Tweeting the Producers Conference

May 7th, 2009

I’m curious to know if anyone will be twittering from the various Producers Conferences this Saturday. Please drop me a line (@peff) or send me a message so that I can follow what’s going on.

If i’m not too harried with setting things up for the Producers Conference in Los Angeles, I’ll try to do a bit of live tweeting/posting on the happenings at the Musicians Institute:

Follow me here:

Phase Aligned Tape Comp Combinator

April 22nd, 2009

In case you didn’t know, the Scream 4 Tape Compression algorithm induces somewhat of a phase inversion to signals passing through the device. As the photograph of the oscilloscope indicates, It’s not a perfect phase reverse because the signal is also being processed by the effect, but it’s enough to cause some problems if you’re not aware of this characteristic.

In order to determine the linearity of the phase response of the Scream 4, I broke out the old oscilloscope and wired up a stereo jack to a pair of bnc connectors to monitor two channels coming from my workstation. In Reason, I created a basic configuration of a Thor being self-triggered with the internal sequencer with the analog oscillator and no filters. The Thor Synthesizer was connected to a mixer with a Scream 4 inserted on the right channel only. The left channel was unprocessed.

Running sine waves through the Tape Comp reveals that there is indeed a drastic phase inversion. This comes as no surprise. Running square waves and sawtooth waves reveals that the rising and falling edges are modulated by the effect to a point where higher frequencies will pass, but low frequencies are inverted. Two traces on the scope displayed the left and right channels separately. In the photo you can see that the top trace moves in the opposite direction of the bottom, indicating the waveforms are inverted.

If you’re using the Scream 4 Tape Comp as an insert effect on a loop or synth device, the phase inversion may probably go unnoticed, however if you decide to use it as a Parallel effect to thicken basses or drums, the process will actually do the opposite. There’s an example file posted below.

There are two ways of re-inverting the signal of the Scream 4 tape comp signal. Either insert another Scream 4 Tape comp or use a Thor Polysonic Synth. Phase inversion with Thor is accomplished by routing audio inputs to corresponding audio outputs in the programming matrix, and setting the amount value to -100 for the routing. I’ve made patches using both techniques and made them available below. The archive contains the following patches:

Phase Aligned Tape Comp S4.cmb uses a secondary Scream 4 to correct the phase. Sounds a bit vintage - dull & portly.
Phase Aligned Tape Comp T.cmb uses the Thor inversion technique. Sounds pretty clean.

Download the Phase Aligned Tape Compressor Combis

The Rotary Controls are assigned to the following parameters on the Scream 4: Damage Control, Speed, Compression, and Master. These correspond to the main controls one uses when applying the tape compression algorithm. The S4.cmb has an additional control for rolling off a bit of hi frequencies induced by chaining the effects.

Additionally, I’m posting a Reason song file that demonstrates the use of the scream 4 as a parallel effect and the potential issue the phase inversion causes.

Scream 4 Waveforms

April 22nd, 2009

This is a set of scope images taken during an analysis of Reason’s Scream 4 Sound Destruction Unit. Original Signals - Sawtooth wave generated by a Thor Polysonic Synth in Reason 4.0


Overdrive Algorithm - Despite the transformation of the signal, the phase generally follows the sawtooth phase


Distortion Algorithm - The signal processing is slightly different from the overdrive algorithm. It’s difficult to see the difference on these small images.


Fuzz Algorithm - More harmonic characteristics introduced beyond that of the overdrive and distortion algorithms.


Tube Algorithm - Notice that this function also inverts the phase of the sawtooth wave.


Tape Algorithm - See the related post


Feedback Algorithm - The general phase of the sawtooth is normal with the feedback algorithm as ringing harmonics are introduced.


Modulate Algorithm - The sawtooth takes on characteristics of frequency modulation.


Warp Algorithm - Again the sawtooth characteristics are still in phase with the original as the signal is modulated.


Digital Algorithm - The staircase output is typical of the wordlength reduction effect aka bitcrushing.


Scream Algorithm - the sawtooth takes on formant characteristics after processing.

Producers Conference - May 9, 2009

April 15th, 2009

Mark down the date: Saturday May 9, 09. There will be Producer Conferences throughout North America and Europe on that date - including one at the Propellerhead Software Headquarters in Stockholm! Other cities include Berlin, Guildford, New York, and I’ll be presenting at the conference in Los Angeles.

