Monday, July 28, 2014


I feel pretty certain my brother Dave owned a Farfisa organ at some point when I was very little. I distinctly remember the white accidentals and the black keys and maybe I even remember a volume swell thingy that stuck out the bottom.*

Farfisas are the poor-man's Hammond (which, in turn, is the poor-ish-man's actual pipe organ.) Farfisas have a unique sound and are the basis of a tremendous amount of psychedelic music from Pink Floyd to The Doors.

The Combo Model F is a very sweet Farfisa emulator (VSTi). Sometimes you just need some Light My Fire-type sounds to do that thing for you.

*Was it a Farfisa Fast model? Am I just making up that thing about a piece of metal like a coat hangar that does swells? Am I in fact mistaking the entire thing? I have no idea.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Setting Up the Electric Guitar

Ethan on setting up a guitar:

I believe Stewart Macdonald has a basic set up kit that probably has everything you'd need at some slightly marked-up price. Truthfully, all you really need is a machinist's rule, metric and English Allen wrenches, a standard truss rod wrench and decent 1/8" flat-blade and #1 Phillips screwdrivers. You may own some of that already, but make sure the Allen wrenches go down to .050" and 1mm, respectively. Little by little you'll end up adding a few tools for specific jobs, but not many or often.
You could get everything I just listed at Sears, I bet, except for the truss rod wrench. I would also suggest you pick up a copy of the book Electric Guitar Setups by Hideo Kamimoto.
His is not the only approach, but it's a very good approach. Also, many guitar manufacturers have setup guides on their websites (I know Fender does, and I believe G&L and Ernie Ball/Musicman do too. Not sure about Gibson). You'll find that none of them are quite the same. Find the method you like. You could always look on the web for other sources, provided you can quickly filter who's a nincompoop and who's not. Good luck with that.
So I checked the Internet. Here's a post on setting up a Gibson Les Paul.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Swinging Gains

In our voiceover booth we always have at least one mic hooked up at all times. The issue is that if you have the monitor speakers on and you open the door, you'll feed back. Which is, you know, annoying.
The simple answer is to turn the gains down on the input channels of the mics which are plugged in. But there's another better answer.
Arrows and circles indicate the buttons you need to press.

On the interface we use there are switches on input channels 1 and 2 which flip the input over to the high-impedance 1/4" front-panel jacks. So you press those switches and viola -- the microphone is turned "off".
So, that's your pro audio news from the Pandora Machine front today. You are ever so glad you check this blog.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Surround in Samplitude

Mixing for film.
So I've set up to do a surround mix and a stereo mix at the same time. I put limiters on the surround busses at -12dB because broadcasters throw a fit when you go above -12dB.
Then I do a bounce like so:
But what I GET is a bunch of levels that look like this:

With the way I thought I had everything set up all those levels should have been -12dB. But those first two tracks LOOK like what I'd think the stereo master should look like (if my calculations using this dB calculator were correct.) http://www.sengpiela...culator-spl.htm
I mean that's the way they should look if the limiter wasn't applied to them.

Is this functionality in Samplitude broken? Does anybody work with surround+stereo masters?

I have this feeling I'm one of like three people who uses Samplitude this way. ;-)

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Updating

I've been uploading new mixes from Wednesday night's Diatomaceous Earth rehearsal.

