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Issue 159 June 2016

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Issue 159
June 2016

TOUCH
The magazine for producers, engineers and recording musicians

YOUR

MUSIC
How pro music to make
your stu
6 WAYS

look coodio
production is finally
at your fingertips... l

SUPERTEST

www.musictech.net
THE BEST SYNTH
EVER MADE?
PLUS

Pro Tools,
Epica Bass
and Abbey Rd
reverb reviews &
6 of the best mixers
www.musictech.net


JUne 2016
Issue 159
5.99

MT159.cover.indd 1 05/05/2016 14:31


Welcome MT

Expert Panel
Studio Hardware John Pickford
A studio engineer for over 25 years, Johns
a keen sound-recording historian who 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. Hes recorded with
orchestras across Europe and is heavily
involved in soundtrack composition.

Production Matthew Mann


Matthew Mann is a keyboardist, composer,
singer, writer and educator who spends much
of his time doing voiceover work, composing
Theres so much
original electronic music and fronting an 80s currently happening
tribute band.
in the world of music
Digital/Composition Andy Price production that we have
With a Masters in songwriting and a vast
interest in music history and recording something of a double
techniques, Andy works daily on MusicTech.net
and is currently heading up our songwriting and
header this issue, and
Cubase series. while they are both
Recording & Guitar Tech Huw Price
very different subjects,
A recording engineer since 1987, Huw has they both came to my
worked with the likes of David Bowie, My
Bloody Valentine, Primal Scream, Depeche attention during my recent visit to Superbooth16 in Berlin
Mode, Nick Cave, Heidi Berry and Fad Gadget. As you might know, that was very much a modular-synth show, so the first star
of the issue is not surprisingly one of the beasts that appeared there: the Studio
Scoring/Orchestral Keith Gemmell Electronics SENSEI. This goes against the modular philosophy a little by not only
Keith specialises in areas where traditional
including the odd digital module nothing wrong with that, nor that new but all
music-making meets music technology, including
orchestral and jazz sample libraries, acoustic the hard work (and some would say fun) of building it is done for you. Its a complete
virtual instruments and notation software. modular system, available in a case. Check out my review on p60.
The second headline act is at the opposite end of the scale and something I
Ableton Live Martin Delaney didnt expect at Superbooth and that is the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 tablet in
Martin was one of the first UK Ableton-Certified
Trainers. Hes taught everyone from musicians conjunction with the latest version of Bitwigs Studio software, which I check out on
to psychiatric patients and written three books p18. As a Mac fan, Ive been frustrated at Apples lack of touch development in its
about Live. Martin also designed the Kenton
Killamix Mini USB MIDI controller and is now full-blown OS, but Microsoft and Bitwig have worked together to produce an
the editor of Ableton Live Expert. incredible and futuristic DAW/music production experience that we all need to sit
up and take a look at. I hate to say it, but it leaves my clunky old MacBook standing.
Synthesisers/Modular Dave Gale So thats two major stories from Superbooth16 and, in case youre wondering
Dave is an award-winning media composer,
orchestrator and producer, with a passion for what happened at Frankfurt the other music-gear show at this time of the year
synths and modulars in all their forms, whether the best of that is on p7. Like I say: a busy time of the year! Enjoy the issue
software, hardware, vintage or contemporary.

Andy Jones Senior Editor


Electronic Music Alex Holmes
Alex has been a computer musician for 15
Email andy.jones@anthem-publishing.com
years, having a keen passion for beats, bass facebook: www.facebook.com/MusicTechMag Twitter @AndyJonesMT
and all forms of electronic music. Hes currently Instagram: musictech_official Tumblr: musictechofficial.tumblr.com
involved in three different dance-music projects.

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 now works out of his own studio in London.

New to Music Tech?


VISIT OUR WEBSITE! Check out ourde
Beginners Gui
Head to our constantly updated website
et
at musictech.n
for the latest news, reviews and 12 years
of quality content: www.musictech.net

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MAGAZINE June 2016 |3

MT159.welcome.indd 3 05/05/2016 11:35


MT Contents

MT Contents
Issue 159 June 2016

TOUCH YOUR
MUSIC P18
YOUR COOL STUDIO! P107
SE SENSEI P60
FREE SAMPLES P114
MT Cover Feature MT Interview

26 Oliver Nelson
The Swedish producer on how
to have a hit using social media

MT Workshop

18 SURFACE
V BITWIG 52 SONGWRITING
Touch me, Im slick
We check out the tactile charms A new series focusing on
of Microsofts Surface 4 Pro, the art of songwriting, both
together with Bitwig Studio inside and outside the box

4 | June 2016 MAGAZINE

MT159.contents.indd 4 05/05/2016 12:33


Contents MT

MT Issue 159 Full listings


STUDIO
007 | The latest news On the show
The Latest Reviews floor at Frankfurt Musikmesse

STUDIO ELECTRONICS
010 | Show off your studio here!
014 | End of the Voyager

MODSTAR SENSEI
Moogs retired analogue flagship
COVER FEATURE!

Plus Avid Pro Tools 12.5, A&H ZED mixers, Garritan Personal 018 | Touch Your Music

Orchestra 5, Expert Sleepers Disting Mk3 and much more A glimpse of a dynamic new
touchy-feely music-making future
INTERVIEWS
026 | Oliver Nelson
Swedish producer in profile

Technique And Tutorials 032 | Miles Showell


Abbey Roads engineer details his

40 Arranging In Logic
half-speed mastering process
110 | Jem Godfrey Industry Guru
TECHNIQUE
040 | Arranging in Logic Pro X
Arranging shortcuts and tips in Logic Pro X

46 Live In Depth
Techniques and tips
046 | Live In Depth: Pt. 4
Automation and envelopes
052 | Songwriting in Cubase: Pt. 1

Envelopes and automation, Ableton-style Intro to songwriting techniques

52 Songwriting
SUBSCRIBE
088 | for a huge discount!
REVIEWS
060 | SE Modstar Sensei Modular
Part 1 of our songwriting series using Cubase All-in-one modular temptress
070 | Allen & Heath ZED series

107 6 Ways To
ZED-6 and ZEDi-10FX mixers
073 | Waves Abbey Road Reverb
Authentic modelled vintage reverb

make your studio look cool! 076 | Garritan Personal Orchestra 5


Complete sampled orchestra
078 | Expert Sleepers Disting Mk 3
MT Buyers Guide Multifunctional Eurorack module
080 | Zivix Jamstik+
Controller and guitar aid

103 6 of the best


082 | Avid Pro Tools 12.5 update
90 | Mutable Instruments Rings
A Resonator module for Eurorack

small-to-medium mixers
093 | Sam Spacey Epica Bass
Analogue low-end sample library
097 | Toontrack EZX Country
A yee-ha, thigh-slapping library
099 | NI Una Corda piano
100 | Mini Reviews
REGULAR FEATURES
103 | 6 of the best mixers
107 | 6 Ways to a cool studio
114 | On your MT DVD

MAGAZINE June 2016 |5

MT159.contents.indd 5 05/05/2016 12:34


Studio Frankfurt 2016 MT

FOR MORE
MTStudio
Round-ups Analysis Industry insight
OF THE
LATEST NEWS
CHECK OUT
MUSICTECH.NET

FRANKFURT 2016
what you might have missed
This years Musikmesse felt like it came and went with a whimper
but actually, there were some important announcements (even if
we had to go looking for them). Heres a roundup of the best of
what you (and indeed we) might have missed

I
ts fair to say that Frankfurts Musikmesse got a bit lost modular synth-system from DASZ, and is an Expandable
this year or, okay, we got a bit lost at Frankfurt this year. Synthesizer and Sequencing Platform. Its also not like
To give you some background, Frankfurt Musikmesse anything weve seen before. It comprises one MAIN control
or simply Frankfurt or Messe to those of us who have unit and additional and identical ADD units, which can be
been going to it for two decades or more is one of the key bolted on to expand the system. The second units can be
events on the music-production calendar. Its where lots of configured to perform various functions, but include four
new gear announcements are made and where the industry tracks, and each track contains synthesiser/instrument,
gathers to catch up on the latest news and gossip. effects, looper and sequencer. Each module looks like a
But, actually, it might not be any more digital module and features track buttons, a high-res TFT
This years show took on something of a different look and screen, encoders, and buttons, on-board processor, I/O
feel, and instead of it being an industry-only event, it became expansion and DSP expansion slots.
something of a scrum where industry people stood confused You can configure the synth to have up to three ADD units
and bewildered often in halls a mile or so away from where to make 16 tracks in total, so its not quite as modular as
they were supposed to be (us, that is) alongside members youd expect, but a 2016 twist on the format. Sadly, the
of the public seemingly looking for a good old-fashioned concept (for thats what it is at the moment) doesnt look like
family day out. As such, the new format confused the more it will be realised until the end of the year. Indeed, as you can
elderly members of the MusicTech team. More importantly, a see from our photo, they didnt even want anyone touching
slightly uncertain music-gear industry seemed wary of the the prototypes, but it certainly looks like an interesting and
changes to Messe, so decided to make most of its 21st-century approach to modular synthesis Prices TBA.
announcements at Januarys NAMM show instead (hence More from www.dasz.com
the craziness of that show), or relocate down the autobahn to
Berlin for the all-new Superbooth16 show that took place a
week or so before Messe.
We reported from that (rather good) show last month and
while all of the reasons above combined to make Frankfurt
less exciting than previous years, there were some notable
goings-on in the halls, even though the halls werent where
we thought theyd be. So, without further ado, here are our
favourite products of Messe 2016

1. Modular synths but totally new!


It would be easy but very wrong to say that modular
1. DASZ: Do not touch!
synthesisers all seem to follow the same format. Many do
Sadly, we couldnt try
take an analogue path basically, breaking down the out this new range of
components of traditional synthesisers into Eurorack format modular synths, but 2. New white monitors!
they certainly look
but happily, we have seen many breaking out of that mould like a concept that If you want to make a splash, very often the best way to get
to produce digital and way out there modules. Alex is a new could catch on noticed is simply do what everyone else does but in a

MAGAZINE June 2016 |7

MT159.Studio.indd 7 04/05/2016 12:21


Welcome to the Family
Introducing the New Rokit 4 & Rokit 10-3 G3

Professional Studio Reference Monitors


Its hard to top the worlds best-selling studio
reference monitorsso we created two new ones to
evolve the Rokit line further.
Go compact with the Rokit 4, for portability and
performance that fits in your carry-on. Or go big
with the Rokit 10-3 three-way, which fills even large
rooms with the high definition sound quality you
expect from KRKand then some.
Music is your passion.
Reproducing it with clarity, and detail is ours.
Welcome to the family.

Rokit 8, 6, 5

KRK Systems is a member of the Gibson Family of Brands.


2015 Gibson Brands, Inc. All rights reserved. www.krksys.com
Studio Frankfurt 2016 MT

different colour. That may or may not be Dynaudios 2. Left: Dynaudio LYD: on board as a consultant, the theory is that they will sound
reasoning for making its new monitors white with black white monitors, you every bit as good as the original hardware. Softube says:
cones (as opposed to, say, Yamahas ubiquitous NS10 black say? Well, why not? Additional modules from Doepfer and Intellijel will be
speakers with white cones), but we like the results. The new 3. Below left: Pioneer available as add-ons at launch. More emulations from top
Dynaudio LYD range is available in three models: the 5, 7 and knows how to add hardware synthesiser brands will be released in the future.
excitement to
9 (referring to the woofer size in inches). All are bi-amped, hardware: analogue The system starts at 99 Euros.
with between 50 and 80 watts of power. Dynaudio says of the filters by Dave Smith? More from www.softube.com
Yes please
colour scheme: A speaker doesnt have to be black and
conservative. The studio has to support creative thinking and 4. Right: modular,
modular everywhere
processes, and if it is an unappealing environment visually, it and now even more
can hurt that creative vibe. We chose this colour scheme to so in software
do things differently, something that is elegant, nice to look 5. Below right:
at, something you can proudly show to friends, fellow Eduardo Tarilontes
musicians, and customers, something that adds to the new collection is the
African choir library
environment. Prices start at 800 a pair. called Kwaya
More from www.dynaudio.com
6. Bottom right:
Nords Drum 3P
combines stunning
playability with
unlimited sound
design possibilities.

5. Its Eduardo!
MusicTech
favourite Eduardo
Tarilonte was at
Frankfurt on the
Best Service booth
3. Pioneer Toraiz promoting his new
Is it a sampler? Is it a DJ product? Is it an all-in-one music library. If youre not
maker? Yes to all of those, and with added Dave Smith filters! familiar with his
Pioneer seems to be making inroads into music production work, he produces
like no other company at the moment, and took everyone by exceptional vocal and instrument libraries with an imaginary
surprise at Frankfurt with its Toraiz SP-16. It is, the company twist. His speciality is everything from medieval to fantasy
says, the first in our line-up of music production tools for (Shevannai being our elven favourite) plus ancient
DJs and producers. Featuring a 16-step sequencer, instrumentation with titles like Era. His latest, Kwaya
full-colour screen, performance pads and Dave Smith (pronounced choir) is an African vocal collection. As ever, you
analogue filters, this really does seem to offer the best in can create complete words and phrases and the recordings
current music-production hardware thinking ie hardware are excellent, but the interface seemed a lot simpler and
combined with analogue and hands-on step-based easier to control (not to mention having some pretty cool
sequencing. Pioneer sees this as a piece of DJ gear to turn animated graphics). Well be checking this one out soon, so
DJs into producers, but also as a full-on music-production stay tuned
tool and well be getting our hands on one of the very first More from www.bestservice.de
models very soon Price expected to street at 1,279.
More from www.pioneerdj.com 6. Nord drums
To prove were not all about synths and keyboards when it
comes to hi-tech music making, heres Nords Drum 3P
Modelling Percussion Synthesizer. Its a six-channel
percussion synth with integrated pads and advanced sound
engine with resonant, subtractive and FM synthesis. There
are all-new reverb and delay effects, plus new sound banks
with 10 categories of sounds. They say: The super compact
new Nord Drum 3P combines stunning playability with
unlimited sound
design possibilities,
plus a simplified
4. Modular synths but software sound-selection
Were not quite sure whether software modular synthesis mode and new
goes against what modular synthesis is all about hands-on Sound Banks for
control and physically plugging actual stuff into actual other quickly creating
stuff but Native Instruments has tried it and now Softube custom kits on the
goes one step further with Softube Modular. Its a complete fly. It will retail at
suite of modules that you run in (you guessed it) software, around 549.
with all of them replicating hardware modules and backed by More from www.
the people that made them. So you get a basic system of six soundtech.co.uk
Doepfer modules (plus 20 utilities) and with Dieter Doepfer MT

MAGAZINE June 2016 |9

MT159.Studio.indd 9 04/05/2016 12:21


MT STUDIO Show off your studio

Show off
your studio
So popular has MusicTechs Show Off Your
Studio become, that weve decided to move it to
the front of the magazine! Get in touch through
the MusicTech Facebook page if you want to
show us where you produce

The Death Star light is very


cool, but we love the rest of
Jans setup, too

Bioslave
Interviewee: Jan Osch
Contact: www.facebook.com/Thebioslave/

MT: Tell us the key components automation function in Logic How do you use your setup? Do you
of your studio? Just the main ones works really well, especially in do it professionally or just for fun
will do combination with the stuff from as a hobby?
I use Native Instruments Maschine Native Instruments. For me, making music is for fun.
and Komplete Kontrol. They You have to spend too much time
obviously work perfectly with my Whats your favourite studio gear? on doing it if you want to be a
NI Komplete 10. My monitors are Hmm, that is a hard question to professional. But I have been
both the Yamaha HS80M and 50M answer. At the moment, my favourite addicted to producing music for over
supported by a Yamaha HS10W synth is Logics Alchemy, as it comes 20 years now, and I dont think I will
subwoofer. The 50Ms give me the with tons of great sounds that really ever be fed up with doing it. It is a
crispness and the 80M makes the inspire me. great feeling to hear your tracks loud
sound warm and sound really great in a club and to listen to people
in the mids, too. How often do you typically spend shouting and dancing to your songs.
time in your studio?
Which DAW do you use, and why? Well, Im very restricted time-wise Whats next on your studio
I use Logic. I have used it for many by my job during the week, so I only shopping list?
years and for me, it is the best DAW really get to work in my studio and I just updated my studio with a lot
for getting my ideas down quickly on my music during the weekend of acoustic treatment. Next on the
and without any of the time- and on holidays. But even within shopping list is a great audio
consuming limitations that you this limited period, it can still be interface. I use an Apogee Duet One
find on other software. The really constructive. at the moment and I need an

110| |June
10 November
2016 2015 MAGAZINE MAGAZINE

MT159 SOYS.indd 10 25/04/2016 13:48


STUDIO Show off your studio MT

Olivier Fragne
Contact: through us at MusicTech

Get a workstation or several

Sains set-up:
nothing fancy

MT: Key components? Korg Kronos 61


and Korg Kronos 2 88; King Korg;
Yamaha MX61; Korg Triton Studio,
Roland TD-30; Ableton; Tascam.

Which DAW? I use Logic Pro X and


Ableton live as well as the built-in
Kronos sequencer, which I really like.

Favourite gear? The Kronos 2 88 it


doesnt matter what style you want to
do, everything is in this synth.

How do you use your setup? Just for


fun, rehearsing with my band and also
with a singer, but most of the time on my
own, composing and recording.

Next on your studio shopping list? A


Yamaha Montage 8 good for electronic
music and some exciting new features.

Dream gear? The ROLI Seaboard Grand


as it brings a complete, new dimension
to playing. It is still a little expensive.

interface with more outputs and music studio needs time. So first, Any advice? Get yourself a good music
great audio performance. you should sort a computer, then a workstation. I started with a Triton
good DAW and headphones. Then about 17 years ago and still use it.
Does anything annoy you about get more plug-ins or synths, then Cost-wise, it is the best thing to do.
your studio setup? Well, I had a lot get the monitors.
of analogue stuff in the past and I Any studio stories or anecdotes?
sold it for a negligible price. I do Do you have any studio stories or Not really, but I have had lots of
miss the knobs and the fatness of the anecdotes? Well, the best fantastic nights playing, singing and
sounds though, so maybe there will audiophile performance I heard drinking with mates, not bad memories
be a resurrection. was a concert of Oskar Sala, in my studio!
performing with the Trautonium
What is your dream piece of gear? [a pioneering early electronic
Definitely the Waldorf Wave. instrument invented around 1930
Ive played it a few times and it Ed] a few years before his death.
is just amazing! This synth is so inspiring! You can
create sounds like human speech
Do you have any advice for or violins all with the same
MusicTech readers who are just instrument. The Trautonium was
starting out on their studio used for Alfred Hitchcocks The
journey? The best thing is to do Birds for the voices of the birds.
everything step by step, as a good The concert was breathtaking.

MAGAZINE June 2016 | 11

MT159 SOYS.indd 11 25/04/2016 13:48


MT STUDIO
Show off
your
Showstudio
off your studio

Big Swede Don Goliath


Web: http://bigswedestudios.com Web: www.dongoliath.com

Big Swede at home in LA

The first time weve featured


nudity in the magazine

Key components of your studio? and Keeping Up With The Key components? SSL preamps
Apple Mac with Glyph external Kardashians and Ive done music for (four of them); 1176 compressors;
drives. A ton of plug-ins: BFD, Geist, Mercedes and DISH, etc. Sometimes I and my ability to understand what
Omnisphere, Trilian, Stylus, Waves, do stuff for bands, but mostly I work people want and turn it into music!
Kontakt, Battery, Rob Papen, Art on my own music. I dont release
Vista and the list goes on; UAD fully everything I do, but I do release an Which DAW? Logic, mainly, as its
loaded; Nord Lead 2 synth; Kurzweil album or a song every once in a quite common in London. Im more
PC-88 controller; ddrum DD3 while. There are around 160 tracks than happy to use Cubase, too, but I
electronic drums; Elektron Analog released under Big Swede and my seem to be in a minority here. I can
Rytm; Akai MPD32; TL Audio Classic other projects: Refurbished, Protecto also work on Pro Tools, if needed.
Tube channel strip; dbx compressors; (with Reeves Gabrels), X-World/5, 3
Mackie HR824 speakers; Ehrlund, Of A Different Kind, Tweek Show, Favourite gear? 1176 compressors.
Rode and Shure mics; Drum Prune Bros. They make every signal from any
Workshop drum kit and Paiste preamp sound perfect.
Signature cymbals; a lot of Next on your shopping list? I
percussion stuff; Apogee converters; wanna get into modular synthesis How do you use your studio? Mainly
Bass Pod; Mackie controller and get a few boxes and explore them. for production work with artists and
extension; Mackie mixer for bands. When I get some downtime, I
monitoring and tracking; MESA/ What is your dream piece of gear? compose music for production-music
Boogie Dual Rectifier guitar amp and Some kind of analogue console that libraries and publishers I work with.
12-inch cabinet and a few guitars. integrates with my digital set up so I
could use it together with all my stuff Next on your shopping list? Some
Which DAW do you use and why? in the computer. I love working in the interesting 500 Series modules,
Logic Pro great for third-party box and Im mixing everything in it because I made that silly mistake of
instruments/effects, workflow, as well, but I would like to be able to buying the 500 Series chassis and
editing and setting up your own go between analogue and digital a now I have five more slots to fill!
preferences. I use Ableton once in a little more.
while, but 99 per cent of the time, Dream gear? A Neve desk then your
its Logic. Do you have any advice for search for the perfect preamp is over.
MusicTech readers who are just Id settle for a Trident A-Range, too...
Favourite gear? Mackie Controllers. starting out on their studio
Its great to be able to go between journey? You dont need a lot of gear Any advice? Get a new sound, work
the mouse and the faders/knobs on to get going and you dont need to with new genres and with new people
them for automation/settings and know everything, either. Just start and keep on evolving. MT

Meet&Jam
the transport functions. It works doing it and learn by doing. Gear is
very well with Logic and integrates great, but it is also about what you do

Studio
with the mixer and plug-ins. with it! Write a song and record it!
And then on to the next one!
How often do you use your studio? Web: meetandjam.com
I work daily in my studio. Lately, it Do you have any studio stories or
This is a new service for studio
has been non-stop but I try to take anecdotes? One of my restrooms,
owners to rent out their facilities
a day off every once in while. which includes a shower area, has a
across the UK and US. Sign up to the
really nice room ambience. Ive used
service and you will automatically
How do you use your setup? it to record my good friend and
be considered for inclusion in
Working professionally. Mostly music favourite guitar player Reeves
MusicTechs Show Off Your Studio!
for TV, film and commercials. I have Gabrels (The Cure, David Bowie) in
had music in over 300 episodes of TV there, playing a 10-string South
shows, such as NCIS, The Mentalist American guitar called the Charango.

110| |June
12 November
2016 2015 MAGAZINE MAGAZINE

MT159 SOYS.indd 12 25/04/2016 13:48


MT STUDIO The End Of The Voyager

The End Of
The Voyager
After 14 years as a flagship instrument, Moog has finally announced the
retirement of the Voyager, the instrument which arguably made analogue
cool again. Dave Gale explains the appeal of this legendary synth

14 | June 2016 MAGAZINE

MT159.Feature Voyager.indd 14 25/04/2016 13:50


The End Of The Voyager STUDIO MT

A
bout 12 years ago, on a wet and windy Model D, experienced a rather unceremonious fall
Saturday, I made my way up to the from popularity, in the mid-80s. Thanks to the
West End of London to have look at a availability of digital synths, and arguably the
new synthesiser, which was the rebirth failure of Moog to keep up with these trends,
of the classic Minimoog. Knowing I was Japanese companies such as Roland, Korg and
probably going to be seduced by something pretty Yamaha, started to make ground on the synthesiser
special, I made sure I had sufficient funds in my market, with a much cheaper price point.
bank account just in case, you understand However, Bob began to find fame again in the 90s,
Needless to say, by the time I left the West End, thanks to a series of pedals, which bore the name
my bank account was lighter in cash, Moogerfooger. These were originally made under
and I was carrying a very heavy the name Big Briar, as Bob had lost the rights to
box with Voyager written on Moog Music (see boxout on the following page),
the side. which he won back some years later, but in
Having had complicated circumstances.
considerable success
in the 60s and 70s Riding the wave
with modular So what is it about the Voyager that makes it so
synthesisers, Dr Bob legendary? This is largely down to its architecture,
Moog (pronounced so lets start with the oscillator section. Unlike many
Moge), the inventor other synthesisers, most of which may have one or
and designer of the two oscillators, the Voyager had three
legendary Minimoog full-audio-range oscillators.

MAGAZINE June 2016 | 15

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MT STUDIO The End Of The Voyager

Below left: Steely blue and


industrial in appearance, the
resplendent Aluminium Voyager

Right: Limited to just 31 units,


the gold-plated version will cost
you 10K

when
swept. The
best way to think of
this is a dual filter, with one
filter on each side of the stereo mix.
This could conjure up a sense of space in a patch,
but above all, it was a classic Moog transistor-ladder
filter, with all the beauty that this circuit had to
offer. It was also switchable between dual lowpass
and highpass/lowpass modes. This was out of step
with the favoured filters of the day in the shape
of whistly digital incarnations or TB-303-style
filters but its rich timbre, which is the Moog-filter
calling card, could also be modulated by the
dedicated filter ADSR envelope. The Voyager
envelopes were incredibly snappy, and perfect for
those Hi-Q drum sounds, and earth-shattering kicks.
One of the biggest enhancements over the
original Model D, was the addition of MIDI and
patch memories, bringing the Voyager completely
up-to-date for studio use. The ability to update the
onboard operating system was also a very useful
facility, as tweaks and new functionality were added
with each revision.

Admittedly, oscillator two and three could be


assigned to other duties, but for many, the former
is key to the Minimoog sound, and indeed, the
Voyager. Oscillator one was fixed in pitch to one of
six octaves, selected by a range potentiometer, but
oscillator two and three could be swept in frequency
(pitch), meaning that you could create and control
the detuning of a single note, and as a result of
detuning, that note could sound thunderous and
full of analogue goodness! It also meant that chords
could be created, whether open 5th, octaves or more.

