The SubPac M2 is a sub-woofer vest that basically shoots bass into your body

I had no idea that such a product like this existed until last night while browsing Amazon. No this isn’t a Kevlar vest, and it’s not a life jacket. It’s a sub-woofer that can reproduce bass frequencies that go far below human hearing ability.

So how do you hear it? Well you don’t, you FEEL IT! This baby will go all the way down to 5Hz!! I’m not sure I would want to walk around listening to music with this thing, but I can imagine for certain gaming and home theater this thing being completely insane and awesome to wear.

SubPac’s marketing seems to be trying to target professional audio engineers, which I think is missing their potential target, since no engineer will really want to mix with speakers or subs that completely color the sound or create unrealistic frequencies, but I really think gaming would be intense. Can you imagine explosions in a game and then feeling a 10Hz sub vibrate your entire torso in unison with the explosion?

Check it out here!

Selecting your first cymbals – Guide for new drummers

If your just learning how to play drums, selecting your first cymbals can be a bit overwhelming. There’s literally thousands of options out there, and a lot of manufacturers making all different kinds of cymbals these days. To increase the complications, there’s many brand loyalists out there on the internet and YouTube who think their particular brand are ‘the best’.

I’ve been playing drums for 30 years now, and I’ve owned all types of cymbals, from dirt cheap to ridiculously expensive. And I can honestly tell you there is no ‘best‘ cymbal out there. There is simply what you like, and what you don’t like. However, this takes time to figure out. When you first start playing drums you haven’t really developed your own style yet, and like wine-tasting, you need some experience before you can really know what is good for you.

There’s also certain types of cymbals that lend themselves to certain types of music. But again, this is still a subjective subject, and just because most people agree on something, doesn’t make it a fact. When you’ve been playing as long as I have, I tend to judge a cymbal based on a particular application and how I can use it in regards to my own personal tastes and creativity. I may use a cymbal considered very bad by some in a way that fits my form of expression and it’ll work exactly as I want it to.

But when you’re first starting, there’s some information you should know BEFORE spending a dime on a single cymbal. There are a lot of falsehoods and myths out there about cymbals and I’ve decided to put together this little guide to help all the new drummers out there make up their minds.

  1. Cymbal Alloy – Alloy refers to the type of metal a cymbal is made out of. Most cymbals are made out of Bronze, but not all. Also, there’s several different types of bronze. These are usually identified by the letter B and a number, like : B8 B10 B20 etc…. There are also cymbals made out of brass, and more rarely, nickle-silver (sometimes called ns-12), and even more rarely, steel.
    THE MYTH: B20 bronze is the best alloy, B8 Bronze is cheap, All other alloys suck. This is just not true. It is true that there are entry level cymbals made out of B8 bronze, but there are also high end cymbals made from B8 by manufacturers like Paiste and Meinl. To my ears many of these cymbals sound better than some of the high end cymbals made out of B20 bronze by other manufactures. There are Brass cymbals out there today that make great special fx cymbals, and there are some vintage ns-12 cymbals that sound beautiful.
  2. Brands – There used to be something called The Big Three, referring to Zildjian, Paiste and Sabian. But now this is turning into The Big Four, because of the recent surge in Meinl’s popularity. Aside from those popular brands there is also some reputable Chinese cymbal makers like Wuhan and Kasza, as well as Turkish manufacturers like Istanbul and Bosphorus.
    THE MYTH: (BLANK) is the best brand. There is no best brand. Every manufacturer will makes some cymbals you’ll think sound great, and every manufacturer makes cymbals you’ll think sound bad.
  3. Price – cymbal prices range from moderate to insanely expensive.
    THE MYTH: More expensive means sounds better. Again just not true. Once again I need to remind you that all opinion of sound quality is subjective. If you like it, it’s good.
  4. Cymbal Types – Crash, ride, hi hats, splash, china, stackers, bells, fx etc…. The most commonly used cymbals you will want for a basic setup are hi hats, a ride and a crash. Hi hats are the two cymbals that are on top of each other with the bottom one inverted and there is a pedal to operate them to open and close. They are one of the most commonly used cymbals on the kit. The most common sizes are 14″ and 15″. A crash is a cymbal that is used to create an explosive sound to designate ends of fills or to add power to a part of a song. They’re size usually ranges from 14″ to 20″. A Ride is a cymbal that is used to keep constant patterns and rhythms on, much like the hi hat, but creates a more open and sustaining sound. Splashes, Chinas, Bells, stackers and other fx cymbals, are more popular now than ever and are used mostly for special accents and fills in drumming to create more color and fun.
    THE MYTH: Rides must be used as rides, crashes as crashes, hi hats as hi hats etc…. Not true, but usually is the case. However in the past there were no such names. Cymbals just came in weights like, heavy, medium, and light. At one point I used two 16″ crashes as hi hats and loved how they sounded. Many rides make awesome crashes. For example Wuhan’s Medium 20″ ride makes a completely powerful crash, though it’s not bad as a ride either.

