FREE goodies from our friends over at Samplephonics
Some time ago we gave away some deliciously tasty drum one shots that had been processed with some gorgeous analogue tube saturation. Since then, the Samplephonics community has grown dramatically and we thought it would be a shame to deprive all of our noobies from the tube goodness!
We hope you enjoy this gift and turn these little beauties into something special. Send what you create with them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time!
– The Samplephonics Team
Chicken Systems Translator Pro Software Interview
Return of the ASR-10 part III
words by Drew Spence
Still rocking a hardware sampler and want to increase its palette? Ever wish you could expand your library by using the soundbanks of other samplers? Enter Chicken Systems with their Translator Pro software that converts across numerous formats. Let’s dig in and get the full story.
Drew Spence: Although music, both sonically and production-wise has changed significantly in recent years, the hardware sampler still get used in some important ways in the studio. What do you attribute its staying power to?
Garth Hjelte: I think in many ways, the dedicated hardware sampler “feels” more like an instrument than a systematic software sampler that integrates perfectly with modern recording systems. The sound that comes out often feels like it was manufactured AS a music instrument, not merely imitating one. And I’m saying this in regard to all types of sounds – not just imitative sample sets but also synthetic textures or even drum and percussion sounds.
Right now I put hardware samplers in three categories: first you have the real old stuff circa late ’80’s early ’90’s where even if the sampler was 16-bit linear, the sound was hardly that. Listen to a hi-hat on one of those machines – it’s much trashier and not as transparent. Other sounds have that “rounding” and slippery feel to them. Pads and strings can have this special thickness to them.
Second, you have the samplers built in the mid/late ’90’s, like the Akai S5000/Z-series, or the MPC1000 series, or even the Emulator 4. These were attempts to get better sound quality and generally they succeeded. Although at the time they were (and should have been) highly regarded, this is only because no computer-based system truly existed yet. After the software revolution (starting with Giga) got started, time passed those units by. Most of them just didn’t have the trashy charm the older stuff did.
The third category is the new workstations (Motif, Kronos) that have a fairly solid sample-playback engine in them. These are worthy of note because they allow live playing to included user-contributed things in addition to the solid ROM packages they offer. Not only that, in recent years they are innovating past the “loading on startup” things. The Motif XF can hold 2GB of flash memory – wow! The Kronos can stream from SSD hard drive. The Kurzweil PC3K has 128mb of flash.
So, back to using older hardware samplers, I think artists are looking for that more organic approach and they are finding it with the older samplers.
Chicken Systems has been around for a while. How did you get involved in the translation process and why?
We started out in 1988 doing only Ensoniq things – selling sample sets, hard drives, consulting, writing. In the 1990’s some DOS programs came along that could read and write Ensoniq floppy disks AND the SCSI drives. That was nice – it helped us duplicate the floppy sets we sold – but we wanted the authors to improve their programs, like make Windows versions of them, add features. They refused, so we wrote our own. These are the Ensoniq Tools programs and we even sell them today. These were the first computer programs we ever wrote and although they were innovative, we made our share of mistakes writing them.
The Ensoniq ASR-10 was out for quite a long time before a successor came out – the ASR-X in the mid-1990’s, and since the Tools programs were doing well, we decided to write Ensoniq ASR-X Tools too. One big problem with the ASR-X was that although they included the ability to read EPS/ASR disks, they didn’t read the envelopes correctly. The ASR-X did not have a initial level parameter – it assumed zero – where as the EPS/ASR did, and they didn’t compensate for it. So any sounds – even to this day, they never fixed it – where the initial level was pretty high or even greater than zero, and the attack time was greater than perhaps 50ms, came out as a slow or fluffy attack on the ASR-X. Plus, the ASR-X wasn’t truly programmable from the front panel – it needed a computer program to get at things to truly program it.
So, in Ensoniq ASR-X Tools we wrote our own converter that did a better job, and we called it… Translator. It still exists in the program.
Anyway, a couple years later, I think around 1997, I attended the NAMM show in Nashville upon the urging of Robin Boyce-Truitt of Keyboard magazine. The question in my mind was “what should my company do next?” Ensoniq had been purchased by Creative Labs and it was clear that the company was just hanging on. The ASR-X wasn’t really a true sampler, it was a groove box. Plus, for some reason, samplers were not good sellers back then. I think it was because no more innovation was taking place. I didn’t know it at the time, but most professionals were still using Roland S-760’s and Akai S3000’s created in the early ’90’s.
