Category Archives: Music Production

The Vintage Digital Sound Of The Zoom PS04

The Zoom PS04 is not a new recorder by any means, it came out about 10 years ago. However, this little handheld digital 4 track is still one of my favorite pieces of recording equipment I’ve ever owned. I like it so much, I actually bought a second one in case the main one I use ever breaks I’ll have a back up.

There’s some weird quirks to them, like recording on Smart Media Cards, which are getting harder and harder to find, and had a maximum size of 128mb. However, a 128mb card is enough space to be productive and record several songs with virtual takes.

However, there is a certain sound quality they possess that seems to be unlike any other multitrack recorder I’ve heard. They have that gritty, early digital recording sound. Almost like 12 bit samplers like the Akai s900. Even though they are 16 bit, the sample rate isn’t quite CD quality, at it’s highest setting it is 31250hz. I believe this has something to do with the sound quality, but even if I convert sounds on a computer to 31250hz, they don’t quite have the same sound as the ones recorded on the PS04.

I thought I would put together a playlist of the songs I recorded on these little units so you could hear what I mean. If you want to get one for yourself, they are still available on Amazon through 3rd party sellers. 

8 bit performance on a Korg nanoPAD 2 and nanoKONTROL

This is something I put together a while ago, but still really happy with it. I wanted to make an 8 bit trap song in real-time using Ableton Live and my Korg nanoPAD2 and nanoKONTROL. I first found and created all of the samples I needed and loaded them into Ableton’s drum rack, then I spent some time working out some beats and setting up arpeggiators to create the hi hat roll sounds. Once I had it all together I just had to practice for a few days then I made the video.

Korg’s nano series is a great way to get inexpensive and versatile controllers for Ableton. The fact that they are so small and come in different categories too makes them really great for creating modular setups for your needs.

You can pick up your own nanoPAD2 here

Or if you want a nanoKONTROL, get that one here

The Ibanez GiO GRX20 is the best and most versatile electric guitar for under $200

I’ve been playing guitar since I was 10 years old, and I’ve played and owned many guitars in my life. I currently play guitar in a surf rock band where I am playing a lot of leads and using a tremolo on a regular basis. I am also a home recording artist and commercial music producer who records a lot of different styles and sounds. So it may come as a surprise to you that I am using a $149 Ibanez GRX20 as my main, or really ONLY guitar.

I picked one of these up because the price was right and I wanted something with two pickups and a tremolo. After receiving it, it quickly became my go-to axe for everything. The dual humbucker pickup and 3 way switch / tone volume controls make it very versatile. Giving you options for hard rock crunch, mellow jazzy warm tones, screaming metal lead, and even 60s reverb saturated surf sounds!

The feel is excellent and has a very nice build quality far above it’s price range. I absolutely love the neck and I honestly believe this guitar has made me a better guitarist because it seems to fit my playing style so well. I’ve wailed on the tremolo for hours at a time, barely having to retune and the look of it is downright sexy. I’m considering picking up a second one just because I love it so much.

If you’re on the market for a great guitar and you don’t want to break the bank, I highly recommend the Ibanez GRX20ZJB!

Exclusive Pre-Release Stream of Polybius by Demonic Sweaters

My new album will be officially released on 1/11/17 at anthillrecordings.bandcamp.com, but you can check it out right now at long time DS supporter, Ronan Conroy’s blog! www.ronanconroy.wordpress.com

Ronan has always been a huge supporter of what I do, possibly the biggest supporter. I thank him once again for hosting this exclusive stream. You can stream the whole album for free now, as well as pre-order it for only $5!

Thanks Fornax Void for the Polybius gif

The legend of Polybius goes that In 1981 a strange video game showed up in a select few arcades in Portland Oregon. Kids who played the game seemed to experience amnesia, forget who they were, where they lived etc, and suffer from extreme night terrors.

The game was reportedly serviced by men wearing black coats who instead of collecting the quarters from the games, took only data from “records” inside the machine. Rumors were starting to grow that it was developed by some military intelligence agency such as the CIA.

