Chris Randall: Musician, Writer, User Interface Designer, Inventor, Photographer, Complainer. Not necessarily in that order.

Archives: July 2011

July 30, 2011

The Big Sale, Round 1...

by Chris Randall

I'm clearing out stuff I don't need / use / appreciate in preparation for a new series of projects. Most of it isn't synth related, and thus won't get posted here. However, there are two items might be of interest to AI readers:

1. Eventide H8000FW. I know, I know. I just don't use it enough to warrant owning it. It deserves to be in a home where someone will appreciate it. US$3000. I bought it straight from Eventide, and it has never met cigarette smoke or a stage. It has a little rack rash in the usual spots, and the LCD screen has a little tiny blotch in the upper right hand corner. This doesn't affect the unit in the slightest (which is why I haven't bothered replacing it) but Eventide will send you a new one for freebies if you're the sort that gets sent around the bend by this kind of thing.

2. BurnSmart 1-to-7 tower CD/DVD duplicator. This is the model that immediately precedes the current 1-to-7 they sell. It is not the E-SATA version, but rather the IDE one. We only used it a couple times. One side has a little scrape from shoving it in next to another computer, but otherwise it is as new. It has an internal HD to store up to 20 disk images, so if you're a label or whatever, you can just put in an image, then burn at will. I'm thinking $200 for this, but if you can make a reasonable case for your need, I can consider offers. Ditto on the shipping, and this fucker is on the heavy side. Imagine a normal tower PC with 8 optical drives in it, and you'll have a good idea of what it weighs and how annoying it will be to ship.

Drop me a line if you're interested in either of these things. If they're still here, they're still available.

July 28, 2011

Workin' For A Livin'...

by Chris Randall

It's been an exciting (interesting?) couple of weeks here at Audio Damage Command And Control. Adam and I decided, for reasons that aren't entirely clear to either of us any more at this juncture, that we would finally tackle the Big Bear, and release our next product as a VST3.

The VST3 SDK was updated to a new stable release a month or so ago, and in this release is the ability to also build VST2.4 and AudioUnit, off the VST3 base plug-in. These aren't "wrapped" as such, but are the real deal, just using a different base than the VST3. They necessarily lack the extra features that VST3 has (moreso in the case of VST2.4, as AudioUnits and VST3 plugs are remarkably similar in feature-sets.) We also, since we were making such a big jump anyhow, decided to switch from VSTGUI 3.6, which we've been using since Tattoo, to VSTGUI 4.

On the Windows side of things, it was relatively (!!!) painless, but when we moved to OS X, things got pretty hairy for a while there. Yesterday morning, I was actually about to lobby for bagging the whole idea and going back to the Old Way of doing things, but as luck would have it, Adam found the Issue, which turned out to be our fault, not Steinberg's. Now the VST3 on OS X is merrily working away.

Anyhow, long story short, if you're wondering where I've been for the last few days, it was a combination of that, some legal troubles (I was arrested for doing graffiti, or "street art" as I like to call it but the police in Tempe don't, of all things), and various other demands on my time, including an iOS contract I took without, perhaps, thoroughly thinking through the ramifications of same. In that respect, the iOS contract and the arrest are remarkably similar.

Adam is on his way to Wyoming, of all places, for the next few days, which will allow me to finish the iOS thingy, and we can return to our regularly scheduled vitriol. In the mean time, this is an open thread. Questions? Comments? Criticisms?

July 22, 2011

Monotribe Mini-Review...

by Chris Randall

Last night my BFF The UPS Guy dropped off a shiny new Monotribe. I really haven't had time to put it through its paces, so I'll pre mea culpa this review in to submission by saying that once I've attempted to use it in a song, I'll almost certainly have different views. If you're reading this via a Google search and it's more than about a month old, chances are good there's another review later in the timeline.

With that out of the way, some thoughts:

1. It is much larger than I thought it would be. It is bigger than a TETR4 / Mopho. About the same footprint, but it is quite a bit taller. It is also heavier. It ships with 6 AA batteries, but it doesn't come with a wall wart. Korg, being Korg, didn't give it a standard 9V power hole, so you can't power it with one of the 30-odd 9V bricks you already have. Thanks for that, Korg. Good lookin' out.

