Sunday, 28 February 2016

When to use mix bus compression

Ever wondered when the best time to use mix bus compression is in your project. I thought i'd elaborate on the subject in this short video tutorial.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

The "Small Mindless Task Backlog"

Ever had one of those days where you just can't face being creative? You just can't face doing music and you really just want to flop in a heap? For those days I keep what I call my "Small Mindless Task Backlog". This is basically a list of small, annoying, boring tasks that are just a drain on my creativity when I'm in the middle of a good place or a good creative mood. During that mood they slow me down but when i'm drained and I don't really have anything left in the tank they are perfect for keeping me moving. Often they are just small things but doing them gives me the feeling that I've moved forward, that I didn't do nothing and that I made an effort.

Some examples of the kind of things I keep in my backlog:
  • Trimming waveforms
  • Bouncing intensive processing to wave
  • Automating Volumes to ride vocals
  • Cutting masked frequencies
  • Setting up sessions for mastering or mixing
  • Colour coding tracks
  • Transferring audio between systems
  • Tabbing out parts
  • Writing down temp lyrics

Saturday, 20 February 2016

How to keep active when your body fails

I love sport, I always have done. I enjoy tennis, cycling and running. Most of all though, I enjoy football. Its always been the perfect release for me. When i'm on the pitch I feel like my mind is only focusing on the game, i'm fully engaged and its a great way of being mindful without really needing to work at it. Lately though i've been finding it really difficult to keep playing. Part of this has been motivation and the weather but the biggest reason is that my health has not been great. Some of this is temporary issues but the largest two things stopping me are the state of my knees and the state of my lungs.

I have hammered myself for years playing football and as a consequence my knees hurt, quite badly, after every game I play. Most times I can no longer climb a flight of stairs the day after a game. I've been to the physio and have exercises, which I do, but I still have flair ups. The issue stems from a mis-balance in my thigh muscles that pull my kneecaps sideways when I run. As a result, the tissue under my knees swells and hurts. Lately its been not so great and generally speaking knees don't tend to improve with age.

My second issue is that I was recently diagnosed with Asthma. The condition is mild, but its enough to cause me some issues on the pitch and effects my stamina. I've never had the greatest stamina anyway but this has hit my ability to run distances pretty hard.

This basically leaves me one of two choices. The first choice, giving up football, is really not such a great option. I would really miss it and would feel like i'd lost something quite important, not just to my physical health but to my mental health also.

As such i've decided to try a second option, vary my game. I used to play as a winger, lots of running and high impact plays and taclkes. Now i'm having to play a much more patient sitting game and focus on my position and passing. The difficulty for me has been that I've always played on instinct, and now i'm having to work on a much more mental game. This said, if it prolongs my ability to play football into my 40s or even 50s then its worth the effort up front.

Once I get past 50, it is my intention to take up walking football. This is a variant of the sport where running is strictly banned, with the idea that it helps people with reduced mobility. The wikipedia article has more information for anyone that is interested.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Humans can't multi-task

Humans can't multi-task! I still meet people who dictate to me that humans are capable of multi-tasking. It astonishes me that people still believe this even when considering how the brain works. Sure we can multi-task basic functions such as breathing and walking but when it comes to thought processes this is a different matter altogether. This is because our brain is massively interconnected. At any given neuron, the activation level is largely a product of the other connected neurons. As such if you are strongly thinking about one concept which creates certain patterns of activation in the brain, you automatically create patterns of activation in connected neurons. Try to think about two problems at once and you essentially chemically nuke the required activation patterns needed to be cognitively useful in either case.

There are lots of wonderful articles on the subject but one of my personal favourites is this from Leo Widrich

It covers multi-tasking in the brain along with some hacks and tips on how to work at it. About the only thing it doesn't cover is mindfulness training such as meditation. I meditate mostly daily and find the practice very useful for helping me keep my mind in focus. Im not what Mike Monday calls a "Focus Ninja" but i'm a lot better than I used to be.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

An update to my compensatory eq

So a while ago I published a post on this blog talking about my use of compensatory eq. The idea was that I applied an eq, while I was working, over my entire mix. The reason for this was that I tend to hear things slightly differently to what modern mastered music sounds like. I always gravitate towards certain frequencies and sounds. As such when i'm working, as I now am, on expensive flat response speakers - everything tends to sound very scooped to me. As such I apply a reverse of this at the end of the mix chain. Previously I was performing this via logic's inbuilt eq but I have recently found a better solution.

This solution was brought about when my Apogee Ensemble soundcard became, how to put it, obsolete. The card's sound quality is excellent but it no longer works with the latest version of OSX (El Capitan). There has also always been issues with drivers and the controller software not working very well, so I wasn't that upset to be having to replace it. So with all this in mind, I plumped for a MOTU Track16. The feature list is insane for a card at the price and i've used MOTU products previously and was pretty happy with them. So far this has been, hands down, the absolute best card i've ever owned considering the relatively low price I paid for it.

One of the best features of the new card is that it has a built in DSP function which includes, amongst other things, an eq on every channel. This is great because its lets me apply the eq over everything I do, including reference tracks. This is where this solution is so much better than my old solution because I no longer have to important my reference tracks into logic to AB them against my work.
And without further ado, here is my final compensatory eq curve

And here are the settings on the motu DSP

If you would like to hear how this sounds, please check out my youtube video on the subject. I show the difference in sounds and also explain a bit more about the setup.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Tech - 8 Pin motherboard power connector

A while ago I bought a new motherboard for my new gaming computer. I was annoyed to find that it had an 8-pin connector but my old one had a 4 pin. I however found that my PSU actually supported this but in a slightly strange way that I wasn't expecting. The video below shows what I found.