So I remember thinking that if my main market was Ensoniq’s, one thing I could do was to really start making more sounds for it. Unfortunately, I had to admit I had limited resources in which to do this. Paying full orchestras or going heavy programming my own sounds wasn’t truly in my wheelhouse anymore, although I liked doing it. But after programming a couple successful Windows programs, that’s what I enjoyed doing. So I had the idea of combining the ability to read AND write Ensoniq disks and expanding that to read other samplers disks, like Akai and Roland and Emu etc., in order to allow people to have infinite libraries, because there were untold thousands of Akai titles out there. Why program your own libraries when you can allow people to convert existing ones? The ultimate leverage!
Currently the ASR-10 allowed reading Akai S1000 and Roland S7x programs and patches. Not S3000, and plus the import was so-so. Since I noticed the EPS->ASR-X problem, I thought I could do a better translation PLUS add a great interface and supply even more formats. So I started programming the program, which I remember naming it at the 1997 NAMM show, walking along the sidewalk next to the convention center, as TRANSLATOR.
I spent the following months getting better at reverse-engineering foreign disk and file formats. I had some great help along the way with old Ensoniq people helping as well as some brilliant German engineers. I figured out AKai’s, Emu’s, and Roland’s formats alongside Ensoniq’s. The dream was being realized! The program was coming along nicely but was not released as yet.
Then it all started spiraling, and I was the right person (now as the corporation called Chicken Systems, I added several partners at this time) at the right time. During the next year, the first software sampler appeared – Seer Systems Reality. That was our next destination format. The Seer Systems guys helped me figure out more formats, as well as theirs. The more we worked on it, the better we got.
However, the real big thing was coincidentally in the same city – Austin Texas. This was were Nemesys started and Gigasampler was born. At first I considered them a competitor with Reality and I liked the Reality guys. But Giga had this new thing called disk streaming which allowed extremely large sample sets. Based on the advertisements and the external press, it was impossible to ignore.
I can’t remember at the time if we initially released Translator with conversion into Gigasampler, I don’t think we did, but it came out shortly afterwards. Sales then exploded. It was the perfect product to support, as it was Windows only, and we were only programming for Windows. Perfect.
So Chicken Systems had to start adjusting not only to a lot of money rolling in, but also how to keep up with the huge demands of better import coding and more formats. SampleCell, Kurzweil had to be supported. Plus, we were looking into new destinations. From the beginning, we committed ourselves not just to read all formats but to write to them. Plus, the new formats drew in the market of Mac users, and how were we going to make a Mac version?
I’ll leave the explanation of the 2000’s for another time, but basically that’s how we started innovating our core technology, which is translation instrument formats between each other.
I figure with your experience under the hood and behind the code with all these samplers, you could give us a few recommendations for a hardware sampler for someone who is new to production…
Well, it’s hard to recommend a hardware sampler, as the needs for it are so limited these days. Back 10-15 years ago, a hardware sampler would be for the true task of sound emulation in a studio or live. But not anymore, software samplers are ALWAYS much much cheaper – even free! – plus they are always better in most every way.
Hardware samplers haven’t gone away though. There are three types of markets I can count:
1) Nostalgic people who desire or appreciate the sound of older samplers
2) People who like the tactile response of something other than a computer
3) Workstation users (Korg Kronos, Yamaha Motif, Roland Fantom, other) who want to use the sampling sections to augment their ROM sets
The first set of people still use their Ensoniq’s, or old Akai MPC’s, or Emu Emax’s or Emulator III’s. Those were samplers that were here before the really pristine 16-bit samplers that sounded PERFECT. (Mostly those samplers are less desired because although they usually have more memory and features, there’s nothing unique about the sound. You might as well use a cheaper and better software sampler.)
The second type of people appreciate any hardware piece, and I think as far as true samplers go, really the Akai Z4/Z8 were the ultimate in that regard. Up to 512mb of memory, 24-bit, and you can use the akSys software to remote control it from a computer.
