Unapologetically distorted, here's my latest work. Enjoy.
A few interesting things.
Looks like Spotify is expanding its reach, as it is now free on mobile and tablet:
From today, Spotify gives you access to millions of songs across your mobile devices for free. Listen to all your playlists, discover new music, or simply sit back and dig into your favourite artist’s entire back catalogue. And with Spotify launching in 20 new markets today, it’s never been easier for more people across the world to discover and play more great music.
Meanwhile Apple announced this today:
Apple® today announced that BEYONCÉ has become the fastest selling album ever on the iTunes Store® worldwide with an unprecedented 828,773 albums sold in just its first three days. BEYONCÉ also broke the US first week album sales record with 617,213 sold and proved to be a global success going to number one in 104 countries.
And according to Billboard article sales are down in favour of streaming:
Digital purchases are down almost across the board this year. Track sales are down 4.4% through Nov. 24, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Track-equivalent albums, where 10 tracks equal one album, are down 2.1%. Total digital purchases -- tracks and digital albums -- are down 4%.
I love Spotify and use it daily. It has completely replaced my iTunes when it comes to music listening. I can just see the streaming services winning the war.
AudioCR releases a really cool Audio Unit MIDI utility. It lets you render out your MIDI FX chains right inside Logic Pro X. Interestingly, I had a very similar idea when Logic Pro X came out. I wanted to build a Audio Unit plug-in that would let me do exactly what Midi FX Freeze does. I like to know what sort of magic MIDI arpeggiator might be doing and maybe tweak the resulting MIDI clip some more. But I just didn’t have time to start yet another software project. So, instead I settled for using OS X’s built-in IAC Driver and Logic’s External Instrument Audio Unit to render out MIDI FX chains. In Ableton Live, you simply right click on a MIDI clip (that’s not running through an instrument), select menu item “Freeze” and your MIDI chain is instantly flattened. Hopefully, Apple will add this sort of functionality to Logic. In the meantime, AudioCR offers a neat solution.
Here's another app from yours truly. And, of course, it's for making music. Say "hello" to MIDI Editor for iPad.
MIDI Editor turns your iPad into a music sketchpad. Quickly and easily compose melodies, chord progressions and even drum patterns. It works with your favourite synths and music apps that support MIDI input. Once you are done, export the MIDI clip to other apps.
Here's a quick demo video:
Easy Drag is fully compatible with OS X Mavericks, however the way you turn on the "Enable Access for Assistive Devices" feature has changed. You need this to allow Easy Drag to be used with certain keys: such as esc, Space and `(grave). Previously all you had to do is enable Enable access for assistive devices in System Preferences > Universal Access. In Mavericks, you need to add Easy Drag to Allow the apps below to control your computer list in System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy > Accessibility.
Apple announced a whole lot of great products and services today. Jim Dalrymple sums it up well:
If there was any event in recent memory that demonstrated the depth and scope of Apple’s products, it had to be this one. Every new product tied into the last and the next announcement in one way or another. Whether iOS or Mac, software or hardware, the connection was there.
I'm going to concentrate what the event means to me and other musicians. I'm glad Apple emphasised their commitment to creative professionals during the keynote. They even demoed the Drummer feature from the new version of GarageBand.
GarageBand for OS X
GarageBand for OS X looks exactly like Logic Pro X. You have to inspect the UI closely before you can figure out which of the two apps you are looking at. It's good to see Logic Pro’s awesome features, like Drummer, Bass Amps and Smart Controls, have been ported to GarageBand. In addition to this, Apple added a beautiful parametric EQ with a built-in analyser on every channel. And, it is finally retina ready. GarageBand has to be the last OS X app from Apple to get retina display support.
GarageBand for iOS
After Apple unveiled iOS 7 at this year's WWDC, I was quite curious as to how Apple developers were going to modify the user interface of the GarageBand. The app used to be quite skeumorphic and employed a lot of metaphors from the real world. In version 2.0, Apple kept some skeumorphic elements while making the other parts of the UI flatter. The arrange view, MIDI clip editor and all standard UI elements were made flatter to adopt iOS 7 look and feel. However, the skeumorphic feel for the virtual instruments and guitar amps were maintained.
