The real reason the music industry is sinking

Well, at least *my* opinion of why… ūüôā This post doesn’t contain facts and figures, but a gut level reaction…

Today, it finally hit me why the music industry is nothing like the industry was through the 90’s. ¬†What event brought this revelation on? ¬†It was when I was listening to my weekly ‘New Music’ mix from Apple Music. ¬†This new feature has been huge! ¬†I’ve been introduced to some modern music that sounds like my favorite classics! ¬†Awesome!

But…

What happened was that I listened to the music, thought ‘cool’, and moved on. ¬†I didn’t buy the band’s album, either electronically or physically. ¬†In fact, I had heard the band on my playlist a couple of weeks ago, had thought ‘cool!’, and promptly forgot the name of the band.

That is when it finally hit me…

I don’t cherish the music anymore.

Let me repeat that… I don’t cherish the music anymore.

What do I mean by that?

Well… when I was growing up, getting a record/cassette/CD was a big deal. ¬†It was expensive! ¬†($10 on a student job salary or worse, an allowance was a LOT of money!). Plus, I didn’t have a way to pick and choose songs, unless you spent $4 on a single. ¬†Also, playback was pretty linear, you really couldn’t copy different songs from different albums. ¬†You either had to build a mix tape with the double cassettes or just listen to the whole album. ¬†Finally, the playback devices really didn’t support multiple albums. ¬†I remember listening to the same cassette for a month in my car.

This meant that I listened to an album a LOT. ¬†Not just once or twice, but ten times, 100 times, even more. ¬†I got to know those songs. ¬†Got to know the song before each song. ¬†Got to know the song AFTER each song. ¬†Really dug into the music. ¬†Really listened to the words. ¬†Identified with the songs. ¬†Even mentally stored them away for a time when I would understand them. ¬†And, so, when the band I would listen to for a month on end had a new album, I purchased. ¬†Wash, rinse, repeat…

With that, I cherished every record, cassette, or CD I ever owned… ¬†the music was part of me.

Then, along came .mp3s, Napster, and subscription music services.

Now, for $10 a month, a person can get almost everything ever recorded. ¬†It’s like Columbia House’s advertisements came true! ¬†Any album, any song, any time! ¬†Music nirvana!

And, in doing so, the music industry lost something.

They lost the ability to connect.

Now, if you don’t dig a song, it’s ‘next’, there ‘something else out there’. ¬†Or, even if a song resonates with you, you don’t listen to it for hours on end. ¬†I heard some great music on my new playlist, and I did nothing to further the band (i.e. buy the album in some form). ¬†I didn’t even make a play list or listen to the whole album. ¬†In doing so, I stopped cherishing the music. ¬†These songs are forgotten 20 minutes after I listen to them. ¬†I do nothing to etch them on my soul, like I did when I was younger. ¬†These are not songs that I will hate upon listening to them, then grow into them after 10, 20, even 30 years.

The music truly became a commodity, and the only ones that survive are the mega stars that the record companies create.  Everyone else will live off of the crumbs.

 

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Getting to know Pro Tools

Hi, I’m Dave, and I’m a DAW junkie ¬†(DAW is a digital audio workstation, or software version of a mixing console for all the non computer music people) ¬†I’ve worked with several different DAWs over the last 20 years or so… First Cakewalk / Sonar, then Logic, then Studio One, and back to Logic X. ¬†I’ve usually stayed away from ProTools, as the hardware requirements / copy protection and perceived complexity have always been issues for me. A couple of years ago, I purchased an Avid MBox 3 Pro which included a copy of ProTools. ¬†I didn’t really think much about it, but was able to get Version 10 and 11. ¬†I plunked around with ProTools, but quickly went back to Logic, as Logic X came out. ¬†For the most part, I’ve sat out all of the drama surrounding Avid and their upgrade policies, as I really wasn’t interested in upgrading…

That was until about 3 weeks ago… ¬†A band I’m with recorded a live video at a studio, but we tracked all of the audio to a ProTools session. ¬†I wanted to see what I could do. ¬†After working with the guy who did the recording to come up with a mix for the 6 songs, I wanted to see if I could do a different job. ¬†Since I knew I might need to bring the session back, I went ahead and did my upgrade to ProTools 12, and opened up the session.

From this point on, note that all of my statements are going to be subjective and not based upon comparisons. ¬†I did no null testing, I didm’t try to duplicate my mixes in every DAW; i’m just going off of my memory, so take this with a grain of salt…

The first thing that I noticed was how open the sound was. ¬†This may be due to the fact that the recording was done inside of a big room, not the normal small studio, but I’ve done a bunch of live band recordings and worked with Logic, and none have started off with the openness that I was hearing in Pro Tools. ¬†The second thing that I noticed was that the meters in Pro Tools were REALLY good. ¬†I feel like in Logic, there’s a bit of a ‘fudge factor’. ¬†With the ProTools meters, i was able to see the peaks really well.

I started off my session pretty simply, just using some Waves plug-ins. ¬†That didn’t get me exactly where I needed, so I brought in a couple of tools that turned out to be critical to me getting through my mix. ¬†The first set of tools was the FabFilter Pro Bundle from FabFilter. ¬†I used every plug-in in that bundle. ¬†All of these plug-ins are incredible. ¬†The spectrograph on the EQ is very helpful for ‘seeing’ problem frequencies, and dealing with them. ¬†All of their plug-ins show you what they are doing to the sound, so you can really understand what is happening.

Second tool that I would not use ProTools without is Melodyne. ¬†I’m no fan of doing ‘fixing’ vocals and guitars with plug-ins like Melodyne and AutoTune, but, there are times when it’s useful. ¬†I was able to take a song that didn’t sound very good to pretty rockin’ with Melodyne. ¬†Given the time and budget constraints, Melodyne worked REALLY well ūüôā ¬†Sometimes, you just have to make it sound good, and darn the ‘how’.

Finally, the last thing that got me to really like Pro Tools was the mix down. ¬†Normally, when I do a mix down in Logic or Studio One, especially to MP3, it feels like the MP3 doesn’t sound very good compared to playing the audio out of the DAW. ¬†With Pro Tools,¬†I FELT LIKE THE MP3 SOUNDED AS GOOD AS THE DAW. ¬†To re-iterate, this is VERY subjective, I did no testing. ¬†I just know that with Logic and Studio One, my MP3 mixes never sounded as good a the DAW mix. ¬†With Pro Tools, the MP3 equaled the DAW. ¬†That ALONE is reason to use it.

In the end, my final result came out pretty good. ¬†I definitely had a couple of ‘oopses’ that I wish I’d been able to fix at the time. I’ll probably do more learning about Pro Tools, and hopefully getting faster.

One last thing that I think is very telling… Graham from The Recording Revolution¬†constantly tries different DAWs, but he always seems to come back to Pro Tools. ¬†I know that he knows what he’s doing, and I’ve seen him do awesome mixes in Garageband, Reason, and definitely Logic, but he has always returned to Pro Tools. ¬†I can assume that part of that is comfort factor, but I also assume that there is something more. ¬†I certainly can see why Pro Tools is different, and I hope to learn a lot more!

