Mon, 20 May 2019
I just sat down to recall my first studio and as I did so, I remember my first studio wasn't at all my first.
My very first was a portable tape casette recorder.
After that, the record mechanisms on toy synthesizers.
At some point, a Tascam 424 Portastudio MkII showed up, which produced some pretty fun recordings for sure. One for the difficulties for me was timing, especially triggering drum samples and patches from keys. As good as I was at it, a perfect take with perfect timing was out of the question. But I remember how hard it was to learn MIDI! That was probably because my first attempt at using a sequencer was Voyetra Sequencer Plus GOLD software that came with the original Sound Blaster. Totally unintelligble to a 13 year old kid!
So my first real studio came along once Cubase appeared for me, because that was when I figured out MIDI and I could start creating sensible, listenable music.
I didn't even know Atari existed. My first Cubase was on Windows 98, Cubase Score 3.05. It had a printer port dongle. The MIDI interface was a MOTU Pocket Express parallel port. I think I needed some kind of parallel port hub to use both at the same time. I had no idea about MIDI timing or anything, and I think with the parallel port, I hadn't yet come across the ill-fated timing issues that were to come with USB, although I know that soon after realizing I needed more MIDI ports, I dove in head first to the horror that is USB MIDI devices.
I know my first sequences were stored on floppy disks. I doubt I have them anymore. I know I did a few things in 1998, more notibly the music and sound effects for a college skit. There were tracks made in the summer of 1998 in Berkeley, with MIDI mostly recorded live (and sometimes unquantized, go figure) into Cubase and recorded into the 4 track. I don't think I had figured out multitimbral mode yet. One track, Sanskrit, is extant from that time. The tape version sounds much better than the edited, quantized version I worked out later.
After I graduated college in 1999, I remember buying a top of the line Micron computer that cost about $5,000. With this big purchase came my first "real" studio running Steinberg Cubase VST/32 running on Windows 98, with the aforementioned MOTU Pocket Express handling the MIDI and outputing to an Alesis QS8 and a Roland JV-80, eventually recording audio into a Mackie 1402 VLZ Pro with the direct outs half-patched into a MOTU 2408 Mk II PCI. I soon figured out how to plug the ADAT outputs of the QS8 into the 2408, which then started my obsession with digital audio. The difference between that and the poor, noisy analog output of the mixer was undeniable.
Yet, stability on this system was far from achievabl with Windows 98. Getting thorugh a 5 minute recording without the system crashing was a miracle sometimes.
The last version of Steinberg Cubase VST/32 appears to be Steinberg Cubase VST/32 5.2 PB1.
Note to self: there is an Initself archive housed in Z:\Documents\Cubase\Techno (Pitch 07) that contains Rhodes Bitch Golfer, which you thought was lost. Check it out!
Mon, 27 Jul 2015
When providing a notice of copyright for a sound recording, the graphical symbol ℗ is to be employed in lieu of the copyright symbol ©. A sound recording has a copyright distinct from the copyright for the underlying work itself, which might be reproduced within another form of sound recording. For a more thorough explanation, see the Wikipedia entry for sound recording copyright symbol.
System fonts on a given Windows machine may not contain this character, so one might need to resort to creating a custom "Private Use Character" that could be used in conjunction with the Windows Character Map. The following is a procedure to create this character:
- Open the Private Character Editor: Start >> Run >> type 'eudcedit'
- Select the first available slot in the Select Code dialog box and click Ok.
- Edit >> Copy Character... >> Font... >> Select 'Arial' and scroll down until you can select ® at location E00A0.
- With the eraser tool, remove the right "leg" of the letter R to form the letter P.
- Edit >> Save Character (Cntl+S)
- Open the Character Map: Start >> Run >> type 'charmap'
- Select a Font of 'All Fonts (Private Characters)'. Select the newly created ℗ character and press 'Select' and 'Copy' to copy the character to the clipboard for use elsewhere.
Sat, 25 Jul 2015
Some notes on releasing an album in 2015...
The Internet is primarily visual
The Internet is a more visual medium than an auditory one. An image for the artist and the album matter when releasing an album online using digital services.
Many elements of a release can now be outsourced: CD replication, digital distribution.
