Jan 22

It is that time of year again – Namm 2017. I try not to get too excited about these events nowadys to avoid dissappointment as I am always expecting so much more. I am probably just like you in that I want every musical instrument manufacturer to announce a new product, that doesn’t cost much; is instantly available; will integrate immediately into my setup and will take my music to another level giving me that “Wow” factor.

The reality of a Namm event is somewhat far from this and varies every year and of course means different things to different people.You have to also appreciate that Namm 2017 will be full of products that were released earlier in 2016 and perhaps have not completely hit all of the shops yet like Roland’s TD50 electronic drum kit. There are of course always products that catch my eye and the first is Roland’s 88 note Digital RD2000 stage piano which looks gorgeous with 1100 tones; V-Piano technology; a weight of 21.7KG but a price of over £2100.


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Dec 31

With only a few hours left of 2016, I think it is a good time to wish you all a Happy New Year for 2017. I did not like 2016 much and have decided 2017 is going to be my year. The year I will look back on and say yes that was “My Year” and a great year to remember. Whilst 2016 did have its bad and sad momments, there were some great products released in the music world. For me these were the Yamama Montage and Roland TD50 both of which I truly wish I will own one day.

I hope you have a great 2017 and whatever music project you are working on – make it great for 2017. If I don’t finish the album I am working on in 2017 I may just give up on it, but perhaps I will because 2017 is “My Year”.

Very Best Wishes to you all and thank you for your continued support of my site – Tony

Dec 24

Hi Everybody,

As the day draws in on Christmas Eve, I have been sitting here thinking and reflecting on 2016 and what I have done musically.

Unfortunately I have not met all my goals but I have made significant improvements in the four areas that interest me the most – Songwriting, Recording, Mixing and Mastering.

If I am really honest the songwriting is the one that has the least attention and to be honest is the most important. I tried to think about why this is and really it is quite obvious. Everyday I am bombarded with new plugins, free plugins, mixing advice, mastering advice and whilst this is all great and exciting, I am spending more and more time on a computer spending money, downloading software watching YouTube clips etc. instead of sitting at the piano trying out new song ideas.

So for me 2017 will be a year more dedicated to songwriting (well thats the plan).

I hope you have been musically active through 2016 and I thank you for your continued support of my site and I look forward to seeing you again in the New Year – Have a Great Christmas – Tony

Sep 12

Amongst the new recent products released by Roland, I couldn’t help but notice a colourful green synth from their AIRA range – the new System 8. This is the second Plug-Out synth from Roland that features their Analogue Circuit Behaviour Technology (ACB) to create a wealth of sounds. Have a listen to the great Scott Tibbs at Kraft Music demo the System 8 in the Youtube clip above.

The System 8 however, can control up to three Plug-Out software synths. Two of which are included in the price. One of which is the Jupiter 8 and the other which will not be available until Spring 2017 is the Juno 106 Plug-Out. This will leave a space for a future Plug-Out synth that they may release or one of their existing ones already available such as the SH-01 or SH2. You should note that the Plug-Out synths are separate from the internal engine. These plug-outs of these classic synths have been recreated with all their analogue character using ACB.

The Roland System 8 has a 49 note velocity sensitive key-bed, 8 voice polyphony, three powerful oscillators, powerful hi-res filters, very versatile LFOs, a built-in vocoder, an arpeggiator, polyphonic chord memory functions, CV/GATE outputs, a large selection of great effects, and it can be used as a USB/MIDI interface for easy integration with your DAW – all sounds good to me. But, how much does it cost I hear you say?. Unfortunately, this will set you back £1239.00.

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Sep 10

roland-vdrums-td-50-module-brain-front

At last, Roland after all these years, have upgraded the TD-30 drum Brain to the TD-50. It has been a while and I wasn’t sure if they ever were going to do it. Their 909 day although I am sure has been a great success took a little flak from the people who commented on this on-line. One of the main comments was their ability to market and recycle all that they have done in the past and this is definitely true. Although, we all love the sounds of the 808 and 909, it makes me wonder when they are going to invent something new. That said, I am all for improvements and if Roland can build something further on the Roland TD30 by way of the TD-50 then I will be very pleased that it exists in this world. However at a cost of £1939 for the TD-50 module or £6599 for the TD-50KV kit, we are talking some serious money. The smaller TD-50K is £4129 which makes me think that the TD-50 module is over-priced being half the price of the whole kit. I think £1400 – £1500 is more realistic.