I'm not entirely sure what I think about my guitar sound. I'm using guitar-amp emulators and maybe that's cool, but maybe it feels different? I don't know. Maybe I'm just questioning it because I know intellectually I'm not going through a nice expensive tube amplifier?
Signal path is like Hebrew, it goes from right-to-left. MXR delay, Joyo American and British pedals, Dunlop MXR Uni-Vibe, and an ADA speaker emulator.
You'll notice I feed the "American" pedal into the "British" pedal. Sometimes I turn them both on. You might notice that I use extremely conservative settings on each of them. For me the Uni-Vibe works best when you don't really hear it.
Other thoughts: the ADA cabinet simulator mostly just takes out the very low end and very high end. But it adds some other things too. At first I didn't like it but I think that's the result of playing the guitar out-of-context (the "it sounds great when I do this alone in my garage" effect). I feel like it adds a bit of "wood" to the guitar sound. Which is basically what I think of good guitar cabinets.
I wasn't sure I was aesthetically pleased with the spacing of the guitars on this wall. Ethan said he knew what the problem was -- I don't have enough guitars.
One thing which we'd all experienced was that we were able to hear better -- and distinguish the low part of the Stick from the bass guitar. Thing is, I feel like that comes out in the mixes too.
The treble side of the Stick hits a Electro Harmonix HOG2 and then a Lex Strymon "Leslie" pedal. So yeah, these pedals are set up left-to-right. The thing on the far right is the remote headphone monitor station.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Double Bunny Time

Diatomaceous Earth had a full rehearsal in Jersey City last night.
The post-mortem was everyone agreed we could hear much more clearly than we could at the rehearsal studio. This may be because we're all on headphones and, using electronic drums, the levels were much quieter. I don't know.
Personally I felt we played with a kind of delicacy unique to the Jersey City environment. I don't know. Ethan's Stick actually went through the Tascam preamps (I made a routing mistake.) Ooh. And Alice the 5-string Squire Jazz bass got a setup by Ethan too! It played well before, it plays very very nice now. (I still haven't found the 1.5mm Allen wrench we dropped on the floor somewhere. I even walked all over the place in bare feet!)
Lily played that self-same Jazz bass directly into the ART tube preamp's DI. Greg went from his preamp into the other side of the ART (also DI). My guitar hit the JOYO British and American boxes to make a kind of sound (I'll have to explain that later)and then went into a Neve DI input. The drums are Abbey Road "Late 60's" drums. In this first mix I've done almost nothing to them -- a little LA2 emulated compression and a little reverb. The other instruments have the same LA2 compression on them and the mix buss has one also. 
We didn't play a single thing we actually knew. So we made this all up as we went along. You can probably tell. I'll be adding more mixes to this album in the coming days.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Mo Money Mo Problems

Tyrannosaurus Mouse has earned $10.71 in royalties from digital distribution. And because I handle the accounts that money is entirely in my clutches!
Ten bucks. Ten smackaroos. I got me a Lincoln and 5 Georgie boys. There's a Hamilton with my name on it.

Ten American dollars from digital Internet royalties from our album.
I guess I'm buyin' at the next rehearsal.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Three Things

My very first experience in a recording studio was at a little studio in (I think) Sparta NJ. My oldest brother David drove me there* one Saturday. I was supposed to go with a drummer but he bagged out at the last minute. The only thing I remember about the studio was that they had a Roland Space Echo there. This must have been... 1982? Probably 1982.
The Boss RE20 is $250.

The Boss delay gets great reviews. It does seem to sound great. At $318 is the Electro Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man. I've enjoyed every Electro Harmonix thing I've played. There's something about them that's just fun. The Catalinbread Echorec at $230 is a pedal which emulates the old Binson Echorecs (like the ones Pink Floyd had). The online videos make it seem pretty cool, no? What I have, however, is an MXR Analog Delay. The "sound" of that MXR is pretty spectacular actually. It's very smooth. What the MXR doesn't do is multi-taps. Multi-taps are amusing. They're fairly easy to do in the mix. From what I've heard the Catalinbread is probably the closest to what I'd want in a pedal outside of the MXR. (Anybody notice how much Andy from looks and sounds like Andrew Kramer from *I also remember we listened to "Suzie Q" on the radio on the way.

Two things

The Electro Harmonix B9 seems pretty cool. It's not like Electro Harmonix makes stuff that sucks.
At $2100 the Kemper Modelling amplifier is seemingly the only real and good modelling amplifier. At least the word on the Web is so. I wish it were a tenth the price.