Manufacturing and warehousing a batch of CDs to ship oneself to buyers is probably unwise, when one can leverage just-in-time replication services like Kunaki is a better decision.
Kunaki offers software (Windows only) that helps properly format album artwork for CD and jewel case replication. Audio is submitted to Kunaki by inserting a Red Book standard CD which is then copied during the design process. The help page states that "the software will copy the exact image (bit copy) without modifications", but there are known issues with copying CD-Text and ISRC data from the master. Kunaki states that they do not support CD-Text. Others have claimed to have worked around the issue. Kunaki's software creates an .exe which becomes the "master copy" which is then uploaded to Kunaki's facility to complete the design process.
I used the UPC generated from DistroKid. Using a free online barcode generator, I created a UPC-A image. Using GIMP, I scaled the image down to 1.375" across per a recommended spec and added it to my tray card design.
Online Album Databases
To submit my album to Gracenote (CDDB), I downloaded QMP (Quintessential Media Player + Media Library 5.0) [qmp_5.0.121.exe]. When starting for the first time with a CD in the disk drive, the software prompts for Gracenote submission.
To submit my album to FreeDB, I downloaded Exact Audio Copy (EAC) [eac-1.1.exe]. After configuration, I edited the CD information, selected the metadata provider as "Built-in freedb engine" and submitted the metadata by clicking the mailbox icon.
AMG (All Music Guide)
Under the 1976 Copyright Act, a work is automatically protected by copyright when it is created. A work is created when it is "fixed" in a copy for the first time. The creation date is not necessarily the same as the publication date; publication is the distribution of copies of a work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership or by rental, lease, or lending.
The copyrights between a musical composition and a sound recording are different, but a copyright can be obtain concurrently for both using the same filing process. The U.S. Copyright Office offers electronic copyright filing through their Electronic Copyright Office (eCO) system. It is better to submit the copyright for the unpublished work, as then only 1 complete phonorecord needs to be submitted.
To enter my sole proprietorship DBA as a claimant, I followed the instructions during the application and entered a "Note to Copyright Office" on the Certification screen as required.
The fee for submitting a sound recording copyright application is $55 as of July 28th, 2015.
Because a musical composition and a sound recording are a different copyright altogether, there are different symbols to denote which kind of copyright: ℗ for a sound recording, © for a musical composition. I copyrighted the sound recording in the inside insert of the CD artwork using the following format:
© 2015 <psuedonym>
℗ 2015 <sole proprietorship DBA name>
On Windows XP, there is no system font that contains the sound recording copyright symbol, so I had to make my own using this procedure:Creating a Sound Recording Copyright Symbol using Windows Character Map
Helpful DocumentsCircular 1 - Copyright Basics
Circular 3 - Copyright Notice
Circular 50 - Copyright Registration for Musical Compositions
Circular 56 - Copyright Registration for Sound Recordings
Circular 56A - Copyright Registration of Musical Compositions and Sound Recordings
Sound Recordings as Works Made for Hire
Copyright - Help: Author - Doing Business As
Copyright - Help: Author - Pseudonymous Work
If Derek Sievers recommends DistroKid for digital distribution into online stores, it's probably the way to go. Will be nice when they get an API to prevent having to type all the album metadata into their upload form.
DistroKid provides a free UPC.
I opted not to add my music to Spotify for the time being.
DistroKid does not submit to Pandora, that is done via a submission page. You must have an online presence first before applying.
I chose to sign up with BMI, for free.
I thought there was a way to upload a playlist of songs whose "video" is the album cover?Music artists and album promotion
Purchase a cool .audio domain or find another cool TLD.
All Music Guide
Wed, 22 May 2013
After destroying my previous printer port dongle for Cubase VST/32, replacing it with a new USB eLicenser, I decided to install the newly provided activation code provided to me by Steinberg Support.
It did not go very well. I documented the process with screenshot here:
UPDATE: Turns out Steinberg sent me the wrong license code! With the right one, it works great!
Sat, 11 May 2013
It has truly been humbling finding a CF Reader for my Akai S1100. After messing around with countless Compact Flash card models and All-In-One SCSI readers, the following equipment is guaranteed to work with an S1100.