The most notable new feature is Inter-App Audio support. I played with it briefly and it works quite well. Hopefully, many more instrument and FX apps start supporting it. Audiobus is great, but having an OS level audio routing capabilities is much better. The other welcome additions include 64-bit CPU support and ability to create songs with up to 32 tracks.
iCloud & GarageBand
We've had iCloud support in GarageBand for iOS a while now. The OS X version of the app just gained the feature. Sadly, while the new versions of iWork apps now have unified file formats across iOS and OS X, GarageBand apps aren't so lucky. However, you can still start working on your songs on iPhone or iPad and then complete them on your mac by importing the project files into GarageBand or Logic Pro X. I'm sure at some point in the future Apple will create a unified project format for these apps.
Apple made both versions of GarageBand completely free. Now anyone wanting to learn more about music production can easily start using these apps and they don't have to spend a single cent. They are very powerful tools and can be used to make professional sounding records. Throw Logic Remote iPad app into the mix, which can also control GarageBand (also free!), and you've got a fully functioning studio setup. You just may need a decent pair of speakers and a mic. Other than that, you've got everything you need to make great music.
I've been using iPad mini for the past year and I preferred it over the full size iPad, due to how much lighter it was. Now that a new lighter and thinner full size iPad is announced I'm going give it a go. Reason I'm choosing iPad Air over mini is mainly because I use Logic Remote and GarageBand apps a lot and prefer to have a bigger screen to easily hit virtual music keyboard when I'm composing.
Earlier this year I gave up my retina MacBook Pro to try much thinner and lighter MacBook Air. I thought trying to make music at random places, like coffee shops and parks, would be inspiring and might make me somewhat more productive. I've learned two things. Firstly, I'm not productive at all at those places. It's very easy to be distracted and completely lose focus. Even if it's simply someone bringing coffee over to your table. At least this is true for me. Second, I really miss the beautiful retina display. And now that Logic Pro supports retina, I really want to go back and enjoy these beautiful screens again. I was hoping Apple would release either a retina iMac or Mac Pro with a retina Cinema Display this year. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. So I'm going back to 15" retina MacBook Pro. Which I'll mostly use as a desktop computer and won't carry it around.
A couple quick thoughts on Mac Pro. I think the new model is absolutely beautiful and it's a beast. It's funny to see a lot of negative responses across the internet, described as not suitable for professional musicians because it doesn't have PCIe slots or is not expandable or some other random weak argument. Thunderbolt people, Thunderbolt! This is what Apple said:
In creating a pro computer for the future, we wanted to provide an enormous amount of expansion — without being limited to the space inside the enclosure. Designed with built-in Thunderbolt 2, USB 3, Gigabit Ethernet, and HDMI 1.4 ports, Mac Pro sets a new standard in flexible, high-performance expansion. It’s our most expandable Mac yet. And it has everything you need to build a workstation completely customized to what you need and how you work.
Overall, I am very happy with today's product announcements and updates. And, I can't wait to play with the new MacBook Pro and iPad Air.
According to Digital Domain’s Press Release, Bob Katz confirmed that the latest version of iTunes (v11.1.1) makes iTunes Radio play all songs with the same perceived loudness and the listener has no control over. This has great implications.
The way to turn the loudness race around right now, is for every producer and mastering engineer to ask their clients if they have heard iTunes Radio. When they respond in the affirmative, the engineer/producer tells them they need to turn down the level of their song(s) to the standard level or iTunes Radio will do it for them—and not always in a pleasing way. iTunes radio will not just ‘turn down the volume,’ but may peak-limit the important transient peaks of the material and make the song sound ‘smaller’ and less clear than its competition.
In other words, more you compress your final master worse it will sound on iTunes Radio. This is a great news. Make sure you read the whole press release. It’s quite detailed. And if you want to learn more about the topic check out the Bob Katz’s book iTunes Music. I highly recommend it.