Whats in a name?
Thanks to its spacing control , Bob Moog lost the rights to the name Moog Music,
after the original company went bust in 1983, and
the Voyagers filter would give a the trademark name was allowed to lapse. This
opened the door for a Welsh gentleman, Alex Winter,

fantastic stereoscopic effect to purchase the name, quite legally, and start making
Minimoog replicas, which came to be known as Welsh
Minimoogs. So when Bob wanted to start selling
Voyagers, he eventually managed to buy back the
This was hugely useful and flexible, and something rights to the Moog Music brand around the world,
of a calling card for the likes of Keith Emerson and except in the UK. This meant that when the Voyager
George Duke. was first released, it was known as the Moog Voyager
Unlike its forefather, the Voyager also had the everywhere except the UK, where it was known as the
ability to sweep through waveforms within each Voyager By Bob Moog.
Eventually, he won the name back, and Moog
oscillator, so as well as the more usual modulation
Music arose from the ashes. However, a name was
of pulse width of square waves, there were also still required for what became known as the Voyager,
options to sweep from a triangle, through to a saw so Bob decided to launch a long-running competition,
tooth, and on to the square/pulse waves. where he asked the general public to suggest names
for the new version of the classic. There were some
Filtered by design rather dubious suggestions, such as Moogabooga
and Deja Moog, but thankfully, common sense
The section which seemed to generate the most
prevailed and in a possible nod to such instruments
interest was the filter, which thanks to a spacing as the Arp Odyssey, the Voyager was born.
control, would give a fantastic stereoscopic effect,

16 | June 2016 MAGAZINE

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The End Of The Voyager STUDIO MT

It was still possible to do some of the old


Minimoog tricks, such as taking the headphone
What now?
output and feeding it back into the external input. In At the time of writing, there are still
brand-new Voyagers out there, but
fact, the external input became very popular with
with their imminent disappearance
artists playing in a DJ setting, often running tracks from the market place, there is a
from a DAW, such as Ableton Live, directly into the void to be filled. So what else could
filter to allow filter movement on the fly while you consider for that Voyager
playing live. Notable exponents of this method were sound? Moog continue to produce
Daft Punk, who used no fewer than four Moog classic synths, so the Mother-32
Voyager Rack Editions in their live rig, in the or Sub 37 are obvious starting
points, but if you want to look
Pyramid, as part of their 2006/07 tour.
at other hardware, the Studio
Electronics Boomstar 5089 is a
Go large two-oscillator affair, with the
Over the years, the Voyager has always stayed very classic Moog ladder filter. If
faithful to its original concept and roots but there you have a Eurorack, the AJH
have been various incarnations of the instrument. In MiniMod modules are superb,
being modelled on the original
fact, there have been so many editions that it would
Model D. The AJH modules
take another page to list each model of the are about as close as you will
variations, but there have been some notable find to a Moog, without having
highlights. The Electric Blue model, with its backlit Moog written on the front.
display, and all-important blue-lit mod and pitch If software and budget are
wheels, was very cool; every live keyboard players more appropriate for you, the
Arturia Mini V is an outstanding
dream. The Electric Blue model, by stealth, became
software emulation, with the
available in an aluminium case. The steely blue added advantage of a few
backlight, coupled with the shine of the casing, extras that the Minimoog/
was very industrial. The rather substantial XL model Voyager couldnt do, such
was one of the later model revisions, and apart from as polyphony!
the obvious extension of the keyboard, the XL turned
the Voyager into something semi-modular, allowing
access to many useful patch points. Regardless of which model one might have, they
For my money, I always preferred the more all have an organic heart and soul hand-built, one
traditional concept, with the no-thrills classic look, synth at a time, in Asheville, North Carolina.
except that this is a contradiction in itself. There
were plenty of thrills to be had in a synth which Open arms
looked like the original Mini. So much so, Moog One of the things that was so wonderful to see as
produced the Voyager Old School, which really did the Voyager was released to the world was the huge
extend back to Model D roots, by way of removing all amount of love that there was for Dr Bob. His fall
the MIDI and patch memory technology and making from favour, for many, left a feeling of unfinished
it very much a performance synth. I can see the business, and the reinvention of such an iconic
charm of this; I like to use my own Voyager this way, instrument seemed to square the circle.
enticing me in with something interesting every time There were many people who were keen to get
I switch it on; however, the patch memories are of their hands on the reincarnation. One such person
course so useful for saving that killer sound. was Rick Wakeman, who also programmed a series
of patches for the Anniversary Edition. Other
celebrity users of the Voyager include Thomas Dolby,
Hot Chip, Hans Zimmer, and Air.
The Voyager was the last synthesiser that Bob
Moog worked on, before he died on 21 August, 2005.
Moog Music has since moved on to other synths,
employing a slightly different architecture, as seen
with the Phatty, Sub Phatty and Sub 37, but the
similarities and the heritage will always be there, as
a reminder of everything that Dr Bob achieved.
Moog is currently staying very tight-lipped about
the shape of things to come. The company has been
busy using up new old stock components on
rebuilds of their classic modulars, but with the price
tag that these attract, the withdrawal of the Voyager
leaves a gap in their product line.
Will there be something to replace it? I expect so,
but at this time, there is no definite hint. One things
for sure, Moog set a very high benchmark when
Left: Supersize me! The it introduced this classic, and its one that many
Voyager XL, ready to go
Below left: The Voyager synthesists and companies will aspire to for a long
Performance Edition time to come. MT

MAGAZINE June 2016 | 17

MT159.Feature Voyager.indd 17 25/04/2016 13:50


MT Feature Future DAW production

MT Cover Feature Future DAW production: Part 1

Surface Pro 4
Part v Bitwig
1 Theyre advertising it on TV as the trendy new
device for making tunes anywhere. But Microsofts latest
Surface Pro 4 combined with Bitwigs latest Studio software is revolutionising DAW control
and the music-production experience. This really could be the future of music making

W
e all know that touch technology is Dont get us wrong, Apples touch technology has
the future of music production, right? taken off big time and there are a gazillion great apps
Okay, it was the future of music for doing many, many studio tasks. But for DAW music
production a few years back, when production and that is, being very snobby, proper
Apples iOS technology hit home and DAW production, as in the big ones: Pro Tools, Cubase,
everyone and we mean everyone, us included Logic, Live etc the vast majority of us are still using
jumped on the touch bandwagon and rolled to the hills laptops, desktops, tabletops and big monitors to make
to make music with our new portable devices. music. Yes, theres Gadget, yes, theres Auria and yes,
However, the future has an annoying habit of there are versions of those DAWs for iPad (Cubase
shifting slightly sideways as we step towards it, or in Top right: Everyone, and we being a brilliant example). But until Apple brings out a
the case of interstellar space travel, simply constantly mean everyone, has jumped decent touch-screen Mac, or the iPad Pro starts using
on the iOS bandwagon at one
running away from us as we approach it (good on you, time, and for many musicians it the latest desktop OS (which we cant see happening
Stephen Hawking). In music-production circles, no is a great platform, but its famous last words), then Logic touch control will be
simply not powerful enough to
sooner had we all jumped on that iOS bandwagon, left up to third parties such as Steven Slate to deal
run with the big guys yet
than along came lots of exciting hardware in all shapes with. Touch-screen MacBook Pros are rumoured, by
and forms to ground us in back in a tactile reality Right below: Placidus the way, but arent they always?
Schelbert explains why
and some would argue to drag us backwards, but Bitwig developed for the Apple seems to be in bit of a quandary when it
thats another feature. Surface platform comes to Logic. Pro X is a relatively recent update, but

18 | June 2016 MAGAZINE

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Future DAW production Feature MT

Placidus Schelbert gave a


to get a touch version right, we suspect that might keynote speech on using
mean mining deep into the vast strata of code the Bitwig software with the
program must have, simply to reimplement it for the (then) Surface Pro 3. We
touch environment. A bit like opening the door of that were interested in the
house in The Amityville Horror Surface as a device that
So, music making has prospered on touch devices, combines different ways of
of course it has, but theres still a large chunk of the input; you have the mouse,
music-making crowd waiting for serious contenders you have the pen, the
on larger, more powerful devices. Microsoft and others trackpad, the keyboard,
have obviously been plugging away on their own touch and you also have multi-
tablets for years, but its only over the last few months touch. We were interested
that their hardware has been touted as a serious in this combination; how
music tool for two very good reasons. The first is this combination could be
that the recent marketing for the Surface range has used in a music-creation
included direct references to music making, waking a context. It was very
lot of people up to the fact that it does it. The second? important for
Well, thats a company called Bitwig us that it runs the real
Windows, because high-
THE BITWIG CONNECTION performance audio software
Of course, we all know Bitwig for its cross-platform, needs the real thing.
cross-styled and fully functional Studio Pro software This is a key line in the
that (arguably!) takes the best bits of other DAWs and whole of this feature and
presents them in an (arguably!) more logical way. Its a why we have not seen DAW
DAW that has won many fans, but it is also the newest production dominated by
DAW. And as music producers, the words new DAW touch technology (so far).
can fill us with terror. Do we really have to learn how to We admit that we might
use another DAW, that most important weapon in our have sounded a little
music-making cupboard? New DAWs have a tough job. snobby back there when
Why would anyone who has spent years bothering to we said that no-one has
learn and master Pro Tools, Logic, Live, Cubase, FL, done proper DAW
Reaper, SONAR, Digital Performer, or any of the others, production by way of touch,
want to spend time learning, using and becoming an but the simple fact is that
expert in another piece of music-production software? you need the full-blown power
of a desktop machine and
operating system to do it properly.
In order to get a proper touch version of Back to that Summer NAMM
Keynote, and musician Thavius
Logic, we suspect it might be like opening Beck then demod the then Surface
Pro 3 with Bitwig Studio, using
the door to the house in Amityville Horror multi-touch to control parameters
and its mixer. He then used the pen
to change further parameters by
The answer is a reluctant oh, go on, then, if that pressure and suddenly, the world could see a proper
new DAW has a killer feature, or one that the others DAW being used by proper multi-touch.
maybe do, but it does it better. And in Bitwigs case, We must insert here that, of course, Surface Pro 3
one that you could put right there in front of Microsoft (and the latest Surface Pro 4) use real Windows as
at Summer NAMM last year, when company director Placidus stated, so you can run any music DAW that
runs on Windows on it and control it in a similar way.
So Live, Cubase and Pro Tools will run on it and youll
also be able to control them in the same, or a very
similar, way. But Bitwig were the first to kick the beast
that is Microsoft into life on it hence the recent TV ad
campaign that features the software and as we
know, it often takes a huge company to advance
something that a small company might have
developed. Bitwig also claims that it has adapted its
interface completely for touch in v1.3 of the software,
so that dials, faders and other controls are tailored to
finger size. As well see, the company has gone a lot
further than even that, incorporating a completely new
layer of touch and menus to make the whole
experience of using its software with a tablet that
much better (and different) from a desktop experience.
More on that later. First, lets look at the hardware

MAGAZINE June 2016 | 19

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MT Feature Future DAW production

SURFACE PRO 4 AS A DAW CONTROLLER


It will soon become apparent why our main focus when
examining Surface Pro 4 in terms of software is Bitwig,
not least because we were so impressed with the
demo of the software being used by two touch screens
at Superbooth in Berlin. We should all give Bitwig some
credit, too the company did, after all, open a lot of
peoples eyes to the possibilities on the format with
that Microsoft presentation but well also see shortly
how the company has embraced the touch philosophy
by essentially reprogramming its interface in a point
update. So, with that in mind, we loaded the Surface
up with the latest version of Studio (1.3.9 at the time of
writing) to see how this marriage is getting on.
From scratch, using Surface Pro 4 for the first time,
we had absolutely no compaints. Start up Surface Pro
4 and you have to do some initialisation. Having a
Microsoft account is something thats pretty much
ENTER SURFACE PR0 4 Above: Thavius Beck essential so you get into that world, in a similar way to
The Surface Pro 4 is one of many PC tablets, of course, demonstrated multi-touch and having an Apple ID is. Youll get the sense that while
dimensional touch technology
but as weve hinted, the first so obviously aimed at on the Surface Pro 3 back at you can get away without using it, youll probably be
musicians. If you are fans of TV channel Dave, and in last years Summer NAMM and missing out on smooth integration, features and
the world went whoop. Even
particular the show American Pickers (which is slightly invites to Bill Gates house if you dont.
though the cynics amongst
giving away what we do of an evening), you wont have us said meh, seen it before, Once your Surface Pro 4 is up and running, it will be
failed to see music production and Bitwig Studio it was the first proper demo like your regular Windows PC and (to some extent)
of a proper DAW with proper
plastered all over your TV. multi-touch and dimensional phone. Thats the theory, and is where it wins over a
The Surface Pro is a PC, simple as that. It uses control in action Mac. The Mac experience will let you pretty much
real Windows, not a cut-down, mobile-friendly seamlessly use everything on every device, but there is
Below: and Microsoft
version. So whereas the iPad, iPhone and all variations continues to refine and update of course a difference between using some software
of it are a sort of Mac with iOS a light version the power and functionality on a laptop and using it on an iPad. Yes, listening to
of the Surface, resulting in
(if you like) of Mac OS to tailor for touch and mobility, music and browsing photos and the internet will be
an ever-slinkier temptation
Microsofts route to the concept was to pull its for producers identical, but try using Gadget on a laptop or, of course,
operating system into the world of that operating Logic (in any other more in-depth way than the free
technology, rather than devise a whole new suite of controller app, we mean) on an iPad, and youll fall
hardware for it. So underneath the all-new(ish) down. Surface Pro 4 is a full PC. An iPad is not a full
touch-block Windows resides that familiar old Mac. There, we said it.
Windows we recognise from way back. Specs-wise, youre looking at three processor types
to choose from on SP4: the m3, i5 and i7, with three
hard-drive sizes (128, 256 and 512GB) and three
Surface Pro 4 is a PC, simple as memory sizes (4, 8 and 16GB). Wed recommend the
8GB one for music and at least a 256GB drive, so you
that. It uses full Windows, not a cut are already looking at over a grand for this version of
PC touch-screen DAW action i.e. a mobile one. Here,
down, mobile-friendly version its time to ask yourself: do you really need a fully
functioning mobile device for music production? And
only you can answer that. Touch-screen PCs can be
The file system is the same: the way programs bought for around 600 upwards for a good(ish) one
install, the way windows open and a goodly proportion (certainly one that will run music production software),
of the other workhorse stuff is the same; its just that
it now exists behind a nice shell of easy-touch icons
and wants to stay pretty much permanently connected
to the internet (which you will probably give up and let
it do as quickly as we did).
In doing so, it links your Microsoft worlds, so your
XBox, your Surface Pro 4, your Windows phone and
your social-media worlds are all a touch away. Even
your Hotmail account, which thankfully we still use,
will fit in and open doors to the environment for you.
It is, of course, the iWorld in PC form, and in that
sense, it is quite lovely. Although to see some aspects
of Windows not having moved on much since one
particularly sore experience with one particularly bad
PC DAW a decade ago is both amusing, shocking and
comforting in equal measure.

20 | June 2016 MAGAZINE

MT159.Cover feat Surface 4.indd 20 04/05/2016 11:23


M50x Shades of Gray
Limited Edition ATH-M50xMG Matte Gray
Weve taken the classic ATH-M50x, and created a
Limited Edition Matte Gray version for 2016. With the
same critically acclaimed sonic performance as the
ATH-M50x, which continue to receive praise from top
live and studio engineers and reviewers alike, year after
year. Only a limited number of this model will be
available, so get one while you can.

www.audio-technica.com
MT Feature Future DAW production

START WITH FAIRLY STANDARD TOUCH FEATURES INTRODUCING THE RADIAL MENU AND ANOTHER ONE
1 Pinching audio (as shown), swiping with two fingers,
2 In Edit Mode, tap with a finger (or, more delicately,
3 Tap a note and hold to reveal the outer menu best
tapping to add notes and tapping twice to delete the pen) and a Radial Menu of four options appears. done with fingers, as youll need two

but, of course, you wont be able to carry them around.


SP4 and other tablets will allow this at a price. The big difference is that Bitwig
Back to our setup for this feature, and the one we
have on test is that very minimum model: the 256GB, has worked with Microsoft and
8GB RAM i5, so its the perfect one to test with Bitwig.
Well probably run a separate, full-update review for built a completely new layer of
Bitwig software, as this is a feature more about the
marriage of the two and the fact that we could have touch operation
the first proper mobile music producer.
Suffice to say, installation was near faultless. The screen its options changing slightly depending on its
download for Studio is surprisingly lean with all of location. Four parameters appear, with a further set on
the optional bundled instruments, sounds, effects another outer menu, again depending on where you
and plug-ins (we chose the lot, thank you very much) are, or what you touch. The inner four options can be
all downloading in the background as we used the reached by swiping left, right, up or down, and with the
software for the first time. And heres where it gets outer menu, youll need to use another finger to access
very interesting them. Sounds complicated? It isnt!
In Edit mode, for example, youll use a single touch
WORKING TOGETHER to add notes, a double-tap to delete. Swipe left or right
Weve already stated that any DAW that works on with the Radial Menu and you can shorten or lengthen
Windows will work on a Surface Pro 4 and any other PC notes. Dragging the down option allows you to select
tablet with the right spec, to a certain extent. However, notes that you glide over very cool while dragging
the big difference here is that Bitwig has worked with up allows you to select a bunch of notes in the
Microsoft for a lot of the development in the latest timeline. Effectively, you have four extra commands
version of its software, so rather than that software
just working on it in a standard way as other DAWS NOT JUST MICROSOFT
will, with a certain amount of touch stuff available
Bitwig has built in a new layer of operation specifically
Other tablets are also available
Weve focused on Microsofts Surface Pro 4 here as, well, you could go on and on,
for touch. testing endless models from different companies. Frankly, though, Microsoft is
The first, and most obvious, is the structure and the company pushing the music-making side of these devices and the companys
appearance of the software which, at v1.3, introduced entire range is capable and powerful enough to do just that, and is arguably the
a tablet layout so the interface was jigged and best on the market. Having said that, they are among the most expensive and the
redesigned to work on a device like a Surface Pro 4. On other advantage of going the PC route is that there always seems to be someone
doing it cheaper (try finding yourself a cheaper Apple without having to travel
a basic level, knobs are bigger, as are many tabs and
to the Far East for an exchange rate bargain). So, in no particular order, here are
menus. Thats not to say everything is easy some of some alternative tablet companies and prices. Where possible, weve tried to go
the browser choices are simply too small, as are the with at least 4GB of RAM and 128GB hard drive to get close to the spec of the
rotaries on instruments but generally, things are just Surface Pro 4 we tested. Lenovo (available
easier to use with fingers and the pen. The old through PC World or www.lenovo.com) has a
Inspector and Browser windows have been replaced range of tablets from 700 for an i5 8GB RAM
to 850 to a similarly specd i7. HPs Spectre
and, rather than drop-down menus across the top
2 (www.hp.com) kicks off at around 749
from left to right, you simply get one set of menus at for a 4GB RAM, 256GB HD M3 and
the top left, which then brings the selection up in a Samsung weigh in with the Galaxy
recognisable way. But these are not the only changes, TabPro S which tends to be pretty low
nor, indeed, the main ones; as you step through the specd at 4GB RAM and 128HD with an
main pages of the device, youll see that several M3 processor, but you can get them
other additions have been made, and have been reduced at 700 as we go to print
(www.samsung.
incorporated just for this touch experience.
Standard navigation is by a familiar swiping
two fingers up and down and youre away. The main
change is the addition of a Radial Menu, which
appears when you hold your finger or pen down on the

22 | June 2016 MAGAZINE

MT159.Cover feat Surface 4.indd 22 04/05/2016 11:23


BLUFFER'S GUIDE TO MUSIC PRODUCTION
1. VISIT WESTEND PRODUCTION
2. GET IMPARTIAL BUYING ADVICE
3. MAKE GREAT MUSIC
MT Feature Future DAW production

THE ARRANGE MODE HOLD A PART FINALLY, THE BEST USE OF MULTI-TOUCH
4 In the Arrange window, you get exactly the same
5 And again, the second menu appears on the outer
6 Simple mixing! Adjust levels of your channels using
menu, so you can swipe four ways to select parts, etc ring, for adjusting part start and end points, plus looping. more than one finger at a time. Easy.

available on a finger per-touch now, something totally The Clip Screen is where things get even more fun.
new and totally dedicated to touch control. Similarly, Ableton Live users will love the clip launching by touch
when you click and hold on a note, a further three screen, of course, but theres a wealth of extras
options appear within the outer layer of a new Radial introduced by touch the Radial Menus introduce
Menu, which allow you to copy notes and alter their similar functions to the note and part ones in Arrange
start and end points. Combined, these options in the and Edit modes which make performances a dream.
Radial Menu effectively negate the need to use the top Not much to say in Mixer mode: you can adjust several
menus on the device, although they are there as channels at once and again, the dials are a little small,
another easy option. but your basic features are implemented well.
With both notes and audio, you get extra options Well be exploring a full review of Bitwig with tablet
beneath the main edit window and with audio files, for use next month, and to say were impressed is an
example, you can pan, time-stretch, shorten, lengthen understatement. Yet it does leave us in a slight
etc. Occasionally, as with things like panning, the pen quandary. Bitwig has concentrated so much effort into
is simply better for editing. You get more accurate providing an immersive experience for tablet users
selection thanks to its graphic pointer, especially if you that it becomes very different from using the software
have larger fingers. But generally, the finger options on a traditional Mac or PC. Wed probably stick by our
are brilliantly conceived, and perhaps the fact that original score for using Bitwig on a desktop system as
they soon become second nature proves this. an 8/10. On a tablet, its a different story. While theres
With Play Mode, it gets even more hands-on and still room for improvement, the levels of innovation
instantly impressive. The Radial Menu isnt so
important here, but the keyboard options are well
implemented: so you get the isomorphic keyboard
which allows you to play easily in the same key, or
The Clip Screen is where it gets
standard keyboard options. Whats good is that you
can get extra velocity simply by playing higher up the
even more fun, with a wealth of
keys or drum pads, but the really cool playing features
come using MPE (or Multidimensional Polyphonic
performance and touch features
Expression), something we first came across with the
ROLI Seaboard range of instruments. Its basically a and detail, not to mention the completely new
way of adding expression to your playing, allowing you experience means that this software/hardware
to change other parameters on top of the standard combination scores a 9 or even 10 see next issue!
velocity and aftertouch ones you might be used to. So
in this case, moving your fingers up and down on the THE END OF THE MOUSE AT LAST?
Surface Pro 4 can change other parameters per-note, This extra touch functionality introduced by Bitwig is
which you can assign quite easily. hugely important, and really the crux of this feature.
Open a filter by moving your finger upwards? Yes, These touch features didnt exist in previous versions
its the obvious one, but very easy to do. The pen, too, why would they? They were built in to specifically
comes into play here, literally adding another work with tablet devices by Bitwig, which worked
dimension with 1,024 levels of pressure; offering a kind closely with Microsoft to do it. This means were in a
of 3D extra that iPhone 6s users will be familiar with. situation now with music production whereby, if
Obviously, having MPE-based instruments helps here, hardware and software companies work this well
but they are becoming more commonplace, with ROLI together, were going to see more of these different
especially driving their development. experiences per set-up or even computer, and
In the Arrange Menu, things are similarly easy to ultimately, the user experience will be a lot better.
adjust. Parts are as easy to delete, add, lengthen, If everyone can develop this kind of integration, were
reduce and select as the notes are, with a similar all in for an exciting music-tech future.
Radial Menu helping you out. With automation, you get In the coming months, well be looking at the iOS
a different Radial Menu to bring up slightly different platform and even VR as a possible next step for music
options. Its a bit clunkier than you might want, but production, but at the moment it looks like the PC is
again, far easier than the fiddly automation you might pointing to the best touch future. Where are you,
be used to. Apple? [Coming! Ed]. MT

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Surface Pro 4: make sure you
get the pen with it; its a pretty
vital addition for music making
and editing

SURFACE PRO 4 SPECS


Software Windows 10 Pro
Exterior Casing is made of magnesium Colour is
silver Buttons on case are volume and power
Dimensions (mm) 292.10 x 201.42 x 8.45
Weight (g) i5/i7: 786; m3: 766
Software Windows 10 Pro
Storage Solid-state drive (SSD) options: 128GB,
256GB, or 512GB
Display Screen: 12.3 PixelSense display
Resolution: 2,736 x 1,824 (267 PPI) Aspect Ratio:
3:2 Touch: 10-point multi-touch
Battery life Up to nine hours of video playback
Processor 6th-gen Intel Core m3, i5, or i7
Graphics m3 Intel HD graphics 515 i5 Intel HD
graphics 520 i7 Intel Iris graphics
Memory 4GB, 8GB or 16GB RAM
Ports Full-size USB 3.0; microSD Card reader;
eadset jack; Mini DisplayPort; Cover port; Bitwig Studio Features
Surface Connect Software Windows, Mac,
Linux (touch works on both
Camera, video and audio 5.0 megapixel Windows and Linux as both
front-facing HD camera; 8.0 megapixel OSs support it)
rear-facing autofocus camera with 1080p Integrated user Interface
Plugin sandboxing reduces
HD video recording; stereo microphones crashes
Stereo speakers with Dolby audio Unified modulation easy
Sensors Ambient light sensor Accelerometer link system
Gyroscope Magnetometer Open multiple projects
Detail Editor non
destructive editing per clip
Prices Per note expression more
Three processors available, in six configurations, parameters /note
as follows: Device nesting flexible
device positioning
m3: 128GB storage, 4GB RAM: 749
Dynamic Object Inspector
i5: 128GB storage, 4GB RAM: 849 helps build ideas
i5: 256GB storage, 8GB RAM: 1,079 25 effects
i7: 256GB storage, 8GB RAM: 1,299 9 instruments
20 other containers,
i7: 256GB storage, 16GB RAM: 1,449
modulators, routers etc
i7: 512GB storage, 16GB RAM: 1,799 Prices Bitwig Studio $299
299
Contact Microsoft (via web) Contact Bitwig (via web)
Web www.microsoftstore.com Web www.bitwig.com

MT159.Cover feat Surface 4.indd 25 04/05/2016 11:23


MT Interview Oliver Nelson

MT Interview Oliver Nelson

Oliver Nelson
With a studio setup just like yours and ours, Oliver Nelson can not only offer production
advice on his successful nu disco productions, but also has a lesson for all of us on how
to make it in music production in the 21st century. MusicTech sits down with the man
who has mastered the media

T
he phrase up and coming is often thrown on SoundCloud and YouTube: his remix of Justin
lazily at any artist releasing their first Timberlakes Suit & Tie garnered 16 million alone.
recording on a major label. But while So how has this young producer already made a
Oliver Nelson is most definitely doing the name for himself before his first release? Well, lets
latter his first release on Polydor, Found start at the beginning
Your Love, should be out as you read this he is not
exactly new to music production, having amassed a MusicTech: How did you get into music production?
huge social-media following with a stream of Oliver Nelson: My brother started playing drums
remixes and productions, way before the single when I was a kid. He was both my role model and
came out. inspiration, so I jumped on the drums myself and
Indeed, the 25-year-old Swedish producer is found my love for creating beats and rhythms. My
giving us all a lesson in how to carve a career in parents were heavily interested in music, so in turn
music making today. Before the single came out, you could say my whole family were, and are, a huge
Nelson had notched up millions of plays across influence. My first major step I took myself was
various platforms. Found Your Love had scored over deciding to attended a music high-school and that
1.5 million plays on SoundCloud, while his led me to start making my own music.
reworkings of tracks by Janet Jackson, The Knife,
Marina And The Diamonds and Whitney Houston MT: From there, then, how did you break through
among others have scored nearly 100 million plays to become successful?

26 | June 2016 MAGAZINE

MT159.INT Oliver Nelson.indd 26 04/05/2016 11:28


Oliver Nelson Interview MT

ON: I met my manager and we formed a great desk and analogue recorders, even though that
personal and professional relationship. He helped equipment has its own charm.
me find remixes and I worked tirelessly to make
them as perfect as I could, and then they kept MT: How does it feel to have this much power
coming and raised my profile. He worked for Sony inside a computer?
for 12 years, so its a perfect combination of our very ON: When you think about it, it feels quite
contrasting talents. He provided the advice I needed strange, actually. I think its amazing what you
to help me make the transition from amateur to can do on a computer nowadays. The fact that you
professional. Hard work, determination and passion can do what you love and make a living out of it is
are my personal key drivers. really cool, especially when you dont need that
much. A computer, a MIDI keyboard and you can
MT: Tell us about your first production setup be set for life. Thats the modern age, but you
ON: My good friend Jakob introduced me to my first need passion.
music-software program when I was 17. It was fresh

You have to move fast


and fun; we just played around and my interest
grew from there. I was amazed by the fact that

in this dynamic, competitive


making music digitally has infinite possibilities.
I know electronic music production has been around

and rapidly paced environment


for a while, but Ive embraced modern techniques
that come with improvements in technology and
software. You have to move fast in this dynamic,
competitive and rapidly paced environment.
The Oliver Nelson Studio
MT: So it was really the possibilities that MT: So which software did you use back then
technology offered that drew you into production? compared to now?
ON: Yes, absolutely! I couldnt do what I do without ON: I used Reason in the beginning, but then went
todays technology. I dont see any problem with it, over to Ableton and became a massive fan. I think
Im just happy theres an easier way today for a that as they are so dynamic and always updating,
creative mind to do what he or she wants to do in we could be pals for a long time.
terms of music.
Computers have really revolutionised modern MT: What else do you have in your setup?
music making. I do everything in front of my ON: Im working on my PC desktop in my home
computer with some outboard analogue gear, but studio. My main synth is my Prophet 12 that goes
even so, I control those with plug-ins. Ive always along my other ones like the Moog Sub 37, Roland
been interested in computers, so it suits me D-50, Yamaha Reface CP, Korg MS2000, Roland
perfectly. Its also much more effective and more JV-1080, Elektron Analog Rytm, Nord Lead 2X and
advanced than working with, lets say, a mixing more, all going through my RME Fireface 802.