- ACARD AEC-7720U - IDE to Ultra SCSI Bridge
- StarTech.com 35BAYCF2IDE - 3.5-Inch Drive Bay IDE to Single CF SSD Adapter Card Reader
- Pretec 16 GB 233x Series Compact Flash drive
- custom Female Large 4-pin Molex to Female Small 4-pin Molex
The internals of the StarTech.com unit is an Addonics AD44MIDECF. StarTech.com adds a slot for the card and a metal housing.
The only CF drive that have been able to get to work is a Pretec 16 GB 233x Series Compact Flash drive. I was able to find someone selling one on eBay. Other than eBay, they seem to be sold out everywhere.
Per Muser on GearSlutz, the reason why this CF card works is the following:
233x is 233 times 150KB per second. the 150 was the designation for CD ROM Audio at 44.1 16bit .. per second KB.
The Akai will likely want to see this kind of speed, as its hard disk formatting specification mirrors that of a sample CD.
I also had to cobble together a custom Female Large 4-pin Molex to Female Small 4-pin Molex, soldering together parts from two other Molex cables I had.
Here is my HOWTO video:
Note to self: Akai Tools
Fri, 05 Oct 2012
Coming from Cubase VST/32, I expected to be able to add sysex data to the start of a MIDI track using the event editor. After trolling around, I found that logic doesn't provide enough space for one line hexidecimal sysex dump entry. However, it turns out that there's a much more elegant way to load sysex data.
First of all, you can easily dump patches into a little utility made by snoize called Sysex Librarian. You set the utility to record mode and trigger a dump from the synth. Then, you can set the destination in the librarian to "Act as a source for other programs". This will create integration with Logic.
After dumping or loading a sysex patch and setting the proper destination, select a MIDI track in Logic and set the transport to "pause record mode" by pressing pause followed by the record button. This allows you to play in the sysex patch from the librarian. Press the 'Play' button and Logic will show an arrow in the MIDI channel, signifying that there is now sysex data in the channel. Press play in Logic and away you go!
Sat, 26 Jan 2008
Live at Alexandra Palace in 1995
What I can recognize:
Left Rack: - Top Row: Roland Jupiter 6 - Middle Row: Alesis MMT8 (x3), Novation Bass Station - Bottom Row: Roland R8, Roland TR-909, Roland TR-808 Front Rack: - Mackie Mixer? Right Rack: - Top Row: Oberheim Xpander, Roland TB-303 - Middle Row: Roland SH-101, Ensoniq DP/4, Ensoniq DP/2, Alesis Quadraverb - Bottom Row: Korg Prophecy, ?, ?
Update: Gearslutz helped out here: Orbital Gear Identification
Here's the unofficial Orbital Gear List.
Fri, 25 Jan 2008
I've tried for a while now to get an appropriate soundcard for working on music at home on a laptop. The first thing I tried was an M-Audio Firewire 410. Latency issues, clicking and poping, poor mic preamp quality all led me to the conclusion that I'd never be buying from M-Audio again. A quick foray into the M-Audio Ozone 2 reminded me of why - the gear just feels cheap and uninspiring, and then when you plug it in you realize that your initial impulse was correct.
After some time, I thought I'd give Creative/E-mu a try with their new 0404 USB 2.0 Audio/MIDI interface. Although a step in the right directly, this time I was very unsatisfied with the sound quality on the output stage (which doesn't really make much sense considering the specs), as the outputs seemed to render the sound dynamically flat and loud, without depth. I recall being bothered by timing on something, the details are fuzzy. Suffice it to say, I gave up on this one as well.
Recently I dove into the tried-and-true PCMCIA territory with the Digigram VXPocket V2. I had read decent reviews and they had been very accommodating with Linux driver developers, a good sign. Turns out the Windows XP drivers still needed some work. I experience intermitant digital popping from within Cubase. When I tried to use the standalone Emulator X2, I was only able to record digitally for one pass until the driver decided to wig out and set itself back to analog recording, leaving me with a very irritated ear canal after numerous digital yelps. What a pity.
So now I realize after all the returns and all the time wasted trying to make crap work that I should have just gone with RME all along. They should be coming out with their new PCI-e PCMCIA cards for the Digiface and I will gladly buy one in order to move on with my life. RME, I can almost guarantee it, will not let me down.