Tag: review

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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Stepping up the game: Harrison Mixbus

A professional DAW for home recording doesn’t have to cost an arm and leg. First of all, there are many free solutions or nearly-free solutions. Like Ardour. It’s free (open source) software, if you’re using an older version that is. Like Ardour 4.x.

Last week Harrison Mixbus was offering Mixbus5 for a deep discount and I just couldn’t resists. Still use Ardour for older projects but Mixbus is just an awesome product!

Harrison Mixbus is a digital audio workstation (DAW) available for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and Linux operating systems. Mixbus provides a modern DAW model incorporating a “traditional” analog mixing workflow. It includes built in analog modeled processing, based on Harrison’s 32-series and MR-series analog music consoles. Mixbus is based on Ardour, the open source DAW, but is sold and marketed commercially by Harrison Audio Consoles (Wikipedia).

Installation took some time, you really do need to do this “step by step” following the (online) manual and I had some “problems” importing old projects from Ardour sessions (I thought it was compatible, but it isn’t 100% compatible with my Ardour 4.x version). But after about 30 minutes I was already doing my first (test)recording.

Mixbus5 looks a lot like Ardour (no surprise here!) but it’s more advanced. It’s also more demanding (CPU. Memory, Disk). Despite that, I got it workin smoothly on “light” ITX-computer using an Intel® Quad-Core Processor (J1900, 2 GHz) with 8GB RAM. On this machine I’m running Linux Mint as the OS.

FEATURES
Mixbus comes with a ton of features, plugins and the special offer included some additional plugins!

 

NEW STUDIO
We will be moving soon to another house and there I will be having a bigger (lof)studio. Apart from a bigger room, I most certainly will need bigger monitor screens for this.. in fact, I will need/want two screens 🙂 This is just too much vor only one (small) screen.

NOTE!
I installed Mixbus5 on my desktop computer first for testing but it didn’t run smoothly on my SATA HDD. The disk simply can’t keep up. Mind you, it’s a fast Seagate disk, but SATA just can’t handle it too well.

My dedicated “DAW-computer” (the ITX) has an SSD disk and it runs smoothly. I did have time-outs sometimes, so I’ve installed a little utillity on my Linux ITX computer to prevent it from going in to “sleep” mode and have more performance (full cpu-usage). This fixed the time-outs.

FREE DEMO
You can download a free demo at Harrison’s website
https://harrisonconsoles.com/site/mixbus.html

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I was planning to have some fun with it this weekend and perhaps create a short video about it but.. i fell ill and on top of that the power supply one of the hosting-servers died on me.. So had to go the the data center and fix that. I will post an update later!

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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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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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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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Recording using Linux is not professional!

Some time ago I was discussing recording software with an online friend of mine. He stated that “none of the professional studios uses Linux”. Or similar words. Is that so? Is recording using Linux not professional? 

I happen to have a ‘recording career’ at my home studio using Windows software. I’ve used many programs over the years like LogicStudio (back when it was Windows-based, using Windows2000), QuartzStudio, EnergyXT, Audacity,  Magix Music Maker and Mixcraft.

They are all Windows-based. I recorded using Windows2000, WindowsXP, Windows7 and Windows 8.1. Apart from recording with the above software there’s also a long, very long, list of programs I’ve tried and tested. So far Mixcraft has been the most productive Windows-environment for me.

I’ve also used Garageband on a macbook (not mine). That’s a rather nice recording environment also but too expensive for me (a macbook that is). Apart from the fact I’m not that experienced with Apple.

Finally – I have over 30 years of experience as an IT-professional. I worked with many platforms like MsDOS, OS2/Warp, AS400, Windows (3.11, NT, Win2000 up to Windows10), AIX, FreeBSD (UNIX), RS600, Linux (debian. centos, ubuntu). So, yes. I know some about computers and operating systems.

OTHER STUDIOS

I’ve also worked with other studios in the past. All three of them used ProTools. Period. As I was discussing this with one of the studio owners and asked why he wasn’t using Windows (he had a Windows computer for other tasks) for recording he said to me: “I would need to buy new hardware again. I’m not going to do that”.

So, .. quality of the Windows, or Linux, platform does not seem to be the reason. It’s the investment they will need to do when switching to another platform for recording.

KXStudio/Ardour

About a year ago I decided to stop recording in my living room (I had been doing this for years) and create a studio in one of the empty bedrooms. For this I decided I wanted to have a dedicated computer.

Since I have a lot of experience with Linux (I have a webhosting company) I decided to give Linux a try. There was no big investment needed except for a new computer. I started with an audio distro with Ubuntu including Ardour. Ubuntu was giving me issues though, since it was having troubles with my brand new computer. It didn’t support the BIOS too well so it seems. It crashed every 15 minutes. So did Windows10, btw.

On the internet I found a different distribution, KXStudio. It’s also Ubuntu (debian) based and has everything more-or-less pre-installed. You can download it here. Especially this story got me interested in “giving it a try”.

In short:

The Ardour digital audio workstation is a beautiful creation. You can group tracks arbitrarily (great for streamlining editing), it supports unlimited tracks (until your computer keels over), it has a soundcard picker if you have more than one, processes at 32-bits internally, supports very flexible signal routing, support networked audio, and a way lot more (Linux.com).

So far I’ve recorded lot’s of songs using it, including the 2nd album of Mirjam Tamara. The song below is one of the tracks recorded at the studio. Mixing and mastering done with Ardour.

So it worked out pretty well for me. Question still stands. Is recording with Linux professional or not? Well, listen to the above and you’ll be the judge. Or some of the other tracks recorded with Ardour – for example this track.

