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View Full Version : {Music Related} what are some of these products and what are they used for



Carve
4th March 2009, 06:03 PM
Okay. Seriously looking into getting into some awesome music but nothing seems to be working at the moment. Found an awesome band that I love and they have some pictures up and was wondering what they are and what exactly are they used for.


thanks


can someone please tell me also what are synthesizers and what are they used for? Yes, im clueless but have so many ideas for different sounds but just have to find somewhere to start.

RustySpanner
4th March 2009, 10:58 PM
No need to muck around with all that gear, it's way too complicated to set up and maintain. Believe me, I used to own a lot more stuff than that. Software is a much better option now. By the time you buy one synthesizer, sampler or mixer, you could have an entire studio worth of software at your disposal for the same price.

If you want to get in to music, start by buying Apple Logic, and a good pair of headphones (ie. $150+). If you're a tightass, get Logic Express. Make sure you have a decent Mac with lots of RAM (ie. Intel Mac with 2gb + of RAM). If you can afford it, get some monitor speakers (around $800+), and a decent audio interface, such as a used MBox ($300). Then just muck around with it. Go nuts. You'll love it.

To answer your other question, a synthesizer is a device which generates and filters waveforms to create new sounds. They're lots of fun to use. Most commercial dance music features prominent synthesizer sounds for lead melodies and basslines. Start by using very basic synthesizers before moving on to more complex ones, or you'll get really confused.

The gear in the photos you posted consists roughly of:

-Nord synthesizer of some type
-Korg or Roland groove box
-Akai MPC series Sampler
-Various mixers
-Various MIDI keyboards/control surfaces
-KRK V series monitor speakers
-Assorted PC's, speakers and unidentifiable boxes

Carve
5th March 2009, 03:25 PM
Okay, thanks liam.

so my list would include a synthesizer, Sampler and Mixer? or is it just one?

is there a good one you could reccomend to me? One that would job, maybe around the $300 range?

also, is the Mbox used for recording say guitar and microphone? i don't get what it is

Brains
5th March 2009, 05:50 PM
Sorry Liam, but hardware wins over software any day, as far as extremes go -- a real synth (not something that uses modelling or samples or wavetables) will nail even the best Pro Tools / RTAS rig to the wall without trying. You could have an Arturia Moog V in Logic outputting through an RME interface and it won't have the balls of a real Series 3. I've A/B'd a Novation Bass Station against a Pro Tools rig (with AudioEngine 3) into a pair of studio Urei's running Novation's own V-Station and the softsynth sounds wimpy by comparison. GMedia's impOSCar can't get the fat nor the smooth nor the brittle a real OSCar can. Even Clavia's best software & hardware engineers will grudgingly admit that they can never get their Nord modelling synths to sound as sweet as real hardware, and that there's something in the way the old kit makes sound that eludes their analyses.

If you don't believe me, get your musical buns down to AWAVE and give a DSI Prophet 08 (the digitally-controlled 100%-analogue-signal-path descendent of the original Prophet 5) a run through their showroom setup ... but take a bib to catch the drool :p

Seriously, though, softsynths have their benefits, but to get the best sound out of any computer-generated music is by doing what the pros do, and pushing their outputs through a couple of MoogerFoogers to give them some life back.

The other thing that real hardware has that computer software lacks is tactile manipulation -- real one-function-per-control knobs, switches & faders. Sure, you can add control surfaces to a DAW rig and get some of it back, but it means you're still having to deal with the computer more than you have to ... and from many many years' personal experience, the fastest way to kill your creative muse is to have to think logically when you interact with the mouse & computer screen. The more you can remove the computer from your music making endeavours, the better. Using control surfaces, no matter how good they are, is akin to swapping your 68 Gibson, your Flying V, and your Les Paul for a Guitar Hero controller and a soundbox :p

Carve: The gear photos are as follows.

Pic 1: rotate it 90 degrees anticlockwise, then:
- top left, Behringer mixing desk originally designed to go into a rack, as it has no throw-faders
- under that, a domestic tuner being used as an amp
- under that, a crusty ElectroVoice spring reverb
- in the middle, a Boss guitar effects pedal of some kind
- right top, a MIDI controller keyboard, an early Roland or M-Audio one
- guitar amp under that
- bottom right, Clavia Nord Lead analogue modelling synth

Pic 2
- top left, Yamaha DX-27 FM synth
- top right, Akai MPC sampler with percussion pad controller
- bottom left, some ancient and battered cheesy home keyboard
- bottom right, Roland MC-303 Groove Box

Pic 3
- another view of what's in Pic 1, except in the centre we have a re-issue TalkBox (the plastic tube goes in your mouth, you play your instrument or sound into the TalkBox and it's sent up the plastic tube, you then use your mouth to form words and then record the sound with a microphone)

Pic 4
- computer keyboard, baby Behringer sub-mixer, screen and two sets of speakers (none of which has any balls to them :p), in front of the screen is a Behringer fader control-surface for messing with channels in Cubase (which is on screen); on the right top is another mixer, below that is an M-Audio MIDI controller keyboard.