Time for some housecleaning of the musical toys…

One of my absolute favorite blogs is The Recording Revolution, where the writer, Graham Cochrane, is a professional musician, mixer, and producer. ¬†One of the things he covers is ‘simplicity over stuff’. ¬†The music industry *loves* to say that ‘stuff’ is required to be a good musician. ¬†Graham likes to debunk those myths ūüôā

One article that hit VERY close to home is the article ‘what we need vs. what we buy’. ¬†I am *absolutely* guilty of this this with my musical toys. ¬†This fact got hammered home recently. ¬†I was testing a new DAW, and had pulled up an old mix that I had apparently started, but not done much with. ¬†I had set up the ‘heavy mixbuss’, then walked away from it for some reason or another. ¬†So, when I pulled this project up, I was not terribly happy with the mix. ¬†I did some minimal changes, things that I’ve learned recently, or RE learned recently :), and was very happy with the mix. ¬†The amazing thing? ¬†It didn’t require anything more than some basic plug-ins I already owned and applying some knowledge. ¬†Wow! ¬†Do I think that the specialized, whizz-bang plug-ins have their place? ¬†DEFINITELY!!!! ¬†They can get to specific sounds very quickly with minimal work. ¬†But, the point is that they are not needed. ¬†As Graham points out, a compressor, an EQ, and reverb are all you need to get a good sound. ¬†The other stuff helps, but is NOT required.

This also can be said about guitars ūüôā ¬†My collection has grown lately, and it is probably time to shrink it a bit. ¬†What’s amazing is that I’ve gone to the ‘vintage style’ guitars; reissues of some very famous instruments. ¬†I’ve found that they do have the tones I’m looking for, so there’s not much need to keep the ones that don’t sound like what I want… eBay, here I come!

Finally, some output from the musical toys!

For all the wonderful toys that I have for playing guitar and recording, I don’t put out a lot of material. ¬†One of my New Year’s resolutions is to change that. ¬†Here is the first thing that I’ve done with some of the new toys. ¬†This was just a longish loop have something to jam over:

https://soundcloud.com/davidscheidt/axe-hard-rock-loop-riff-ab

This recording is almost all virtual. ¬†The guitar and bass instrument are real (a 2014 Gibson Les Paul ’59 Reissue R9 and a real 1968 Fender Jazz Bass) but the amps and drums are all processors. ¬†The guitar is running through a Fractal Audio Axe-FX II XL with a basic Marshall amp patch. ¬†The bass is running direct into my audio interface, and then using IK Multimedia’s Amplitude 3. ¬†The drums are done using Logic Pro X’s Drummer plug-in.

Logic Pro X 10.1 is out!

Woo-hoo!  Apple updated Logic Pro X to 10.1 today! (and MainStage to 3.1) http://www.loopinsight.com/2015/01/21/apple-releases-logic-pro-x-10-1/

This is a great development. ¬†There are several key elements to this update that I’m VERY happy to see.

  1. The update happened at all!  The time between Logic 8, 9 and X was VERY long, almost 4 years between the release of 9 and the release of X.  There were some upgrades during that time, including the 9.1 release that switched to 64-bit, but there did not seem to be any major work being done on the program.  Apple has been much better about updating X, but with nothing since May, the Logic user community was beginning to worry.
  2. Drummer received a great update. ¬†Even though EDM / Techno is not my thing, I’m very happy to see a current feature continue to get updated. ¬†Many times, Apple has created some awesome things for music, and then let them rot. ¬†The two examples that come to mind are in GarageBand. ¬†Those two features were the lessons and the instant songs. ¬†They were great ideas that never received any additional material. ¬†Same thing for the Apple Loops. ¬†After the first 5 packs, nothing happened.
  3. The update focused on more than just one or two specific things.  A couple of months ago, I remember getting a survey from Apple about Logic.  In filling it out, I noticed that it was very comprehensive.  It appears that Apple took the responses to heart, and made lots of changes to improve the program.

Lots to chew through in the new update.  This, plus the other updates coming out of NAMM look to get me excited about mixing again!

Challenging musical weekend (gear and band, both…)

I can’t believe I survived this weekend. ¬†To say that it was challenging was a MAJOR understatement. ¬†Two shows, one Friday night with my new band, and one Saturday running sound for a very popular band, had me very stressed out. ¬†The last month or two has been some changes to my equipment, which caused a not so inconsiderable amount of grief. ¬†I just wanted to put down some thoughts on what worked and didn’t, and what I learned (and need to continue to work at)

