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Screen Sharing In The Studio

When we first set up some kind of studio to record our music, we just put the mic up in front of the computer while recording. A problem then was that it picked up some of the noise from the computer. Later we got a recording booth and that has improved our recordings a lot. One problem though is the distance between the booth and the computer. You have to get in and out to start and stop the recording. Not to mention that the cat also gets in and out. We seldom use the setup with the singer in the booth and the producer by the computer. Rather we record our own vocals and at a later time review it together. So it would be convenient to be able to control the computer from inside the booth.

Nicko sjunger i tonfällan

Cubase iC ProI started to look for a solution based on the recording software that we use, which is Cubase. The developer do offer an app for iPad to remote control Cubase. First you have to install some additional software on the computer to complete the setup. For me it only partially worked, or hardly even that.

It wasn’t before later when I was working with operating panels for industrial use that I came across a more generic way of remote controlling another computer on a WiFi network or even over the Internet. It’s called VNC and it’s based on a server/client setup. You install the software on your computer and on your mobile device. Since the VNC technique is generic there’s a lot of apps to choose from, like RealVNC and TighVNC. If you’re using a Mac as I happen to be you don’t even have to install anything on the server side. It’s already there since and it’s called Screen Sharing.

Screen Sharing

Songwriting & studio update

There’s been some progress with the ongoing songwriting of “Live Life To The Fullest”. We’ve now made the full structure of the song out of the smartphone recorded samples and also drafted some lyrics/vocals.

To the category technical difficulties we can add a malfunctioning microphone that had to be replaced with one that we’ve been using earlier. Just like the other it’s a multipurpose microphone that you have to remember how to set up correctly because of the different characteristics on each side.

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We’ve also started to clean up in tonfällan (our recording booth) which lately has become a storage area for different equipment. I’m building a shelf now for this purpose. When tonfällan is accessible we can start the recording of guitars and vocals.

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Studiorapport

studiomossgubbe1000px_wI sommar har jag passat på att uppdatera vår studiomiljö. Främst för att vi har dragits med en del tekniska problem och ett onödigt komplicerat arbetssätt. Att greja och åter greja med utrustning som man har är förvisso väldigt lärorikt men även om du är tekniskt lagd kan det periodvis bli jobbigt. När hårdvaran uppenbarligen inte längre fungerar och man inte längre problemfritt kan uppgatera mjukvaran är det dax för något nytt. Nu gör vi detta för att skapa en studiomiljö vi båda förhoppningsvis kommer att trivas med.

Tidigare har vi i princip använt oss av två inspelningsdatorer. En windowsdator med musikprogrammet Cubase. På denna har vi haft problem med ett tjutande USB-ljudkort vilket har gjort att vi i princip bara har använt den till MIDI.

Den andra datorn har varit en linuxdator med musikdistributionen Ubuntu Studio. Denna har vi främst använt för inspelning av audio dvs riktiga instrument och sång. Ubuntu Studio är fri mjukvara och innehåller musikprogram som i den kommersiella världen skulle ha kostat tiotusentals kronor. Det är därför jag blir lite förvånad när jag hör Alexander Bards beskrivning av musikvärlden:

musikvärlden består inte av finniga tonåringar med ett crackat Reason

Om det syftar på att allt kostar pengar, så har han inte haft koll på vad som har hänt inom området Linux Audio de senast 10-15 åren. Mjukvara som faktist har tagit oss ända till radio och tiotusentals spelningar på youtube.

Det nya systemet då? Det blev en Mac med ett thunderbolt-ljudkort och en återgång till Cubase. Vi känner också att vi har växt ur det här med att jaga gratis plug-ins så en vettig sampler och 12 dvder med instrument på det. Huh, tänkte inte på att iMac inte har någon dvd-läsare men det löste sig efter två dagars installation över närverket.

Det kommer säkert i fortsättningen också att finnas saker att greja med men det känns skönt att få greja med något nytt.

Mitt Soundblaster16 ligger nu i kassen för släng. Det var tider det när vi spelade in albumet Waterlilies. Allt var så okomplicerat, bara koppla in mikrofonen och dra på en ratt. Ljudkortet kommer jag nog inte att sakna. Skulle man lyssna på Waterlilies igen så inser man nog att vårt ljud har utvecklats en del sedan dess. Men det är lite av den känslan vi vill tillbaka till.

The Linux Studio

Maybe you’ve heard about Linux but haven’t tried it. Maybe it’s something you will stumble upon later in your career. Or maybe it’s the operating system you’re already working with, unaware of the capabilities it provides for music production.

Linux is an operating system, like Windows or Mac OS, and some of the Linux compatible music software you might already be fimiliar with, like Hydrogen and Audacity. A large portion of the open source software generally derives from the Linux community. But you’ll also have to get used to a few new ones when if comes to Cubase, Pro Tools or Logic alike.

Linux Audio Blog

Linux used to be seen as a hacker tool. Which is still true because GNU/Linux is very configurable. Therefore it’s possible to tweek the system for your special needs. The free (as in freedom) software philosophy enabels the distribution of the modifyed software and packaging of applications made by individuals and organizations. This is why Linux exist in many flavors and that’s why they are called distributions. Since the rise of distributions like Debian and Ubuntu which are promoted as user friendly the word has spread and more people have let it into their lives.

Studio distributions

Studio distributions like Ubuntu Studio and 64 Studio gives you a kick start into music production with Linux. These distributions are at the kernel level highly optimized for low-latency and real time use. But I think the main benefit is that they already have a pack of powerful music software preinstalled.

“Spectacle” is the first song I recorded and mixed in Ubuntu Studio. Which ever since has become my main platform for music production. Lets take a look at some of the applications I use.

Recording & Mixing Software

Ardour is a digital audio workstation with multitrack recording capabilities an realtime effects. To this date Ardour can’t handle MIDI tracks. Though it’s expected to be implemented in the release of v3.0 which is the next expected release (currently in beta stage).

Ardour is the only community financed music software in the Linux world that through donations can finance a full time employee for development. There’s also a commersial version of Ardour available called Harrison Mixbus. The differance compared to Ardour is that Mixbus has a more anvanced mixer that emulates an analog console on your computer.

Rosegarden is an audio and MIDI sequencer that I use only for recording and editing of MIDI tracks. You can have Roasegarden and Ardour aswell as many other music applications synchronized like rewire through the JACK soundengine. This would make up for the lack of MIDI tracks in Ardour and the combination would be the equivalent to Cubase etc.

Audacity is a well known audio editor that is available for Linux, Mac OS and Windows. You can preview and apply effects in Audacity, but it doesn’t have realtime effects nor does it have JACK support. I think Audacity works well for finishes like fade in and fade out of a final mix or for recording and editing shorter audio clips.

Synth & Samplers

Hydrogen is a drum machine with pattern based programming. Patterns can be made with mouse clicks or trough the MIDI interface. Hydrogen has support for multilayer drum kits and has functions like human velocity, time, pitch and swing.

Linux Sampler is a sampling engine that can be controlled through the graphical user interface of Qsample or Jsampler. Linux Sampler can handle samples in the Gigasampler format (.gig).

ZynAddSubFx is a software synthesizer with an integrated virtual keyboard. It has the usual set of features you’d expect fom a synth when it comes to effects and filters.