Category: Review

AVL Drumkits with Mixbus5 and Ardour

Recording Drums using Harrison Mixbus5 or Ardour with AVLDrums, a free LV2 plugin for Linux Audio Workstations (DAW) offering professional drumtracks.

Mixbus5 & AVL Drums (LV2 plugin). A video by the LoftStudio, Home Recording Studio Project and home of the Solid Rock Blues Band, the One Man Band Studio project. AVL Drumkits offer you professional sounding drums for Mixbus and Ardour. Manual editing, playing drums trough a midi-keyboard or even a midi-drumkit.

In this video I show you how you could use AVL Drums to record drums – live drums using a midi-keyboard or manual editing a drum track. The midi-keyboard was bought years ago at the ALDI supermarkets for less than 120 euro. It has pretty nice sounds available, as well as good midi out. Allowing you to use it to record professional sounding midi tracks, including drums!

AVL Drums offers two different drum kits with several velocities, mic placements (in Ardour) and a lot of instrument/kit pieces available. I record drums using a cheap midi-keyboard running trough my Behringer UMC404HD.

Video by the ZolderStudio (LoftStudio), https://www.zolderstudio.nl

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Advertising your music on YouTube

Is advertising your music on YouTube useful? Does it get you views, subscribers and new fans? Perhaps even helps you sell your music? I decided to put it to the test using Drooble’s YouTube package.

Some time ago Drooble announced YouTube advertising packages. They offer you around 500 views for $25. That’s only USD$ 0.05 per view so a fair price. Even though I was very skeptical, even before ordering it on Drooble I’ve voiced my doubts, I put it to the test with a recent video I uploaded. A video that was not getting a lot of views but, compared to my other music videos, was doing okay.

You might wonder why I did spent money on it. Well, it’s easy to be skeptical. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, right?

THE GOOD NEWS (AND SOME BAD)

The service is useful in regard to the number of views. It went from 80 views to 606 views in a week (and it’s now up to well over 1,400). So the views kept coming even after the advertising campaign stopped.

However, no new subscribers and, what’s worse, the viewing time per user for the video went down a lot. Meaning, people would only watch for about a minute or so instead of the full video (as was the case with most viewers before that).

The advertising does work if you want to push the view-counter up. But it doesn’t get you engagement from viewers. No feedback as in comments or likes or even dislikes.Even the scam-advertising will get you at least likes or dislikes (and some trash feedback). Isn’t that weird?

For me, this was just a “put it to the test” and as far as I’m concerned, it didn’t pass. A waste of money. Even though I did expect this, I hoped it wouldn’t be true and would lead to more engaged viewers.

The loyalty of the viewers makes me wonder if the views are machine-generated. Even though the line of the viewer loyalty goes down slowly. It might be “too human” to be bot views (as the ones you get when ordering 5,000 for $10 at some of the scam services around). But, .. Only 22,5% of the viewers watched the full video. As I said, no likes, not even dislikes. Now that does make me suspicious. If people don’t even “hate” or “like”? With over 500 views there should be at least a few likes and one or two ‘dislikes’.

As I noted before, the YouTube statistics also show that the people watching the video as a result of the advertising are also less interested in viewing the full video as the ones that find it because of organic search. That’s probably to be expected however it does show the importance of organic traffic to your videos. You know, people that click on the video they read about 😉

CONCLUSION: IS THIS A SCAM?

I’m a little disappointed to see that the advertising Drooble offers seems to drive people to the video that aren’t interested in it after all. It’s well spend money for me however, since it was an experiment. But, if you’re looking for a promotional tool for your band or video clip I’d say: don’t buy views/advertising. Not on Drooble. But especially not on other sites that offer you “tons” of views. They are scams for sure. In Drooble’s case, I’m convinced they’re doing the best they can and might even believe they offer a useful service. And I’m sorry to say: they don’t. The statistics proof it.