MAGAZINE June 2016 | 27

MT159.INT Oliver Nelson.indd 27 04/05/2016 11:28


MT Interview Oliver Nelson

OLIVERS PLUG-INS
Oliver details his favourite software instruments and effects
PLUG-IN SYNTHS PLUG-IN EFFECTS
I have four favourite go to plug-in synths: My absolute
ARDIGITA S TH1: The first software synth I favourites are the
used and I was totally blown Soundtoys
away by how amazing it plug-ins. They are
sounded. The fact is that I have just all-around
never really found any other one amazing-sounding
that could match that sound effects. The
quality; maybe DIVA, but for me, Decapitator is the
Sylenth1 takes the money. It best saturation plug-in out
also has a sentimental value for there in my opinion, along with PrimalTap,
me, as its one of my first and which I use a lot on leads
I use it in almost every to make them more
production. interesting. MicroShift
is also a plug-in that I
TA U- O- : I m a huge
always use on vocals.
fan of the Roland Juno 60
and TAL Uno does a great I also use FabFilters
job simulating its sound Pro-Q 2, a really good EQ
I dont need to say any plug-in that has a really simple interface.
more than that. For reverb, I always use Valhallas plug-ins, especially its
VintageVerb, which sounds incredible. I use it on everything
from synths to percussion. It has a very warm, round sound
that makes every difference.

Then theres D16


AAS
Groups Decimort.
CHROMAPHONE: I love my
Best bitcrusher out
marimba and this is an
there! I use it to
absolutely amazing plug-in to
make things sound
go to for those kind of sounds.
more analogue,
Anything plucky, realistic
and theres a ton of
sounding, its your best friend.
ways you can use
Probably my number-one favourite.
it. It works very
U-HE DIVA: This is the well with vocal
best soft synth for an leads and guitars.
analogue sound. It has a
very rich character and
amazing presets and
expansion packs. It
always works in any kind
of production, whatever
genre it might be.

MT: Thats a great list of hardware both old and SELECTED KIT LIST Im working
new but you also use a lot of software [see Ampsandsound SE-84 on my bad-boy desktop,
boxout]. What do you like about each method? Audeze EL-8 but now when Im touring all the time and
ON: Its the simplicity with software! To be able to Audeze LCD XC meeting other artists and vocalists for
start your DAW and start using your favourite synth Audio Technica ATH-50x collaborations, my desktop is useless. I do have a
in seconds is a dream theres always some hassle and M70x good laptop, but I dont find it as powerful as I need
with using analogue synths, but it goes both ways, DSI Prophet 12 it to be. So I guess one of the things on my wishlist
I guess. You also get the unreliability with software, Elektron Analog Rytm is the new MacBook Pro. Must work harder (laughs)!
not knowing when things are going to crash, and Korg MS2000R
even if you save every five minutes, you never know Moog Sub 37 MT: What would you like to see developed in
if every little tweak is going to be the same as where Nord Lead 2x production technology?
you left it last time after a restart. Its happened a RME Fireface 802 ON: My top wish right now is a good software I can
lot that one soft synth has a totally different preset Roland D-550 use for my Analog Rytm to drag-and-drop drum
after a restart, and hours of work is lost. That never Roland JV-1080 and 880 samples to it and use directly within Ableton. At the
happens when I use my external synths. Yamaha Reface CP moment, its just possible to transfer samples to it
plus girlfriend, to make outside of the DAW, but the problem is that I have so
MT: Is there anything on your studio shopping list? me have breaks many samples I want to use, and different samples
ON: On top of the wishlist right now is a new laptop. in different projects.

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MT159.INT Oliver Nelson.indd 28 04/05/2016 11:28


OLIVER NELSON ADVICE
MusicTech: What advice do you have happen, sooner or later. That way of
for people wanting to get into thinking can be applied to all kinds
remixing/production? of creative work
Oliver Nelson: Just find software
you feel comfortable with. Most MT: What about using social media
programs do the same things, just in to help your profile any tips?
different ways and with varied ON: I have been a user of SoundCloud
designs. A very important thing is to for a long time and it got me where I
learn stuff by yourself, and be very am today. I think its in anyones
patient. It takes many years to learn right to upload and market their
and perfect the craft. Im still own music, if its not bootlegs. Im
learning new things every time I fascinated by the way the industry
work on a new track. That is also has changed from consumers buying
why I love to work with electronic CDs and downloads to streaming
music, theres always something new music online.
to learn and the techniques are
always improving and going MT: Finally, with such success in
forward. You need to move at the the area, what advice would you
same pace and roll with it. give to use social media to get a
following and raise your profile?
MT: What about playing live? Do you take any of
MT: What about advice for making a ON: The foundation of any success in
this tech out on the road?
living in music production? this industry at its core is the music,
ON: Ive always admired people using computers
ON: The music industry has changed so initially, I didnt take social media
live, like Madeon, playing his live sets with a
massively the last 10 years. Artists into consideration as much as I do
controller. Ive not come to that point yet and I dont
have gone from making money from now. The plays I have gathered
know if I ever will, but I do respect people doing it.
selling records to earning money online have played a very big part in
from streaming and having big my career. Justin Timberlakes Suit
MT: But you have dabbled in DJing
followings on social media, etc. & Tie and Ella Hendersons Ghost
ON: I started out with using Traktor, but to be
I believe that music should be gave me a lot of exposure via social
honest, I had too many problems using it. It can be a
accessible to all people, despite what media and YouTube, and have
pain with an external soundcard, all the cables etc.
their income allows them to do, but opened many doors. As Ive grown in
Especially if you are going up directly after another
the royalties need to be fair. A lot of popularity, its become really
DJ and want to make a smooth transition between
people all over the world might not important to engage with my fans
the sets. I now DJ with USB sticks; it seems to be the
be able to afford to subscribe to and to keep them up to date.
safest and handiest way of doing it. It is easy to
Spotify or Apple Music. Theres loads Above all else, it has to be about
travel with and using it with rekordbox is just really
of ways of making money as a the music! Focus hard on producing
easy and fun.
musician; it might be harder making your best work with every track. If
the big bucks today, as the main your music is good, then it makes
Oliver Nelson Productions
income will be selling out arenas. creating and growing a social-media
MT: What would you say inspires a typical Oliver
Although, as a smaller artist like me presence much easier. People will
Nelson track?
I can still make a living out of what naturally want to share things with
ON: Everything Im into at the moment, usually the
I do, even though Im mostly getting others that make them feel good, or
tracks that stick with me scrolling through Spotify.
traction on SoundCloud, which that they genuinely enjoy. Its also
Also, everyday things that happen and feelings
doesnt give me any direct income, important to have a solid identity
affect the outcome of the music Im making.
but rumour has it, thats about and to reflect this in your brand,
to change think about what defines you as an
MT: How does a track usually come together?
So just keep doing it because you artist and what makes you different
ON: I usually start with chords, with a simple piano
love it, work hard and it will come. I and promote that. Last but not least,
or synth around a vocal, and lay down some simple
didnt start producing music because its crucial that you try your best to
drums so you get the hang of the composition. Its
I planned on making a living out of stay connected to your fans, the
like a basic skeleton that you then add things to and
it, I just made it because it was a big people that support you. Keep them
build, from the foundation up. The most important
passion for me. The rest is just a updated, share pictures and updates
basic thing with a track is the chords but with
bonus. It takes time and you have to with them, reply to comments and be
dance music, the drums obviously play an essential
believe in your own talent and it will yourself, be relatable.
part as well.

30 | June 2016 MAGAZINE

MT159.INT Oliver Nelson.indd 30 04/05/2016 11:28


Oliver Nelson Interview MT

MT: What do you think makes your sound and guys are gonna see a new side of me, with more
what production tricks do you use to get it? experimental and varied productions.
ON: I think what has made my sound is the drums,
in combination with a certain type of vibe in the MT: Is there anyone else youd like to work with?
chords. I tend to spend a lot of time on said drums ON: Ive been a big fan of Gallants Weight In Gold
(being an old drummer myself), and can sometimes which, in my opinion, was one of 2015s best tunes.
find myself sitting for hours working on small I also love Honne and am a big fan of Dusky &
details like drum fills etc, (laughs). Im also a big fan Rfs latest material.
of a nice rhythmic groove in the chords, thats just
what I like and its always in the back of my head
when I write something. I also am a perfectionist It takes time and you have to
when it comes to every sound, my manager loves
this about me, but also thinks I can keep going on believe in your own talent and
some things just that little bit longer, when I dont
need to. it will happen, sooner or later
MT: Tell us about the new single
ON: Found Your Love features vocals from Heir aka MT: Finally, then, what musical plans do you have
Skogsr. It wasnt really meant to be my first single for the future?
initially, it was just some chords that I made ON: Im really excited about touring regularly, but
jamming on my piano, but everyone seemed to love its basically a balance between that and recording.
the chords, so I just kept working on it. The track is My plan is just to keep making as much music as
a funky nu disco tune with a fat beat! possible and do what I love. Im focusing on original
My next project is a single with my good friend, music right now, more than remixes, and cant wait
and Perfect Havoc management colleague, Tobtok to show you what I have been doing.
which Im working on as we speak. Its a solid mix
between our unique styles and has a great pop/ Oliver Nelson Ft. Heirs Found Your Love is out
dance sensibility. Its a more uptempo track than my now on Polydor Records. Visit Olivers SoundCloud
usual stuff, and Its going to rock. This year, you page at: soundcloud.com/olivernelson MT

MAGAZINE June 2016 | 31

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MT Interview Miles Showell

MT Interview Miles Showell

MILES SHOWELL
Half-speed mastering Th
Universal has just released six classic albums which have
been through a half-speed mastering process at Abbey
Road. MusicTech speaks to Miles Showell, the engineer
behind the process, about his setup and why half speed
is better than full

F



p
B


A
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g
a
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MT159.INT Speed mastering(ADS).indd 32 05/05/2016 11:16


Miles Showell Interview MT

A
bbey Road is certainly maintaining its Left: And the winner of this
status as one of the worlds busiest issues Show Off Your Studio
award is Miles Showell.
studios at the moment. As well as being All glory to the monolithic PMC
that iconic recording studio, it is the MB2 XBD monitors, which Miles
describes as: truly fabulous,
place to record film soundtracks, and
with incredible detail
has now become a centre of mastering excellence
with a half-speed mastering service recently used Right: Miles has worked on
recordings by everyone from
on six famous albums from the Universal back Phil Collins to Iggy Azalea, and
catalogue, including The Rolling Stones Exile On has recently mastered the new
Main Street; Ghost In The Machine by The Police and Gallant record

Simple Minds New Gold Dream. The remastered


albums are available as limited editions, pressed on
180g vinyl, and with deluxe packaging that includes
a certificate of authenticity from Abbey Road.
Half-speed mastering is a process that aims for
a superior listening experience with a new level of
depth and clarity, via superior high-frequency
response and very solid and stable stereo images.
The mastering engineer behind this process is Miles Half-speed mastering aims for a
Showell, who has worked in the area of mastering or
post production since 1984, where he started as a superior listening experience with
junior engineer at Utopia Studios in Primrose Hill:
making countless cups of tea and coffee and in a new level of depth and clarity
charge of making export analogue-tape copies of
production masters and the running of tens of then Metropolis in 1998, before joining the team at
thousands of cassettes. He worked there for five Abbey Road in 2013.
years before being let loose on the Neumann Miles has worked on a huge and diverse
disc-cutting lathe un-supervised. From there, catalogue of recordings, including music by Dido,
he moved to Copymasters/Masterpiece in 1989, Iggy Azalea, CeeLo Green, Above & Beyond, Ed

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MT159.INT Speed mastering(ADS).indd 33 05/05/2016 11:16


MT Interview Miles Showell

Far left: The new Abbey Road


Half Speed Mastering reissues ADVICE, ADVICE!
span three decades MusicTech: What advice would you give anyone
Left: The oldest of the first entering the world of mastering, or indeed the
wave of six half-speed recording industry as a whole, wanting to make
remasters is Creams 1967
a decent living?
album, Disraeli Gears,
originally produced by Felix Miles Showell: In the current climate, its very
Pappalardi at Atlantic Studios difficult. But if you are determined, my advice
in New York City
would be: trust what your ears and gut feeling are
telling you. When it all boils down, this is all any
of us really have.
Sheeran, The Beatles, Disclosure, Phil Collins, Andy
Burrows, George Michael, The Rolling Stones, ZHU, MT: What advice would you give to our readers
Underworld and Sophie Ellis-Bextor. Here, he on mastering their own music? Is there any
talks exclusively to MusicTech about half-speed process they can apply that will help; any simple
mastering and its use on the new album releases. tricks that they can use?
MS: Not really, apart from trusting your ears. The
MusicTech: Hello Miles, so tell us a little about the big problem with home mastering is the monitors.
Its difficult to know what needs doing to a mix if

The most important part


you arent hearing it accurately. There are many
semi-professional monitors that are coloured to

of mastering is to listen to
make everything sound nice. This really is not a
lot of good for mastering as, if there is an issue, I

what is there in the recording


need to hear it so I can get it there and do my best
to solve it. My PMCs can be incredibly cruel and
expose a problem if it is there however, the
set up you have for mastering at Abbey Road upside is that if a mix is wonderful, I can hear it
Miles Showell: The main components in my in all its detail.
mastering room (aside from my ears) are the PMC
MB2 XBD monitors. PMC build truly fabulous built proprietary digital patch system. The sole
monitors, which give incredible detail and are reason for choosing the equipment is for the
accurate even at low listening levels. Other ultimate transparency and sound quality. Build
equipment includes equalisers from Sontec (432C), quality is also of paramount importance, it is no
Manley (Massive Passive Mastering Edition), good having the sound of a particular piece of gear
Maselec (MEA-2), EMI (TG 12410) and Dangerous drifting day by day. In mastering, you need absolute
Music (BAX EQ). For compression and limiting, I stability and repeatability.
have access to Shadow Hills Industries (Mastering
Edition) dual optical/discrete compressor, as well as MT: Can you tell us a little about the mastering
Maselec and Elysia. process within a typical job?
All of the analogue equipment in the chain can be MS: No two jobs are the same, but the most
used in either sum and difference (middle and side) important part of mastering is to listen to what is
or linear stereo modes. Pretty much everything has there in the recording. Its all too easy to dive
click-stop pots, which allow accurate re-setting. The straight in and start fiddling with it without
digital workstation I use is a SADiE version 6 and hearing how a mix will develop and change over the
the converters are from Benchmark. All the digital length of the track. Until I know what is going to
equipment in the chain is locked down with very happen in a particular song, I cant really make an
stable external word-clock generators and authoritative decision on what should or, equally
connected together via an in-house designed and importantly, should not be done. However, Im of the
school of thought that less is more. Despite having
access to some of the very best gear ever produced,
running a recording through an equaliser or a
compressor will have a bearing on the sound.
Its important to gauge whether the gain Ill get
from adding, for example, some EQ to a track is
worth the loss imposed by putting said EQ into the
signal path. Some mixes I get are fabulous and need
nothing adding or taking away; in these cases, the
best thing I can do is be brave and admit theres
nothing I can bring to the party, just because I can
screw in lots of EQ, it doesnt mean I should.
Left: Miles using the
However, this isnt always the case very often, I
half-speed lathe. Half-speed get mixes sent to me that are not mixed in the most
mastering requires a custom ideal environment or on the most ideal equipment.
approach to EQ , and specific
techniques for processes such This is what mastering is for: to resolve any issues
as de-essing that may have cropped up somewhere along the line.

34 | June 2016 MAGAZINE

MT159.INT Speed mastering(ADS).indd 34 05/05/2016 11:16 Foste


Miles Showell Interview MT

MT: Tell us about half-speed mastering how


does it differ?
MS: Half-speed mastering is a vinyl-cutting
process where both the source is played out and
the cutting lathe is running at half the real-time
rate (effectively the source and the disc cutting
lathe are locked together, but both are running
at precisely half the correct speed). The
advantage of this is the system is not stressed.
The cutter-head draws somewhere between a Exile On Main Street (1972), Frees third album, Fire And 1981s Ghost In The Machine by
quarter to a third of the current from the drive recorded in France, London and Water (1970), recorded in two The Police, recorded in Quebec
LA; produced by Jimmy Miller studios in London and Montserrat
amplifiers than would be required for real-time
cutting, and the recording stylus has twice as
long to carve the intricate groove into the into the cutting amplifiers that feed the modified
lacquer master disc. All the difficult-to-cut VMS 80 lathe. These custom filters apply the correct
high-end frequencies become relatively EQ curve when cutting at half-speed.
easy-to-cut mid-range frequencies. This results
in cuts that have excellent high-frequency MT: How did your relationship with Universal
response (treble) and very solid and stable Records begin, and why did they choose the
stereo images. half-speed mastering route?
Remember, the only way a pressing plant can MS: Universal own Abbey Road, as it was one of the
press a really high-quality record is if the assets they acquired when they bought EMI. I am
process starts with a really high-quality cut. freelance here, but shortly after starting, I was able
Unfortunately, however, its not as simple as to persuade the management that half-speed
running everything at half rate. There is an mastering was worth the investment.
EQ curve (RIAA) applied to all vinyl records Initial feedback from my early clients was so
and by running the lathe at half speed, all the good that it was the management who approached
frequencies are wrong. Abbey Road have Universal and said, you have a fabulous library of
installed custom designed and built RIAA filters recordings and we have a world expert on half-

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mastering(ADS).indd 35 1 03/05/2016
05/05/2016 09:41
11:16
MT Interview Miles Showell

speed mastering in the team. There is resurgence


in vinyl sales and a demand for good-quality MASTERING: THE BASICS
pressings. Therefore, why do we not get together MusicTech: How would you describe My advice would be do a pumped
and create the highest quality vinyl records mastering, compared to the mixing version by all means, but dont make
possible, by pooling our resources and playing to all or production process? this the master, always run a clean
of our strengths? Universal thought it was an Miles Showell: Mastering is a very mix using as much mix-bus
excellent idea and here we are, with the first six specific and specialised role and compression as is needed to make it
albums in this series just released. requires a different skillset to feel good, but without the extra
production and mixing. I need to limiting to get it to compete with
MT: What were your specific goals with these take a step back and look at the big already mastered material. Then
masters? Did anything stand out that needed picture, whereas production requires send both the clean and pumped
dealing with initially? a very detailed focus on every versions to mastering, as it is good
MS: My goal was to transfer as faithfully as possible individual component within a mix. to know what everyone is used to
these recordings to disc. In this series, I was able to I see production and mastering as hearing. In most cases, I can
master all-but-one of the albums (the Rolling Stones separate but complementary roles. match or even beat the pumped
being the exception, they own their recordings and level, but get there cleaner and
they have complete control on how their music is MT: What is the biggest mistake more transparently.
presented). I used the less-is-more approach as that mix engineers typically
mentioned above and absolutely avoided all digital make before submitting their MT: Conversely, is there anything
limiting, as this is the death of good sound and work for mastering? they can do to a mix to benefit
totally unnecessary for vinyl records. MS: Mixers often feel the need to the mastering process later?
make their mix loud so it competes MS: Aside from avoiding compression
MT: Were guessing each album gave you a with other already mastered tracks. and limiting as I mentioned before,
different set of challenges This is often driven by requests by I would advise that the low end be
MS: One of the problems I had with on one of the record company people and/or kept in the middle of the mix. For
recordings was where the master tape had been management, who may be scared vinyl work, stereo bass is a big no-no,
damaged by being played at some point in its that their artist is not loud enough. as the cutting stylus tries to cut in
history on a tape machine that had not been In reality, a great mix should not be four directions at the same time and
de-magnetised correctly. This had caused damage pumped to the max, but be allowed ends up lifting out of the disc. Even
to the tape in the form of random, very loud clicks, to breathe. The only way to achieve if the track is never going to go near
rendering it unusable. However, as I was working really hot levels is with extreme vinyl, stereo bass is not a nice
with a high-resolution digital transfer, I was able to compression and limiting. The sensation for the listener,
remove these clicks using a digital-restoration tool problem is that compression is particularly if the listener is wearing
while leaving the surrounding audio intact by something that cannot be undone. If headphones. Try it yourself do a
making hundreds of tiny edits. there has been some weird EQ put on track with super-wide bass, then put
Only the clicks were treated, as if I were to pass a track, to some extent I can un-EQ it, on some headphones and go for a
the entire track through a de-clicker, it would have but once a mix has been squashed walk. You will probably feel sea sick
had the unwanted side effect of softening the impact and pumped, it cannot be undone. pretty quickly.
of the drums and sucking the air out of the
recording. My method is extremely time consuming,
but produces the very best result which was the
point of this series of albums. Another problem
would be the well-known one of persuading 1970s
and 80s vintage analogue tape to play! However,
this can be temporarily resolved by baking the tapes
at low temperature in a special incubator for 24 to
36 hours. Abbey Road has two incubators in the
building and plenty of experience at baking tape.

MT: What was the most challenging process?


MS: The most challenging process by far as well as
the Achilles heel of half-speed mastering is
de-essing, which is often required to avoid sibilance
(vocal distortion on the record). None of the tools I
would ordinarily use for de-essing work at half
speed, so I need to pre-treat everything by capturing
all the audio at high-resolution digital, then treating
every sss or t sound in every vocal on every song
before progressing.
Because I wanted these cuts to be as good as
possible, I used a similar process to the click
removal already mentioned. It would have been easy
to slap a de-esser across the signal path when
making the high-resolution transfer, but the
de-esser would not be able to differentiate between

36 | June 2016 MAGAZINE

MT159.INT Speed mastering(ADS).indd 36 05/05/2016 11:16


Miles Showell Interview MT

a bright vocal or a snare drum, hi-hat, bright Left: Simple Minds New Gold
Dream (81-82-83-84) from
guitar, tambourine and other high-energy
1982, produced by Peter
sounds that dont require any reduction. Again, Walsh, is the most electronic
my method is slow and time consuming, but only of all the albums in the initial
wave of half-speed masters
treats the offending vocal problems and leaves
the rest of the music untouched. Far left: 1973 John Martyn
classic Solid Air, produced by
John Wood and Martyn, and
MT: Was there ever a time where you couldnt recorded in London
improve the sound i.e. was it good enough to
start with?

MT: What have you got planned for the future at


In this half-speed series, Abbey Road?
MS: This is pretty difficult to answer, as most
the best-sounding album for upcoming projects have carefully planned

me was John Martyns Solid Air


marketing campaigns attached to them and I run
the risk of letting the cat out of the bag by
discussing them! However, I can tell you I have
recently completed the mastering for the new album
MS: In this half-speed series for Universal, the by Gallant and he is unbelievably good. He has an
best-sounding album for me was John Martyns amazing dynamic range and always seems to know
Solid Air. The tapes were in fabulous condition when to hold back and when to let it go. He also has
and they sounded divine. I barely did anything to a searing falsetto that would put Prince to shame.
the sound. Most of the tracks on this album were
pretty much a flat transfer straight from the MT: Finally, what is the future of music production
Dolby A decoder to the ADC feeding the in less than 100 words?
workstation. Another great-sounding album was MS: If only I knew the answer to that question, I
Simple Minds New Gold Dream the half-inch would design a super-sophisticated plug-in and sell
masters were lovely sounding. it for millions to Avid! MT

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MT Technique Arranging in Logic Pro X

Technique Logic In Depth Level Beginner

Producing a
Powered by

track: arranging
in Logic Pro
In Logic, its now easier than ever to turn your mix ideas into fully blown songs and
arrangements. In this tutorial, we use some of Logics specific features to arrange
song ideas and reveal a couple of shortcuts to easily add variation to any arrangement

S
o you are ready to arrange. You have possibly got yourself out of the rut select all (Cmnd>A) and repeat
a mix ready, with track levels sorted, panned, (Cmnd>R)! Specify how many copies you want and hit OK.
EQd and added effects and you are now happy Some may see this as too easy a solution, but its a great
with your ideas and its all there within a loop. way to get yourself an instant arrangement, or at least an
Well assume it is a very typical band-type track, arrangement that covers the right duration of the song that
maybe with two guitars, bass, vocals and piano, plus some you are producing. For dance music, its also a very quick
spare tracks for beats.

The arranging part of music


The idea of this tutorial is that it will help you progress
these ideas and maybe those that have been kicking

production can often be the


around on your drive for a while and that perhaps youve not
done much with. We will help you take these ideas and mix

trickiest and a stumbling


and arrange them. In truth, those are both processes that
you might typically do at the same time in music production

block for many


arranging and mixing as you go along so do bear that in
mind that as you read this one. You might need to adjust
levels here or tweak effects there to make the parts work in
your new arrangement and finished song. way of building up tunes which by the genres very
For many, the arranging part of music production can definition and nature are quite repetitive. For rock music
often be the trickiest, possibly a stumbling block. This is this is less the case, so well look at how to enhance an
strange as sequencers and modern production technology arrangement, making it less repetitive.
make the process easy. Maybe the problem is that DAWs/ Adding to this, what you might
sequencers make the initial looping process so very easy,
that it is hard to get in a mindset to move beyond it.

1. Basic arranging
If you are having trouble moving beyond your two, four or
eight-bar loop, theres one surefire way to quickly get

FOCUS ON GENRES
We focus very much on a typical rock/pop piece of music here, with the
elements of a band song drums, bass, two guitars, and so on and how
you would typically arrange them over an intro, verse and chorus. This, of
course, varies depending on the genre of music (and can even vary within
a genre). With dance music, for example, the focus might be, arguably
should be, to just start the beats straight away so a DJ can mix your track
into a set without having to worry about mixing the melody you have
chosen. Then you can bring in the musical elements, followed typically by
a big breakdown where the beats are dropped in favour of synths and
pads and then the whole lot comes crashing back in for a huge dance
climax. Arrangements can therefore be the vital ingredient within the
genre you are working in.

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Arranging in Logic Pro X Technique MT

MT Step-by-Step 1. Basic arranging

Well use the same looping idea now nicely mixed from the You can click Alt and then drag just a single copy, as shown,
01 previous tutorial on mixing. It has a couple of guitars, bass, piano
02 which doubles the length and is useful if you just want to add
and beats. Select all using Cmnd>A. a couple of bars at this stage.

Far easier after you select all (Cmnd>A) is to Repeat (Cmnd>R) Now select Logic Pro Xs Arrangement tab by clicking the blue
03 and type in the specific number of repeats of your two-bar loop.
04 icon at the top of the track list to the right, which reveals
We start with 15 but then double this to make 32 in total; thats 64 bars. Arrangement, Marker, Signature and Tempo tracks.

Press the + button on the Arrangement track and sections Weve now copied enough of our original loop to cover 64 bars
05 automatically appear, in this case every eight bars. Name each
06 and have eight sections in our arrangement, including Intro,
section (Intro, Verse, Chorus etc) using the drop-down menu on each, Chorus, Bridge and Outro as shown.
or simply click the title to name it whatever you want.

call classic, way of fleshing out an arrangement, is Logic our song, we want the intro to feature just the bass guitar
Pros Arrangement feature, which allows you to segment and beats, the chorus everything, and the outro just the
your song into typical and very recognisable sections. piano and beats. You can define each section however you
When looking at a typical song structure, think of it in want. We simply create Marker points for each section
terms of these sections: intro, verse, chorus, bridge and and just strip out the parts we dont want from all of the
outro. Typically, you will start with an intro, go into a verse, repeated sections we made earlier. We can then audition
maybe two, then a chorus, bridge, verse, chorus, outro. For these by pressing the Option button while clicking each

MAGAZINE June 2016 | 41

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MT Technique Arranging in Logic Pro X

Marker section in the Edit Window its a great way to try 2. Variation and automation
out new arrangements without changing anything. We then In this last tutorial, we use some tricks to bolster up our
use these Marker Points and sections to create a new arrangement and make it less repetitive, including returning
arrangement by clicking and dragging the top of each to the beats that we looked at in the Mixing tutorial and
Arrangement Part, which should take everything below to a using a similar technique to isolate certain elements to add
new point. Copy and paste the verse section, move it later, a bit of variation. Well look at some specific processes
swap the intro and outro its easy to create a new common to all DAWs but especially accessible in Logic
arrangement by copying these big chunks at a time. where you can beef up an arrangement with automation.

