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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mixbus comes with a ton of features, plugins and the special offer included some additional plugins!
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.
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.
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!
What happens if you let someone who’s got great mixing skills as well is the writer of a good vocal plugin mix your track “just for the fun of it”? Recently we were recording a new song and our friend Jay H. from JHudStudio created an alternative mix. We liked it so much that we have decided to publish this mix instead of our own!
Jay H. is the author of the Vocal King plugin, and some other (free) plugins for Windows DAW’s. He put some good time and effort in our song and (re)mixed and produced it based on the original, unedited, stem-exports from our Ardour DAW. This resulted in an original, creative, mix of our song and we were so very pleased with it!
The song is now available as a free download at SoundCloud. We hope you like it. Feel free to share!
The mood of the song, as well as the style, is probably a “60’s” or “70’s” feel, in the vain of Bob Dylan, The Byrds and so on. Drums were created using Ditigtech TRIO, Bass, guitars and vocals by Rudy. Recorded using Ardour (Linux). Mixed & produced by Jay H. from JayHudStudio.
An easy to use and (more-or-less) free DAW is Magix Samplitude Pro for Windows. It comes with several hardware units like Miditiech’s Audiolink III. It’s an “OEM” product, but you can also download it from the website of manufacturer.
DIY Recording at home doesn’t have to cost much. Of course there’s the Linux solution, as we use. But since most people have a laptop or computer running Windows, it’s easier for them using a Windows DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) on their computer. Especially since they’re not willing to invest time and money learning the “complicated” (NOT!) Linux OS and buying new hardware (you could, however buy a used computer or laptop).
Problem is, most of the Windows-solutions are expensive or not that easy to use. An easy to use and (more-or-less) free DAW is Magix Samplitude Pro for Windows. Other low-budget alternatives are program’s like Mixcraft or Reaper. Another alternative I haven’t looked into yet is Tracktion. That’s avaliable for all platforms, just like Ardour btw, also.
Anyway, I found Magix’s program at this website. Back in 2004(!) I already bought Magix Music Studio and used it on Windows2000. When I changed to WindowsXP it had some problems and when I switched to Windows7 my Music Studio stopped working. Samplitude looks a lot like the software Magix has been producing over the decades and had a familiar look and feel for me. It’s easy to use, stable and .. free. You can find the download at this website.
In the video I show you how to register the software and how to do a basic mix of a song.
Pro’s and Con’s
The pro’s are: it’s a fully functional DAW and offers high quality sound and effects. It allows you to export to WAV, FLAC, ACC and MP3. The Con’s? Only 8 tracks (but that’s more than enough for most people!) and a limited number of effects per track.
It does. however, support VST’s, VSTi’s, BPM changes for the full project, and everything else you’d need to do a proefessional home- or demo-recording. So, get it while it’s still availble!
Did you ever want to record authentic sounding surfguitar and never found a good plugin to achieve that ‘surf sound’ with your guitar? Cranked up the reverb..? Searched for plugins creating the sound? Well,.. there’s no need to do this. In fact, lot’s of reverb won’t get you there in the first place. And there’s probably not a single plugin on the market that can recreate that sound. You’ll need to have a “chain” of three VST’s to create this sound. Here’s how to do this.
But, before I tell how you can create the “surf” sound (more or less) in your Home Studio (DAW) using a few free VST plugins, some about the music and why we, in the Netherlands, can relate to this type of music so well despite the fact it’s Californian.. It’s a sound so familiar to us Dutch people! Not because of the Shadows (although they were very popular in the Netherlands also) but because of the “Indo-rockers”!
Lot’s of reverb here but on the surfguitar you hear a “drip”.. or “slapback”. That’s what makes the surfguitar sound so unique. Oh, and for those that watched the full video: the man sounds like a genuine hardrock guitarist at some parts! Amazing considering the fact it was in the early sixties!
Now what, you might ask, is Indo-rock? From Wikipedia:
Indorock is a musical genre that originated in the 1950s in the Netherlands. It is a fusion of Indonesian and Western music, with roots in Kroncong (traditional Portuguese-Indonesian fusion music). The genre was invented by Indo repatriates in the Netherlands after Indonesian independence on August 17, 1945, and became popular especially in Germany. Indorock is one of the earliest forms of “Eurorock”. Its influence on Dutch popular music was immense.
So Indo-rock was around even before the surfguitar sound! Some even think that the “surfrock” sound was influenced by indo-rock because many of the Dutch Indonesians also had (have) relatives in Hawaii and the USA. But I’m afraid we’ll never be able to prove that.
And here’s another one. The Tielman Brothers, the most famous Indo-rockers of the Netherlands. A rather wild bunch! Ever seen a drummer play guitar with his drumsticks? Or a guitar player using his feet on the guitar? Check the below video!
I could go on and on about Indo-rock, the roots of it and so on. I won’t. As Wikipedia noted, it’s influence was huge on Dutch popmusic and the people from Indonesia had a big influence on our culture also (and still have today).
As you can imagine, these guys createdDutch Rock & Roll ..!
CREATING THE “SLAPBACK” SOUND!
Okay so here’s how to do it. As you might have guessed by now, I’m not trying to get a very pure ‘surf’ sound, I more likely got close to the Indo-rock sound (I hope). But if you play with the settings of the free VST’s below, you’ll get the surfguitar sound for sure.
To create the ‘slapback’ or ‘drip’ sound you will need to understand that back in the days they didn’t have much to work with. Guitar amps were pretty simple. They didn’t have nice spring reverb or digital reverb. If you wanted effects, you’d need to put them in front of the chain. So using a reverb on your guitar amp or adding it on a track does notwork well!
You will need the following VST-/effects chain beforethe amp or amp VST.
Delay – Kjearhus, free VST
Reverb – Kjearhus, free VST
Tremelo – SimulAnalog RednefTwin
Of course you can use other VST’s, as long as it’s a delay, reverb and Tremelo. Don’t “copy” the settings and expect miracles. Every guitar is different, every setup is. But it’s the chain I’ve got here and that’s what you’ll want to ‘copy’.
The delay has to be set to “analog”, very short, not sync’d and add some low cut and high cut (to your liking).You don’t need much. It will create the needed short slapback. Play around with it to get it as you like it.
Next up: the reverb.
I like a huge reverb, set to about 25% to the mix. This is, of course, a matter of taste. For a genuine surfguitar sound you might need to turn it up even more.
I use the “Rednef Twin” VST plugin. It’s a Fender Twin 1969 (Guitar amplifier). So close to the era we’re looking for. Apart from that, it has a Tremelo (speed, intens) available.
It’s a free VST and if memory served me well I’ve downloaded it from SimulAnalog’s website. It’s part of the “guitar suite” and one of the VST’s I probably used the most.
It doesn’t look like the most (commercial) VST’s but it works very well. There’s a good reason for it’s “looks”. From the website:
“This suite is not a commercial product. It is born inside an academic research project about the modelling of electric devices, and then applied to the musical instrument field as an evolution of the techniques currently available in some commercial units. Its most important feature is the extremely high precision of the simulation, which is about indistinguishable from the original sound“.