Monday, December 31, 2012

Chinese Guitar Link

HoHoHo, Santa suprised me with a new toy! Well. Dad surprised me with a new toy. My wife was tired of only buying me music stuff that only I could pick out, so this year we decided we'd set our budget to $50 for each of us and everything had to be a surprise. She got me mostly stuff to make my bike commute through the winter a little better and a disc golf set. I love surprises, so really this Christmas was as successful as any other. I'd recommend trying a lean year like this if you find your Christmases getting out of control financially as ours had been.

Anyway, bla bla bla, I digress. Bottom line is I wasn't expecting any recording gear, but my Dad got me a cheap USB Guitar Link from HDE through Amazon. It has 2 stars. Is this a good idea? I only added it to my Amazon wish list the week before Christmas on a whim, so it was a nice surprise. The poor reviews mention bad sound, latency issues, problems installing the driver, etc. so I aloofly thought, "Linux will not suffer these maladies."

I was right.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Way

Another song a year or so in the making. My wife has asked me a few times why I never write songs about her. I kind of mumble and avoid answering, but really I had to think about it. Why hadn't I? I actually had tried quite a few times and most all attempts ended up sounding really cheesy. So I wrote this song. Hopefully she won't hate it.

I laid the tracks while she was working on her senior project and the kids were napping. In fact I think I wrote my post about xruns after trying to record this. Maybe not. Anyway. I had the tracks for a long time and every time when I finally sat down to mix it, the results were so poor, I wanted to give up on it. Especially considering the simplicity of the arrangement (piano + vocals) it was discouraging. This last time I really paid close attention and figured out how to get my vocals sounding decent. That made the difference. The piano is fairly untouched really. The tracks could use a few more takes to make it a more professional quality, but if I don't get this out it never will be heard. This is, however, my first recording that I feel is really demo quality. So I'll let you hear it. I know what you're thinking: "Wow, already to DEMO quality!?" That's right.

The piano is myself playing the amazing Salamander Grand sound library running in LinuxSampler. Vocals are all me singing in my AT3035, with the presonus firebox preamps. Its all recorded in Ardour with entirely free and open-source software. Plugins include the IR, and Calf exciter LV2s and Fons Adriansen's 4-band parametric EQ and SC4 compressor LADSPAs, with a little of Barry's Satan Maximizer (limiter) for some mastering compression.

Really this is a big landmark for me. Its the first time I feel like I made some educated mix decisions and actually heard the difference it made. I know the results aren't perfect, but the fact that I can listen to it and most of the critique I have is mistakes made in the recording is refreshing.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Bells are Ringing

So I've defended my thesis, but I still haven't finished the final changes. I'm getting there. I worked on it for an hour today, but now I want to share this:

Our church Christmas party was tonight, and for entertainment we had a sing along and where all the children play bells. The organizer had a set of bells (more like chimes) that are made from thinwall conduit pipe. My mom has a few sets too and so I borrowed them and got excited about it. Each bell is numbered 0-20 and you can pass them out and each person plays their number when that note comes up. If you'd like to make your own set there are plans here. I found one site talking about using them in their family and they endearingly call them "sewer bells." Thats funny. I just thought I'd tell ya. There are a few tips about making and playing them, but I'm not going to focus on that.

The plans (I've seen 2 versions) always come with a few songs, which consist of lists of numbers. These lists are often seen transferred onto poster board which someone holds up to the choir and nobody knows what is going on and you usually have to play the song a few times before it sounds decent. Thats good and well and all, but I had bigger plans.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Korg M1 Piano Sample Pack (in SFZ)

Hey, guess what? I actually defended my thesis! That means its 99% of the way done. Just a few small changes as per request of the professors and then any typos the grad school can catch.

I realized I'd been holding out on both you readers. Sorry. I had a great project I did probably a year ago and never shared. Why? It was so simple I didn't even think about it as a project.

I'd been on a kick collecting free samples and found the shootouts on the Bedroom Producers Blog (BPB). These had some nice comments on each sample, though they didn't really provide any definitive better or worse comparisons. One of the samples was from the Korg M1 piano. The BPB comment was that this synth piano sound was the de-facto standard for house music in the 90's. Intrigued and uncertain what house music really was I downloaded them. Unfortunately these samples weren't in a format I could use in LinuxSampler (LS). However there were wavs there. Isn't SFZ the magical format that can turn any sound files into a sample pack? Why yes it is.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

House it being a loan?

I love puns.

So with the new "big boy" job we were trying to decide whether to 1. move to a bigger apartment for a year or more,  2. Stay where we are a few months until we can buy a house.

You see in our modern spend before you earn society you can buy a house for as little as 5% down. There are ways to buy them for 0% down I hear. Anyway our credit union (America First) offers as low as 5% down, but for anything under 20% down (which includes 5% to save you the math :P) you must pay morgage insurance until 20% is paid and the closing costs are higher, as well as the payments being bigger (since you have to pay 95% of the cost rather than 80% in the same 30 years).

Well, we like money and would like to end up with a house and the most money possible (who doesn't?). So I made this matlab/octave script. It calculates the total amount paid in the end for your house including your rent for the time it took you to save up the down payment. Look after the break.

Rocky Roads

Logan city: WHY?

I'm all for routine maintenance and keeping nice roads, but really, do you need to leave so much loose gravel on the shoulders?

I've been riding my bike to work every day (haven't driven once!) and its been great. Then Monday I found that they'd repaved Park Avenue which is about half of the 4 mile commute for me. Thats ok I thought, though I missed the smooth black asphalt. They have to add asperities (rocky rough surface) to make it safe in wet conditions. But it wasn't long before I ran into large piles of loose rock on the sides of the road. Where the car wheels leave tracks is ok, but there are long channels of 2"-3" deep loose gravel. This is not safe for cyclists. I have nearly washed out a few times now and there are always rocks being flipped up by passing vehicles.

Light a candle instead of cursing the darkness, right? Well I've tried several different routes to minimize my time on Park Avenue but there are several other roads in the same condition. I just hope this is temporary until they take around the street sweeper or something.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Problems with the Xrun

So... Once again I'm not working on my thesis. I should be. I always should be.

But I had some time to record a bit last weekend and it got discouraging. I'm on  a time schedule (got to finish before either the babies wake up from napping and/or my wife gets home) and every take has the annoying pops of Xruns.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

All Mixed Up

It has been a long time, hasn't it? Glad nobody missed me!
My thesis remains incomplete. How much longer? I can't be sure.

Well on the music front things have been good. My wife spoils me to the nth degree so for Christmas I got:

-1 Presonus Firebox
-1 AT 3035 Condenser Mic
-1 pair AKG M80 Headphones
-1 Mic stand and cable
-2 Firewire cables

and so I now have a studio!