 

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Unboxing & Review – Devine PRO2000 Studio Headphones

Today we’ve received a new set of headphones from BAX Shop, the Netherlands. The Devine PRO2000 Studio Headphones. We’ve bought them as an additional set of headphones for monitoring, recording and listening to music. 

Of course these headphones cannot be compared to high-end headphones. I did a comparison with the Audio Technica ATH-m20x. The ATH’s are twice as expensive as these Devine headphones. And yes, you can hear the difference. No doubt about that.

In short
Pro’s: the headphones are very well build, have a good sound and are very comfortable.
Con’s: they are not suitable for mixing.

The reason why they are not suitable for mixing is because the bass is too loud, there’s simply a little too much low end. The mid’s are fine, high end is slightly recessed. Still, it’s a good buy if you want to use them for listening to music or for monitoring. They’re dirt cheap! Only 27 euro’s.

Youtube video (unboxing and review)

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Review Harley Benton TE-52 NA Vintage Series Telecaster

The Harley Benton TE-52 NA Vintage Series Telecaster is a Fender Telecaster “look-a-like” Telecaster guitar and not only a lookalike but also a ‘sound-a-like’. It comes with all the sparse features the original Telecasters had: 3-way switch, tone and volume, 2 single coil pickups (Roswell TEA alnico-5 TE-style). A solid wood (Ash) body. C-profile neck, decent tuners, 21 frets and deluxe chrome hardware.

The guitar comes with with d’Addario .009-.042 strings according to the Thomann website. I do have some doubts about this. I’ll get back to that later on.

Anyway, how’s that for a guitar that will only set you back EUR 139.00??
What can you expect, build and sound wise?

BIRTHDAY PRESENT

As I wrote in the post about the MXL770 mic, I turned 50 the other day and my wife gave me a few very nice presents! Apart from the MXL770 she also gave me (amongst other non-music related gifts) this Harley Benton Telecaster. It had been on my wish-list for some time. But I already have a very decent collection of guitars so I didn’t dare to buy another one 😉 She knew, however, that I wanted a Telecaster. So, .. I got it as a birthday present! This now more-or-less completes my wish-lists as far as guitars is concerned!

 

 

Worship-Guitar

I started to play in a worship band (in Church) last year and I’m using my electro-acoustic Samick guitar for that. However, on stage I noticed I was having feedback issues sometimes – so I have to turn it down too much. I want to use this telecaster instead. An electro-acoustic is, in the setting I’m playing in (Drums, electric bass, electric piano, vocal-group) just not a good choice. Hope the other band members agree.

d’Addario Strings?

I’m having a hard time believing these strings are really d’Addario. Or perhaps a certain type that just don’t feel comfortable to me. On my Gretsch I have a set of d’Addario Nickel Wound (.010-.046’s). They have a different ‘feel’. The ones one this guitar don’t feel slick, they really hurt your fingers when bending or sliding in to a note. So they will be replaced one day soon. I will probably opt for the d’Addario Super Light Plus (.095-.044) because Telecasters aren’t build to have super heavy strings on it but I’m not completely satisfied with these. Anyway – that’s the only “con” as far as I’m concerned. Other than that, it’s a superb guitar for the money!

 

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MXL770 Studio Condenser – Unboxing, Review and Testrecording

The MXL770 Studio Condenser is a very budget friendly yet high quality studio condenser microphone made by Marshall. It is a perfect microphone for those recording at home – it’s suitable for recording acoustic instruments like an acoustic guitar, as well as electric instruments and vocals.

So – I turned 50 the other day and my wife gave me a few very nice presents! One of them is this MXL770 studio condenser microphone. My favorite studio condenser, a McCrypt condenser microphone, is having issues after having been in use for over 20 years. So – time to replace it. This is a great replacement. In fact, I think it’s a very good upgrade. While the McCrypt was most certainly a great mic, this one is even better.

 

 

 

In the video there’s a test recording using my acoustic Washburn guitar and some vocal. Both are ‘dry sound’, no processing done. In the end of the video there’s a mixdown of the track I recorded.

The microphone was ordered online at Thomann (Germany).

