Sunday, 18 December 2011

Unofficial LS maintainer/deinstaller

update: changed the filename to .command to make it easier to start. 

Wow, another Logic post. I really got to apologize for the lack of diversity and updates here, but my brain is currently occupied with virtualization stuff rather then music.
Nevertheless I thought it might be a good idea to publish a logic maintenance script I wrote for my personal use.
It really does nothing special, but runs a few commands to remove files and packages. You can open it with a text editor to see what exactly is going on.
A shell script ain't the most user friendly choice on a mac, but that's what I do. Also it might come in handy if you are working for a school or studio and want to nuke LS over apple remote desktop quickly.

This is the first version and only tested on one of my systems, so it might most likely break something. Especially if you have standalone compressor 4 or any other pro app installed. I suggest therefore to use it only for reinstallation/trouble shooting purposes (files deleted will be back in place after reinstallation) 

To run it, unzip the file and doubleclick the unzipped file.

AGAIN: Use this on your own risk, not recommended to run on a productive system! 

Grab the script here:

In case you want to link the script please link to this page here because I will update to the latest Version and provide info about changes.

Please let me know how it went for you in the comments, so I might add some changes/functionality

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Moving to Lion - Install Log Part 2

Finally I got a firewire cable!!! Did not imagine that it was so hard to get one quickly. Had to stop at Maplin on my way home.
Even in London non of the shops I passed in victoria station or kentish town had none.

- Home now, installed version 2.3.2 of the ProFire 2626 drivers, shutdown the computer, switched on the Interface: no sound...
> had to switch through all the outputs in the router until I heard someting, but then again I suspect my Interface beeing weird since I unpacked it and it somehow does not sync the settings with the os... however, it works now. Does anybody has a later firmware of that thing but 1.0.10? Please comment if you have.

- back in Logic I started experimenting with buffer sizes, thread usage and sample rates. Forcing it to use all 4 threads makes it run a bit smoother.  switching the samplereate of the project to 96 khz does not cause any crackles with 4 sculpture instances, even though Logics CPU meter is haevily in the red at 128 buffer size. (this also reminds me how painfull the sample rate modifies sculpture presets, you really have to write the rate in the preset names to get the result you expect on recall). The problem with low sampling frequencies is that they introduce more latency.

- Next I connect a firewire cable to the second port of the profire and start up my old macbook in target disk mode to get my files from the old machine. I did not use migration assistant here because I want to be in control of the files transferred.

- moved my /Library/Application Support/Camel Audio/Alchemy files over.
> works, all presets showing up

- install overloud TH2 > works

- Drink a cup of tea > nice

- install AudioSpillage Drum Spillage > works

- install blue cat free pack > works

- install green oak crystal > works

- install TAL stuff > works

Thats it then... almost but I am too tired today to install toontracks SD 2 + Metal foundry, but I bet it will work as well.

Lion makes an overall great impression and the three finger drag is one of the best workflow improvements. What I miss on the trackpad is the 3rd click mode? How am I supposed to open links in a new tab? Do they really expect me hold a modifier key for clicks while surfing the web? Worse: Blender 3D is unusable without 3rd mouse button...better keep the mighty mouse arround then.
Also the M-Audio interface is not always switching the sample rates correctly. For example opening a song in logic with a different samplerate but the default one results in crackling logic playback while playing back a sound over the browser works flawless at the same time. Tascam interfaces seem to have the same issue. I suspect the lack of sandboxing awareness on the driver side again.

The move was definitively less hassle then moving to snow leopard and running stuff on a current computer was well worth the hassle.
I hope these logs help some of you out there.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Moving to Lion install log 1

A lot of people are warning to move your studio setup  to Lion at this point. But since I got a new computer I had to move ahead, and to my surprise it is amazing (just don't expect a snappy user interface)!

This is my install log:

u-nboxed the computer and connected the additionally ordered Apple minidisplay port to VGA adapter with one of my old Philipps 170V screens (I am on a budget here, thats why I opted for mac mini in the first place).

-Starting the computer: works great, image quality as expected. Also nice: built in speaker with great quality for a small tin can like the min, impressive!

-After going through the usual registration, mobile me, user account etc stuff the first thing I do is run software update. There is quite a lot. After the update my system is on 10.7.2

-Once software update is through I run it again after the restart, just to make sure but there is nothing.

