Monday, January 31, 2011

My Five Desert Island Plug-ins (February 2011)

Mike Cobb asked me to post an entry about my five must-have plug-ins, which is a very difficult task for a few reasons.

For one thing, there are literally thousands of great plug-ins out there. Synths, effects, EQs... Everyone knows this drill, so filing it down to five means leaving out some really great software.

On the other hand, I'm extremely finicky about what software ends up living on my machine. More plug-ins means more maintenance, upgrades, compatibility - and if you decide to collaborate or share tracks, then you need to render what the other party doesn't have.

In the end, I just went with the facts: These truly are the plug-ins that I use regularly and know intimately.

So here goes...

Sunday, January 30, 2011

This & That #1

Moog badassery

M-Audio is giving away a Venom
Something wicked this way comes…

Be very afraid... The 2011 IDMA Ballot

Some thoughts on choosing a laptop DJ platform
Battle of the 1s and 0s. Traktor Vs Ableton Vs Serato

Create Digital Music has a cool giveaway. Act fast. Seriously.
Survey Giveaway: Win $2500 in DubSpot Online Training, Reason+Record, or AdrenaLinn Sync

Vintage Synth Timeline Madness

Maybe I was sleeping - or binging touring - or designing sounds - or too busy working on this blog, but I somehow totally missed the amazing site update for Vintage Synth Explorer.

VSE is absolutely the go-to site for in-depth information on legendary synths, so this site refresh adds even more value to one of my all time favorite resources for gear.

By far, the coolest thing about the new site is the Vintage Synth Timeline, which puts every synth on the site into a scrolling timeline that's a blast to poke around.

Got a few hours? Watch them fly by.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

What's In My Gig Bag?

I'm often asked what I use for gigging live.

Here are the contents of my M-Audio backpack:

- Apple MacBook Pro (2010)
- Native Instruments' Audio2DJ
- Korg NanoKontrol
- M-Audio IE30 in-ear monitors
- Two sets of all connector cables
- Ultra-bright LED flashlight
- Bag of Haribo Gold Bears
- Extra superhero t-shirt
- Hand towel
- Old boarding passes that I forgot to toss

Friday, January 28, 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Free Loops: M-Audio Venom Sixpack (Ableton and raw audio formats)

Did someone say free loops from a synth that's only been out for two weeks?


Last weekend, I was noodling around with the presets on M-Audio's new Venom synth. Some are my babies (like Sleepwalk and Mysterio), some are from other developers.

I figured I'd hit record, in case inspiration struck, which it did.

The results are in this sixpack. Six loops. All yours. Royalty free. Have fun.

Tech notes:
- Everything's in the key of C.
- All loops are at 128 BPM.
- All loops are eight bars long.
- Since I played it by hand, there's a bit of warping to tighten the grooves.

Download M-Audio Venom Sixpack (raw loops)

Download M-Audio Venom Sixpack in Ableton Live 7.0.18 format

Update: In addition, today M-Audio just kicked off a contest to win a Venom. Nice coincidence.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Teenage Engineering OP-1 Gets A Little More Interesting

In all honesty, I've been a tad skeptical of the Teenage Engineering OP-1.

Yes, it's beautiful.

Yes, it's in the SHM video for "One".

Yes, it's got more buzz than almost any new synth - ever.

But until this video, I'd basically dismissed it as a 21st century VL-Tone.

Now, I'm having second thoughts. Maybe the OP-1 is worth getting worked up over.

You tell me.

More YouTube demos after the jump...

WTF is a MeeBlip?

Finally got to catch up with Peter Kirn from Create Digital Music - one of my favorite blogs.

We kicked it about Dave Smith & Roger Linn's new Tempest for a bit, talked about his plans for SXSW and as we were winding down he blurted out something about a MeeBlip.

I was like, "WTF is a MeeBlip?" then googled it and found myself rather intrigued by the prospect of an open-source hardware synth module.

Pete's gonna fill me in a lot more in the next week or two, but until then you should check this thing out.

It's more than a little nifty.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Index Of Beatportal Tutorials

From 2007-2009, I was technology editor for Beatport's EDM blog, Beatportal.

During that time, I wrote a comprehensive set of tutorials on subtractive synthesis - the underlying technology behind 99.9% of analog synths - as well as sampling, effects, tips for getting the most out of Reason's Thor, and a smattering of production master classes with techniques from some of the top EDM producers.

