caused by clashing waveforms.

12

54 | November 2014

MT140.Tips.3aj.indd 54

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29/09/2014 08:46

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T+S_mtech140.indd 1

02/10/2014 14:53

LEARN A FEW SHORTCUTS


Sometimes you might find yourself having to make lots
of cuts to a long audio take, perhaps to remove periods of
low-level noise between voiceover or guitar riffs. Rather than
manually zooming and clicking over and over, use a shortcut
or set up a macro to use a key command to split a clip. Over
the course of many edits on a clip this will save you lots of
time. Logic has a strip silence tool to achieve this.

17

USE REGIONS
Instead of making physical cuts to audio files you can
often define regions within a clip and then use markers or
similar commands to jump back and forth between regions. If
you decide you want to make edits permanent there is
usually the option to divide clips to new clips based on the
regions you have set up.

18

14
Get more out of
your audio by
creating your own
REX loops (above).

USE VOLUME AND FADE HANDLES


You can automate a mixer easily enough but sometimes
its quicker and more suitable to use the volume and fade
handles found on audio clips in many DAWs. These work
independently of the channel fader so you dont affect any
other clips in the track. Simply pull any chosen clips volume
up or down, or create fades to create a sort of submix within
the track.

13

USE REX LOOPS


Using software such as Propellerheads ReCycle or
Reason you can slice up any audio file and quantize it as you
like, even adding some effects before you bounce it out to a
REX loop that can be opened in various different
instruments and applications. These loops will alter their
timing to fit any project and are also playable slice-by-slice
from any MIDI input device. Audio is made super-flexible
using this technique.

14

FIX GLITCHES WITH THE PEN TOOL


In a sample editor you can zoom down to sample level,
showing the very building blocks of the digital sound. A
digital click or pop will usually manifest as a clear spike or
peak in the sample display, sometimes flattening out
against the very top. You can often fix these by using the pen
tool to literally draw them out, flattening the waveform to
erase the spike.

Keyboard shortcuts
will make your
workflow markedly
quicker (right).
Never used the Pen
tool? Learn now its
more useful than you
might first think
(below left).

17

Set up regions to
quickly navigate your
way around your
tracks (below right).

15

REMOVE THE ROOM


One of the problems some people encounter when
recording in less-than-perfect acoustic spaces is room
ambience on recordings. Always use an isolator such as the
Reflexion Filter, but you can also use EQ to try to identify and
then dial down the frequencies that are clouding your sound.
This takes time and patience but it can significantly improve
the end result.

19

15
18

ALWAYS BE CROSSFADING
When you edit audio clips and arrange them on the
timeline, there can be occasions where two clips glitch as
they cross over because one or both waveforms are not
perfectly cut. To avoid this, apply short crossfades to remove
any glitching. Some DAWs such as Cubase are able to
automatically add these for you.

16

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MT140.Tips.3aj.indd 56

WHAT TOOLS YOU HAVE


20 KNOW
Each DAW will have a different (if overlapping) set of

tools to make working with audio easier. These can save you
lots of time, with tools for trimming, cropping, deleting
overlaps and moving data to preset locations all available in
many applications. These tools typically cut out tens of
mouse clicks on your part, so if youre spending hours on the
donkey work of editing, look to see if youre missing a trick. MT

MAGAZINE

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How to record acoustic guitar Technique MT

Technique How to record acoustic guitar, part 1

How to record
Guitar part 1
Capturing the true essence of the humble acoustic guitar can be a tricky task, but with
some basic know-how and just one (yes, one!) microphone you can record a truly
electrifying tone. John Pickford tunes up, turns on, and rocks out

ife would be a lot simpler if there was one perfect


method of recording acoustic guitar that everybody
agreed with. However, if you ask ten engineers to
name their favourite technique youll likely get ten
completely different answers. Some engineers only

The best engineers


understand the benefits
and pitfalls of a number
of techniques

On the disc
Accompanying
example audio files
included on the DVD

ever use a single microphone to capture the sound while


others prefer to blend the sound of two or more mics.
The best engineers understand the benefits and
pitfalls of a number of techniques and adapt their
micing approach to suit the job in hand. This month well
look at how to get set up along with tips on how to produce
great results from using one microphone to capture the
whole sound.

Tools for the job


Acoustic guitars come in a wide range of flavours, ranging
from the warm, mellow tones of nylon-strung classical and
Spanish guitars to the bright, metallic sound of resonator
types such as Dobros; the full-bodied folk-sy vibe of a
dreadnought to the distinctive sprightly tone of a gypsy
jazz guitar. And then of course there are 12-strings

MAGAZINE November 2014

MT140.tut HTR Guitar3.indd 59

| 59

25/09/2014 15:27

MT Technique How to record acoustic guitar

Thankfully, no matter what style of acoustic guitar is


used the methods employed to record it remain the
same. Of course, you wont be able to make a classical
guitar sound like a resonator with recording techniques,
so its very important to make sure that you choose the
right instrument for the job in the first place.
Prior to the session its worth checking that the
guitar is in the best possible condition. The age of the
strings will affect the tone, and be aware that the
gauge used will make quite a big contribution the
sound: light-gauge strings will produce a thinner
tone than heavy ones. Also, the type of plectrum (if
used) will influence the final result: a thinner one
providing more percussive energy from the strumming,
and a thicker one generating more volume thanks to
its heavier attack.
Once the guitar is in optimum condition, listen to
how it sounds in the room, as its the way the
instrument interacts with the recording environment
that has one of the most profound effects on the sound.
Unlike vocals, that are best captured with as little room
ambience as possible, acoustic guitars positively
benefit from the natural reverb of a good recording
room. Generally, a reasonably lively room with wooden
floors will give the best results. Also try different rooms,
as you may find that the guitar actually sounds best in
the kitchen!

MT Step-by-Step Setting up and selecting mics

Different shapes and makes of acoustic guitars can sound dramatically


different, so make sure you have one that suits the track. Sort out any rattles and
buzzes, and ensure that the players jewellery or clothing shirt buttons, for example
are not causing unwanted noise by knocking against the instrument. Discard tired,
dull-sounding strings but be aware that brand-new strings may emphasise finger
screech. Coated strings and lubricants can help tame this.

01

Tone on the range


With the guitar sounding great in the recording
environment, its time to think about the best way of
capturing the sound. Most engineers choose condenser

Acoustic guitars
benefit from the
natural reverb of a good
recording room
microphones to record acoustic guitars, as they are
often more flattering than dynamic types. Opinions
differ as to whether a large or small diaphragm
condenser is preferred; however, the sound of the
instrument and the role it will play in the final mix
should influence the choice to a greater degree. Even
with the best EQ and compression a midrange-y parlour
guitar will just not cut it if your track requires a bass-y
jumbo-style sound.
Large diaphragms tend to have a fatter, full-bodied
sound, which is often desirable if the guitar is a featured
instrument, as you would hear in, say, a solo singer/
songwriter performance. Small diaphragm mics are
usually favoured for their exceptionally detailed
top-end response, which is useful to help the guitar cut
through a busy mix.
Thats not to say that dynamic mics are completely
unsuitable, though, as a well-positioned dynamic mic
will sound better than an expensive but poorly placed
condenser. Ribbon mics (which are a type of dynamic
microphone) can sound gorgeous on acoustic guitar, as
they often sound big and warm but still capture the

60 | November 2014

MT140.tut HTR Guitar3.indd 60

Start by making sure the guitar sound good in the room. If your recording room is
small, boxy and dry-sounding, try another room. Alternatively, increase ambience
by removing soft furnishings and adding some reflective surfaces. A handy trick in
heavily carpeted rooms is to place a sheet of hardboard or something similar beneath
the player in order to pick up some reflections from the floor. When all else fails, add
some artificial room ambience during processing.

02

Use a condenser mic, if possible, to capture the high-frequency detail and


harmonics. Mics with switchable polar patterns are ideal, as omnidirectional or
figure of eight (bi-directional) settings offer more natural ambience and avoid the
low-end boom often caused by the proximity effect when using a cardioid setting. If
you only have cardioid mics, choose the brightest-sounding one and position it at a
distance that avoids excessive bass and captures some room ambience.

03

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MT Technique How to record acoustic guitar

delicacy and detail of the sound. Also the bi-directional


response of ribbons picks up a decent amount of
natural room ambience. Now, not all of us have the
luxury of choosing any mic that takes our fancy but as
indicated above, an inexpensive and carefully
positioned mic should produce satisfying results.

MT Step-by-Step Positioning your microphone

Sound decisions
The most common mistake made by novice engineers is
to point the mic straight at the sound-hole. Sure, it
looks like the right thing to do, but this position often
exaggerates any low-end boom that could potentially
clutter up your mix.
Its far better to find a position that picks up a more
even balance of the instruments sound. Remember, an
acoustic guitars sound is made up of several elements:
resonances from the sound-hole, wooden panels and
internal bracing, as well as the sound of the strings, so
finding a spot that captures a larger slice of the
complete sound is best.
Aim to find a position that offers a decent overview
of the guitars sound without too much unwanted
low-end information, especially when using a
directional mic with a fixed cardioid polar pattern. If you
have a mic with an omnidirectional pick-up pattern you
can afford to move in a little closer if desired, as the
low-end boost caused by the proximity effect of
directional mics isnt an issue. Also, an omni mic will
capture a nice, even amount of room sound.
One problem with this mic position is that with some
instruments the sound can lack body, which can be an
issue if the guitar is a main part of the recording. If,
however, the guitar forms part of a busy mix, the thinner
sound can be positively advantageous, particularly if
you want the rhythmic strumming of the strings to cut
through without too much midrange frequency
information cluttering-up the production.
Another problem can arise from unwanted noises,
either from the players fingers sliding along the strings,
or annoying fret buzzes. A good solution to this problem
is to position the mic away from the neck and further
along the body towards the bridge.
For a more full-bodied tone, experiment with
positions that have the microphone placed above the
sound-hole, angled downwards this position is
excellent for capturing a well-rounded sound while
avoiding the blast of air emanating from the sound-hole.
If the guitar youre recording is an electro-acoustic
then you can DI it onto a separate channel (preferably
through a preamp first to add warmth) and then blend it
in later (if required) to thicken the sound. (Granted,
were meant to be talking about recording with just one
mic but as this is a pickup we can get away with it!)

Listen to the sound the guitar produces by moving your head around in front of
the instrument (whilst someone else is playing it, obviously!). You will hear the
sound change quite significantly from one position to another. The sound should
become lighter as you move away from the body and towards the neck of the guitar.
Try to find a spot that captures a full, resonant tone without excessive boom, while
also picking up the detail of the strings being plucked and strummed.

01

Once you have set up a microphone, put on some headphones with a feed of the
signal and sweep the mic around, moving along the guitar at various distances
and heights to find the best sound. Make sure the headphone level is sufficient to
block-out the ambient sound of the instrument without being deafeningly loud.
Better still, if you have someone to assist you, get them to sweep the mic around
while you audition the sound on your monitors.

02

Guitar hero
With these tips and techniques you should be able to
produce a recorded tone that gets the best out of the
natural sound of the instrument. Next month well
look at some multi-micing set-ups as well as
recording acoustic guitar in stereo, double-tracking
and how best to record someone singing and playing
acoustic guitar simultaneously.
Finally, well see how subtle EQ, dynamics control
and reverb can help bring out the very best in your
acoustic guitar recording. MT

62 | November 2014

MT140.tut HTR Guitar3.indd 62

As a starting point that is favoured by many engineers, position the


microphone at the point where the guitars neck joins the body. Experiment
with distance to achieve a good balance of direct sound and room ambience, and
also try some less obvious positions such as placing the mic at the players
shoulder level.

03

MAGAZINE

25/09/2014 15:27

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01/10/2014 13:51

MT Reviews iZotope RX 4 Advanced

MT Reviews
Hardware

Software

Mobile Technology

Samples

iZOTOPE

RX 4 Advanced
Adding a host of new modules, can iZotope really
improve on the prowess of RX 3? Mark Cousins
finds out what version 4 has to offer

ver its last three generations


iZotopes RX has developed an
enviable reputation among
many sound engineers,
especially those working in the field of
post-production. Over the years, theres
been a variety of audio restoration
solutions some in plug-in form,
others based on an off-line audio editor
but like Native Instruments Kontakt
dominance of sampling, RX seems to
have become the go-to solution for
many audio professionals. Its success
can be explained in a number of ways,
but the fact that it so effortlessly
straddles both plug-in and standalone
operation has meant RX could fit into a
variety of different workflows with
relative ease.
In truth, it doesnt seem that long
ago since we reviewed RX 3, but with
the introduction of RX 4 iZotope is keen

66 | November 2014

MT140.Rev.RX4.indd 66

to retain RXs position as an essential


post-production toolkit. At first glance,
therefore, RX 4 isnt graced with a
dramatic facelift or an endless list of
new and glamorous features that might
grab your attention. Look more closely,
though, and youll see that iZotope has
thoughtfully evolved RX in a way that
closely matches the needs of many
audio professionals. RX 4 may not be a
game changer, therefore, but it certainly
contains some new treats that you
wont want to be without.

Restoration home
As with previous versions of the
application, RX 4 comes in two principle
flavours the standard edition, RX 4,
and a feature-rich version called RX 4
Advanced. Before you get too excited,
though, its worth noting that theres a
big difference in the pricing (around

Choice

9/10
9
9/
10
Details
Price 729 (RX 4
Advanced), 215 (RX 4)
Contact Time + Space
01837 55200
Web
www.izotope.com

Key Features
Dialogue
Denoiser
Spectral Repair
Leveler & Clip
Gain
Loudness
Ambience Match
EQ Match

500, to be precise), putting RX 4


distinctly in the professional tool price
bracket. While RX 4 lacks some of the
tools of RX 4 Advanced, its certainly
not short on features, so it might be
worth a detailed look at the features
comparison list before you make your
choice. For the purposes of the
review, though, well be concentrating
on RX 4 Advanced.
For newcomers its well worth noting
the key points of RX 4s design and
workflow. One central philosophy,
defined from its earliest version, was
the idea of spectral editing. While this
isnt entirely unique, the fact that RX
was designed from the ground up as a
spectral audio editor lends it a distinct
Photoshop-like quality to its operation,
where you work with sound both from a
visual and aural perspective.
Rather than selecting and modifying
sound purely based on time, therefore,
RX lets you lasso parts of the audio
spectrum, whether its a small breath
noise, or a complete slice of the
frequency range. More than just being a
gimmick, though, the ability to work in
the spectral domain is what makes RX
so effective, enabling you to direct the
correction to a specific segment of the
audio both in relation to time and
frequency. By being selective, RX is
proportionately more transparent than
other non-spectral alternatives, which
in the world of audio restoration makes
a big difference to the quality of the
end result.

ZX spectrum
With the spectral editing concept in
place, RX then lets you tweak your
audio using a number of processing
modules, including: Declip, Denoise,
Dereverb, Time & Pitch, and Spectral
Repair. As an off-line audio editor,
transformations are rendered to the
audio clip, but thanks to a stepped
undo history (that can even be recalled
after youve saved the file), theres no
need to fear that youll permanently
damage the file in any way.
For those that prefer working solely
in their DAW, RX has always provided a
number of plug-ins that replicate many
of the key modules used in the
application. One distinct shift thats
come with the introduction of RX 4 is

MAGAZINE

25/09/2014 09:59

iZotope RX 4 Advanced Reviews MT

the new RX Connect plug-in, which


attempts to provide a direct bridge
between your DAW and RX 4 as a
standalone application. Exact
integration varies between DAWs, with
the system seemingly at its best in Pro
Tools. With the Connect system active,
audio regions can be transferred
directly to RX 4 (via Pro Tools
AudioSuite menu), either for analysis
purposes or as a round trip for audio
restoration tasks. Ultimately, it makes
the process of moving between the two
applications more seamless, rather
than having to choose the plug-in route.