 

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Harley Benton MM88A SB DeLuxe Bass Guitar (Demo)

 

On may 2017 I did my first review of the Harley Benton MM88A SB DeLuxe and I’ve had it for almost two years now. I still am not a great bass player but I’d like to give a little update on it. I was rehearsing some parts for a new song and thought “why not record this and put it online”. So here it is!

I never posted the first review on this website since it was on the previous “Barking Aunts” website. Click on this link to watch it. As you can see I did improve my bass playing a little 🙂

The Bass-guitar has been used on several studio recordings so far and I’m still very pleased with it! It’s a great, budget friendly, bass guitar and has, apart from the great looks, a nice tone.

It is played here over a ‘party amp’ in this video and I used a backing track for drums created with FXxpansion ECO Drums – a Windows program that also works well on Wine, under Linux, too. I’m really happy it does, since it’s a great drums-program and it was one of the programs I really missed when switching to Linux.

 

 

The audio was recorded using my Sony Cybershot camera – so this setup lacks a lot of low end, but you’ll get the picture I guess.

 

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Album Review “Down for the Count” on Drooble

Drooble, the social music website, reviewed the album “Down for the Count” today on their blog. Here’s the full text. Almost needless to say we’re very happy with this review (we, yes. Since even though it’s a solo project there are co-writers involved).

A guitar player and singer from the Netherlands, Rudy Brinkman has all the chops and lyrical talent to tell a compelling story. Down For The Count, his full-length record, has no less than eight of these — and most of them have something to do with a woman. He Stopped Loving Her Today is the broken-hearted man’s musical manifesto, and the bluesy/country goods don’t stop here.

The record is solid through and through, with Rudy’s voice taking just a little bit of time to settle in before you are up singing along to his soulful tunes. If the music gets your voice singing and your feet stomping, there must be something to it, right?

Otherwise, there’s not a whole lot going on in this album. Rudy likes to keep things simple and barebones, which really works for the moods and feelings he wants to express. Down For The Count is as far from overproduced as it can possibly get without sounding trashy.

We are always grateful for artists like Rudy who don’t mind sharing themselves unabashedly while showcasing some perfectly good songwriting along the way. We hope you have gotten over her for good, Mr. Brinkman!

The album is available for streaming on Drooble as well as on iTunes, BandCamp, SoundCloud and many other places. It includes original songs and some covers. Most of the songs are blues or country inspired. Covers included songs by Larry Norman, Rex Griffin, Bobby Braddock & Curly Putman and Bob Dylan. Also included is the well known song “House of the Rising Sun”, a traditional song made famous by The Animals (and many others).

All instruments and vocals on the album are by Rudy. The album was recorded at the Loft Studio (Zolderstudio). It features a Gretsch Electromatic guitar on many tracks, as well as a vintage Hondo guitar. All recordings were recorded and mixed using Ardour running on a Linux based system (KXStudio).

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Promote Your Music For Free on Drooble

Do you want free promotion for your music? Do you want to join a free and awesome community of musicians worldwide and for free? Post your songs there, your videos,.. chat, collaborate? Join Drooble!

At Drooble they believe that music has the power to change the world for good. So their mission is to provide musicians with better opportunities for growth and networking. Unlike the other platforms where promotion is paid with money, musicians on Drooble can contribute to the community and earn points, then spend those points on the valuable promo tools they’ve developed and constantly improve.

Only about two weeks ago I’ve joined Drooble. And ever since I felt very welcome. People respond to your posts. They respond to your music. Give good (but nice) feedback.

It looks a little like Facebook. On Facebook however, most people aren’t interested in your latest songs or video’s. Apart from that, the Facebook algorithm has been changed in such a way it’s almost impossible to get some serious attention for your bandpage. They want you to pay for posts. And, when you do, it shows up as an add on Facebook and people don’t like adds.

DROOBLE MAKES ME REMIND THE OLD SOUNDCLICK!