MT Step-by-Step 1. Basic arranging (contd)

Now its time to introduce some Markers to your arrangement. Open up the List Editor (icon to right of Metronome) and click the
07 For simplicitys sake, we are going to make them match our song
08 Marker tab listing the Markers youre creating. You can define the
sections in name and length. Press the + icon on the Marker track. length, which weve set at eight bars for each of the eight sections.

Name your Markers. Again, for simplicitys sake, were just naming Now start selecting how you want each part to sound. Weve
09 them after the song sections. A shortcut is to simply use the
10 thinned the Intro down to just the bass and beats in ours, for
Marker drop-down and Create from Arrangement Markers as shown. example. Weve also got the Chorus padded out with everything.

Once you have defined what parts play in each of your Marker Now to build an arrangement up from your sections, simply click
11 sections like this, you can audition each part by hitting the Option
12 and drag the Arrangement section at the top and everything
key while playing and then click the Marker as shown. below will go with it. You can also copy sections like this.

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MT Technique Arranging in Logic Pro X

Here, you can add variation by changing certain little variation while you are at it. Well look at others in a
parameters over time. The brilliant thing about automation future workshop. MT
is that you can return to it and edit it at any time to tweak
This tutorial is endorsed by Point Blank Music School, which specialises
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quick ways to create arrangements within Logic and add a

MT Step-by-Step 2. Variation and automation

Our track has repeated beats all the way through by way of a Either copy and paste it (Cntrl>C, Cntrl>V) on to a newly created
01 02 snare track (Cmnd>D) or Option>Click>Drag to copy it to the new
sampled drum loop. We can add our first change by highlighting a
beat, in this case the snare, and cutting it using the scissors tool. track. You can now move it around.

Move the new snare to a different point in the loop and even copy Now its time to use basic automation to add variation. Click A to
03 other beats. Weve copied the kick so that this loop now opens
04 Show Automation on the Sampled Rock Beats track. Clicking on
with two kicks. Its an easy way to add variation to existing loops. the Volume icon shows parameters that can be edited here.

Click Shift>Cntrl>Cmnd>1 or use the drop-down Mix menu to see Click the first part and drag to zero and a second part to the top.
05 a line that represents the parameter selected (volume). Recording
06 Now the drums fade in automatically. Use this on many
fader (volume) movements will change this, or simply click and drag it. parameters within each track to add variation throughout a mix.

44 | June 2016 MAGAZINE

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MT Technique Live In Depth Part 4

Ableton Live Live In Depth Part 4 On the disc

Accompanying
project file included

Envelopes and
on the DVD

automation in
Ableton Live
Its time to augment your live shows and productions with a more organic, evolving vibe
by using envelopes and automation to the max! Martin Delaney maps his MIDI

A
utomation is the process of recording mixer or editing in the right place. You can run tons of automation on
device moves for playback later. The recorded a single clip at the same time which is a great way to
movements appear inside Ableton Live as red experiment and see how much movement you can get from
objects called envelopes and breakpoints. just one little sample or MIDI part. As mentioned in the
We can use automation in the mixer, in MIDI tutorial, you can draw curves as well as straight lines,
tracks, for instruments, MIDI effects, audio effects and in something that I use to get fades to behave the way I want.
audio tracks for audio effects. We can add automation by You also have the option to record automation, as well
drawing it with a mouse or recording from a MIDI controller as drawing it in. Many feel drawing is too clinical and by
like a Novation Launch Control or Abletons Push; we can using the recording method they get a better vibe; you can
apply automation at clip and track levels. record mouse movements, but it probably wont feel so
We use automation for three reasons: because there are musical. If thats good for you, do it a big part of that vibe
jobs where we just dont have enough hands or fingers to is about recording with a hardware controller. Controllers
move everything that needs moving; because we often such as Push are good for this, as they assign themselves
need to recall and repeat certain actions; and because the to Lives controls you dont need to do any mapping.
sound of movement, the sound of controls being tweaked, Before recording, make sure the Automation Arm button is
is a vital part of electronic music production. Synth sounds lit yellow if you want to successfully record automation in
and effects without some kind of movement can be either view. You should think about the MIDI Preferences
horribly sterile, so automation becomes part of the option where you can choose to record automation into
arrangement. Throughout this tutorial, were mostly using
Session View, but rest assured that Arrangement View
automation works along the same lines.
Automation can be applied to anything that responds to
MIDI. As well as using it within Lives audio and MIDI tracks,
it can be sending out to external software or hardware,
like VJ applications, synthesisers, and lighting rigs. Our
example Live set contains both MIDI and audio tracks and
clips they can all be automated to various degrees. If you
cant see the clip envelopes, youll need to click the little
black e button near the bottom left of the screen, and then
click on the Envelopes box name to make sure youre

PUSH AND CLIP ENVELOPES


Being an Ableton product, Push of course has deeper out-of-the-box integration
than anybody elses controller, and that applies to automation in spades.
Just press that red Automate button while youre recording, and capture clip
envelopes in real time, for whatever parameters Pushs encoders are running at
the time. Things can get pretty loose when you record envelopes like this, so
luckily for me er, us theres an Undo button as well! Seriously, though, this
takes the doing your homework by drawing envelopes in vibe out of clip
automation, and fits in great with Lives overall workflow.

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Live In Depth Part 4 Technique MT

MT Step-by-Step Envelopes and automation

Lets work with clip and track automation. On the disk, theres an We can start with a simple bit of clip automation on the lead clip
01 example Live set containing audio and MIDI clips to get started.
02 that track already has a Ping Pong Delay loaded. Double-click
Youll need a MIDI controller with knobs or faders, or both. on the clip body so you can view the waveform.

Click on the little black e button to reveal the envelope box. Click In the lower chooser, select Dry/Wet. This controls the amount of
03 on the top of the editor, then click on the top chooser box and
04 delay effect over the clips length. In the waveform display at the
select Ping Pong Delay if that isnt showing already. right, theres a dotted red line going across thats the envelope.

Click on the envelope at the beginning of bar 2, adding a dot Play the clip and hear the Ping Pong mix change over time. You
05 (breakpoint). Click at the end of the envelope to create another
06 mightve noticed that every parameter from Ping Pong is available
breakpoint and drag that upwards to 75% (the value is displayed). to automate and, yes, you can use envelopes for them all at once!

Armed Tracks Only, or All Tracks (I use the first). You can tell automation from the Session View to the Arrangement,
if automations being recorded, because youll see red dots and the automation within the clip is converted to track
appear on the controls youre moving. If youre automating automation. Drag a clip from the Arrangement View to the
a looping clip, make sure youre done by the end of the clip, Session View and anything automated relating to that clip
otherwise youll be overwriting the envelope you created on is converted to clip automation. In Arrangement View, you
the first pass. As already stated, envelopes work with clips can see many lanes of automation per track by unfolding
in both views; theyre portable, too. Drag a clip containing the track, clicking the little + sign, and choosing what

MAGAZINE June 2016 | 47

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MT Technique Live In Depth Part 4

MT Step-by-Step Envelopes and automation (contd)

If you want something that changes in a more blocky rhythmic Another variation: you dont always want a flat line progressing
07 way, tap b on the computer keyboard for a pencil, which you can
08 from one point to another, so weve got curves! Mouse near a
use to draw in values defined by your current grid settings. section of an envelope, hold Alt, and drag that into a curve.

If drawing red lines doesnt do it for you, relax, you can record Try it. Click the Automation Arm and Session Record buttons, arm
09 envelopes instead. This works from any input, whether youre
10 the Pad track, then launch the clip. View the Auto Filter and move
dragging your mouse or trackpad, or using a MIDI keyboard, or Push. the frequency and resonance controls as the clip loops.

Red dots will appear on the cutoff and resonance values on the Using a hardware controller is great, as you can do more than one
11 Auto Filter, and youll see the controls move on subsequent
12 thing at once, so you could be recording two types of automation
passes. Double-click on the clip to see the envelopes youve added. simultaneously. But you can also overdub more passes, if you like.

automation you want to see, again indicated by red dots. Once added there, you can automate them as usual (Push 2
Repeat as necessary! now supports VST and AUs some will map automatically,
We can also automate third-party plug-ins, thanks to some wont, so this method is still helpful). Unlinking
the Unfold Device Parameters button in the default plug-in envelopes is one of my favourite things. Try it with the clips
view. Click on that, then the Configure button and you can in the example set. Even more than with linked envelopes,
add as many elements as you like from the plug-in in unlinking adds so much sonic value to a simple part. There
question click on a plug-in control to add it to the list. are some non-Ableton tools that we can use to simplify

48 | June 2016 MAGAZINE

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MT Technique Live In Depth Part 4

MT Step-by-Step Envelopes and automation (contd)

After drawing or recording, you might want to change or tidy your Change straight lines to curves as mentioned. Delete entire
13 envelopes. Practise with the ones youve recorded today. Move
14 sections of an envelope by clicking and dragging to highlight it,
breakpoints by dragging them. Click a breakpoint to delete it. then typing Delete. This is a great way to straighten out ragged fades.

A highlighted section can also be copied and pasted to the same You can also separate envelope length from the length of the
15 or another envelope, or even another track. Its a tool you can use
16 loop, so a one-bar clip can have a four-bar envelope, for example.
to apply envelopes to different parameters than originally intended. This makes a huge difference to the organic nature of using clips.

Click the Linked button to unlink the envelope and enter a new Add Redux to the percussion track, and automate Sample Hard
17 length for it. Be aware that this applies to each envelope they
18 so it goes from 0 to 150 over four bars, so you can hear that
can all be different, which can lead to some deep textures! crunch come in over several repeats of the looping clip.

some automation tasks; the Waves Vocal Rider plug-in is a keeping your levels under control. This does a great job of
good example. Automating vocals can be tedious going smoothing out vocal tracks. If needed, you can print the
through and riding the volume fader again and again automation from Vocal Rider to your track as normal track
through the song (youll also be using limiters and automation, as well. However you choose to add them and
compressors to manage the dynamics). Vocal Rider does use them, clip envelopes are at the very least really useful
what the name suggests: set your desired output levels, and, at best, theyre an amazingly powerful creative tool
and itll ride an onscreen fader throughout the track, that will make your mix active and more interesting. MT

50 | June 2016 MAGAZINE

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MT Technique Introduction to songwriting using a DAW

Requirements
MT Workshop Music Composition Tutorial Part 1 Our DAW Recording
features are
illustrated using
Cubase, but you can
apply the principles
to whichever
DAW you use.

Introduction
to songwriting
using a DAW
In the first of a new series, were going to step back from the often-overwhelming
ocean of tech and look at the vital ingredients you need to consider when creating
music in any genre. Andy Price explores the art of songwriting

A
lthough we call ourselves MusicTech, the guessing that you have or at least that you want to be in
overall majority of the tutorials, features and the business of music making. If youre one of those
articles youll find in these pages lean more songwriters who has hit the brick wall and seems to have
towards the tech aspect of music production, written everything they can, then this is the perfect
with an expectation that the readers of this re-starting point. Well cover every aspect of music making:
magazine will be well versed (no pun intended!) in the art from the technical theory behind music to honing your
of songwriting. Often, however, we receive correspondence compositions and arrangements.
from readers whove hit creative dead ends or are Consider these tutorials an overview to the world of
struggling with using the vast quantities of tech and gear music making rather than a rigorous instruction manual
theyve amassed to actually do the job that it was designed part of the joy of songwriting is the ability for individuals
for making music. to do it their way and not be slavishly constricted to a
Underlining that point one more time: its easy (though prescribed formula. Having said that, there are some
not cheap) to create a semi-pro studio in your home these things youll need to know if you want to fully express
days, providing youve got space, an understanding partner yourself with a diverse and wide-ranging palette of music.
and the luxury of time to use it. However, thats not all you Throughout this series, Im going to be using the DAW
need to do to instantly become a music-making guru. You that Ive always used Cubase to record, mix and
need to have a passion and a drive for music making, not breathe life into my ideas. The principles that are
just gear-hauling. discussed, however, can be applied to any DAW, with the
So how do you develop said passion? Well, thats not majority of points being applicable to even DAW-less
something that were going to even entertain the possibility music creators.
of teaching youve either got the desire to want to be
musical or you havent. Since youre reading this, were

FOCUS ON MELODY ASSISTANCE


While many songwriters begin their compositions away from the
computer (or whatever piece of equipment theyre recording with),
there is definitely something to be said for starting the compositional
process in your DAW. In Cubase 8.5, there are many tools to help you
get started with songwriting. For example, if you lay down a simple
melody using just a basic microphone recording of a basic vocal
melody idea, Cubases VariAudio feature (accessed by double-clicking
the waveform and then selecting VariAudio > Pitch and Warp) can
instantaneously give you a visual representation of the melody that
you have just created.
Ostensibly a tool for pitch editing, using VariAudio to analyse your
melodies can enable you to make adjustments and perhaps try
different things that you wouldnt consider normally if your vocal
range is limited: stretching the sound manually and re-shaping the
melody to something better.

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Introduction to songwriting using a DAW Technique MT

MT Step-by-Step Songwriting in the box

In this first step-by-step, Ill explain some methods of starting Beyond Cubases standard-issue tools, if you really want to
01 from scratch using my DAW of choice: Cubase. Firstly, check out
02 expand your songwriting chops then its worth investing in more
some of your basic melody ideas using VariAudio (see Focus On) and detailed VSTs. Something like Natives Absynth or Spectrasonics
tweak accordingly. Omnisphere give you a massive sonic playground to work in.

Once you have a core sound and melody, you could try using Once your chordal foundation is in place, you should be able to
03 Cubases Chord Track to analyse the melody you recorded. It will
04 hear this part of your song coming together. Perhaps the addition
suggest possible chord structures that fit the existing melody, of the new chord sequence is pulling the main melody somewhere
including possible variations that you wouldnt normally consider! else, or even inspiring the creation of a brand-new, superior, melody?

A faster-paced BPM than the one you conceived of when creating Once youre happy with the fusion of chords and melody, then you
05 your melody can irrevocably alter it. Using Cubases Beat
06 should also be starting to get extra melody ideas. Using the root
Calculator, you can tap a tempo, or set the BPM in the transport panel. notes of the chord structure, piece together a bass melody that
Make sure your melody and chords are snapped to this time signature. accentuates the chords and in itself may act as an additional hook.

Starting point various parts of your song, and may suddenly find a flash of
So where do we start? What do we need? Well, nothing brilliant inspiration which, for the life of you, is impossible
much, really. At the bare minimum, one instrument, a to recall if you dont record it instantly (we speak from
recording device (or your DAW and interface) and some experience here!). It can help to listen back to your track as
blank paper to scribble down your ideas. Think hard about it develops in a separate context to where you primarily
the type of music you want to make and who your worked on it. Often, weve found its useful to bounce down
inspirations are. Inspirations are an important thing to have a rough mix of your demo to mp3 and then go for a walk,
when creating any artform, and music is no different. listening back to the song on your headphones. Youll be
Regardless of how unique you may wish to ultimately able to tell after a few days of doing this whether the song
sound, having an idea about the type of sound you want to has that special something.
have is useful at the start of the process, as you can then
narrow down your creative choices. Melody maker
From a technical point of view, wed recommend that The most important aspect of your song is its ability to
you have something to record with as you may be juggling hook a listener with its primary melody. Ultimately, your

MAGAZINE June 2016 | 53

MT159.TUT Cubase.indd 53 25/04/2016 14:01


MT Technique Introduction to songwriting using a DAW

MT Step-by-Step Songwriting in the box (contd)

Now comes the part where you need to decide whether this piece Once youve decided what part of the song this section will be, its
07 of music is worthy enough to be the songs chorus, verse or
08 time to create the next section. Your chorus melody should
bridge. Chord Assistant (open Project > Chord Pads then click up) in generally be a higher pitch than that of your verse (or pre-verse) the
Cubase helps by suggesting additional routes to go down. ear perceives a lift has taken place and we are at the peak of our song.

If your first section was designated the chorus, then the next The transition between verse and chorus may be jarring, and this
09 section to create will be the verse. The top-line melody of the
10 is where a pre-chorus comes in. Melody here should be closely
verse should contrast the chorus and generally leave more space. The tied to the verse, perhaps using it as a framework and subverting it in
respective melodies of your chorus and verse can differ dramatically. some way to lead into the first root note of the chorus melody.

So now you have three sections: a designated verse, pre-chorus Nows the time to think about your lyrics, or more importantly,
11 and chorus, hopefully sounding coherent. Adding additional
12 your vocals. You may have already had some lyrical ideas that
instrumentation and layering up your sections with counter melodies formed your melody, or even phonetic sounds that you might feel are
and atmospheric sounds can really help to solidify your composition. integral to the melody. Has the original intention of the song changed?

song will be built of a variety of melodic hooks, but the make the songwriting process easier, expands your
primary (or top line) melody is the most vital to get right. creative scope and leaves you feeling more satisfied.
This is usually the melody that the vocalist sings (though it Basic melody in a musical sense is simply a movement
doesnt have to be). Coming up with a winning top-line throughout the intervals that a key consists of with
melody from scratch can be a troublesome, painful process repetition, harmony and attention to the root notes of the
though often, inspiration may strike you from nowhere. chords youre moving through being pivotal.
A lot of songwriters, especially when young, dont fully
grasp the musicological aspects of melody writing and do Wash, rinse, repeat
it based on instinct what sounds good to their ears based The repetition of your songs central melody is the most
on the canon of what has gone before. This is fine and the vital ingredient. To make a song stick in the heads of your
approach of writing based on what sounds pleasing to the listeners, it needs to have a mantra-like repetition of the
ear has resulted in some of the finest songs ever written. top line, which must present itself at important moments
However, we would argue that understanding what youre throughout (more often than not, the chorus). Its likely the
doing before you begin arms you with knowledge that can singer (or whichever instrument is providing the top line)

54 | June 2016 MAGAZINE

MT159.TUT Cubase.indd 54 25/04/2016 14:01


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T+S_V31i8.indd 1 04/05/2016 12:31


MT Technique Introduction to songwriting using a DAW

MT Step-by-Step Songwriting out of the box

Though weve just demonstrated one simple method of writing It really makes sense to have your smartphone on hand to record,
01 songs fresh completely using your computer, also try turning the
02 or even sequence, your idea. The same basic principle applies
computer off and starting your ideas with just your (or any) instrument from the first part: find a nice melody or at least one that suits the
of choice: be it guitar, piano or even just with your voice. tone of the track you intend to write. Or let the melody lead the way

Getting out into the country or walking through a bustling city can Its probably best from a live-instrument standpoint to start with
03 fill the brain with new frames of reference and new approaches
04 your chords. Once youve recorded these chords you can loop
that give you the critical will to want to write good music. Novations them indefinitely and then have fun, finding a top-line melody.
mobile gadgets and instruments are purpose-built for this function. Remember, you can use your instrument as well as your vocals for this.

When creating subsequent sections for the same song, we find You may want to start composing out of the box and then go to
05 you can feel the song better when youre creating the sound
06 your computer to sort out the mix, or just record your instrument/
from your instrument rather than in the box and you may naturally vocal and move on to the next song. Its fun to vary how you approach
progress to the correct chord based on your instrumental instinct. songwriting, as each approach has different positives and negatives.

will begin at the root note of the opening chord and and think about the type of chords you want to use to get
progress upward from there. A conventional melody should across the emotions youre attempting to convey. Lyrics are
resemble a mountain range, with discernible movement often misunderstood as being one of the most important
and occasional leaps up the octaves that move naturally, things a songwriter thinks about, yet for the majority, this
with no jarring changes. The human brain has a tendency to isnt the case. Many approach the song from a more holistic
pre-judge where it thinks a melody will go based on standpoint and consider the sound, tempo, and, crucially,
conventional criteria; its advisable to remain within those the melody as being just as if not more important.
limits if you want to maximise your songs appeal. But rules Of course, you dont have to simply vocalise your
are there to be broken. If you have a creative idea that flies top-line melody, often it make sense to try out your top-line
in the face of conventional wisdom, then give it a shot. on a different instrument which you may find is a better fit,
transforming your top-line into a killer riff or piano/synth
Dont think feel melody; itll take on a different life entirely.
The overall feel of the song youre writing should be As this series continues over the coming months, well
considered. If you already have lyrics, study them carefully look at the key aspects of songwriting in more detail. MT

56 | June 2016 MAGAZINE

MT159.TUT Cubase.indd 56 25/04/2016 14:01


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MusicTech.indd 1 28.04.2016 10:42:52
MUSIC IS OUR PASSION

MusicTech.indd 2 28.04.2016 10:42:54


MT Reviews Studio Electronics SENSEI

MT Lead Review
Hardware Software Mobile tech Accessories

Possibly the most beautiful


object that weve ever
reviewed at MusicTech but
also the biggest sounding

Excellence

10/10

Details
STUDIO ELECTRONICS
SENSEI
Price 4,500 to 5,500
Contact MSL Pro
T 0207 118 0133
W www.mslpro.co.uk

Key Modules
Two analogue The beauty of modular synths is, of course, that you build your own to your very
oscillators:
discrete, DC personal specification. Well, hows about one that is built for you, from the best
coupled, output
buffered, based parts available, and based on the best synths ever made? Andy Jones takes
on second-gen
Minimoog delivery of what you could argue is the best synth(s) ever made
Model D
Grainy Clampit:

T
granular/phase
distortion he current popularity of its make-your-own; its grown-up very possibly, only yours. Indeed,
additive modular synths has taken electronic LEGO; its stats; its plugging talking to many of the companies at
oscillator
everyone by surprise, even in; its great sounds; its different; its Superbooth, many very politely declined
Sci Fi: ring mod,
white and pink (very probably) the people who exclusive; its a little high brow Its all any extra exposure, as they were selling
noise, S&H have been quietly championing them at

Why are modular synths so


with LFO
trade shows over the last few years. The
SEM Filter:
12dB VC state- fact that the modular industry has even
variable, based
on Oberheim
SEM and OBX
garnered its own high-profile trade
show in the form of the brilliant Berlin popular? Well, the fact is: using
4075: VC 24/dB/
oct-cascaded
LP ARP filter
event, Superbooth, means the format
has come of age. And because the big them is scarily addictive
companies were clamouring to attend
SE88: dual
mode: HP/BR,
said show means its also one that is of the above. But more than all of that, as many modules as they were making.
LP/BP dual probably here to stay. the fact is: using and building modular Its still a small enough industry where
resonant, I could, and probably will, go on synths is scarily addictive. the lower the volume means the higher
12dB CS-80 filter
(Cont. opposite)
about why the modular synth is so The main point, though, is that you the exclusivity. In short, if you have a
popular: its a reaction against software; build what you want and its yours and, filter that not many other people have,

60 | June 2016 MAGAZINE

MT159.REV SE Sensei.indd 60 04/05/2016 12:34


Studio Electronics SENSEI Reviews MT

then you could have a synth that no one


else has. And theres very much a feel of
lets keep it that way, eh?

Enter Studio Electronics


US analogue (or should I say analog)
synth experts Studio Electronics dont
quite see it that way. The company that
brought you Boomstar analogue
desktop modules based on classic
synths was always bound to bring those
filters out in Eurorack form, and thank
the lord it has done. But in the same
way that this was one of the very few
companies that went against the tide of
digital synths back in the 80s flying
the flag for analogue with releases like
the almost classic in itself SE-1 the
company is unsurprisingly slightly
bucking the trend in modular.
SENSEI is the result. Studio
Electronics builds it for you and you
can opt for a pure analogue version We didnt think that having four classic filters was enough in our test setup, so on top of those that shipped with our SENSEI,
(as shown opposite), or a digital hybrid. we thought wed control it with our Prophet-6 synth, just in case we needed more. Well, why on Earth wouldnt you?

You can specify your own system and,


yes, you can even mix and fit other More modular there are oodles of different
companys gear down the line into it What SENSEI will be, no matter what combinations. But you will need certain
if you really want to. But as a starting you choose, is several SE modules that elements to make up your synth,
bundle, you choose from SEs growing are designed to work well together, and namely oscillators, filters, amplifiers,
range of modules to build SENSEI. complement each other to make a LFOs, shapers and utility modules.
Modular fans might say that that is the monster-sounding synth. So should you These are individually priced on the
SE website (in dollars) and at first, you

Thats not forgetting the jewels


might think that they dont add up to
the overall SENSEI price until you

in the SE crown that can come


take tax and the casing and power
supply into account (which is at least a

with SENSEI: five classic filters Key Modules further $600).