New modules
As youd expect, theres a variety of new
modules and audio enhancement
features introduced in RX 4, including
non-destructive Clip Gain, Leveler,
Loudness, EQ Match and Ambience
Match. One interesting development
from a workflow perspective is the
non-destructive Clip Gain, which
enables you to create a series of nodes
to control the amplitude of your audio
clip. Its a simple feature, but one that
makes a big difference to the workflow
in RX 4, especially when youre working
with problematic dialogue.

Alternatives

balancing out the dynamic range of


tracks, especially in relation to
increasing the levels of quieter parts of
the mix.
Other new modules seem largely
directed at the post-production
fraternity, including a Loudness module
(which uses a limiter rather than the
gain adjustment approach of Leveler),
EQ Match and Ambience Match. In the
case of Ambience Match its worth
noting that the Ambience isnt reverb
but the residual noise floor between
different audio clips. Ultimately, you
can see how many of the new features
specifically relate to dialogue
restoration and editing, although given
the inherent versatility of RX 4 their
application can extend across a wide
variety of sonic surgery tasks.

If youre principally interested in audio


restoration using your DAW, then Sonnoxs
Restore (1,195) is well worth closer
investigation. The suite is comprised of three
plug-ins - DeClicker, DeBuzzer and DeNoiser
so it doesnt cover the breadth of RX 4,
especially in relation to the newer dynamics
modules such as Leveler and Loudness. An
alternative for Spectral editing is Steinbergs
WaveLab 8.5 (448), which is a good all-round
audio editor, including some spectral analysis
and editing features.

Clean sweep
RX 4 may not be a gigantic leap on from
the features included in RX 3, but it
does demonstrate iZotopes intention
to provide the ultimate fix-it tool for a
range of audio dilemmas. New features
such as the Clip Gain really transform
RX 4s usefulness, making RX 3 seem
surprisingly limited when we stepped
back to compare the older version. The

Like Kontakts dominance of sampling,


RX seems to have become the go-to
solution for many audio professionals
Working in conjunction with Clip
Gain is the Leveler module that lets you
apply a form of automated gain control,
much like a compressor or expander.
The unique slant here, though, is that
the output is in the form of a re-drawn
Clip Gain curve, letting you tweak and
refine the gain changes as you see fit.
Beyond the obvious dialogue
applications, it was also interesting to
hear the Leveler applied in a music
production context, used as a means of

The Dialogue Denoiser is great for cleaning up


vocal takes.

Leveler also proved to be a real winner


and a viable additional means of
controlling dynamics that contrasts
well with traditional tools such as a
compressor and upwards expander.
The hard decision for potential
customers, though, is reconciling the
price difference between the two
versions. Given the wealth of whats
included in the standard RX 4, its clear
that iZotope has priced the
application competitively, making it a
justifiable purchase for those who want
to dabble in RXs spectral-based audio

RX 4 can be used in plug-in or standalone


mode, so will fit in well with your workflow.

Method Spot
Differing levels of
background noise
can cause problems
between dialogue
takes. Usually a
small amount of
wild track is
recorded to cover
these issues, but in
situations where
this isnt available
you can use RX 4s
Match Ambience to
synthesize new
background noise.
Match Ambience
works in a similar
way to Noise
Removal, where the
software learns a
fingerprint from a
source recording.
The Noise
Fingerprint is
then used to
generate the
required wild track.

editing. Even though the standard RX 4


misses out on many of the new
modules theres still a wealth of
creative and technical possibilities that
RX 4 has to offer.
Compared to the standard edition,
RX 4 Advanced is a more significant
investment, although the addition of
Insight, iZotopes comprehensive
metering suite plug-in (itself worth
295), certainly makes it all the more
tempting. Knowing just how many
professionals have come to use RXs
powers on an almost daily basis its
clear to see that the new improvements
in RX 4 will be a welcome addition to
their workflow. Ultimately, few other
tools can rescue irrevocably damaged
audio like RX 4 does, and for that fact
alone its a tool few professional users
will want to be without. MT

MT Verdict
+ Leveler and Clip Gain really aid
workflow
+ Connect system improves DAW
integration
+ Perfect for a range of postproduction tasks
+ Spectral-level precision and
transparency
- New modules biased towards RX
4 Advanced
- Connect integration varies
between DAWs
iZotopes RX 4 continues to lead the
way as the most versatile audio
restoration tool around, saving
countless damaged audio files from
a one-way trip to the bin!

9/10

MAGAZINE November 2014

MT140.Rev.RX4.indd 67

| 67

25/09/2014 09:59

AIR Music Technology The Riser Reviews MT

Alternatives
If youre willing to
spend the time you can
program these kinds of
effects using various
different software
synths and your DAW,
though they do take
time to create. You can
also use samples for
transitions but these
will limit how flexibly
you can alter them. The beauty of The Riser is that its a dedicated and fully
tweakable transition instrument, so you can quickly change or automate
the level of modulation, the blend of oscillators and the depth of the
effects with just a few clicks.

Innovation

AIR MUSIC TECHNOLOGY

The Riser

Tired of programming endless sweeps,


rises and falls in your electronic tracks?
Hollin Jones finds out if AIR Music
Technology has the answer
Details

Price
47.99
Contact
Via website
Web
www.airmusictech.
com
Needs
Windows 7 or higher
OS X 10.7.5 or higher
2GB RAM

Key Features
Transition
designer
Three editable
oscillators
Three LFOs
23 filter types
300 presets
Randomizer
MIDI learn
Onboard delay
and reverb
AU, VST and AAX
formats

ne of the key compositional


tricks in many kinds of dance
and other electronic music is
the use of sweeps, rises and
falls to build up to a change in the
dynamics of a song. For the producer,
these are essential to create dynamics
within the track and let listeners know
when the drop is coming. And although
they can be programmed by hand, its
quite fiddly to do over and over again.
Enter The Riser, from German
developer AIR Music Technology. This
software instrument is similar to a few
weve seen recently in that it aims to
give you a shortcut to a type of sound
that gets used a lot in certain kinds of
music, but is based on synthesis and
not sampling. In this case, its described
as a transition designer optimised for
electronic music production, scoring,
and remix work. Although it has a
complement of fully tweakable controls
it also comes with 300 professionally
designed presets grouped by category
and style such as rises and falls, pitch,
mod or atonal character as well as
swells and fades.
The patches are designed to provide
various different kinds of transition,
from filtered swells to whooping sirens

Choice

9/10
9
9/
10

and everything in between. It does this


by generating sound from its three
oscillators: sweep, noise and chord,
each with multiple editable
characteristics. The sweep controls the
direction of the transition, the noise
oscillator adds texture and grit, and
finally the chord oscillator can be used
to match the synths structure to your
songs key, or indeed any key you
specify. Each also has a configurable
filter so you can control the shape of
the signal as soon as it leaves the
oscillator. Three LFOs are available: free
running, tempo synced, and Pumper,
with configurable depth and, where
applicable, rate controls.

Pump it up
Theres a second filter stage with 23
filter types available and control
sections for cutoff and resonance, plus
a distortion stage with variable
distortion modes to add crunch and
bite to the sound. The effects you tend
to use most on these kinds of sounds
are delay and reverb, and there are
appropriate effects built in, with
extensive tempo-sync options available
for the delay section and four reverb
types with controls. You can also vary
the effect blend, and these effects help
the synth sounds to sit comfortably in
your tracks. Panning and width controls
also let you position the sound more
accurately in the stereo field.
You could well find that the bundled
presets contain everything you need,

but you may also want to tweak the


settings to better suit the particular
track youre working on. This is really
easy to do, and although there are a fair
few sections, you interact with them all
in much the same fashion, so the
learning curve is quite gentle. Theres
some clever stuff to help you out too,
such as a randomizer to generate whole
new patches at the touch of a button
and an Invert mode that instantly
changes the direction of the current
transition to provide you with a down to
your up, or vice versa. MIDI learn is
supported too, so you can map
hardware controllers to sections in
order to change pulse settings or effect
levels in real time, for example.
Although targeted at the many
people making uptempo electronic
music, The Riser is an interesting
instrument in its own right. So although
it is perfect for electronic transitions,
you can get even more creative by
slowing things down and getting a more
ethereal, pulsing sound out of it. Some
people will no doubt ask why they
would buy a synth that just did
transitions, so the affordability
definitely helps here, and Id also
suggest that it will save producers a lot
of time automating LFOs and pitchbend CCs. MT

MT Verdict
+ Excellent for all kinds of
electronic transitions
+ Easy to learn, fun to use
+ Saves a load of time
+ Could also be used for sound
design
+ Very affordable
+ Beefs up your electronic tracks
- Its best at transitions, so for a
more generalist synth, look
elsewhere
Even if youre doing experimental
stuff its well worth a look for the
creative possibilities it offers.

9/10

MAGAZINE November 2014

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Best Service Mystica Reviews MT

Alternatives
Im getting tired of
recommending Best
Services own
Shevannai, but in
this case it really
does stand next to
Mystica as a true
option. Cantus will
offer the male
equivalent but
Shevannai is female
so closer (even though its in Elvish. Or Elven).
Check out the big sample CD companies for
other Gregorian vocal collections too.

BEST SERVICE

Mystica

For PC
& Mac

Eduardo Tarilonte records eight female vocalists to serve up yet


another fantastical treat. Andy Jones is in heaven

duardo Tarilonte is interviewed


on p24 of this issue, because
we have been so impressed
with the three previous
libraries in this, what some may call, the
Best Service Fantasy series. The vocal
story so far is elves (Shevannai,
brilliant); monks (Cantus, also great);
and the dark ages/Renaissance (Altus,
another cracker). The rather mystical
theme is continued here with Mystica,
and this time Eduardo has recorded
eight female vocalists; the results lie
very much in the same period as
Cantus, but obviously male rather than
female. Indeed, from the Best Service
website Mystica has been designed
very much as the partner to Cantus as it
says of the recording: the library forms
a perfectly matched mixed choir when
being combined with Cantus. Therefore,
Mystica has been recorded under
identical conditions in Spanish KBYO
Recording Studios, located in Granada,
using eight selected Neumann
microphones and Avalon preamps.

ET at home
Eduardo is clearly at home recording
vocalists and, as with all of his
previous libraries, the vocals here are
sublime. The library includes the now
usual word builder where you can
combine syllables into words and
phrases to make Gregorian-style
passages. And, as weve said before,
whether these words or sentences

make any sense is neither here nor


there, as they sound so good.
The library is set out in three folders:
The Voice, FX and Soundscapes. Load
The Voice folder and you have two
presets: Phrases and Chamber Choir.
The first is four banks (selectable by red
keys in the now famous Kontakt style)
of either 24 or 26 phrases played over
two octaves or more. Here you could
make complete passages and chants
again the recording is spot on, and
the reverb just right (though adjustable
up and down to dry) with other
controls including expression, envelope
and speed.
The Chamber Choir preset breaks it
down to words (24 on the green notes)
and vowels (on red) all played at
different pitches (on blue). Here you
also get Word Builder, which contains
120 syllables for you to place in any
order to make complex words or
complete phrases.

Evil FX
The second folder is FX, not present in
all of Eduardos other collections, and
you can soon see why as its used very
well with the female voice, covering
some eerie vocal effects, (rising and
falling) emotional laments, cackling
laughter, spell casting and so on. This is
where the library takes a darker turn
and its a good counterpoint to the
nicey nicey Gregorian stuff.
So now its a case of Good 1 versus

Key Features
Eight vocalist
Numen
Ensemble
5GB
Five Gregorian
legatos (a,e,i o,u)
24 words, three
articulations
Words split into
120 syllables
100 Gregorian
vocal phrases
12 soundscapes

Details
Price 159
Contact Best Service
+49 (0) 89 45228920
Web
www.bestservice.de
Minimum system
requirements
PC: Windows 7
Mac: OS X 10.7

Evil 1, leaving the third and final


included folder: Soundscapes.
There is more emphasis on the eerie
and dark with these atmospheres
more so than in the other vocal
collections but you can really build
atmosphere and especially tension with
whats on offer, even though, as usual,
Im going to criticise them! Im in danger
of repeating myself as its the only
negative I ever have to say about
Eduardos libraries, and that is that the
soundscapes always take second place.
I know he specialises in vocal
recordings, and I know these are
superb, but so are the soundscapes
(many made up of stacked vocal
effects), so you feel slightly teased and
taunted with just the dozen on offer
here. From memory there were more
with Shevannai, and the soundscapes
are why I turn to that collection again
and again. They simply add another
dimension to titles that could be
considered too focussed on specific
vocal styles. But that is only a minor
quibble. Whats here is great and I am,
lets face it, just being greedy.
So again, we bow down before
Eduardo. Its another mystical delight.
Specific, yes, but mesmerising, hugely
atmospheric and like the hat-trick
before it, could and should find its way
into a variety of fantastical genres. MT
Read the MusicTech interview with
Eduardo Tarilonte on p24 of this issue

MT Verdict
+ Excellent recording quality
+ Word Generator is great
+ Has a darker edge on the
Soundscapes
+ FX also offer an edgy side
- Narrow focus (again)
Mystica is a female vocal dream
world, full of phrases, chants,
atmosphere, fear and beauty. Its
four out of four for Eduardo and the
Best Service team.

Octo/Decem
MAGAZINE November 2014

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DIY Recording Equipment Colour Reviews MT

Excellence

10/10
DIY RECORDING
EQUIPMENT

COLOUR

DIY Recording Equipment has


developed a new 500-series module to
introduce some colour into your work.
Mike Hillier brightens up
Details
Price Colour Palette
Kit, 75; JFT, 19; CTX,
36; 15IPS, 19
Contact Via website
Web
www.diyrecording
equipment.com

Key Features
Space for three
modules
Expanding range
of third-party
modules
Requires
500-series
chassis

he DIY Recording Equipment


blog is an invaluable source of
information for anyone with
even the slightest interest in
DIY audio equipment. Peterson
Goodwyns blog houses information on
nearly every kit weve come across. So
when Peterson announced he was
developing a new 500-series module to
capture just the fun bits of some of his
favourite circuits we were instantly
intrigued. In the spirit of the DIY
community, Peterson detailed every
stage on the blog, taking on board
various community recommendations
as it worked its way from inception to
the eventual release.
The finished product is a DIY kit
made of the Colour Palette the
500-series module itself which in turn
houses three Colour Modules. We set to
work building two Colour Palettes
simultaneously, and were finished

within a couple of hours. The Palette


itself is incredibly simple to build, with
detailed instructions, and only gets a
little fiddly when it comes to fitting the
LEDs to the front panel something we
advise you take a little extra time on.
Moving on to the modules we managed
to build all six without any hiccup. We
were given two each of the JFT, CTX and
15IPS modules, and the building
couldnt have been easier. This is
basically Lego with a soldering iron.
The JFT uses a new old-stock
2SK170 JFET in a discreet Class A
circuit to add a little low-order even
harmonics to the signal, producing a
similar distortion characteristic to a
triode valve. The CTX uses a customwound Cinemag transformer to produce
a softer, less marked saturation than
the JFT, while the 15IPS uses a resonant
high-pass filter and new old-stock
germanium diodes to emulate the
head-bump and soft-clipping of a tape
machine running at 15ips.