The third type of people at least have the modern era on their side. The Yamaha Motif XF and MOXF have flash memory, so you can actually create sounds and instruments and save them to the flash memory, so you don’t even have to load them or wait for them to load. Plus with the workstations, you can gig with them within hesitation.
What about software? If I use something like Kontakt, does it still make sense to acquire the older sampler disks and translate them or should I just focus on newer libraries?
Completely up to the user! I don’t think a blanket statement can be made like “the newer things are best”, although newer libraries really are excellent and hard to beat. But older libraries – even going back to Roland S7x libraries recorded in the 1990’s built for 32mb – have a excellent charm to them. I remember reading something about the band Heart, early in their career when they did lots of experimenting in the studio, that “everything comes out of only 2 speakers with other instruments ultimately anyway”. That’s true, so often the old sampling/old recording almost serves the purpose of what tube preamps and modeling plugins do today.
I would advise anyone to take advantage of the large availability of sounds and choose what’s best for you, plus do not discount older sounds, they often are free to little investment, yet you’ll be very surprised at how they sound. And, although there were garbage sound sets made in the past, it wasn’t so nearly prevalent as today, where the 40GB sound sets you get with a sampler often are fractionally usable.
How do I know what older formats hold up best? Is there any difference between these formats or any sampler’s library I should avoid?
They all are good. To be precise, we are talking about Akai, Roland, Emu, Ensoniq, Kurzweil, SampleCell; plus SoundFont. All pretty much share the same program structure. Akai by far has the greatest selection – there probably 25x as many Akai titles than the other formats. And with the other formats, they tend to revolve around what the manufacturer produced, there are few 3rd-party libraries. The people that broke the mold on that were primarily Spectrasonics/Ilio and East/West, being the largest producers. And regarding SampleCell, for years the Bob Clearmountain drums were the best selling sample CD library.
Can I use Translator as an instrument and play my samples from its interface or should I get a VST sample-host or program like Kontakt or Reason… or…? Are there any ideas to just making a VST version that loads everything?
Translator can audition instruments but it’s just to “see what they sound like generally”. It’s not for playback or performing.
Right now, I’m interested in the full bundle, but I read that soon they will all be merged into a single workstation. How is that coming along and how soon do you project it might be available?
SamplerTools is a bundle that includes the full versions of Translator, Constructor, and Instrument Manager. It doesn’t eliminate the selling of the three products, it’s just an extension of them. SamplerTools also includes 2 extra features: more features in each separate program that include the capabilities of the others, and a integrated interface (think new application) that includes all three features of the bundled programs in one interface. The two things are not complete yet, but we are shooting for a 4th quarter 2014 release. SamplerTools is being sold now, just with licenses to all three bundled programs. Registered owners will get the two additional things when they are released.
FloppyEmulator.com Return of the Ensoniq ASR-10
Part I: FlexiDrive
Harden your Hardware and forget your Floppy – words by Drew Spence
They don’t make them like this anymore. We turn back to a time when a sampler meant you recorded audio and created…samples. The Advanced Sampling Recorder is a classic piece pulled from the days of hardware-only, in a time when a collection of crates was known as your soundbank. Writer Sean Maru has covered the ASR-10 in great detail in his Vintage Series article in issue 01 (page 35). Here, we take a look at ‘dropping the floppy’ and adding a more modern storage system to the ASR-10.
FloppyEmulator.com is all about replacing the floppy drive on your machine with USB and SD mounted media. They cover a wide range of brands, including Kawai, KORG, Yamaha and Roland.
[More info here: http://www.floppyemulator.com/category/applications/musical-instruments/]
For this article, I will focus on my own experience with the ASR-10. I chose the $385.00 USD FlexiDriveMV-SD, which is a multi-volume SD card-reading drive. I could have also chosen the USB reader for the same functionality and cost. The idea is to have EVERY floppy disk saved on a single SD card (including the O.S. Disk). They boast a single card solution can store up to 2,500 Disks and that’s more than enough.
Faceplate and Facepalms
Firstly the disclaimer: Producer’s Edge Magazine is in no way suggesting you follow this article or video as an instructional guide and is not responsible for any damage to you or your equipment. Maintenance and upgrades should only be done by qualified persons and any attempted alterations may void your warranty.
My package from FloppyEmulator.com arrived shortly and included a nice SD card reader and a 4 Gigabyte Kingston SD card.