By comparison, here's a couple of old noisy snaps of part our home studio:

http://i190.photobucket.com/albums/z266/enclydion/music/studio1.jpg

Rack, from top: Roland CR-7000 Drum Computer; Roland Juno-6; Yamaha CS-70M; Roland SH-3A
Centre: Roland System 100 (multiple modules)
Right: Soundcraft 32-channel discrete-component mixing console

http://i190.photobucket.com/albums/z266/enclydion/music/studio3.jpg

Yamaha QX-7; Korg MS-20; Jen SX90; Sequential DrumTrax

http://i190.photobucket.com/albums/z266/enclydion/music/studio5.jpg

Our pride & joy, an original, fully-functional Oberheim XPander, with a Yamaha DX-7 below it.

Not shown: a second CS-70M, Yamaha CS-40M, Roland Jupiter-8A, Roland Juno-106 x 2, Roland Super Jupiter, Roland SH-101, Yamaha TX-616, Yamaha RX-11, Yamaha TX-81z, Macintosh Plus x2, Alesis Quadraverb, Lexicon PCM96 reverb, Roland JC120 Jazz Chorus amp, Roland Space Echo, Roland Dimension D, BBE 1010 compander, Alesis 31-channel graphic EQ x 4, Ensoniq ESQ-M, Ensoniq ASR, Korg M1R, Macintosh Plus x2.

So, why all of this gear, and not just a fairly powerful computer? Mainly because each instrument has its own character, and almost every instrument has instant-gratification knobs and buttons, making it intuitive and effortless to shape and sculpt the sound live as the synth is being played. No dicking around poking through a grillion presets, no frustration previewing gigs of samples for the right one. It's there. Now.

To give you an idea what having all of this gear running at once can do for you, check this little clip out:

-X3kNduZzpw

This is French electronic artist Jean Michel Jarre and three accompanying performers playing live. Everything you are hearing is being played live by these four men -- no computers, no multitrack recordings, just four pairs of hands and admittedly far too much old and rare synthesizers :D

Carve
5th March 2009, 06:30 PM
Brains to the rescue again. Thanks man! is there anything you could recommend as in hardware for me to use? Like the M-Box (used to record guitar and vocals?)

I have a MIDI Controller (M-Audio KeyStudio), iMac and Express (getting Studio very shortly).


could you please tell me in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyvk_H3PP7E&feature=channel_page

what is it that Mika is hitting to play each individual track (its towards the end of the clip)

Brains
5th March 2009, 07:32 PM
I can't tell what exactly you're referring to in that clip, sorry.

As far as extra hardware goes, you should ideally only get instruments that you end up feeling comfortable with, both in how they sound and how they 'handle' (do the knobs for programming make sense? can you change sounds easily and quickly?) and you're only going to know that by getting down & dirty with a synth for a good while.

A synth or dedicated sampler's front panel is the other half of the instrument from a performing point of view. Just as you can make a guitar sing or scream depending on how you pick and bend the strings, a synth with good knobbage behaves the same; play your notes on the keys, and use the knobs with the other hand to change how it sounds.

Carve
5th March 2009, 07:40 PM
thats what i was wondering. Thank u


what music have you made? do you have any you can upload

RustySpanner
5th March 2009, 10:31 PM
Hey Brains,
You have some very nice kit. I'm a big fan of old Roland gear, had a couple of Junos myself.
Excellent post, with some valid points. However, I think you are reading something in to my post which I did not write - that is 'software is superior in sound and expression to hardware'. This is not the case.

To a newbie, to be able to pay $650 and get all the essentials they need to start producing music, there is no contest. The same money would not have bought even one component of a system 100 synthesizer. It would not have bought an audio interface or recording device able to fully capture the nuances of a performance played using that synthesizer, nor speakers able to reproduce it. It might buy one basic synthesizer, such as a Juno 106, but nothing else.

Can you see my point?