Hitting the tape


Our first foray into using the Colours
was as a stereo pair in a mastering
scenario. The track we had been sent
was too brittle wed usually employ a
tape emulator in this scenario to try and
tame the transients a little, while also

Alternatives
In addition to the three Colour Modules from
DIY|RE, third-party modules have already
started to appear. We tested the TB Audio
CMOS Steezer, which uses a CMOS fuzz circuit
to produce a distortion that quickly became
a favourite of ours on bass guitar and synth.
The Eisen Audio TM79 manages to cram two
transformers and a selection of MOSFET stages
onto a module to emulate the 3M M79 tape
machine, as used in the Rolling Stones mobile
truck. Finally, we were able to get our hands
on early prototypes of Louder Than Liftoffs
Pentode and Pulse modules. The Pentode uses
a Raytheon 6418 subminiature pentode valve
to generate 2nd- and 3rd-order harmonics.
The Pulse meanwhile takes things in a very
different direction by emulating a tape echodeck. Louder Than Liftoff has also released
Implode, which somehow squeezes a 1176
compressor into a single Colour Module.

module a variety of signals and set the


bias to a distortion level youre happy
with, while the output is easily set using
the meters. However, to work in stereo
we had to break out the FFT meters in
order to bias the second JFT to produce
a similar distortion characteristic to the
first. Dialling this in also means either
repeatedly taking the Colour out of your
500-series chassis or as we did, using
a third-party 500-series extension
ribbon cable to place the Colour outside
of the rack. Once set, the JFT modules
can be used for anything from very
subtle colouration to quite an in-yourface sonic destruction. We got fantastic

The Colour System is a


fascinating example of what can be
done with analogue electronics
removing a little top-end so we
engaged the CTX and 15IPS modules.
The trick here is not to overdo it. We
ended up dialling the saturation knob
almost all the way down (we werent
looking for an obvious distorted sound),
just to smooth off an otherwise good
mix. The results were fantastic, and
although it took a little time to set the
levels evenly on each module using
tones and some very fine metering
the end result delivered everything wed
hoped. A switched input and output
gain mod is available as a separate
purchase, which swaps the two
potentiometers on the front panel for
switches, making it much easier to work
with the Colours in stereo.
While the CTX and 15IPS modules
are ready to go once built, the JFT
module has a couple of variable
resistors that need setting to bias the
JFET and to set the output level. The
biasing can be done by ear send the

results on drums, bass and vocals using


this module, and its sure to become a
staple of our mix setup.
The Colour system is a fascinating
example of what can be done with
analogue electronics, and produces
some great textures. If you have a
500-series with space for another
module or two, this is a no-brainer. MT

MT Verdict
+ Great fun
+ Expandable with a variety of
modules
+ Build your own modules
- Requires 500-series chassis
The Colour is one of the most fun
tools weve played with in a long
time. Youre doing yourself a
disservice by not adding one to
your rack!

10/10

MAGAZINE November 2014

MT140.Rev.DIY colour.indd 73

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25/09/2014 09:54

B U N D L E

AUTO ALIGN / SURFER EQ / PI

EQ
Phase Interactions Mixer Dynamically optimizes your tracks
for best phase correlation to achieve
deeper, tighter sounding mix.

The pitch tracking equalizer Radically musical, creative timbre


shaper. Possibly the best bass, lead
and vocals eq plug-in on the planet.

Get all three now for only $499 $597

The automatic multi-mic phase & time


aligner - Takes the guesswork out of
phase alignment. "The difference in
low-end definition & punch is amazing" Peter Moshay

SOUNDRADIX.COM

RME Fireface 802 Reviews MT

RME

Fireface 802
The RME Fireface 802 is described as a
full-blown studio within a 1U enclosure,
with up to 60 channels of audio,
FireWire and USB connectivity,
powerful monitoring software and four
well-regarded microphone/instrument
inputs. Huw Price sparks up.
Details
Price 1,169
Contact
Synthaxe
01727 821 870
Web
www.rme-audio.de

Key Features
30 inputs and
30 outputs at
44.1kHz (22/22
at 88.2/96kHz
and 18/18 at
176.4/192kHz)
12 x analogue
I/O at all sample
rates
4 x mic/
instrument
preamp
1 x AES/EBU I/O
2 x ADAT I/O (or 1
x ADAT I/O plus
1 x SPDIF I/O
optical)
1 x Wordclock I/O
1 x MIDI I/O
FireWire and
USB operation
TotalMix FX
Advanced
Remote Control
(optional)

he Fireface 802 represents an


upgrade on the Fireface 800 in
several respects. Besides the
updated appearance, extra
channels and USB 2 connectivity, most
of the latest features revolve around the
TotalMix software. Although this is
ostensibly a review of the Fireface 802
all owners will be obliged to use the
TotalMix package to a greater or lesser
extent, so well be covering that too.
First lets look at the basic specs of
the hardware before we tackle the
intricacies of TotalMix. The Fireface 802
provides up to 30 input and 30 output
channels (depending on the sample
rate) with a maximum of 12 analogue
and 18 digital channels able to be
recorded onto 30 tracks.

Alternatives
The Universal Audio Apollo Duo (1569) is a FireWire audio interface (an extra 369 buys you
Thunderbolt) with four mic inputs, eight line inputs, eight line outputs, two headphone sockets, two
ADAT I/O, S/PDIF, Wordclock, FireWire 800, Thunderbolt card, and UAD Duo Core real-time processing.
The package also includes UAs Analog Classics Plus Bundle. The Metric Halo Mobile I/O 2882
Expanded 2d (1070) is a 24-bit/96kHz FireWire audio interface with DSP processor, eight analogue
mic/line/instrument inputs (4 x XLR + 4 x balanced jack), eight balanced analogue outputs, front panel
LED I/O meters, headphone out, ADAT I/O, Wordclock I/O, coaxial S/PDIF I/O and AES/EBU I/O.

those in RMEs high-end OctaMic II.


With XLR/TS combo sockets, up to 60dB
gain is available for microphone and
Hi-Z inputs. The TotalMix software
provides individual phantom power and
phase switching.
16 additional analogue inputs
can be connected via dual eightchannel ADAT optical I/Os and an AES/
EBU I/O operating at up to 192kHz
provides an additional two channels.
The second ADAT I/O can be used as
optical SPDIF I/O. BNC Wordclock input
and output and MIDI I/O complete the
list of connections.
Essentially the dual DSP-driven
TotalMix software is designed to route

side) processing. Effects can be applied


to signals on the way in or out, and you
can even process the input signal for
monitoring purposes while recording
the un-processed signal.

Crossing channels
Each input channel has a single effects
send for reverb and delay, and every
output channel has an effects return
fader. So you can add reverb to one or
both headphone mixes while
maintaining a dry sound in the main
monitor mix. The send feeds both
effects equally and they can be
activated individually or together.
The balance between them can be

Essentially, TotalMix is
designed to route anything you
want to anywhere youd like

The ins and outs


Analogue connections include eight
balanced TRS sockets at the rear for
line level and four microphone inputs
on the front panel. 12 analogue outputs
are split between eight TRS jacks on the
back and two stereo headphone
outputs on the front. Level options
include -10dBV, +4dBu, HiGain
(equivalent to +2dBV, +13dBu and
+19dBu). All outputs can be used for
ASIO Direct Monitoring (ADM) purposes.
The 802s microphone and
instrument preamps are based on

anything you want to anywhere youd


like. Up to 15 fully independent stereo
submixes are possible, along with a
Control Room section that provides
many of the features found on desktop
controllers, such as monitor, mono/
stereo, dim and talkback switching. This
section also controls the two
headphone outputs.
Every input and output channel has
a three-band parametric EQ, adjustable
low cut, auto level overload protection,
compressor, expander and MS (mid and

altered using their individual volume


controls, but since theres only one
auxiliary send some degree of
compromise is inevitable. Even so, its
an effective way of providing a singer
with some confidence reverb or delay
while sending a dry signal to the DAW.
DSP inside the Fireface takes care of all
the signal processing and effects
duties, leaving your computer to take
care of recording and playback.
Four groups are provided for solo,
mute and faders, and trim mode
MAGAZINE November 2014

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MT Reviews RME Fireface 802

adjusts the volume for all routed


signals of a channel simultaneously.
Most functions of TotalMix can be
controlled remotely via MIDI with a
compatible Mackie Control controller.
TotalMix FX also supports OSC and the
use of multiple remotes.
TotalMix provides three banks of
faders controlling hardware input,
software output and hardware output.
Any signal can be routed anywhere
within the system and in any
combination. For instance, a hardware
input signal can be routed direct to any
number of hardware outputs for
zero-latency monitoring. Levels and
panning for every output can be set
independently, so its easy to configure
various different monitor mixes.
Sonic differences between digital
converters are occasionally
exaggerated or over-emphasised when
products competing at similar price
points are compared. Having said that,
differences between the RME and our
somewhat cheaper interface were
clearly apparent.
Installation with a MacBook Pro was
problem free and we set up an
aggregate device with the RME and our
industry-standard mid-price interface,
which enabled us to swap between
them instantaneously. This revealed
that the bass end of the RME was
tighter, faster and cleaner and the
treble region had a crisper and airier
quality that was most apparent on
hi-hats and picked acoustic guitar.
The RME also had a more up front
quality, despite the soundstage having
greater depth.
Next we split a microphone signal to
compare the different mic preamps.
Signal splitting ensures that the
preamp is the only variable and we
found that the RME recordings had a
far clearer midrange and a more
realistic tonal quality. In comparison,
our mid-price interface sounded mushy
and a bit muffled.
The effects are best described as
decent and functional rather than
ground breaking. RME provides plenty
of factory presets that should get you
up and running quickly, plus you can
store settings that you have dialed in
yourself. Theyre certainly good enough
for basic mixing duties and they do

76 | November 2014

MT140.Rev.Fireface.indd 76

It certainly qualifies as an
upgrade from entry-level and
semi-pro interfaces
enhance input signals without forcing
you to commit to processing that you
may regret later.

On fire
So its a thumbs up on the sonic side,
and the RME Fireface 802 certainly
qualifies as an upgrade from entry-level
and semi-pro interfaces. Having said
that, TotalMix adds a degree of
complexity that will require some
commitment if the user is to make full
use of its processing power. The range
of features on offer impresses, however
many will be surplus to requirements
for those mixing in Pro Tools or Logic,
and some may find the dark and
cluttered appearance of the user
interface a bit off-putting.
The manual is hefty and difficult to
navigate. The UK distributor assured us
Method spot
The TotalMix faders only effect the routing within the Fireface and do
not change the signal level sent to your DAW. Each line and microphone
channel has its own input gain control, so recording the level can be set
remotely without having to touch the Fireface unit itself. Click the Stereo
button on a microphone input and it joins forces with the adjacent mic
input to form a stereo microphone channel. TotalMix enables you to control
stereo width, and theres even mid and side decoding. For matched pairs
of microphones theres a ganged gain control, but you can still set the gain
of each microphone individually. The Auto Level feature may also come
to your rescue during frantic sessions because it senses overload and
reduces microphone gain automatically.

that all the necessary information is in


there and they have also produced a
couple of in-depth tutorials that can be
found on YouTube. Theyre effective and
show you everything you need to know.
Once you get your head around TotalMix
its a very powerful and practical tool
that can be used for monitoring while
recording, mixing off a DAW or even as a
virtual mixer for live shows. It
complements the hardware making the
802 an attractive package overall. MT

MT Verdict
+ Impressive sound quality
+ Versatile connectivity
+ Hassle-free installation
+ Remote access/control
+ Powerful, fully featured
monitoring package
+ Includes Wordclock
- TotalMix is complex
- No Thunderbolt
- No front panel level metering
A hassle-free 1U audio interface
offering an impressive number of
analogue and digital channels,
FireWire 400 and USB 2 connectivity
and sophisticated monitoring
software for PC and Mac.

8/10

MAGAZINE

25/09/2014 09:58

distributed by Audio-Technica

TC Electronic Alter Ego X4 Reviews MT

TC ELECTRONIC

Alter Ego X4
Guitarists they just love a
stompbox, dont they?
Marcus Leadley pokes
around a delay emulator
that even hardcore vintage
enthusiasts may like

C Electronic is very good at


reinventing hardware for the
tech-savvy musician. Take the
pedal format that remains a
practical option for the performer:
ensure the sound quality and
connectivity are good enough for studio
applications and add the capacity to
interface with computers and mobile
devices for editing and updating.
The Alter Ego X4 takes the basic
format of the Flashback X4 and
reinvents it as a dedicated vintage
simulator. However, why would anyone
want to obsess over the foibles of some
old analogue echo units? Musicians
and producers have been using delay
for over 60 years and each of the
different eras of technology has its own
unique sound. Its the tone and
character of the repeat that counts:
warm and fat or grainy and lo-fi.
Whatever the case, there is always a
certain degradation of the signal over
time, and the progressive loss of top
end creates a beautiful moving filter
effect that can add a tangible sense of
distance. If you want to emulate
classic-era guitar and keyboard sounds
then analogue delay is often an
essential part of the vibe. So, either you
can start collecting bulky vintage units
that need regular maintenance or you
buy a device such as the Alter Ego X4.
The unit features 12 vintage delay
models. Tape-based systems are

Details
Price 199
Contact
0800 917 8926
Web
www.tcelectronic.
com

Key Features
12 vintage echo
models
Three delay
presets for each
model
Dedicated rotary
controllers for
Time, Feedback
and Delay Level
Four TonePrint
Slots
Subdivision
selector: quarter
note, dotted
eighth note
repeats or both
MIDI Control
Stereo In/Out
Expression
pedal socket
Computer
(via USB) and
smartphone
interfaces
(wireless) for
editing and
updating
Looper function
9V power supply
(included)

represented by
Roland, Watkins,
Binson and
Maestro; ElectroHarmonix and Boss
cover the solid-state
territory. The Tel Ray Organ Tone, an
eccentric device that relies upon a
spinning canister of conductive oil, is
also modelled.
Different models are selected using
the left-hand rotary control and there
are four additional locations for
TonePrints of your choice more on
this later. There are four switches: three
presets for each model and a dedicated
Tap Temp button. There are Time,
Feedback and Delay Level knobs
these are the default settings and you
can reassign them to a wide variety of
other parameters using the TonePrint
Editor software. In a similar way you
can assign different parameters to the
control of an external expression pedal.
A mini-toggle switch lets you select
either quarter note or dotted eighth
note repeats, or both at the same time.
The unit is MIDI enabled so program
change messages can be used to
switch between delay models, and a
MIDI clock signal can control the delay
time. The pedal also features a Looper
function. You can layer sound using
delays and theres an undo option.
However, youre limited to 40 seconds of
recording time and you cant save loops,
so it has a limited range of
performance-oriented applications.

