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Monday, 30 July 2012

Dancing With the Moon - 20120728ewGypsyTest01 v002

Listen on Soundcloud.com

A piece made solely from EastWest Gypsy. My first attempt at a new music genre. I really don't know how to classify this genre. Any help would be welcome!
Started 29 july 2012, finished 31 july 2012
Instruments used:
Flamenco guitar strum
Flamenco guitar lead
Gypsy percussion
Camp Musette

I think all the instruments sit well with each other. The only tweak I had to do was to equalise the trombone a bit so it stands out, especially in the early part when it was a lead instrument, and that was all. 

Thursday, 26 July 2012

IK Multimedia Releases ARC System 2

IK Multimedia has just released ARC System 2 ARC stands for Advanced Room Correction. This is a complete set of hardware and software that will calibrate your working environment for accurate audio reproduction.

The ARC system is the only solution that combines a microphone and a corrective plug-in to correct the sound quality for the acoustic environment the user is working in:
- elegant
- low cost
- portable

ARC 2 is based on the patented technology that drives Audessy's award-winning MultEq XT32 room-correction solution. 

Implementing the ARC room-correcting solution involves sampling the characteristics of the room's acoustics. After the room is profiled, the user can specify the position(s) where the listener would be (this does not need to be just the engineer's "sweet spot").

All that takes now is the route the DAW's master bus' monitoring output through the supplied ARC's plug-in. Thus the sound that gets sent to our monitor speakers would be an accurate signal that has been de-room-ed from the room profile that was taken earlier.

ARC system is:
- the first DAW-based room-correction solution in the market
- based on Audyssey's MultEq XT32 patented technology that corrects phase and frequency distortions in any acoustic environment
- improves clarity, stereo imaging and frequency response for faster and more reliable mixing
- immediately improves the sound of any room, acoustically treated or untreated (bedroom, audio control room, etc)
- step-by-step set-up is simple and straightforward
- the plug-in is compatible to native 64-bit DAW applications
- since it is a completely mobile solution, any musician and audio engineer can now reliably work with audio material on the go, in any environment

ARC 2 improvements:
- improved interface and a new 'monitor control panel' allows for greater ease-of-use
- resolution of calibration is 4 times more accurate. This helps improve critical low-end response
- mid-range and high frequencies are now smoother and more natural sounding
- new combined L/R option maintains perfect focus with symmetrical control rooms
- new customisable target curves allow engineers to create response curves to match their preference
- new 'virtual monitoring' feature allows simulates the frequency and audio response characteristics of popular audio play-back devices like popular studio monitors, car systems, boomboxes, etc. Really useful for previewing the audio material being played back under different conditions.
- higher quality can now be achieved in fewer measurements resulting in quicker set-up time
- measurements can be saved and used for multiple correction set-ups

The included microphone used to measure the room is a calibrated, omni-directional, and has a super-linear frequency response. It's flat frequency response is the key to room measurement. 

When not used for the purpose of calibration, it can then be used as a high quality microphone to faithfully and colourlessly capture any audio signal. 

The ARC 2 sells for 249.99 Euros at IK Multimedia's online store. Existing owners of ARC version 1 are eligible for an upgrade offer of 84 Euros. 

Having coloured sound in our monitoring mix is an age-old problem we all have to deal with when we are working with sound. This problem has plagued audio engineers, musicians, even acoustic-treatment engineers. 

Many workarounds have been used over the years to overcome this problem. 

Some of us treat our rooms with acoustically isolating materials. This requires us to place permanent/semi-permanent fixtures and a hefty sum of money altering the physical room, depending on the extent of the room treatment. This method also limits the flexibility of the solution. For example, the quality of the sound would alter again if the treated room were to be re-arranged (eg, having a cupboard added to one of the walls, or moving the workstation to face in another direction. Lastly, this method is not mobile. The corrected sound can only work within the treated room and limited to a certain areas of optimal listening.

Using sound-isolating headphones can partially solve the problem. However, the closed acoustic nature of the headphones does not allow us quite the same monitoring experience or a natural environment such as an acoustically accurate space similar to the size of a rooms.

There are solutions involve measuring the phase and frequency response of the room and then running the monitoring signal through an equaliser that negates the room's frequency response. Many of these solutions are limited to providing accurate monitoring within the confines of a 'sweet spot'. That is because their room correction algorithms do not cater for multi-position measurements as input variables.