  • What worked
    • The van. ¬†Best idea I’ve had in FOREVER… I picked up an ’05 Dodge Grand Caravan with Stow-and-go seats. ¬†By putting the seats away, I basically have a very nice cargo van, and the PA fits wonderfully in the back.
    • The ’59 Les Paul reissue. ¬†This is my new main guitar, played it at my gig on Friday for the first time. ¬†I’ve been a PRS only guitarist for many years. ¬†I’ve tried some different guitars, including Les Pauls, but nothing has really ‘stuck’. ¬†Enter a Les Paul Custom Pro that I picked up two years ago. ¬†This guitar rocked my world. ¬†Good quality, great sounds, and very versatile. ¬†This had me revisit my ‘no Gibson’ stance. ¬†I happened across a WONDERFUL 2013 Les Paul that is a reissue of a 1959 Les Paul. ¬†This is the best guitar I’ve played in both feel and tone. ¬†I have some awesome PRS guitars, including Private Stocks, and the Les Paul just captures something that the PRS don’t.
    • The Axe-FX II XL. ¬†This is a digital modeling platform for guitarist. ¬†I’ve been struggling to get a great sound out of my tube amps and pedals that I own. ¬†The amp + pedals have been wildly inconsistent. ¬†Some nights, the tone is amazing, and other nights are a struggle. ¬†To get it to sound even remotely good, there needs to be some volume, and the way that most guitar speakers are oriented, the sound is aimed at the player’s knees. ¬†The Axe gives me a consistent sound that can be run through a monitor rather than a guitar cab and the monitor can be aimed at my head. ¬†A lot less volume is needed, and the sound is phenomenal. ¬†It needs to be tweaked for the PA a bit better, but that is an easy fix. ¬†I did have one issue where the wah pedal was engaged on each setting by default. ¬†I had to turn the wah off each time I changed patches. ¬†Easy enough to fix, but needs be done before next practice.
    • Husky roller crate. ¬†Bought a crate with wheels for all of the cables and ‘stuff’. ¬†Makes for a lot less trips between the van and the gig.
    • Third and fourth sets with the new band. ¬†Things came together, and people danced almost from beginning to the end of the sets.
  • What was OK
    • The Mackie DL32R. ¬†This has been a godsend and a curse all at the same time. ¬†My Line 6 mixer only has 12 XLR inputs and 4 guitar inputs. ¬†For the sound gigs I’ve been doing, 16 inputs is not enough. ¬†Mackie just came out with this new mixer that allows for 32 inputs, 8 of which have the dual 1/4″ / XLR connectors, and 14 outputs. ¬†And, the mixer fits in a 3 space rack unit that is very portable. ¬†The mixer relies on having an iPad and a wifi router to work. ¬†So far, the mixer is working well, but I am missing some features that the Line 6 mixer had. ¬†Multi band compression, separate limiter from the regular compressor, built in feedback suppression, a spectrograph on the EQ screen for each channel, output level views and few presets have made me feel like I’ve taken a step backwards. ¬†I’m hoping that NAMM will bring an updated release to the firmware & iPad software to add some of these features.
  • What sucked
    • Trying to play with a new band and set up a new mix at the same time. ¬†This was a VERY bad idea. ¬†First problem was getting to the gig only an hour and a half before we were supposed to play. ¬†Normally, that’s not a problem, as I have presets set up for my old mixer. ¬†The new mixer, however, had not been used for the current band. ¬†I was struggling all evening to mix and play, which never works out well. ¬†There were a couple of points where I just had mental breakdowns trying to solve problems. ¬†Sorry guys.
    • My knowledge. ¬†One thing that I haven’t been doing at home lately doing any mixing. ¬†I’ve been running sound for bands, but not really doing my ‘homework’ of figuring out how the new systems react. ¬†I’ve been a bit spoiled by the Line 6 Stagescape mixer, as the presets are darned good, and usually require minimal changes to get a good sound. ¬†The Mackie mixer doesn’t have all of the presets, so I have to figure out how to get things to sound great. ¬†After Friday night’s gig, I spent some serious time on Saturday working on understanding some EQ curves for the vocals. ¬†Saturday, I was able to get a much better sound for the band.
    • Loading in and out and setup. ¬†For some reason, even though I’ve bought containers for the equipment for less trips, it seemed to take longer to setup and tear down. ¬†The Saturday gig, we arrived 2 1/2 hours before the show, and we still felt rushed, and didn’t get a proper sound check. ¬†Last Saturday’s gig was similar. ¬†We really don’t have any more equipment than before, but things seem to be taking longer, rather than shorter.
    • The Line 6 speakers. ¬†This is the most frustrating one. ¬†The speakers sound AMAZING. ¬†BUT… one of the speakers has some gawd-awful issue where it starts to ‘splutter’. ¬†This is the digital equivalent of a loose cable. ¬†The problem is that if the speaker starts to do this, all of the OTHER speakers are affected. ¬†This happened last night almost all night. ¬†I thought it might be a bad power line, as it seemed that if I moved the power cable up, or held it up, the nonsense stopped. ¬†I was able to swap the cables, but that brought on a DIFFERENT problem. ¬†I either reset the speaker too fast, or something else was wrong, because at that point, the downstream speakers stopped getting signal. ¬†Part of the issue might have been that I was daisy chaining two AES cables together (NOT recommended). ¬†In the end, I was able to resolve the issues, but I now have a lack of faith in the system.
    • First two sets with the new band. ¬†Between trying to fight with the PA, being late to start, playing a song we’ve never played (with a guest singer, no less), and having two new members of the group, the first two sets were, shall we say, ah, rough? ¬†By the middle of the second set, everything had settled down, and¬†hopefully, no permanent damage was done.

Last part of my thoughts is some solutions:

  • Buy the correct digital cable from Line 6. ¬†A 50′ cable exists that Line 6 recommends. ¬†Not cheap, but certainly cheaper than loosing the gigs.
  • Try running the Line 6 speakers in ‘analog’ mode, as if they were just regular speakers. ¬†This would eliminate the problem of one speaker going crazy and taking out the whole PA.
  • Creating a check list for setup & tear down. ¬†That way, the next step is alway visible.
  • Practice, both with my playing and my mixing.
  • Get in contact with the people at Mackie and either get on the beta group or at least contact the product manager to give suggestions.

Hopefully this weekend’s lessons will be learned and solutions applied in the future!

My guitar rig…

In all the ‘year of gear’ posts, I don’t really think I’ve discussed what has worked and what hasn’t. ¬†I figured it might be a good time to go over what’s working for me for my guitar playing, and what hasn’t…

First up, pedals…

Things I can’t live without now:

One of the best pedals I’ve picked up lately is the Wampler Ego Compressor. ¬†This is an awesome compressor that is very quiet, and has some great features. ¬†One of the best features is the parallel compression dial. ¬†This allows the original signal to go through unaffected and to be mixed in with the compressed signal. ¬†This allows the pick attack to still come through while the rest of the signal is compressed.

Second ‘can’t live without’ pedal is the ISP Decimator II G String.¬†This is a great noise gate pedal that has a very unique feature. ¬†The pedal has two inputs and outputs so that you can run the pedal in two places in your signal chain. ¬†I have the noise gate first in my effect chain, right after the guitar, and also as the first thing in my effects loop on the amp. ¬†This setup eliminates almost all noise when I’m not playing.

Finally, my TC Electronic pedals. ¬†The main one is the ‘can’t live without’, which is the PolyTune 2 pedal. ¬†This is an amazing tuner that I’ve never had any issue with. ¬†I *might* switch it up for the new PolyTune 2 mini pedal, if all the features are there :). ¬†I also use the TC Electronic Hall of Fame Reverb, the Transition Delay, and the Gravy Chorus. ¬†Great pedals that are easy to dial in and get a good studio sound.

More to come!

Universal Audio’s Apollo Twin Duo quick review

I’m an equipment junkie, I’ll admit it. ¬†The amount of guitars and recording equipment I’ve played with is well above the average hobbyist. ¬†There are a LOT of promises out there, and rarely does the hype live up to the reality. ¬†The Apollo Twin does live up to the hype, and more… ¬†Now for the full story.

I’ve gone through several prosumer audio interfaces in the last couple of years. ¬†Everything from an M-Audio Delta 66 all the way up to the Avid M-Box 3 Pro. ¬†For the most part, none of them have been truly exceptional. ¬†There’s always been issues of some sort with every one of them. ¬†Getting an interface that works 100% of the time has been an absolute challenge. ¬†My last interface, the M-Box 3 Pro was so bad, I was calling tech support to get a resolution. ¬†After over a year and a half, 3 firmware updates, and updated drivers, the interface STILL wouldn’t work correctly, and the issue seemed to be pretty prevalent on the user forums. ¬†Things got better over time, but it never did work correctly.

At the beginning of the year Universal Audio brought out the Apollo Twin.  To me, and my studio usage, this seemed like an ideal interface for my setup, but there was one problem.  The interface is a thunderbolt interface, but it only had one thunderbolt port.  I use an Apple Macbook Pro with thunderbolt, and I drive my external monitor off of the thunderbolt connection.  That was a real problem until the CalDigit Thunderbolt expansion showed up.  That has an HDMI port that allowed me to drive my monitor, and a second thunderbolt port that would allow me to connect the interface to the computer.