PRO’s and CON’s of Linux Recording

I’m not a die-hard Linux fan and I’m not biased. If the new setup didn’t work out for me back than, I would have installed Windows with Mixcraft. Since I know that works fine too. For me, it doesn’t matter what operating system I use, as long as it works well, stable and gets the job done.

..”there is loads of excellent free music software available for Linux. Arguably much better than the free audio software for Windows” (Envato)

I still use Mixcraft a lot for mixing sometimes and recording a quick demo. It’s a great program and it’s not too expensive. So if you’re on a low budget, allready have a windows-based system and need a program to record go get it. The official website can be found here: https://www.acoustica.com/mixcraft/.

PRO’s

  • Linux is Open Source software. So, .. it’s free. No license fees;
  • Linux is super stable!
    Some deny this, but let’s face it. Over 80% of all the webservers on this earh run Linux. Android is Linux-based. Even Microsoft and Amazon use Linux. If Linux would be unstable, they’d never use it. Period.
  • Ardour is also Open Source. The Ardour recording software that comes bundled with KXStudio is also free;
  • It supports USB audio, just like Windows does. So I could simple re-use all of the other hardware (mixer, amp. speakers and so on);
  • It’s a complete distro. Meaning: the download contains all you need to get going;
  • KXStudio/Ardour comes with a lot of plugins. Reverb? Compression? Mastering? EQ? It’s all there. And lots and lots more. And yes, free…
  • Need more plugins? “Google is your friend”, ..
  • It’s easy to use;
  • It’s flexible;
  • It supports multiple inputs at once (2 on USB since USB is only 2 channels);
  • IT comes with a free, online, manual.

and lot’s more… 

After the installation I managed to get it working within about 15 minutes. I did my first recordings the same day. Didn’t need to look at the (online) documentation. Especially, of course, since I’ve got previous recording experience. If recording is new to you, it will be hard to start on Linux. It will also be hard to start on Windows. Or Apple’s platform. You’ll need to learn a lot. No matter what platform you use.

CON’s

  • No VST’s?
    When you’re used to recording with Windows and have a Windows-based DAW you probably have some VST’s you like. They say they won’t work on Linux. At least, not without a lot of hassle. Well, .. is that true? Steinberg has been changing the recording world in the past. And it’s doing so again. Steinberg brings VST to Linux. And, according to the manual (yes, Read The Fantastic Manual aka RTFM) Ardour does support VST 2.x.
  • Windows VST’s are (of course) NOT supported.
  • Difficult to use!
    Some claim Linux is difficult to use. Well, if you’re a long time Apple user it isn’t. If you’re a staunch Windows user you might need to learn some new stuff but you’ll learn after some time.

IS IT PROFESSIONAL? 

Okay – so I said you shold be the judge based on the audio provided and based on the pro’s and con’s.

Most important question to ask: what is your goal and budget? If you’re aiming to record demo’s or your bands first album, you could of course invest thousands of dollars or euro’s in a professional recording setup. Or go to a professional studio and record a few weeks over there. You’ll be burning a lot of money. If money ain’t no issue for you, don’t even consider starting home recording. Go into an expensive studio, don’t look at what they use for recording and be creative.

We’re talking home recording here. If you compare the free Linux distro’s to the free Windows solutions, linux distro’s will beat them (see quote above). Hands down. Superb audio. Easy to use. You’ve got all the tools you need. It can use old hardware.

Professional studio’s use ProTools most of the time (see before) but there are also studio’s using Windows-based solutions or .. Linux based solutions. The aim is to get the best audio possible recorded to a computer. You can do that on any platform these days. So yes. It’s professional. The fact it’s got no paid-for license model doesn’t mean it’s not professional. Not at all.

OTHER DISTRO’s

There are other distro’s available. Ubuntu Studio is a very well known distribution and it’s available here: https://ubuntustudio.org/

As I’ve mentioned, it didn’t work (back than) on my Celeron based system. Might work very well on other systems. Just download and test. It’s free anyway. 🙂

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Every Guitar has it’s own song .. SAMICK Greg Bennett GD-101

Some time ago I heard a guitarplayer say, when he got a new guitar, “I’m curious what songs this guitar will teach me”. I happen to agree with that. Everytime I pick up another guitar, songs come out that couldn’t have happened on a different guitar..

This week I’ve bought a new guitar at an online auction – a SAMICK Greg Bennett GD-101 SCE/N. For a short review of the guitar, done the day it arrived, see the video below.

When strumming and testing the guitar I played a simple chord progression (C-F-G-C) and suddenly I made up a few words that fitted the playing (imho). I sang the words and recorded them with my smartphone and took the guitar into the studio, .. And so here it is, one of the shortest songs I’ve ever recorded. In case the below doesn’t work for you, use this link to listen. Oh, and,.. it’s a free download.

I’m positive this will be the new ‘acoustic workhorse’ for my studio. It’s a great electro-acoustic guitar and the Fishman preamp has a fantastic sound. The acoustic sound is something I’ll need to get used to I’m afraid. I’ve been playing a Washburn guitar for over 12 years and that guitar had a very distinct sound that I really loved but failed to capture it in the studio in such a way that I liked it enough. I did use it in some recordings but most of the time mixed “far away” as an additional guitar.

 

 

VIDEO REVIEW
Please note, the first part is the guitar’s sound as the camera picks it up. The second part is the same music but it was recorded trough my computer from the guitar’s preamp. I ran it trough a “Karaoke Mixer” to my computer. It’s not studio-grade quality but will give a good impression I think.

 

 

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