Calibrating for accurate monitoring in the audio engineering context is akin to (and every bit as critical as) calibrating the colours of a computer display for a visual artist (desktop publishing designer, graphics artist, animator, etc) Without the ability to be absolutely sure that they are handling the same colour, they will never be able to achieve a high level of accuracy on what the resulting colours will end up looking like.

For me, the most attractive additions to ARC version 2 would be 
- the simulation of multiple playback profiles allowing us to preview how our content will sound like when played from some common speakers.
- the very high accuracy measuring microphone

Started a Facebook Page

I started a Facebook page for my music!
Patrick Woo

Create your badge Facebook pages are pages with different themes. They are either used as corporate pages, pages for an organisation, or to promote certain products/services. They can fan pages. Facebook made them so that they are separate from individuals' personal pages. If I am not wrong, pages allows for a much higher number of friends. Also, pages allows for good separation from my personal stuff and updates just for my music.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Finally, Spitfire Albion!

Finally I purchased Albion from Spitfire!

It cost me £349, and through PayPal I paid SGD714.25. This translated to a PayPal exchange rate of 1 SGD to 0.488624 GBP. 

Google's currency exchange rate gave me 0.5099775, which should have given me S$648.343. Thus I have let PayPal absorb S$29.90 from the exchange. 

Spitfire is using the downloader from Continuata Ltd. The interface is hugely familiar and similar to that of SampleLogic's Morphestra's downloader. However, this downloader is vastly faster than my download speeds with Morphestra. 

While Morphestra is 15GB in download size (losslessly compressed from 25.5GB in size), Albion has 19.51GB storage footprint (compressed also losslessly from wav samples totalling 43.28GB). 

On Morphestra the maximum speed I could achieve was 800kB/s. I am downloading Albion as I am writing this, and the speeds are fluctuating between 7700 kB/s and 3200 kB/s at peak performance. Of course it took about a minute or two to achieve this every time it starts on a new part. I am using MyRepublica fibre network based ISP.

Albion Volume 1 has won numerous awards and acclaims, and is very highly regarded by the music community. The quality of  Spitfire's libraries has well been established way before this commercial release of Albion. Before Albion, they were already creating very high quality virtual instruments and libraries for the award winning films and used by award winning composers. These composers were approached by invitation only. That is why I am so happy that they have made Albion available to the rest of us. :)

What I like about Albion 1 (without having yet played it) is of course, its beautiful sonic and musical quality. Also, I like the fact that it is complete on its own, with all mic positions (5.1 miking to be precise!), and all the sections of the orchestra articulations it has to offer. There is no 'lite edition', or different tiers to stepped-up your levels of ownership, or extra mic positions to upgrade to. 

I also found an article on theAudioSpotlight.com that interviews Spitfire on Albion 1, which sheds light on the company beginnings, what drives them, and where they are heading (of course we might also get hints on what good stuff they have for us in the months to come!)

TheAudioSource.com or TAS has lots of great articles and video interviews with artists who are composers, producers and sound designers. Like the Spitfire interview, TAS also interviews companies that develop the tools we use every day.

Following the immense success of Albion 1 from the music community, Albion 2 is in the works and will be released in the near future. There is already 1 demo track out for you folks who are eager to get a taste of what it will sound like.

Besides the Albion series, which aims to provide a complete set of orchestral tools in sections and clusters, Spitfire also has instruments that stand on their own, which they call their 'definitive range' of products. These are single instruments or groups of intruments that are positioned to be the best in their class and future-proofed for a wide range of different musical usage. Examples of these are the solo Harp, an Orchestral Grand Piano, and the Harpsichord

Spitfire also has a 'Spitfire Laboratories' section where they 'give away' free instruments which are the results of Spitfire's experimentation on various sample techniques that eventually drive their products. They have generously offered these as free, but require a minimum amount of donation to Unicef, the charity organisation that helps to build the world, supplying to needy parts of the world. This is a noble and inspiring cause and it reflects the 'giving-back' attitude of Spitfire. 

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Garritan Interactive Principles of Orchestration on NorthernSounds.com

On a forum on NorthernSounds.com, I found that Garritan has sponsored a thread with lots of instructional and helpful music resources to help artists and composers in their musical journey.