Last weekend, a fortuitous turn of events allowed me to get an Apollo Twin Duo without breaking my budget. ¬†I was expecting good, but I’ve been jaded enough by lots of interfaces to be expecting some trouble. ¬†Fortunately, my fears were completely unfounded. ¬†The setup of the interface was very straightforward. ¬†There is a link to a video and driver downloads in the box. ¬†Following the instructions was simple and straight forward. ¬†Once I finished, everything just WORKED. ¬†Amazing!!!! So, I pulled up a some audio, and hit play… ¬†I had to scrape my jaw off the floor. ¬†I thought that the M-Box 3 Pro was supposed to be the top of the line audio. ¬†The Apollo blew it away. ¬†The detail on what was coming out of my speakers was freakin’ AMAZING. ¬†For some reason, the stereo separation is much more apparent on the Apollo. ¬†When I brought up one of the projects I was mixing (my own band’s live show), I was flabbergasted. ¬†I had been struggling to get some balances correct. ¬†With the new interface, I was able to hear it, and correct it almost instantly. ¬†Because the interface is PCIe over Thunderbolt, the buffers and latency are incredible.

I did run into one issue when I first set the interface up… apparently, I had bought one that had been tested and returned to the place I bought it from. ¬†This meant that the first night I had it, a Sunday, I couldn’t register to get all of the plug-ins that are part of the package. ¬†I sent a support ticket in, and called to Tech support the next day. ¬†They were able to clear up the registration very quickly, with a minimum of fuss. ¬†They did a great job.

Once I was able to get the plug-ins installed and working, I did a bit of testing… nothing scientific, just replacing some of my other plug-ins that are models of similar equipment to the Apollo’s plug-ins. ¬†Again, blown away is the least I can say about them. ¬†Just switching to the LA-2A compressors in the latest package was like taking a video from 2D to 3D. ¬†The detail is just amazing. ¬†And, the preamp modeling is just crazy. ¬†Running the included 610-B on a guitar input before sending to Amplitube warmed up the signal significantly. ¬†I imagine that running it on vocals is even better.

Ok, enough gushing… what are the drawbacks? ¬†#1 is that for a basic interface, it is expensive. ¬†It’s worth it, but that’s hard to explain. ¬†#2 is the endless parade of plug-ins are not cheap in two different ways. ¬†One is money, and two is the processor requirements. ¬†I can’t imagine buying the Twin Solo with just one processor. ¬†I’ve already pushed the Duo to 50% processing power with just a small number of plugin instances. ¬†Fortunately, it is fairly easy to expand the processing power by buying the expansion units. ¬†I’m hoping that Universal Audio will start making the expansions with Thunderbolt instead of Firewire (and have pass thru functionality!). ¬†I can see an OCTO processor in my future if I keep using the plug-ins!

All-in-all, the Apollo Twin Duo is a great piece of equipment for anyone recording or mixing and doesn’t need a ton of I/O.

Great tool for Recording!

This week, FabFilter is having a sale on their plug-ins.  All of their plug-ins are excellent tools, but I wanted to recommend two of them in particular.

The first is the Pro-Q EQ plug-in.  I know that all of the DAWS have good EQ plug-ins built in, but this one has some rather unique properties that make it worth having in the tool box.  One of the features that really helps me is the analyzer display.  There is a setting for Pre + Post analyzation.  This makes it super easy to see what you doing to the original sound coming in.  With the 26 parametric EQ points and the analyzer, the sounds can really be shaped in a very visual fashion.

Second plug-in from FabFilter that I like is the Pro-C Compressor (and by extension the Pro-L Limiter and Pro-MB Multi-band compressor). ¬†Compression to most musicians is a black art… done right it seems to make things ‘better’, but done wrong can completely drive you crazy. ¬†What I like about the Pro-C is that it shows you what it is doing as it is working. ¬†By drawing a continuous line on the internal volume, one gets the ability to see things like the compression ratio and the release and attack.

Great plug-ins worth their full price, and even better on sale!

Line 6 2/3s a DreamStage Review…

Quick review:

I *finally* got my Line 6¬†L3T and L3S speakers and subwoofers. ¬†I was able to pick up floor models / demos at a great price, and was finally able to bring them home for last weekend’s gig. ¬†There has not been a lot of talk of these speakers, other than the initial release. ¬†I’ve heard them before, though, and especially connected to the Line 6 StageScape, and they sound amazing. ¬†They are loud, but not piercing loud. ¬†Cheaper speakers seem to have a lot of extra high frequencies that these speakers do not have. ¬†They are very full sounding without being over bearing. ¬†I love how the speakers connect digitally to the mixing board. ¬†One cable from the board to a speaker, then daisy changing all the way out, with complete assignability.

Why did I say 2/3s? ¬†We still have regular monitors. ¬†I’m keeping my eyes out for the L2Ms for monitors!

I’m looking forward to using these for a LONG time!

NAMM thoughts, and a gig…

So, this week was NAMM. ¬†NAMM is one of the large music creation / production industry trade shows, held out in California. ¬†Most of the products announced here will show up over the next 6 months to a year. ¬†This is where all the new toys, goodies, and trends start. ¬†After reading a lot of the forums and following as much of the press as possible, I just wanted to sum up what seemed interesting to ME with some editorial on my thoughts (Your Mileage May Vary)…

First off, true Thunderbolt audio interfaces started showing up. ¬†Between Motu‘s 828x, Zoom’s new interface, and Universal Audio‘s Apollo Twin, true Thunderbolt audio interfaces are finally showing up. ¬†There is one small problem will all of the new interfaces though… no pass through. ¬†For me, that’s a deal breaker. ¬†I have 2011 Macbook Pro, which has a Thunderbolt port that pulls double duty as a Thunderbolt to DVI connector. ¬†Which, makes these new audio devices pretty useless for me right now. ¬†Still, it’s GREAT to see the Thunderbolt port being used, and with the Apollo, because the device is also being used to off-load effects, the PCIe bus allows for a LOT of streams to be going back and forth. ¬†I’m surprised that more of the audio interfaces haven’t moved to ‘true’ USB 3.0, as that would open up a lot of bandwidth for higher input track counts.