-setting up the Trackpad I ordered along: Amazing way to work :D Make sure you enable three finger drag, once this is on you will never go back (especially in XY controllers etc).

- Aaarg, can't connect my 2626 because I borrowed the only Firewire 400 to 800 cable to someone I do not remember :/
But I checked for a driver, it is still on the same version as before but shows up under OSX 10.7.2
Will test this as soon as I found my cable ( or got a new one)

- next I fire up the Mac Appstore. Go to the purchased tab and click install for Aperture, Final Cut Pro X, Motion, Compressor, Pixelmator, Unarchiver and Hype.
This is running smooth and reminds me of the advantages of digital distribution (being back in town with decent broadband) Afterwards I ran software update to get the additional content. Great, works, and works damned well! Did I already say that this mac mini is a real powerhouse? wow! Did not expect that, honestly.

- Now time for Logic, a yeah, there was something in the description saying that there is no optical drive. Starting to create an image on a different machine using disk utility because I do not want to interrupt a setup due to whatever reason (ie disconnects) over cd/dvd sharing.

- downloading Renoise, Reaper and macvim. All running great after install as usual.

- Logic image is done.
Copy it to the mac mini, start the installation.
Deselected all Content and Loops in custom install because I have that on an external drive.
After the installation, before starting anything from logic studio I run software update again.
Logic is on 9.1.5 afterwards plus some proapps/kit updates etc.
Starting logic, running great. Dragged my apple loops folder from the external disc in the loops browser > works.
Will transplant my old ~/Library/Application Support/Logic folder later.

Playing around with sculpture: amazing, never before could I run this many instances. This synth just shows how much of a bargain logic studio is. For sculpture alone I would happily pay the price of logic...but I am drifting off here.

- next up is automap 4.1. works flawless with a first generation remote sl 32

- now Native Instruments Komplete 5:

mounted the image > custom install > unselected all the Libraries (have them on an external drive) > works flawless, but it did not create a "Native Instruments folder, so I had to create one and move the apps.

Next thing: trying to start service center: fails
Downloaded flash 11 from > service center crashes
Downloaded service center from
> works

- try to activate product > unknown error > go back > try again > works

- 10 updates available > click download > waiting ...
- Still waiting
- cleaning the room a bit...
aaah, done :D

- double click on Absynth installer: not reacting, none of the Vise installers react until I reach the battery update mpkg > unable to locate standalone app.
- service center > overview > change path of every program to the location inside the native instruments folder.
try again > works!

Starting up logic in 32 bit mode, all plugins running great!

- Download Camel Audio Alchemy, works perfect.

- downloading blender 2.6a: 64 bit, works great.

Thats it for today.

Next up to do:
Toontrack Superior drummer 2 plus metal foundry, Drum spillage, TH2, Virtual Bass Amp and all the free stuff I use. Then hunt for the latest Korg Pad Kontrol and Roland Fantom drivers.

Will keep y'all posted about progress.

Now of to London for tomorrows Amond Tobin ISAM show :D

Saturday, 12 November 2011

10. Musical things about Linux

I love Linux. I Love it for its liberties, the spirit and most: Raw performance!
It is just a pity that there is not more commercial software available for it, because it usually offers the best designed workflows.
Here is a list of 10 reasons that spring to my mind why one would like to run Linux. This is not an attempt to persuade anyone to ditch their current setup and go full on Linux. But an attempt to show that it has its place in media production outside of 3D Graphics and storage but also in Audio.

1. Realtime Kernel allows for ultra low latency, unmatched by any other OS!

2. The trinity of Jack Audio and ALSA, held together by Pulse allows you to route any audio or midi signal to any software inside your computer and over the network.

3. Linux can run on very old computers, this helps you reactivate unused boxes. I use a 10 year old laptop as additional synth!

4. DIN is noise, a fantastical and unique digital instrument.

5. FreqTweak

6. Harrisson Mixbus

7. Bristol

8. Korg Kronos. Yes, its all linux under the hood

9. Muse research Receptor. Again, a music dedicated Linux box to run your windows vsts on a lighting fast OS.

10. Graphical package managers. You think the appstore concept is new? Think again, in Linux this is ages old. Search, click install, thats it. You just never had to pay for packages.

There is a lot more to discover, just check out this wikipedia page:

Or just dive in and download a complete multimedia production suite FOR FREE!
Check these out:
Ubuntu Studio
Studio 64
Planet CCRMA

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Alchemy Mobile, a Marketing Lesson.

