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Setting a drive letter in Windows

Whether you’re making music on laptop or a desktop computer, the point comes when you want to archive your work and free up some space on your primary drive and you reach for an external hard drive.  Not that they’re only useful for storage – the use of external drives allows you to store sample libraries without consuming large amounts of disk space, (and also means that your DAW isn’t trying to write to the hard disk at the same time as it’s trying to read from it).  With USB3 and SSD technology, the connections can be lightning fast and load times significantly reduced.  The only problem with external  drives, (apart from having to find one more power outlet), is that Windows isn’t as helpful as it could be in allocating the same drive letter each time you plug in the external drive.  In this video, I show you how to make sure that the same drive letter is allocated each time.

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A Simple Recording Mistake

It doesn’t matter what you do, once you’ve been doing it for a while, you default to a particular way of approaching issues. Coming from the era of recording to tape and “dropping-in” to correct mistakes, that’s how I think when I find I’ve recorded something that isn’t quite right.  (In fact, I never liked dropping-in – I always found it easier to just go back and do the whole part again, but that’s another story.)  All of which can blind you to the obvious when things have moved on and you’re recording to RAM, buffers and disk instead of spinning reels of tape.  Back in the day, you’d record with minimal lead-in recorded to tape, lest there be a sudden burst of tape noise which would ruin the ambience.  Nowadays, of course, there’s no tape hiss and the noise floor is so low you wouldn’t think twice about it, but old habits die hard.  Until, that is, they trip you up…

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Referencing your mix using Magic AB

Referencing your mixes against tracks that you like the sound of and that you’re familiar with is good practice, but the mechanics of routing the tracks through your DAW or monitoring system can be off-putting.  What you need is a simple, straightforward way of comparing your mix with your chosen reference tracks without all the hassle of plugging and unplugging leads or of setting up a reference tracks buss so you can mute and unmute them at the appropriate moment.  That’s what Magic AB from SampleMagic is designed to do and in this video, I look at how it can replace that ugly patching with a single, well-placed plugin.

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Why using MP3s as a reference track can be misleading

The idea of a reference track is to make sure that you keep your ears tuned to what makes a good mix.  When you’re mixing, it’s easy to lose your perspective – by referencing other material, you keep your ears fresh and stop them from becoming attuned to a mix that’s getting more wayward with each EQ tweak.  To make sure you get good results, though, your references need to be free from flaws themselves, but if you’re using MP3s as your reference source, that might not be that case.  To illustrate what I mean, in this video I use Voxengo Curve EQ to compare the frequency characteristics of an MP3 and WAV of the same song, to see what difference the MP3 encoding has made to the original recording on CD.

 

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EQ Matching with Voxengo Curve EQ

Arguably, EQ is the most powerful tool at your disposal when it comes to mixing, but there are times when you just can’t quite match what you’re hearing to what you want to hear. The Curve EQ plugin from Voxengo has the ability to compare your mix with a reference track and then to generate the EQ curve required to match them up.  Whilst you could do this with an individual sound in your mix, it’s probably more useful when you’re mastering a set of songs.  In this video, I look at how to match the EQ between reference material from Deep Purple, Taylor Swift and Toto against a mix of my own, using Curve EQ.

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Recreating an old drum machine in Groove Agent

If you’re like me, you’ll have old bits of kit gathering dust in the attic that have seen better days and a drum machine is likely to feature somewhere in that collection.  Maybe you have a song or two that were written using that particular machine and nothing else quite seems to fit or sounds quite right.  Recording the sounds is simple, (and for most older machines, there was no multi-sampling at different velocity layers), or you can download pre-recorded samples for some machines from the web, but what do you do with the individual sounds once you have them?  In this video, I look at incorporating some drum machine samples within Cubase’s Media Bay and using them to recreate my old Roland TR505 as a preset in Groove Agent.

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Batch Export Options in Cubase

Having looked in the last video at the general principle of how to batch export stems from a DAW, in this video I look at the specific options available in Cubase.  Whilst you can export mono sources as mono stems, or split stereo files into their left and right channel elements, I would argue that whether it’s worth doing or not is really determined by the use that is going to be made of those stems.