Second, more and more digital mixers are getting built. ¬†This is kind of a two edged sword. ¬†Personally, I LOVE the new digital mixers and am amazed at what the companies like QSC, Allen and Heath, and Behringer¬†are putting into the price point of what the old basic Mackie boards go for. ¬†The counterpoint to that is the old saying ‘with great power comes great responsibility’. ¬†These mixers can do amazing things if you understand what needs to be done, and you have someone actually running the board. ¬†The Line 6¬†StageScape mixers are pretty unique in that they focus on doing the mixing as a musician would, not a sound tech. ¬†From what I’ve read about the QSC mixers, they have a similar idea, but not as ‘friendly’ as the StageScape is. ¬†The thing is, you still need someone to run the boards to get an effective mix. ¬†I’ve been moonlighting with my P.A. to mix a friend of mine’s band. ¬†It always amazes me how much adding or removing just 1 or 2 db of sound changes the mix. ¬†Having someone who knows when to push the instruments forward and to pull them back can make the night much more enjoyable for the entire room. ¬†It’s unfortunate that the clubs really aren’t paying groups enough to actually pay a sound tech to run the shows. ¬†It would make a HUGE difference in the performances. ¬†Back to the original subject, the new mixers are getting more and more amazing with each iteration. ¬†The Behringer X18 (was the X16) looks like the biggest winner, if and when they get it out to the public. ¬†It was supposed to be released last year, but a redesign came about, and it certainly looks worth it. ¬†This space is certainly going to get better and better.

Finally, there was some guitar stuff that was interesting. ¬†Fender’s new Strat Deluxe Plus, with it’s easy part replacement plus personality cards look really cool. ¬†Talk about a tweaker’s delight! ¬†Pickups can be changed with no wiring to do, and the characteristics of the pickups, selector switch, and tone knobs can be changed by popping in personality cards. ¬†Very cool. ¬†Everything else was a bit ho-hum. ¬†Line 6’s ‘amplifier redesign’ looks interesting, but there seemed to be some basic features left out, like direct outs, that leave me scratching my head at the market that they are going for. ¬†It’s also interesting that they are using the older Pod X3 technology, rather than the newer HD technology. ¬†One company that wasn’t at NAMM, but had a really interesting beta release is the Fractal Audio Axe-FX II. ¬†The guy who designs and builds those things is crazy about capturing the nuances of a tube amplifier in a DSP, and he is close, if not having already surpassed a good tube amp. ¬†The Axe is on my ‘next to buy’ list.

So, how does this tie into playing a gig this weekend?

The music instrument business seems to be going into two different directions. ¬†You either have insanely specialized equipment that is VERY expensive, or you have things that ‘do everything’ at rock bottom prices with lots of trade-offs. ¬†The middle ground equipment seems to be getting lost. ¬†I’ll go to the Line 6 example. ¬†The new amp is interesting because it’s a digital amp that is controlled via bluetooth with an iPad or iPhone, but it still has some basic controls on the amp itself. ¬†The power wattage is enough to play live, and the price is fairly inexpensive, but I doubt that many people will use them live. ¬†There’s just too much that has to go right to get it to sound good. ¬†Not putting in a line out takes away a lot of the usability. ¬†Heck, I just ran a show for someone who had an old Line 6 Flextone III, and we used the XLR out directly to the board to get a great sound. ¬†I guess it just feels like the companies are really focused on the bedroom musician, and not the performing musician. ¬†Amps are either 100 watt tube monsters or 10 watt recording amps. ¬†Same thing with the guitars, great quality instruments are either insanely expensive or not up to gigging standards.

And, the million dollar question is… do we actually NEED a lot of this stuff? ¬†For my gig this weekend, my power supply that I use to run my pedals went haywire. ¬†I couldn’t run my entire board like I normally do. ¬†Fortunately, I had a backup power supply, but it only allowed me to run my most important pedals. (which were my wah, tuner, compressor, and noise gate) . ¬†I ended up having a pretty stripped down sound, and you know what? ¬†That was all I really needed to play for 4 sets. ¬†(It’s fortunate that we don’t play too many ‘effect-y’ songs).

Still, it’s a great time to be a musician! ¬†Lot’s of great tools to help produce better and better quality music!

Correction on something I said about Logic X

I have a correction to make to one of my posts about Logic X. ¬†In this blog post,¬†https://dscheidt.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/decisions-decisions-decisions-personal-daw-comparison-of-logic-x-studio-one-and-pro-tools-11-with-industry-thought/¬†I incorrectly stated that Logic X only did strip silence destructively on the audio file. ¬†That is incorrect. ¬†There is a ‘Strip Silence’ command that works on the clip in the Arrange view. ¬†The menu item is hidden on the toolbar. ¬†That is exactly what I was looking for.

Got Logic X? Got a Faderport? Wanna know how to make them work together?

Talk about poor communications…

Over two years ago, Logic 9.1 went 64-bit optional. ¬†The Presonus Faderport only had a 32-bit configuration file for Logic. ¬†So, for over two years, I basically put Logic on the shelf, as the time to move to 64-bit was then. ¬†Studio One supported 64-bit and the Faderport, so it made no sense why Logic would not have the same abilities. ¬†It is, after all, just a MIDI device. ¬†So, after two years, no driver updates, no install package updates for the Faderport, and no communication on the message board. ¬†Cue Logic X. ¬†Not only is it pretty awesome, it happens to be 64-bit ONLY. ¬†So, the Faderport is useless, right? ¬†I even wrote on the Presonus forums asking about the compatibility between Logic X and the Faderpoart. ¬†No answer. ¬†That board makes most graveyards seem jumping. ¬†So, was perusing the forum tonight, and noticed someone had made a post to a thread from 2010 about Logic. ¬†In the new message to the topic, someone mentioned that there was a Presonus recompiled bundle for 64-bit Logic!!!! ¬†Hot DAYUM!!!! ¬†Click on the link, and sure enough, it’s all legit. ¬†Pull the bundle in and voila! ¬†Logic X and the FaderPort are best buddies! ¬†Here’s the perverse part… the following tech note has been available SINCE AUGUST 2011!!!!! ¬†WTH!?! ¬†There’s no sticky on the forum, have never seen anyone say ‘boo’ about it. ¬†This is crazy! ¬†The answer has been on Presonus’ site for YEARS, and no one has pointed it out. ¬†Crazy!

Well, if anyone else needs it, here’s the link:

http://support.presonus.com/entries/20399677-faderport-logic-64-bit

Edit:

It appears that Presonus updated the page with worse instructions than before… ¬†To install the bundle that is attached to the link, start with Logic Pro X as the application folder to ‘Show Package Contents’. ¬†Drag the Faderport bundle into the Contents -> Midi Devices Plug-ins folder. ¬†Start Logic at that point, and the Faderport should just work.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions… (personal DAW comparison of Logic X, Studio One, and Pro Tools 11 with Industry thought

It was bound to happen… Apple hasn’t released a major version of Logic in 4 years. ¬†The MOMENT I install Pro Tools 11, Logic X shows up. ¬†(You can thank me at ANY time ūüôā )

So, what does one do with 3 DAWs (Digital Audio Workstation software)?  Why compare and contrast them, of course!

First off, I’m not a pro. ¬†I *might* fall in the pro-sumer category, but I think I fall into the ‘talented amateur’ column. ¬†So, any thoughts here will be from that point of view.

