Category: Studio

Studio upgrade: Acer Aspire (Intel i5-9400, Linux Mint 20 “Ulyana” and Ardour6)

The “LoftStudio” has gotten a major hardware and software upgrade. Because of the fact the old coputer, a DIY Intel i3 computer, decided to call it quits after having been a trusty companion for many years we had to buy a new computer. We bought an Acer Aspire with an Intel i5-9400 Hexacore(!) cpu on board, 8 GB of RAM, a Saumsung 256GB SSD and Western Digital 1TB Sata-disk.

We’re not going to bore you with lots of technical details but in the end we decided not only to upgrade the hardware but the software also. So we’ve installed Linux Mint 20 as well as Ardour6 and of course re-installed Mixbus5. For those that can understand Dutch, here’s an unboxing, test & review video.

ARDOUR6
For those of you interested: Ardour 6.x now comes with Linux 20, for free(!). It’s available in the Linux Software Manager as a free download. They do ask if you want to support them and as far as I’m concerned I’d say: Do so! If you use it on a regular base, just pay them for their efforts. It’s great software.

STUDIO SESSION
Of course we did some testing, after installing all the software. Here’s a video of a short recording session. Including a tip on how to get a nice, full, guitar sound.

NEW ALBUM
It’s been quit here because we’ve been working on recording a few new songs. We finished them the day before the old computer broke down! The new album is getting close. Some of the tracks are available at Soundcloud (some are free downloads!) at https://soundcloud.com/barkingaunts.

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Lay Lady Lay – Classic Bob Dylan song

Bob Dylan has been an inspiration to me and many, many, other musicians for decades. His music has been sung and recorded by thousands of singers and bands and inspired many people to start a career in music and write songs. So far he’s also the only artist who ever won a nobel prize!

For me, Dylan has been an inspiration ever since I picked up a copy of “Shot of Love” at a sale. I was only 13 years old and had read a review of this album in a Christian magazine. They were raving about it but, as I later found out, most fans didn’t like Dylan’s “gospel years” at all. This has changed btw. Even Rolling Stone Magazine is now raving about it, after he rereleased the music from this period including a lot of live recordings. Anyway – I bought the album and started digging back. I ended up buying almost all his albums, visiting his concerts (Groningen, Rotterdam) over the years that followed. And still do.

Dylan is a master of words. Many of his songs are pure poetry but also show the raw side of life. Hurricane, anyone? And also in this song. Lay Lady Lay. It sounds so lovely, but listen to the words! I always loved it. I also recorded it. It is with some restraint that I post it. This is, for now, as it is and it is a work in progress btw. Some changes in the drums need to be done (by another percussionist). But I’d like to post it now. Hope you like it!

Drums, Bass, Guitars & Vocals: Rudy, Solid Rock Blues Band
DAW: Ardour

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Figgy Pudding – Free Christmas Song

It’s the time of the year again, Christmas is almost here! So here it is: Figgy Pudding. A free Christmas song. You can download it for free at SoundCloud or listen at Drooble.

ABOUT THE SONG

The song was written many years ago and recorded in 2014 using a Fostex 4Track Tape-deck. For the backing (drums, bass, keyboard) we used Chordpulse; vocals and guitars were recorded straight into the Fostex and mixing was also done on the Fostex. After that it was exported to digital format and mastered with Mixcraft. So basicly this is as analog as it can get these days.

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Acoustic Home Studio Sessions – Bob Marley’s Redemption Song

Bob Marley is of course a well known reggea singer and songwriter. I like many of his songs a lot, especially ‘Redemption Song’. So, while testing some improvements on my studio (video) I was playing it and decided I wanted to record it for the ‘Acoustic’ series.

For this track I used the following:

  • Guitar – Samick Greg Bennett GD-101 SCE/N
  • DI – Behringer Ultra-DI DI600P
  • Vocal Mic – MXL770
  • DAW – Harrison Mixbus5

I duplicated the guitar on two tracks to widen it more and put some reverb on the vocal. On the master bus I put a limiter. That’s all 🙂

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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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Mixing bass for lofi equipment – home recording tip! Hint: EQ and distortion!

How to mix bassguitar for Lo-Fi equipment like smartphones and laptop speakers? These simple tricks will help you create a mix that sounds fine on them!

Ever considered this: many people listen to music using (cheap) earbuds, a smartphone or laptop. Does your mix sound good on that equipment? Most of ours didn’t. Not until recently that is. Except for those where we use the Digitech TRIO pedal.

We discovered a cool plugin for Mixbus5 that enhances the sound of the bass in such a way it sounds better on cheap speakers. But of course it should be possible to do this without a plugin – and we wanted to do so, especially since the plugin was software that needed a license..