Rimsky Korsakov
One of these awesome resources is the Garritan Interactive Principles of Orchestration.

This interactive resource aims to adapt as faithfully as possible from the original translation text from nearly a century ago, by Rimsky Korsakov, the Russian master of orchestration. The awesome benefit of this online version is that the are a lot of interactive elements like visual scores and audio clips to illustrate and drive home exactly the point the text is making.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Beat Chaser - 20120711ewMorTest v001 03

Listen to this on SoundCloud.com

This is the newest composition I've created. It is a rock piece called Beat Chaser. Working on this on the side, I started working on the piece on 11 July 2012, and finished it on 14 July 2012.

Created in FL Studio 10, all instruments are from EastWest's Ministry of Rock 2.

I composed this to test and showcase the instruments in Ministry of Rock 2 which I recently acquired. This is also my very first attempt at composing for this genre.

Only one of the lead guitars had an ImageLine effects plugin applied. The rest get their effects straight off EastWest's play engine.

Patches used:
MoR2 Kit
Fender Jazz Bass KS
Baritone Rhythm Guitar KS
CarvinBridgeLead KS
TelecasterLead KS (Image-Line Hardcore guitar fx applied)

Something to look out for in the piece:
- some time-signature changes from 29s to 35s. There are 2 cycles of 3/4 then 1/4.
- cowbells from 35 seconds onwards (Alvin this is for satisfying your cowbell obsession!)

I am very surprised at how pleasant the instruments sound. I did not really need any heavy processing to get them sound the way they do. All the rhythm and lead guitars in the piece have their outputs sampled straight from the guitar before amplification, as well from guitar amps. The TelecasterLead only has the clean samples. That is why I had to use the Image-Line Hardcore guitar fx on the Telecaster.

I have always had the idea that there are many more guitarists in Singapore than musicians who play any other kinds of instruments. (I did a search and the guitar and the electric guitar are in the list of the most popular instruments in the world, along with the piano, violin, viola, cello, drums, flute, clarinet and the piccolo. Some links, here and here.) So much so that I somehow feel that I am at a disadvantage not knowing how to play the guitar. :(

The guitar has such high level of expressive freedom, that to re-create a performance with virtual instruments will have a very high possibility of sounding fake, since we all know how a guitar would sound like, being played by a human musician.

However, seeing so many virtual instrument(VI) libraries featuring sections of an orchestra and even entire orchestras with complicated articulations being sampled, and having heard EastWest MoR 2 demos, I was convinced that I could make some decent pieces of music from guitars after all. These would definitely beat the guitars from EWQL Goliath and Kontakt Factory patches. :) That is part of the reason why I acquired the MoR2 in EastWest's buy-one-get-one-free sale.

It is very interesting that before this, I have not had any desire to attempt at creating a piece of guitar-heavy rock music. This genre isn't really my favourite kind of music. However, the results sound quite promising, but of course it is not perfect. For one, the structure probably isn't very polished. There are probably quite a lot of areas in the playing style and sound that rock composers and producers would look out for, that come with years of working with the genre.

Despite my inexperience with the genre, I was so surprised when during the composing process, I could find quite a number of compositional and arrangement devices in me to push the composition along. I was listening quite a bit from Nick Phoenix's demos on MoR1 and MoR2 product pages. I suspect I subconsciously picked up something from those demos. Also, I had a few opportunities to be helping out in events and studio recording sessions when a rock band was playing. I think all these add up to how well we hear/observe and how we can then make those things our own to use when we need them.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Subscribed to Soundcloud Lite

I upgraded my SoundCloud account from the 'free' to the 'lite' plan. 

I like the fact that SoundCloud gives me a professional place showcase my music, which is filled with fellow music-lovers to interact with. 

I especially like the fact that people can comment on a track at a specific time. What's more, it's awesome that I can embed their player together with the comments on any blog, and share the link to my tracks on social sites.
All the above are available to the free account. However, the most important features that affected my decision to upgrade my account, are:
- the ability to replace any uploaded track with a new version of the same track, while keeping the played stats and comments
- increased upload quota
- a slightly more detailed analysis of the people who listen to my tracks

Monday, 9 July 2012

Trailing the Shadow - 20120628 morphestra 01 v002

Listen to this track on SoundCloud.com

My latest piece is entitled 'Trailing the Shadow'.

Sequenced in FL Studio 10, all instruments are from  SampleLogic Morphestra .