My DAW journey has been interesting, to say the least. ¬†In my PC days, I only used Cakewalk Pro Studio and Cakewalk Sonar. ¬†I had some success at learning to record with it, but never ran projects like I do now. ¬†In ’07, I switched to the Mac, and have basically never looked back. ¬†I did mourn the loss of Sonar, as there is no Mac version, but instead switched to Garageband and then Logic. ¬†I was mainly doing very basic stuff with Logic 8 & 9, just trying to learn my way around a DAW, still in the newbie stage for a long time. ¬†I really didn’t push my learning of the software too much. ¬†Both were good, but not exceptional, as Sonar had been, but as I wasn’t really doing too much recording, it really didn’t matter too much.

Then, Studio One happened.

Somehow, I had started working with a church on doing their sound. ¬†They got a Presonus 24.4.2, and started recording all of their services. ¬†I ended up using Studio One to mix the weekly worship and create the pastor’s podcast. ¬†To say that my knowledge and understanding grew would be a VAST understatement. ¬†Week in and week out, we had problems, difficulties, and challenges that had to be overcome. ¬†I learned a LOT during those three years. ¬†I learned what *I* needed a DAW for, and what the challenges were for a small personal+ studio. ¬†I’ve helped record, mix, and master a couple of EPs for other people, plus my own band’s material.

Having said all that… ¬†ūüôā

I’ve only started to learn Pro Tools 11. ¬†I recently upgraded (sorta) my audio card to an MBox Pro 3. ¬†That’s the subject of another blog post, though. ¬†Since I bought it after the Pro Tools 11 announcement, I was able to get the Pro Tools 11 version. ¬†Woo-hoo! ¬†My initial impression has been interesting. ¬†I’ve spent a lot of time reading the Avid forums, and it seems like there are a lot of people who missed out on the announcement information. ¬†Pro Tools 11 is a complete rewrite of the audio engine. ¬†Avid dropped all 32 bit support, and went 64 bit, new plugin format only. ¬†For some reason, the community didn’t understand that, and have been upset with Avid. ¬†From what I’ve seen, that’s been a great move. ¬†Sometimes, the legacy code will kill you. ¬†Ask Microsoft… ūüôā ¬†Users have dismissed some of Pro Tools 11’s features, like the faster than real time bounce. ¬†What isn’t clear is how MUCH faster than real time it is. ¬†I saw some posts stating that 90 minutes of audio were being rendered down in under a minute. ¬†Folks, that’s an AMAZING number. ¬†Rendering the church’s audio usually took me 10-15 minutes, and that was for a measly podcast. ¬†The one thing that the prosumer / consumer market doesn’t get is that tools that people make money are are usually designed to do one thing only… and that is let the user get something done as quickly as possible, with money rarely being an object. ¬†Why do you think the studios buy high end computers, converters, boards, effects, etc? ¬†You can get the same sounds with much less, but at a huge cost of time. ¬†Pro Tools is centered around workflow, and using the least amount of anything to get the job done. ¬†Watching someone do drum replacement on Pro Tools is insane, it’s that fast. ¬†Unfortunately, the cost is that Pro Tools has a high learning curve. ¬†Nothing that can’t be overcome, but one must live with it day out and in, trying to get as much done at once to get the real benefit from it.

The new Logic X is very interesting. ¬†It feels like it’s definitely trying to get back into the race. ¬†So far, from just a couple of days of puttering around on it, I really like the new version. ¬†Look and feel are awesome. ¬†It always bothered me that Garageband looked good, while Logic seemed to be stuck in the 90s ūüôā ¬†That certainly has been fixed (well for the most part). ¬†Just playing around, the new workflow looks good. ¬†One issue I did run into is that certain things in Logic are destructive. ¬†I’d thought that destructive audio edits were long gone. ¬†Unfortunately for Logic, working directly with the audio files can be surprising if you are used to Studio One. ¬†The example I ran across is the strip silence command. ¬†In Logic, that works directly on the audio file. ¬†Frankly, that’s a bit scary, and probably VERY unneeded in today’s world with 1 TB hard drives.¬† Correction: ¬†Logic X has non destructive edits for Strip Silence. ¬†Hooray!!! ¬†One other thing about Logic X has been that it is completely 64-bit only. ¬†I think that’s a great move, and long overdue. ¬†Unfortunately, that didn’t seem to come from any code clean up, more like just not enabling the 32-bit build flag in XCode ūüôā ¬†I do expect that there are going to be ongoing updates with Logic, just like Apple did with Final Cut Pro. ¬†Which brings up one of the major cons about Logic… Apple itself. ¬†Apple has been VERY tight lipped about updates the last couple of years, even more so after the Final Cut Pro X debacle that happened two years ago. ¬†There were rumors floating round that Logic had been rewritten the same time as FCP. ¬†My guess is that the ‘next’ version of Logic was done, but just like FCP, did not have feature parity with the current version. ¬†After the FCP backlash, I think that Apple decided to modify the current Logic instead of coming out with a completely new version, hence the 2 year delay. ¬†It would be nice to get a *bit* more warning that a new version is coming out than a text saying ‘Logic X is out’. ¬†Pro communities usually like a *bit* more interaction than the current Apple silence. ¬†I bet the FCP people have the same issues…

Still, my go-to right now is Studio One. ¬†Even though it is being updated constantly, it feels like it’s falling a bit behind. ¬†The look and feel from v1 to v2 seems to be a bit of a step backward, but the usability has been excellent. ¬†One of the things that I like is that Studio One is making changes with each and every release. ¬†v2 added a lot of features that people had been asking for. ¬†When some of them didn’t exactly work like people expected, the updates changed the functionality in a pretty timely manner. ¬†Studio One feels like it falls between the uber-Pro-ness of Pro Tools, and the simplification of Garageband / Logic. ¬†Are there some pro level features I’d love to see? ¬†Sure. ¬†But, one thing that Studio One has that neither Logic nor Pro Tools has is unlimited track count. ¬†Again, in this day and age, why should track count even *remotely* be an issue? ¬†My laptop runs circles around my old Mac Pro. ¬†Plus, the 100% non-destructive editing (unless you tell the DAW to do destructive editing) REALLY rocks. ¬†I don’t know how many times I’ve clipped something short, then just been able to lengthen the clip to get the rest, even across projects.

All three have a different focus group. ¬†Since I’m not doing as much church work and needing to be under the gun, I’ll probably switch back to Logic. ¬†All of my plug-ins work in Logic, and I’ll be very interested to see how often Apple updates it. ¬†My guess is that there are a couple of extra features on deck, just like the FCP updates. ¬†The major issues I had with Logic are pretty much gone. ¬†Get to 100% non-destructive editing and update the look and feel of the plug-ins, and Logic is a pretty much slam dunk for me. ¬†The songwriting tools look VERY strong, which is where I’m going to be living for a bit. ¬†Not as much audio production work going on right now. ¬†For that, though, it will either be Studio One or Pro Tools.

It’s GOOD to have choices!

