May 12, 2011

Out Of The Office Open Thread...

by Chris Randall

After that last epic conversation, I'm busy congratulating myself for having created a blog that, after years of tuning, can have such a high level of completely bullshit-free discourse. The previous post didn't have a single comment deleted (I only have to delete maybe one a month now) nor a single ad spam, nor a single instance of anyone calling anyone else a Nazi, nor a single "LOL +1" jumping smily face. This is a rare thing on the internet, and I'm pleased to have had a role, however minor, in its genesis.

In any event, the missus and I are rolling to Los Angeles today. We're hitting the MOCA tomorrow for the Art In The Streets exhibit, and going to the JPL Open House on Saturday. A little mini-vacation, if you will. I may or may not post, depending on available time and inspiration.

In the meantime, as a conversation starter, I propose this article that Eno wrote for Wired some 12 years ago. I assume, from the context and time frame, the console in question is a Neve Capricorn, one that I have a similar experience with. Anyhow, here's the keys. Don't break anything.


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May.13.2011 @ 4:50 AM
For people interested about Eno, I can suggest you to see several websites :

link [] (a free book of Eric Tamm about Brian Eno)
link []
link []

"Restricting choices = a tool with character, and a tool that encourages creativity" : I agree totally with that. Nowadays, it's crazy how the standard computer tools for music creation encourage the laziness, the "black-out" of the mind, by giving too much freedom...

But for me the problem is not only freedom versus limits. I think there are several other problems :

- The sources of distraction in general. And the computer is the worst of all ! Instead of working on your music, you can do so much other things with a computer, answering to your mails, going to the internet, playing with a game...

- The interaction between the piece of music and the human is different with computers and hardware devices only. Everybody knows how much it is more fun to move real knobs instead of digital ones.

- And finally, I think DAWs, are really great for the "production", I mean recording creations, mixing, mastering etc., but not that good at all for composing.

May.13.2011 @ 5:57 AM
@seancostello I wanted to reply to your post on the previous thread to say basically what you've said here: it compels my curiosity about an instrument (or a box, or a plug) when it projects a sensibility - you could call it 'a philosophy', if you really wanted to. Like a Stratotone H44 says 'I don't think you actually need a bridge pickup, pal,', an AD plug says 'If you absolutely insist on it I can fuck stuff up good, but you get limited amounts of say over how I do it.'

Eno talks approvingly in his diary book about the quality of the Eventide H3000 in having a multi-layered UI that will expose more tweakery to you if you insist on going looking for it, but otherwise gives you a superficial view of the controls so you can get things done. (caveat: I'm pretty sure I'm remembering this right - I've never personally used an H3000.)

Being confident in your knowledge of what a tool can do is vital. Recently I've gone back to computer science studies, and - because I need that confidence - I'm making myself refresh math from the ground up. As an early result, I can do long division on paper for the first time in my life. I'm 29.

Or: I'm attached to a v3 Reaktor Library ensemble called Weedwacker. It's almost completely unusable for anything except the one thing that it does well: which is to be a cranky, queasy piece of crap that barfs fuzzy harmonics at the least provocation. It also has this highly discretionary attitude to keyboard tracking. So, good luck playing 'Lucky Man' on it -- but when I want to introduce a particular sort of instability to a piece, I know EXACTLY what I can use to do so.

Whereas the more _overtly_ complex an instrument gets - I'm thinking of those massively architectured performance ensembles, or even just one of the "every possibile waveform at once! every kind of filter! 15 kinds of oscillator sync!" VA ensembles - the harder it becomes to fit into a comfortable conception of what the thing is actually good for. Anybody with enough time and money on their hands can make something that does everything. I think the craft largely applies to what gets taken away - the number of controls, their naming, their range. Exhibit A: Tattoo.

May.13.2011 @ 6:41 AM
Most of my favorite plugs have fewer parameters (eos and dubstation, to name a few) and I feel like I can understand them completely and therefore dial in better sounds quicker and easier. Having said that, I've become pretty attached to FabFilter software lately, especially the creative ones (Twin, Volcano, Timeless) because they can be as simple or as complex as you want depending on your needs. I don't always need 40 knobs for a delay, but every once in a while, that might be a good time.

May.13.2011 @ 10:16 AM
D' MacKinnon
Speaking of distractions getting in the way of composing I really should just disable my web browsers on my production computer. What a time suck.

May.13.2011 @ 2:27 PM
For me, it's about speed. I have an idea or sound in my head that I need to get out and recorded/sequenced as soon as possible before it is gone. Too many knobs and gunk and I will lose the momentum I've got going. I'm eventually going to buy the DMG comp. It looks like the last software compressor I'll ever really need. But it also looks like it would take me longer to get the sound I want out of it than I'd be happy with most of the time.

When it comes to compression in the box, I almost always use the free version of RoughRider, even though it has that high end roll off. It has only five knobs, and I generally only twist two or three of them. I dial in a bit of compression to get a track to lay nice in the mix and then I'm onto the next task.

As far as reverb, I haven't tweaked Eos or ADverb in I can't remember how long. I have a preset that is the sound that I want them to make. If I'm working on a piece of music, I might think "this synth really needs the Eos verb slapped on it". The closest I get to "tweaking" is deciding "insert" or "send". I have a few presets for ValhallaShimmer, but not many. ValhallaRoom is the only one that I still actively tweak, but It also has a lot of options in the way that it sounds. Not as limited in options as the others.

Limited parameters in a plugin is a very good thing 98.5% of the time. From a design standpoint, digitalfishphones fish filets and Sonalksis TBK stuff is perfection. One are two knobs on the front. Load them up and go. If you really need to mess around with parameters, open up the "panel" and mess around with the guts.


May.14.2011 @ 2:57 PM
And where are the tunes on all of this mayhem?

May.14.2011 @ 8:30 PM
Off topic, but hopefully of interest to most folks here:

Any one tried / own the Dynamic Spectrum Mapper pluggin ( link [] )

sorta like a multi-band compressor on a massive FFT - watch the video to see it in action - pretty impressive.

I am not so much interested in cloning a particular vintage tone, as I am in it as a way to do some creative sound shaping ....

I would have purchased it already, but i am annoyed at that iLok requirement ...

thoughts ? other plugs that do the same thing ?

- djp

May.14.2011 @ 8:50 PM
@dpirone -check soundhack spectral shapers. no ilok + waaayyyyyy more reasonable price and excellent sound quality. and there's some freebies there as well and he has more on the way.

link []

and for free check michael norris' spectral plug in suite.

link [www.michaelnorrs.inf...]

also, these wouldn't be a direct replacement for the plug in you linked to but awesome DSP and sound shaping

May.15.2011 @ 3:27 AM
@boobs> those are good recommendations, but I don't think they are anything like DSM. Those plugins make weird sounds, DSM is hard to make sound bad. I've only played with the demo (the ilok thing also put me off even though I own and use one sparingly) and I wasn't sure what I thought of it. It works really well but I'm not sure how much I'd use it.


May.15.2011 @ 3:31 AM
@bongo_x - the soundhack spectral shapers are interesting and unique. the interfaces are different and it takes a bit to figure out whats going on there and get used to them but the spectral gate/compander/filter can do some really amazing things.. a lot more than "weird sounds" but you have to go through some tutorials so you know what's happening.. there's some really shaping there... but yeah.. it's easy to make sound bad and screw things up. there is a different design ethos at work but the end results can be fantastic for eqing/filtering/compressing/expanding etc.

the michael norris bundle is most definitely for serious audio mangling

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