So Christmas is a time for relaxing, taking time out and doing the fun things in life, right? What world are you living in….. I had no sooner posted the December update than progress came to an almost complete standstill, as preparations for the festivities took over and I was presented with enough vegetables to feed a small country for a year that needed to be peeled and sliced by Christmas Eve. Add in the welcome opportunity to spend some quality time with a family I don’t see enough of and there aren’t enough hours in the day. However, in the lull between New Year and actually going back to work, I did manage to squeeze some time in for music. Oddly, the most satisfying thing was the least productive – I took advantage of being home for a few days to clear out the flotsam and jetsam that tends to accrue in my study whilst I’m away. I now no longer have to step over random boxes to get to my chair and when I sit down, I sit down at a clear desk. Luxury!
Playing with the toys
If you follow my channel on YouTube, you’ll have seen my videos about using the Chord Track that were posted in December and, particularly, my experiments with integrating my newly purchased EZKeys plugin into my workflow. I also took advantage of offers over the Black Friday to Christmas period to gather up a few more goodies from my wish list that were on sale, specifically the Bass Rider and Chris Lord-Alge Signature plugins from Waves, (as well as their free-for-Christmas Renaissance Bass plugin), and the Session Horns instrument for Kontakt. (To be honest, that’s pretty much all of what was on the wishlist. Didn’t I do well, and at a stonking discount too!) Whilst I was taking advantage of the download speed of fibre-optic broadband, I also helped myself to NI’s seasonal present of their new Supercharger tube-emulation compressor, at an introductory price of zip, nada and nothing, (in any currency you care to choose). So, loads of new toys to play with.
So far, I’ve played with the bass plugins, (Bass Rider – CLA Bass – Renaissance Bass), and been moved by the end results. No, I mean moved – physically. They don’t half reinforce the bottom end of any instrument and, added to my favoured Broomstick Bass, there’s some serious low end going to get added to my mixes for this album. I also took some time to play with the Supercharger compressor and can see lots of applications for this one. Deceptively simple it may be, but it offer a wet-dry mix that enables you to do parallel compression on the channel, a nice touch that’s standard on all of the NI compressors. The Session Horns VST is a memory hog – it all but brought my old desktop machine to its knees and I can see any tracks featuring it getting frozen even on the newer beast of a laptop that’s my main machine these days – and I didn’t get time to explore them fully, but everything looks like they were worth every penny I didn’t spend to acquire them.
Watch and learn
The only thing with acquiring new toys is that you go into a holding pattern whilst you learn to use them. However, a little diligent searching on the manufacturer sites and on YouTube revealed a host of tutorials and reviews about these particular plugins, which made for interesting viewing after a glass of wine and a mince pie. (Actually, I found them interesting, but the family thought Dad was losing it when I watched them through the TV.) I found a series of videos recorded at an event at Chris Lord Alge’s studio where he walked you through the CLA Signature plugins, (and explained how some of the labelling of controls and naming of the presets has more to do with his sense of humour than is immediately obvious), and this was tremendously helpful in getting me up to speed in understanding them. There was so much there that, apart from the Dr Who Christmas special, I felt the need to watch little else. Having found that I can put the theory into practise quite easily, I now feel ready to fly – unlike a certain Time Lord.