Since starting this blog, I've been asked to create an index of the Beatportal tutorials, so here ya go.

Monday, January 24, 2011

You Want Ableton Presets? Ya Got 'Em...

Having polled Twitter and Facebook that other site, it appears that there are a bunch of people out there who want me to post some Ableton Live presets now and then.

So, who am I to refuse, right?

The first patch is a very simple little Instrument Rack that does the trick for those 21st century progressive house saw pads - and you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Tech notes:
- I'm posting the patch within a Live Set, as opposed to a Live Pack or single preset, so you can hear the patch with example chords and twist the macro knobs to see what's what. If you like it, then hit the preset save button on the macro and add it to your Library.
- The patch will run on Ableton Live 7.0.18 or higher.
- What you see/hear is what you get. I tested it on a couple of systems and the Zip file works as expected.

Here's the link. Have fun!

Download Francis Preve's 21st Century Sawtooth Pad

Want another Ableton preset?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Daft Punk? The Third Twin? Justice? WTF?

If you've been following today's tweets and FB postings - and you should - you'll notice that there is a growing bit of controversy regarding Daft Punk and another French group, The Third Twin. posted some info last month.

Quote: "The most curious about all this is that Guy-Manuel Homen-Christo is an uncle of two twins, as the French press know."

Apparently, The Third Twin - Yvan and Virgile Homem-Christo - are said nephews.

And here's a YouTube video that deepens the mystery.

I also find it absolutely fascinating that the track is called "Justice".

My spider-sense continues to tingle...

Update: Here's Daft Punk's denial of a connection on

Another Live Guru You Should Know About

When it comes to Ableton Live, Jon Margulies knows his shit. Period.

In addition to writing several books on making the most of Live, he's been blogging Live tips since last year.

There's a fuckton of material on his site - for both newcomers and experts alike.

He's also a wicked producer who's created his very own genre: Hobotech ;)

Bookmark this link. Visit often. Namaste.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Housekeeeeping! (5 Tips For Smoother Workflows)

Five housekeeping tips to improve your workflow and protect your projects:

- Label and color code your tracks as you work. Nothing slows down the production process more than trying to remember if the bass is on channel 6 or channel 17. I organize my channels as follows: kick, snare, hats/shakers/top loops, percussion, whooshes/fx, bass, synths/instruments, and vocals.

- Make use of your DAW's locator markers. As you make progress on your arrangement, it's incredibly handy to be able to immediately jump to the verses, choruses, breakdowns, intro, and outro sections of your track. When you're in a state of "flow", every second counts.

- Learn key commands for as many common operations as you can. If you find yourself going to your DAW's pull-down menus all the time, something's amiss.

- Every time you make a noteworthy change to your project, resave the file with a new number. For example: MySong v1, MySong v2, MySong v3, etc. This way, if your arrangement or mix veers off course you can always go back to the last solid version.

- Every time you add new audio to your track, be sure to Collect All and Save. No exceptions. It may eat up more drive space, but keeping everything in the same folder makes archiving much easier.

- Speaking of archiving, be sure to backup to an external drive at the end of each session.

Oops. That's six.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ten Essential Production Tips

As this blog evolves, I'll be plundering my writing archives looking for older pieces that are essential - or at least robo-handy - for making club tracks and remixes.

Last September, to celebrate my 10th anniversary at Keyboard Magazine, I was asked to whip up a column on ten techniques every EDM producer should know.

Yeah, yeah... The original title is a tad over the top, but hey, I named my last book after the friggin' Bible.

Here's the linkee-link: Arrives :D

Rather than whipping up a fancydancy ultra-redundant site that duplicates all the other social media stuff I'm doing, here's an easy way to get to my Blog, Twitter, SoundCloud, Facebook, Beatport artist page, iTunes artist page, Beatportal tech tutorials, Amazon books, and news.

Simple, direct, and iOS compatible. One page to rule them all.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Old-school Automation Shortcut

This trick is really old school, but in many cases it's way more efficient than screwing around endlessly with automation and fx sends.

If you want to echo or verb only certain words of a lead vocal, just duplicate the track, add the desired effects (making the echo or verb 100% wet) and chop out everything you don't want to process. This is - for me - the quickest way to process only specific words and syllables.

Here's how I'm doing it on my remix for the upcoming Winter Kills single "Hot As Hades":

Speaking of... I gotta get back to work.

