Producers Seminar in Stockholm

November 5th, 2006

Yeah, i’ve been busy and slacking on posts. I will be heading out to Stockholm in a couple of days for the Producers Conference. I’ll be presenting a few lectures on Reason 3.0, Combinator, and Remote - There will be a few topics from my book covered, but expanded to real world situations. I’m looking forward to seeing some old friends, and eating that tasty Swedish Herring! I’m especially looking forward to the balmy Scandinavian weather :-P

Sorry T., I wont be able to make it down to Monfalcone on Wednesday :-)

Recording The Beatles

November 1st, 2006

I finally seen Bryan Kehew and Kevin Ryan’s much anticipated book, Recording The Beatles. It’s the ultimate guide for gear freaks about the legendary recordings at Abbey Road, and goes into great detail about the equipment and engineers and rooms. It’s an amazing wealth of information and dispels many of the prevailing myths about what was used to record these legendary tracks.

My friend, John Hinson, helped Kehew and Ryan with some of the technical details, and we had a bit of a laugh as we compared the similarities between some of his old email correspondence and the text in the book. I’ve kept a fairly tight lip about the details over the past few years, but now the secrets are out. I’ve talked about the REDD.47 quite a bit on this journal, but the other half the sound is most certainly the RS124 Compressor which is a derivation of an old Altec Compressor.

A few years ago, John explained to me how the Engineers progressively modified the Altec. It actually sounds different depending the year of the recording. And yes, John does know how to do the mod - check out one he delivered for a recording with Ken Scott Revolution Recording Site. Pictured with Ken and John are the Revolution R.47 and his Revolution R124 Altec Mod! The modern REDD.47 and RS124 killer combo - just add a U47 and Studio 2 :-)

If you’re a vintage gear freak you’ll definitely love Recording the Beatles. Wear a bib, otherwise the drool might stain the pages :-)

Laptop Jam 06.2

October 26th, 2006

The SF Bay Area Reason User Group had another cool laptop jam at Lennon Rehearsal Studios in the SOMA district. Everyone’s weekend schedule was pretty loaded recently, so we decided to organize a mid-week get-together. Besides the usual suspects (Ed, Mark, and me), Rick and Tony (along with his classmate John) came by to sync up and jam along.

The Lennon space is pretty comfortable and has a stage where we crowded in close quarters. This setup seemed to work better than the previous jam since we could keep close eye contact with each other and keep things flowing better.

For the next Jam, Tony is going to see about using the library at his school, Cogswell Polytechnic College down in the south bay. I’m not exactly sure when this will happen, but I’ll post something when we know for certain.

121st AES Convention SF

October 10th, 2006

The 121st Convention of the Audio Engineering Society met at the Moscone Center in San Francisco last week, and I managed to make it in to check out a few of the lectures and see all of the goodies. I love gear, and have way more than i need, so normally, i’m not overwhelmed with gear lust these days. However, there were some things at the show that raised my blood pressure. I met up with GW at the show. This is the first I’ve seen him since he’s finished writing his book, Creating Music and Sound for Games. Published by Thompson Course PTR.


GW introduced me to his tech editor, Orren Merton, author of many books on Logic/Logic Pro. Unfortunately, they sold out of them before I could get him to autograph it :-/. There were a couple of new Reason titles which looked really cool. Two different books in a series focused on certain sections of the application. Reason Sequencing by Steve Nalepa, and Reason’s Virtual Instruments by Matt Piper.


I met up with my friends (and fellow Reasoners) Carson who was on the prowl for Shiny Box ribbon mics, and Deborah who wanted to corner some MOTU person about DP. Unfortunately MOTU was absent at this show. Deborah and I have been working on a project for several weeks; more news of this coming next week.


This is the first time i’ve had a chance to see the cool little Creamw@re Hardware emulations of some classic synthesizers. These just look really cool with the knobs, switches, and wood paneling. Somewhat like the originals, but digital :-)


Over at the M-Audio room, I ran into Chachi Jones, doing a demo of Ableton Live 6. He was showing some very cool video sequencing features including strategies for setting warp markers on your quicktime video tracks. Also demonstrated was the Combinator-like macro tools in Live 6. The Cross fade modulation feature is fantastic.


