Category Archives: Uncategorized

5 Real Synthesizers That Cost Less Than $75

What a time we live in for making music! Today you can buy all kinds of amazing gear for so little money, people of the 1960s would have given their left nut for some of the stuff on this list. I thought I would put together a little list of 5 awesome synths you can get brand new for under $75!

1. Stylophone Beatbox – This thing is so cheap and so freaking cool I can’t believe it. Check out the video

2. Korg Monotron Delay – I love this little synth and have used it on so many of my most popular recordings. I also used it extensively at live Demonic Sweaters shows from 2013 to 2015

3. Casio SA-46 – Probably the most bang for your buck, the SA-46 is a preset synth by Casio that is absolutely tiny, but unlike the rest of the synths on this list, it actually has a real keyboard. Don’t let it’s size fool you, because the sound quality of this little beast is nothing short of phenomenal!

4. Macchiato Mini Digital Synth DIY kit – This one is one of my favorite on the list. It’s a real synth with an actual MIDI input, and you make the case out of cardboard (plans included). I love it!

5. Gakken SX-150 Mark II – This one is a very basic analog synth with stylus control, but what makes this one especially cool is the analog filter actually has a line in feature. So you can plug any other audio source into it and tweak it with the filter in real-time!

If you can’t see the pictures or links above, make sure you’re adblocker is disabled to see the links!

So there you have it. This is quite an awesome collection of synthesizers, and every single one of them will cost you less than most commercial synth VSTs out there!

How to get the best recording level in Audacity

I recently had a question from a subscriber: “I am trying to record music from my home HiFi into my iMac Desktop computer and convert lots of Minidiscs and Cassette tapes into mp3 or other Audio types for which I have other software to do that. But my main question and problems are relating to the recoding levels and volumes to be use with Audacity to convert the music to digital. I did hear from someone that I would need to increase the volume on my HiFi in order for Audacity to pick up the sound. But I am very confused as to what volume level I should be using on my HiFi and what Input levels I should be using in Audacity.”

Okay, so firstly, there’s no reason to “increase the volume” of your source audio more than a normal level. If it has an analog volume adjustment, maybe setting it between 5 and 7 would be suffice. You obviously want it to be loud enough to create a clear signal, but that’s really all.

Once you have that setup, and the source connected to your computer, assuming you already have the connection logistics worked out. You’ll now need to set the recording level within audacity. Once you have everything hooked up, start your source material playing back, then click on the level meter in audacity (circled below). This lets you check your level before you start recording.

Try to get the level as high as you can without going into the red. You can adjust the level using the microphone slider located under the pause button. Once you have a good level, you can restart your source material and record for real. Once the recording is finished, you can use the “Normalize” plugin to make sure your recording is at maximum level.

‘Low Volume’ cymbals and drums suck, build your own e-drums instead

Okay hear me out here before you get tiggered, but I really think this trend of the past couple of years of “low volume” cymbals is really stupid. Yes yes, I get that some people (including me) live in small apartments with neighbors all around who really will not like you banging on full volume drums, but if the option is playing something that looks like a drumset, but sounds like awful garbage, like the example above, I’d rather just play guitar.

I started playing drums when I was 10 years old, and as a kid (and as an adult), the power, loudness, resonance, and tones of the drums, all are part of why I loved playing them so much. If I had something that sounded like cardboard boxes and baking pans, I never would have wanted to play them. So what can you do?

Well, what I do is rent a small room about 10 blocks away from my house in an industrial neighborhood for my drums, but I realize this option isn’t realistic for everyone, so option 2 is build your own electronic drum set. Even though I kinda hate electronic drums too, but at least they’re better than what you hear above. I built my own electronic kit back in 2009, and it wasn’t that difficult, here’s someĀ  pics:

I’ve also made a playlist of youtubers who made some pretty awesome ones:

Or… you can just buy one (which is probably what I’d do now, haha.

E-kits have gotten a lot cheaper and better in recent years. But honestly, I would rather play any of the above than Low Volume cymbals with silent heads. At this point you’re just hitting drum shaped objects that sound like nothing. At least with electronic drums you can record them and have endless options of sounds. Plus they’re STILL QUIETER than LV cymbals and drums.

Anyway, I know this was a bit of a rant, but just had to get it out there ;P

Math Noise Rock Rejuvenated and Reinvented with The Band Black MIDI

Having cut my teeth in the mathrock, noise, experimental, post hardcore scenes of the 1990s, when I first saw Black MIDI on KEXP, I felt like I was travelling back in time to the better days of live music.

This band is definitely calling back to the ages of bands like, Bastro, Drive Like Jehu, Sonic Youth, Polvo, Slint, and even a touch of Wire, and the Contortionists, but are doing it in their own unique way, and are very, very young. Live shows by this band is absolutely amazing. Not only on this KEXP performance, but all other videos I’ve seen of the band so far, they are just playing their asses off.

They come out of the UK somewhere, but the info online about them is extremely vague, and this seems to have been adding to their mystique in general. European shows by the band have been selling out left and right, yet they have not even released a single studio recording. Thankfully somebody has made this flac version of the full show that you can download.

I’m really happy to see a band like this existing in 2019, it really gives me hope of the younger generation. I can’t wait for an official release by this amazing band!

Drum Sample Pack Recorded On A Nokia Lumia 635 Windows Phone

I’ve recently been trying to think of ways I can put my old Windows phone to use, and was messing with it while I was playing drums and decided to use the audio recorder to record some drums to see how they sounded. Much to my surprise I thought they sounded quite cool. So I recorded a whole set of individual drum hits all on the phone, then trimmed and cleaned them up in Audacity and am putting them here to download.

They have an almost Linn Drum-esq sound to them and really like it. It’s free for you to download and use as you like!