What turns up, then, is the
(continued)
Monorocket housing your 106 HP-wide
5089: Minimoog-
flavoured VC 24 dual-layer modular synth in its sturdy
fun part of doing modular synthesis, not choose the exact combo in the dB/oct transistor box, no patch leads nor instructions.
ladder, LP filter.
but SE is matching modules, offering picture, it doesnt matter. Make it how This is what SE
Typical SE. The company doesnt
the very best detail and, as the you like, choosing from 20-plus SE describes as include instructions on environmental
company says, SENSEI is 31 years in modules. You can even go slightly larger the roundest, grounds, but you can download full
slickest tone of
the making, so everything complements than the one in the picture opposite if all the Boomstar details on all of these per module from
everything else, signal flow is optimised, you choose the bigger SENSEI Hybrid filters the companys website (plus an overall
and everything should be hunky dory. variation (see pic on p64), that includes Quadnic: a quite SENSEI instruction PDF).
crazy four digital
And thats not forgetting the jewels SEs new Charcot Circles and digital oscillators, each Remove SENSEI from its box and
in the SE crown that can come with wavetable and LFO modules. It adds an with a selection you start to see and feel why this is
SENSEI: filters from up to five classic extra few HP in size (not to mention a of 64 waveforms, special. First of all, the case is superb
seven different
synths (Moog, ARP, 303, Yamaha and few extra s/$s), but steps into a whole processing and very solid: a proper touring case
Oberheim). Combine those with new sonic area. modes including that will keep your synths safe and, in
phase distortion
oscillator modules, LFOs, plus all the The SENSEI on test here is actually the case of the Monorocket, small
and wave
utilities and set it all within a special a variation of both because, well, why sequencing enough to be hand luggage. Remove the
Mororocket hard case that houses the not? comprising the smaller case (see STE. 16: dual front panel and you will forgive a lack of
FM/AM LFO
whole system brilliantly (carry it pic above and over). It has a mere four any paperwork or added extras. This
LFO 2 basic dual
anywhere, safe and sound), and you classic filters all bar the 303, which is LFO module with synth, however you specify it, looks
have something that looks well, just a little too ubiquitous for its own good, two different absolutely stunning; arguably the
look at the picture in-cred-ible I would say and a couple of digital LFO circuits finest, most beautiful studio item in the
Shapers: dual
So its modular; yet its done for you; extras. I think its the best of the SENSEI four-stage
world right now. The design of the
its several classic synths in one case; worlds and will give you a flavour of envelope modules looks as though they have
its beautiful; its analogue; and digital. what these worlds will offer. generator with been designed as a whole. The digital
independently
And, okay, its bloody expensive. But add Obviously, you dont have to go with adjustable ADSR units by and large are black but even
all of the above together, and this could what is in this test or what is in the these fit the main aesthetic brilliantly.
be the best synth(s) ever made main picture, as within the SE range (Continued over) Unscrewing modules reveals the power

MAGAZINE June 2016 | 61

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MT Reviews Studio Electronics SENSEI

Our SENSEI overview


ANALOGUE OSCILLATORS GRAINY CLAMPIT
a These two beauties are
b Granular and phase
c SCI FI
All the ring modulation
d FILTERS
Four classics in our setup:
e MIDI CV INPUT
We opted for no sequencer,
based on Minimoog Model D distortion all in one. This one is, and noise you need to add an Moog, Oberheim, Yamaha CS and deciding to control the unit via an
circuits and provide four according to SE, hard to tame even harder edge to your ARP. We could have gone for the external keyboard and eventually
waveforms, sub bass and plenty and well be reviewing it in its own analogue synthesis. 303, too, but were a bit fed up a DAW. Heres where you plug it in.
of ins and outs. right at some point. with it, to be honest.

a b c d

e f g h d h i j
i

ATTENULAG QUADNIC LFOS LEVELS/MIXING SHAPERS


f This signal-leveller section
g Another unit that deserves
h Two modules handle
i With at least two modules
j One of the most interesting
can also be used as a splitter. its own review is Quadnic: the LFO duties for lots of dedicated to levels, plus controls modules, a dual ADSR for
We take our input CV signals four-part digital oscillation modulation options: LFO 2 on other modules, you shouldnt controlling anything on the synth
and split them to the oscillators. to upset the analogue party and STE. 16. Very nice. be found wanting as far as mixing you plug them into. For sound
and bring mayhem to Sensei. is concerned. shaping, pitch and modulation.

worth touching on some modular

SENSEI just works from the off. basics here, just to explain how the
system works for newcomers. Those

No noisy or awkward powering adept at modular synthesis might want


to skip to the sound-quality paragraph

issues: just one plug, and go


Key Modules
you wont be disappointed. For the
(continued) rest of you, for this setup, I chose to
Utility modules:
Levels:
trigger it by MIDI (ironically, from a DSI/
supply beneath and a very stable frame, certain modules the MIDI 3, Outs six-channel Sequential Prophet-6, a Prophet filter
which they are all attached to. This is and Sci Fi slightly cheaper from audio and CV being just about the only classic not in
summing mixer;
quality, through and through. Pittsburgh, it has to be said, so you MIDI 3: MIDI/ our SENSEI).
could save a few pounds, but thats CV convertor; I hooked that keyboards MIDI Out
On test in detail not really the SENSEI point its done Attenulag:
attenuator and
to the MIDI 3 module MIDI In and the
Okay, so for the record, the unit on for you for a reason. splitter; Mix4: resultant gate signal to the envelope
test has a configuration taking in the And that reason is that SENSEI just audio and CV Shapers module, where its envelope
mixer; VCA2: two
following: two analogue SE oscillators; works, straight from the off. No noisy or audio CV amps;
then acted on the VCA module to shape
the Quadnic four-part digital oscillator awkward powering issues, a very stable AMP 2-stage the triggered notes. I then effectively
module; four filters (Yamaha CS, ARP, power supply, just one kettle lead, one Class A amp with split the CV signal to the two analogue
distortion and
Oberheim and Minimoog-a-likes); plug and off you go. Once powered up, drone; Router x2: oscillators, took their resulting audio
two LFO modules and various utility you will get some reassuring glows switchable waveforms into individual filters and
modules. You can see a full description the Quadnic and STE. 16 in our system bi-directional mixed the results. I used this as a
dual audio/CV
of all of these in the Key Modules boxes. plus the MIDI 3 input and LFO2 LEDS router; Outs: simple base setup one to hear
Some of the SE modules are based light up blue and red, and youre ready Stereo and SENSEI in action: a couple of oscillators
phone out
on Pittsburgh modules, as the two to start plugging modules together. module
and filters. We also added an LFO to the
companies worked together on them, Dimensions: filters for a bit of modulation variation.
with Pittsburgh providing the circuit Basic modular synthesis (H x W x D in To be honest, there are countless
mm): 29.2 x 57.1
designs and SE finishing them to its Because its not every month that Ill combinations from here of course
x 20.32
design and colour scheme. You can buy review a complete modular system, its there are and I could have spent ages

62 | June 2016 MAGAZINE

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MT Reviews Studio Electronics SENSEI

examining the ins and outs of modular tried for this, and when I reviewed the big midrange-y synth solo you can
synthesis, but decided that its probably desktop Boomstar synth with this in it, almost see 1981 as you hear it. You do
the filters that you want to hear about, I found it to be more immediately far less to get far more out with the
so those were my first intended targets, rasping and dirty. In SENSEI, because of 4075 subtlety is not an option. With
with the digital additions coming the single modular approach, you have the SEM, you have a sound that is more
afterwards. That was the plan, anyway to work with it and everything else polite until you work with it some more,
a little more, so you might return to the so is more applicable to more varied
The SENSEI sound oscillator for more of the drama, while musical scenarios: whereas the 4075 is
The SENSEI system is built around the SEM adds subtlety and a little more rude to start with, and cuts through and
these classic filters, but you can quickly finesse. However, with both bandpass wants to be heard.
move into some very different sonic and main output, you get an extra layer The SE88 was a new one on me for
areas: particularly with the setup on of flexibility. The SEM works especially this test. I had come across the
test and with a system like SENSEI, its well with an LFO applied to either filter previous two filters in Boomstar
difficult not to do just that. You get or resonance, kind of showing it off to modules and, while the experience with
outputs that can go anywhere, inputs its full strength more immediately than them here was very different again,
from anywhere, modules that can initial fiddling might do. simply because of the modular
double up as other modules, all asking The ARP-based 4075 is more approach I was left feeling that I still
to be plugged into different modules immediate and bolshier. You know knew their character. The SE88 is based
But enough of that temptation. The where you are with it almost straight on the CS-80 and while I knew I was not
Oberheim-like SEM was the first one I away, as its in your face: the sound of a going to get lush Vangelis pads at first, I
was expecting something a bit different
compared to the previous filters,
I intended to tell you all about especially given its dual modes of
high pass/band reject and low pass/
the SENSEI filters. That was band pass. This means the filter is split
into two modes and this is where the
the plan, anyway sirens of modular synthesis started
their calling
As I already had two oscillators set
up, the temptation was simply too much
just to send their outputs into both
modes of the SE88, just to see and hear
what would happen. This was to be my
first f*** me moment with SENSEI.
In the space of a few short minutes
plumbing in three filters, Id gone from a
bit of subtle wrestling to get some great
tones, to instant, pretty brutal low- to
midrange leads and now I was in huge
sound territory in an instant double
sound, if you like. Each oscillator was
plumbed in, so the obvious calling now
was to take the LFOs that I was playing
with previously and feed those into
various inputs. This resulted in brilliant
chaos, hilarious disaster and then
massive sonic drama, all in the space of
30 seconds. Thats SENSEI in once
sentence right there for you
Next up, it was the last filter, the
5089, based on a Minimoog. After the
surprise of the previous three, the
surprise here was that the 5089 did
exactly what it was supposed to (in my
head, anyway), which was producing
round and deep tones. Its not every day
that you get to hear one classic filter so
Three Monorocket- directly next to another in this kind of
cased SENSEI. The
one on test sits atop way, but plumb the Minimoog in and
two larger ones in this case, anyway I could
featuring the
sequencer. Were
suddenly hear what all the fuss has
not quite sure what been about all these years when people
you call multiple say ah, the Moog tone. In the same way
modulars, or indeed
multiple SENSEIs. that my Sub 37 cuts through the low
A flock of SENSEIs? end of a mix compared to, well, pretty

64 | June 2016 MAGAZINE

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MT Reviews Studio Electronics SENSEI

much everything else, the 5089 takes


ownership of those low ends and keeps
them to itself. Of course, it doesnt have
to be deep; but look at this filter as the
one to get things rounded off nicely.
If Im honest, by now Id wanted to
give you some idea of the sound of the
unit by looking at each filter module in
turn to hopefully get an overall handle
on SENSEI, but I quickly realised this
was probably not going to be as easy as
all that. While this does give you a
flavour of the synth, its only the very
starting point of your SENSEI
experience; rather like taking the first
sip of a palette-cleansing drink before
a 12-course meal.
As with most modulars, the more
you dig, the more inspired you get.
As demonstrated with a simple
oscillator-filter-LF combo, the routes
onwards are many and varied. Try modular sirens take me on a journey to Heres what you could
have won The two
routing this module to this one; try see where Id end up. With the Moog
main modules
using this oscillator as a modulating filter and the SE88 still hooked up, it missing from our
LFO; try using the duophonic mode on was time to explore more options. set-up were the
all-new Charcot

Shes come down with a case


Circles (reviewed on
its own next month)
and the 3003 Filter issue, you can adjust all levels for the

of the clampits, I tells ya!


which is based on
oh, you know, that filters at source so, really, you just need
bloody filter a unit to sum them together again, and
there are plenty of options for this.
the MIDI input to play different sounds, First up, I just had to get all four A quick note on LFOs. So far, weve
try You get the point. The more you filters working at the same time not used LFO2 for this, although theres no
play with SENSEI as with many too much of a problem, with enough reason why you cant use the main
Trying to give an idea
modulars the more stuff you reveal, outputs split on the analogue of what SENSEI can oscillators, but theres also the STE. 16
the more combinations that work (and oscillators (by waveform), so you can do by way of the an AM/FM LFO module with 16
dont work, on occasion) and the more take individual strands out to each filters doesnt give waveforms to choose from which
the full picture by
creative possibilities there are. filter. There are several options for any means, but offers a superb set of different wobbles.
With SENSEI, you very quickly get bringing them back together with a considering the Next up, something that deserves a
SEM, 4075, SE88
what modular synthesis is really about four-part mixer and Levels module, the review all on its own: Quadnic. Here was
and (out of picture)
and probably more quickly, because latter of which I found more usable. In 5089 as subtle, not yet another f*** me! moment (actually
of its complementary design. The the Mix4 module rather than mixing, subtle, fat and round probably my 10th at this point). So
respectively is as
combinations and possibilities are they seemed to clash with one another good a starting point imagine four digital oscillators, each
mind blowing, so going back to that list I a little. But even if you get the same as any with individual ins and outs, in one unit
made at the very start of this review of
why modular synthesis is so popular,
lets add yet more because of the
combinations; because there is no hard
wiring; nor presets; because once you
come across a sound you might not find
it again easily. Its that danger element;
the delicacy and subtlety that might
mean you never recreate a sound twice,
but also the blind stupidity in which you
might just try something because you
can and it works. Its experimentation
and not having a predetermined path
laid out for you. As an all-in-one, on-a-
plate solution, SENSEI gives you all of
that, and while the units might all be
SE, the best part of modular synthesis
is here and more, as we shall see.

And on to those paths


At this point, I just gave up and let the

66 | June 2016 MAGAZINE

MT159.REV SE Sensei.indd 66 04/05/2016 12:35


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MT Reviews Studio Electronics SENSEI

and each with 64 distinct waveforms,


which you can easily select per input.
Stack four together and you suddenly
have huge sounds polyphonic stacks
from a modular and digital-modulation
possibilities that can then interact with
the rest of the unit.
The sound? Incredible. I really am
running out of adjectives, here the
best word for it is just crazy. I had
three ins and outs running and simply
switching processor modes from
the seven on offer (centre dial) on
individual waveforms as all three play
on a single-note push is inspiration,
right there.
(Actually, while I think about it, make
sure you have something ready to
record everything you do in SENSEI.
Hook it up to a DAW or anything that
records and just leave it running; there dual inputs on SE88; a fat-sounding Quadnic: this excellence. Sure, a lot of what I am
will be mistakes, there will be rubbish, beast on its own. Surely adding fat to reviewers favourite getting excited about here is what youd
module on the
but there will be extraordinary yet more fat would make an obese SENSEI system get excited about with many a DIY
moments like getting Quadnic up and sound, right? The result? Actually, it we had in for testing. modular system but you really do get
It is stunning
running for the first time, and moments turned out to be not quite as good as I the impression after a while that this is
you might never recapture as youre so thought it would be, but that has got to more considered than that; a best-of-
easily distracted by something else). be the beauty of modular synthesis: both-worlds scenario, in so many ways.
Sure, you can do modular cheaper and

Surely adding fat to yet more


you can make it more personal, but I
doubt you can do it better than this. MT

fat would make an obese sound, MT Verdict


right? Actually, not quite + Just the best sound around
+ Several synths in one
+ And theyre classics
Next up, theres Grainy Clampit. It sometimes (actually often) what you + but choose digital modules and
sounds like some kind of medieval dont plan works a hell of a lot better you have a huge variety of sounds
disease (ooh, shes come down with than what you do. + Rugged and compact case a
a case of the Clampits, I tells ya, but at modular you can easily carry
+ Vast range of options
least shes not gone Grainy), but its Conclusion + It shouldnt matter, but it really
another digital module. Its both a As with the Yamaha Montage review, does this thing looks incredible
granular and phase-distortion a few issues back, Ive hit my allotted + Built for you and it just works
oscillator in one and again, it adds a space and feel Ive only covered a + You can lose yourself for hours
in it, and you will
completely new dimension to the bare minimum. Theres so much more:
+ Those digital modules really do
SENSEI experience. It takes a little the extra drive offered by the Amps add an amazing edge
longer than Quadnic to master, module over the VCAs; routing modules + Did we mention that it really
sounding very digital harsh and that work so easily with switches; looks incredible?
slightly unforgiving at first, but theres the flexibility of the main analogue
- Some of the modules are based
loads to check out and instant fun to be oscillators including the sub (monsters on cheaper options from PM
had. But the best bits of these digital on their own, let alone the digital ones!); - You cant get away from the fact
additions has to be taking their outputs and on it goes. that it does cost a lot
and running them wherever the hell you Still on the Montage tip, with that - Some of the mix modules dont
quite mix as youd expect
like, maybe into those classic modules. synth we were talking about a pinnacle - They could have thrown some
Within seconds of thinking this, I had of digital excellence and with SENSEI, cables in!
two outs from Quadnic linked to the maybe we have a pinnacle of modular
With classic filters, digital
extravagance, options aplenty,
Alternatives
Seriously, you want alternatives, to this? How long have you got? Right, modular sytems are go; there are plenty or full a massive sound, all built for you
systems that will do what SENSEI does if youre prepared to do the groundwork and find all the modules yourself. And if and with looks to die for, this is
you are the sort of person who likes to do this, you wont want us telling you which ones to get, which is just as well, as there the best synth you can choose to
are too many to list. Plenty of classic filters to be had, too. At Superbooth, we saw several from Portugese company ADDAC, have someone else build for you.
for example, but there are many more. Of course, you could opt for a complete synth and again, your options are many and Portable, powerful, beautiful and
varied. Individually, you could get a Korg ARP Odyssey, or a Moog Mother-32 to get you some classic analogue sounds and sonically incredible. Sell your car,
still have some fun with semi- and full-modular respectively. But, really, you should also look at getting some digital action your kids and your soul for it

10/10
in there, too, so perhaps a Roland JD-XA (a great synth I reviewed a year ago now) could be the answer, with analogue and
digital engines. But even that doesnt really come close to SENSEI, so really you will have to build a system yourself. Lots of
fun, yes but on this occasion, Im happy that SE did it for me.

68 | June 2016 MAGAZINE

MT159.REV SE Sensei.indd 68 04/05/2016 12:35


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MT Reviews Allen & Heath Zed series mixers

ALLEN & HEATH Choice Value

9/10
9
9/10 $
Details
Price
ZED series
ZED -6: 99 (street)
ZEDi-10FX: 249
With more people peering from out of their computers into the world of hardware
(street)
Contact
for music production, the studio mixer is making a comeback in all sorts of
Audio Technica
0113 277 1441
shapes and sizes. Andy Jones looks at two models in the ZED series from
Web Allen & Heath, which appeal to two very different groups of musicians
allen-heath.com

E
Key features very month, I seem to be writing extra channels of input. This might be your desktop, with a small footprint and
ZED-6 about hardware making a the person who was using Reason or six inputs to choose from. You get two
6-input compact comeback within the recording Live for everything, but who has been line and instrument inputs with DI (so
analogue mixer
studio. But, to be clear here, Im tempted by the addition of an analogue no extra boxes are needed to match
2 Mic/Line Ins
with XLR and TRS not talking about a complete reversal synth or expensive mic-pre for better levels); and two stereo inputs.
jack sockets of the computer only route of music recording, so requires additional (but The ZED series features the new
2 Stereo Ins with production in the early noughties and a not many) connections. GSPre boutique preamp design which
TRS jack sockets
2 high-imp. DI/
return to the 70s, where tape and valves Either way, the small mixer is king. is lifted from A&Hs GS-R24 console
Guitar inputs ruled. No, all Im talking about is a shift And here are two examples from the and boasts a low noise floor and
Low-cut filter from the computer acting as the ZED series from Allen & Heath, masters promises analogue warmth. Both were
2-band EQ conduit for everything to set-ups where of mixers of all sizes. evident in my tests, with analogue
60mm fader
the workload and flow is shared and, synths running through the mixer with
Weight (kg): 1.2
Dimensions
more importantly, the emphasis is
moved away from the Mac or PC.
It boasts a low noise floor and
(w x h x d):
249 x 89 x 236 So, rather than the computer
providing all of the sounds and
ZEDi-10FX
8-input compact outboard processing that it once did,
analogue components are being
promises analogue warmth, and
both are evident in our tests
analogue mixer
4 Mic/Line Ins brought back into the mix still more
with XLR and TRS
jack sockets highly regarded than their digital or
2 Stereo Ins with virtual counterparts. And with more
TRS jack sockets analogue gear, more hardware mixing is The range little noise and signals well and truly
2 high-imp. DI/
needed: hence, a resurgence in the The ZED series has been around for a buffed and beefed up with the onboard
Guitar inputs
Low-cut filter humble hardware mixer. while, but has recently been added to LF dial. A Mid control would have been
3-band EQ Yet its the small format mixer that with several models, including the nice, but Im not complaining too much
60mm fader were hearing more about than any ZED-6 (on test here). Others have had in this department, as theres enough
Aux out other, and this is the mixer of choice for the letter i added, which could denote movement in the LF and HF controls
USB out switcher
a few reasons. The first is the iOS support but actually stands for to cater for subtle and more radical
Headphone
select switcher prevalence of YouTube videographers, interface. We have very much what you sound-character changes.
FX Engine with who need to mix simple soundtracks; might call the top and bottom models in Asking for faders in a mixer this size
tap tempo then theres the popularity of the the range on test here. The larger (and for a street price in two figures)
2 Stereo Ins with guitarist/singer-songwriter (he or she ZEDi-10FX acts as that interface via seems a little churlish, too, especially
TRS jack sockets
Weight (Kg): 2.3
needs a mic and a guitar, and that is it); USB and comes with onboard effects. given the rotaries are easy to use and
Dimensions and last but not least, there is the But well kick things off with the ZED-6. with enough space to breathe.
(w x h x d): ex totally-in-the-box producer, who This is a sturdy little unit and it Overall, that street price makes this
333 x 97 x 275
is just starting to experiment with really does feel robust, especially given mixer a great buy. It does a job and,
external gear, so only requires a few its diminutive size that sits well on okay, not much more but it does it well

70 | June 2016 MAGAZINE

MT159.REV A&H mixers.indd 70 21/04/2016 15:01


Allen & Heath Zed series mixers Reviews MT

Alternatives
The small-mixer market is, as Ive said, huge! I
looked at the Mackie Mix series last year, which
offers incredibly cheap analogue mixing, also
in compact and sturdy boxes, but with no USB
interfacing (although there are other Mackie
models that do). Better still is the AG mixer
range from Yamaha. While the mixers in it are
both smaller in terms of spec, both also act as
USB interfaces. The six-channel AG06 is only
marginally more expensive than the smaller
and its a job that is increasingly the effects that make up the FX part of A&H one on test here, and is a great alternative.
demanded from guitarists and vocalists its name. Levels here are controlled by
(not to mention bloggers). Consequently, the yellow rotaries on each channel and
I can see A&H shifting the ZED-6 in you can also adjust the timing of the
great quantities. delays with the Tap Tempo button.
Usefully, holding this allows you to
ZEDi-10FX access the chosen effects main
And so to the ZEDi-10FX. On paper, it parameter, which you can then adjust
simply looks like a bigger version of the with the main FX Select rotary.
6, but there are three notable additions: Effects are generally delays, reverbs
that iOS support, those additional and chorus/modulation effects. They
effects and its USB interfacing. The are surprisingly clean and usable,
latter is pretty much plug n play. Both offering some extra flexibility when
Live and Logic picked the unit up recording instruments and adding
straight away and I was quickly up and another option to the list of the 10s
running, routing my synths into both uses, as the effects certainly bolster its
DAWs via channels 3 and 4 of the mixer. features when used as a recording
One thing worth noting is that plugging mixer for bands.
a signal into the stereo ST2s does cut MT Verdict ZED-6
the USB signal out, so try to avoid that Conclusion
+ Low-noise mixer
trap (that I fell in to!). They might be in the same range, look + Feels very solid and robust
Again, the sound is very clean, no the same and have the same feel but + Very compact and simple layout
noise, and the 10 benefits from a the ZED-6 and ZEDi-10FX mixers serve + No DI needed
midrange EQ to help bolster or shape very different purposes and work on + Good enough build for taking on
the road
your vocal-frequency areas. More very different levels. The 6 is the ideal
+ Easy to use and just does the job
rotaries does mean less space on the no-nonsense, small mixer for a single
front panel; you might find controlling musician with a guitar and mic, or a - No faders, only rotaries
these a little more finnicky. The routing podcaster with a mic and an opinion to - Mid control would have been nice
options and other features on the 10 spout. It does the job well with no fuss
The ZED-6 does what is asked of it.
are surprisingly abundant. As well as and for very little outlay, and on that Its a no-nonsense, low-noise
pre-fade listens on each channel (also score and for the cash, Id find it hard solution ideally suited to the
on the 6), theres a USB-out selector to not to recommend it. guitarist singer/songwriter and its
choose which four sources are sent to Id say the ZEDi-10FX works well for street price vs practical features
and that build quality makes it
a bit of a steal.

They might be in the same 8/10


range and look the same but MT Verdict ZEDi-10FX
they are very different mixers + Low noise, high spec
+ Again, its very solid and robust
+ Compact and easy layout
the Out (combinations of mono, stereo, a very different and larger audience. It + Good routing options and
FX and Aux to choose from). Theres a operates in a very straightforward way connectors
useful Aux Out and Footswitch as a simple but well-featured interface + Good recording mixer, with very
useable effects
connector and three choices to route to for both iOS and computer. As such, it + Easy-to-use USB interface
the phones output (FX send, Aux send allows DAW owners into an outside
or ST3), otherwise you just hear the world full of wonder and exotic boxes, - No faders, only rotaries
main mix. For use with iOS, youll need a but it can also act as a recording mixer - Rotaries are a little crowded
camera-connection kit (pretty standard for bands, especially with those The ZEDi-10FX is surprisingly
these days), but as an interface, the 10 onboard effects. On an even simpler flexible, appealing to both recording
is pretty adept and as plug n play as level, you could just use it as a summing bands and, with its easy USB
you could ask for. mixer for playing live or recording, so interfacing, an increasing number
of computer musicians wanting to
there are lots of potential customers
branch outwards.
The FX
9/10
out there. It may cost that bit more than
So thats the interfacing and the extra the 6, but this extra flexibility will
features of the 10 covered now onto certainly win it a lot of friends. MT

MAGAZINE June 2016 | 71

MT159.REV A&H mixers.indd 71 21/04/2016 15:01


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Waves Abbey Road Reverb Plates Reviews MT

Choice

9/10
9
9/10
WAVES
Abbey Road
Reverb Plates
Waves latest offering, Abbey Road Reverb Plates, focuses on a
true classic of vintage reverb. Mark Cousins enjoys a helping of
diffuse, warm reverb, handed to him on a plate

L
Details ong before the rise of digital Although its likely that youll find Plate up
Manufacturer Waves reverb, ingenious audio plate-like settings on your existing The joy of plate reverb lies in the crude
Price $249 engineers used a variety of software reverb, or indeed, an impulse but effective ways you can tweak its
Web www.waves.com electromechanical means to response sourced from an original EMT sonic performance from the
create artificial ambience in their unit, the number of modelled plate mechanical damping system used to
recordings from primitive spring- reverb plug-ins is relatively small, with reduce reverb time, through to the
based units, to dedicated reverb Universal Audios EMT 140 arguably application of EQ to change the tone of
chambers with a speaker and being the favoured choice among many the plate. As youd expect from Waves,
microphone at either end of a tiled professional sound engineers. Given the modelling is fantastic and
room. Arguably the most well-respected Waves close alliance with Abbey Road immediately noticeable in the different
tone of the four plates. No two plates
sound the same, and when you also
Plate reverbs were renowned factor in the various tweaks made by
the Abbey Road engineers including
for a smooth sound, devoid of cleaner solid-state amplifiers for some
of the units, and the completely
Features spring reverbs boing valve-driven D plates youll find a
remarkably different colour from each
Precise
modelling of four of the four plates.
legendary Abbey vintage reverb is the plate reverb, as Studios, it makes sense that the Alongside the choice of Plate, the
Road plates
A drive control
exemplified with the classic EMT 140, companys latest plug-in Abbey Road other principal parameter is the
to set the THD which used a large suspended metal Reverb Plates models the Damper control, which selects one of
characteristics plate as a means of producing its four plate reverbs installed deep in the 11 different Damper positions. In
Control the
unique form of artificial ambience. the studios vaults. Based on the effect, the Damper is akin to a reverb
amount of
analogue noise Plate reverbs were renowned for their original EMT 140 reverbs, but with time control, moving between the
and hum sumptuously smooth sound, devoid of modifications implemented by Abbey shortest reverb time of around one
Four original
the spring reverbs characteristic boing Roads engineers, these classic plate second, up to maximum reverb time of
bass-cut
positions and without the somewhat brittle edge reverbs have been in service since the 5.4 seconds. What is intriguing, though,
of a digital reverb. late-50s, gracing countless hit records. is that the precise effect of each

MAGAZINE June 2016 | 73

MT159.REV Abbey Road.indd 73 25/04/2016 13:55


MT Reviews Waves Abbey Road Reverb Plates

damper positions varies radically from Alternatives Big room


plate to plate, both in respect to the Arguably the most authentic plate reverb to date is Universal Audios As long-term fans of UAD EMT 140, we
time of the reverb, but also its timbral EMT 140, which is fully endorsed by EMT, the German company that have to say that we were impressed by
originally built the same plates used in Abbey Road Studios. The biggest
content. Given these unique and varying catch with the EMT 140 is that youll need the appropriate UAD hardware the sound of the Abbey Road Reverb
properties, you can see why many of to run the plug-in, while Abbey Road Reverb Plates, of course, runs Plates plug-in. Of course, there are
natively. Both plug-ins sound authentic, but its worth noting that the
Abbey Roads engineers had distinct Waves version has four different plates compared to the EMT 140s three,
subjective differences between the
and personal preferences for which and that the modelled EQ and additional Drive can impart some extra plates themselves, as well as relative
plate they wanted to use! subjective warmth to the sound of Abbey Road Reverb Plates. advancements in modelling technology,
At its shortest setting, Abbey Road but in use on many applications (and
Reverb Plates can add a small Visually speaking, theres a lot to like especially on Plate D), we felt the Abbey
wraparound ambience to drums, about Abbey Road Reverb Plates, with Road Reverb Plates delivered a more
devoid of the flutter or grittiness of a two different interface sizes to work flattering and authentic sound to that
digital reverb, which can start to clutter with. In its full size, you get to see an of the UAD EMT 140, which might be
up the mix. The longer settings animation of sound waves moving starting to show its age somewhat.
(combined with plenty of pre delay) across the plates surface, with clear However, its worth noting that Abbey
sound great on vocals, creating a metering for the input and outputs of Road Reverb Plates isnt light on CPU
smooth, floating reverb. Just like a real the plug-in. Collapse the display, usage, but then we would rather have
plate, the high diffusion means that though, and the interface just presents access to three or so good reverbs,
longer tails can exhibit a slight ringing the main editable controls; useful if rather than use multiple instances of a
tone, which might not be so useful youre working on a laptop. mediocre plug-in.
applied across a soft string pad. Whether youre after an authentic
Ultimately, though, its a case of Plate tectonics 60s-sounding reverb, or a reverb that
horses for courses, which is why As with a hardware plate reverb, Abbey can flatter an input in a way that is
many engineers use three or four Road Reverb Plates places itself into impossible to achieve with conventional
different contrasting types of reverb the mix beautifully, sitting behind the reverbs, then the Abbey Road Reverb
rather than just a single plug-in. input rather than cluttering-up the Plates option is well worth closer
soundstage. Used as a reverb applied to attention. Of course, plate reverb wont
Polished performance drums, vocal or acoustic guitar, Abbey be to everyones taste, although once
EQing the plate, using the Treble control Road Reverb Plates sounds great, you start to appreciate the unique tone
and a Bass Cut, is another great way of benefitting from the characteristically and diffuse properties of a plate, you
changing the sound moving between diffuse (and therefore smooth) sound may find yourself turning to it on a
a short, bright reverb, to something dark that an EMT 140 delivers. Needless to regular basis.
and long. The attention to detail here is say, Abbey Road Reverb Plates captures Despite a wealth of reverb options in
impressive, with the Bass Cut positions a large part of the vibe of mixes from our studio, we still found ourselves
being won over by the sound and charm
of Abbey Road Reverb Plates. Even if

Many Abbey Road engineers


you think youve got plate reverb
covered in your setup, therefore, its still

had their own preference for


worth taking a closer look at Abbey
Road Reverb Plates as a means of

the plate they wanted to use


contrasting the sounds and plug-ins
you already have (even if that arsenal
includes a real plate!). And if youre
missing a good plate reverb altogether,
modelled from the EMTs circuitry, while the 60s and 70s, so is great on anything make sure you check out Abbey Road
the 4,000Hz Treble shelf is lifted from needing a suitably retro tone whether Reverb Plates, as Waves has arguably
the classic EMI console design. Going its a Fender Rhodes, twangy surf guitar, produced the most versatile and
further still, you can also adjust the or some Mellotron flutes. authentic-sounding plate-reverb
amount of Drive as well as an Analog Compared to solutions based of emulation to date. MT
control, both of which distress the Impulse Response files, theres an
sound with vintage distortion, hiss and immediate benefit with the editability MT Verdict
mains hum. For those who love the of modelled plate reverb. Rather than
+ Authentic plate sound
sound of a plate but not the noise, just having a few sampled IR files + Four different plates
the ability to dial in the amount of covering three or so Damper positions, + Flexible EQ and drive options
degradation might even trump access the combination of four different plates, + Cleaner than a real plate
to a real plate! multiple damper positions and various
- Detailed modelling may push
types of EQ means that Abbey Road
In use tip some CPUs
Reverb Plates is an incredibly versatile
The original EMT plate reverb was a Mono In/
Stereo Out device, so its worth noting the reverb, with around 44 different start One of the best vintage-reverb
inclusion of the Crosstalk parameter when points for your reverb tail. Having emulations weve seen, Abbey Road
using the Abbey Road Reverb Plates as a true Reverb Plates captures the diffuse
relatively few controls means that they
stereo processor. Crosstalk works as form of character and warmth of a real
stereo-width control on the input, so if you have a tangible effect on the sound, plate-reverb unit.
making the reverb feel responsive, and
9/10
want a more authentic stereo image, consider
increasing the Crosstalk to make the input
something you want to tweak, rather
more monaural.
than just resorting to the presets.