Cruising down the boutique audio row, I came across the booth of Digital Audio Denmark. They had a presentation on a little screen saying, “Hear a Demo of 352.8 kHz Sample Rate”. So i thought, I’ll bite, even though there’s no way i’m going to be able to really distinguish super high def audio in the noise of a convention hall. They had a laptop connected to their AX24 multichannel AD/DA converter box and played two recordings of the same piano piece. The first was at 44.1 which sounded great. The recording was of a piano in a hall recorded with a couple of DPA omnis. Then they played the DXD audio 352.8… I was literally blown away by the depth and clarity of the sound - yes even through headphones with the background din of a convention hall. The stereo imaging was so clear that you could hear individual hammer noises move in the stereo field, whereas the 44.1 recording sounded like a piano was just somewhere in the stereo field. It’s not often one gets a sneak peak into the future of technology, but this is definitely where things are headed. It’s digital audio that will finally reveal the glory of analog.


Fairlight had some cool futuristic looking workstation consoles on display, but the thing that caught my eye was a Commemorative Display honoring the 30th Anniversary of the CMI. It was just the keyboard section with a plaque that named the inventors and developers, and each key of the keyboard was signed by the many famous users. Old people, like me, and fans of 80s music will recognize the names of artists who extensively used fairlights on their hits like, Thomas Dolby, Lori Anderson, Herbie Hancock, Peter Gabriel, Roland Orzabal, etc.


Another highlight of the show was at the AMS Neve booth which had Rupert Neve’s New Console, complete with vintage knobs and meters. Not really - this was actually one of Mr. Neve’s first consoles loaded with glorious valves and transformers.


Ok, this is really the new Rupert Neve Designs Console. They only had this rendering and blueprints available to drool over, but this marked an interesting trend at AES… Analog Consoles are making a comeback!


My gear lust really kicked in when I was given the demo of the Rupert Neve Designs Portico Modules. One module is the 5042 “True Tape” Emulation and Line Driver. It has a couple of tape heads inside the unit with record and playback amplification stages to simulate tape saturation. How can one resist super tweaky technology like this? The other module is the 5014 Stereo Field Editor, a stereo shuffler circuit that allows you alter control spread and depth of a signal.


Even though I have no idea how the Shadow Hills units sound, they definitely have an eye catching aesthetic with mammoth meters and knobs.


There were a lot of little API lunchbox modules floating around. A-Designs, Avedis, Speck, all featured some new little tools to fill your box. Not to mention, of course, API :-)


Although these are nothing new, the Sound Devices Field Recorders caught my eye. Field recording at it’s finest for that growing found sound library!


Wunder Audio featured their new analog Wunderbar Console. This console is like a work of art with a spare no expense design. It’s fully transformer balanced Class-A discrete design and costs a mere $3000, per channel.

Minerva 8 Polyphonic Synthesizer

October 2nd, 2006

If you’re a regular on the Propellerhead Software User Forum, then you may have already downloaded this new ReFill. It’s a specialized combinator dubbed the Minerva-8, a Malström based synthesis system that uses three simultaneous oscillators to simulate an analog synth.

This is nothing new - a lot of people stack Malströms in a combi - big deal. True, in fact the setup is relatively simple. It was actually inspired by some of the RB-303 combinator patches where I added the Sub-Oscillator section. This is something i’ve missed in Reason synths, so i made some patches that added the extra low tone.

What is new are a couple of destabilization features. A pair of Random LFO signals are used to generate a super random control voltage that alters pitch. These same LFO signals also modulate the center frequencies of both stages in a PEQ-2. The subtle undulation of the EQ curve creates a less pure or “perfect” soft synth tone. These modulations are perceptible but not to the point of making the patches musically unusable.

Each patch has a unique skin that indicates various settings like the filter envelope, amp envelope, and oscillator settings. Certain Patches use a combination of Sawtooth and PWM waveforms, while most use a combination of Saw and Square. As you browse through the patches, you can find one that comes close to what you need, then quickly adjust the frequency, resonance and effect settings.

There is no velocity to amp modulation in the Minerva-8 patches because I wanted tones that imitated one of my favorite synths (also named after Roman Dieties), the Juno. I always loved making inverted filter envelope modulation sweeps on the Juno-106, so there are a few included in the Minerva patchset.

