Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Control Surface Recording - Mixcraft 8 Performance Panel

This week I started to create tracks for product presentations for upcoming fall and winter clinics and product showcase sessions at various trade shows and educator conferences. Over the course of the year, depending on the venue, I will pick and choose from around 20 project files that I create in advance of the shows to use as demo songs at these clinics and trade shows.


To come up with all this content in a short period of time, I rely heavily on Mixcraft 8 Control Surface support, especially through the Performance Panel view, which controls my Launchpad-compatible control surface to simultaneously record and play live loops, loops sets and even virtual instrument tracks.


I will breakdown some of the interesting set-up and recording elements of the performance recording below. For your viewing, here is the video of this performance recording with flash notes for your better understanding.

Syncing a Control Surface to the Performance Panel


Setting up a control surface to interact with Mixcraft 8 is a snap!

Step 1: Select File / Preferences
Step 2: Select Control Surface
Step 3: Add / remove the many supported control services listed in the "Type" drop down column. Set up inputs and outputs.


Load Loops into the Performance Panel


Loading content from the Loop Library onto the Performance Panel is simple drag n' drop stuff! 

Step 1: Click "Performance" opens grid
Step 2: Click "Library" tab to sort, play, select by date, instrument, key, style, tempo or author.
Step 3: Drag n' drop loops to any row / column on the Performance Panel grid.
Step 4: Copy / paste / drag loops between grids and linear audio tracks.


Recording Loops and Loops Sets Live using a Control Surface



Click on "Arm" button to record all performance grid tracks

OR

Click on individual track button to record individual track grids.

Hit Transport Control "Record" in Mixcraft 8 and use Control Surface to capture live turning on / off Loops or Sets of Loops.



Switch Mode on Control Surface to Record Live Instrument Track


Switch Modes on Launchpad-compatible Control Surfaces in real-time to record a virtual instrument track live.

Using new Voltage Modular Virtual Modular Synthesizer by Cherry Audio, sync arpeggiation presets to the tempo of the project.



Editor’s note: If you would like to take a closer look at Mixcraft 8, please visit www.acoustica.com for more details or download a free trial. Thank you for visiting Anthony’s Home Studio.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Infamous Quick - Mixcraft Featured Artist of the Month


Mixcraft Featured Artist of the Month, Infamous Quick, is as versatile as any band around! This 6-member rock band out of Flint, Michigan is a multi-talented, experienced outfit that can bring it live on stage or in the studio. Recently signed to a digital distribution deal with Sony, Infamous Quick’s debut album “Tequila Rose” is a testament to great songwriting, musical chemistry, dedication and meticulous production. We sat down with bandmember / producer Eric VanLandingham. In this interview, Eric gives us an inside look at the recording and mastering of Tequila Rose:



Eric, having performed and toured in bands for many years, how did it all start for you? 

Myself, yeah I've been in bands and the music industry since I was a kid. I was in a metal power trio called Entice back in the 90's. A Metallica tribute band called Damage Inc. where I was the James figure, we toured for four years all over the country. I was also Dimebag Darrell's bassist for a guitar seminar in Detroit (man could that guy drink!). 

For those who have not heard you play, I can attest that you are an absolutely incredible guitarist. Watch Eric's crazy talent here on this Beat It (Studio cover/Medley) Video
How did you become so equally proficient as a producer?

Thanks Anthony, I appreciate that! I started on drums when I was a kid, went to bass from there and guitar was next. I'm extremely musically alert, meaning I cannot listen to anything without dissecting it and figuring out in my head how it's being done, instrument by instrument. I've always been like that, so it must be built in. 



Please tell our readers about the band's song writing process:

Myself, Tim Beckett (guitar) and Dan Thorp (vocals) are natural writers, we came up with riffs at almost every rehearsal, very easily. Terri (vocal) was new to the band scene when we met, but once acclimated, soon joined in with writing. From there it was a matter of coming up with enough songs. 


What DAW did you use to record "Tequila Rose"? 

The technical end, well it couldn't have went as smoothly as it did without Mixcraft 8 Pro Studio. I know it from top to bottom and it simply works. Workflow is so productive with it because I never have to guess where anything is or keep messing with settings. Just open it and go. 

During pre-production, the drummer and I would trade midi files back and forth over the net as he recorded using his large electronic kit. Once drums were completed and recorded, my bass parts were next which took no time at all since the studio is a whole 30 feet from my front door. Beyond that it was a matter of each member making trips to the studio each week to creatively and carefully record their respective parts.

Eric, for novices like me and some of our readers, can you run thru the basic steps and process you took to master Tequila Rose in Mixcraft 8 Pro Studio?

Starting the project: First I look up and down the track headers to familiarize myself with how it's laid out. Using descriptive titles when naming tracks for easy and fast navigation, I play the project to verify that the sounds on each track match the title. Being comfortable with what you are working on is a big part of the process.


Drum tracks: At this point I listen to the entire project on a loop and start tweaking the more obvious things I want to change. Starting with drums, I create a drum submix track, place the track inside as a child track and put FabFilter Pro-C2, my favorite compressor, on the sub to level out the drums. I also put any other percussive tracks inside this submix.

Bass tracks: I used Studio Devil Virtual Bass Amp for effects, compression with Pro-C2.

Guitar tracks: For distortion I used Shred Amp. I created a submix and put all guitar tracks inside, put an EQ on the sub and take out any low end from about 60hz on down. Guitars don't reproduce that low and if they do, it's probably a pick hitting a pickup or other unwanted noise. Next I removed redundant tracks. If there is the same guitar part recorded several times, I remove all but one and use a stereo spread effect instead. Now comes the Pro-C2 again. Lastly comes reverb and delay where needed.