Rob Papen Introduces Explorer Bundle

In my NAMM roundup earlier this week, I mentioned that Rob Papen's new drum plug-in - Punch - looked and sounded like a hit.

This week, Keyboard Magazine goes a bit deeper with a blog entry on Papen's new bundle of synth and effect plug-ins.

Here's the skinny: Rob Papen Introduces Explorer Bundle

A Brief History of Ableton Live

Last week, MusicRadar, featured an article on the history of Ableton Live and I'm not mentioned once really impressed with their research. So, if you've ever wondered how an industry-changing product springs into existence, give this piece a read.

(And has it really been ten years? Christ, I feel old...)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

SampleMagic + Toolroom = Whoa!

Speaking of Toolroom... What happens when my favorite soundware developer collaborates with one of my all-time favorite labels?

Yep. SampleMagic just released a library of Toolroom loops and samples, and frankly, I'm robo-psyched.

Definitely gonna add this one to the studio collection. Werd.

Let Me ConscinGo

This bootleg was a mainstay in my crate for the second half of 2010.

It's a quick little mashup of Wolfgang Gartner & Mark Knight's "Conscindo" and Heaven17's classic 80s hit "Let Me Go".

It rocked many a floor for me, so have at it!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

NAMM Stuff That Grabbed My Ass

Working on this Winter Kills remix, so not much time to blahblahblah...

Here's what I dug at NAMM. It's all stuff that's definitely worth checking out. Promise.

M-Audio Venom

Okay, maybe I'm a teeny bit biased because I programmed a fuckton of the presets that ship with this synth, but in all honesty, it's one of the most unique digital synths I've seen in a long time. The fact that the waveforms are actually sampled from classic analog gear (as opposed to being generated via modeling) gives the Venom a more aggressive, slightly quirky vibe - and quirky aggression is something that I'm a little too into or so I've been told.

Throw in an audio interface, MIDI interface, and a street price of about $500 and you have the makings of a synth that's going to be in a lot of rigs.

Korg Kronos

Once upon a time, Korg made a synth that really DID do it all, called the OASYS. Unfortunately, the OASYS cost around $10000. (Yeah, ten GRAND), so it was strictly a luxury item for actual rockstars.

Six years later, they refined the OASYS immeasurably and brought the price into the range of mere mortals. Kronos is very good stuff - and Jack Hotop's always astonishing, frankly gorgeous demos really drove the point home to NAMMites.

Shameless plug: Kronos also features several of the synths from their Legacy collection and a damn powerful FM synth called MOD-7. I did a bunch of patches for both and Korg has confirmed that these sounds will be included with Kronos when it ships.

Psyched about that.

Dave Smith Instruments Tempest

Dave Smith and Roger Linn make a drum machine with both samples and real analog synthesis.

Do I really have to go on?!?

Video demo here: (Added 01.18.11 1:50pm)

Fairlight CMI iPad App

As a kid, I always wanted a Fairlight CMI, but I just didn't have $25k lying around for some reason.

Fast forward thirty years. The processing power of the iPhone eclipses that of the original Fairlight Series IIx. Soooo.... Now that Fairlight is back in business, they've decided to re-release the Fairlight Series IIx as apps for both the iPhone ($5.00) and iPad ($50.00) - iPad vid here.

I wet myself.

Reactable iPad App

As a kid, I always wanted a Reactable, but I just wasn't Bjork.

Fast forward four years. Now that Apple makes a pocket-sized platform that does the trick, there's an app for that.

Lots of puddles in Hall E.

Other random moments of excitement...

Rob Papen makes great softsynths. Punch is his latest. MusicRadar has more info.

I've been slavishly devoted to iZotope's Ozone, Alloy and Trash plugs since each arrived. I'm guessing the same will happen with Nectar.

The fact that Korg's Legacy MS20 controller is compatible with the iMS20 means I am robo-excited that I've got one collecting dust in my garage - for now. Here's the YouTube vid to prove it.

Back to that remix...

Obligatory "Lookee here I'm starting a blog" Post

FACT: I fucking hate Facebook.

So... Since Google appears to be the lesser of two evils, I'm starting a blog for my technology, music and social commentary.

I'll link back from FB and Twitter as I add posts.

Brace yourselves.

PS: This theme is a placeholder until I figure out how I want everything to appear...