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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Review: M-Audio Studio Pro 3



Hello everyone and welcome to this week's article!
Today we're going to review a recently discontinued product from M-Audio, that can be still found very often in various music equipment stores, it's one of the cheapest set of monitors you can find, and the street price is around 90€, for the set of 2.

One can tell the quality of an audio monitor according to its "realism", which is the capacity to let us hear what we are working on in our Daw, for example, in a way that, once we have exported the final track and we listen to it with other devices, it "translates" well, without too many differences.

Unfortunately these speakers are not realistic at all, and we can't trust them, when mixing.
Surely they are a very good and cheap tracking device, if we use them just when recording they do a good job, and from a consumer side also, they are pretty decent for movies, games, or just music listening.

The build quality is pretty solid, and each unit features a 3,25 inches woofer and an 1 inch tweeter, and the couple consists into a main unit, with an ac adaptor for power, and a satellite, which is powered by connecting it to the main unit.
One feature that I have appreciated very much is the front aux in: this way you can connect the speakers both to the audio interface and to the computer's internal soundcard, so you can record music and then watch a video, without having to switch inputs, all with the same speakers, and this is pretty rare and very comfortable.

The unit features a bass boost feature to compensate the small dimensions of the speaker and to emphasize certain music genres or films, and the volume is decent for everyday home use, but to be honest there can be moments in which 10watts per speaker are not enough. 
My suggestion when buying multi purpose speakers is to get some with a power ranging from 20 to 40w rms per speaker, in order to never feel the need for "more power".
In the end, yes, these speakers can be used as a small upgrade for the consumer user, but in all honesty I wouldn't suggest them for music production purposes other than sheer tracking.


Specs Taken from the Website:


3.25" low-frequency drivers; 1" high-frequency drivers

Magnetic shielding prevents computer/video monitor interference (RF interference, output current limiting, over temperature, turn on/off transient, subsonic filter)

Internal standing wave acoustic absorption for greater efficiency
Bass Boost switch
RCA rear-panel inputs; convenient front-panel 1/8" inputs

Frequency response: 100Hz – 20kHz ±3dB, Crossover frequency: 2.3kHz
Dynamic range (Maximum Signal-to-Noise Ratio): >80dB (typical, A-weighted)

Input connectors: left and right line input connectors (RCA)

Dynamic power: 10 watts into 4Ω (per channel) at 0.5% distortion

Indicator: blue power LED ring around on/off/volume knob on front panel

Dimensions: 5.5"W x 7.9"H x 5.9"D

Saturday, July 18, 2015

How to Use Pre-Recorded Backing Tracks Live 3/3



Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today we're going to see a third and last way of using backing track, with the support of Francesco Ferrini of Fleshgod Apocalypse.

This method it's the most complex and the one which requires more hardware, but it is the most professional we can use in order to manage stage monitoring and use backing tracks.

First off all instruments (microphones, Pods, and so on) goes into a rack with several inputs, and this rack goes into a splitter. One "copy" of the outputs goes to the stage box, and from there to the external mixer, another "copy" goes to the audio interface.

Their interface (a Motu with 8 independent outputs) has a software called Cue Mix, which is a virtual mixer that manages the various inputs and outputs (as almost all audio interface have), and from there they can create a mix for each band member, and each mix will go, through one of the independent ouputs, to the in ear monitor of each band member.
Why do they use CueMix instead of doing everything directly with Cubase?
For 2 reasons:
1) CueMix has no latency, unlike Cubase
2) Because it's a better way to manage the mix that each band member wants in their in-ear monitor.

Then the band has a session of Cubase with the whole setlist, the tempo track with the metronome of each song and the backing tracks; they send the click and backing tracks through the Cubase Sends to each output of the Audio Interface without passing through Cue Mix. 

Why are those relatives mixes from Cubase passing through the Sends and not through the Master Out? Simple: because they want the metronome only in the relative mixes that will go to the in ear monitors of the band member, but only the backing track must pass through the master, and from there to the mixer, the metronome must obviously not be heard by the audience!

Finally, always with the Midi Automations of Cubase, the band controls also the patches of the Pod Hd that they use for guitars, for example to switch automatically at the right time from Rhythm patch to Solo patch, they also control the Co2 Geysers, the Strobo Lights and so on...

...but this is another topic!


Hope this was Helpful!



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Saturday, July 11, 2015

How to Use Pre-Recorded Backing Tracks Live 2/3



Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Last week we have seen how to use a backing track on a live context, but this time we must take a look on HOW to make this backing track, to load on the drummer's mp3 player.

Let's load up on our favourite DAW a project and create a midi track and and some audio one.

The audio tracks should be in mono, since only one channel of the mixer will go to the PA.
We should set the tempo track properly, with the right metronome and checking out for tempo changes inside the same tracks, leaving 8 metronome hits before the actual starting of the song, so that the drummer can hear 4 hits, then give the other band members the other 4, and then start the song.

First we make the tempo track, then we create in the midi track an event, of the lenght of the whole song, and we insert the metronome writing the midi part, with the beats and the accents, using a sound that will be easily recognizable by the drummer, even when playing live.

About the audio tracks, we will have to make a mix with all the things we want to have in the base, for example backing vocals, vocal harmonies, orchestral sections, and so on, and to make sure everything is perfectly on time with the click.

When it's time to export we must keep the audio tracks central so that the sound goes evenly both on the left and right channels, while the click part must be all panned LEFT, so in the mixer we will send the left channel on the drummer's headphones and the right channel on the P.A., and the audience will not hear the click, only the backing track.

My suggestion is to use a limiter to make the final volume even among all songs, and to make sure that all songs not only have the same levels, but also the metronome on the same side!! :)


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Saturday, July 4, 2015

How to Use Pre-Recorded Backing Tracks Live 1/3


Hello and welcome to this week's article!
This time we will talk about LIVE music, and how to integrate pre-recorded music (like orchestral parts, or backing vocals) with a real band, making sure everything is on time.

There are actually 2 methods, today we will see the easiest one, which does not involve the use of a computer, but lets us only have backing tracks in mono.

what we need is:

- an Mp3 Player (or a smartphone put in airplane mode) with the backing tracks inside

- a Y stereo minijack cable (a cable that takes the stereo sound from the mp3 player and splits it into 2 mono sounds, one with the left track and one with the right track).


- 2 adaptors from minijack to normal jack, to connect the aforementioned cable to the mixer



- a mixer, with at least 2 channels, as the one depicted on the first photo

- one jack with a jack connector on one side and an xrl to the other, to connect the mixer to the PA, usually through the channel box.

- a pair of headphones for the drummer

Once we have all these tools ready, we need obviously a backing track on our device, with on the left side the metronome track and the backing track, and on the right side just the backing track (of course you can switch them if you need, the important is that all tracks have the metronome on the same side.
Now we can connect the stereo cable to our mp3 player and send the Left Track (the one with the metronome too) in the first channel of the mixer, and the Right Track (the one without the metronome) in the second channel, as you can see from our Routing Scheme below:




In the 2 channels of our mixer now we must pan the left track full left and the right track full right in order to avoid the metronome to spill from the other track into the channel box.

Now we can connect on the left mono output the drummer's headphones, so that he can choose the song with the mp3 player and adjust the volume of the base with the mixer, and the right mono output of the mixer to the channel box, using the jack with one regular jack connector on one side (the mixer side) and the xrl connector on the other (for the channel box side). If we are connecting into another mixer without passing through a channel box, much probably we can use a regular jack.


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