The labels of the devices in the combi rack have been replaced with dashes. While some might think this is intended to deter reverse engineering of the patch, it’s actually designed to be a feature of the combi. When you go to direct a sequencer track in the device list, you will see the combinator label followed by rows of dashes. This will help you quickly identify the Minerva-8 combi and assign it to sequencer track.

Think of these combinators as a bunch of presets that you can scroll through. The modifiers are limited, but there are a variety of envelope and modulation presets. Find one that matches what you need, then simply adjust the parameters to your taste. Despite being labeled a “Polyphonic” synth, there are also a couple of mono patches.

Minerva-8 Combi Controls

FREQUENCY Knob controls the filter cutoff frequency of the Malström filters.

RESONANCE Knob controls the Malström filter resonance. Modulation has been scaled to limit resonance to a useful range.

SAW - SQR or SAW - PWM This is a crossfader control that mixes between the primary sawtooth oscillator and the square or PWM (pulse width modulation) oscillator. There is always a sawtooth on these patches. SQR or PWM is indicated by the graphics on the skin.

SUB Rotary controls the level of the Square wave oscillator transposed down an octave. Increasing the Sub control adds a bigger low end to the tone.

MODE I/III Button, toggles two different UN-16 settings.

ENABLED Switches the UN-16 Chorusing effect ON.

SATURATOR Enables a Scream 4 Tape Compression effect.

REVERB switches on a preset RV-7 Reverb Effect.

Minerva-8 “Sequentia” Combi Patches

Included are several gated sequence patches. Within these patches, a Matrix Pattern Sequencer is preprogrammed to trigger gate events. These are [RUN] type of patches and will only work while the RUN PATTERN button is enabled. In order to change the pattern, click on the “Show Devices” button and find the Matrix and select a different gate sequence.

The Matrix Sequencer is labeled as “- Gate Pattern”, so you can quickly identify it and add automation to switch the patterns in your track.

Also, the RV-7 is replaced with an RV-7000 with a stereo delay effect rather than reverb for extra rhythmic fun.


Hope you find some use with this latest Combi Refill. You can download it from the following link:

Download Peff 031 - Minerva-8 Synthesizer.rfl 4Mb Zip File.

Reason Workshop in Dallas

September 25th, 2006

GW and I were planning to take the show on the road back to his hometown in Dallas, Texas. Unfortunately, my schedule has made it impossible for me to leave town for such an extended time, so we have had to cancel this workshop. Once I get my matters sorted, we will work on rescheduling.

GW’s friend at the Lizard Lounge, a big club in the Dallas area, had helped us book the facility for an unusual daytime event. Hopefully we can get the space on a future date, since I was really looking forward to checking out Reason running through a massive club system.

If anyone in the area want’s to stay informed about this workshop, please Email Me and/or keep an eye out on

Massive Attack & DJ Shadow

September 23rd, 2006

I met up with the guys who helped me with the Power Tools for Reason 2.5 CD-rom project: Joe, Rich (and Begonia), and Carson; and we caught the Sept 22 show of Massive Attack at the Greek Theater in Berkeley. We couldn’t ask for a more perfect evening in the Bay Area. It was a clear and warm Indian Summer day which lead to a beautiful evening in the Hills above Berkeley.

DJ Shadow was fantastic, but even more impressive was his visual presentation of CG animation synchronized to his work. It looked amazing and added a produced element you rarely see in electronic music visuals.

Massive Attack certainly didn’t disappoint. Although Daddy G was not present (congrats on the new baby), the show was amazing. Considering the acoustics at the Greek Theater, my expectations were not very high, but I was pleasantly surprised. Carson and I headed over to check out the gear, and I saw a screen with some “Bitplant” gui on it. I then realized they were using a digi Venue board. I have to say that the sound was unbelievable - it was almost too perfect! There were some delicate drum parts and hi-hat work going on and they mixed perfectly even with a blaring electric guitar roaring.

Heading into the concert I kept wondering how would MA deal with the various vocal parts for their body of work. Sure enough they brought in quite a few guest singers who performed many of the classics. And I was (again) pleasantly surprised!