First gig with the Line 6 Stagescape M20d

Short synopsis… awesome! ¬†ūüôā

Last night was the first time my band used the Stagescape in a ‘real’ situation. ¬†We have been rehearsing with it for a couple of weeks now, but this was the first real performance using it. ¬†First up, we threw a couple of curveballs at it. ¬†In practice, we had used just vocals and kick drum. ¬†Last night, we added the guitars at the last minute. ¬†I just ended up picking the guitar combo presets, and added them in, no tweaking. ¬†The presets turned out to be very good. ¬†After getting the hang of dialing in the stage monitors, things went pretty smooth. Not one bit of squeaky feedback the entire night. ¬†The vocals sounded awesome through the PA and the mix with the guitars was great. ¬†Most of the time when I hear a live band, the PA struggles to get the vocals over the band. ¬†Usually, any loud or clear vocals start to get a feedback VERY quickly. ¬†We had none of those issues.

The night before, the singer for my band had gone to sit in with his old group. ¬†They had a normal PA, and basically had feedback every few moments, the guitar sounded weak, and generally the band had a pretty standard ‘bar band’ sound. ¬†When I compared that to how my band sounded with the Stagescape, I was blown away.

Line 6 definitely has a real winner.  I just hope that more people start using them so that they do not get shelved!

Line 6 Stagescape M20d initial OOBE (Out of Box Experience)

As I mentioned previously, my band decided to pick up the Line 6 Stagescape M20d.  Well, I decided for the band to pick it up, then traded in a bunch of my stuff for it.

Before I write a ton of stuff about it, the long and short is that it sounds good, and does what it is advertised. ¬†I haven’t done a very deep dive, but initial results are very positive. ¬†Now on to the details!

Knowing that setting this up is NOT the thing to do while four other people are standing around waiting, the singer and I set the PA up with the new mixer, and set a couple of channels.  The mixer is rather interesting.  There is a LOT of touch screen stuff going on, and you REALLY have to pay attention.  There are several features which are not bought all the way out in the training videos on the Line 6 site.  Those videos are VERY good, though.  They really help you get started.

Once we got everything set up and configured, I futzed around the menus. ¬†My band’s main needs during practice are very simple… kick drum and vocals. ¬†For practice, we are in a small space, and consequently, guitar amps, the bass amp, and the rest of the drum set don’t need amplification. ¬†The kick drum has some very cool stuff built into the channel. ¬†If you tell the board that a channel is the kick, you can dial in what is called ‘Sub Bass’. ¬†This is a very popular studio technique where one feeds a very low tone, say 60hz into a gate. ¬†The gate only opens when the kick drum mic detects the kick. ¬†This adds a low end to the kick drum that may not be present, and gives the kick a VERY big low end punch. ¬†We had our subwoofer really moving with the kick. ¬†Very cool!

The vocals were more interesting… I was trying to find the Feedback control system, but completely missed the buttons. ¬†Fortunately, we didn’t really need it, as we were able to get a good strong vocal without really feeding back the system. ¬†Well, there was one moment where I thought that the input gain was the level knob… Thank goodness for the ‘mute all’ button!

After being able to put my hands on the board, and start navigating the menus, I feel like I’ll get used to the navigation pretty quickly. ¬†Now that I know how to find the presets for the monitors, this will help the monitors a LOT, even though we had them dialed in pretty well.

So far, so good!

Sometimes you just have to look at the world differently…

No, this isn’t going to be a profound post, just something that happened over the weekend, and it might even sound like an ad at times, so if that bothers you, skip this post…

Backstory… I’ve been playing with a new band since January this year. ¬†We’ve already played a full 4 hour gig, plus a 1 hour charity event. ¬†We put together a very basic PA for playing most clubs around here. ¬†Some basic speakers, and a really basic mixer. ¬†Well, the bass player has been moved on, and the mixer was his. ¬†So, I started looking for a good replacement mixer. ¬†I’d been thinking about the Mackie mixer that uses the iPad as the control surface, but Behringer is planning on bringing out a better one mid summer for the same price. ¬†Unfortunately, the band events have forced my hand to get something else. ¬†I’ve used the Presonus boards with great success. ¬†There’s only one problem… all of the mixers I’ve mentioned really need someone watching the board. ¬†The band doesn’t really want to spend any more money than we already have for an extra person…

Here’s where the think differently part comes in. ¬†Everything I looked at, be it analog, digital, or even iPad based, operate around the same principals. ¬†Channel strip plus effects equals sound. ¬†One still has to know about EQ, about compression, about noise gates, limiters, etc… ¬†As I’ve spent the last couple of years helping with the sound, and for the last year running the board for my church, I’ve gotten to understand how all the different pieces work. ¬†I certainly could run the board for the band, but… then my playing would be limited. ¬†One can either run a board, or play. ¬†VERY few can do both. ¬†Enter Line 6’s Stagescape mixer. ¬†They completely threw out the ‘traditional’ mixer concept. ¬†Everything is a touch screen and knobs that change color according to the screen. ¬†The mixer presents concepts more in tune with a how non-audio engineer would express concepts. ¬†The basic changes are done using terms like ‘boom’, ‘clarity’, ‘smooth’, etc.. and they are tailored to the instrument that is on the channel. ¬†This makes it MUCH easier to dial sounds in if you do not have an audio engineer. ¬†The good thing is that if one still wants to get to the regular parameters, the parameters are still available.

My biggest concern is how fast it will be to manipulate the mixer. ¬†The one thing that the traditional boards have is that everything is right in front of you. ¬†It’s fast to make a change to the mix. ¬†I’m hoping familiarity will make for fast adjustments. ¬†I went through the same phase with the Presonus board; after a while I can fly around on it pretty easily.

So, the band ordered the new board, and I may post my learnings as I go along. ¬†It really is a big shift in mixing, and I hope that Line 6 continues to try to be different. ¬†It does make a lot of sense ūüôā

Taming a Gibson Les Paul’s natural tuning problems…

Yes, I’m still a loyal PRS guitar fanatic. ¬†But… for certain sounds and styles, it’s hard to beat a Gibson Les Paul. ¬†Especially for playing in a hard rock band. ¬†ūüôā ¬†Since I play in hard rock band, getting a Les Paul seemed like a good idea. ¬†I’ve owned some truly awesome Les Pauls in the past, but have AWAYS had a tuning problem with them. ¬†That problem is that they never seemed to stay in tune! ¬†So, I went to PRS, and have never looked back. ¬†At least, until recently.

