Category Archives: TheForgotton

An experiment in tape-treating

Here’s part of a retro-inspired tune I’ve been working on, possibly for NMRIH.
Even though I had tried for some classic FM and modular synth tones, ThoughT had commented that the production sounded too clean and modern-sounding. Enter the tape recorder.

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I had this bad boy back in 2000 when I started college at UM. I had replaced it with a Minidisc player shortly after the semester started and the recorder ended up in storage for almost fifteen years. Discussing ways to give my song an older grunge reminded me of its existence.


This first attempt was done by re-recording the output of the cassette player into my Zoom. The higher synth notes would vibrate the sides of the speaker and distort, not to mention the added noise from the tape player mechanism. Not ideal, but worth trying.

P1030568

I tracked down the right cable to go out from the headphone jack and into the line-in on the H2 for this next version. I recorded the parts to tape separately, did a touch of noise reduction to keep the hiss from getting out of control, and mixed them down into this.
Before tape:

After tape:

I started to notice a bit of a timing drift on the percussion tracks by the end of the track, which means I may need to treat smaller portions and edit them back into the grid. I doubt I’d use this technique on everything, but it can help add a lot of sonic character, especially when you’re going for an older feel.

May update

If it looks I’ve been slacking on the blog postings, it’s because I’ve been nice and busy lately.

I’ve composed my first film soundtrack and it’s for a short movie called Gundick: Cocked and Loaded that premiered at the Mondo Baltimore Pity Party back in April.

Work on No More Room In Hell continues with the new music system that I’ve been contributing shorter pieces to. We have a new release in the works that will give us full Steam functionality through the Greenlight system. Keep an eye out for version 1.07.

I have sixteen installments of the Eleventh Hour Podcast available for streaming at the Sun-FM Page.

Don’t fear the Reaper 64

I’ve been looking for a better way to record my guitar and bass-based music. FL studio is great for MIDI and VST instruments, but I don’t like how it records audio. Conversely, Audition is great for multitracking audio, but the system chokes if I try and feed it MIDI. I had dicked around in Abelton Lite yesterday after work to see if it was viable, but I didn’t like the interface and poor usage of monitor space. I was looking into running Pro Tools M-Powered on my Delta 1010LT, but M-Audio is still struggling with compatibility with a 64 bit system. Cubase 5 looked ideal in every way except for the pricetag. There had to be something that would fit my needs a bit better without breaking the bank.

Enter Reaper.

What surprised me most is the fact that the program fits in such a small package. The PDF documentation was about four times bigger than the five meg download for the installer. The program is sleek, uncluttered, and customizable.

Reaper screenshot

Download it now and try it out, and if you like what you see, the licenses come as cheap as $60.00!

Triangulation 5.1 mix postmortem

Triangulation is a song that was written a few years back for a random-topic songwriting contest. It was produced in FL Studio, which unfortunately does not have a surround mixer.

I exported all of the mixer channels to their own tracks so that I could import them into Audition. Keeping everything at unity gain, this gave me the stereo mix which I could then mess around with in Audition’s surround panner/encoder module.

The channels are shown relative to a circle with the listener at the center. The white dot shows where the sound source is to be placed, and the blue-shaded area gives you an idea of the coverage area and what’s coming out of the speakers. Audition does not have any way to record mixer automation, so from here on it was a matter of using the mouse to give the individual tracks room in the 5.1 mix. I was able to draw in some automation curves with the pencil tool, so one is able to give these elements some motion. I had originally low-passed the master-track to give me something for the LFE channel, but it turns out that there is a slider to control how much signal goes to that channel.

Here’s the finished product. Higher fidelity version.

The Audition surround panner can do nearly everything I’d like, but is a pain to use in that you need to have all your tracks (including effects sends) printed and ready to mix. I have quite a few MIDI devices with joysticks and X/Y pads, but I don’t seem to be able to use them with this DAW.

Old songs re-released?

I have half a dozen or so songs from 2000 to 2005 that I’ve been thinking about re-releasing. At this point, they exist as a series of mp3s uploaded to soundclick or last.fm, often with fictitious album names to go with them. There is a fairly wide range of styles on these tracks, and some of them are experimental to the point of being painful to listen to. The songs are out there and I don’t want to disown them, but would it be in my best interest to officially release them on a compilation?