2. Construction-quality-wise, it is far sturdier than the Monotron. It is fairly chunky. The pots have some wiggle to them, but I imagine this is made with the cheapest possible components, and if the Monotron is any indicator, we're lucky to get knobs at all. In fact, four of the controls are the same as the little pot shaft things on the Monotron, while five of them (the more often-used ones) are of a more substantial construction.

3. The sequencer is very crafty in its operation. However, the 8 step thing is really truly annoying. And note that the unit runs at 1/8th note steps. It's kind of normal to think of 8 steps as half of a measure, but as far as this is concerned, it runs at 1/8th notes for a whole measure.

4. There is an iOS app (here) which allows you to send sync to the Monotribe, using a number of different methods. You could, for instance, be running iElectribe on your iPad via MIDI sync, and sync to the Monotribe app via a WIST session. You'd be best served by having several iDevices to pull off this tomfoolery. Also, when driven by the app, the Monotribe switches to a 1/16th note timebase of a half measure, sort of. (The opposite of point #3, above, but you can really only program 8th notes, still. So you get four.) You can also hit the sync control with a 5V voltage spike (or dip, selectable) so if you have a modular or a DC-coupled audio interface, you can sync the Monotribe's sequencer that way.

EDIT: The drum machine is 16 steps, and can save one pattern. I have verified this. See comments. The synth is 8 steps only, though.

5. The synth voice sounds like an MS10 to me. Taken in concert with the LFO, it is a fairly capable voice, much broader in ability than the Monotron. The filter is even a little bit screamier. The drum voices sound like they came from an SR-120. Not "phatt" by any means.

6. I couldn't find any mods with a cursory Google search. I'm sure they'll be along shortly, though.

Anyhow, that's the general idea. I'll use it in my next Experiment video, so you can hear it in context. There are a couple dozen demo videos on YouTube already, so you can get a good idea of its operation. I bought it here for $229. If you have any specific questions I'll be happy to answer them to the best of my abilities.

July 20, 2011

OS X Lion Bullshit Thread...

by Chris Randall

I am in the process of installing Lion right now, and will update this post throughout the day with my findings. If you're in a mission-critical situation and you're updating your main working machine to Lion, and you have problems, you only have yourself to blame, and I have no sympathy for you. Let me take the pain, so you don't have to.

9:24 AM About halfway through the download; it is coming slow. I've seen quite a bit of anecdotal evidence about major issues, but the only actual report I've seen from a major audio dev is Native Instruments, who say this.

9:43 AM Ableton just posted this. Still downloading.

10:33 AM Downloaded. I'm waiting for Time Machine to finish its snapshot before installing, though.

11:33 AM Running Lion. The fucking trackpad scrolls the wrong way. FUCK!

11:57 AM Did a first round of tests with Live. If you only use VSTs, it seems to work okay. If you use audio (loops, clips), MIDI, or AUs, it crashes almost instantly.

12:11 PM Just did a quick test of Max/MSP 5. Loaded two patchers. One was just DSP, no samples, no externs, no VST~. The second had all three. No problems whatsoever with either one.

12:22 PM Just ran a simple test in Cubase 6 64-bit with all 32- and 64-bit AD products and some audio files. Works fine on cursory examination. No problems to report.

12:43 PM Ran a cursory check in both 64-bit and 32-bit Logic. I ran 64-bit first, so it scanned all our 64-bit products, and everything seemed to be fine. I then ran the 32-bit version to scan the 32-bit products, and BigSeq (the original one) and Ricochet both failed AU Validation. A few other AUs failed as well, notably FM8. Other than that, Logic seems fine, although I am in no way a power user of that DAW like I am with Cubase, Live, and Max, so while it seems fine, that should in no way be taken to mean that it is fine.

1:35 PM Did a short examination of DP 7. I don't understand this DAW, which is the single most left-brained piece of software ever written. (I don't have a left brain. At all.) I was able to instance every AD product, though, and all seems fine. There is a hiccup in the audio when opening/closing windows, though. This is across the board. It would rapidly drive you insane, I think. Otherwise, it seems okay with the caveat that I wouldn't really know if it was fucking off beyond the obvious.