Vintage up-cycling
The Alter Ego sounds very good. The
differences between the hi-fi quality of
the Space Echo model and the faster
tone roll-off of the Copycat really nails
the different characters of the two
units. The softer, vintage tone of the
Echoplex works extremely well for
rockabilly, and the Binson models
warble to great effect. The more
contemporary Memory Man patches
deliver authentic vibrato and chorus as
well as longer echoes.
Some aspects of peripheral
functionality are missing, though: while
the DM-2 patch sounds like the classic
Boss pedal, the controls interact
differently and you cant play the
feedback to the same extent. And you
cant use the Alter Ego Copycat as a
preamp. The flip-side is that the Alter
Egos models can deliver longer delay
times than the originals and multiple
delays can work in stereo.
Connecting the Alter Ego X4 to a
computer increases its power

Alternatives
There are a number of digital hardware devices
designed to recreate vintage echoes. The Line
6 DL4 Delay Modeller has 15 presets including
tape, solid-state and valve emulations. The
Danelectro Reel Echo is a basic tape echo
simulator with control over tape warble and
solid-state/valve character. Echoplex fans
will appreciate the Carl Martin DeLayla XL,
and Boss has a twin pedal dedicated purely to
recreating the sounds of the vintage Roland
Space Echo.

exponentially. The TonePrint Editors


Library function is great fun. This links
you directly to the TC Electronic website
where you can browse TonePrints
mostly famous player signature
settings and load the patches direct
to the pedals TonePrint slots. Guitarists
can also do this with any smartphone
and the TonePrint app: patches are
beamed to the pedal by holding the
phone over the guitars pickups.
Returning to the software editor, this
lets you fine-tune parameters, change
knob assignments and then download
changes to the pedal. However, you
have to start with a template because
the software doesnt read directly from
the unit. Unfortunately the templates
do not seem to have been updated yet
to account for the Alter Egos models, so
they currently relate to the Flashback
X4. All is not lost, however, as you can
still manipulate and add them to the
TonePrint slots to extend the overall
sonic potential.
The TC Electronic Alter Ego X4 is an
excellent sounding contemporary
solution for aficionados of classic delay
sounds. As a flexible stereo unit it
enables you to manipulate retro tones
in new ways. MT

MT Verdict
+ Accurate vintage delay
simulations
+ Wide range of analogue
technologies represented
+ Stereo input and output
+ Edit and update effects using a
computer or mobile phone
- Not essential if you already have
a collection of vintage echo units
- Avoid if you prefer contemporary
digital delay tones
The ability to update sounds and
edit on computer is very useful, and
the straightforward design
makes it a very practical live tool
thats ideal for guitarists or
keyboard players. Its a very quiet
unit and the general sound quality
will be much appreciated in the
studio environment.

8/10

MAGAZINE November 2014

MT140.Rev.Alter Ego.indd 79

| 79

25/09/2014 14:07

LS-100
Multi-track
Professional HD Audio

TOUGH
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RECHARGEABLE BATTERY

BROADCAST WAV
SUPERIOR TO CD QUALITY RECORDING

MULTI-TRACK
140 DB SPL MICROPHONES

INDEPENDENT L/R RECORDING


4GB BUILT-IN MEMORY PLUS SD

PRE-RECORD
LISSAJOUS MONITOR

LS is more
www.olympus.co.uk/audio

LS-100 Soundbites Ad_A4 Master.indd 1

16/10/2012 10:01

Studio Electronics Boomstar SEM Reviews MT

Alternatives
Studio Electronics
was one of the few
companies to stick
by analogue during
the dark days of
digital, but now
everyone is on the
case: from
Novation (Bass Station II) to Korg (Volcas).
Doepfer is a company that has also waved the
analogue flag for years well look at some of
its modules soon. Then there are other
Boomstars in the range including the 4075 we
looked at in MT136 (above).

STUDIO ELECTRONICS

Boomstar SEM

The Boomstar range is fast becoming an analogue synth dream for


many. Andy Jones wakes from an encounter with the SEM

y first dalliance with a


Boomstar synth, the 4075
back in MT136, was a very
enjoyable experience. I
explained the concept in detail, but Ill
run over it quickly now.
Californian company Studio
Electronics has made a name for itself
over the last 30 years making quality
analogue synths, very much bucking
the trend of the synth world at large
(which for much of that time
concentrated on digital).
Studio Electronics Boomstar range
comprises six models, each with a filter
based on a classic analogue: the 4075
is based on the ARP 2600; the SE80 on
the Yamaha CS-80; the 700 on a
MiniKorg; the 5089 has a 24dB ladder
based on a Moog; the 3003 is based on
the Roland TB-303; and finally the SEM
on test here with its Oberheim filter.
I tested the 4075 last time around
and remarked on its extraordinary
sound quality, but warned todays
desktop musicians to expect something
very different from what they may be
used to. This is a no compromise
analogue with no presets, no
multitimbrality nor polyphony. Its all
about the sound and this range very
much gives you the authentic tone of
the original, adds stability, and costs a
lot less. But todays producers, may be
used to having everything set out for
them on a plate for less than the price
of a bus fare, might baulk at the price

and perceived lack of functionality


compared to a software plug-in.

Ober what?
And so to the SEM. I must admit that
the ARP and Oberheim were the models
I wanted to get my hands on, being a big
fan of the sounds of the originals for
many years (the SE80 might have to
be next).
Layout-wise its very much similar to
every other model in the range Studio
Electronics clearly keeps costs down by
designing each model to a template
with only the colour and filter changing,
plus the odd knob or rotary. In this case
controls specific to the SEM are a notch
filter with bandpass option (to enable
frequencies only within a certain
sweepable range through).
Again theres more detail in the 4075
review, but you get two stackable
waveform oscillators: osc.1 mixes
triangle or saw, or sine or square
waveforms with a Wave Mix knob, and
has a Sub Level switch to take the
square wave a full or half octave down.
A Pulse Width dial also controls the
square wave. Osc.2 can be synced to 1
or tracked, and its waveform can be
switched between sawtooth or square/
triangle. Its frequency can be
modulated by filter and amp envelopes.
The SEM filter is controlled by the
frequency and resonance knobs while
envelope and mod depth are below,
switchable between the LFO and VCO2.

Details
Price 799
Contact +44 (0)207
118 0133 or email
contact@mslpro.
co.uk
Web
www.mslpro.co.uk

Key Features
Analogue
synthesizer
Architecture:
2 stackable
waveform
oscillators, 2
envelopes, LFO,
Xmod, Ring Mod,
feedback
Controls: 34
rotaries, 19
switches
Connectors:
Audio out, MIDI
in/out, CV in,
Gate in, VCF FM,
VCA AM, Osc out,
Ext in

The LFO gets its own set of controls,


while there are Global and Mixer dials
for the main sections.
The best way to move around the
synth is initially oscillator by oscillator.
Fade one down using the mixer at the
bottom and hear how, for example, the
envelopes affect oscillator 2 and how
the X-Mod affects 1. You then begin to
understand the structure in which
pretty much anything seems to be
modulated by something!
Using this method you appreciate
the breadth of the sound. Get used to a
single oscillator this way but then bring
in the other and a touch of LFO and
X-Mod and you suddenly have a huge
sound on your hands that doesnt
sound as monophonic as it should if
anything there seem to be at least three
elements going on at one time. Again
this comes down to the quality of the
circuitry. Id say, out of the two, the SEM
seems to lean towards dirt and grime a
little more than the 4075. Its also a little
more unpredictable in nature with
octaves dropping for seemingly no
reason and stuff not always happening
when you think it will, but to me that
equals a synth with character.
And in a sea of synth plug-ins with
oodles of by-the-numbers presets
maybe thats what we need. The bottom
line as that Boomstar SEM is a
masterclass in analogue synthesis:
unpredictable, rarely off the money, and
when its good its incredible. MT

MT Verdict
+ Big, fat, and nasty when wanted
+ Flexible analogue architecture
+ Fantastic to experiment with
+ Compact and sturdy
+ You can lose control quite easily!
- You can lose control quite easily!
- You will want to store sounds
More true analogue classic sounds
and an uncompromising nod to the
past, and all the better for it.

8/10

MAGAZINE November 2014

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| 81

25/09/2014 09:53

Warm Audio WA76 Discrete Compressor Reviews MT

Value

WARM AUDIO

WA76 DISCRETE
COMPRESSOR
Modern recreations of classic units are
more than just nostalgic strolls down
memory lane. Mike Hillier fires up the
latest blast from the past
Details
Price 499
Contact Nova
Distribution
020 3589 2530
Web www.novadistribution.co.uk

Key Features
Completely
discrete signal
path
Class A output
amplifier
55dB of gain
Ultra-fast attack
time
All-buttons-in
setting
XLR and TRS
inputs/outputs

very month there seems to be a


new product based upon a
classic design. Some of these
merely take inspiration from
pro audios illustrious past a
Neve-styled mic preamp here or a
Pultec-inspired equaliser there while
others go the whole hog and appear as
replicas of the original units. Warm
Audios WA76 sits firmly in the latter
camp, being a copy of the legendary
Urei 1176 limiting amplifier, possibly
the most often-used lead vocal
dynamics processor in pop history.
Bryce Young, owner of Texas-based
Warm Audio, obviously believes in
offering classically-styled analogue
hardware at affordable prices, as his
take on the highly regarded API 312
preamps have found their way into the
companys WA12 and Tone Beast mic
preamps, both of which received
glowing reviews within these pages.
The WA76 is a single-channel, 19in
rackmount 2U compressor/limiter. Like
the original 1176 units upon which its
based, the WA76 is a solid-state design

Choice

9/10
9
9/
10

utilising a Class A line-level output


amplifier. Vintage-gear junkies will
recognise the familiar features of the
WA76: two large rotary pots for input
and output, two smaller pots for attack
and release, and a large VU meter
flanked by two rows of push-buttons.
Its a solid, elegant design thats
much-loved for its functionality as well
as its familiarity, both in terms of
usability and sound quality.

Once upon a time


Lets take a little look at the history first.
Bill Putnam, founder of UREI, began
work on the FET-based 1176 in 1966
when solid-state technology was in its
infancy. Putnam was already a
pro-audio innovator having built the
first mixing consoles that could be used
in conjunction with multi-track tape
recorders. When the original 1176
appeared in 1967 it quickly found
favour in studios across the USA,
usurping Universal Audios LA-2A
levelling amplifier, often thought of as
the 1176s thermionic forefather. Over
the years the 1176 went through
several revisions, the most important of
which was revision C, dating from 1970.
This revision employed new low-noise
circuitry that reduced the noise floor by
6dB, and thereafter the units were
renamed 1176LN (low-noise). Warm

Audio has modelled the WA76 after


revision D, arguably the best-sounding
1176 of all.
The input pot, which is a true
600ohm t-pad, controls the signal level
entering the unit and it also controls the
compression threshold as the dial is
turned up, more compression or limiting
takes place. Incidentally, on the rear
panel is an Input Pad button, which
reduces the incoming signal by 23dB.
This can be useful when using the
WA76 in conjunction with a high-gain
preamp that doesnt have a useradjustable output control, such as
Warm Audios excellent WA12.
The output pot, like the input knob,
is indented for precise recall of settings,
and controls the final output of the unit,
making-up gain lost from the gain
reduction. This control also enables the
user to determine the signal level
entering any unit that appears after the
WA76 in the signal chain.
The attack and release controls
(both of which are continuously
variable) feel just right, being neither
too stiff nor too loose. Like all authentic
1176 variants, the WA76 is capable of
extremely fast response times. At its
fastest setting, the unit is capable of an
attack time of 20 microseconds and
even at its slowest setting compression
kicks in at 800 microseconds, which is
still quite fast. Release times are
Method Spot
For that classic 1176 vocal sound start with
the input and output controls at their central
setting and select the 4:1 ratio. Set the attack
time to the 12 oclock position and release at 3
oclock. Aim for around 5dB of gain reduction on
the loudest peaks to begin with and increase
the input for a more squashed sound. To
achieve a more obviously processed in-yourface sound, try the 8:1 ratio setting. Adjust the
response times to suit the feel of the track.

MAGAZINE November 2014

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| 83

25/09/2014 10:03

MT Reviews Warm Audio WA76 Discrete Compressor

available from 50 milliseconds to 1.1


seconds. Four push-buttons to the left
of the VU meter determine how firmly
the unit reduces signal peaks, with four
individual ratios available at 4:1, 8:1,
12:1 and 20:1. Even the lowest ratio
setting is fairly high compared to those
offered by many compressors (1.1:1 is
not uncommon), and the higher settings
take the unit into limiting territory.
One of the best-loved features of
1176-styled compressors is the
All-buttons-in setting, where all four
ratio settings are selected
simultaneously. This is sometimes
referred to as the Four Button Trick or
British Mode and in effect delivers a
ratio somewhere between 12:1 and
20:1. This setting affects the bias of the
unit resulting in a change in the
behaviour of the attack and release
controls. Many engineers use this
setting to process drum tracks,
particularly on overheads or complete
drum kit mixes. The unique
compression curve created by this
method adds a subtle
musical distortion,
particularly in the
lower frequencies,
that produces a huge
punchy sound ideal
for rock music.

Push it real good

MT140.Rev.WA76.indd 84

Sound design
So, the WA76 certainly looks and feels
like a traditional 1176, but does it
possess that classic Urei sound? In a
word, yes; the magical bright, explicit
sound is present and correct. Of course,
there will always be golden-eared
aficionados who will detect minute
differences in character, even between
vintage machines with an identical
revision status.
However, the unmistakable sonic
qualities of the design will be familiar to
anyone who has used any good quality,
on-spec 1176 variant. Strapped across
a lead vocal the WA76 added that

By experimenting with
response times we were able to
craft some fabulous sounds

The four push-buttons that are situated


to the right of the VU meter enable the
user to select what the meter displays
as well as powering the unit on, or, in
the case of the bottom button, off. When
the top GR button is engaged the meter
shows the amount of gain reduction
taking place, while the following two
buttons select output level metering.
The first of these is marked +8,
meaning that with a VU meter reading
of 0, the units output level at the rear
panel outputs is +8dBm. The next (+4)
button is similar but with an output
level of +4dBm. The final button is
simply an off switch.
There are two sets of outputs on the
rear panel enabling both balanced XLR
or balanced TRS connectors (these may
be used simultaneously). The rear panel
also houses a connector for the
supplied 24V AC power transformer.
Although this type of power transformer
is not the last word in fidelity, it does
help to keep down costs so that what
you pay for is the quality internal
components, ie, the bits that really
matter. The input and output
transformers are high-quality
USA-made Cinemag devices direct

84 | November 2014

descendents of the Reichenbach


transformers used in the original 60s
and 70s models. A quick look inside the
unit reveals a very neat and well
laid-out design with the distinctive
Cinemag components clearly
identifiable, and the absence of an
internal power supply makes the unit
surprisingly light.

classic forward, spot-lit sound that is a


large part of the units appeal. In fact
this brightness, which is like a
broad-but-gentle presence boost, is
often employed without any gain
reduction purely for its flattering
tonality. When compression is applied,
the unit produces a slight edge that
helps vocals cut through a mix,
especially when driven hard. Although
1176s are primarily renowned for vocal
processing (engineer Bruce Swedien
always used one on Michael Jacksons
vocal tracks), the unit is equally at home
processing instruments such as electric
guitar and bass.
During the review process we used
the WA76 to great effect on bass using
the 12:1 ratio to tame the loudest peaks
while retaining some dynamic
movement during the rest of the
performance. We also tried some heavy
processing on an electric guitar track,
using very fast response times to blunt
the transients and give a nice thick,
meaty sound.
We couldnt resist trying the
all-buttons-in trick on drums, and so
pulled-out our simple three-mic,
mono drum mix of an old 60s

Alternatives
Lindells 17XS (779) is an 1176-influenced
design that features a number of extra
features such as a wet/dry mix control and
several filters. Similar features can be found
on Lindells 7X-500 (229), which comes in 500
series lunchbox format. Universal Audios 1176
(1,599) is an authentic re-issue based around
the original D and E revisions.