To equal the power of Logic, you would need to spend many tens of thousands of dollars on hardware. Unless you have that sort of budget, my advice is to add hardware only if your requirements call for it, or if you find a piece you fall in love with. It will all integrate with Logic, no matter which direction you choose to go.

I didn't present this reasoning to Carve, just the outcome of it, in the interest of keeping my recommendation simple and affordable.

If you are just starting out, there is no need to purchase anything other than what I initially specified, that is, Logic, an audio interface, and something to monitor on. You can build your studio up from there in in any way you like.

Liam

Brains
6th March 2009, 11:08 AM
I'll agree with all of that, and had a feeling your response was incomplete. There's pros & cons for everything, and softsynths are like audio CDs to me -- good enough, but not as good as the Real Thing. Thing is, most computer based musos don't know what the 'real thing' is anyway until they experience hardware synths (ie, real instruments) first-hand.

What I hope I was getting across to Carve was that instruments such as he originally posted (and that I added to) are just that - real instruments, in the same way his guitar is.

If you can't afford rooms-ful of real instruments, there's nothing wrong with using softsynths, as most of the music heard on radio today comes out of a computer anyway ... most people don't care, as long as it's got a phat beat or some appropriately crunchy guitar work :)

onezero
6th March 2009, 11:49 AM
There's nothing wrong with software instruments, the problem is usually that people go too crazy with effects and plugins. They use them as a crutch if their playing is not up to scratch or to fix problems "in the mix." And it all depends on the sort of recording you are trying to create. The whole "software instruments suck" thing is simplistic and tired in my opinion. It may have been true 10 years ago, but not so anymore.

Brains
6th March 2009, 12:18 PM
Not when you can A/B a real instrument against its modeled clone being run on $35,000 worth of state of the art DAW and studio-grade equipment, mate, the softsynth's limpness stands out like dog's balls :)

Arturia's Jupiter 8V is almost as lush as the real Jupiter-8 in our studio. The Studio-E has almost as much balls as the vintage Minimoog I've compared it against. The latest version of Lexicon's PCM96 VSTe doesn't sound as warm as the rackmount unit it's meant to replace unless the DAW outputs are fed through a Moogerfooger MF-101 to give it the much-needed warmth.

That's my tip for any aspiring computer-based musician -- buy a pair of MF-101's if you want your music to sound good, instead of 'good enough'.

onezero
6th March 2009, 12:31 PM
Not when you can A/B a real instrument against its modeled clone being run on $35,000 worth of state of the art DAW and studio-grade equipment, mate, the softsynth's limpness stands out like dog's balls :)

Arturia's Jupiter 8V is almost as lush as the real Jupiter-8 in our studio. The Studio-E has almost as much balls as the vintage Minimoog I've compared it against. The latest version of Lexicon's PCM96 VSTe doesn't sound as warm as the rackmount unit it's meant to replace unless the DAW outputs are fed through a Moogerfooger MF-101 to give it the much-needed warmth.

That's my tip for any aspiring computer-based musician -- buy a pair of MF-101's if you want your music to sound good, instead of 'good enough'.

When money is tight and it's not your primary instrument I'd say get a softsynth. I primarily play guitar and I have softsynths for my midi keyboard. Sure, in a $35,000 dollar studio it WILL stand out like dog's ball's, after all your recoding chain is only as good as the weakest link. But if you're looking to record demos, why would you spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on synths unless you're made of money?

The problem is also that many people try applying old techniques to new technology. They're different beasts and should not be treated in the same way. Add too the fact that even softsynths are not equal. They run the gamut for terrible to incredible, just like physical instruments.

This argument happened when synths first came out too, and look how that turned out.

crunchysteve
6th March 2009, 01:04 PM
Sorry Liam, but hardware wins over software any day, as far as extremes go -- a real synth (not something that uses modelling or samples or wavetables) will nail even the best Pro Tools / RTAS rig to the wall without trying.

The truth is there's a place for both, but when it comes to live performance, a desk full of knobs and black'n'whites, beats a mouse and QUERTYs anyday.

Here's how I see an ideal techno studio.

- Any retro music you can lay your hands on that's still working reliably.
- Other retro hardware that's not working, but still making interesting sounds, especially of they're sounds that are manipulable, especially if the broken part is what makes the manipulation that's interesting.
- Decent modern keyboard sampler and MIDI controller.
- Logic (Express or Pro, either will do) or Garage Band (GB is no compromise, it's free, it works well and is more forgiving of the less technical user.)
- a firewire multichannel audio interface for your Mac

Sample the old shit into the sampler keyboard and programme your underscores in the MIDI controller. Do you lead parts by hand on the retro gear, knob bending and twiddling to your heart's content. This is where you compose stuff as if playing live. It's like noodling on a guitar or rambling on a piano, play around until you get a groove you like and can perform repeatedly, then practice it.

