Production

More Kontrol Than Ever

Right after Christmas of last year, I posted about my first run in with the KORG nanoKONTROL and my adventures in getting it hooked up with ProTools. Many things have happened in the intervening seven months, but two items are of particular note here. First off, KORG came out with an updated version of the nano series, tweaking all of them in pretty good ways all around. Second, I finished graduate school, and set about to upgrade a bunch of bits of studio equipment and software as a kind of graduation present.

I’ve only had it plugged in for a few minutes, but the nanoKONTROL2 is an upgrade to its predecessor in many ways. First off, it has native support of the HUI protocol, which ProTools speaks without any further configuration. Thus, you plug this guy in, fire up ProTools (or any number of other editor softwares), and you’re good to go. One of the most immediate differences is the support for the lights behind all the buttons. While the original nanoKONTROL does have lighted buttons, the hacked scene file I had to use to hook it up didn’t let the DAW light buttons up appropriately. Thus, you had no indication on your control of the state of any of your tracks, or even which tracks were selected. Withe the nanoKONTROL2, all of this comes working out of the box. The dedicated solo, mute, and record switches work exactly as you’d expect, and the transport controls all do what they should as well. There are a few new controls on this device as well. In particular, there are buttons for switching track groups (something that had to be done with a mouse with the original nanoKONTROL) and for navigating between markers in the song. Even a few minutes in and it’s already a better experience overall.

I feel kinda bad about upgrading so soon after getting the original, but it’s hard to argue with such progress. I’m going to keep it around for the moment and reprogram it into a general MIDI controller, with the intent of using it in software synths, effects plugins, and things of that nature. We’ll see if it ends up being truly useful in that mode, but there are at least many good possibilities ahead.

Another newcomer to the recording studio is the Akai MPD18, a 16-pad drum controller. As I understand it, this is what one uses to create Phat Beatz. Or bizzeatz. I’m not sure, really. In any case, the velocity sensitive pads on this will be much more conducive to programming drum tracks than either a mouse or a piano keyboard ever were. Since it’s just a basic MIDI controller as well, and not a drum machine in and of itself, I can also use this as a MIDI trigger for other things. Perhaps someday if I ever get up the nerve to play live, this will all come in handy.

As you can see by the low-quality smartphone shots of my desk here, all of these devices leave me with about a mile and a half of USB cables strewn about, leading me to get yet another USB hub for the workstation. Several years ago, I very gladly picked up one of these guys to keep things from falling back into the oblivion behind my desk. Cordies are totally awesome. So simple of an idea, but so well executed. I haven’t yet figured out if latency is going to be an issue with all of the intervening hardware, but I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

The rest of the studio upgrade is all software, most of which is still on its way. Finally able to upgrade ProTools, Reason, Melodyne, and Amplitube to their latest releases, I’ll have a shiny and full suite of new tools with which to work on new music.

Oh yeah– there is new music. There is actually quite a lot of new music, and once I get all the software installed and set up, I’m going to be working on it in earnest. Keep tuned for more of that.

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Production

Moogerfoogers on the Cheap

I had cause to squeal like a little girl last night, and that cause was Moogerfoogers.

For those of you that don’t know, the Moog Music company (makers of fine analogue synthesizers) also makes a range of effects pedals these days called Moogerfoogers. And I dare you to say “moogerfooger” ten times fast. They’re all-analogue and are practically modular synth components, and they cost somewhere between $200 and $900 each. A bit rich for my budget. However, Avid, the folks who make ProTools, have managed to put together some really great software emulations of the real thing. It’s not the same, that’s for sure, but they do a really good job of reproducing the effects they create digitally. The pack of four sells for $500 these days, which is also a bit much for me to drop on four audio plugins, even in the midst of trying to update my studio.

Last night, however, I found hope. Back when I first bought my Mbox2, I sprung for the “Factory Bundle”, which came with a bunch of extra bits of demo software like Melodyne, Abelton, Reason, and most importantly the Moogerfooger Analogue Delay. I have used this delay effect on every major Psycliq recording to date, and I just absolutely love its sound and definitely wanted to keep it working during the upgrade. Thus, I went poking around the internet to make sure it would still work when I upgrade to ProTools 9, and I saw that I would have to get a patch from Avid to keep things happy. Not too surprising, I had to do the same thing when I upgraded from 7 to 8. But then I found something interesting.

In the Avid store, I stumbled across the Mbox and Mbox 2 Factory/Producer Factory 8.0 Upgrade for $15. It was a bundle that included all four Moogerfooger plugins as well as a few other nice ones, including the Cosmonaut Voice effect that I was fond of from the original Factory pack. For only 15 bucks, I was expecting this to simply upgrade the license to the plugins I already owned. Imagine my surprise then when I found out that it does in fact come with everything on the box, in full, no strings attached.

I quickly fired up ProTools and pulled open Mettle to make sure the delay plugin still worked, at least. Having confirmed that, I dug through the menu and found the other three Moogerfoogers happily staring at me. I toss the lowpass filter onto one of the tracks and hit play.

This is the part where I squealed with glee.

So for $15, I’ve got a suite of world-class effects, and I can’t wait to see what I can do with them now. Stay tuned to hear.

Uncategorized

Coverage

I’d like to shake the cobwebs off of my production skills by doing a cover/remix kind of song. There’s a lot of good music out there on the planet, much of which I’m unfamiliar with. So, dear audience, what song should I do?

Back when I did the Kickstarter project, I had an option to let supporters have me cover a song of their choice. Only one person took me up on that, and they challenged me to cover Monsters by Electric President. I had never heard of the band or the song, so it was an interesting exercise to say the least. I ended up having a blast flinging that song into some place it wasn’t really meant to go.

With summer upon us, I want to take on that challenge again. I want you, the world, to tell me what song I should try and cover and give it a bit of Psycliq flair. Any results will be put up for free as part of the Mergers & Aquisitions album.

I know there’s a lot of good stuff out there, so let’s hear it. I’m officially Open to Suggestions.