Slingerland kit that we often use when


testing single-channel units.
Experimenting with response times we
were able to craft some fabulous
sounds, ranging from solid and fat (or
should that be phat?) to the sort of
surging, pumping sounds heard on
many late-60s and early-70s classic
rock recordings.
Although we didnt have an original
1176 with which to compare the WA76
side by side, the signature sound was
unmistakable. A visiting engineer to our
studios brought along his (considerably
more expensive) boutique version of
the design and the difference in sound
was negligible.
This new take on the 1176 is a
wonderful addition to Warm Audios
expanding catalogue of excellent,
affordable analogue hardware. While
we here at MusicTech applaud the
ever-increasing quality of digital
simulations of classic gear (in the form
of plug-ins), we are delighted that true
top-drawer analogue sound quality is
now becoming available at almost
giveaway prices. Warm Audios WA76
must rank as one of the greatest
analogue bargains in living memory. MT

MT Verdict
+ Authentic 1176 sound
+ Fully discrete signal path
+ Compression and limiting
capability
+ Solid metal work with brushed
faceplate
+ Easy to use
+ Reasonable price
- Wall wart external power
transformer
- One orange logo too many
The WA76 sounds as good as any
1176 weve heard and probably
better than well-worn originals
that change hands at collectors
prices. Construction is solid, and it
looks and feels far more expensive
than its price would suggest.
Anyone wishing to enrich their
recordings with the ear-catching
sounds that grace so many hit
records should audition this unit. A
convincing replica at a remarkably
low price.

9/10

MAGAZINE

25/09/2014 10:03

Monster
from the Deep

Bazille, work in progress


This is the synth weve been keeping back for a good while now our FM and PD-based modular monster. An alpha
version has been available for free download, and dedicated users have taken the opportunity to explore Bazilles
potential and send us ideas. Now everything is coming together: By the time you read this, Bazille will include some
mind-boggling new features, it will have a fresh user interface, a user guide and even a bunch of presets to get started.
It might take a couple of weeks, but our hordes are already demanding:
Release The Bazille!
Check our forum for a preview in AU/VST formats on Mac and PC here*:

www.u-he.com
Urs Heckmann - Audio Software
*while youre at it, check out the award winning Zebra, Diva, Uhbik, Filterscape and More Feedback Machine too. Same developer, same website, same fun factor.

sE Electronics sE5 Stereo Pair Reviews MT

Alternatives

the most natural


sounding, with no bass
proximity effect unlike
the cardioid pattern.
The sE5 body is fairly
large for a small
diaphragm condenser and is
finished in a matte black
apparently to help the mic blend into
the background when used on stage.
The body houses switches for a 100Hz
high-pass filter and a pad that can be
set to -10 or -20dB.

Playing the blues

sE ELECTRONICS

sE5 Stereo
Pair
sE has a new small diaphragm
condenser to replace the sE4. Mike
Hillier finds its strengths.
Details
Price 399
Contact
Sonic Distribution
Web
www.seelectronics.
com

Key Features
Fixed cardioid
polar pattern
Three-year
replacement
warranty
100Hz high-pass
filter
-10 and -20dB
pad

he sE5 microphone is the latest


small diaphragm microphone
to come from sE, replacing the
sE4, which in turn replaced the
sE3. The sE5 is available individually or
as a matched pair, which is what we
received for review. The sE5 pair comes
with a sturdy-looking flight case, stereo
bar and custom shock mounts, which
while a little larger than standard clips
will also do a better job of restricting
resonances from the stand.
Unlike the sE4, the sE5 does not
come with interchangeable capsules,
and is instead presented with a single
cardioid capsule. For most project
studios, which have less-than-ideal
rooms and will want to keep room noise
down to a minimum, this is the best
option, but its a shame not to have the
option of at least an omni capsule.
Small diaphragm mics are often used
when fast, natural-sounding signals are
wanted, and the omni pickup pattern is

Small diaphragm condenser mics are


frequently used on acoustic guitars
and other stringed instruments, as
well as acoustic pianos, percussion,
drum overheads and other
instruments where capturing a detailed
high end is required.
With this in mind we put the sE5s up
as a coincident pair (X/Y) on our
acoustic guitar and recorded a variety
of takes, from big open chords to fast
picking patterns and even a little slide
blues. The sE5s captured plenty of
detail, presenting a natural-sounding
guitar with plenty of body and detail.
The open chord strums sounded huge
the attack of the pick hitting the
strings was fast and clean, while the
resonance from the body gave a strong
low-mid presence. On the faster
finger-picked material the sE5s
captured plenty of detail from the
strings, as well as a fair amount of
finger slides and fret noise from the mic
pointed towards the neck.
On the bottleneck slide takes the
sE5s again captured a clean, natural
tone with a bold midrange. We were
recording an acoustic guitar with a
naturally bright tone, which was
exaggerated by the sE5s resulting in a
sound that had a little too much high
end for our tastes. On a less bright
guitar this might make the perfect
match, putting a little sparkle back
into the signal, but on our guitar we
ended up using a high-shelving filter to
take a little off above 8kHz.
The stereo balance of the two mics
presented a strong central image, with
only a little width, making it easier to
place in the mix. Less well-matched
microphones would present a wider
stereo image, but this could also be
created with different stereo
techniques using the sE5.

As well as the sE5, sE also manufactures the


RN17 small-diaphragm condensers, which
are equipped with a Rupert Neve-designed
custom transformer. The RN17s are incredible
microphones, but come with a price tag to
match. Super-cardioid, omni, hypercardioid
and figure-of-8 capsules are also available for
the RN17.
Closer to the sE5s in price are the Rde
NT5-MP and Sontronics STC-1S. Both feature
exchangeable capsules, so you can purchase
different polar patterns to extend the versatility
of the microphones. Rde makes an omni
capsule for the NT5, and Sontronics makes
omni and hypercardioid capsules for the STC-1.
The NT5 does not feature a pad or high-pass
filter, while the STC-1 has a filter that can be set
to 75 or 150Hz and a pad at -10 or -20dB.

Were not fans of small diaphragm


condensers as overheads on drumkits.
While a popular technique, we find it
tends to lead to the hats and cymbals
sounding overly bright and harsh, and
popping out of the mix. The sE5s were
no different, pushing the hats up in the
overhead image. However, switching the
sE5s to close micing the hat and ride
played to the mics strengths, leaving us
to choose more appropriate overheads.
On hi-hat, the cardioid pickup
pattern of the sE5s let us isolate the hat
from the snare a little and captured all
the sizzle of the hat, while the stick
attack on both the hat and ride had
plenty of transient detail. The high-pass
filter came in useful here, cutting out
some of the low end from the kick and
snare, tidying up the hat and ride
signals, and keeping control of the
proximity effect.
The new sE5s may not have the
flexibility of the older sE4s due to the
lack of exchangeable capsules, but sE
has worked hard to make the newer mic
as great as possible. The sE5 captures
transients effortlessly, and has a slight
lift in the top end, which will brighten up
any source. A matched pair of SDCs is
an essential purchase for every studio
at some point, and the sE5s are an
inexpensive option, making them an
essential inclusion on your shortlist. MT

MT Verdict
+ Matched pair
+ Open, enhanced top end
+ Bundled shock mount
- Large body may be difficult to
place
- Fixed cardioid pickup pattern
The sE5s make a great stereo pair
for acoustic instruments, with fast
transient tracking and a tight
cardioid pattern.

8/10

MAGAZINE November 2014

MT140.Rev sE5.indd 87

| 87

25/09/2014 14:02

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RND Shelford 5051 & 5052 Reviews MT

the inspiration for the high end,


borrowing the inductor design from the
1073 EQ with a more modern capacitorbased topology for more control.
Again inspired by earlier designs, the
mic preamp in the 5052 is a discrete
Class-A circuit with 72dB of available
gain coupled with custom-wound
square-core transformers and the Red/
Blue Silk modes from the Portico II
series to add additional harmonic
content. Although inspired by older
designs this isnt by any means a clone,
and the design team at RND has
worked hard to make this the best
Neve preamp yet. The mic preamp has
a polarity invert switch, 48V phantom
power and a sweepable high-pass filter,
continuously variable from 20-250Hz.
The 5051 compressor section is
similar to the VCA compressor design
used in the Portico series. This design
combines the feed-back nature of early
Rupert Neve compressor designs, but
also includes a modern, feed-forward
option for faster attack times and more
aggressive compression.

2+2=5

RUPERT NEVE DESIGNS

Shelford 5051 and


Shelford 5052
The Shelford Series takes the best elements of
several of Rupert Neves designs and brings them up
to date. Mike Hillier plays with the best.
Details
Price Shelford 5051,
2280; Shelford 5052,
2280; five-way PSU
690
Contact Sonic
Distribution
0845 500 2500
Web www.rupertneve.
com

Key Features
Discrete, Class A
circuitry
+/- 24V power
supply
Custom-wound
transformers
and inductors

he Shelford Series is named


after the small town of Little
Shelford where Rupert Neve
designed his early preamps
and EQs, such as the 80-series, that
went on to revolutionise the recording
industry. Looking to these designs for
inspiration, the Shelford Series hopes
to bring together the best of Neves
designs with modern components and
techniques to generate what could be
the ultimate Rupert Neve channel strip.

Blast from the past


There are two modules in the Shelford
Series: the 5051 EQ/Compressor and
the 5052 Mic Pre/EQ. Both modules
share the same three-band inductor-

Excellence

10/10

based EQ, which has been designed as


a best-of of Rupert Neves EQs. The
low-frequency band is based on the
1064, which the company claims is best
known for its creamy, resonant bass.
The 1064 design is improved with the
addition of a switch enabling it to be
used as both a shelf and a peak filter.
The midrange is based on the 1073 EQ,
one of the most revered units in the
audio world. The 1073 was also part of
Alternatives
AMS Neve still manufactures many of the
original models that inspired the Shelford
Series, such as the 1073, 1081 and 1084. These
units stay far more faithful to the originals, but
all will get you in the ballpark of that classic
British Neve sound.

Both units can be mounted in the 5088


or 5285 consoles, which will also
provide power for the modules.
Alternatively they can be mounted in a
separate enclosure RND makes a
two-slot standalone wooden enclosure
or a nine-slot metal 6U rack. They will
then need to be powered from an
external power supply, and RND provide
either a 2U 25-way unit, or a nonrackable five-way version designed to
sit at the side or back of a rack. Why
RND chose these numbers is a little
less obvious. Running five modules
would require half of a nine-slot
enclosure to be empty, while getting a
second power supply would then leave
one port unused. Getting them to match
up is tricky, and would prove very costly.
Although of course there is no harm in
not running everything at capacity.
A further look around the back of the
modules reveals some extra interesting
features. The 5052 mic preamp/EQ has
both mic and line-level inputs as well as
a dedicated EQ input to bypass the
input stage entirely. Furthermore, as
well as the main output the 5052 has
an output immediately after the mic
preamp stage. This means it is possible
to run the mic preamp and the EQ
simultaneously on different signals, or
alternatively place a compressor before
the EQ.
The 5051 EQ/Compressor has two
line-level inputs, which you can switch
MAGAZINE November 2014

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RND Shelford 5051 & 5052 Reviews MT

Method Spot

between from the front panel, making it


easy to hardwire the 5052 into the 5051
while also keeping the other input wired
to the patch bay should you wish to use
just this module. There are also in TS
sidechain send and return points, and
in TS Link ports for linking two 5051
modules together for stereo operation.

Using both the 5052 and 5051 you get an EQ


both before and after the compression. As a
general rule, we cut before compression and
boost afterwards. However, it can sometimes be
useful to boost the top end before compression,
as this is unlikely to trigger the compressor,
and by boosting before compression you are
keeping the noise floor as low as possible in
your signal chain.

Studio success
We were provided with the two-slot
wooden enclosure and the five-way
power supply, and sat next to each
other in the enclosure the two modules
make a formidable channel strip, with
the 5052 and 5051 providing a mic
preamp running into a three-band EQ,
into a compressor, and back into
another EQ.
Before hitting any of the additional
options we ran the mic preamp clean to
gauge its qualities. It was pretty obvious
very quickly that this was something a
little special. The acoustic guitar we
were recording instantly sounded
larger than life, the low-end was
forthright without being woolly, while
the top end sparkled without feeling
artificially boosted. We engaged the
HPF and dialled it up to around 60Hz,
which further tightened the low end and
left us with a signal that on its own
sounded superb. In a sparse mix this
may be all that you need, but in a more
dense mix this guitar would probably
sound a little big. So we engaged the EQ
and within seconds we were able to pull
out a little of the low end to thin out the

The Shelford Series modules


easily stand up as two of the best
yet created by Rupert Neve
guitar and leave more room in our
arrangement, while a slight cut in the
top end, shelving down from 8kHz,
helped to place the guitar in a fixed
space in the spectrum.
On vocals, the larger than life quality
of the Shelford 5052 preamp is ideal,
and we were able to add a little more

life to the vocal by lifting the top end


and then running it into the 5051
compressor. This enabled us to sit the
vocal really easily into the mix, with very
little post-processing.
For our final test we set our sE RNR1
ribbon mic about 4ft in front of and at
90 to a drum kit, and used the Shelford

Series preamp and compressor to


achieve a sort of pumped room sound.
Because the mic is a figure-of-eight
pattern, with the null pointed at the kit,
it should only pick up the room
reflections and not the direct signal.
We decided to let the compressor do
a fair amount of work and dialled in
quite a slow attack to let most of the
punch through but fast enough to catch
the body of each beat, and a fast attack
so its released before the next hit. We
then dialled the threshold down to
produce around 6-10dB of gain
reduction on the meter. The result was a
huge sound. The kick and snare
sounded enormous, while the hats
dropped back a little. Unlike similar
tricks using FET compressors such as
the 1176 there wasnt an obvious sense
that the picture was being saturated,
just that it was being pushed forward.
The Shelford Series modules pay
homage to the past works of Rupert
Neve without exactly recreating any of
them. Its encouraging to see the
company continuing to develop and
design when it would be so easy to rest
on the laurels of past successes. The
two Shelford Series modules easily
stand up as two of the best works yet
created by Rupert Neve and would be
welcomed into any studio around the
world. While we would love to have a
5088 console packed full of these the
expense may be too much, but we can
see plenty of studios buying one of each
module and using them as a deluxe
channel strip, especially smaller project
studios that may only need one preamp,
but want one of the highest quality. MT

MT Verdict
+ Incredible sound
+ Huge dynamic range
+ Stunning EQ
- Not standard rack sizes
- Requires custom external
power supply
Improving on a classic design isnt
an easy task, but its one the
Shelford Series has been more than
a match for.