Where the DAW (Digital Audio Workstation, ie Logic) comes in is to record stuff in a studio context. Record each retro instrument and the sampler grooves into separate channels in your DAW, then effect and mix them down. but perform on the tools as if you were playing live.

Best of both worlds. Play the machines like musical instruments, record them on a DAW. Dynamic live performance, studio production values.

Have fun! (More important than dreams of rock star fame and fortune, really) Never believe your onw publicity and never have publicity that you could reasonably believe ;-)

marc
6th March 2009, 01:16 PM
Not when you can A/B a real instrument against its modeled clone being run on $35,000 worth of state of the art DAW and studio-grade equipment, mate, the softsynth's limpness stands out like dog's balls :)
Agree with Brains.

Softsynths can be a great way to get into writing electronic music, but make no mistake about it: analogue synths, real analogue distortion and analogue filters will totally and utterly destroy their digital equivalents most of the time. They're just "alive" in comparison.

However, you have to be smart about this stuff... a hybrid approach is a good one. Use whatever software and hardware you can get your hands on. There are tricks to get softsynths up to speed and some are getting better.

Even if you intend using softsynths for everything, make sure you have a play with some vintage analogue synths, just so you know what you're missing out on.


Best of both worlds. Play the machines like musical instruments, record them on a DAW. Dynamic live performance, studio production values.
Good advice, and it's what we do here.

Lots of interesting noises are made on hardware synths, tracked to Logic, then edited and arranged. It gives you great quality sounds, very flexible editing and means you don't have to worry about some old synth never sounding the same.

Btw Brains, can I borrow the Oberheim XPander, Roland Dimension D and some blank audio tapes?
(Joking.)

Also worth noting: there's some new analogue synths that are great too. We have a Studio Electronics SE1X (http://www.studioelectronics.com/products_se1x.php) here. Not quite as warm as some of the older kit, but it's insane for basses. Nothing comes close! So smooth and punchy at the same time.

Also #2: Guitar pedals are a cheap way to give sounds character. There's loads of cool second hand pedals out there. Recommendations: Frostwave, Lovetone, Tech21.

Peter Wells
6th March 2009, 01:30 PM
i can definitely say the beer is for drinking, the pringles are for eating, and the home brand orange soda must be used as some kind of solvent.

decryption
6th March 2009, 01:32 PM
i can definitely say the beer is for drinking, the pringles are for eating, and the home brand orange soda must be used as some kind of solvent.

I see a VB poster in the last one. Bogan techno.

RustySpanner
6th March 2009, 11:44 PM
Everyone works different ways, and it's great to hear all these suggestions. No two people will use the same techniques, and no two people will have the same requirements.

Carve, are you still following all this? How are you going on your quest?

Liam

Carve
13th March 2009, 08:00 PM
I can't tell what exactly you're referring to in that clip, sorry.

As far as extra hardware goes, you should ideally only get instruments that you end up feeling comfortable with, both in how they sound and how they 'handle' (do the knobs for programming make sense? can you change sounds easily and quickly?) and you're only going to know that by getting down & dirty with a synth for a good while.

A synth or dedicated sampler's front panel is the other half of the instrument from a performing point of view. Just as you can make a guitar sing or scream depending on how you pick and bend the strings, a synth with good knobbage behaves the same; play your notes on the keys, and use the knobs with the other hand to change how it sounds.



in the video, im talking about what mika is using to our right, by playing individual tracks, for like that clapping song, or the violin etc. etc.

RustySpanner
13th March 2009, 10:49 PM
The guy is setting the volume of different tracks using a mixer. Each track is a recording of one sound on the computer, and he can set the volume of each track individually, while it plays. Playing a sound on its own is to 'solo' it. Having many or all of the sounds together is a 'mix'.

Carve
14th March 2009, 08:08 PM
do you know which one specifically?

RustySpanner
14th March 2009, 10:10 PM
It looks like a Euphonix MC Mix. That's some expensive gear - they're over a grand.
Euphonix :: MC MIx (http://www.euphonix.com/artist/products/mc_mix/)

Carve
14th March 2009, 10:21 PM
thanks