Jun 23

Here is something right up my street – a new electronic drum module, no it is not from Roland and Yamaha but from Pearl Drums. I have always loved Pearl Drums and I grew up near to where they had a factory.

I must admit I did not think they would venture out into the electronic market but I suppose today you just have to cober all bases to stay in business. Having said that it looks like Pearl have made a wise decision teaming up with Steven Slate to create what they call “the world’s most advanced electronic drum module called the Mimic Pro as a dedicated hardware host for Steven Slate Drums”

Have a look at the You Tube clip. I obviously haven’t heard the on board 60 Kits that it has but although I am pleased and excited about this module, I was disappointed with the You Tube Clip. It starts off by indicating that all other modules are stuck in the 80s. I agrere with this statement to some extent but what I then wanted to hear is drum sounds of 2016/2017 instead the clip goes on to explain how it can reproduce real drum sounds mimicing the original kits, hense the name Mimic Pro. Whilst this all sounds great, I still think it should have some up-to-date sounds (maybe it has?). If its aim is to Mimic Drums, why not mimic some of the computer generated drum sounds that have been created with filters, exciters, compressors and transient shapers that end up on so many hit songs or TV themes today.
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Apr 10

pioneer-dave-smith- toraiz-sp-16

MUSIKMESSE 2016 and Pioneer has teamed up with Dave Smith Instruments to reveal an awesome-looking new sampler and step sequencer, the TORAIZ SP-16. This looks like a perfect piece of kit that has stuff I really prefer over the AKAI and Native Instruments equivalents such as the MPC and the Maschine. This beast is Standalone and is something I always wanted rather than be subject to the problems of a PC.

It’s built with 16 powerful sampler engines and Dave Smith Instruments-created analogue filters based on the fantastic Prophet-6 synth. If you want to load your own samples you can do this from a USB stick or from its own 8GB internal memory as it comes with 2GB of Loopmasters sounds already on board.

The Toraiz SP-16 will be available later this year and will be priced at €1599/£1279. That is quite a bit of money and I think that as soon as you have a name like Dave Smith on board you know it is going to be expensive but you also know that the quality is going to be great from his high-pass and low-pass filters to the array of outputs necessary to make this a true standalone unit.

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Jan 24

The Mastering Process is either expensive or difficult to do yourself. As technology moves forward, more and more people are attempting to Master themselves with the aid of plugins. They all claim to be the answer but more often than not they fail because every piece of music recorded is diferent and requires individual mastering unique to that recording.

At NAMM 2016, Softube are telling us they have a foolproof new plugin – The Drawmer S73 Intelligent Master Processor. This has been modelled on Drawmer’s 1973 Three Band FET Stereo Compressor hardware. This plugin brings complex analogue-style multiband compression down to just a handful of controls and assists you by
making the choices a mastering engineer would make.

You just select from one of ten preset mastering Styles which have names like :- ‘More air’, ‘Clarity’, ‘Punch’, and ‘De-rumble’. Sounds very easy and to some extent it is as it automatically adjusts compression, EQ and mid-side processing parameters to provide your mix with its stated style.

There is an Amount knob that will set the depth of the processing; the Air switch seems to activate a high shelving filter and the Mix and Gain knobs control the wet/dry mix and output level respectively.

Although this all seems too good to be true, Softube’s reputation for creating top of the range plugins means that I am willing to give this a try.

You cannot get the Drawmer S73 until February 2. It is being sold at an introductory price of $75 until February 29 when it goes up to $99. See what you think on the youtube clip

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Mar 22

I know it is a bit 80’s but it is a great song sung by a beautifull lady Marie Fredriksson. She is part of a Swedish pop rock duo Roxette and the song is called – Spending my time. If you haven’t heard it before, give it a try.

Roxette were formed in 1986 and consists of Marie Fredriksson (vocals) and Per Gessle (vocals and guitar). This duo became a fantastic international act in the late 1980s and had 19 UK top 40 hits. They really got started when they released their first album ‘Look Sharp’and everything just took off.

It is great to see them out on tour again after all these years – Have a listen:-

Jan 25

The Tom Cat is a true analog drum machine, with five built-in percussion voices, including Kick, Snare, and Clap sounds with chromatically tunable Disco Toms. It is nicely priced at £150 for an analogue machine but in 2015 I struggled to find what is exciting about it. Yes it has some nice electronic percussion sounds and great filters but there doesn’t seem to be anything that is new here.

If you watch the You Tube clip perhaps you will see what I mean:-

The controls are very nice and are all continuously variable. This enables you to customize the tuning, amplitude envelopes, and volume of each drum voice separately for precise real-time adjustment. You get six MPC-style pads and a built-in 32-step sequencer and your Drum patterns can be fine-tuned using the Swing function, Pattern Select, and Tempo Control knob. A custom signal path, activated by its unique “Maul” circuitry, also lets you ‘dirty up’ drum beats.

The Akai Tom Cat analog drum machine is expected to be available in July. Akai state that their goal was to make an analogue multi-voice drum machine that easily integrate with both modern and vintage music equipment, so musicians could effortlessly bring that great analog sound into their music. Sadly I found this a little disappointing and was looking forward to hearing what it could do, but now I have, I don’t think I will be buying one. The price is good if you are looking to add some analogue drum sounds to your setup. I saw a comment that someone made that said “I don’t even want this for free”? and although at first, I thought it was a bit hard on Akai, perhaps it highlights the fact that a company like Akai that brought us the MPC family could really do better – sorry Akai – perhaps I will feel different about it when I have the chance to test it out in the shops in the Summer.