With my recent purchase of SampleLogic Morphestra, I decided to do a piece using only the sounds from the library. 

I am playing around, discovering the potential of the vast sounds and moods I can create with this awesome library.

I have not been doing a lot of sound-design work with my music. For the longest time I've been using tone generators, using the sounds as they are produced without much processing. Now virtual instruments literally changed everything, from workflow to mindset. 

It was lots of fun, thinking of a musical piece not only from melody and harmony, but from a sound-design perspective as well! The patches from Morphestra were inspiring, prompting the user to explore and experiment, opening up new directions and possibilities for the music. 

Friday, 6 July 2012

EWQL Gypsy & EWQL Ministry of Rock 2 Arrived!

So I purchased the EW Gypsy and EW Ministry of Rock 2 during the the EastWest 1 for 1 promotion on the last day, 30 June 2012. (This was the evening of 1st July, a Sunday in Singapore).

It has just arrived in my hands today, Friday 6th July 2012, at about 2.30pm. Its faster than I anticipated. 
Package arrived while I was conducting a class :)

The goods came in a single box. In it are 2 boxes, 1 for Gypsy and 1 for MOR2. 

The installation pack includes 2 DVDs for Gypsy, and dizzying 8 DVDs for Ministry of Rock 2. Gypsy takes up 11GB while Ministry of Rock 2 takes up 57GB on the harddrive!

Thursday, 5 July 2012

SonicCouture CrowdChoir

SonicCouture has released an amazing new instrument called CrowdChoir. This is a crowdsourced sampled instrument. This instrument was partially inspired by the very famous track by 10cc - "I'm Not in Love", with its very characteristic voice pad which had multiple layers of overdubbed recording of a singer note being sung.

SonicCouture wanted to create an instrument made up of hundreds of people from all over the world, each singing a note from a 3-4 octave range. The result would create an instrument with a wash of a thousand voices singing their recorded notes from different locations, in different acoustic environments, at different times of the day, recorded with different audio equipment.

This project really sounds like an epic collaboration driven by an ambitious vision. When we play the instrument, we will always be reminded of the people contributing their voices to this project. What an awesome idea this is!

A listen to the audio demo tracks in the product page gave me a delightful surprise! It is rich, it is organic, and all the voices blend together seamlessly! It truly is a choir of a thousand singers, and behind their voices, their passionate participation to this project.

In a very appropriate move, SonicCouture has generously tied up with The Red Cross with regards to the sales proceeds of this product. All proceeds from the sale of CrowdChoir will be donated to The Red Cross. They help people in desperate situations all around the world, from the East African food crisis to the people suffering in Syria. Help them if you can.

The product is priced at a very affordable price of US$25. Sampled at 44khz/24-bits (converted from various sources), it makes a 500MB footprint on your hard drive. 5 alternating round-robin layers of samples ensures that the instrument produces a very natural performance and attack. 

CrowdChoir is draws its sampled sounds from a massive sample of 4000 recorded notes, sung by 1000 singers. The virtual instrument is designed to work on the Kontakt, Ableton Live Pack and Logic EXS24 platforms. 

Kontakt owners will be delighted to find 2 additional features available on this platform 
- A polyphonic legato has been scripted into the instrument. 
- Custom convolution reverbs

Buy it for its awesome sound, the passion and effort of the people behind this, and support The Red Cross in their effort to make the world a better place.

Specifications are subject to change without notice, please check with the official product page to ensure accuracy of information above.

Dynamic Range Compression


I'm just reading up/refreshing and reaffirming my memory regarding audio signal compression related subjects. Here's a page from wikipedia.org that defines and answers a lot of technical terms involving audio signals.

I wanted to confirm my belief that limiters are an extreme form of compression. Turns out that they are. The article in Wikipedia mentions that limiters are similar to compressors in process, but different in the degree, and the perceived effect.

Limiters have very fast attack times and high ratio of compression. It has a high chance of sounding unpleasant to the ears of the listeners. Therefore it is often used as a fail-safe ceiling to prevent an audio signal from peaking and distorting.

Technically I could use a compressor and double it up as a limiter for my workflow in place of a limiter, since  the process is the same. Furthermore because since a limiter produces unnatural sounding results, it is probably more pleasant for me to apply a compression ratio slightly higher than average near the ceiling of the dynamic range, than to directly use a limiter. 