10/10

MAGAZINE November 2014

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Plugin Boutique VirtualCZ Reviews MT

PLUGIN BOUTIQUE

VirtualCZ

For PC
& Mac

Value

Excellence

$ 10/10

All classic synths deserve a software emulation: ARP, Moog,


Prophet and now er Casio. Andy Jones sees (or Cz) why

ve interviewed many hundreds of


musicians over the last two or three
decades and each one of them has
a favourite classic synth or three.
The most common names are, of
course, Moog, Roland (Jupiter, Juno, TB,
TR), Prophet, Korg, Yamaha all the
old favourites. But one name that
comes up more than it should
especially given that its mother
company is now perhaps unfairly
known more for home keyboards than
anything else is the CZ range. Or,
more specifically, the Casio CZ range.
Yes, you might know Casio for the
Da Da Da VL-Tone (or the VL-1 the
mini keyboard used by the huge
German novelty hit-makers Trio). You
might know Casio for the keyboards
with lit keys that we discussed in last
months MusicTech. Or you might know
Casio for hundreds of keyboards with
on-board speakers and
accompaniment rhythms. Those
properly in the know, though, will know
Casio for the aforementioned CZ range.
And Plugin Boutique, therefore, is
clearly in the know

See? Its easy


The original hardware range employed
phase distortion digital synthesis to
fatten things up. It had up to 16
oscillators (eight on earlier models), and
therefore 16 notes of polyphony

depending on the sound used. Analogue


fans probably embraced the
architecture because of the resonant
waveforms that gave it an analogue
edge and also the familiar modulators.
Digital fans liked it because it was
simple compared to, say, FM, which was
the backbone of the engine in Yamahas
DX series.
With VirtualCZ, Plugin Boutique has
stuck with many of these features
including the same phase distortion
oscillator and (up to) 8-stage envelope.
The software even acts as a SysEx
editor/librarian if you are lucky enough
to have the original hardware (CZ-1,
CZ-101, CZ-1000, CZ-3000 and
CZ-5000) and, of course, this being
software, you get bonus features too.
These include full graphical displays for
envelopes and velocity settings, 32
notes of polyphony, added effects and a
couple of hundred (great) presets.

See me
The front panel has been designed to be
purely retro, and in that sense you
wonder how much more welcoming it
could have been at the expense of some
of the realism. You get the impression
that should you give VirtualCZ a hug
youll come away with dust up your nose
and feel a need to wash, such is the
original, grey look of its GUI. But many,
of course, will welcome this authenticity

Details
Price 59.95
Contact
Plugin Boutique
+44 (0) 1273 692 313
Web
www.pluginboutique.
com
Minimum system
requirements
PC: Windows XP+,
Intel i5, 4GB RAM
Mac: OS X 10.6+, Intel
i5, 4GB RAM

Key Features
Emulates
original CZ range
synth engine
VST2, VST3, AU
and AAX plug-in
formats
SysEx editor
for original
hardware
Two phase
distortion
oscillators
Six envelope
generators
32-voice
polyphony
200 presets
included, 1000s
available online

and secretly I prefer it marginally to


some kind of souped-up C21 version.
Sound-wise its bang on the money.
Rasping, ravey, phasey, and surprisingly
beefy all the elements that have
made so many people admire the CZ
range over the years. There are some
great squelchy, almost analogue
basses, a fantastically deep jungle sub
bass or two, plenty of up-front lead
sounds and many elements that are
finding favour (again) in todays brasher
and bassier dance music. Just stepping
through the five banks on offer greets
you with everything from heavenly sonic
pads to dirty in-your-face bass.
This variety is thanks largely to the
synths architecture, which is well worth
getting your head around. Lowering the
polyphony by switching to one of the
monophonic modes enables you to
fatten sounds up with unison, and the
8-stage envelopes add enormous
flexibility. It will take a slight shift in
understanding were talking lines of
oscillators and Digitally Controlled
Waveshaping rather than a filter but
you will start to understand how the
engine can produce such varied results
and therefore quickly realise why so
many people hold the originals in such
high esteem. (And its nowhere near as
hard as other digital synthesis methods
such as FM, so be happy to spend the
time learning!)
And talking of the originals, the
presets from all of the CZ range do not
ship directly with the plug-in, but are
widely available online along with many
other downloadable sounds (and on the
developers website).
If youre sick of real analogue, virtual
analogue and a sea of classic analogue
emulations, this is a must-buy, if only to
realise that digital wasnt as bad as we
all made out. This is an accessible,
flexible and, most importantly, a hugely
inspirational synth. And at just 59.95 it
is the steal of the year. Get it now. MT

MT Verdict
+ Stunning and surprisingly
varied sounds
+ Youll realise why the originals
are so well regarded
+ As easy as digital synthesis gets
+ Just like the originals
- Just like the originals! (the
interface might be off-putting)
VirtualCZ is a real gem of a synth in
a world that has become obsessed
with analogue. A must-buy to
increase your sonic palette.

10/10

MAGAZINE November 2014

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Mini Reviews MT

Celesta - Keyboard
Operated Idiophone
Manufacturer Sonokinetic Ltd.
Price 60
Contact via website
Web www.sonokinetic.net

he celesta is a keyboard
instrument that looks similar to
an upright piano but, instead of
strings, the keys connect to
hammers that strike metal plates over
wooden resonators. Which explains the
rather unusual title of Sonokinetics
new sampled celesta, the Keyboard
Operated Idiophone, which is a musical
instrument that creates sound by
vibrating, without the use of strings.
Originally a three-octave instrument, a
five-octave model is now the norm, and
thats what we have here.
Celesta runs in the open Kontakt
format (4.2.4 or 5) for complete user
customisation. It is not, however,
compatible with the free Kontakt player
a full version is obligatory.
Recorded in a medium sized, high
ceiling studio, three microphone

Key Features
3.1GB sample
pool, 4000+
samples
Three velocity
levels
Separate
samples for
sustain pedal on
and off
Multiple round
robin samples
Celesta reverb
Three mic
positions

positions were used close, overhead


and balcony and you can use them
separately or mix them together. The
close microphone is clear and detailed,
the overhead more ambient and the
balcony positioned one is more ambient
still with a noticeably more percussive
sound. For a larger room sound theres a
reverb control. Separate samples for
pedal up and pedal down are provided
along with multiple velocity release
samples and multiple round robins, key
ingredients for what is, after all, a
percussive instrument.

The interface is simplicity itself with


reverb controls on the left and
microphone mixing controls on the
right. The impulse responses can be
further customised or replaced within
Kontakts instrument editor.
Sonokinetic have made a splendid
job of capturing the magical sound
typically associated with these
instruments (think Dance Of The Sugar
Plum Fairy). Minor flaws and
extraneous sounds all add to its unique
character, which is similar to that of the
glockenspiel with a more subtle tone.
Its probably not an instrument
thats going to be used on a daily basis,
especially in pop music, although it has
been featured on many a hit record by
artists such as the Beatles, the Beach
Boys, Pink Floyd and many others. It
really comes into its own when an
incomplete track is crying out for that
little bit of extra musical magic, usually
in the higher register. MT

MT Verdict
Celesta captures all the magic and
beauty associated with one of the
most delicate instruments.

9/10

Xplorer
Bluetooth

Richard Barbieri
Sound Bank

Manufacturer StudioSeries

Manufacturer Nord

Price 110

Price free

Contact via website

Web www.nordkeyboards.com,
www.soundtech.co.uk

Web www.editorskeys.com

luetooths wireless wonders


still amaze. Here we have a
small, retro designed
mobile speaker that will play your
tunes for up to nine hours on a full
charge (which takes two to three
hours via USB). Sync any device up
with ease you simply hit the
power button for three seconds
and it welcomes any Bluetooth
action. Play music via your mobile
(iOS, Android etc) and it will even
pause it if you get a call. Quality
wise it goes loud enough at a good
enough quality for most outdoor
BBQs and small gatherings. The
quality suffers if you crank it too
loudly, but you might not need to if
you are just playing for family and
friends. Its easy to use and a great
mobile music playing solution
wherever you are. MT

Key Features

10W o/p (2x5W


speakers)
8 to 9 hours
playback
10m range
Bluetooth
4.0+
Built in
StudioSeries
hands free kit

MT Verdict
Small, compact, good sound
quality, a great mobile music
solution and very easy to use.

8/10

he A1 is the synth hit of the


year being programmable
and inspirational. This set of
50 performances and programs
from ex Japan/Rain Tree Crow
keyboardist, solo artist and
Porcupine Tree synth guru Richard
Barbieri, slots nicely into the
empty bank of each in the A1
(tested on an A1R). Its a small
download but you may have to
update both system and Sound
Manager software. You are then
treated to some of the most
atmospheric presets going.
Barbieri has stretched the A1 to
its limits with ambience, ethnic
sonics and sheer drama. Theres
rhythmic action and lots of dark
broodiness as followers of Richard
might expect. Itll make you want
an A1 and best of all its free! MT

Key Features
50 A1/A1R
performances
50 A1/A1R
programs
Ethnic,
rhythmic,
atmospheric
and percussive
presets

Excellence

10/10
MT Verdict
If you own an A1 this is a must
have. If not get an A1!

10/10

MAGAZINE November 2014

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30/09/2014 11:35

ABLETON LIVE 9

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

Mini Reviews MT

iKlip Xpand
Stand

Music
Marketing
for the DIY
Musician

Manufacturer IK Multimedia
Price 54.99/39
Contact +44 (0)1223 234414
Web www.ikmultimedia.com

K Multimedia has released


several iPad and iPhone stands
for musicians. The desktop
muso now gets this which can be
a standalone iPad stand or clip to
the side of your desk. Construction
is easy youll need a firm hand to
lock the base to the main support
and half way through youll need
to choose which stand type. But
the result is sturdy, especially
when locked to the side of your
desk (although the grip gap could
be wider for thicker desks). The
standalone version might fall
forward but only if knocked from
behind, but both variations allow
easy movement of the iPad from
horizontal to vertical without the
need to remove it from the stand.
Solid and does the job well. MT

Manufacturer Hal Leonard


Price $29.99

Key Features

Contact via website

Two way iPad


stand
Locks to desk
or standalone
Expandable to
allow iPad case
Construct in <
5 mins

Step by step
plan of attack
Uses many
similar tactics
you can find in
industry
18 chapters;
330+ pages

MT Verdict
If your iPad is crammed full of
music apps but always seems
to get lost within your studio
gear, then this is what you
need to keep it in a prominent
position.

8/10

hat to do next with your


music is the Holy Grail of
success. Gone are the
days if ever they existed of
sending a demo out and becoming
famous. This takes a very pro
marketing angle, treating your
music like a brand, a commodity
worth selling. And if you treat your
music that way, you can certainly
do a very pro job yourself, but it
does serve as a warning to those
who might think this next step can
be fun. Such an approach can be
quite soul-destroying, especially
when applied to something as
personal as your own music. MT

Autotheory
Manufacturer Mozaic Beats.
Price $59.99
Contact via website
Web www.autotheorybymozaic.com

riginally developed as a Rack


Extension for Reason,
Autotheory has made the
jump to standalone app for
Mac and PC. A MIDI generator that
responds to your input, its designed to
help you create chords and melodies
more complex than you may be able to
play naturally, and to suggest new
melodies based on your chord
selections.
The iLok authorization is a little
heavy handed but setup is
straightforward enough and you can
configure MIDI channels and use
computer keys for MIDI input. With
minimal setup it fired MIDI through to
Logic more or less automatically.
To the left is the Chord Generator
section and this can be set to play
multiple types of chords based on
one-finger input using the root note and

Key Features

Web www.halleonardbooks.com

Key Features
Eight virtual MIDI
outputs
Chord and
melody generators
Extensive
chord type and
customisation
options
Generate
musical parts

chord type controls at the top. The


Chord Editor can be used to perform
further tweaks like adding or removing
notes from the generated chord and
adding accidentals and octave notes. It
can send up to eight virtual channels
into your DAW from a single MIDI input
so it can be connected to multiple
instruments at once.
To the right is the Melody section
where notes are assigned based on
your chosen chord, and you arent

MT Verdict
We agree with the methods
but more artistic musicians
might baulk. Youd have to
separate yourself completely
from your music to market it in
many of the ways suggested
which is certainly something
not all of us could do.

7/10

allowed to play a wrong-sounding note.


So its great for novice players, though
you have to wrap your head around the
fact that the note you press might not
sound the note you thought it would.
Nonetheless it should still fit with the
scale and chord you have selected.
All of this can be recorded into a
MIDI track in your DAW of course and
the whole thing acts like a more
advanced version of the MIDI generator
plug-ins you get with some DAWs. Its
probably best suited to the less
confident keyboard player as it will
indeed help you play complex chords
and generate melodies with fairly
minimal musical knowledge.
The results tend towards the hip
hop or dance side of things and for
skilled players its more a more
intriguing than vital tool, but Autotheory
can certainly help you generate new
musical ideas. MT

MT Verdict
A useful tool for the less
experienced keyboard player and
interesting for those looking to
generate new ideas.

7/10

MAGAZINE November 2014

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MT Mini Reviews

Restoration
Suite

Complete Guide to
Compression

Manufacturer Acon Digital

Manufacturer Producertech

Price $99.90

Price 12.95

Contact info@acondigital.com

Contact via website

Web www.acondigital.com

Web www.live-courses.com

Key Features

his has recently been


updated to v1.5, and includes
four plug-ins for cleaning up
digital audio. DeNoise offers
adaptive noise reduction for
stationary noise such as
broadband, hiss, wind and buzz,
whilst DeHum deals with mains
hum and other tonal noises, and
includes up to 96 harmonic bands
for reducing complex buzzing. The
other two plug-ins are DeClip for
restoring audio damaged by
clipping, and DeClick, for removing
clicks and crackles. We tested each
next to the equivalent in iZotopes
recent RX4 and while RX4 offers
more precise and scientific control,
Acon Digitals processors were
easier and quicker to use with
fairly close results. MT

Four audio
restoration and
noise reduction
plug-ins
32-bit/64-bit
Windows & OS X
VST, AAX and
AU formats
DeNoise,
DeHum, DeClick
& DeClip
Easy to use,
clear GUIs

I
Choice

MT Verdict
An excellent sounding, well
designed suite of plug-ins
thats great for quick and easy
restoration work. The
Restoration Suite offers an
effective and affordable
alternative to its more
expensive counterparts.

9/10

Vier
Price 99

Choice

MT Verdict
A clear and concise look at
compression techniques
thats well paced with good
use of audio and visual
examples.