So how do you select? Well…. listen!  Watch YouTube videos, but don’t base opinions on ones recorded with built-in camera microphones, this is not a good way to judge. Also, visit the websites of the major manufactures like Paiste, Zildjian, and Meinl. All of them have extensive sound rooms to listen to and compare their cymbals.

My personal recommendations are:

If you’re on a very tight budget and want to get a lot of cymbals in one big pack, Meinl offers this amazing cymbal pack at a very good price (pictured above) that give you a lot of sound choices for very little money. I prefer these to entry level cymbals by Zildjian or Sabian. The HCS Super Pack comes with a ride, two crashes, a china, hi hats, and a splash, and is only $299 total.

If you have slightly more to spend I highly recommend Paiste’s PST5 Line.In my opinion these are the nicest sounding cymbals at an entry level pricepoint. Some of them sound so good they can be used on a professional level. I have a PST5 Crash that I bought when the line was first introduced, and I’ve used it on countless recording sessions and gigs. In this pack you get two crashes, a ride, and hi hats for $399. 

If you want to move up from there, I would consider Zildjian’s A series. The Zildjian A line is their most classic sound in my opinion. They will work with all styles of music and record beautifully. This A pack will also give you two crashes, a ride and hi hats, but it’s a little more at $699.

I personally very much like Paiste and Meinl cymbals, remember though, these are my personal subjective opinions. I highly encourage you to just spend a week or two online researching and listening to samples by all manufactures. Trust your ears, not other’s opinions!

2 Free Drum Sample Packs – 68 Slingerland 2015 Tama Imperialstar

You may remember my soundfonts I’ve created for the 68 Slingerland and the Tama Imperialstar drum sets. But these were both previously released in .sf2 format so you needed a soundfont player to use them.

That is why I thought it would be a good idea to release them as just wav samples as well for those of you who want to load them into Ableton drum racks, or the drumkv1 sampler for Qtractor.

Download them here!

 

Why Young Creatives Should Use Linux Instead of Mac or Windows

The tutorials I’ve made on YouTube about Audacity are by far the most popular of all of my videos. I started to wonder why this was? I realized the answer was pretty simple. It’s free software that is pretty good at what it does and runs on every platform. This is why Audacity is very popular among young creative musicians. This got me thinking about how these people are only using about 1% of the amazing open source software they could be using if the were all using Linux instead of Windows or Mac OS.

If you’re a teenager and want to setup a computer to become a YouTuber, Music Producer, Film Maker, Photographer, Graphic Designer, or all of those things, doing so with Mac or Windows is going to cost you an arm and a leg. It is hardly worth spending $3000 on a Macbook, then another $3000 on software when making money in the creative landscape can be challenging, especially when you are first starting out. A much better option would be spending $500 to $1200 on a PC then install a Linux distro geared towards creativity like  Ubuntustudio. You could even spend far less than this. I personally use a 10 year old Macbook running Ubuntu and KXstudio that I purchased for $150.