Many people use smartphones, laptops, ipads and lo-fi earbuds to listen to music. These speakers and earbuds have a poor audio quality and lack low and hi end. So, how can you create good bass sound on them? By “moving” the bass sound into the right frequencies! Here’s a little trick I use for mixing the bass so it will sound better on earbuds, laptops and smartphones and still sounds fine on high end equipment.

Recorded using Mixbus5, Sony Cybershot and video editing using FlowBlade.

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New album (EP) “The End Of The Street”

Songs with Blues, Rock & Roll, Country Rock and Indie Rock influences and with a touch of Post Punk. Guitar oriented songs using Gretsch and Telecaster electric guitars as well as acoustic guitars, an occasional keyboard and even tambourines.. the Solid Rock Blues Band at it’s best!

Proud to announce another EP from my one-man-band-studio-project was released on BandCamp, SoundCloud and of course on Drooble!

The album consists of original songs only and one of them was a co-write with my friend and fellow Drooble user James Zheutlin with vocal contributions of singer Judith S.

Available on BandCamp of course and also on CDBaby and (soon) on all major streaming platforms. It contains three songs already on Drooble (but I’ve now updated them with the mastered versions of course).

Hope you like it as much as I did writing and recording it.

The album is available for download (only $4.95) and free streaming at BandCamp. It is also available for free streaming at Drooble and SoundCloud.

CDBABY
https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/solidrockbluesband4

BANDCAMP
https://barkingaunts.bandcamp.com/album/the-end-of-the-street

DROOBLE
https://drooble.com/l/2mx1c

SOUNDCLOUD
https://soundcloud.com/barkingaunts/sets/solid-rock-blues-band-the

All rights reserved ©2019 Solid Rock Blues Band.
Recorded & Mixed at the ZolderStudio (Loft Studio) using Mixbus5.
Mastering by BandLab.

 

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Behringer UMC404HD and Audacity Multitrack recording

Audacity is a free DAW, a program for audio recording and mixing, and it’s popular for some very good reasons besides being free. It’s easy to use, stable and is the perfect little DAW for anyone who wants to get his feet wet in home recording. It is also perfect for recording things like voice overs or a demo for a (small) band. Record, for example, the basic tracks an mix them later on in a more professional DAW or let someone else mix them. Some even record full albums with it. So, it is popular for many reasons.

Audacity the Free DAW for Windows, Linux and MacOS

Some time ago, in 2018, I made a video about mixing and recording with Audacity and the Behringer UMC404HD. The UMC404HD allows for four inputs to be recorded at the same time (4 tracks) so you can record 4 musicians, or instruments/vocals, at the same time. The Behringer UMC404HD is amazing and it’s availble for only a fraction of the costs of several competitors. For example (at this moment) at Thomann. It is out of stock a lot, it seems to be very popular and rightfully so. I am still considering to buy a second one, as a spare, in case mine will stop working or will have mechanical problems one day.

Recording with the Behringer audio interface works perfect with Ardour or Mixbus. Especially since they don’t need any additional drivers. On Windows it also worked perfect on, for example, Mixcraft. I showed this in various videos as well as other people. Many of the viewers however seemed to be having issues with Audacity and the Behringer UMC404HD.

DRIVERS

One of the biggest issues most have is the drivers for the UMC404HD. Behringer has been changing their websites a few times recently and people were complaining they can’t find the drivers. They’re not included on a CD with the interface. Now, there is a good reason for this: production costs. Including a driver CD costs money and Behringer tries to cut the costs so you will have a product that is as cheap as possible. Besides that: most computers and laptops these days don’t even have a CD(r) station. Even if they would include a driver CD it would, in most cases, be useless. Including a CD would only lead to more trash (environmental issue!). You can download it. No environmental damage and cheaper. I’d say that’s a win-win.

However, as noted: the drivers have been hard to find. And, for some reason some complain the new drivers don’t work well. So here’s an older version that does work. Download and use on your own risk, I am not responsible for it.

DO NOT USE ASIO4ALL

Asio4All has been a pretty popular hardware driver for Windows. Do NOT use it. Remove it completely from your system (uninstall) if you wan tot use the Behringer UMC series. They have their own drivers (official site). You won’t get Audacity or any other DAW running on Windows working with the UMC404HD when using Asio4All.

AUDACITY LACKS SUPPORT?

Some noted that the version of Audacity they have doesn’t record 4 tracks. It only shows 2 tracks. There might be two reasons for this, I’m not certain what the reason is in certain situations:

  1. it is showing you 2 stereo tracks (meaning 4 mono tracks!).
  2. You don’t use the correct settings for recording 4 tracks. Set the ‘preferences’ to Windows Audio Session API (WASAPI) as I do in the Video!