9/10

Manufacturer Loopmasters

Contact info@eisenberg-audio.de

Price 19.95

Web www.eisenberg-audio.de

Contact info@loopmasters.com

ier is a new instrument that


emulates the Doepfer
MS-404 analogue mono
synth, with a clear GUI that gives
you access to four units. These
can be linked in a variety of ways,
from simple unison, to key-splits
and a revolver mode, and each of
the parameter knobs can easily be
joined to each other, or to the eight
macro knobs via a patching
system. The sound quality is fairly
decent, with anti-aliasing
oscillators and zero-delay
feedback filters, and there are 100
presets showing off a range of
modular style sounds. The team
should be commended for
translating the design into
software form, although this does
bring with it a whole load of
limitations, such as only one filter
type, one LFO shape, and a shared
envelope for the filter and amp. MT

MT140.reviews minis-p98.indd 98

Key Features
Guide to
compression
Covers
basic and
intermediate
techniques
65 Minutes of
streaming video
Includes
course notes in
PDF format, plus
accompanying
Live Projects

Retro Synths
for Logic X

Manufacturer Eisenberg Audio

98 | November 2014

ts the essential but often


abused process of compression.
This online course lasts a little
over an hour and is divided into
nine modules that can be
streamed from the Live-Courses.
com website. Rob Jones begins
with an overview of compressor
basics, before moving on to cover
attack and release, sidechaining,
multiband and mix buss
compression, de-essing, and
working with kicks and vocals.
Although everything is taught
using the excellent visual
feedback of Ableton Lives built-in
compressor and analyser, all skills
are fully transferable to any DAW.
Its wonderfully concise and easy
to follow, ideal for those looking to
learn the fundamentals. MT

Key Features
Soft synth
modeled on the
Doepfer MS-404
Anti-aliasing
oscillators and
zero-delay
feedback filters
Four units
in one with
intelligent voice
management
Eight
Macro knobs
with flexible
modulation
Windows, OS
X, VST, AU, RTAS
& AAX formats

Web www.loopmasters.com

T
Innovation

MT Verdict
A decent sounding analoguemodeled synth with a few
nifty tricks up its sleeve, only
hindered by the limitations of
the unit it emulates.

7/10

he deceptively versatile
Retro Synth in Logic X gets a
fresh batch of sounds
courtesy of producer Colin C, who
has previously brought us packs
of Ultrabeat presets and Logic
mixing channel strips. The presets
simply need to be dragged to the
relevant folders. There are a range
of more standard growling basses,
retro pads, searing leads and
whooshing FX plus some more
avant-garde sounds that make
use of the FM and Wavetable
aspects. Although there are a few
volume discrepancies between
presets, and theres nothing that
out of the ordinary here, the extra
processing in the bonus channel
strips offers an insight into some
more interesting and inspiring
sound design techniques. MT

Key Features
100 Logic X
Retro Synth
presets
50 Bonus
Channel Strips
Pads, basses,
leads and FX
Designed by
Colin C

MT Verdict
Although theres nothing
massively ground breaking
here, its a good example of the
versatility of Retro Synth, and
the bonus channel strips
provide some more interesting
and in-depth sound design.

8/10

MAGAZINE

30/09/2014 11:15

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MAGAZINE March 2011 | 127

Six of the best Buyers Guide MT

Six of the best


Hardware

Software

Mobile Technology

Details
Price
119/149
Contact Best
Service +49 (0) 89
45228920
Web www.
bestservice.de

Samples

Welcome to the new MusicTech Buyers Guide where we round


up some of the best products recently reviewed in the magazine.
This month: six of the best instrument libraries. Next month:
percussion instrument libraries

BEST SYNTH

Zero-G
Epica

ero-Gs Epica synth


instrument is surely one of the
best instrument sample
libraries ever, certainly the
best synth one. At least, that is what
MusicTech editor Andy Jones thinks. In
the review back in March 2014 (MT132)
he gushed: So you can see I love Epica.
I warn, again, that my musical
upbringing almost forces me to dive
into this kind of stuff like some happy,
hippy, electro dolphin, and if you are not
like me you might find it a little too
electronic. But if youve ever had your
heart plucked by the sound of the
synth, then buy it, come and find me,
thank me and tell me its the best 113
youve ever spent.
He finally concluded: Epica is as
epic as epic can be. The best collection
for synth-heads currently out there.

BEST ORCHESTRAL

Sonokinetic
Grosso

here are more orchestral


libraries around than
seemingly everything else, so
they probably warrant a Six of
the Best on their own. Until then,
Grosso is the best one that we have
looked at of late. MusicTechs resident
orchestral expert Keith Gemmell was
direct and simple in his verdict
Grosso is the most comprehensive
orchestral phrase-based composition
tool around great sound, well
orchestrated, and if you get stuck for
ideas, its highly inspirational.

Details
Price
299
Contact
Via website
Web www.
sonokinetic.net

Details
Price 113
Contact
Time+Space
01837 55200
Web
www.timespace.
com

BEST FANTASY

Best
Service
Shevannai

e obviously had great fun


writing this review
complete with a boxout
discussing whether Elvish
is a real language (kind of) and what
the difference is between Elvish and
Elven (the latter is basically Welsh but
more drunk), but all joking apart this is
a superb collection. Again, Andy Jones
was on hand to say
The soundscapes are excellent and
I will be using them and the whispers in
projects that need that kind of distant
atmosphere. Im sadly not involved in
composition for Elvish projects (but I
am open to offers!). As a quality
collection for a very specific job,
however, Shevannai is excellent.
The final verdict was: An excellent
collection that caters for what could
be a small market, but there isnt much
competition out there. Enni e bain
indeed Look it up, people!
MAGAZINE November 2014

MT140.6 of the best.indd 103

| 103

25/09/2014 09:11

MT Buyers Guide Six of the best

BEST OFF THE WALL

Big Fish Audio


Zodiac

e never really thought wed


see an instrument library
dedicated to musique
concrte but Zodiac takes
the best bits of that musical genre
found sounds, natural noises,
atmospheric recordings and turns it
into an absolutely stunning collection.
Obviously one for ambient fans and
anyone wanting to add some

atmosphere. Andy Jones said


One of the most interesting
collections I have come across. I love the
atmosphere, vibe and direction of the
whole collection and applaud its
recording philosophy.
He then concluded: If you want
something organic and inspiring to
counter your real or electronic worlds,
look no further

Details
Price 125
Contact Time &
Space
Tel 01837 55200
Web www.
timespace.com

Details
Price 125
Contact Time+Space
01837 55200
Web
www.timespace.com

I love the atmosphere, vibe


and direction and applaud its
recording philosophy
BEST PIANO

Modartt
Pianoteq 5

P
BEST CINEMATIC

Heavyocity
AEON

his comprises two collections:


Rhythmic and Melodic. And,
while this is one of the older
collections here, its still a
great all-rounder. Reviewer Liam O
Mullane said
Overall, the preset selection is

104 | November 2014

MT140.6 of the best.indd 104

Details
Price $399
Contact info@
heavyocity.com
Web
www.heavyocity.
com

vast and varied. Throughout the pack


the production value is high and can
be adapted as the user needs in a
number of ways for variation and
general expression. Youd be hardpushed to produce the mood, size and
quality of these sounds from scratch.

ianoteq has now reached v5


after impressing us in its previous
incarnations. It is not strictly a
sample library as such
weighing in at just 40MB but is certainly
one of the best instruments out there and
with impressive results
that match, if not
beat, other
libraries. Hollin
Jones said:
Pianoteq is an
excellent way to
get playable and
configurable
piano sounds on
your computer
without taking up
valuable space.
Details
Price Pianoteq Stage, 99; Pianoteq Standard, 249;
Pianoteq Pro, 399; upgrade from previous version, 29
Contact Via website
Web www.pianoteq.com

MAGAZINE

25/09/2014 09:11

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MTM App ad A4.indd 1

01/10/2014 14:31

MT Feature A bluffers guide to EQ

MT Feature Music Technology

A BLUFFERS
GUIDE TO EQ
This is what a boost in the highs
looks like. Our node is at about
5kHz, and weve got a very high
Q. Expect seriously snappy
snares here.

The first step in becoming a mix master is getting to grips with the
simplest of tools at your disposal: EQ. Rob Boffard shows you
how to bring balance to your musical force

he Equaliser, or EQ, is the Tetris of audio effects. Youll figure out how
it works in seconds, but it takes an age to master. No other effect, if
used subtly, can make such a dramatic difference to your sound. If you
know what youre doing with an EQ itll make your mixes sound as if
theyve popped out of a top-of-the-range studio. Conversely, there is no
other effect that, when mishandled, can screw up your mixes so badly. A heavy or
badly managed hand with EQ can wreck a good song.
Dont stress, though. EQ may sound intimidating but in practice its not
difficult to get the hang of. Give us a few minutes with this guide and well show
you exactly what you need to know about this powerful effect.

Whats the frequency?


Lets start with the basics. Sounds have frequency, right? Its the part of sound
that is measured in pitch. A high pitch, or high frequency, means that the sound
waves are packed closely together and hit your eardrum more frequently than
sounds with a lower pitch. A low frequency is the opposite, where sound waves
are spaced further apart. That means your eardrum hears those sounds as
low-pitched. If that sounds hard to handle, think of it this way: a violin has a
high-frequency sound; a bass drum has a low frequency.
An EQ enables you to boost or reduce those frequencies. You can make the

106 | November 2014

MT140.feat Bluffer's Guide.indd 106

MAGAZINE

25/09/2014 09:42

A bluffers guide to EQ Feature MT

bass louder, the highs


higher. You can also cut
that bass, or remove
some of the high
frequencies so things
dont get too sharp. In a
full song where you have
any number of different
sounds, all with their
own frequencies, this is
an exceedingly
important technique.
Youd be hard-pressed to
find a music session
that didnt have some EQ
Your basic paragraphic EQ. Note the individual nodes (each of them draggable), the frequencies along
the top, and the decibels on the left.
in it somewhere.
Frequencies are
measured in Hertz (Hz), named for Heinrich Rudolf Hertz, who was the first to
Tech terms
identify electromagnetic waves. Humans can hear only a certain range of
FREQUENCY: The
frequencies, from as low as 20Hz to as high as about 20,000. Dogs, obviously, can
vibrations in sound
hear much higher, but since they arent great music fans the 20-20,000 range is
that determine its
what youll see on most EQ displays. This range is known as the frequency
pitch. You can also
spectrum. Again, instruments such as bass drums are down low, violins up high,
use this as a distinct
measurement as in, it
the human voice somewhere in the middle.
has a low frequency, or a
Instruments can possess more than one frequency. Indeed they have ranges of
frequency of 50Hz.
their own. Think of a kick drum. Sure, youve got the big, bassy boom which will
show up at around 500-1000Hz, but youve also got the snap as the beater hits
the surface, which registers much higher in the spectrum at around 15,000Hz.
What youre trying to do is lower or raise the volume of these frequencies to
bring out, or reduce, a sounds desired characteristics.
Heres a pro tip for you: when talking frequencies and EQ, dont talk about
bass or treble. Talk about highs, mids and lows.

Revert to type
So what exactly are you going to see when you bring in your EQ? Well, that
depends. There are a few types of equalisation, some of which are more useful
than others, and its
worth going through
them all.
First, youve got your
fixed EQ, the most basic
of all the types.
Essentially it gives you a
bunch of controls
knobs, usually each
set to a specific
frequency. You cant change that frequency, but you can raise and lower the gain
(read: volume) for each one.
Then youve got your graphic EQs. Instead of the few controls youd get in the
fixed EQ youve now got dozens, usually appearing as faders instead of knobs.
Each one of them is still locked to a specific frequency and you can still raise and
lower the gain as before, but what this EQ does is enable you to create curves by
setting the faders in increments. You usually see this sort of EQ on an old HiFi,
and frankly, theyre a pain to work with.
Paragraphic EQs are what you want. Now you dont have fixed frequencies;
instead, your EQ display will have nodes, each of which can be dragged to any
frequency you want. You can raise or lower each node to change the gain, and
(this is the clever bit) adjust its Q to change the shape of the curve. The lower
the Q, the more space there will be under your EQ curve, which means more
frequencies will be boosted or cut. Itll look like a hump. Raise the Q, and youll
get a spike, with far fewer frequencies affected by the boost or cut.

Instruments can have more


than one frequency. Indeed
they have ranges of their own

HERTZ: The unit used


to measure frequencies.
Named for Heinrich
Rudolf Hertz. Most EQs
go from 20 to 20,000Hz,
and its not uncommon
to see the latter
abbreviated as 20kHz,
or KiloHertz.
GAIN: Simplified,
gain is volume. It can
be raised to boost a
frequency or lowered to
cut it. Its measured in
decibels, or dB.
Q: The width of the
space under an EQ
curve. No, we dont
know why its called
Q. Doesnt matter.
Youll want to pay close
attention to it.

MAGAZINE November 2014

MT140.feat Bluffer's Guide.indd 107

| 107

25/09/2014 09:42

MT Feature A bluffers guide to EQ

When it comes down to it thats all the controls


you ever need worry about with EQ: frequency, gain,
Q. Go try it out now. Load a track into your DAW and
start playing. Like Tetris, youll figure it out
straightaway. We promise.
OK, there are one or two more things to bear in
mind. Most of the time EQs will include what are
known as high- and low-pass filters. A high-pass
filter is a specific type of gain cut that removes all
frequencies below a certain point. In other words it
lets you eliminate the lows. The opposite is true for a
low-pass filter, which gets rid of the highs. This is
useful when youre doing things such as EQing
vocals with so few bass frequencies in them theres
often no need to have any lows at all, and so a
high-pass filter will get rid of them for you. Handily,
this can also help eliminate background hum.
You also get shelving filters. Essentially theyre a
stripped-down version of the high- and low-pass
filters, which cut or boost the frequencies in far less
dramatic fashion.
Some EQs provide a subtle colour or warmth to
the sound when used. Its pretty cool. If you dont
want that then consider investing in a linear or
transparent EQ, which will do nothing but boost and
cut your frequencies without colouring your sound.

A high-pass filter. Any and all frequencies under about 700Hz will be cut. This is very useful for
elements such as vocals or strings.

have all sorts of other noises to play with. Sounds


share frequencies, they dont exist in a vacuum. Your
kick drum and your bassline both have low
frequencies, and when they combine one will mask
the other. When your sounds start masking each
other youve got problems. Youll end up with a
muddy, disappointing mix.
How do you fix this? You use the EQ to carve out a
space for each sound. When your vocals start there
shouldnt be anything else dominating those
frequencies, so you can use your nifty paragraphic
EQ on instruments that conflict with the vocal and
lower the gain in their middle ranges.
Now, we cant teach you how to do this. We can

Make room
So youve got your EQ. Youve loaded it up, you
understand how Q and gain work, and youre ready
to go. What exactly do you do with it?
On an individual level, when applied to a specific,
solod sound, youre going to use it to make things
sharper. Youre going to use that EQ to take the sound
from where it is to where you want it to be. You will
boost the frequencies that bring out the sounds best
qualities and cut the ones that muddle it. A big,
booming bass drum will not suffer indeed, will be
improved if you use a shelving filter to remove
some frequencies above, say, 15,000Hz.
But thats not difficult. The tricky part is what
happens when you un-solo a sound because then you

The only way that you get


good at using EQ is by doing lots
and lots of mixing

See that greyed-out mountain range? Its a frequency analyzer. It gives you a visual representation of
your sound, showing you the dominant frequencies useful for EQ.

108 | November 2014

MT140.feat Bluffer's Guide.indd 108

teach you how it works but the only way you get
good at Tetris is by playing, and the only way you
get good at EQ is by doing lots of mixing. You need
to learn how different sounds work together and
which cuts and boosts you need to bring out their
best qualities. You need to listen to a sound
really listen and discover where its most
important frequencies are, as well as the ones
which you can cut.
That being said, there are a few principals to
abide by. Cut first, boost later often, things can be
improved just by dropping the gain in a few places.
And be gentle. You dont need big Q spikes; and if
youre boosting or cutting over -3dB, then youre
going too far.
Most of all, remember that EQ doesnt exist in
isolation. Youre going to be using a whole whack of
other tools to help you along, such as compression,
which well deal with next time MT

MAGAZINE

25/09/2014 09:42

The Music Production Expo


is the essential event for
anyone interested in making
and recording music.
Full of the latest equipment from the
worlds biggest brands, .MPX
provides the perfect chance for
visitors to get hands-on with new
technology.