There are numerous screws on the bottom of the ASR-10. I removed these to lift the faceplate and get access to the internals.
The FlexiDrive sits in the same bay and connects to the exact same cables from the floppy drive. I took pictures as a reference to see how everything was connected. I also took note that the ASR-10 was upside down, so the drive bay would be installed upside down. Although the FlexiDrive came with proper mounting screws, I reused the ASR’s screws. I used two different screw drivers, a normal Phillips for the body screws and a smaller PC Phillips-head driver for the smaller screws that secure the drive’s mounting bay. Since the holes are in a tight space, I used tweezers to hold the screw in place and then screwed down from the space above, in the drive mount’s frame.
Once secured, I only used a few bodily screws to put the faceplate back on since I wanted to make sure the new drive worked before closing up the ASR-10. Nuts! The drive powered up, but the ASR didn’t see it. I opened her back up and re-secured the drives’ connecting ribbon and voila, we are in business. Oh wait! I forgot to make an image of the O.S. Disk before removing the floppy bay. No problem, you can find ASR-10 Operating Disk images on the internet in various places.
When I start the ASR-10, she tunes the keyboard and then asks for the systems disk. I use the browser on the front of the new FlexiDrive and load the image of the O.S. floppy and the ASR-10 boots up.
Overall, I’m quite happy with this purchase and the tech support from FloppyEmulator.com. It’s a relatively expensive solution, but when weighed against the cost, concern and hassle of maintaining an extensive library of floppy disks, it’s more than worth it. FloppyEmulator.com
**** NOTE: You can load an image of your ASR-10 Operating Disk and save it to the INTERNAL DRIVE of the FlexiDrive and load that image first upon start up.
This means you can skip the step I show of loading your ASR-10 O.S. Image every time you start the ASR-10. This is much better solution. The instructions are located in chapter 2 of the Settings & Functions pdf.
Alternatives Storage Recommendations -10 (well, maybe two, not ten)
There are other solutions for working with a single loading floppy bay emulator. The HxC Floppy Emulator is a hardware unit designed to retro-fit and can be found on a few sites and eBay for ~$70.USD
There are numerous USB to Floppy drives available, ranging from $30 to $60 USD. These work for normal PC floppy drive operations but DO NOT work for reading/writing/emulating our specialized drives and their formats.
My modern PC [Griffin Avid edit: It’s really old, but runs Windows 7 just fine] doesn’t have a floppy bay/drive so I decided to visit the nearest mom & pop computer store and pick one up for $15 USD. I had old spare ribbons sitting around and luckily, my mother board had the right slots. The next mission is to archive all of my old floppy disks, on my PC and then transfer them to the SD card reader on the ASR-10. isoBuster is next.
High power high output loudspeakers
By now you might be familiar with Davidson Electronics. We featured this wizard-run workshop in issue 08 with DJ Premier. They are one of a small number of manufacturer-authorized repair shops. That certificate of quality means sending your unit to Davidson is the same as sending it back to original factory for work and repairs. Beyond that, I felt like a valued customer. They gave me the honest truth about my options and even guidance on what I could do to save costs. If you’ve ever worked with an IT department or a mechanic, you can understand what’s it’s like to walk away unsure or unsettled. Gear repair is a mix of both and it takes a solid approach to walk way feeling smarter about your gear and have trust in the finished job. Davidson nails this so my curiosity was piqued when they asked me to walk in the back and see what they had cooking.
Enter Smith Audio
Down the hall and to the right is an empty room with just a mixer and a set of speakers. The wizards threw a switch and I was blown away. It was a huge sound, but maintained detail. Lots of detail. They sounded incredible, but looked…smaller than they should. I discovered a new brand called Smith Audio that brings us high output, high-powered loudspeakers for live venues, arenas, clubs and concert halls. Their Pro-30 Series is also suitable for theaters, hotels and churches.
What we have next is the story of an American product (wholly manufactured here in the U.S.A.) set to remind us of what’s possible when quality is more important than quantity, when craft saves in cost and service serves the client. To get the full story, PE Mag sat down with Smith Audio for this exclusive one-on-one interview.