Advance Ticket Purchase is recommended. The conferences sometime sell out and we end up turning people away at the door :(

Thor Step Sequencer Systems Download

March 28th, 2009

The release of the Thor Step Sequencer System Refill is no longer available through the Line6 website. Sorry I completely forgot that the “Expand Your Reason Rack” promotion ended in 2008. I’ve posted the file in the Reason Refill download section and you may download is available here:

Peff 033 - Thor Step Sequencer Systems

For detail information regarding the patches in this refill, please refer to the following page:

Thor Step Sequencer Systems

Pandora iPhone App

March 6th, 2009

My latest iPhone obsession is the Pandora internet radio app which streams a tailored playlist to your mobile device. I’m sure I don’t have to go into too much detail about the service. In short, the beauty of Pandora is that the content has been carefully qualified, so when a user creates a custom station, the playlist contains both the music desired and songs that are similar to the initial selection. Over the past few years, the catalog has deepened and contains some great obscure artists as well. The site also features some great podcasts on music production:

If any audio software or sound library company is listening - there’s a bit of magic in this technology that could be applied in a commercial sound library product to help people search through their vast collections

Internet radio stations like Pandora are still in arbitration regarding the royalty and publishing issue - which is IMHO completely unfair. I am glad that artists are receiving proper royalties, and for people like me who are listening to indys and obscure electronic artists, these people will hopefully receive their share. The cost of licensing the content has led Pandora down that dreaded path of inserting commercial ads in the music stream, but I decided to subscribe and pay the 10ยข a day to avoid the ads - it’s worth it :)

NAMM 2009

January 19th, 2009

So…. The Props did not have a booth at the 2009 Winter NAMM, and they were missed. I ran into a lot of people asking where they were hiding and had to deliver the sad news. I wish I could say that this left a large void at the convention, but it didn’t. There were quite a few exciting things (at least to me) on exhibit.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the time at the moment to go into too much detail, so I’m posting up the images now and shall fill the text over the next few days.


Akai’s Ableton Performance Controller APC-40. Designed specifically for Live 8. How cool is this? With the Max for Live version, you can program the interface to do more than simply trigger scenes. I don’t think monome users have anything to worry about. While it looks similar, the device is intended with a specific purpose to work with live. The combination of the two would be the ultimate in computer based performance.


Ableton announced several new offerings to Live and offers various packages including Live Suite 8, Live 8, and coming soon, Max for Live. Of these, Max for Live really looks interesting since it is a complete version of Cycling 74’s Max 5 environment along with objects dedicated to control and interface with features of Live 8. Loopers are going to love the new loop effect as well. The transport and timing can all be enabled to lock to the loop settings - including the Max Transport: yes this opens up a world of real time possibilities.


John Bowen Solaris Synthesizer. The production version is nearly complete and they are available in a limited edition.


Dave Smith Electronics MoPho Synth


Jazz Mutant Lemur is on sale! for another 6 weeks, there’s a substantial discount on the coolest control surface ever!


The moog guitar!?


Melodyne Editor with Direct Note Access technology - DNA. Holy Sh*t! I can’t believe they did it. It works great with musical content.


Ana Mod ATS-1 Tape simulator


AEA Ribbon Mic Pre. 26kHz Boost to shape the high end response of ribbons of Wes Dooley.


Dangerous Music Surround Audio DACs


Dirty Boy Pedals at Big City Music Booth


Metasonix Modular Synth devices in the eurorack format


Moog Etherwave Theremin Plus - now features CV/Gate outputs to control other synth and effect devices.


Euphonix MC Control surface. Programmable and very cool.


Arne Wallander Instruments - Additive synthesis based horns and woodwinds with programmable acoustic environments. These sound amazing.


Eventide Guitar Pedals - yes there’s now an eventide harmonizer for your guitar.


genoQs Octopus - really fascinating design. This is a massive console version that was on display next to the Buchla systems.


Native Instruments’ Maschine


An MP3 recorder in your guitar… Really….That’s the Ovation iDea


Use Audio’s Plugiator is a Plug Host with preconfigured controls for their software.


Redmatica Keymap gets an update which now will feature mapping for the NN-XT and Reason!


Sonic Charge, our friend Magnus Lindstrom has a new synth called “Synplant”


Sound Blox effect pedals. They have a motion sensor that attaches to your finger to send a modulation control to any of their effect pedals.


Stanton DaScratch USB control surface. They had this mapped to tractor and serato, but it can be applied to anything.


TC Electronics - a cool simple idea: monitor control knob without the bells and whistles.


Blue Microphones “Mikey” iPod/iPhone Mic. With Sonoma Wire Works 4 Track App.


The Four Food Groups of Recording Lady.