Docked and iLok’ed out of my comfort zone

twin-monitorsJuly was a trying month, one way and another, featuring more than its fair share of computer problems.  After my Vista PC finally stopped trying, I quickly tired of plugging all the bits of kit into my Windows 7 laptop that used to be permanently hanging from the Vista tower, so I bought myself a docking station.  Theoretically, this had a triple benefit – only one USB cable needed to plug everything in, I’d have more USB ports so I could set up my external hard drives permanently and I could use the now-redundant monitor as an extension to the desktop.  Where was the downside?

The words “plug and play” now evoke something of a hollow laugh. [Read more…]


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.


Video – Introducing Replika

A little after the event, but it just shows how it pays to keep an eye on the different manufacturer’s websites for offers.  Every year, Native Instruments have offered a “freebie” at Christmas time and 2014 was no exception.  Last year, they gave away Supercharger, a tube compressor that you can now buy for £44, (also available in your own currency, I’m sure).  This year, it was Replika, a fully-featured digital delay with extra modulation capabilities.  Like Cinderella’s coach on the stroke of midnight, it’s vanished from their website – for now – but in the video below, I have a look at what you could have had.  And, if last year’s anything to go by, you still might be able to at a point in the future…


Why pay full price?

If you’ve watched any of the videos on this blog or read any of the articles, you’ll know that I have a good selection of virtual instruments and plugins that I run through Cubase.  Whilst I like having these, I don’t like paying full price for anything, (it all seems so expensive).  In this video, I look at how to get perfectly legal copies of your must-have plugins from the manufacturers without paying full price – and on occasion, without paying at all!  And to prove the point, I end by showing you how you can get an effects plugin of any type you want for free.

When I posted the video below on YouTube, there were sales on and, as I post this on the blog, there are more sales on again.  It just goes to prove the point I make in the video, that if you can live without a piece of kit that you want to (eventually) add to your toolbox, you can save yourself a lot of money in the long run.



Reamping with JJP Guitars

So you’ve got a recorded guitar that’s already got an amp sound and you want to beef it up, but you don’t want to add any more overdrive or distortion.  Amp-simulating plugins aren’t what you need, but the JJP guitars plugin from Waves might be what you’re looking for.  With genre-specific variations on the theme of each preset, it uses different effects processed in parallel with and blended with the original single to enhance the original recording.


Re-Amping with CLA Guitars

Re-amping is one of those concepts that divides people.  It all depends if you prioritise getting the sound absolutely right when you record it, or whether you prioritise capturing the performance and polishing the sound later.  After years of using virtual instruments and [limited] options for guitar sounds, I’m definitely in the latter camp.  In this video, I look what re-amping is and how it can be achieved, using the CLA Guitars plugin from Waves.  I also talk about how I record guitars to give me the best of both worlds when it comes to mixing.  This is the first of a short series of videos looking at a few of the plugins available for re-amping or post processing guitars.


Free[ze] up your computer’s resources

When I started recording music, effects such as an 1176 compressor or a Pultec EQ were very much the province of big recording studios and far beyond the reach of young students who struggled to find the price of a Portastudio. The same applied to keyboards – at its launch, Yamaha’s classic CS80 keyboard was yours for a mere £3,500, (or $5,800 or €4,200).Today, VST plugins offer us the facilities and sounds of the instruments and effects that they emulate at a fraction of the price of the real thing. And you don’t just get one, but the opportunity to have as many instances as you like of as many plugins as you like, until your PC grinds to a halt under the load.

So we need ever faster and bigger PCs to keep up with the demands of these CPU-cycle consuming, RAM hogging plugins. But there is a way round this and most DAWs offer you the facility to have your cake and eat it, without having to resort to rendering the individual tracks.