— We are giving our clients “what they want”…NOT “what they need”. Only those big fat companies with huge ad campaigns insist upon “what you need”. Smith Audio is all about “what you want”. —
Could you please tell a little about your personal history and how repairing gear became so important to you? Smith Audio: Servicing gear, in the beginning, was a necessary evil. I ran an entertainment company. At that time, we couldn’t afford “down time” and equipment problems were dealt with “in-house” as much as possible. As my career progressed, I eventually became the service manager at a well known Lighting Distributor that sold intelligent lighting and pro audio equipment. My “hands-on” repair experience became sharper and sharper.
Where does the technical skill come from and what tools are available for learning how to repair a piece you may have never worked on before?
Nothing beats experience. At age 16, I owned a vending machine business. My earliest repair experiences were repairing the vending machines that I sold to various locations. My knowledge of tools came from my childhood. My father owned a couple of hardware stores in Brooklyn. Talk about tools?!?! I was using many tools by the time I was 12…repairing everything from door locks to toasters. I learned, early on, that there are many similarities between seemingly unrelated pieces of equipment.
Somewhere there is a transition from providing a service to becoming a manufacturer. Why speakers as your main focus?
Speakers are the very LAST link in the audio chain….the final delivery of sound to your ears comes from the speakers. Having serviced thousands of speakers is what gave me the “vocabulary and criteria” to judge speakers for their qualities, attributes, and shortcomings.
I don’t want you to go into Loud Speakers 101, but what makes up a Smith Audio system? Is it a combination of speakers for lows and highs, an X number of drivers? Is there a need for a sub?
A Smith Audio system is comprised of a highly developed cabinet that was designed around the characteristics of specific drivers/speakers. The 2 most important aspects of our design are: a unique chambering system that eliminates unwanted anomalies in the lower frequencies, while enhancing the projection of desirable sound waves. In conduction with a proprietary crossover, less power is needed to deliver a very potent and coherent sound pallet. Although lower frequencies can indeed come from smaller speakers, subwoofers are designed to deliver the lowest possible frequencies. In order to project the lowest frequencies and create a “sensation” that can only be produced by moving air, subwoofers are specific to these lowest frequencies. Our mid-high cabinets are usually flown, or at least off the floor. Subwoofers perform best when on the floor. Thus, the combination of subwoofers AND mid-high cabinets will satisfy the most demanding audio requirements.
How does your history and familiarity with the top manufacturers influence or affect the design of your own line?
Over the past few decades, I have been inside of nearly every pro-audio speaker for repair purposes. Upon teaming up with Davidson Electronics Corp., my repair experience has expanded exponentially. The Davidson Electronics team consists of some the best technicians I’ve ever known. Over the past 9 years, my relationship with Davidson Electronics expanded and enhanced my knowledge of audio technologies that I have applied to the R & D of the Smith Audio products.
Does you product lean on any of the technology or systems and is there an idea of doing the same thing but cheaper? Are you looking at what you repair the most in their systems and avoiding those parts and components?
Smith Audio made a critical decision, early on, to avoid anything that is dictated by cost. Our goal was simply to produce the best possible product with NO concern for costs…the best woods, the most reliable speakers and drivers, the best crossovers, the best hardware.
At Davidson Electronics, we repair virtually every product in the industry…The best, the worst. One thing we discovered, along the way, was that there is absolutely NO need to outsource anything. Unlike other companies that have hundreds, or even thousands of employees and huge costs of doing business, Smith Audio is a very small company that would rather concentrate on ultimate quality as opposed to a huge ad campaign and trying to disguise outsourced products with fancy graphics and cosmetics. The larger companies spend more time and energy on cosmetics cause they figure the public reacts to the visual aspects of their products. Our products are 100% American made. …and THAT is the extra bonus. The advantage to being 100% American-made makes it even easier to support our products with immediate attention and availabilities. Our warranty is 7 years. No other company offers a 100% American-made product with this warranty. If they did, they would have to charge so much for their product that it would be cost-prohibitive.
I see. Once you introduce better components and create a system meant to deliver more sonic power, you then leverage you position as a boutique manufacturer to keep prices down. As I understand Smith Audio is Made in the USA. Seeing that you could save on costs by manufacturing overseas, why decide to have all your products done here?