GarageBand will, however, include in-app purchase content from Apple, with additional instruments and sounds available for a fee. Licensing fees associated with some of those sounds had been the presumed reason why GarageBand was left out the original move to make Apple's iLife and iWork apps for iOS free of charge, and it appears that the company has settled on in-app purchases as a way around this issue, offering basic functionality for free and then premium content through the paid upgrade options.
Now it all makes sense. I'm very curious about GarageBand's new features.
Here's another great tutorial from Dan Worrall, showing off FabFilter's new multi-band dynamics plug-in Pro-MB.
For the past few months I've been busy finishing my first electronica album and it's finally here. I'm quite happy how it turned out. There are some new tracks on it that I haven't published online previously. You can listen to the album on SoundCloud.
This [dual monitor support] of course makes Live’s UI more useful in a range of scenarios, additionally aiding laptop users connecting an external display, people wanting side-by-side views on a single big monitor (having used a 27″ iMac recently, that’s almost as enormous as two dedicated displays), and so on. And we know Live users have wanted this, as you’ve told us, sometimes loudly.
First round of speakers for this year's Electronic Music Conference, held in Sydney, has been revealed. I attended the first EMC last year and had a great time. Looks like it will be held over 3 days this year, from December 2nd – December 4th. I welcome the addition of an extra day. This means more interesting debates and more time to network. Early bird tickets are only $329. I highly recommend attending this event.
The above video has been doing rounds on the internet for the past few weeks. It demonstrates importance of sampling rate and bit depth. After watching it I was inspired and started watching MIT’s Signals and Systems lectures (which are very good, by the way) to learn more about audio signal processing.
The timing was perfect, as I was in the middle of mastering my new album. I was trying to get all the tracks to sound similar and have the same perceived loudness. But that’s not where digital mastering process ends, as I soon learned.
I’ve had Mastered for iTunes tools installed on my system for a while now. Time to time I used AURoundTripAAC plug-in to check what my final tracks would sound like once converted to iTunes Plus format (AAC encoding) and used the Master for iTunes Droplet to convert my files to m4a’s. During my mastering process, I revisited the Mastered for iTunes document. Which reminded me existence of afclip and afconvert command line tools, which, up until this point, I’ve never touched. They turned out to be very useful and powerful.
I ran my mastered tracks through afclip and boy, they were clipping a lot. Situation, was even worse when I tried them on encoded files. You maybe be surprised to know that many commercially available tracks clip a lot. I took a relatively popular EDM track released this year, that was encoded in 320kbps mp3 format, and ran it through afclip. It clipped over 200k times on each channel.
So make sure you run afclip on both lossless and encoded formats before you submit them to music stores. Lower bit rate encoded files clip more. Also, songs that are overdriven for loudness are more likely to clip.
Tarekith’s has a nice overview of what Mastering for iTunes is all about. But I highly recommend reading the the whole Mastering for iTunes document yourself. It’s written in easy-to-read language and you don’t need to be technical to get it. Also, the tools provided by Apple are invaluable for the mastering process. Use them. And if you are serious about mastering I highly recommend Bob Katz book iTunes Music. It's very well written and covers all aspects of digital mastering.
If you find yourself using afclip and afconvert a lot, remember Automator is your friend. For instance, I've created afclip workflow that let’s me run afclip command line on selected audio files in Finder. I also have various afconvert workflows. afconvert is very useful for down-sampling, bit rate conversion, encoding and even dithering your audio files.
We have demonstrated that we have learned the lesson that the music industry didn't learn – give people what they want, when they want it, in the form they want it in, at a reasonable price, and they'll more likely pay for it rather than steal it.
II by Moderat is another great collaboration album from Modeselektor and Apparat.
II is a sleep-walk through an insomniac night, but that’s its beauty – particularly as Sascha Ring’s silken, eerie voice rising above it is one of the great male voices of electronic music over the past years. There’s something deeply melancholy here, even in moments nostalgic – and thus perhaps suggesting the return to more familiar timbres.
I've been listening to it almost a week now and I have to admit, it's easily one of the best albums I've heard this year. You can stream it from Spotify and don't forget to check out an awesome video for Bad Kingdom here.