If you’re a young music producer, there’s a ton of great programs on the Linux platform. There’s several DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) like Ardour, Qtractor, Rosegarden, and LMMS. There’s high end mastering tools like Jamin, and of course Audacity. There’s the Jack Audio Connection Kit, that allows you to interconnect nearly every piece of audio software into one gigantic modular audio workstation, there’s thousands of plugins, software synths, and FX all available for free on Linux.

But it’s not just about audio, Linux has become incredibly powerful as a full multimedia workstation. For photography there’s full RAW development capabilities with Darktable, and Digikam, photo editing programs like GIMP and Fotoxx. For Graphics there’s Inkscape and Blender, and for video editing there Kdenlive and Openshot. 

This is all just the tip of the iceberg too! There’s always new and exciting software being developed for Linux, there’s a huge user support group online, and there’s more and more of us who use it for everything every day!

To me there’s also ethical reasons to use Linux as apposed to the other two. Mac is one of the worst companies when it comes to planned obsolescence. Every time they release a new OS, suddenly computers they made just 4 years ago are completely useless (if you’re using Mac OS). There’s no more security updates, no updated web browsers, software companies all play along and drop support forcing you to purchase software and hardware updates. This is not only unneeded, it is incredibly wasteful. It is completely insane that we live in such a society that normalizes throwing away a computer after only 5 years of use when the only reason is corporate software developers decided they want you to buy a new one.

If you’re a young creative person, I urge you to consider what I am saying here. You can spend a lot less money, make the money you DO spend last longer, and help the environment as well has have all the tools you need for complete creative expression if you switch 100% to Linux.

Staying Motivated to be Creative and Completing Projects

As an artist sometimes you don’t always feel creative or inspired to create new work, but you know that being creative is one of those things that is needed for your sanity, and personal expression. So what can one do when the well runs dry? Did you ever sit down at your computer to work on music, but you feel nothing, nada, zip, zilch?

This happens to everyone, but the key is not to overthink. Then the other trick is to overpower it and MAKE your own inspiration. But how do you do this? Well my methods sometimes are a bit mechanical, but if you approach it like this you can overcome dry spells. For example, I set a goal for the day. I may say to myself, “I’m going to make a new beat today” and I sit down on my computer and I do it. The important thing is completing the project like it’s an assignment. You don’t wait for the perfect beat, song, melody or whatever, you just complete your goal.

When you complete the goal, you may love it and it may surpass your expectations since you felt so uninspired when you started making it. Or, it may still be underwhelming to you. But honestly, what’s wrong with that? The key is you need to take the pressure off yourself and it’s perfectly okay to make something that’s not great. It’s the action of creation that is important.

When an athlete trains for a big game, not every practice is going to be amazing. Some days they’re going to just suck, and some days so will you. That’s okay, you don’t have to use those things you make on the sucky days. But it’s always good to save them! I’ve personally made things I hated while I was making it, then I open it a year later and think, wow, this is awesome!

Many times it’s really just your state of mind that is blocking you. You need to remove the seriousness from what you are doing and have fun!

Earl Nightingale

Other things that get me going are motivational speakers and authors. Though people tend to make fun of this stuff, it really works. I listen to people like Tony Robbins, Napoleon Hill, Stuart Wilde and Earl Nightingale  and I can really get me motivated, and just feeling better in general.

But when it really comes down to, all you need to do is start acting. Just get the ball rolling. Sometimes you have to push it the whole way, other times it just starts rolling down the hill and all you have to do is follow. But rolling the ball is something you do regardless of how easy it is. Just do it. Make the time, the do the task. Once you start the task regardless of it’s success, it is equally important to complete it. Do this religiously, mechanically, rigorously and with discipline, and your dry spells will come less and less, and when they do, you’ll kick them right in the ass.