We never really “made a decision” to be American-made. It just turned out that way. Let’s face it. Any company, regardless of the type of product they manufacture, can be American-made. As these huge companies become greedy for market share, they simply have to outsource so they can continue doing business. Outsourcing has become the magic bullet by which manufacturers can boost profits. Smith Audio will not compromise its “build qualities” for the sake of profit. We believe that profit comes from quality and hard work…Quality and hard work will ultimately lead to a great product. It’s no different for musicians is it Drew? The best artists/musicians don’t compromise their craft for the sake of profit. Go back in time and you will see that the best songs throughout history were not written with a dollar in mind. Ask Paul McCartney or Stevie Wonder, or any great performer whether they wrote their music with a single dollar in mind. Ask ’em… [heh heh].
Let’s talk about deployment in the field; how large a venue can your system support and do you have any real-world examples of Smith Audio in larger spaces?
Smith Audio is about an ever expanding system. It starts with our 1230 and Mobile sub. The more cabinets added, the bigger the system becomes. Yes, just those 2 products can be tailored to smaller venues and/or arranged into huge systems that could cover an arena.
One more reason Swizz Beatz is unbeatzable
In the opposite direction, it’s no secret that a producer’s edge is the use of loud speakers to monitor and tailor their mixes for the club. It’s the reason so many records sound incredible for that sonic space and has helped us properly define the term club banga. Super-producer Swizz Beatz has just had a fresh installation of Smith Audio. Could you tell us a little bit about how this happened and what problems you were expected to solve.
We were approached by one of Swizz’s engineers. He came to us with a dilemma. Swizz needed to monitor his mixes at nightclub levels to fully understand the potency of his mixes. Upon cranking up the levels on some of the world’s greatest studio monitor systems, the amps and drivers were failing simply because studio monitors were never designed to be used in nightclubs. On the other hand, larger PA-type systems typically don’t sound very good in a recording studio. Due to the smoothness and coherency of the Smith Audio products, Swizz was now able to hear a higher quality of sound that has typically not been associated with high power sound reinforcement systems. This has given rise to a new definition for term “reference”. The music has progressed, the listening criteria is progressing too. We believe Smith Audio is ahead of it’s time. Soon, others will realize that high SPL does not mean less sound quality.
We are giving our clients “what they want”…NOT “what they need”. Only those big fat companies with huge ad campaigns insist upon “what you need”. Smith Audio is all about “what you want”. Swizz has exactly what he wanted: High SPL without compromising the quality that he demands. Just ask him!
And he has your flagship system? What level system was Smith Audio replacing?
OMG! At Swizz’s studio, they were struggling with all sorts of products sold commercially…none of which were holding up to the demanding criteria. Yes, Swizz has our “flagship system”…the same system that has become the cornerstone of our live install applications. We are ecstatic that he has found a solution with our products.
What about clarity at these loud volumes? How does Smith handle the lows and critical highs as those decibel levels?
Our tuned chambers, patent pending design, in conduction with mechanical time-alignment are the key elements that make the Smith Audio products so “listenable”. These principles will soon be clearly explained on our new website…coming soon!
I understand this is a high-end company that makes pro-level products. Is there any interest in distilling this technology and system into pro- sumer level products like regular studio monitors?
Wow! That’s a good question. We are presently developing our “Lounge Series”. This new series will address the needs of high quality sound in “near field” contexts. We have pioneered an entirely new high frequency device that may revolutionize high frequency delivery as we know it. No, it’s NOT a ribbon tweeter. That’s all I’ll say for now.
I see. As a final thought, I’d like a summary of what it means to you, personally, to add your product into the stream and what you learned in doing so.
Personally, it has been a long awaited pleasure to serve great talented musicians and engineers. What we have learned is what we kinda suspected all along…and that is: When you stick to your convictions, it’s only a matter of time that others will come to respect your efforts. Our conviction was primarily to serve the needs of those dedicated to their craft. Those people are musicians and the engineers who struggle to present their craft to the rest of the world. Without technology, communication is stifled. Technology must couple with creativity. When they couple, the sum becomes greater than the parts.
And finally, you have a solid list of clients and some high words of praise from notable people. But there seems to be no interest in making Smith Audio a generic household name. What is your final ambition and what should we think about when we come across Smith Audio products?