1:57 PM Checked energyXT. It seems to be fine. Also did a quick check of MIDI Network Sessions for Audanika, and that seems to work as usual.

Fin. I went through every DAW and plug-in I have, and on the whole, everything seems fine. Logic has some pretty big issues, which isn't surprising considering Logic is lucky to not have big issues on a normal day, let alone when OS X gets a version rev. Live is the most surprising, as it usually gets through these pretty painlessly.

Conclusion If the hub of your digital music recording environment is Cubase 6, Max/MSP 5, DP 7, or energyXT, you're in good shape, and shouldn't experience any trouble. If you use NI products, expect an interminable round of Service Center updates (more than usual) but as long as you're not 64-bit, things seem to be okay. If you use Logic, you can probably make it through your working day. If you use Live, don't update to Lion. Period.

July 19, 2011

This Too Shall Suck...

by Chris Randall

Matt Davidson (Stretta) put up an interesting comment on Google+ the other day that sparked a rather long and involved discussion. Since he put it on G+ instead of his blog, and limited it to his Circle Of Compadres or whatever, I assume he doesn't want me quoting it in entirety here. However, I'll paraphrase him (badly, and take specific points out of context even) here, and provide my own color commentary that I touched upon in the comments of his missive.

His general premise was that when one puts up an album on Bandcamp for "pay what you want," one is somewhat disappointed at the prevalence of the $1 that many people kick in for a full album, especially in the context of one's altruistic nature. Matt, like me, puts up a ton of secondary and tertiary content in the form of samples, entire songs, and software for free, in addition to the meta-project that is the album itself.

Looking at my Bandcamp stats, I feel I can break consumers of my (recent) music in to three groups: Benefactors, Listeners, and The Curious. The Benefactors kick in ten bucks every time, pretty much no matter what the content. Listeners tend to make a quantitative assessment of the value ("This album has 10 songs, therefor it is $10. This one has 5 songs, so here's your fin.") The Curious are the ones that pay a buck. I generally put up my EP-sized material for Pay-What-You-Want-Minimum-$1, so this number gets colored.

Benefactors are who really drive the commercial side of the process. After so long in this business, when I release an EP or LP, I know for certain fact that there is a group of people that will give me $10. I can count on them. I don't know how they perceive me in general, or why they do this, as I'm not one of these sorts. But this amount of money that I know is coming is essentially my budget. I use it for the TuneCore shit, and to buy anything else specific to the release. It is an immutable fact.

The Listeners are a source of extra income, but they're more fickle. These are the people I actually have to please, because the Benefactors, as long as I don't go all Metal Machine Music on them, will support virtually any endeavor. They aren't a terribly good sounding board. The Listeners, on the other hand, don't buy something they don't like.

The Curious are the people that find my material on YouTube or via a retweet, or hear it in Real World vs. Road Rules #23: Des Moines, or some shit like that, and are like "fuck it. It's here, I don't have to hunt up a Torrent. It's a buck. Fuck it." I look at this as value-added to me. I don't attempt to please these people. It's nice if they turn in to a Listener or a Benefactor, but they don't figure in to the equation except tangentially.

A commercial success for me is a release I didn't have to spend any of my own money to make. That's the 2011 version of the music industry. Even if I did, it's not that big a deal, because I make music I like, and am beholden to anybody only inasmuch as the more Listeners I alienate with any given release, the less income I'll see from that release.

Mark Beeson, who most of you don't know, but you're currently reading and commenting via a big chunk of code he wrote a long time ago, brought up an interesting point that is tertiary to my mission statement, but should be touched upon anyhow: iPod don't care. iPod don't give a shit. An album is no different than a song as far as your playlist is concerned. To put that in the context of what I'm talking about, from a crass commercial standpoint, to maximize the benefit of your Benefactors and Listeners, you should release a lot of single songs and two-song packages, rather than saving everything up for a single monumental release. Those of us that are older have an incredibly difficult time getting rid of the notion of the Long Playing Album Of 45 Minutes as a unit of music, but in this amazing modern world we live in, that is a relic of the 70s, for better or worse.


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