EDIT: Syncing your own sounds is now possible according to the changelog, but I had no time to test this.

Alchemy on desktop is one of my absolute favorite synths ever. As I learned that there will be a mobile version I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. I got it now and played around with it.

Though, Alchemy mobile is more like Alchemy player mobile rather then full Alchemy, but this is ok since the initial download is free :D
Just like the player it consists basically of the synth engine, the performance area and basic tweaking knobs for filter and envelopes. In addition it features a neat loop player, allowing you to import loops for playalong.

The pro version is available as in app purchase allowing you to remote control Alchemy on your computer and import sounds from libraries you purchased. But other then Alchemy or Alchemy player: It is not possible to import the sounds that you created yourself. According to Camel audio this feature is planned for the future.

But the features are not very inovative, I have the same control surface already created in midi touch and touch OSC. Furthermore the bold marketing claims of Camel audio set the wrong expectations, toning the experience down a bit: Alchemy is not the most powerfull synth on the iPhone, this does injustice to Jasuto, Crystal etc. who allow you to create your own patches and not just alter existing ones at a lower pricetag. Also the claim that Alchemy is the first dedicated remote for a soft synth is not true: Spectrasonic Omnisphere TR is out since ages. 

Don't get me wrong. All in all Alchemy Mobile is great fun but the price for the pro version is completely injustified for a mere toy. This will change as soon as it will be possible to import your own sounds, but until then let this be a marketing lesson in how not to advertise your product. It is also not a good idea to start with a high intro price and lower it later. It is better practice to announce a low intro price period: you will sell shitloads of software and then later go to a regular price. This way you do not annoy your early adopters.

That said, I encourage everyone to get the other amazing products from Camel Audio: Alchemy and Camel phat end up in almost every track I create and are rock solid, efficient, inspiring and versatile tools!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Typewriting Music

This is an attempt to explain what I find so fascinating about music trackers.

Trackers are widely known to make music look as exiting as an excel spreadsheet. Behind the mask they offer a unique workflow and creation process to digital audio creation. But this process is hard to describe to someone who never gathered any experience with trackers.

The tracker workflow is kinda between two different approaches. Most people know the direct approach: you hit record and play your instrument. You do this by leveraging your muscle memory, trained by practice. The advantage is the possibility of spontaneous improvisation and expression. A disadvantage is the danger of repetition because you always start playing what you have learned.
The other extreme is composing on a paper, or using your mouse on a piano roll or score editor. The advantage is that you think about what you create or want to create.
Trackers are in between because most of them can be controlled completely by computer keyboards. This way you can use muscle memory to move through your project and create events like notes. Most users don't do this in realtime, but more like a composer as described in the second example. This enables for a reflected workflow without thinking too much about the individual steps to get where you want to go. Tracker users describe this as being "in the flow".

I always dream of a DAW with the usual interface stuff we have today AND a tracker style interface... fortunately though there is rewire or AIC bus to connect trackers like Renoise to other DAW software :)

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

THE GAME BOY SOUND - Republished

This article was originally published in one of my older blogs which does not exist anymore


OK, I got to admit that I have let myself into a bigger project as I thought. I wanted to write review like articles about my favored Game Boy sound programs, but faced the problem that it does not make sense to write that without writing how the Game Boy actually makes his sound. So I stopped writing the review and will give you an overview about the basics here. The plan is to release a game boy article every month, to leave room for the iPhone, pocket PC and DS stuff. So stay tuned and here we go back in time!

Chapter 01: The Game Boy Soundchip or what makes Chiptune Chiptune.

Unlike modern computers, that create sounds mostly via software, old times computers created sounds with dedicated chips. These chips can be seen as more or less sophisticated synthesizers inside in an integrated circuit (IC). The best known one chip synthesizer is for sure the SID chip that came with the Commodore 64 and is very wide spread in pop music today by the likes as Timbaland, Zombie Nation, Welle:Erdball and many others. Just as the C64, the original Game Boy features a sound chip as well. But hey, the Game Boy would never have been that affordable if Nintendo had not integrated all parts as much as possible. Therefore the sound chip is part of the   main processor chip and you will never find the chip alone if you open up a Game Boy. The sound part of the Game Boy CPU is some times called PAPU (Pseudo Audio Processing Unit) and is very limited in it's possibilities compared to the SID. But that doesn't make it less interesting today, because limitation forces the creativity of musicians as well as programmers.