74 | June 2016 MAGAZINE

MT159.REV Abbey Road.indd 74 25/04/2016 13:55



MT Reviews Garritan Personal Orchestra 5

Choice Value

9/10
9
9/10 $

GARRITAN
Personal
Orchestra 5
Garritan Personal Orchestra has always been about
democratic orchestral-music making for all, at an
affordable price. Does GPO5 continue the tradition?
Keith Gemmell conducts the investigation

G
Details arritans highly successful expanded choir; new Steinway pianos; a channel strip in the mixer and can be
Product Garritan Personal Orchestra has new harp and a custom organ console. treated with either convolution or
Personal Orchestra 5
been selling steadily since 16 new impulse presets have also been algorithmic reverb in the effects page.
Publisher Garritan,
MakeMusic 2004. It first appeared as a added to the convolution reverb. The settings page handles the more
Price 99 Kontakt Player instrument, but was Central to GPO5 is the ARIA Player advanced technical details such as
Contact Time+Space updated in 2009 as GPO4, with its own and after installing the software, performance monitoring, rendering
+44 (0)1837 55200
built-in ARIA Player developed by unlocking it couldnt be easier. You settings, tuning and so on.
Web
www.garritan.com Plogue Art Et Technologie. Since then, simply drag a registration card onto the
Super strings
The number of instruments now
As good as it is, PO was included has increased dramatically in
this new version, due mainly to the
beginning to look and sound inclusion of the Garritan Orchestral
Strings, which includes sections, small

Features
a little long in the tooth
Advanced ARIA Alternatives
player engine Miroslav Philharmonik 2 from IK Multimedia is
updates have been few and far between player. No extra sample player is
All major a good alternative to GPO5. It, too, contains a
orchestral and as good as it is, it was beginning to needed and it functions either full symphony orchestra including solo strings,
instruments look and sound a little long in the tooth standalone, or as a plug-in for your and has a straightforward user interface. It
included also contains a range of effects should you
compared to its competitors the DAW. Its amazingly efficient and wish to add flanging and chorus to your
Over 500
instrument strings in particular needed updating. loading sounds is fast and easy using a symphony orchestra useful, but not
patches The long wait is now over, though, and simple drop-down menu system. There essential. At 76, the often-overlooked HALion
Symphony Orchestra is a real steal at the
Ensemble GPO5s instrument list has 70 per cent are four main pages controls, mixer, moment: again, a simple interface and a full
presets
more patches overall; the addition of effects and settings. Each instrument symphony orchestra at your disposal. And
Convolution 2015s Orchestral Suite from UVI has 60
reverb Garritan Orchestral Strings; updated appears with its own particular set of
classical instruments.
ProjectSAM brass patches; an relevant controls, has a dedicated

76 | June 2016 MAGAZINE

MT159.REV GPO5.indd 76 21/04/2016 15:06


Garritan Personal Orchestra 5 Reviews MT

the seven white keys in an octave; great


Info page Controls page
for glissandi.
Loading instruments in ARIA is incredibly easy Instrument controls vary according to which
using a drop-down menu system. Here, we instrument is selected. This is the Violin 1 When it comes to pianos, Garritan
have a complete chamber orchestra selected set with ADSR dials, tone, mod wheel and always seem to excel and the new
from the Ensemble menu (top right). portamento, all with assigned CC numbers.
Also found here is EQ and auto-legato.
Steinway Models D and B are superb.
With subtly different tones and two
versions of each model, these are worth
the asking price of GPO5 alone.
Advertised as a new feature in GPO5,
Sonic morphing was first introduced to
Garritan products way back with his
Stradivari violin. Basically, as the
Mixer page dynamic range of an instrument
If you want, you can mix an entire project increases, so does its timbre in a
within ARIA using its mixer. Nothing fancy smooth and continuous fashion,
just volume, pan and sends for the reverbs,
Effects without any noticeable transitions. It
found in the Effects page. EQ is applied in the
Controls page. Both algorithmic (ambience) and convolution works well on brass and woodwind,
reverbs can be applied in the Effects page. particularly with the French horns, and
Ambience has a comprehensive set of controls
and the convolution has a large number of improves the playing experience of solo
presets suitable for all kinds of spaces, rooms sustained instruments considerably.
and halls.
Other instrument libraries have a
similar feature but, to our knowledge,
no other full orchestral library does.
This is a brilliant orchestral library.
No, it doesnt have the very best-quality
sounds throughout, and there are a few
bugs to be sorted out. However, its
section and solo patches in a wide packed with every orchestral
variety of bowing techniques. Due to instrument any composer, arranger or
the original Garritan philosophy of student might need to write classical
providing an affordable full orchestral music, whether for large or small
library with a light footprint, string Overall, the strings are a big ensembles and is probably the most
articulations were kept to a minimum improvement and our only grumble is complete library of its type. MT
in previous versions. But with todays with the fixed vibrato on some patches,
computers, resource management is which becomes irritating after a while. Do you really need this?
less of an issue, and GPO5 now has Nevertheless, at this price point and If you compose or arrange orchestral music
thats eventually going to be played by real
musicians in the time honoured old-fashioned
way, then Garritans Personal Orchestra is

The strings are a big


really all you need. It provides a super-fast
workflow and an accurate-sounding rendition
with easy controls and built-in mixing

improvement, with a huge facilities. That said, if youre prepared to put in


some extra work, highly convincing mock-ups
are also possible.

amount of variation MT Verdict


+ Complete sampled orchestra
more bowing techniques than some of considering the sheer amount of + Efficient ARIA player
the higher end dedicated string variation you get fair enough. + Self contained sounds, EQ,
libraries. Apart from common reverb, mixer
articulations like Sustain, Pizzicato, Heavenly voices + Great value for money
Staccato and Marcato, the large section The choir is an improvement on the one - Fixed-string vibrato
contains Heavy Vibrato, Grand Detache, in GPO4, which only included a light - A few bugs (being sorted)
Martele, Potato, Col Legno, Sautille and version and the addition of a boys choir
Sul Tasto. As the workhorses of the and a mixed childrens choir is very Garritans Personal Orchestra has
always been a great value-for-
orchestra, the strings play almost welcome these touches make GPO money, highly efficient orchestral
constantly throughout a piece, stand out from the competition. library with a fast workflow and
providing melody, rhythm and Gary Garritan specialises in harp respectable sampled instruments.
accompaniment. So to reproduce sampling (he is a harpist after all) and Version 5 is even better, with
improved sounds and a helluva
authentic-sounding symphonic strings so we expected the new Grand Concert
lot more of them.

9/10
with samples, you need as many Harp to be up to scratch it produces a
options as possible. GPO5 goes a long magical crystal-clear tone, and even
way towards achieving this. features an authentic pedal mode on

MAGAZINE June 2016 | 77

MT159.REV GPO5.indd 77 21/04/2016 15:06


MT Reviews Expert Sleepers Disting Mk3

EXPERT SLEEPERS
Disting Mk3
The Eurorack module that is so packed full
of functionality, youll hardly know what to
use first. Dave Gale switches on and plugs in

it a home, but of course, it could be clockable delay. Patching in the audio,


argued that with this small form factor I also opted to clock the delay from my
might come difficulties in operation. sequencer. Immediately, there it was,
Well, you would think that, but the with full feedback control and an option
answer really is an emphatic no. The for both dry/wet and wet outputs! Not
reason being that once your mode of only that, but the quality of what I was
operation is selected, its pretty likely hearing was crisp and detailed; easily
that you will leave it set for the duration up to the par of dedicated delay units.
of whatever you are doing. At this point, I thought to myself that
Excellence

10/10
The layout of this module consists one delay alone would probably justify
of two rotary encoders labelled S & Z the 125 price tag, but then I noticed
(which also double as buttons); a small that there were all manner of delays
Details grid to allow the user to see the chosen available; ping pong, Tape delay and
Kit Disting Mk3
algorithm; and a total of five mini-jack Voltage-controlled delay are all on offer

F
Manufacturer
Expert Sleepers or most of us Eurorack folk, I/Os, which have the added bonus of in this compact unit.
Price 125 we see a unit with a purpose being lit! Lets face it, who doesnt love Now I was really interested. What
Contact via Forums in mind and start drooling a mini-jack socket that lights up? Plus, else was on offer? Well, so much in fact,
(Muffwiggler/KVR) at the prospect of how we these sockets will brighten and dim it would be impossible to talk about
or Twitter
@expertsleepers can incorporate it into our already according to the strength of the audio most of it in detail. We have a clockable
Web www.expert- overcrowded cases and make it work signal/CV that is present. LFO, offering four waveshapes, with
sleepers.co.uk
for us. Thanks to firmware updates, The I/Os are labelled very clearly, simultaneous use of a square wave,
these units may develop over time and XYZ are input based, while A & B are with either a saw, sine or triangle wave.
Features
We have a quantiser, a dual waveshaper,
Multi-mode

With so much functionality


Eurorack module
a sample-and-hold generator and a
More than 20 pitch and envelope tracker.
functions, and

on offer, this unit is something


In fact, and this is what really
expandable
staggered me, there are FM- and
Modes include

of a no-brainer
Clockable waveshaping-based VCO algorithms,
Delays, numerous filter algorithms, envelopes
Clockable
and VCAs so, in theory, you could
LFOs, Filters,
Oscillators make up a system of Disting Mk3s, that
and more might have additional functionality. outputs. The X & Y input function would be a tiny and very comprehensive
Multi-purpose
Well, here we have a module which is changes according to the selected synth voice. Amazing!
inputs and
outputs, which so packed with functionality, that its algorithm, while the Z input offers CV I was curious enough to turn my
illuminate when difficult to know what to try first. control of the similarly labelled Z attention to the wave-shaping
a signal
is present
rotary encoder. oscillator. Theres plenty to work with
Size: 4HP The X, Y & Z factor Time to dial up my first algorithm, here, in the subtractive sense. Large
Depth: 42mm The immediately obvious and so my first port of call was something bright waveforms, with a huge range of
Power inescapable point to make about this audio based, which would allow me to frequency operation, which seemed to
consumption:
70mA
module is that it is pint-sized! At 4HP, very clearly hear what the Disting was be very stable, more so than some VCOs
just about everyone will be able to give doing, so I immediately plumped for the I have seen in the past. I dont think the

78 | June 2016 MAGAZINE

MT159.REV Disting.indd 78 04/05/2016 12:20


Alternatives
Now this is a very tricky one, because there really isnt that much out there that will
come close to this unit, at least in size and all in one functionality. It does however
supercede the Disting Mk2, which many users reported was pretty hungry on power
consumption, for something so small. The Mk3 halves the amount of power
consumption and adds a significant number of
algorithms, so Mk2 owners may want
to consider the upgrade.

Disting would be my first choice for an


oscillator, but granted, its up against
dedicated modules, which often cost
twice the price.
Personally, I found myself being
drawn to the clockable modes, such as
the Delays and LFOs, but that in no way
diminishes the additional functionality.
It s just a shame that its not possible
to use more than one algorithm at a
time, because you absolutely would,
if you could.

Conclusion
With so much functionality on offer,
this unit is something of a no-brainer.
I was concerned that the small form
might not sit well with my frankly
sausage-like fingers, but this was not a
problem in any way. The display matrix
could have been slightly more helpful
to my ailing eyesight, but it is pretty
clear, just not terribly large. With
promised firmware updates to follow,
which means even more functionality,
this would be a huge boon to any
small- to medium-sized Eurorack
system, so much so, you might even find
a place for more than one of them! MT

Do you really need this?


In a word, yes. With so much kit out there
for us to choose from, this module could be
described as an all-in-one toolkit, that will be
especially useful for anyone starting out with
a smaller- to medium-sized system. If you
have a portable case that you take out on gigs,
this should be in your rig. Itll do so much, it
could replace 10 other modules in one swipe.

MT Verdict
+ Small and compact design
+ Unbelievable amount of
functionality for the money
+ Great build quality
+ Exceptionally useful on
many levels
+ User-upgradable, and therefore
future proof
+ Looks terrific when in operation

- Algorithm-selection grid could be


a little clearer/brighter to view

Packed full of functionality, its


difficult imagine who couldnt use
one of these Its such a useful
bit of kit

10/10

MT159.REV Disting.indd 79 04/05/2016 12:20


MT Reviews Zivix Jamstik+

Choice

9/10
9
9/10
Alternatives
Game controllers! The good old Wii Remote
still works great with MIDI, thanks to
translator applications like OSCulator.

ZIVIX
Livid Instruments Guitar Wing adds a MIDI
controller with buttons and motion detection
to your real guitar. MIDI guitar pickups

Jamstik+
are the more high-end, expensive way. See
Roland and Fishman as examples

audio clips, and the d-pad buttons to


activate effects, and it was as fun as it
Zivixs Jamstik is billed as a guitar learning aid, could be which is a lot. I then routed
but Martin Delaney has other ideas it could notes and CCs from the Jamstik+, via
Live, out to a Bass Station 2, using the
just be a great MIDI controller too semi-guitar vibe to play bass and lead
tones; and remember, this is wireless

U
Details s music tech types have an and MIDI channels (each string can be with Bluetooth, so you can walk and
Price $299 insatiable curiosity about assigned to a different channel, which play. On iOS, the Jamstik+ experience is
Contact alternative MIDI controllers, opens things up for software control). more or less the same, using the app for
www.jamstik.com
whether its to replace or Ableton Live is a natural partner for configuration and then playing various
complement our existing setup. Theres the device its rewarding to trigger soft soft synth apps the guitar tutorial
always room for one more, right? Enter synths like Operator from this petite content is also available across all
the Jamstik+, a guitar tuition tool which stringed instrument, which feels more platforms if you want it. Lefties can
might seem kind of toy-like, with its like a MIDI ukulele than a guitar once enjoy the Jamstik too change the
little plastic body (just over 16 long) its strapped on. Of course you can use orientation in the app, and flip the
and stubby five-fret neck, but has huge any type of sound, so if you like the idea Jamstik+ over.
potential for MIDI control, putting it of programming beats from a guitar I wouldnt use the Jamstik+in any
squarely in the sights of any free- interface, youll be in heaven. There kind of guitar role I have guitars for
thinking controller geek. (Yes, the + in were no issues using Logic instruments that. It is, however, an awesome MIDI
the name is important it is an update and third party plug-ins at the most input device and is a surprisingly
to the original Jamstik, which relied on basic level its just like configuring a expressive little instrument. If you like
WiFi to connect to a computer, while the MIDI keyboard. It doesnt feel remotely custom control setups and game
Jamstik+ uses Bluetooth or USB.) like playing a guitar with a MIDI pickup; controllers, this is one you should try. MT
Infrared sensors in the fingerboard although the Jamstik+ uses real
combine with a hexaphonic pickup to strings, theyre very short, and theres no
MT Verdict
send note and string information to acoustic resonance at all, like youd get
your Mac, Android, or iOS device, with when you play an unplugged electric + Excellent MIDI guitar controller
further control messages being sent via guitar. No physical tuning is needed, + Easy Bluetooth or USB
connection
an accelerometer. Theres also an either its handled by the app, where + Accelerometer is great for effect
inordinately large mute button located you can specify any custom tuning you controls
where the bridge is on a normal guitar, like, per string. By default the d-pad + Portable little package
and a d-pad type arrangement of buttons provide octave +/- and capo + Works with iOS or OS X
+ Great for Ableton Live users
buttons on the top edge of the body. The functions. You can use a pick, or play
Features package contains the Jamstik+, a micro finger-style, and theres a tap mode - Neck dives a bit
Guitar tuition
USB cable, guitar strap, picks, and optimised for one/two handed tapping. - Price will deter the merely curious
tool/MIDI
controller printed setup information. The The accelerometer reinforces the game - Not necessarily a first-choice
5-fret neck, 16 Jamstik+ charges from the computer or controller angle, and this can send any guitar learning tool
long
any standard USB charger, and should MIDI control message, so you could be The Jamstik is quirky, its not cheap,
Works with Mac,
Android, OSX provide around 8 hours of use per playing notes on the Jamstik+ and then and Im not convinced of its value
Mute button and charge (courtesy of a replaceable give it a wiggle to change your filter as a guitar learning tool. But on the
d-pad control phone-style battery). Its frequency, for example. Setting changes major however front, its a
Charges via fascinating and fun MIDI device for
straightforward to set up - theres a are stored dynamically in the Jamstik+, anybody who loves new ways of
computer USB
8 hours per
dedicated free app available on all but Id like to be able to save a library of communicating with their software,
charge platforms which handles the Bluetooth presets for different situations. and particularly recommended if
Particularly connection, string behaviours, velocity I built an Ableton set to make use of you like game controllers.
good with
Ableton Live
response, trigger sensitivity, general
MIDI functions, button assignments,
the 6 strings and 5 frets and separate
MIDI channels to launch a 6x5 block of
9/10
80 | June 2016 MAGAZINE

MT159.REV jamstick.indd 80 03/05/2016 15:19



MT Reviews Avid Pro Tools 12.5

AVID
Pro Tools 12.5
The latest point update to Avids professional DAW
brings cloud collaboration. Mike Hillier checks it out

P
Details ro Tools 12 was launched in The first update came shortly incredibly large sessions on native
Manufacturer Avid March 2015 and the initial afterwards, and as promised was DAWs for a few years now, with CPU
Price see boxout response was flat, to say the free to subscribers. This new update limits rarely ever providing a bottleneck.
Contact least. The launch version had brought previously HD-only features, USB 3.0 and ThunderBolt have enabled
Web www.avid.com
very little to write home about, other such as larger sessions, improved track large I/O counts at ever-decreasing
Minimum system
requirements than a new subscription-pricing model soloing, and a native version of Avids latencies, further eroding the
PC Windows 7 and a promise of things to come. In fact Heat saturation effect, to the standard advantages of a HD hardware system.
64-bit, Intel Core i5
processor, 8GB RAM,
for users upgrading from Pro Tools 11, version of Pro Tools. The dichotomy Dedicated DSP systems, such as the
15GB HDD space, UAD 2.0, have replicated some of the
iLok 2 DSP power of the HD and HDX hardware
Mac OSX 10.8.5, Intel
Core i5 processor, Smaller studios can now and with the Apollo systems, this can
even be achieved with low latencies just
invest in Pro Tools knowing
8GB RAM, 15GB HDD
space, iLok 2
like with an HD or HDX system. Yet with
many of Pro Tools advanced features
that theyre not missing out available only to HD customers, users
were looking elsewhere. So moving
Features these into the native version of Pro Tools
New cloud Pro Tools 12 offered little more than a between native Pro Tools (previously makes a lot of sense. HDX systems
collaboration
few bug fixes. Users looking very, very Pro Tools LE) and Pro Tools|HD has remain incredibly powerful, and the top
Projects
3 Projects free closely might have spotted some minor always been an odd one. The DSP power end of pro studios are still investing.
500MB online changes to the I/O setup window. But of HD was essential for studios in the Although its yet to be seen whether
storage free these caused as many problems as past, enabling large sessions and low that market is sufficient to keep Avid
30-70% lossless
they fixed. However, the way was being latencies that were impossible to investing in HDX development, at least
wavepack
compression paved for improvements in the future achieve natively, and explains why Pro now the smaller studios and especially
Storage with a new application manager, and Tools became the industry standard. project-studio owners can invest in Pro
upgrades from the option to purchase and rent But this advantage has been steadily Tools knowing that they arent missing
$10 / month
plug-ins from inside Pro Tools. eroded and users have been able to run out on anything important.

82 | June 2016 MAGAZINE

MT159.REV AvidProTools.indd 82 04/05/2016 12:15 Focal


Avid Pro Tools 12.5 Reviews MT

Pro Tools 12.2 brought more


previously-HD-only features to the
native version, including advanced
metering, and VCA masters. It also
introduced a new plug-in bundle, which
adds 16 new stompbox-style effects to
the bundled plug-in library. These
effects model a variety of popular guitar
stompbox effects and act as a useful
complement to the older Avid effects.
One other effect that was also added as
part of the subscription bundled at 12.2
was Avid Space, an updated version of
the old TL Space convolution reverb
plug-in. Space is a fantastic effect, and
one weve used on countless mixes, so
its good to see this effect continue to
be given attention.
Quick on the heels of 12.2 came Pro
Tools 12.3, the update that finally got
users excited about upgrading. The big
announcement with 12.3 was that in
order to streamline workflows, in
anticipation of the cloud-collaboration Commit, which played a similar
features, Pro Tools was finally getting a function. Track Commit enables users
freeze function a feature already to quickly render a track to a new Audio wish. Tracks with multiple plug-ins
available in most other DAWs and track with the plug-in effects printed could be committed at any point in the
something users had been begging for down. The old track would then be chain, with plug-ins after the commit
for years. 12.3 itself didnt have the hidden and made inactive, but could be point copied to the new Audio track.
freeze function, but it had Track brought back at any time should you Users have been able to do this

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Spring sale 2016 Subs A4_Single_FINAL.indd 34 23/02/2016 22:42


Avid Pro Tools 12.5 Reviews MT

previously only by manually bouncing


the audio file to a new track. The end
result is the same, but the workflow is
much simpler. Pro Tools 12.3 also
brought other completely new features,
such as transparent clips while editing,
so you can easily see what you are
copying over as you edit.
The full freeze function came with
Pro Tools 12.4, enabling users to freeze
tracks exactly as they are, without
printing to a new audio track. Again,
users could freeze the first two
plug-ins, while leaving later plug-ins
unfrozen enabling them, for instance,
to freeze the EQ and compression in
inserts 1 and 2, while still leaving an compressor should they wish to make
additional EQ in insert 3 free to edit. changes to the channel, or simply leave
Freeze functions originally surfaced as it frozen.
a means to free up CPU processing on save any Projects you are working on to
large mixes. This is less of an issue now, Cloud nine the local drive using Save Copy In and
but Avid wasnt implementing freeze With all the pieces in place, Pro Tools selecting Session.
with this in mind. Instead, Track Freeze 12.5 finally marks the launch of cloud Projects are the new file format,
was designed with cloud collaboration collaboration within Pro Tools. When and they are essentially the same as
as its focus, enabling users to freeze or creating a new Pro Tools session, users Sessions, with the exception that they
live in the cloud rather than on any local
drives, and that you can invite other
With all the pieces in place, users to collaborate on a Project,
enabling them to open and work on the
12.5 finally marks the launch of Project from their system wherever they
are in the world.
cloud collabration in Pro Tools When you start a new Project, the
familiar Pro Tools Mix and Edit windows
open, and you can record, mix and edit
commit channels before sharing the are now asked if they would like to as you always have. New audio is
project with another engineer who may create a local Session, or an online recorded to a cache on the local drive,
not have the same plug-ins. Now a user Project. There is also a new tab on the and can then be pushed to the cloud
could add their favourite compressor New file dashboard for keeping track of when youre ready. Similarly, when you
plug-in to a channel, freeze it, and then and quickly launching your active are added to an existing project, the
share the Pro Tools project with a Projects. Sessions can be converted to audio is downloaded and stored in a
second user who doesnt own the same Projects using the Save Copy In menu cache on your local drive. Uploading
compressor without bouncing it down and selecting Project from the format and downloading is handled by a
to a new channel. And with the Pro Tools dropdown menu; and similarly, you can dedicated transport accelerator
marketplace up and running, that
second user could now rent the Pricing
Avids subscription-based pricing system is
a little complex, and has caused a lot of
confusion among users. At its simplest, new
users can purchase Pro Tools 12.5 with a
perpetual license for 479. This is just like
buying the old boxed copies, and provides you
with the software to use for life, as well as
upgrades for 12 months. After the 12 months,
Pro Tools will continue to work, but you will no
longer get upgrades without subscribing to an
upgrade plan.
Alternatively, new users can get Pro Tools
12.5 by paying 23 per month on a rolling
contract. You can cancel any time you want.
Or if you commit to an annual plan, the cost
falls to 20 per month.
Users wanting to upgrade their existing
Pro Tools 9, 10, 11 or 12 licences can upgrade
for 239. This provides one year of access to
the upgrade plan, and these users can then
renew their plan at the end of the year for $99*.
Upgrades for Pro Tools|HD users are more
expensive, at 768 for the first year and then
$399* each year after that.
* US dollar prices provided, as the UK price will
be linked to the exchange rate.