Uh…actually we would relish making Smith Audio a household name. But the public will decide that. Not us, not a slick ad campaign. This is evidenced by the internet, social media, etc. We know that the “word” gets out faster than ever. Good AND bad. We’re counting on a bright future that will be riding a wave of quality. People talk. Sound travels. There’s no better advertisement than “word of mouth”…so to speak. You’ll hear from us.
Producer’s Edge thanks Smith Audio for taking the time to talk to us. Find out more by visiting http://www.smithproaudio.com/
Forum hound Griffin Avid chimes in over at FutureProducers and drops a gem or two…
A poster named Benjah had this thought and question…
Setting Goals as a producer.
So my summer has started and I am trying to Create a goal and a Plan for improving my production skills.
My only problem is the goal is extremely fuzzy. ” Considerably improve production skills.”
All research suggests that goals are best set as Specific Measurable, Attractive, Realistic and Time-Framed statements.
So how do i go about Making a Goal like this for production? What do you guys do? What is your goal setting process like? And while your here you can also give me some general suggestions on the process of improvement.
What is your goal setting process like?
So how do i go about Making a Goal like this for production?
I say if your goal involves becoming a better producer, you need to do some producing.
Make your end goal to produce a real record by summer’s end.
If that’s the finish line; to release a project, then you can work backwards, step by step figuring out what you need to do and be doing week by week, day by day.
I don’t know too many people who just keep getting better and better (forever).
I know early on, it’s technical concerns…how do I…what fixes….what’s the best…
But after that, it’s all what you choose to do….
and I don’t think you make better choices without EXPERIENCE.
What I see are artists who always like their newest stuff more so they think they are improving-
when really they are just staying in the same place, which is slightly behind the curve.
When strings were poppin, they made 100 beats with strings….
When 808s were what’s up, they made 100 beats with 808s…..
When trap beats are….you get the idea…that guy will always be following the current trend trying to be relevant and always remaking his catalog.
That is also close to eras, like when you kept making the same kind of beats….and then you switch up. It’s possible that people could like a certain style of tracks more, but you don’t really find that out till you get out there and show some consistency.
What do you guys do?
First, pick your lane/direction. Understand that your goal is to be the best (you can be) in that direction.
I say you get past the technical concerns.
Can you make music? You got that part down yet?
Next, grab some acapellas and make some remixes.
Mostly, it’s about working with vocals. If that’s what’s at the end, why spend all your time playing around with loose beats and unfinished instrumentals?
Make some songs with other rapper’s vocals. That is the process.
You’ll learn to work harder and construct bridges, hooks, intros, outros, variations and you have the original track as a bar to rise to.
Not only can you share that music as a primer for what’s to come, you can use that feedback (FROM A LOT OF [regular = not other producers] PEOPLE) to figure out your weak/strong areas.
Real data on what works and what doesn’t.
Your music needs to improve to the point where NO ONE has technical concerns and feedback is only like or dislike or they like one track better than another.
When people want copies of your music to listen to and rappers want to rhyme and make songs with them…
makes it pretty easy to figure out how close you are. People should like and want to listen to your remixes. Someone should suggest you send it to the artist.
Comments like that are your gauge. If everyone just says “That’s nice” or “That’s cool” you’re not done yet.
What is your goal setting process like?
I write a list and have documents called planners. Planners are outlines for projects [title, song names, artists, business ideas even a tally of money spent]
There is also a list I have with things to do. It’s on one sheet of paper and as I do something I cross it off. When I get everything done that can be done in a day, I can relax fully.
There are so many things to do, you can’t possibly carry them around in your head, you’ll need to write them down. One column might be small stuff and another might be far off stuff that needs prep time.
And while your here you can also give me some general suggestions on the process of improvement.
Honestly, the simplest one is to decide who your target audience is and expose yourself for feedback.
There’s no point to using your imagination. “Boy when they hear this…”
“This is something they ought to like” “I wonder if…”
I’ve already typed too much but there is a balance between pleasing yourself and pleasing others.
You can do both, but if you (mentally) can’t; then you should pick one and accept your decision (and its consequences and/or benefits) and keep it moving.
– Griffin Avid 2013
Big Fish Audio 25 Days of Christmas Sale!