The game was not around long and was pulled from the arcades nearly as quickly as it arrived. There is no known machine in existence today, but ROMs have surfaced over time, though the authenticity of them has not been verified.

The story of Polybius was first documented on the site coinop.org in 1998 www.coinop.org/Game/103223/Polybius

I first learned about the game on the Astonishing Legends Podcast, and thought the story was so amazing and also felt it was the perfect inspiration for my new album.

So here it is

Recording details:
Three main recording devices were used in the making of this album and will be listed as Systems 1, 2, and 3 in the rest of the liner notes.

System 1 – 2007 Black Apple Macbook running Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and Mixbus 3 with Jack as it’s primary DAW.

System 2 – Zoom PS-04 handheld digital 4 track

System 3 – 2012 Samsung Chromebook running Ubuntu 12.04 w/ IceWM desktop environment and Ardour 2 with Jack as it’s primary DAW.

Individual track notes:

1. The Wrong Way The Stripe Goes – Recorded on System 3. Casio CT-370 for drums and synth sounds, as well as AMsynth (LADSPA software synth for Linux)

2. Helicopter Cop – Recorded on System 1. Music sequence created in LMMS using all software synths/samples contained within LMMS software. Stems exported and mixed in Mixbus3, live drums recorded using Alesis IO4 audio interface in conjunction with built-in audio for 6 channel input. Mixed in Mixbus3.

3. Ghost Image (same as #2)

4. Cerulean Blue – Recorded on System 2. Synth sounds were played on my Mothman 1000 and 2000 software synths for windows running on wine on System 1 physically routed to system 2. Exported to and mixed on System 3 in Ardour 2.

5. AM Ultra – Recorded on system 3, sequences created in seq24 using Hydrogen, Amsynth, Zynaddsubfx, and Hexter softsynths for Linux. Mixed in Ardour 2.

6. Polybius – Recorded on System 2 (long recording mode 15.62khz sample rate) Synths all played live on Casio CT-370. Drums recorded with two mics, kick and overhead mixed to a single track with a behringer micromixer. Mixed on system 1 in Mixbus3.

7. Tunnel of Dark – Recorded on System 2 (hi fi mode 31.25khz) Bass and drums recorded (1 mic) and exported from System 2 to System 3 and guitar was recorded directly into Ardour 2. Mixed on Ardour 2.

8. Flowers – Recorded on System 2. Main sequences created in LMMS, drums recorded in (2 mics) Aurdour 2, mixed in Ardour 2.

9. Autumn Sun – Recorded on System 1 except with Mac OS 10.6 and Cubase LE 5. Guitars and basses are all sampled and played via midi within Cubase. Drums recorded in (6 mics) and mixed in Cubase.

10. dev/null – Recorded on System 1 except on Mac OS 10.6 using Ableton Live as DAW. Synth sounds played on Casio CT-370 and sequenced in Ableton. Drums recorded in (4 mics) Mixbus 3, mixed in Mixbus 3.

11. Overlapping Spirals – Recorded on System 3 with seq24 used to sequence midi, Amsynth, Zynaddsubfx, Hexter softsynths, Drums (2 mics) recorded in and mixed in Ardour 2.

All songs mastered on System 3 in Audacity

credits

releases January 11, 2017

Justin Wierbonski – drums, bass, guitar, synths, sequencing, programming, recording, mixing, mastering, artwork

OM-1 Synth uses a real portable cassette recorder for voices

I love how much innovation smaller musical instrument companies have these days. This is just one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a while!

“The OM-1 Cassette Synthesizer is an analog musical instrument built around the concept that when a continuous tone/note is recorded to tape, its pitch will change as the tape’s playback speed is increased or decreased. Individual notes are playable via the 8 buttons (keys), each with a tuning knob directly above it. The volume of the notes can be articulated by using the pressure sensitive volume control – the harder its pressed, the louder the note. A three position switch controls attack/release response of the audio output – Short, Medium, and Long. CV/Gate inputs allow control over the cassette’s pitch and volume from a linear (non-quantized) voltage sequencer.”

the pre-orders are already sold out for this beauty, but you can sign up for the waiting list here http://www.ondemagnetique.com/shop/om-1