MAGAZINE June 2016 | 85

MT159.REV AvidProTools.indd 85 04/05/2016 12:16


Avid Pro Tools 12.5 Reviews MT

Alternatives
Having paved the way early on, Pro Tools has
lagged behind other DAWs for a while now.
Pro Tools 12.5, however, puts Avid firmly back
in the race. Cloud collaboration may not excite
everyone just yet, but its sure to be a standard
workflow in the future.

designed for media, and uses lossless


WavePack compression to reduce the
file size by 30 to 70 per cent. As well as
speeding up the transmission times,
the compression algorithm ensures
that the Project uses less of your
available cloud-drive space.
You can choose whether to
automatically upload material as you
work, or to upload changes only when accepting the changes. Now you can
youve decided you are ready. Similarly, quickly bring the parts you like from the
you can decide whether to download original back up onto the new track,
any changes, or any new tracks while keeping the parts you do like. a stem. You would still have all the drum
automatically, or wait until you are Once youre done, delete or hide and tracks on your local drive, but only the
ready. To facilitate this there are new make inactive the duplicated track stem would be shared not only
toolbar buttons, which light up when and upload your changes. preventing changes to something youre
something is ready to be uploaded or happy with, but also keeping your cloud
downloaded. Tracks also have new Global reach drive-space usage down.
indicators letting you know which Keeping track of Projects could easily Avid has done an excellent job with
tracks are shared, and which have new have become a logistical nightmare. Pro Tools 12.5, opening up Pro Tools in
changes to upload or download. There But Avid has done an excellent job with genuinely new creative ways. It wont
is also a new indicator which lets you Track ownership, elegantly indicating at be an overnight sensation, but if you
know if any user in the project has all times who is working on what. In already collaborate on material using
taken ownership of a selected track. addition, each Project has its own Chat services such as Dropbox, this is going
Ownership is an important feature in Window. This is all logged with the to be a far superior workflow. Not
everything in a Project is shareable yet:
some features, such as I/O settings and

The biggest problem for window configurations, just wouldnt


make sense to share, while others, such

many users is going to be finding as VCAs, groups and video, may come
with future updates. Initially, the biggest

someone to collaborate with problem for many users is going to be


finding someone to collaborate with.
Forums and social media will play an
Pro Tools 12.5 Projects, as it tells Project, which should help you to avoid important role in bringing musicians
everyone which user is currently potential confusion. together and, unless Avid can continue
working on which track. This prevents Currently, only the owner and two to nurture its own strong community,
two users from making changes to the additional users can have access to a are likely to be influential in the success
same track (whether that is mix or edit Project at any one time; however, it is or failure of the cloud collaboration
changes), and gives everyone on the possible to cycle users. So you could features. Until then, session musicians
session a quick visual guide to what is setup a Project with a session drummer and professional engineers are going to
going on. If a track you want to work on and a bassist, record all the parts and have to rely on their existing networks
is currently in use by another user, you then cycle the two session musicians to find clients to collaborate with. MT
can request ownership, and the for a guitarist and keyboard player, add
corresponding indicator on their Edit the vocals yourself before finally adding MT Verdict
window will light up to inform them of in a mix engineer. The person who starts
+ Subscription model includes
the request. They can then upload any a project is the owner of the project and all future upgrades
changes theyve made and hand the all files are stored on the owners cloud. + Collaborate across the globe
track over, or they can abandon the If youre a session musician, you can be
changes and give ownership back. a part of as many Projects as you like - Some features still missing
- No easy means of finding
When you receive an update to a knowing you wont need to subscribe to
collaborators as yet
track you can choose to keep, or ignore, a huge cloud drive. Since you can also
the changes made. So if the user has choose which tracks are uploaded, you A fine update and the collaboration
added a new bass solo to the middle of neednt provide access to everything in feature is well implemented
although its future success
the first verse, you dont have to keep it. the mix. So if youre happy with the
depends on word spreading.

8/10
You can also choose to use some audio drum mix, you could buss this to an Aux
edits, but not all of them. To do this, buss, freeze or commit the buss and
simply duplicate the track before then share only the stereo drum mix as

MAGAZINE June 2016 | 87

MT159.REV AvidProTools.indd 87 04/05/2016 12:16


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MT Reviews Mutable Instruments Rings

Choice

9/10
9
9/10
Above: Rings is the
perfect complement MUTABLE INSTRUMENTS
Rings
to many of the other
Mutable Instruments
modules, notably the
Braids Oscillator

Mutable Instruments has an exceptional reputation for Eurorack


Modules that venture outside of the norm. Dave Gale takes a look
Details
Manufacturer
at Rings, to see if it resonates
Mutable Instruments

L
Product Rings
ets face it, the French Gillet, who is the brains and technical for Eurorack. Whats a Resonator, then?
Price 249
Contact via website
have been on a bit of a roll, force (and many say genius!) behind Well, think about a drain pipe or sheet
Web mutable- electronic-musically speaking, Mutable Instruments, based in France. of metal when you strike it, or the hole
instruments.net for some years, and have Like his musical counterparts, Olivier on an acoustic guitar, backed by its
always managed to come up with a and Mutable are also on a roll, with a body. In the case of the guitar, the body
Features slightly different musical angle. Think growing clutch of exceptionally versatile of the instrument is essentially an
Resonator with amplifier and resonator, allowing the
three modes of
sound emitting from the sound-hole to
The French have always
operation
Brings an resonate the guitar strings in sympathy.
acoustic angle to In fact, back in 1928, a French company
your Eurorack
Width - 14HP managed to come up with a External signals
different musical angle
Current draw -
110ma As mentioned earlier, this module has an
Audio, CV pitch inbuilt oscillator, which kicks into life if an
and trigger external oscillator is not present. However, in
inputs my noodlings, I found that the best external
JMJ, to Air, to Daft Punk, and youll modules that deliver something very signals to use to excite the resonator were
External
digital and harsh. Particular praise here
oscillator Input immediately know what Im talking different from the norm. goes to my Studio Electronics Grainy Clamp-it,
isnt vital, due to
about, but taking the Eurorack mantle which, with its harsh wavetable overtones,
inbuilt excitation
oscillator to another place is another area of Sound holes offered an excellent starting point for
exciting resonance.
creativity altogether. Enter one Olivier Rings is billed as a Resonator module

90 | June 2016 MAGAZINE

MT159.REV Rings.indd 90 21/04/2016 15:07


Mutable Instruments Rings Reviews MT

Alternatives had a hint of FM about them.


It has to be said, this module is pretty unique, With plenty of control available, I
with the closest units with any resemblance
immediately started tweaking, to great
being Comb Filter-based designs. So in that
regard, the Analogue Systems RS-120 is a effect. Being bell-like, the Damping
pure Comb Filter, but unlike the Rings control is excellent for changing the
offers a single operation. The Snazzy FX Tidal
Waves, on the other hand, offers numerous
decay tails of the resonance, taking it
modes of operation, one of which is Comb from a quick thud to a wide-open
Filtering. The Rings certainly seems to stand chime. It was now that I reached for the
alone, and very tall, as one of a kind!
Polyphony control, which essentially
allows the resonant tones to ring on,
called Ondes invented a legendary creating chords of up to four notes, if
electronic instrument called the applied. This is switchable from single
Martenot, which exploited this idea to tone, to two or four notes, and very
the max. One of the four speaker units effective it is, too youll be swimming
that operated with this electronic in resonant chords aplenty!
keyboard was called the Palme, and Moving on to the next mode, I
consisted of a speaker cone, fronted enabled Sympathetic Strings (you
by strings, which would resonate in remember the Ondes Martenot Palme
harmonic sympathy to the notes being I mentioned earlier?) Once triggered,
produced, offering a beautifully magical the resonant tones can ring on in
effect. While I didnt come across any harmonic sympathy, which is an
mention of the Martenot in the Mutable entirely moveable feast, thanks to the
product detail that accompanies the Structure control, which steps the
Rings, I would put money on it that this harmonics up and down. This is quite
was an influential factor in this design, stunningly beautiful, and thanks to a
as we will see later. little LFO CV control, can sweep through
the sympathetic overtones while being
Madame Palme strummed. In essence, this mode uses
Time to plug up and see what this Comb Filtering to allow tones to ring on,
module can do. Mutable suggests that reminding me of other comb filters I

Rings can bring a hint of the


acoustic to an electronic world,
and that can be quite magical Do I really need this?
If you are into pure electronic EDM-style
Above: Top line production, this is probably not a unit that will
three connections are made to get the have used in DAW-based rigs. (alongside coloured interest you. However, if like many of us
icons): two buttons Eurorack folk you like to tinker and find new
most from Rings; a trigger connection The final mode, Non-Linear/ allow for amount of and interesting sounds, this is absolutely
to strum, a pitch CV to control note Inharmonic Strings, is more abstract resonant polyphony something to explore. It will add a really
and mode of
pitch and an Audio signal to create an and abrasive! This is the joker in the resonance, indicated
interesting tonal colour to your existing timbre
in your Eurorack, and can give hints of acoustic
excitation signal. However, if the latter pack that will resonate in a full, chaotic by the coloured LED and the otherworldly in one device.
is not present, the Rings will use its manner. It can be highly colourful, but
MIddle line (alongside
own excitation tone, the source and depending on your music making, five pot/knob
shape being dictated by the selected debatably less useful. controls): plenty of MT Verdict
resonator type. There is a choice of real-time control, via
five dedicated pots. + Exceptionally interesting and
three resonators; Modal, Sympathetic Conclusion Its irresistible to creative module
Strings and Non-Linear/ The Rings will not be for all get stuck in and have + Timbrally stunning
a tweak + Well built
Inharmonic Strings, with each Eurorack users, and in
of the tonal characteristics of common with many + All pots available to CV control
Bottom line (alongside
jack sockets): + Theres an included (quick start)
these resonators being other Mutable modules, manual in the box!
Apart from the
controllable from five pots, certainly requires a obvious inputs and
which adorn the front of degree of effort to learn to outputs, all of the - Requires some effort to get
the module. All five are get the best from it, but controls are available workable results
to CV, which opens up - Possibly wont appeal to more
available to CV control. when you do put in that a whole world of traditional Electronic musicians
Beginning with the time, the results can be possibilities
Modal resonator mode, quite stunning. Along with This is a pretty unique module, that
Left: The Ondes will offer pure sonic highlights with
and using the internal much of the Mutable
Martinet Palme a little investment in time and
oscillator as an excitation Instruments line, Rings can Diffuser had
experimentation.
sympathetic strings

9/10
signal, I was immediately struck bring a hint of the acoustic to
that resonate, much
(no pun intended!) by some very an electronic world, and that like the mode on
metallic bell-like tones, which can be quite magical. MT the Rings

MAGAZINE June 2016 | 91

MT159.REV Rings.indd 91 21/04/2016 15:07


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Sam Spacey Epica Bass Reviews MT

Excellence

10/10

SAM SPACEY
Epica Bass
A sample library full of synth basses isnt something that usually comes to mind Above: Epica Basss
main window and
when buying your next library. Matthew Mann finds out if Epica Bass is bold presets list

enough to take up permanent residence on his hard drive

I
Details like sample libraries, but typically brain-throbbing, gut-twisting arsenal Arpeggio folder has patches that are
Price 89 / $138 dont use bass-sample libraries. of all-round killer bass instruments. well thought-out and useful. I found
Distributor Why? Because I find it easier these The samples were all taken from an presets in this folder lent themselves
Time+Space
days to create my own bass sounds impressive list of analogue synths, not only to bass arps, but also to higher
Contact via website
Web with hardware or software synthesisers. including an original ARP Odyssey Mk register arpeggios that fill out a track
www.timespace.com But what if you dont really have any III, a Sequential Pro-One, Yamaha CS-15 nicely. The Multi folder is full of presets
System requirements virtual or hardware synths that do bass and CS30 synths, an Oakley Sound that combine multiple instruments into
Kontakt 5 or Kontakt
Player (included) well, or youre not a synth programmer? Systems Modular, an Analogue some excellent layered presets. This is a
Well, mega-producer Sam Spacey, the Solutions Telemark-K, Oberheim SEM nice change from the mono folders
previously mentioned. You can even

Did I say this is all bass?


play polyphonic patches in the
Polyphonic folder. Finally, the Raw

Hardly: many of these presets


folder is chock-full of unadulterated
samples of the original instruments.

can be equally useful as leads


This a great place to jump in and
develop your own twisted sounds. And
did I say this is all bass? Hardly: many of
these presets can be equally useful as
creator of the excellent (and critically and Matrix 6R synths. Sam processed leads and more.
acclaimed) Epica virtual synth from all synths through a variety of outboard
Zero-G, has gone to great lengths to gear (including a Neve Pre and a UBK Sampled filters?
create the ultimate bass-synth library Fatso) to get the best sounds before Sam even went so far as to sample the
Features for you. final sampling. It was apparent from filters of each synth at different stages.
100-per-cent
analogue synth
listening through the presets that he This means some patches will move the
sound sources Enter the bass was very serious indeed, because the sample start time so that you are, in
437 instruments Epica Bass is a Kontakt library of sounds are fantastic. essence, moving through the filters of
Samples from nothing but bass. Actually, its nothing The sounds are laid out in five folders: the original instrument. I can tell you
ARP Odyssey,
Sequential but synth bass. It works with both Monophonic that this technique was used to great
Pro-One, Kontakt and the free Kontakt Player Arpeggio effect on these instruments. Also, the
Oberheim SEM
(which is even included). It consists of a Multi instruments were multi-sampled
and more
Recorded whopping 26,657 24-bit mono samples Polyphonic through every single note rather than
with boutique and comes in at around 7GB. All of the Raw just a few. So, theres no aliasing of
hardware samples have been meticulously edited, The Monophonic folder is by far the stretched notes. And there are at least
FX rack, arp,
modulation
hand-looped, optimised and organised largest and contains the bulk of the six Round Robins for each note, so the
and more into a 437-preset library of searing, presets. The amount of programming instruments sound as they should
wobbling, dance-floor pumping, involved is truly mind-numbing. The slightly different each time you hit a key.

MAGAZINE June 2016 | 93

MT159.REV EpicaBass.indd 93 25/04/2016 13:56


MT Reviews Sam Spacey Epica Bass

include a lo-fi bitcrusher, flanger,


chorus, 1176-style compressor,
SSL-style EQ section, a convolution
reverb, and a basic delay. All the effects
onboard are very good and do wonders
for some of the less-animated patches.
Oh, and all effects parameters are easy
to tweak, with no hidden menus. The
dials for each parameter are clearly
labelled as to what they do and a
visual indicator at the top of the FX
window indicates the exact parameter
youre tweaking, and by how much.
Epica Basss FX section is ample and
well-featured, having been borrowed
from Native Instruments own line of
effects. They sound good, too. The delay
is very simple, but does its job well.

This adds to the character of analogue One more thing


synths especially all those lovely I have to mention a feature that really
vintage ones. impressed me about Epica Bass.
Sam also went into meticulous The Start Point Modulation mentioned
detail when programming modulation. earlier is brilliant. Changing the
The mod wheel itself is routed to a sample start time allows the user Above left: Epica presets. I have found use from so many
number of places from FX to hone in on the filter sound of the Bass sub-pages on of the presets already that I can
the main page (AMP,
adjustments to sample-start times. instrument. This does wonders on MOD, FILTER, LFO) imagine using it somewhere on every
things like Depeche Mode-esque track. Honestly, Im finding it hard to
Above: Epica Basss
Less is more filtered basses and resonant leads. It many-faceted FX
find fault in this library at all.
There are only three main pages in really reminded me of the way Ensoniq section is simple to If anything, I maybe wish the size of
Epica Bass. Each page is dedicated to managed the wave samples in the SQ use and adds an the library was a little smaller, but
extra dimension to
one or more tasks and, while options series years ago. I really feel that this your sounds anyone with a sizable samples drive will
abound, the overall interface remains method of programming (which can be never even bat an eyelid.
clean. The main pages are Main, Arp assigned to the mod wheel or other Of course, while this library may
and FX. The Main page has four sources, such as velocity) gives a much not appeal to everyone, Im pretty much
sub-controls: Amp, Mod, Filter and LFO. better quality to the sounds, rather than convinced that most electronic-music
Each allows you to tailor the sound to relying on emulated filters (although producers will get quite a bit of use
your liking. some of those are included, too). The out of this excellent selection. The
tweakability and programming options
onboard allow you to create anything

Ive already found use from you want and the presets are so good,
youll find it difficult not to use them

so many presets, I can imagine just the way they are. MT

using this on every track MT Verdict


+ Fantastic-sounding bass-sample
library in Kontakt format
The Arp page is dedicated to an thick, warm sound of the analogue + Includes the free Kontakt player
onboard (and well-featured) filters is genuine. + All the samples are meticulously
Arpeggiator as well as an Auto-scale recorded and sound beautiful
+ Ideal for use in most styles of
function, which makes it easier to Conclusion electronic music
compose in different scales if youre not Epica Bass never left me wanting. Im + Tons of options for creating your
a music-theory devotee. very impressed with the layout, the own presets
The FX page is packed with Native quality of the samples, and the well + Start Point Modulation makes
the filters sound brilliant
Instruments own effects, including: bit thought-out programming of the
crusher, flanger, and chorus to name a - Could be a slightly smaller
few. These effects work well to polish Alternatives - Doesnt write hit singles for you,
the final sounds to perfection. Other bass-specific instruments include Spectrasonics insane Trilian but will certainly inspire you to
Bass, which comes in at a hefty 40GB. It covers electric basses as well as write your own
a host of synth basses, but also costs about twice the price. Vir2s Basis
Give my creation life! is a Kontakt library that features lots of electric and synth basses. It This is a fantastic library of bass
The FX page is one of the simplest to comes in at about 7GB, but doesnt have the level of programming that synths. If you cant use it in most of
Epica Bass does although its also only $99.95. And, of course, Native your tracks, youre probably not
work with. All effects are shown on the Instruments has several bass libraries, but they are all purchased
FX page, and you only have to turn on writing electronic music.
separately unless you have the dough to drop for Komplete. If you can
the power switch for the effect you want
to use and its ready to go. The effects
swing the 89/$138 for Sam Spaceys Epica Bass, Id suggest that you do,
now, before he realises what hes done and doubles the price. 10/10
94 | June 2016 MAGAZINE

MT159.REV EpicaBass.indd 94 25/04/2016 13:56


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Tme and Space Toontrack EZX Traditional Country Reviews MT

TIME AND SPACE


Toontrack EZX
Traditional 9/
9/10
9 10
Choice

Country
A classic acoustic kit that works for country, folk
and acoustic music is a tricky ask. Matthew
Mann dons a stetson for this EZX collection

A
nyone who has ever Details The 1962 Rogers kit sounds open up with some excellent-sounding
programmed drums knows Price 43.95 and warm; its kick is big and round and tracks, too.
that it can kill the creative Distributor has weight, without being overbearing; I didnt find any way to change the
Time+Space
buzz sitting there for hours the snare has a nice tone with just effects that come with each kit. You can
Contact via website
moving notes here and there, and Web enough ring to let you know its there, modify whats there, but theres no
making them sound real is challenging, www.timespace.com and the toms are excellent, too. replacing them with something else as
unless youre a drummer. Then along System Requirements The Ludwig kit has drums originally far as I could tell. You can, however, just
EZdrummer 2.1 or
comes a company like Toontrack and Superior Drummer
intended for marching bands (kick and route each drum on a separate output
the game changes. Its EZdrummer 2.4.2 snare). They were pieced together with to your DAW and process them there.
drum software made it easy to not only a kit floor tom. The resulting kit is Theres no mistaking the vibe that
get a great drum sound, but also had beautiful sounding, with a slightly drips from this expansion pack. The
lots of MIDI grooves that were easy to brighter, punchier sound. tones that producer Glenn Rosenstein,
combine for a great performance. Finally, the Apollo MIJ kit brings a engineer Jeff Balding, and drummer
Additionally, EZX expansion packs very tight, very dry-sounding kit that Rikk Currence were able to draw and
added more grooves and more diverse really cuts through a mix. In fact, this kit capture from these kits in this studio
drum kits for use in different styles of worked pretty well in a pop track I was are beautiful. Im not a country guy,
song; they cover metal to electronic to playing around with. The track ended up per se, but Ive had tons of acoustic/folk
blues and everything in between. being fairly dense, but the kit sat very song ideas just in the short time that
With country music still alive and well with minimum effort. Toontrack Ive had this expansion. Its a great piece
well, and other music styles such as also saw fit to sample this same kit with of work. MT
modern pop-folk right in the middle of brushes, so theres some variety there.
current music culture, Toontrack has 10 presets provide great starting MT Verdict
come up with an EZX pack that would points and even more variety. There are
cater specifically to those sounds. also a few percussion elements, + Excellent vintage-country sound
including tambourines, handclaps, + Very well recorded and tweakable
drums, which are useful for a
Tradition of excellence shakers, finger snaps, maracas and, of variety of styles
Features
Traditional Country EZX adds three new course cowbell. They even included + Pretty good vintage effects
Two kits
kits. Two of the kits were sampled with sampled with three extra snares and an extra kick to included
sticks (Rogers, Ludwig) and the third sticks (Rogers, enable you to pick and choose. + Ideal for acoustic/folk/country
Ludwig) songwriters
was sampled with sticks and brushes
One kit sampled + MIDI Learn allows you to assign
(Apollo); and all three were recorded at with sticks and Get into the groove controllers to built-in effects
Nahsvilles first-ever recording studio, brushes (Apollo) Finally, the expansion comes with a few + Presets are a great starting point
Quonset Hut, where Johnny Cash, Patsy Three extra grooves that really make these kits
snare drums - Effects knobs are a bit fiddly
Cline, Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel shine and show off their potential. The
Includes a - New MIDI grooves are a bit limited
and others recorded classic tracks. selection of grooves are also great when used with
Each kit is very unique-sounding. drum MIDI EZdrummer 2s Song Creator. They The best drums for acoustic-based
grooves music, hands-down. Flexible
The team recorded them with the intent speed up workflow and allow for quick
Engineered tweaking means having the perfect
of replicating a late-1950s session to replicate a creation of whole songs with Intros,
kit, with miles of vibe.

9/10
including using some of the mics and vintage session Verses, Choruses and Fills. Of course,
at Nashvilles
recording gear that might have been Quonset Hut
you can use all the original grooves
used at the time. included with EZdrummer 2 and come

MAGAZINE June 2016 | 97

MT159.REV Toontrack.indd 97 21/04/2016 15:07


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Native Instruments Una Corda Reviews MT

Excellence

10/10
NATIVE
INSTRUMENTS
Una Corda
Alex Holmes checks out a veratile sampled-piano instrument from
Native Instruments that will add the ethereal to your material

P
Details iano instruments are like Where things get really interesting is in
Alternatives
Price 129 drum samples for the modern the huge tweakability afforded by the
If prepared pianos are your thing, then you
Contact via website producer; youll likely have Kontakt GUI. Theres a basic front page could check out the IRCAM Prepared Piano
Web more than you need of various with tone, dynamics and space, and from UVI ($399), which is more expensive, but
www.native-
styles, sizes and quality that youve three more for deeper sound design. has 45 different preparations. Alternatively,
instruments.com
theres VSL Prepared Piano (65) at a much
System collected over the years. Una Corda cheaper price, but neither has the deep,
Requirements Mac from Native Instruments is a little More than meets the eye ethereal quality of Una Corda.
OS X 10.9 to 10.11, Intel
Core 2 Duo, 4 GB RAM different, though, and offers up a deeply The first page is the Workbench, which
Windows 7, 8, or 10 sampled version of a unique piano, allows you to sculpt the primary options make this a great sound-design
(latest Service Pack,
hand-built by David Klavins in characteristics of the instrument. Here tool for soundtracking.
32/64-bit), Intel Core 2
Duo or AMD AthlonTM collaboration with composer Nils you can add harmonics, reverse
64 X2, 4 GB RAM Frahm. It only has one string per note, samples, control the tonal depth, and Strike a chord
Free Kontakt 5 Player
or Kontakt 5 (version
which gives a much purer sound than add a second fabric to the prepared Una Corda is more expensive than NIs
5.5.1 or higher) the usual three strings found on your piano sound. You can also choose from other piano instruments, but its also
average piano, and allows the user to a long list of ambient background noise, more versatile. Its been created with
easily slot in different prepared dial in mechanical and pedal noise, and love and attention, and the results are
materials to dampen and affect the way even add in the sounds of the pianist often breathtaking. This is an inspiring
the hammers hit the strings. moving and breathing. These interesting instrument that oozes class and with
textures can even be brought to the very few tweaks can be morphed from a
Be prepared forefront by removing the main piano gentle, upfront piano, to a swirling,
The technical side of this massive 10GB sound. Next, you have the Response dissonant and clunking beast. MT
Kontakt Instrument has been put section where you can control how the
together by Uli Baronowsky and Galaxy instrument responds with controls for MT Verdict
Instruments, who are also responsible dynamics and overtones, and finally,
for The Giant, and Definitive Piano you have the Finish section. Its here + Incredibly rich and
Collection for Kontakt. The one-of-a- that the sound-design opportunities beautiful sound
+ Surprisingly versatile
kind original instrument was recorded really open up, as you can choose from sound sculpting
Features
using an array of mics and kit in Saal 3 a large number of vintage-effects-chain + Well-thought-out GUI with
Prepared piano
instrument for at the Funkhaus in Berlin, a famous old and convolution reverbs. You can give deep-but-easy editing
Kontakt 5 and broadcast studio in East Germany. You the instrument a shimmering electric
Kontakt 5 Player - More expensive than NIs other
get three different Kontakt patches piano or toy-speaker effect, then feed it piano instruments
10GB of audio
with the pure piano sound, a prepared through simple reverbs or complex, - Not always completely obvious
Three Kontakt
Instruments, piano with felt between the hammer swirling space convolutions to create what certain parameters are
with 100 and string, and one with cotton, plus some incredibly deep, pad-like tones. doing to the sound
snapshot
100 incredibly varied snapshot presets Youll also find controls for EQ,
presets Effortlessly atmospheric and
Clean, plus saved across all three versions. compression and saturation, transients beautiful prepared piano
felt and cotton Essentially, the pure sound is closest to and stereo image. Its the more ethereal instrument. Its not cheap, but
preparations theres a surprising amount of
a normal piano, with a more resonant textures where Una Corda really shines.
Deeply sound sculpting possibilities
sampled from a and clean tone; the felt has a more Theres a richness and depth to the
buried under the lid.