Years ago I’ve joined IUMA (Internet Underground Music Archive). It went down, so I joined mp3.com. That one went down too.. and after that, there was (and still is) SoundClick.com. It was fine for many years. Great forums. But the owners don’t seem to care much about it anymore. They promised updates for many years, but won’t do so. The forums have been gone for a long time. Many accounts are “dead”. And the site seems to have been taken over by “beats makers”.

Soundclick was a great site (many years ago) and I’ve made some friends over there. Drooble has that same “feel” SoundClick had back in the old days with a modern look and feel. It’s a great community to be part of. Oh, and did I tell you it’s free? It is!

Join Drooble when you’re serious about music and want to get in touch with other musicians worldwide. Or if you want to find great music. Go to: https://drooble.com/

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Multitrack Recording Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD

The Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD is a 4 in/4 out audio interface allowing you to record up to 4 intstruments or vocals at the same time. The 4 inputs all have 48v Phantom power and are equipped with fantastic “dead silent” Midas pre-amps. It’s a step up from the cheapest models with Xenyx pre-amps. This makes it a perfect fit for any small studio or bands wanting to do some demo recording without breaking the bank!

I got this device as a birthday present and made a video about it, trying to answer this one question I’ve read the most in comments on Youtube “can it record 4 tracks at once?”. The answer is: YES. It Can!

Multitrack recording with the Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD and Ardour (Linux), Mixcraft (Windows) and Audacity (Windows) is very easy to do (once you know how to connect it and what driver to install when using Windows).

The Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD is a 4 in/4 out USB Audio interface and can be used for multitrack recording with Windows, Apple and Linux recording software (DAW). In this video I’ll walk you trough the steps I took to record multiple tracks at once with it. I made some wrong assumptions and little mistakes at first, but I hope the little errors I made will help you prevent them.

 

 

 

LINUX
Although Behringer doesn’t claim it to be compatible with Linux, it does work perfectly well on Ardour (with the standard ALSA driver). You don’t need additional drivers for it. Do make sure you switch off the “midi” when starting a recording with Ardour since it doesn’t support the midi input if there’s no real midi device connected to the interface!

WINDOWS
For Windows you’ll need to download a driver from their webisite. It doesn’t work with the standard ASIO4ALL drivers that are used by most home recording enthusiast using the standard 1 or 2 channel input/output devices. Although I failed to get it recording 4 tracks at once with Audacity, I’m almost certain it should be possible. If I ever find out how, I’ll post a follow-up video on that since I believe that would be a perfect solution for the fast, leightweight, “on the road” recording.

I tested it on only two windows programs but am positive it will work on many others like Reaper, pro tools, cubase, ableton live, studio one, and so on.

Drivers can be found in the downloads section of this website:
http://www.musictri.be/brand/behringer/home

As far as I’m concerned this is the best bang for the buck!

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DIY Guitar Upgrade: stratocaster mini humbucker (from China)

Upgrading your guitar, especially a stratocaster, telecaster or les paul model, isn’t too difficult. You can buy complete kits for it, or just put in some new pickups yourself. A few years ago I build a stratocaster from material left over from other guitar kits. I “painted” it by mixing ink and water and rub it into the wood. After that I sprayed clear lacquer over the body and put oil on the neck.

For some years I hardly played on it. It is a nice guitar and it plays very well, it has, for example, a very low action, I already had a stratocaster (Fender Starcaster) though. Some time ago I bought a “mini humbucker” from Geek (or eBay, I’m not sure). Anyway, I spend almost nothing on it. To see if it was any good, I put it into my DIY stratocaster.

Here’s the now upgraded and finished guitar. I love how it looks and how it plays. Even though the mini humbucker or ‘hotrod’ doesn’t turn out that good. Combined with the middle pickup it does give a nice ‘growl’ especially if you use some overdrive or distortion on your amp.

PICTURES

VIDEO

In the video below you can hear how the guitar sounds now. I played it over my Fame (Fender copy) amp, with a touch of reverb on it and I go trough all the positions with the selector.

 

 

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