Announcing the Big Fish Audio 25 Days of Christmas Sale! Starting December 1st on each day before Christmas, Big Fish Audio will have four products priced to spread holiday cheer! Save 40% off four new products every day!
The 25 Days of Christmas Sale includes products from our entire catalog. Look for savings on premium virtual instruments and the freshest loop products on our site. No coupon needed. Each set of four products will be on sale for only 24 hours and then we’ll roll out a new set of specials. So check back often and Happy Holidays!
Get this week’s free samplepack featuring one free kit of loops from Ambient Skyline. This pack only contains a partial set of loops from the included kit. The full library contains various other loops and samples from the kit. This set contains WAV, REX, and Apple Loop versions of each loop or sample.
Ambient Skyline is an inspiring and unique collection of ambient and cinematic chill out loops, rhythm beds, music beds, and a lot more. Recorded and performed by seasoned professionals on top of the line gear, these sounds will bring a new kind of magic to your music. With 5GB of original content (duplicated into acidized WAV, REX, Apple Loop, and RMX formats), and 2,266 loops and samples from ambient guitars to a collection of effected rhodes loops, these sounds can add an esoteric new dimension to many different musical settings.
Click here to get the FREE KIT: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Big-Fish-Audio/163752639634?sk=app_190322544333196
Their Facebook page and other kits of the week.
*Don’t forget, if you LIKE their page you get a discount on the BFA site.
There is one day a year where it is acceptable to knock on a stranger’s door and ask for a treat. A lot of us, in and around the music industry, tend to feel and act like every day is Halloween. We wear the costume of someone serious and expect doors to be opened and our grandest aspirations advanced just because we knocked really loud.
I’ve come across many producers and beat-smiths who feel their work is done because a particular A&R has their music. They say things like they are in or it’s a done deal. I ask why? They reply something along the lines of my beats is dope. I say: yes, but why are you getting the exclusive shot? Is it possible he’s heard a lot of dope beats? Is it possible, you are not the only choice for submissions? How good an A&R can he be if YOU are the ONLY music he has to shop?
We say to artists all the time – it takes more than talent, or better yet, it takes EVERYTHING but talent. Don’t expect your ‘relationships’ to give up their contacts or pass you along or give you your big break until you’ve earned their trust or understand that they won’t help you until it helps them more.
Two sides of the Bag
What works? As a person who’s done his fair share of trick or treating I have to say some approaches work better than others. The houses that had no candy or crappy stuff got egged. The people with the quality treats got revisited -sometimes with us wearing new costumes. As a creative, that’s your goal- to keep showing up with new and engaging looks and showing your ability to arrive prepared.
If your goal is to be solicited as a business, then it makes sense to have your house in order and be able to deliver on the promises you make. Smoke and mirrors has always been a part of the game, but we are looking to create a career, not a hustle. In reverse, as a content provider, it is in your best interest to position yourself to receive long work, not luck up on a big break. Put in work if you want those doors to open. Have a happy and safe Halloween. This blog post is sponsored by Big Fish Audio. I’ve been using their libraries for a while now and thought I’d share a one in particular that got our attention in the office.
–Drew Spence Editor In Chief Producer’s Edge Digital Magazine
Platinum Synth Melodies $49.99
Need blazin’ synth loops that will set your productions apart from the pack? Platinum Synth Melodies is loaded with 30 multi track synth loop sets ready to help create your next urban synth laced track. From big screaming lead lines to club ready arpeggios to thick warm pads this product delivers. Whether you need hip hop, urban pop, or dance this product has you covered. Mix and match the loops to create thousands of music ideas. Platinum Synth Melodies is another Beat Warrior product from Nova Loops. The production team’s credits include Tu Pac, Flo Rida, Wu Tang, Jodeci, Mariah Carey, Chris Brown, NFL, BET, HBO, and are responsible for over 20 million records sold worldwide! All parts in this product are separated, edited and come formatted in WAV(Acidized) and Apple Loops format. When you need synth ideas for hip hop, urban pop or dance, look no further than Platinum Synth Melodies.
Download the FREE SAMPLER HERE
Also, the newest Mark of the Griffin is here. It’s a Halloween themed episode called NIGHT ZONE. If you don’t know, Drew Spence from PE Mag has been working on an adventure web series about a regular guy who is turned into a vigilante/detective. Check it out.