SampleTekk Super Summer Sale 50% Off Everything!

SampleTekk is having their Summer Sale 2012. EVERYTHING is half price!

They have a huge collection of all sorts of pianos, organs, electric pianos, synths, woodwinds, and even a analogue choir product!

Do drop by their website, have a look, and have a listen!

Free Product from r-loops!

r-loops is generously offering 'Remix' for free. Go to the product page, listen to a demo track, and download!

Remix is a collection of 100 loops sampled at WAV 44.1khz/24-bits and WAV 44.1khz/16-bits, totalling 181mb on disk.

Instruments from this pack include strings, brass, pianos, organs, synths, and many more!

The tempo of these loops fall in between 70bpm to 150bpm.

Also, the loops are royalty free for commercial work and other-wise.

This product is Mac and PC compatible.

This is a comprehensive pack of loops taken from r-loops' other libraries, so it is a really good way to have a good idea of the outstanding quality of their other products. The libraries where the loops come from include:

- Bass Down Low
- Dirty Beats
- Urban Groove
- Dirty Stuff
- Hood Symphony 2
- Kingdom of the South 1
- Music Toolbox
- R-Strings Melody
- Black Piano Collection
- Black Brass Collection
- D-South Loops 1
- Platinum Orchestra

Monday, 2 July 2012

Miroslav Philharmonik Classik Edition Test02 v002

Listen on SoundCloud.com

Added flutes parts, altered a bar where the voicing wasn't really great.
Strings were EQ-ed a bit to take off that shrill edge in the frequency. Also increased the attack time by a few milliseconds.

Added panning and balanced levels of the sections. Also modified reverb settings to that of a larger space.

Hope you like it. :)

Sunday, 1 July 2012

My 2012 Mid-Year Bargain Hunting Splurge!

Today I made 2 purchases online:
- EastWest one-for-one sale: Gypsy and Ministry of Rock 2 for US$395 (usual price US$790)
- Image-Line's 40% off: FL Studio 10 Signature Bundle upgrade for US$126 (usual price US$210)

These offers are just too good to pass up, so I just 'had' to grab them! :)

Adding to my previous purchase of these items in the past week:
- SampleLogic Morphestra for US$275 (usual price US$549)
- IK Multimedia's Miroslav Philharmornik Classik Edition for US$39 from www.audiomidi.com (usual price US$99)
- AAS Strum Electric GS-1 (US$20) from www.audiomidi.com (usual price US$199)

I did not have to spend a cent for the purchase of FL Studio Signature Bundle because I was using the 300 points of IL Cash I won from the IL merchandising competition. I still have some points left over from it even after upgrading my FL Studio.

So All my spendings added up to US$729 (SG$922), excluding FL Studio. That is a lot of money, but also notice that all the items were on-sale items. Without all the sale, I should have been spending US$1637 (SG$2072) (excluding FL Studio). But because of all the sale going on, my total savings (excluding FL Studio) came up to US$908 (SG$1,149.43)!

Therefore in total, I saved about 44% on all the stuff I bought!

Image-Line 2012 July Sale: 40% Off

Image-Line (creators of FL Studio) is having a 40% sale on their products! These include FL Studio (and upgrades), Deckadance, Plugins & IL-Loops. That is about almost all the products in their shop, so do go to the Image-Line Shop and check them out!

Just enter the code Yardsale2012 at the point of checking out your cart where you are shown the total price, and you will be able to see a revised amount of all your purchases with the discount applied.

Sale starts 1 July 2012 and ends at the end of 13 July 2012. (Please visit the official Image-Line page for updates).

Your purchase must cost a minimum of US$49 to enjoy the 40% discount.

Miroslav Philharmonik Classik Edition Test02 v001

Hear it on Soundcloud.com

An original track that I composed to test drive the Miroslav Philharmonik Classik Edition that I just acquired. 

Since this was an exercise to test the sound of the virtual instrument library, I tried to minimise the use of instruments from another library. 

All instruments are Miroslav Philharmonik Classik Edition (MPCE) with the exception of the timpani and crashes, from Kontakt Factory collection. 

I used NI Kontakt for these two because:
Timpani patches in MPCE are not tuned. 
Cymbals in MPCE do not include rolls.

Just for my own reference, the total time taken for this piece was about 5 hours.