Whilst you are why not check out my kits for Native Instruments Maschine:-
the-filta-revolution-maschine-expansion

Jan 25

It has been a bit quiet on the Spectrasonics Omnisphere front recently so I was pleasantly surprised that they have been very hard at work creating version 2 of this software. For those of you wanting to upgrade it is a reasonably costly upgrade at nearly half the price of the full product. So for this amount I am expecting a great deal of changes and improvements.

At Namm 2015 Spectrasonics has just introduced Omnisphere 2 as a major upgrade to its best-selling flagship software synth. Spectrasonics say that Omnisphere 2 “adds a vast amount of new synthesis and creative capabilities for sound design and significant user interface innovations”.

The Omnisphere 2 upgrade includes the most requested Omnisphere feature: Audio import for user created soundsources. I really like the sound of this which opens up endless sound possibilities. The next biggest change has got to be it’s new oscillator features which give you a hundred times the number of DSP Oscillator waveforms, morphing Wavetables, new granular synthesis optionsand over 3,000 unique new sounds. Yes that is what I said over 3,000 unique new sounds. These have been created by Spectrasonics excellent sound design team.

OK amonst the thousands of new additions and those fantastic features above you also get 25 new FX units and a much better user interface with fast browsing features.

Spectrasonics state “Our biggest goal with Omnisphere 2 is to offer more freedom to create for every type of person using it,” I was surprised to learn that this the first ‘version 2’ of any of their software instruments.

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Jan 14

It is definately that time of year again. Cakewalk have made an anouncement a week before Namm 2015, no doubt in readiness for the show to say they have a new Sonar family. No it is not Cakewalk Sonar X4. Roland Cakewalk have decided to drop the “X4” to reflect that the new SONAR will now get new features regularly throughout the year instead of a big annual update. The new family names starting from the smallest is Sonar Artist, Sonar Professional and at the top they have Sonar Platinum

Have a look at the YouTube clip to give you a taster:-

There are some significant changes this year in terms of costs and some people will no doubt like the new plan whilst others will be dead against the changes – read on to find out:-

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Jan 7

It has been over three years since I reviewed the Traps Electronic Drum kit E400. I found this You Tube clip above of an A400 Traps Kit that really gives you a great idea of how Traps Drums  sound. No it is not a Roland TD30 kit but when you consider the cost difference you really do get a lot for your money here.

Drummers who have bought this kit have said it is great if you consider updating the heads and perhaps buy a better hi-hat stand but other than that they love what they are getting for the cost.

I had a look on the Absolute Music website to see what they are currently selling and found twenty items of kits and accessories, some of which are at reduced prices. The one that caught my eye was an A400 kit which includes :-

a snare drum, 10- 12- and 14-inch toms and a 20-inch kick drum, a Hi-hat stand, kick pedal and drumsticks included. Also comes with Paiste 101 cymbals :- 14-inch hi-hat, 16-inch crash, 14-inch crash/ride. The price of the kit has been reduced from £449 to £399.

traps-electronic-drums-a400-kit

They also have the new  Traps EX500 Electronic Drum Kit with Realistic Mesh Heads which has Dual Zone chokeable cymbals, Dual Zone snare and tom drums, Triple ply mesh heads, 12 inch snare, 10,12 and 14 inch toms and a 20 inch bass drum and good quality hardware. It also has on-board recording, 74 voices (inc Drums, Percussion, SFX and more),40 Preset and 59 User Kits,120 Preset and 100 User Songs,Built in 4-Band Master EQ,USB,Midi in and Out. Unlike other electronic drums you get a standard sized set of drums: dual trigger 12 inch snare, dual trigger 10 inch tom, 12 inch tom and 14 inch tom all for £549 what great value.

If you want to also read my earlier review, please go here .

If you are lucky enough to own a Roland TD 30 kit, dont forget to check out my Roland TD30 Expansion Pack – Electro Mayhem here.

 

 

Jan 2

Let’s start 2015 with some music. I came across this track by accident by watching ‘The Blacklist’ on TV. It is called Here with Me by Susie Suh and Robot Koch. It is quite haunting and soothing. I love the drum and vocal sound. If you are like me and haven’t heard it before – give it a listen here:-

Nov 21

Its that time again for a bit of music. I like this track ‘Rather Be’ by Clean Bandit for many reasons. Its a simple but very effective track with a good vocal sound, nice production, great tight string sound, good rhythm and very catchy. The strings at the start seem almost robotic which to some extent is very different as this is not how strings are normally played. The bass drum comes in with a quality warmth which is just right for the song – all the ingredients of a hit song. It may not be a song you like but if you write or record songs – I think it is probably worth a listen. You could possibly use it as reference material when you are mixing or mastering. For me I like the idea of what is not in the verse that makes it special. Instead of just increasing your track count adding and layering sounds, why not take them down bare minimums and see how good the vocals sound.

Talking of bare minimums:-

rather-be-clean-bandit

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