NOV 14-15
TheEmirates/London

SEMINARS

TUTORIALS
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MT Show off your studio

Show off
your studio
We asked you to post pics of your
set-ups and hundreds responded. Its
the second in a new MusicTech series
in which you show off your studios

e were astounded by the response when


we asked the MusicTech Facebook and
Twitter audiences to send us a picture of
their studio sets-ups
(#showoffyourstudio). We then
interviewed some of the respondents and here are the
results. If you want your space to be featured in the
magazine then add your picture to our regular Facebook
Show Off Your Studio posts

Its a home studio with a wall of


modular synths in Ermont, France

Philippe Beaubruns studio


Interviewee: Philippe Beaubruns (owner/engineer/producer)
Contact: pbeaubrun@libertysurf.fr
What are some of the key
components in your studio?
Lots of synths: old analogue or
brand new digital ones plus a wall of
modulars. I could provide a huge list!
Aside from that I am very happy
with my Neve Prism rack. It gives me
very high-quality recordings. This is
what everyone really needs to have: a
quality recording path and input/
output device for the computer.
Which DAW do you use and why?
Pro Tools. I have friends who know
the software very well, so when I
have a problem I call them there is
always someone to help me out.
Favourite gear and why?
My modulars! You build your own
system as you want with anything
you want in it, and you do it when
and if you have the money.
How often are you in your studio
each week?
As much as I can. If I have a very
busy week music is not my main
job today it might be just a few

110 | November 2014

MT140 Show off your studio.indd 110

hours a week. But it can go up to 10


hours a day if Im less busy.
How do you use your studio?
Mainly for myself. I made money
from music for several years but then
I had to find another job and now I
work as a freelance translator. I dont
have the room to record bands but I
still occasionally work on small,
low-budget projects, and Im still
working on my own projects.
Any studio-based anecdotes?
Its funny when people come in for
the first time and see all the gear and
ask if I really know what each knob
does, or how I never get lost with all
the cables. But the truth is I still
occasionally dont understand why
no sound is coming from the
speakers until I realise that I
simply forgot to push a button or to
power up the speakers!
What is next on your studio
shopping list and why?
More modules for my modulars. Just
because you never have enough of

this stuff. There are a lot of little


manufacturers from all over the
world who always come up with new
and crazy ideas for modules.
What is your dream piece of gear?
A Yamaha CS-30, a vintage analogue
synth from the late 70s. My very first
synth was a CS-10 and I really liked
the sound. I sold it when everybody
(including myself) thought that
analogue synths were dead and that
digital technology would take over.
By chance I never sold my old Korgs,
which Im very happy about!
What is the one piece of advice you
would give someone just starting
to build their own studio?
Dont try to work on the acoustics of
the room. Leave it as it is, natural,
unless youre an acoustician and
really know what youre doing. It is
very often better to do nothing than
end up with an unbalanced room.
Also check the quality of the
electricity supply. You really need a
good earthing. On older places, this
can really be a big problem.

MAGAZINE

26/09/2014 10:15

Show off your studio MT

GoodLuck Music
Interviewee: Ben Peters (producer)
Web: www.goodlucklive.com

Kinetic Global
Media Group
Interviewee: Terrany Johnson
Contact: terrany@kineticglobal.net
Web: www.teedouble.com

Nine singles from one album, five of them


number one. Not a bad start, then

Loads of gear, but make it fun!

We got in touch with Ben Peters


because he sent an interesting
shot of a desert recording. He
replied saying: I am a producer in
electronic band, GoodLuck. We
have a wonderful little studio in
Cape Town where we record our
band and other artists, but we
needed to push the boundaries for
our latest record. We were coming
off the ninth single from our first
album, and after five number one
singles (in SA) we were at a loss as
to how to top such a ridiculous
start. We needed massive
inspiration and that meant stepping
out of the confines of our studio. So
we took the band and a sevencamera crew out into the Namibian
desert, the quietest, most desolate
place on earth, to record our album.
Outside. We packed up a quarterton of studio gear, solar power
generators and headed out to find
inspiration and crazy sounds.

Electro, Korg R8, Roland TD-12 kit,


Korg Kaoss pad, Akai APC40, Waves
plug-ins and our family piano.

So interesting is the story that


well feature it in MusicTech soon.
But for now, its studio time! List
GoodLucks key components
EVE SC407 monitors, EMES Pink
monitors, Apogee Ensemble and two
Fireface UFX interfaces for touring,
AKG C414 mic, matched pair of AKG
451s, Rde K2, ART ribbon mic, Nord

Next on your studio shopping list?


Im improving my skills first, but I
am interested in iZotopes RX 4.

Recording in the
Namibian desert

Which DAW do you use and why?


Ableton Live 9 the best workflow
and most intuitive. It also allows me
to work really quickly and twist and
tweak sounds and loops to do what I
want. Such a great team behind the
brand, too they listen to feedback
and are brilliant with support.
Favourite piece of gear and why?
I love my new EVE SC407s the
definition is astonishing.
How long do you spend in the studio?
Every day from 10am til midnight,
occasionally popping out to go
surfing when the waves are good.
Perfect or room for improvement?
We could improve the mic collection
and get more outboard gear.

Dream piece of gear?


Thermionic Cultures Culture Vulture.
Any advice to people starting out?
There isnt one piece of gear that will
make your mixes better. Focus on
how to get the best out of your gear
and room. Invest in an sE Reflexion
Filter a miracle cure for recording
vocals, and I swear by it. Finally,
remember that you cant polish a
turd. If youve recorded a rubbish
take theres no point trying to fix it in
the mix. Get the artist to nail the
take. I believe in pushing artists to
perform beyond their expectations.

What are the main components?


Pro Tools 11, Waves plug-ins,
numerous high-quality mics, Adam,
Yamaha and KRK monitors.
Empirical Labs, Chandler , Trident,
dbx, TC Electronic, Electro Harmonix
outboard gear and a Roland Space
Echo. Crumar Roady; Roland
Fantom, Juno and HS-60; Moog Slim
Phatty, Moog Prodigy, Clavia Nord
Modular, Sequential Circuits
DrumTraks, Korg microKorg and MS
2000 synths. E-mu modules, Alesis
DM5 and loads, loads more!
Favourite piece of gear?
My Akai MPC 2000 for its ease of use.
How often are you in your studio?
Im in here about 10 hours a day
Im pretty lucky to do this full time.
How do you use your studio?
I use it to record my solo albums (go
to www.teedouble.com), and for
licensing projects I handle.
Professional, amateur, for fun?
Its all for fun! But if I like a project I
am open to seeing how I can help it
become what the artist has in mind.
Perfect or room for improvement?
Id like to add a vocal booth for voiceover work and cutting tighter vocals.
Next on your studio shopping list?
I would say more Chandler gear, as I
love their Abbey Road-themed stuff.
What is your dream piece of gear?
A large SSL console its what I
started on and I miss that vibe.
Any advice?
Make it fun!
MAGAZINE November 2014

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| 111

26/09/2014 10:16

FIRST WITH REVIEWS


FIRST WITH NEWS
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Issue 141 On sale 20 November

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2014
The nominations are in! Your chance to vote for
the best gear of 2014 (and to win some of it!)

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MAGAZINE November 2010

MT140.next.indd 113

| 113

29/09/2014 08:42

MT Your Disc

DVD140 4GB+ PC&Mac

YourDVD

All you need for crafting a dance smash: quality


top loops, EDM synth lines and Loopmasters
instrument loops. There are also tutorials, the
latest demos, software and promo videos, plus all
the relevant files for this months workshops...

SAMPLE LOOPS//ROYALTY FREE & EXCLUSIVE

//HOUSE &
TECH TOP
LOOPS

Size 459MB Format 24-bit/44.1kHz WAV


The Top Loop has become an essential
element in many modern sample packs, offering
up percussive snippets that are ready for further
chopping, processing and layering on top of your
main drum parts. This months main pack contains
over 300 lovingly-crafted drum top loops created
by sound designer Richard James. Youll find two
folders with loops at 125 and 128bpm with styles
ranging from tech house, through to glitchy
breakbeat and straight up techno. Each part is
presented as a full loop plus individual parts with
variations to give extra flexibility and most loops
can easily be combined to form more complex
patterns. All the sounds are presented in
24-bit/44.1kHz WAV format.

SAMPLE LOOPS//ROYALTY FREE & EXCLUSIVE

VIDEO FEATURE //55 MINS

//EDM
CONSTRUCTION
KITS

//SIDECHAIN
COMPRESSION & IN
THE LOOP PODCASTS

Size 439MB Format 24-bit/44.1kHz WAV, MIDI


Five massive EDM construction kits for creating
anthemic dance tracks inspired by the likes of Hardwell,
Nicky Romero etc. Each kit is 128bpm and labeled by
key, with a WAV showing all elements together plus a
folder with breakout parts such as pounding kicks and
searing leads. All feature tension-building intros that
lead into signature triplet style drops. Each melodic part
is also in MIDI for easy editing and substituting your
sounds. Web www.equinoxsounds.com

Size 607MB Format MOV


Rob Jones delves into the secrets of compression in the latest
Live-Courses.com tutorial. Weve got a trailer plus a taster module taken
from the course that looks at setting up sidechain compression in Ableton
Live by using the kick drum from a drum rack to feed the compressor.
Youll also find two In The Loop podcasts from Producertech that include
a look at Console 1 from Softube and Egoist by Sugar Bytes, interviews
with producers Chymera and Hrdvsion, and tutorials on programming
filters and a rework of Farrells Happy using Maschine.
Web www.producertech.com

DEMO//SOFTWARE
EISENBERG AUDIO VIER
(WINDOWS, MAC OSX)

//SOFTWARE
OVERLOUD REMATRIX
(WINDOWS, MAC OSX)

Create complex, multilayered reverbs with this


convolution plug-in from Overloud and
MoReVoX. Mix and layer up to five different
IRs, then apply modulation, delay, distortion
and EQ to add depth and shape the master
output. www.overloud.com

DEMO//SOFTWARE
ACON DIGITAL RESTORATION
SUITE (WINDOWS, MAC OSX)

DEMO//SOFTWARE

IZOTOPE RX4 ADVANCED


(WINDOWS, MAC OSX)
The latest version of iZotopes
flagship audio restoration software.
New modules include Leveler,
Loudness, Ambience Match, EQ
Match, Dialogue Denoiser, Clip Gain,
Adaptive Hum Removal, and RX
Connect which brings a streamlined
round-trip workflow to your DAW.
www.izotope.com

114 | November 2014

MT140.dvd pages.indd 114

An emulation of the Doepfer MS-404 analogue mono


synth with four stacked instruments and a variety of
ways in which to split and link voices. Other features
include flexible patching, eight macro knobs, and zerodelay feedback filters. www.eisenbergaudio.de

SOFTWARE
DEMO//SOFTWARE

Acon Digitals highly-effective and easy to use suite


of restoration software includes DeNoise for
adaptive noise reduction, DeHum for removing
mains hum, DeClip for repairing damaged audio
and DeClick for removing clicks and crackles.
www.acondigital.com

FULL//SOFTWARE

LKJB LUFTIKUS (WINDOWS, MAC OSX)


Luftikus is a digital adaptation of an analogue hardware
EQ, with fixed half-octave bands, an additional
HF boost, gain compensation, Mastering and Analog
modes and an excellent GUI designed by
Simon Gasser. http://code.google.com/p/lkjb-plugins/

MAGAZINE

29/09/2014 08:56

Your Disc MT

SAMPLE LOOPS//ROYALTY FREE

//DUB & REGGAE, BASS


HOUSE, SOULFUL
BREAKS AND MORE

Size 278MB Format 24-bit/44.1kHz ACID WAV


Weve rounded up a collection of taster samples
from the latest Loopmasters releases. First up is live
bass, guitar and drums from Dub And Reggae
Soundstation, plus an mp3 demo of the preset sounds
you can expect to find in Essential Retro Synths for
Logic X to accompany the review this month. There
are also dark synths and cinematic breaks from June
Miller Complex DnB Vol2, Speak-and Spell style vocals
and drums from Robotica, and lush synths and
grooves from Tom Middleton Dub Bass House. Finally,
youll find live drums and percussion from Lack Of
Afro Soulful Breaks and warm analogue loops from
Synth Explorer Jupiter 6.
Web www.loopmasters.com

VIDEO TUTORIALS//35 MINS+

//CARIBOU CANT
DO WITHOUT YOU
DECONSTRUCTION

Size 298MB Format MOV


Point Blank Music School tutor Ski Oakenfield deconstructs the drums,
chord progression, synths and vocals in Caribous soulful summer house hit
Cant Do Without You, using Ableton Live and Push to rebuild each part.
There are also two videos taken from the Music for Media module of the
Live Diploma course, that take a look at creating a tempo track and creating
locators for sound-tracking using music from the Pirates Of The Caribbean
film. Be sure to copy the videos to your HD for optimum playback.
Web www.pointblanklondon.com

VIDEO FEATURE//20 MINS+

//LOOP+

Size 841MB Format MOV


Another helping of studio
videos. Theres a useful tutorial from
Point Blanks Danny J Lewis on creating deep spoken word
FX using Ableton Live. Next is the Eisenberg EINKLANG
morphing synth plug-in, and also the new Geosonics
Sound Design Kontakt instrument collection from
SonicCouture, with Dodge & Fuski producer Rob Talbott.
Finally, Quantize Courses introduce the Loop Expert
Ableton course and also offer an exclusive Loopmasters
discount. Web www.loopmasters.com/loopplus/

MAGAZINE November

MT140.dvd pages.indd 115

2014 | 115

30/09/2014 15:33

The Lead for Speed

NEW!

Finding your dream sound has never been faster!


Smart Oscillators
- a single knob gives you instant access to anything from
Detune, Shape, Submix and Noise, to FM, AM and Sync.

Follow us: facebook.com/nordkeyboards

Magical Mutator
- offers an infinite number of new sounds in seconds.

Unique Like-function
takes snapshots of promising sounds while tweaking
or using the Mutator.

Meaty Unison
- the fattest Unison ever in a Nord synth.

Flexible Filters
- including Transistor and Diode Ladder-emulations from two
legendary analogue synthesizers.

Stunning Effects
- with two brand new vintage Ensemble and Chorus effects.

Nord Lead A1R - rackmountable table-top version

Master Clock
- for easy syncronizing of the Arpeggiator, LFO and
Delay-effects to each other or to a backing track.

Four Slots
- for thick layered sounds, keyboard splits or controlled as 4
separate synths by a sequencer.

Read more and listen to sound demos:


Listen to the Nord Stage 2 at
www.nordkeyboards.com/a1
www.nordkeyboards.com
Nord Audio Demo

00:00:19

TECHNOLOGY

Handmade in Sweden by Clavia DMI AB

Distributed in the UK by Sound Technology Ltd | 01462 480000 | www.soundtech.co.uk | info@soundtech.co.uk