Take it appart:

Even though everybody refers to the game boy sound as 8 bit sound it actually is 4 bit sound. The misunderstanding comes from the fact that the main architecture is running with 8 bit, but the sound parts digital analogue converter (DAC) who turns the digital sound into electric signals is running with 4 bits. This is partially responsible for the raw character of the sound. So if you want to reproduce this you know that you have to adjust your bithifter to 4bit ;)
The Game Boy sound chip can be seen as a synthesizer without filters. It has four channels, that can be seen as oscillators.

  1. Pulse (Square) wave with volume envelope and “sweep”
  2. Pulse (Square) wave with volume envelope
  3. Waveform can play a sequence of 32 4 bit samples ( Yes, this is a 4 bit sampler!)
  4. Noise with volume envelope

These channels can be controlled by programs so that game programmers where able to create sound effects and music in the game boy games. As you can see all sound modules are missing filters, one of the challenges this chip offers for music creators. But what can the channels actually do? The pulse channels and the wave channel can create frequencies from 64hz (good bass) to 131072hz (Vampirebat/dolphin dance, humans can't hear that). The noise channel produces frequency mayhem between 2hz  and 1048576hz. But this is hard to control since it is nothing but white noise and therefor atonal. The sweep function of the first channel creates a piuuu that overwrites all other current values The pulse channels can also shift their pulse width, so if you use both channels together it is possible to create fat pulse bass sounds etc. But more about that later.
The waveform channel is very flexible as you can imagine. It can be used to create all kinds of low resolution waveforms from simple synth shapes like sawtooth to full sample playback.

The Control

That's about everything that can be said about the PAPU in general without going too deep into details of programming. If you are interested in this you will find a reference link at the end of the article. For us mortals it is more interesting what programs are already out there to harness the sound power of the game boy. There we will find two different paradigms. One is complete numeric control of every aspect of the sound chip, the other brings a nice graphical interface. And that will be the actual reviews you will read in the following months.


Programming reference:

LSDJ wiki:


Thursday, 6 October 2011

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Future of Media Production

Now, this is some interesting development. Novacut, a Project financed by a Kickstarter campaign implements a webkit based user interface. 
Big deal, Apple did it with iOS and Google did it with Android, so are you about to tell us something new?
Hopefully yes: I have a dream, the dream is a software that provides raw functionality for media editing and generating. 

It needs a timeline, to arrange, syncronize, animate and automate in order to ultimately enable telling of stories,  
The timeline has to be able to sequence all kinds of data. 
The accuracy should be infinitely divisible (beyond tick/frame)

It needs absolute, raw data routing flexibility ( I mean that literally, I want to route a video to an audio channel and listen to the raw data stream, or maybe only the variations of red from the 3rd pixel)
In order to make use of this raw data routing requires intelligent interpretations of the media. This counts for copy/paste as well.

It needs a powerful database to quickly find stuff from your stock, let that be samples/loops, film clips, or a control lane. 
Alongside the database it needs a metadata miner using audio analysis and computer vision.

It shall be cross platform and support as many current extension standards as possible (VST, AU, FxPlug, Ladspa, dssi, directX etc…)

those features I am talking about should not be implemented into a GUI, but a server.
This server shall be accessible over different protocols to provide maximum flexibility how to interface functionality.

All functionality needs to be implemented modular, as plugin to the core server.
Plugins shall be available in central repository (lets not say app store :P ), available for installation if required.

All this will allow for maximum flexibility and scalability.

Some practical examples:

A http Interface: 
Open your browser, enter the servers address, use a HTML5, or better, a WebGL GUI and start producing.
Thanks to the abstraction of interface and function server the way you create can look however you want. 

Do you like music trackers like renoise? 
Connect with a terminal and off you go.

Running out of DSP power on one of your machines?
Add a second server as a slave.

Want to use a mac AU that is not available on your Linux workstation?
Start the server on the mac and slave it to your localhost

Do you like collaborative jamming or bouncing ideas?
Connect to the same server with multiple users.

User interfaces could be as simple as one record button or as complex as a modular patch bay with non interlocking tracks on different speeds in the timeline.

This would even be a way to move media production into the cloud.

Why should anyone desire this kind of inconsistent environment?

