Monthly Archives: May 2008

eMXR Interview

Niels (aka spinmeister) at eMXR is a real sweet guy who has turned out to be a great resource at ccMixter bringing hoards of great musicians to the site, doing great interviews with Trifonicand Calendar Girl and posting some superb mixes. Probably the most important thing he brings to the site is his inviting charm and grace. This is good for any community site, but especially ccM because for whatever else I do for the site, this is one area where I need others to pick up my slack.

This feature of his is in full view in a longish conversation we had in which we covered everything fourstones and ccMixter. I managed to keep it together and got ranty (moi??) only at the very end.

The full transcript is here:

eMXR: Fourstones of Magnatune and ccMixter fame gives rare interview


bookmooch is John Buckman’s other site where people trade books for the cost of shipping. I’ve found a small paperback costs about $2 to ship in the US and have started posting my library for moochers. A really interesting side project is called BM Journals which is essentially a ccMixter for the analog world. That is, people pass around a blank book and add a page of goo to it until it fills up. John blogs about here.

For recording topics it’s a little difficult to go too broad because searching for “studio” gets you movie stuff, “audio” gets you every book ever committed to books-on-tape and CD, “music” is useless, etc. But if you get more specific like “Ableton” the results are a little promising. (Looks like somebody was trying to mooch a copy of FL Studio, the software, not a book)

(Old) Interview with Newsday Critic

Justin Davidson is writer with Newsday and as of late New York Magazine. He interviewed me in a phoner a year ago and I wasn’t sure what, if anything he had done with it. While searching for Magnatune stuff today I tripped over it on his blog that he shares with Alex Ross, author of the very cool The Rest is Noise.

Of couse the interview was done long before I knew about “Noise” and the connection between the two (“omg, he’s that guy”) was a real treat ;) The next time our paths cross I’ll be sure to suggest one of them writes his next book about the open music movement. If he puts me at the center of it, he can call it “The Rest is Nose.”

Ableton Live 7: A Late Review

The Live 7 upgrade has been out since last November but due to a serious falling out with the 6 upgrade I had not bothered to check it out. This was a heartbreak because I loved to be in the application but I found it unusable for one simple reason: its render to wav file (which was always a bitch) had degraded to a shocking degree. In other words, I would work hours and days on a remix and the file that got rendered sounded nothing like it did when I played it in the application. Now I know that every DAW software has some issue here but I felt, with 6, they were out of control.

Then about a month ago I hit upon this white paper (PDF) from Ableton in which they claim to have “implemented a number of low-level improvements to the audio engine” specifically during the render to file function. The paper focuses on what they call “neutral operations” which is a fancy way of saying “not fucking with the sound.” Not every operation in Live is “neutral” (like applying effects) but they do spell out which are and when you stick to those operations “you can be sure that using these functions will never cause any signal degradation. Applying neutral operations to audio that was recorded into Live ensures that the audio will be unchanged from the point of analog-to-digital conversion… Applying neutral operations to files being exported from Live ensures that the quality of your output file will be at least as high as what you heard during playback.”

I stopped reading about half way through of the rest of paper, got out my credit card and downloaded the upgrade.

For my purposes there were several areas that I changed in the way I would normally work: 1) lining up the project, hardware and samples I use to the same bit rate (44k), turning off all dithering during rendering and 3) taking mastering completely out of Live.

I’ve been using this method for my last few remixes at ccMixter. Here’s one of the more successful mixes (this is playing through Flash but you get the idea):

They weren’t lying, if I pay attention to what is and what isn’t a “neutral” operation the render is worlds better. I still don’t get the pristine sheen on the mixes I’ve gotten out of FL Studio where I don’t have to pay any mind to ‘neutral’ vs. not but I’m encouraged enough to (finally) throw away FL after a love/mainly-hate relationship. I don’t know how they get such a great sound off their engine or how they can do $0 upgrades (“forever”) but I’ve been looking to dump their awful, incoherent user interface and terrible wav clip handling for years.

The fact is, I have fun in Live while FL always, always felt like work.

Chronic Dreams 2 Wahoo

Here are two probable truths:

1. If I am honest about it I think it’s groovy that Chronic Dreams 2 is in the Magnatune Top 10 two days after it was released.

2. If I am really honest I have to admit that this is at least partially due to the fact that overall albums sales are down at Magnatune – but that’s a good thing as John explains the Magnatune business shifted almost exactly the day CD2 was released.

Unlike album sales, the tracking system for subscription based royalties are not calculated daily so I won’t know for a while exactly how well the album is actually doing but I’m stoked by it all.

Josh Woodward

When I was an active fan of the Beatles I liked all their music. Not just the cool, heavy stuff. And I’ll admit it right now: I was huge Wings fan – er, kill me know but I was a member of the fan club. So you can assume I carry some serious cred on the corny tip.

So it should come as no surprise that I bought and love the new album “The Simple Life” by Josh Woodward. Sure he’s sings about fluttering butterflies and “little birds” but if it’s done well then I eat it up. The album is produced really well (DIY I think) and sounds great as I drive around town. Just for the guys he throws in a fantastic guitar rock instrumental (stream “Flypaper”)

It helps that Josh has some cool things to say about licensing as open as possible.

Maybe with some arm twisting we can lobby him to post some pells to ccMixter ;)

FS/VT Upgrade

So here we are, 2008 – almost halfway through lol.

Well, I’ve upgraded the look of the site (seems like an annual event), I’ve gone with a narrow light version – but I really don’t know how design stuff so it really is “throw stuff at the wall” until something sticks.

I’m sure a lot of old URLs are busted and may continue to be for a while while I get around to fixing things up. If you find something odd though, please don’t assume that I know about it and tell me about it.

For techies I’ve upgraded the whole site to the alpha of ccHost 5 and I’ll be posting the steps involved to the developers mailing list. Basically it tooks me three days with the vast majority of the time going to creating the css for the new skin (which I’ll probably be rolling into the ccHost release as well). I only had to one little set of hacks to the code itself to get the remix browser to fit into the narrow space and also remove needless filter fields (like, er, who the artist is).