I’ve been looking for ‘that sound’, and when the other guitar player in the band I play with got a really nice Les Paul, I decided to start looking. ¬†Actually, I had pointed out the Les Paul to the other guitar player. ¬†It was one of the nicer playing Les Pauls that I had run across, but I wasn’t actually LOOKING for a Les Paul. ¬†So, he picked it up. ¬†Very quickly, I realized that the Les Paul fit with the band really well. ¬†So, when the next batch of Les Pauls came into Sam Ash, I had my friend in sales keep me informed. ¬†I ended up finding one of ‘those’ Les Pauls. ¬†You know, the ones that everything just got put together right. ¬†I had several people want the guitar before I ever got it out of the store! ¬†But, that’s a different story…

Once I started playing my new Les Paul, the problem of the guitar staying in tune started to rear its head. ¬†I did not want to do anything like replace the nut or tuners. ¬†I remembered a trick that a friend of mine mentioned. ¬†He said to use graphite on the nut to make the strings slide better. ¬†I couldn’t find the graphite, but I did find something as good, if not better! ¬†There is a product called ‘Nut sauce’ that works like a charm! ¬†A dab of that on the nut and on the bridge saddles made the strings not stick when tuning. ¬†Now, the guitar stays in tune like a champ! ¬†I can make it through a whole set without checking my tuning. ¬†GREAT stuff!

Learning to use my toys…

More new tricks for the ol’ dawg…

Recently, I’ve been working with a Presonus digital mixing board. ¬†This has allowed me to capture tracks right at the source, right after the initial preamp. ¬†By doing that, I’ve been getting tracks that are absolutely bare, no compression, no EQ, no Limiting, nothing. ¬†These tracks give me a great base line to allow me to play with the sounds. ¬†Because of these bare tracks, I’ve been able to do a LOT of learning ūüôā ¬†Oh, and these tracks can be pulled into a program called ‘Studio One’ also from Presonus. ¬†I’m REALLY enjoying Studio One.

Ok, on to the new tricks..

Well, the first trick is an extension of an older trick that I wrote about here.  Adding Hi-pass / low-pass filters to the tracks can REALLY clean a mix up.

Speaking of Limiters, another trick that I learned is that volume limiters are your friend. ¬†I had a very quiet track recorded from the digital board. ¬†Adding a gain boost, compression, and some EQ brought the volume up to a nice acceptable level. ¬†The only problem was that there were a couple of places where the signal jumped by 48 db! ¬†OUCH!!! ¬†I threw on a Limiter plug-in to the track, set it to Unity Gain output (0db), and presto, the track didn’t jump above 0db (that’s a good thing, as 0db is full volume, not NO volume. ¬†No volume is -infinity on most mixing boards).

More tricks coming!

Concert Review – Barbara Streisand

I can’t believe I’m publishing this…¬† Saturday night, I went to the Bank Atlantic Center to see Barbara Streisand.¬† Yes, I am a straight male!¬† My friend, Trish, wanted to go, and she didn’t want to go buy herself.¬† Plus, the concert was the day before her birthday.¬† So,¬†I got tickets (in June!) so that we could go see the show.

Now, the first part of this blog entry is going to be me bitching and whining.  If you just want to read what I think about the performance, skip the next paragraph.

The Bad…¬† Prices.¬† Nosebleed tickets were over $200 each.¬† Parking at the arena was $30.¬† It was fortunate that neither Trish nor I wanted drinks.¬† A t-shirt was $40, and a coffee mug $20.¬† Ok, so Streisand hasn’t performed in South Florida for 40 years… I can understand the ticket prices.¬† I don’t agree with them, but it’s Trish’s birthday request.¬† There were two other things that had my ire up.¬† One, because of the need for metal detectors, trying to get in the arena became a disaster.¬† There were lines of people everywhere and very little in the way of assistance and/or crowd control.¬† There were no signs as to where to go and what to do.¬† The other problem was our seats.¬† I realize that arena’s are designed nowadays so that every seat can see the event.¬† That’s great.¬† What isn’t so great is how narrow the stairs and walkways are, plus how it looks like if you slip, you’ll fall all the way to the ground.¬† I had some sort of panic attack when we walked in, so once we found our seats, I didn’t move.¬† Lesson learned, don’t buy nosebleed seats!

The Awesome… Barbar Streisand.¬† What a great performer.¬† The concert was like she had invited 10,000 of her closest friends into her house.¬† You could understand every word she sang and said.¬† There weren’t the elaborate dance routines.¬† No lip synch’ing.¬† I think I’ve heard one or two songs, but it really didn’t matter.¬† It definitely *wasn’t* a rock concert, where if you haven’t heard the songs beforehand, you wouldn’t have any idea what the singer was saying.¬† She sounded incredible.¬† The full orchestra was cool.¬† Everything was balanced.¬† It made the tickets worth what we paid for them (sorta ).¬† It definitely was a good show.

Just saw the James Gang in Concert…

Never turn down tickets for a show, you never know what you will see.  Today at 5:45, my friend Rich called me and said he had an extra ticket for the James Gang concert.  Now, since my only plans were to sit at home and watch the race, plus the venue being less than 6 miles from my house, I quickly agreed.

The concert was interesting.¬† Everyone came out to see Joe Walsh, and he didn’t disappoint.¬† The problem was that all they did were James Gang songs…¬† Joe’s been in a lot of bands, and done a lot of popular songs, but tonight I think people only recognized 3 or 4 songs that they did.¬† This, in turn, caused the crowd to be a little more restless than you would expect for a headlining band.¬† Plus, the mix was a little quiet.¬† The overall volume was low, and Joe’s guitar was pretty quiet too.

All in all, a good show.  (Especially for last minute tickets!)

Beginner Guitar Player’s references

Wow, my friend Rick decided to learn to play guitar!¬† Very cool!¬† He picked up a nice little ‘Strat-pack’ to get started.¬† He’s off to a good start, as that’s a great guitar to begin with.
In the spirit of friendship, and trying to help someone NOT make the same mistakes I’ve made, I want to publish some resources and some tips that I TRULY wish that I had known when I started…
I’m going to post the books in a list on the main page.¬† There are 4 great starter books that I like and recommend.
The second thing, and this is THE most important, is a good teacher.¬† A teacher will help motivate, point out mistakes, and is a sounding board for ideas and desires.¬† One thing that I always liked about having a teacher is the disipline that they bring.¬† People have a strong desire to show off, and a teacher is the perfect person to do that for.¬† Plus, there’s a strong desire to learn, as we ARE paying money for their time…
There are a LOT of internet resources for beginning guitar players, and I’ll list the ones that I like the most in a side list.¬† One thing that I caution about is that there is a LOT of ‘noise’ on the internet (and I’m not talking about bad playing either!).¬† Many people get caught up in the gear portion of playing guitar or they are very opinionated about they favorite styles, players, etc…¬† If you find that you spend more time in the newsgroups than playing/practicing, you’ve switched from player to collector… <grin>¬† Realize, these are not BAD things, but they do not help one to become a better musician.¬† My philosophy has always been, if it sounds good, it is good.
Lastly, I’ll throw out some tips for practicing… Always, always, always use a metronome or drum machine.¬† Sloppy rhythm will make anybody sound amateur.¬† Practice daily, even if it is only 10 – 15 minutes.¬† There is a major difference between practice and playing (and wanking…)¬† Practice is usually thought out, possibly even outlined, while playing is kinda random.
More to come!