Well, this kind of framework would enable more people to build simple access to media production.
I was looking at whats happening with REAPER, Usine, Max for live or Renoise.
Decentralizing this kind of power, making it platform independent, open it up wider. That would be amazing wouldn't it?

I hope someone crazy enough to take that kind of project on has read this article. 

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Alchemy Mobile! Great stuff!

Camel Audio has just released the mobile version of Alchemy for iOS.
Alchemy has always been a great example of combining power with inspiring interface.
We have seen this before with Spectrasonics great Omnisphere remote but this time you get the whole synth engine on the go and it is actually pretty cool to create a loop in, lets say Beatmaker 2, load into Alchemy, jam along and record it, copy back to Beatmaker 2. This works great.

As soon as I find some studio time I will see how it performs as a remote.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Sound Design VS Instrument Design

Back in the 90s people spent thousands in order to get a few presets on a hardware. Devices like the EMU Proteus 2000 where basically nothing else but a ROM chip full of samples and some subtractive synthesis modules (cool filters) and an FX chip. Today is not much different, but you usually get Kontakt player or something similar instead. Both times have something in common though: the buyers usually use the presets as given and only modify them with the pre mapped controllers. My point is that there is more to sound design then just engineering or recording the audio material, but a good sound designer programs a complete instrument. Something that allows, or even better, inspires a good performance. Back in the days people shelled out a grand in order to get the "Virus" or "Supernova" sounds. But you always got an inspiring interface along. Today all the mapping is often up to the musician... no wonder everyone is drawing automation instead of performing it.

Sound collections should be delivered with mappings for popular controllers,  touchscreen devices have made it extremely simple to create custom and inspiring interfaces wich could be bundled with any digitally distributed sound set. And even dedicated hardware controllers have become very cheap, such as the Novation remote SL series providing xy pads, Pitch mod sticks and after touch (not polyphonic though) close enough together to control all of them with two hands (I think the Impulse with mod/pitch wheel is a step back).

The importance of a good controller mapping is very well illustrated by this video showing the use of an Haken Audio controller to control the sounds recorded earlier:

Amon Tobin's Making of ISAM sounds

It is not the sounds alone that make the magic happen, but the performance manipulating them afterwards.
This is the reason why I am looking forward to the future, at things like the Linnstrument. Or maybe we might even get a velocity and touch sensitive smartphone/tablet computer one day? Who knows, but today a simple mapping could lead to more interesting songs and productions. I think people who purchase sounds want to perform, not map or worse spend their time programming controller modulation behavior  I hope someone creating a sound set right now finds this inspiring :)

Thursday, 8 September 2011

KarmaFX, time flies...

Just a quick post because I found out that one of my favorite windows only plugins is now available as audio unit on the Mac:
Yummy! Will buy that license maybe next month or so. It is especially dear to me because it is coming from a former Jeskola Buzz plugin developer. Some of them have entered the VST/AU plugin circuit since a while, such as Whitenoise, KarmaFX or Joachim. Just to name a few.

If you have a PC standin arround make sure to check out Jeskola Buzz and its offsprings. There is nothing in electronic music you can't do with that. It is amazing. After switching from hardware to computers I was using Buzz tracker alone with a Doepfer Pocket dial to create my music. Some even argue that it was the main inspiration for reason... but thats straight from the rumor mill :P
I go patching virtual cables now!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

iMaschine for my Ego Express :P

OMFG THEY did it!!!

A friend working over at Native was teasing me since weeks that something REALLY big is coming up, and he knows about my obsession with mobile music apps. It drove me nuts! Can't wait to get my hands on this:

But Looking at the screenshots I think I will stick with Beatmaker 2 and nanostudio cause I do not see core midi support in iMaschine specs anywhere... Will be a fun toy anyway though :)

Friday, 2 September 2011

Welcome dear readers...

Since this is my first post in this blog I use the oportunity to invite all of you to read my bio on the profile. Just so you know what you are up to...

The main topics discussed here will be about media production, music, and the tools.
I did blog in the past about mobile music production. The blog was quit successfull but I did not keep it up for long because my job and the local pub demanded my time and presence. Even though I don't take my job that serious I do drinking and blogging had to stop - I had to set my priorities straight, right?

Anyway, there is a lot of good stuff out there I want to share and facebook, YASN, etc are just not the right place ( annoying my friends with topics they don't care about... great).
So here we go, enjoy the ride!