I sincerely hope that we don’t hear their repetitive saying that “it has been built from the ground up”, because it clearly has not. It has been built up from its predecessors the TD7, TD-10, TD20 and TD30 but yes it will without a doubt be their Flagship V-Drum sound module. At this stage it is hard to properly comment on how it sounds and feels and to do any comparison with the TD-30 but the most obvious advantage I can see is the ability to play your own samples via an SD card. I never understood why this was not on the TD-30 as it was crying out for it.

Roland’s information on the SD card tell us that it’s easy to trigger your own WAV files using any of the TD-50’s drum pads, and you can loop or layer them alongside the internal sounds while controlling volume and tone via the TD-50’s front panel. There’s even a choice of audio sampling formats: 48 kHz, 96 kHz, and the standard 44.1kHz – all sounds great to me.

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Aug 19

Here is something that caught my eye, not because it is a Roland / Boss product but simply because of what the person is doing with it. Watch Youngr in the youtube clip above. I know this sort of thing has been done before but he really demonstrates a variety of skills with using technology, playing various instruments and singing – great stuff.

The Boss RC-202 is a tiny but powerful little unit that I am sure will be great for club performers, electronic musicians and beatboxers. It is based on their RC-505 Loop Station which everyone loved but whilst it is just a two-track it does have a whole load of new features. Four Input FX and four Track FX are available at once, and loops can be saved to memories in real time. It is therefore ideal for looping musicians who have their hands occupied with guitar, keyboards, and other instruments like Youngr on the youtube clip.

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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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Jun 16

NI MASCHINE Update to 2.4.5

Well here is some great news from Native Instruments – If you are lucky enough to own MASCHINE 2 software then you are entitled to this FREE software update of MASCHINE to version 2.4.5. All you have to do is download from their Service Center.

This packed update gives you some great new features including tools for working with samples. Native Instruments explain that:- their latest update to Maschine includes a new option for working with samples in Manual slicing mode. Users can now insert slice points on MASCHINE’s pads while the sample is playing – a fast and intuitive way to begin the process of turning a sampled piece of audio into an original composition. A new Variable Scene Length feature allows Scene lengths to be set independent of the length of patterns, making polyrhythms easier to create and freeing producers from extending a pattern just to fit the scene it resides in. Internal plug-in settings are now savable as defaults, accelerating workflow by instantly loading with popular settings defined by the user.

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Jun 16

HyperSound Innovations

Here is something I was not aware of – an audio company called Turtle Beach Corporation (famous for its HyperSound technology), has achieved another great breakthrough by creating directional audio using a transparent pane of glass.

This innovation could be used in such a variety of situations, in fact anything that is made of glass like the windscreen on your car for example. Have a look at the Youtube clip. Even better if you have been at the 2016 Electronics Entertainment Expo at the L.A. Convention Center for the last couple of days or you are there today, Turtle Beach will be showing an early prototype of their HyperSound Glass directional speakers.

So what is good about HyperSound? Well it has Improved audio quality and frequency response, low voltage cables and lower overall power consumption and emitter panel design have improved the ratio of audio volume to panel size, allowing for the production of much smaller panels.
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Jun 13

Here is something FREE that you maybe interested in, three plugins to spice up your recorded songs. These are called Abletune Knobs and they seem similar to the Waves OneKnob series (except they are Free) in that they blend and map a number of parameters to one knob allowing you to get quick instant results. Have a listen in the YouTube clip above.

Abletunes Knobs are described as follows:-

Drive: Distortion unit that delivers some nasty wide-band distortion (stereo). Great for when you quickly want to add some tone and color to your sound. Sounds good on drum groups and percussion tracks, adds grit to bass lines, leads, keys, you name it.

Space: Mid-sized room reverb (stereo). Pretty bright one, creating a mid-sized space, somewhere in between a large room and a small hall. Works well on almost anything, from percussion to synths and acoustic guitars.

Attack: Simplified transient shaper (stereo) with only ATTACK section of the waveform being affected. Adds bite to the drum loops, enhances percussive transients, makes guitar solos sound more solid and confident to name a few applications examples.

Abletunes Knobs are compatible with all major DAWs
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