10/10
one-of-a-kind gentle, electric piano-esque sound with instrument that sounds infinitely
handcrafted
instrument
softer attack; and the cotton is more beautiful and cinematic. The flexibility
percussive, with hints of harpsichord. of the GUI and excellent convolution

MAGAZINE June 2016 | 99

MT159.REV Una Corda.indd 99 05/05/2016 12:10


MT Mini Reviews

TrainYourEars EQ Sinister
Edition 2.0 Strings
Publisher TrainYourEars
Publisher Big Fish Audio
Price 89
Price 46.95
Contact via website
Contact Time+Space 01837 55200
Web www.trainyourears.com Key Features
Web www.timespace.com
Ear-training

T S
software for Key Features
rainYourEars aims to speed inister Strings from Big Fish
up your learning process by
Choice PC and Mac
Audio is a collection of
Sinister-sounding

9/10
9
9/10
Select from audio live strings library
presenting you with files, audio input or creepy-sounding string Over 650MB of
hundreds of EQ choices in a quiz white/pink noise effects with violin, viola, cello, and 24-bit audio
Loads WAV, AIFF, 318 files WAV files
format. You can choose to load in MP3, OGG and
ensemble samples. Theres around
Eight patches
audio files in a variety of formats, M4A files 650MB of audio, including raspy for Kontakt
use a live input for connecting to Easy to use layout sustained notes, sustained notes (four articulation
with 13 EQ exercises patches, four
iTunes, internet radio or other with subtle bends and various
Program your own slide patches)
players, or simply use white or advanced listening slides, all with and without Violin, Viola,
pink noise as the source. You then lessons or import tremolo. On top of the WAV Cello and Ensemble
new ones performances
choose from 13 different version, theres also a package
exercises, including things like with eight patches for Kontakt to
picking out specific frequencies MT Verdict aid with previewing and editing MT Verdict
and Q factors, and distinguishing the sounds; we found the Kontakt
A simple but highly effective Clunky Kontakt interface
between shelfs and cuts. You can way to improve your EQ interface to be a little clunky, as it aside, this is a well-recorded
also design your own complex skills, with well-thought-out involves a lot of different pages collection, which would form a
exercises, with an additional set exercises that mirror just to edit the effects sends and useful tool for film and media
available for free. Its not cheap, production decisions the individual effects. Not massive composers looking to add
encountered in the real world. some tense sounds.
but its slick and easy to use, and or especially broad, but a useful
we found our scores improving
after just 15 minutes. MT
9/10 asset for adding an unnerving
element to your productions. MT
8/10

VIBES Vol. 1 Chilled Trap


Soul Trax Publisher Loopmasters
Publisher Loopmasters Price 34.95
Price 34.95 Contact info@loopmasters.com
Contact info@loopmasters.com Web www.loopmasters.com
Web www.loopmasters.com Key Features

C
hilled Trap is a new pack Chilled-out trap

S
oul Trax is the first in a new Key Features from Loopmasters that drum, bass and
synth loops
series from Loopmasters 1.5GB worth of takes aim at the more
274 WAV or
and features 20 24-bit audio ambient and downtempo side of Apple Loops
WAV and Rex2,
construction kits inspired by or Apple Loops and
trap music as opposed to the 302 Rex2 Loops
labels like Motown, Tamla Records Rex2 format heavier, in-your-face variety. Its Over 800MB of
24-bit audio
and Gordy Records, and by artists 346 loops of essentially 10 construction kits
live drum, bass, 130 to 140BPM
such as Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye guitar piano,
containing 274 24-bit loops,
and the Commodores. Each of keys and more but is divided into folders for
the kits contains a number of 90 to 165BPM instruments rather than kits, with plenty of inspiring riffs,
eight-bar drum, bass, guitar and Inspired by which arguably encourages more with several musically useful
classic Motown
instrument loops, including and artists such as experimentation. Youll find fragile variations on each idea played out
welcome variations to aid in Diana Ross and pianos, chirping vocal glitches, on different sounds and synths. MT
arrangement. The piano, keys, the Commodores deep pads and sweeping synths
organ and horn parts work well alongside booming 808 subs and MT Verdict
to fill out the tracks, but its the MT Verdict tight-sounding drums with plenty
Most of the pack is relatively
drums, bass, shakers and guitars of rolling hi-hat patterns. simple, but some detailed
that are the real highlight, with A well produced, recorded and Everything is well programmed, production flourishes and
laid-out selection of soul and
some great, energetic riffs perfect with some intricate little riffs and excellent synth riffs make it
funk construction kits, which
for pop productions. Production is fills, and the production finish is well worth a look for anyone
is packed with feel-good riffs
producing chilled-out trap
cleaner sounding than a classic and some excellent acoustic simple and clean. Although the
or downtempo electronica.
drum loops.
7/10
Motown record, but the kits are drum, percussion and bass loops
authentically written and carry
a solid, feel-good vibe. MT
8/10 dont really push any boundaries,
the music loops folder is packed

100 | June 2016 MAGAZINE

MT159.REV minis.indd 100 25/04/2016 13:56


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MTF41.ad.indd 1 01/03/2016 15:37


Six of the best Buyers Guide MT

Six of the best


Hardware Software Mobile Technology Samples
Welcome to the MusicTech Buyers Guide where we round up
some of the best products recently reviewed in the magazine.
Heres a selection of small-to-medium-size mixers weve looked
at over the past six months from budget buys to playing live
BEST Mid-size

Allen &
Heath
MixWizard
BEST Live

Soundcraft Ui-16
W
e love the Ui-16, even excellent mix proposition for touring.
though its not the most Small venues have a mixer that anyone
attractive of mixers. can plug into and bands have
Thats because the most Details something they are used to taking Details
interesting mix stuff is done on-line Price anywhere. The best bit is to see new Price 899
499
with only the connections dealt with in Contact
tech being used in such a zero-fuss and Contact
0113 277 1441
hardware. The way this is dealt with is Sound Technology useful way, so said our original reviewer
Web www.allen-
simply brilliant: an easy interface 01462 480000 and concluded: A great concept, heath.com
Web www.
accessible with any internet superbly realised. Practical, easy,
soundtech.co.uk
connection, making the Ui-16 an versatile and with a great sound.

T
his is A&Hs mid-size mixer
range, available in 16:2, 12:2
and 14:4:2 configurations.
BEST Singer-songwriter You get a couple of onboard
multi-FX units, four-band EQ per

A&H Zed channel, stereo returns and six


auxiliary sends (on the 16:2 we tested).
When we reviewed it, we concluded:

Series
This mixer really does hold true to the
previous ranges great reputation, and
the fully featured 16 channels in such
a small footprint will be attractive to
many people. USB is worth upgrading
to if you want to start capturing live

T
hey might be in the same The shows; just dont expect too much from
range, look the same and have ZEDi-10FX it in terms of its versatility.
the same feel but the ZED-6 works well for We concluded: This tried-and-
and ZEDi-10FX mixers serve Details a very different tested range of mixers just got a
very different purposes and work on Price ZED-6: 99;
and larger audience. serious update, with onboard FX
very different levels. Andy Jones said: ZEDi-10FX: 249 It operates in a very and the option to add USB 2.0
The 6 is the ideal no-nonsense, small Contact straightforward way as a simple but connectivity. Multi-track capture
0113 277 1441
mixer for a single musician with a well-featured interface, for both iOS of live performances is now a
Web www.allen-
guitar and mic, and does the job well heath.com and computer. Low-noise and low-cost USB connection away for those
with no fuss, and for very little outlay. mixers for a variety of purposes. who love the MixWizard form.

MAGAZINE June 2016 | 103

MT159.6OTB.indd 103 25/04/2016 13:50


MT Buyers Guide Six of the best

BEST Compact USB

Yamaha AG Series
W
e looked at two mixers in find homes in a good variety of places.
Yamahas AG range which Youre getting something easy to set up,
is aimed at podcasters, difficult to break, and fast to mix audio Details
video bloggers and singer with, for not too much cash, either. Price 105 130
songwriters, but has the added bonus Dead easy to use and even easier to Contact
Yamaha
of USB interfacing as well as low noise recommend, and concluded: The 0844 811116
and reasonably high specs, especially series might look simple, but both Web
given the prices. Reviewer Andy Jones pack a punch in terms of features, www.
yamahaproaudio.
said: While these mixers are clearly not especially the 06. A great route into com
for top-end recording artists, they will audio for a variety of tasks and users.

These mixers will find a home in a good variety


of places. They are easy to set up, difficult to
break and fast to mix audio with
BEST Compact budget Details
Price Mix5 59;

Mackie Mix Series


Mix12 FX 129
Contact
Polar Audio
01444 258258
Web
www.mackie.com

I
ts another mixer range and, again, venue live situations and studio
we looked at the smallest and the recording scenarios. As a simple set
biggest models within it: the of mixers, the Mix series is a solid and
five-channel and 12FX (the other elegant solution, and represents great
being an eight-channel model identical value. He concluded: One of the
to the 5). The Mix range does exactly as simplest ranges weve looked at,
it should do across three low price but one that could suit a surprising
points, said reviewer Andy Jones. number of situations in todays
They are both rugged, low in noise and increasingly hardware studio and
compact enough for a variety of small acoustic setups.

BEST Compact live

Kinsman KM Series
L
ike the other series above, outs, faders rather than rotaries for
weve looked at two models in level, solo buttons and peak LEDs.
this range the KM8FX and Otherwise, the mixers share four mono Details
12FX this time aimed more at ins (with XLRs), a stereo set of ins and Price KM8FX: 159;
the live market. These two are very solid plenty of effects action. Both offer a KM12FX 269
Contact JHS
mixers and the larger one in particular clean and sturdy mix experience and
01132 865 381
is a great buy. You get an extra pair of come highly recommended to those on Web
stereo inputs on the 12FX, an extra Aux a low budget. Well-featured mixers for www.jhs.co.uk
send to bring in external effects, sub live and studio use.

104 June 2016 MAGAZINE

MT159.6OTB.indd 104 25/04/2016 13:50


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MTF42.ad.indd 1 06/04/2016 09:23


6 Ways to make your studio look cool Feature MT

02
MT Feature 6 Ways

6 WAYS TO MAKE YOUR


STUDIO LOOK COOL
Okay, you might not think that this is the most important aspect of studio
life, but having a great creative environment will help your music
production no end, especially when it is easy on the eye

S
o should you really be concerned about tidying] There, thats better. Spend 10 minutes
how cool your studio looks? Were clearing your work space and your next session is
certainly not saying that it is as guaranteed to be more productive.
important as how it sounds in fact, we
always say that the sound is the most 02 Less is more (and, okay, more is more)
important aspect, right from getting the perfect For a magazine that shows you a ton of gear pictures
recording through to listening to the end results on every month, it pains us to say: if you are working
the most accurate monitors. BUT, lets not forget that towards specific musical goals, then very often the
music production is a creative process, so once you fewer distractions you have in terms of gear, the
have your preamps, your monitors, your mixer, your better. And as is shown by (some of) the pictures on
mics and your computer sorted and even your these pages, having a very stripped back setup can
chair, for that matter why not consider the
environment around you? No, not that environment
[actually, yes, that environment, too Ed], but the For a mag that shows you a ton
room in which you sit, the room in which you create?
Make it look great and you will make it a welcoming of gear, it pains us to say that less
and creative place to be. So in order to do that
is more. Sometimes, that is
01 Tidy, tidy, tidy
Got kids? You will understand this. Stuff on the floor,
stuff on the desk, stuff everywhere, more stuff. mean a very cool one. Having said that, and this is
LEGO. Bloody LEGO, everywhere! The easy route to a where we justify having a ton of gear, having a huge
creative environment is a clean environment. Yes, its bank of outboard lights come on when you flick that
obvious, too obvious, so obvious that you might not master switch, can be just as inspiring. Its about a
notice untidy creep, i.e. as you work within your work/gear balance
creative space you will make it more untidy. In fact,
as were writing this feature within our studio setup, 03 Surround sound
weve just noticed: its untidy. Hang on [noise of Theres no doubting that there is some kind of

MAGAZINE June 2016 | 107

MT159.6 ways.indd 107 05/05/2016 12:10


MT Feature 6 Ways to make your studio look cool

primal urge that kicks in when you sit down at your


01 mixing desk or at a bank of keyboards, and surround
yourself with buttons, dials, sliders and keys. It is a
very controlling feeling or is that just us? so give
in to it and make sure you immerse yourself. Have
everything within reach and angled towards you;
invest in proper studio furniture (or simply cheaper
Ikea-style desks that have compartments and
shelves) and a floor that enables you to roll across
from one bank of loveliness to the next. It looks great
and works great

04 Personalise
It it your studio? Then, in the words of the best
03 captain on the bridge: make it so. You can have a
mountain of gear, the coolest of sofas, the best of
lights, but if its not yours, then you might as well be
anywhere. To make it personal, make sure you have a
couple of reminders about whose space this is,

Is it your studio? Then, in


the words of the best captain
on the bridge: make it so
04
maybe who inspired you, where you came from and
where you are going, the important words in that
sentence all being you. A stormtrooper on a monitor,
a Kraftwerk traffic cone on a synth Personalise it
however you want, not just with gear but with you.

05 Lights, action
We know that this has become an important one to
so many of you. Good studio lighting not only looks
cool, but can also be very inspiring. Theres nothing
worse than having the most incredible gear setup, a
great-sounding acoustic room, only to turn on an
05 artificial industrial office light to see what is going
on. Invest in up lighting, strip lighting, even fairy
lights if you must. Make it warm and welcoming, not
cold and frightening. Green is good. As is blue. And
lava lamps. Ooh, lava lamps

06 Go wireless
As the world goes wireless, we in studio land should
be rejoicing. Unfortunately, latency and other issues
mean that a completely wireless recording
environment is probably a few years away yet, so
while you have to plug one thing into another and
lets face it, modular fans, that is still an attractive
06 pastime in its own right at least keep those wires
out of sight as much as you can (unless you are the
aforementioned modular fan, naturally). Invest in
cable tidies, cable extensions and simply getting
down on your hands and knees to push power leads,
audio cables and computer connectors out of site
but, importantly, still within reach. A good old
fashioned patch-bay might be in order here.
And while were on the subject of modular synths,
yes we all know that they look cool, but the cables
can look a mess. Try colour coding or even LED
cables to blend points 1 and 5. Very cool MT

108 | June 2016 MAGAZINE

MT159.6 ways.indd 108 05/05/2016 12:10


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MT159.US subs.indd 5 05/05/2016 11:39


MT Industry Guru Jem Godfrey

MT Industry Guru Jem Godfrey

INDUSTRY GURU
Jem Godfrey
MusicTech catches up with Jem Godfrey, songwriter, remixer and
producer behind some of the most successful pop tunes of the last couple
of decades and a man with a studio mission and his own prog band

W
e try and cover people from all prog band, Frost*. This man has a lot of irons in a lot
walks of studio life in our of fires, and a lot to get off his chest
MusicTech interviews and with our
Industry Guru series, we have been MusicTech: Hi Jem, so tell us how all of these
able to speak to many of the people different strands to your career started
behind the scenes, including gear manufacturers, Jem Godfrey: I got into music after seeing Brian Eno
record-label owners and high-profile producers. on TV when I was about seven. He was dressed like
This time, we turn our attention to the talents of an alien baddie from 1970s Dr Who and he playing
songwriter, remixer and producer Jem Godfrey, an EMS VCS3. That was it as far as I was concerned.
whose long list of credits includes Atomic Kittens 14 years later, I finally accepted that I wasnt
Whole Again, Shayne Wards Thats My Goal (the going to be a rich and famous pop star after all, so I
fourth-fastest UK selling single ever), as well as got a job at Virgin Radio in London as an assistant
production and remix work for such luminaries as producer. Things went very well and two years after
Gary Barlow, Holly Valance, Blue, Ronan Keating this, I got headhunted by BBC Radio 1 to join their
and Samantha Mumba. on-air imaging team.
Then theres the music he did for Game Of Three years later, having now made a few
Thrones, a stint on national radio, playing with contacts, I got a chance to join a music-production
Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, not to mention his own team and get out of radio, which was precisely what

110 | June 2016 MAGAZINE

MT158.INT Guru.indd 110 04/05/2016 12:11


Jem Godfrey Industry Guru MT

MT: Tell us about something that perhaps defines


your sound over others, or reveal a studio secret!
JG: Playing with phase is a great trick. Bear in mind
that most music these days is listened to on
headphones, so you can have fun putting things out
of phase a lot more often, as nothing is really heard
in mono anymore so out of phase isnt the
cardinal sin it used to be. Theres a lovely plastered
on the inside of your head effect that putting things
out of phase has, and it can be really effective in
small bursts. Its equally fun to put whole mixes out
of phase to reveal things like backing vocal parts
and FX when listening to records. Its like finding
secret stems hidden or written in invisible ink.

MT: Do you have a sound?


JG: Vocal up, kick up.

MT: With your production hat on, how would you


describe your role in the studio?
JG: Theres a scene in Walt Disneys Fantasia the
sorcerers apprentice section where Mickey Mouse
has fallen asleep after mucking about with a bit of
magic and hes suddenly faced with hundreds of
marching broomsticks that hes created, all
carrying buckets of water, running amok and
causing total chaos. Then the actual sorcerer
appears and sorts everything out by glaring at
everybody, flapping his arms about dramatically
and casting loads of spells Id define the role of a
producer as being both Mickey Mouse and the
sorcerer at times.

MT: And what about as a mixer?


JG: Mixing is always involved. It helps me get to
know the music better than anything else for one
thing. Im very fortunate that people seem to trust
me and say, Heres what Ive done so far, can you
take it away now and do that thing you do to it?

I wanted to do by this point. The first proper release


we had sold over a million copies and stayed at Working in radio teaches you
number 1 for a month. We then had three further
number 1 records, a variety of top 10s and I won an arranging as you hear nothing but
Ivor Novello Award in 2006 for best-selling single of
2005 [Thats My Goal by Shayne Ward]. Since then hit singles all day
Ive started a prog rock band called Frost* with
whom Ive just finished a new album called Falling
Satellites, toured with Steve Vai and Joe Satriani on MT: What advice have you picked up from working
keys and I also continue mixing and co-producing in the music industry that you can pass on?
other artists, too, such as Holly Johnson and JG: Listen more than you talk. Remind yourself
Jennifer Lopez with Gary Barlow. when projects get into a bad place that none of this
will matter in six months time, and you will be
MT: What do you bring to the songwriting or alright. Say yes to everything, worry about
production process? scheduling later. Make sure your bullshit detector
JG: My background in radio makes me think about always has fresh batteries in it.
how things need to sound to work well on air, so I
try and aim for radio-friendly mixes of whatever MT: Now answer the same question but from the
Im doing. Working in a radio station for years perspective of working in the studio?
subconsciously teaches you arranging, too, as you JG: Obvious stuff Dont mix loud, dont mix with
hear nothing but hit records all day. Mixing singles your eyes. If you get stuck, go out and do something
is a thing I get asked to do more and more now, else, preferably mundane and on your own. Sleep on
perhaps because of that. a mix before sending it off, if theres time.

MAGAZINE June 2016 | 111

MT158.INT Guru.indd 111 04/05/2016 12:11


MT Industry Guru Jem Godfrey

MT: Tell us a little about your studio: the main the atmosphere and into a bunch of voltage-
components, and how it came together? controlled traps. Lovely.
JG: My studio is called The Cube. Its a purpose-
built room in my garden, which is based around a MT: Whats on your wish list for The Cube?
Pro Tools HDX system. Ive been using Pro Tools JG: A Focusrite Liquid Channel and an Eventide
since 1994 when Pro Tools 3 first came out, so were H3000, the original version.
old mates now. Everything else is pretty fluid. I
monitor with Klein and Hummel O300s which are MT: What would you like to see developed in terms
great for this room. of studio technology?
JG: Something like Mainstage on an iPad Pro that
Frost*s album Falling Satellites
MT: What are your favourite synthesisers, is out at the end of May and the had a Thunderbolt port on it in addition to a
keyboards and sound generators? band will tour the UK throughout lightning connector would totally do it for me. I hate
June. Find out more at:
JG: I recently picked up an ARP Quadra, which Ive http://frost.life/tour-dates
all the cables and peripherals that come with
been looking for for years and years. Its not the gigging too many things that could snap or break
most reliable thing Ive ever owned, however. It was or fail or get lost or stolen or wet. Give me any old
at the menders within 14 days of getting it after 61-note synth action controller hooked up to a big
having a bit of a stroke, but it has an autumnal
sound all its own.
I also play a Chapman Railboard. Emmett
Chapman kindly set up a custom tuning for me in
I hate the stuff that comes with
fifths and octaves and I play horizontally like a
piano its great when played with an eBow or hit
gigging too many things that snap,
with those little rubber string mutes that piano
tuners use. I use it like a cross between a prepared
break, fail, get stolen or wet
piano and a 10-string guitar. It goes through a POD
500X in which Ive made a load of custom sounds. tablet running a stable Mainstage-type app and Id
Its all over the Frost* album. be in wire-tidy, portable heaven. Korg make killer
music apps how about it Korg?
MT: Do you have any favourite outboard hardware
or software? MT: Do you have a songwriting process?
JG: Guitar Rig is great for keyboards. I also use JG: I tend to accrue loads of little sound snippets on
vocoders a lot, Waves Morphoder in particular. my phone vocal, piano or whatever, then I forget
Elastique Pitch is also great at creating interesting about them completely. I write on piano mostly, so
results on vocals when played via MIDI. I have a if Ive got something good going on, Ill go back
little modular setup which sounds very organic through the phone stuff and see if theres anything
when you set it up to potter off on its own, and Ive that might go well with what Im playing around
got a little world-band radio that I like to feed into it with. Quite often, thatll then set the song off with a
too, all these lonely, far-away sounds bouncing off verse and a chorus or a bridge and from there, its
easy to put the rest together. Lyrics are what I
struggle with; they take forever.

MT: Tell us about the latest Frost* release Falling


Satellites. Feel free to plug away!
JG: Its about chance and life. The astronomically
unlikely chance of being conceived to start with and
then surviving to old age The near-impossible
odds of the things that happen to you in life
benefiting you rather than killing you are gigantic,
yet it happens all the time. Its about celebrating
how extraordinarily rare the period of us being
alive is and how we should take more time to
appreciate it while were here. Were a long time
dead at either end of this brief little flicker.
About four weeks before I finished the album,
my dad died. What had been an album about an
imaginary man at the end of his life looking back on
everything suddenly became incredibly personal. I
was with him when he died, it was just me and him
in that room and then it was just me and it made me
realise that we should be grateful for the time we
have, because itll be gone before you know it. The
message of the album is Be alive while youre alive!

MT: Finally, what have you got planned next?


JG: A bit of a lie down, then get ready for the gigs. MT

112 | June 2016 MAGAZINE

MT158.INT Guru.indd 112 04/05/2016 12:11


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MT159.next.indd 113 05/05/2016 12:31


MT Your Disc

Welcome to DVD 159 We have drum machine


DVD159 4GB+ PC&Mac samples, live instrument loops and MIDI melodies,

YourDVD plus videos on console mixing, Logic Alchemy tips,


and drum machines in Live. Finally there are
demos, software, promo vids and workshop files

SAMPLE LOOPS//ROYALTY-FREE & EXCLUSIVE

Digital
//DRUM
Size 360MB Format 24bit/44.1kHz WAV

subscribeDrV?
Weve got a special pack of punchy
drum machine loops for you to check out, with

MACHINE
D 50 different beats divided into full and
Download your component parts giving a total of 300 24-bit
from MusicTech.net
WAV files. Each loop was crafted on a Roland
TR-08 and then recorded off and processed
code:
with the following

LOOPS
using a range of plug-ins including u-he Satin,

B728AFK
Waves Abbey Road Plates, NI Replika, Slate
BVC, iZotope Ozone and more. Youll find
more laid back 90bpm grooves alongside
house-inspired 128bpm beats.

MIDI LOOPS//ROYALTY-FREE & EXCLUSIVE SAMPLE HITS //ROYALTY FREE

//BIG ROOM //VINTAGE DRUM


MELODIES HITS
Size 32KB Format MIDI Web www.
equinoxsounds.com
Equinox Sounds has provided a range of 100%
Size 248MB Format 24-bit/44.1kHz WAV, Kontakt,
EXS24, Live Pack Web www.samplesfrommars.com
The good people at Samples From Mars have gone and
royalty-free main room melodies to get your hands in sampled a whole bunch of vintage drum machine hits through
the air to. The pack includes 32 anthemic and energetic a range of kit including an SSL compressor, hardware
MIDI patterns inspired by top Big Room & EDM trance saturator and tape machine to crunch things up good and
artists such as W&W, Armin Van Buuren, Alesso and proper. Most of the hits come via an E-mu SP1200 sampler,
many others. Youll find 4- and 8-bar loops that have known for its gritty 12-bit sound, and they even throw in a
been multilayered with a combination of lower bass few multi-sampled analogue synth instruments just for
patterns, chord stacks and melodies to try out with good measure.
your favourite instruments.

DEMO//SOFTWARE

//SOFTWARE
AAS CHOMAPHONE 2
(WINDOWS, MAC OSX)
Chromaphone 2 uses acoustic resonators
to create drums, percussion, mallet,
DEMO//SOFTWARE string, and other unique instruments,
IZOTOPE MOBIUS FILTER with 650 presets, premium performance
(WINDOWS, MAC OSX) features, built-in effects and more.
Create infinitely ascending or descending filter www.applied-acoustics.com
sweeps and add motion to your audio with this
unique effect based on the auditory illusion of
the Shepard tone. FULL//SOFTWARE
www.izotope.com RAZAUDIO F1 FILTERBOX
(WINDOWS)
A handy multimode filter sculpting tool with
six filter shapes, time and sync based LFOs, an
envelope follower, and a large XY pad for quick
PLUGIN BOUTIQUE and easy automation sweeps.
STEREOSAVAGE www.razaudio.com
(WINDOWS, MAC OSX)
A flexible stereo toolbox with
Vox, Delay and Expand
programs for generating stereo TRITIK KRUSH (WINDOWS, MAC OSX)
from mono, plus width, pan A lively bit-crusher with bit crushing and
and rotation tools, an LFO and downsampling algorithms alongside a crunchy drive
an adjustable bass bypass. stage, warm analogue modelled resonant filter, and a
www.pluginboutique.com modulation section. www.tritik.com

114 | June 2016 MAGAZINE

MT159.dvd pages.indd 114 28/04/2016 13:01


Your Disc MT

SAMPLE LOOPS// DEMO LICENSE

//ROCK, SOUL, Size 566MB Format 24-bit/44.1kHz


WAV Web www.timespace.com

FUNK, RNB &


This month weve teamed up with Big Fish
Audio and Time & Space to bring you a
massive collection of rock, funk, soul,

POP LOOPS
RnB, EDM and pop taster loops for you to
try out in your productions. Youll find a
range of live drum loops, percussion,
vocals shouts and adlibs, heavy guitars,
bass and synth lines, horns, keys, FX and
taken from Pop Rock, Prism, Prometheus,
Scream, Smash, Soul City, Switch and Vibe
Guitars packs.

VIDEO TUTORIALS//90 MINS


VIDEO FEATURE//22 MINS

//MIXING ON //MANIC COMPRESSOR,


CONSOLES, LOGIC X HAND CLAPPER, DRUM
ALCHEMY MACHINES IN LIVE
Size 1.17GB Format MP4 Web www.pointblanklondon.com
Point Blank joins Head of School JC Concato as he
Size 810MB Format MP4 Web www.loopmasters.com/loopplus/
Loop+ has provided another selection of software videos
including a Flash Focus roundup on best-in-class drum machine
compares the workflows, functions and sound of a brand new plugins. Also this month, producer Multiplier gives a demonstration of
SSL Duality Delta desk vs Logic Pro X, and how to get the most the Manic Compressor from Boz Digital Labs, and the Hand Clapper
out of hands-on mixing. In a second video, Concato looks at five plugin from AudioThing. Finally, the team at Plugin Boutique take a
ways to give life to dull recordings or samples using UAD plug-ins. look at fleshing out your drum machine plugins with new sounds
Finally, PB instructor Alex Phountzi demonstrates sampling and stored in Ableton Drum racks, and how to trigger these correctly.
sequencing techniques using Alchemy in Logic.

MAGAZINE June 2016 | 115

MT159.dvd pages.indd 115 28/04/2016 13:01


INTRODUCING THE NEW
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youre ne-tuning your vocal, or checking your nal mixes, you can be condent
your projects will translate accurately on any system. Designed by the company
whose mics and headphones have helped create some of the worlds most
iconic recordings, the durable K52, K72 and K92 deliver great sound in the
studio and beyond. K52 K72 K92
FIND OUT MORE AT WWW.AKG.COM CLOSED-BACK HEADPHONES
2016 HARMAN INTERNATIONAL INDUSTRIES, INCORPORATED. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. AKG IS A TRADEMARK OF AKG
ACOUSTICS GMBH, REGISTERED IN THE UNITED STATES AND/OR OTHER COUNTRIES. FEATURES, SPECIFICATIONS AND
APPEARANCE ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE.

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

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