Some claim it isn’t available on their Audacity version. On the Audacity website, however, it is still mentioned and what’s more: it’s been a standard in Windows ever since Windows Vista. In fact it is one of the “unique selling points” in Audacity! So I do have a hard time believing it isn’t available and my best guess is you’re not using the corect settings.

 

Prefereces Audacity

I am having the Dutch version but you should be able to see where this setting can be found (under preferences). In case you cannot get it working with the current version of Audacity – and I really do advice to use that one since it has hundreds of fixed bugs! – there are still older versions available. Like over here. Please note, this versions dates back to 2015 and this link (from Google Drive, it’s my “old” Windows version, works on Windows8.1) is to be used solely at your own risk.

VIDEO DEMONSTRATION

So this is the video I’ve been talking about, hope it helps or is at least entertaining 🙂 As I said in the video I don’t prefer Audacity for recording. These days I use Mixbus5 (and Ardour) running on Linux Mint. I’ve never looked back at Windows recording since I started using that even though I still have Mixbus on my Windows laptop (Windows 8.1). That doesn’t mean recording using Windows is less good. I simply prefer Linux (Linux Mint).

 

 

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Acoustic Studio Sessions – In God’s Country

In God’s Country from the album The Joshua Tree is one of the best U2 songs, from one of their best albums ever. Since I’ve been a staunch U2 fan, ever since I heard them on the radio when I was around 12 years old, I love to play their songs. I hardly ever record them. This is an exception on this ‘rule’. It’s a perfect song for an acoustic version.

I shot the video during the recording. After I shot the video I noticed it could have been a little better but it’s the recording that matters the most of course.

RECORDING ACOUSTIC SONGS

Now many ‘singer songwriters’ whome record at home, record in one take. This is of course possible. The video suggests I did the same. And yes — I recorded vocals and guitar at the same time; the guitar trough a DI (Direct Input) and guitar and vocals on separate tracks. After that, I re-recorded the vocals on an additional track (as you can see in the video). The reason for this is simple: if you record vocals and guitars at the same time, the guitar sound will ‘bleed’ into the vocal track. It makes mixing it very difficult. So if you ever record acoustic guitar and vocals for a simple demo or album: make sure you can split them.

If you record an acoustic guitar that isn’t an electro-acoustic, don’t sing along! Your vocal will ‘bleed’ into the guitar track and if that happens, you can’t do overdubs on your vocal unless you re-record the guitar as well.

ABOUT THE RECORDING

About this recording:

– DAW Software: Mixbus5
– Guitar: Samick Greg Bennett GD-101
– Vocal Mic: MXL770
– DI (Guitar): Behringer
– Audio Interface: Behringer UMC404

Video:

– recorded with Sony Cybershot DSC-HX350
– Edited with OpenShot

The audio might (ormight not) become available in the future, for now I’m only publishing the acoustic series on Youtube.

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On The Run – Jona’s Story

There are many great stories in the Bible. Stories about people, stories about how they struggle with life, with their families, with their beliefs. Here’s one I always liked a lot: the story of Jona. You know, the guy swallowed by a big fish. Now, there are many people who say this could never have happened but even in our modern times this happens. There’s even proof of it. So, believe it or not.. in the end, it is a great story.

FREE DOWNLOAD

While driving back from work the first lines of this song ‘came to me’ so I pulled over the car, grabbed the smartphone and recorded the lines. Back home I wrote the other verses. Over the past few days I’ve been working on recording it. I wanted it to be a simple, straight forward, ‘rock song’. I also wanted to use a piece of software I’ve been testing for some time now, AVL Drums. It’s a great drum program, works perfect in Ardour and also works fine in Mixbus5.

The song is available as a free download at Soundcloud.

RECORDING

Some about this recording: it was recorded and mixed using Mixbus5 and AVLDrums. AVLDrums is a great, free, drumkit available for Ardour and Mixbus. I use my Digitech TRIO most of the time for drums, but AVLDrums is more flexible since I can program (and edit it later afterwards) it using a midi-track. It’s got great drumkits availble in different settings.

Bass, Guitars and Vocals are all by me (Rudy). For the vocals I used my MXL770 Studio Condenser; Bass is my Harley Benton Bass guitar and I’ve used my Harley Benton Telecaster for the guitars. For the guitar I used the JoYo American as an amp simulator. My all time favorite for Fender-like guitars.

Although I sometimes still use Ardour, Mixbus5 is now my default ‘workhorse’ when recording and mixing. Mixbus5 offers me a great recording environment, and many, MANY, on-board tools like compression, EQ, Limiter and more including a huge load of plugins. Apart from that, it can of course also use all the plugins I used in Ardour. Apart from the new software, the new studio also helps a lot for creating better recordings. My workflow is now so much better!

Anyway — hope you like the song! It’s a freebie, so feel free to download.

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