Vocal tracks: Here's the chain of effects used:
Melodyne - Allows me to easily fix and adjust any flat notes.
Equalizer - Remove anything from 120 on down.
De-esser - To take out harsh SSS and T sounds.
Compression - you guessed it, the Pro-C2.
Stereo spread - PSP Audioware PseudoStereo
Lastly comes reverb and delay where needed.

Mastering tracks: I master with only one tool, the FabFilter Pro-MB, which is a multiband mastering compressor. A few more listening sessions adjusting levels on tracks, effects and mastering compressor, and, the album was mixed and ready to publish!

It should be noted that Fab Filter and PSP Audioware plug-ins do NOT come bundled in Mixcraft 8.


Who are the members of the band and tell us a little about them?

Tim Beckett - Guitar
Tim and I have been friends for a very long time and have always jammed well together. He writes as easily as I do, so we're always coming up with stuff together. If you check the song on the album called "Today, Tomorrow and Always", he wrote that for his two daughters. He also wrote a lot of the lyrics on the album.

Brad Krug - Guitar
Brad was a guitarist for a popular Detroit band called "The Greg Stryker Band" back in the 80's. He's not only a great guitarist but he's probably the best live sound engineer I've ever met. He and I met back in 2000 when the band he was running sound for was playing my bar. I went up to him to complain about some low-end frequency that was humming. He said "I know, I hear it, workin' on it". So I knew he was a keeper if he was as OCD about little things like that as I was ;-).

Dan Thorp - Vocals
Dan is a pastor at a rock church in Michigan. I met him by going to my local rock church and getting to know the people there. He eventually asked me to come play with the church band a couple times and then from there we hit it off. About Dan, he sent in a demo recording to Stone Temple Pilots when they were looking for a new vocalist, and he got a call from the guitarist (Dean DeLeo) who flew Dan to L.A. for a tryout. Dan did not get the job but received another call from Dean after he returned home, to tell him that it was a very difficult decision and that Dan was in the top 3 out of over 5,000 entries! So we're quite proud of him for that.

Terri Tomlinson - Vocals
Terri was new to the band scene when we met. She used to work with Tim and always told him she could sing and if we ever wanted to try her out, she'd be into it. Terri came in one night and sat down with me and an acoustic guitar. After a couple songs, I was convinced and we hired her. She's got a super energetic personality for fronting a band too, she's a natural for sure.

Greg Diegel - Drums
Greg has been with the band for about a year. Terri had seen Greg play and mentioned him a few times to the rest of us. I contacted him and set up a jam session. He came and knew the songs we had asked him to learn, he was a hard hitter and a showman so he fit right in.

What is next up for Infamous Quick?

We have a slate of gigs lined up. We're hoping someone will want to buy a song or two for use in film or television. We'd take the occasional opening gig for nationals too if that comes up. That would depend on Sony though, if sales go well for the next quarter or two, they may hook us up with opening slots for nationals.

Editor’s note: We totally recommend checking out the new debut CD “Tequila Rose” from Infamous Quick. Infamous Quick official website and links:

Infamous Quick / Facebook / Soundcloud / CD Purchase-Streaming

If you would like to take a closer look at Mixcraft 8, please visit www.acoustica.com for more details or download a free trial. Thank you for visiting Anthony’s Home Studio.

Friday, August 3, 2018

The state of Consumer Electronics Chainstores in the US


In 1995, after several cold call rejections from Suzanne, the Comp USA Buyer, Tom (Beier now at Bose) and I sat in my office at Cakewalk wondering how we could possibly get Comp USA to pick up Cakewalk Home Studio. I said “What if we write a song for Suzanne using Home Studio about how we recorded it and send it to her?” Tom and I stayed up late into the night writing lyrics, recording tracks and mixing the song down to a cassette tape. The next day we went out and bought a cassette player, inserted the tape into the player and sent it to Suzanne along with my business card with a simple message that said “Hi Suzanne, Press play.”.


The next day I received a call from Suzanne asking for samples. A few days later she referred us to Ingram Micro and placed a 5,000 unit order. We had been the first to place a music recording software title in a big box consumer electronics store! That summer, Tom and I went to Retail Vision and met with Best Buy, Media Play, Circuit City, Computer City, Fry’s, Micro Center, Wal-Mart, Staples, Radio Shack, Target, Office Max, Office Depot and others. Thus beginning a 20+ year run of music software sales in the explosively emerging CE channel.

Fast forward 20+ years and the world of Big Box Consumer Electronics looks a lot different now. Only a few chains remain. As VP of Sales at Acoustica, we sold our version of Mixcraft Home Studio to Best Buy a few years back through Navarre Distribution. After many years of solid sales and maintaining a slot in a category where in-store shelf-space had rapidly shrunk to an assortment of 15-20 titles, this winter (only because Navarre went into bankruptcy in September 2017) will perhaps be the last holiday season that Home Studio will be available at a Big Box Consumer Electronics chain. To add salt to the wound, because our attempts to contact Best Buy and Navarre have fallen on deaf ears, coupled with the fact that the inventory is on consignment, we are unable to get sell thru reports or collect monies on over 5,000 units of inventory.

While a few hundred thousand dollars in sales may be chump change to Best Buy and Navarre, it is a lot of money to a music software company that could be used towards product development and marketing of a new version of Mixcraft and other new products. We tried to get the inventory back and even asked them to DIF (destroy-in-field) but these requests went unanswered initially. As a matter of fact, when Navarre did get around to responding to our Sales Rep, they invited us to “buy back” the consigned inventory they never paid for! Can you imagine that? Absolutely appalling!

While companies like Microsoft and Intuit have the financial resources to take on this battle legally, or in some cases agreeing to buy back consigned inventory, smaller companies like Acoustica have to sit back, get bullied and watch our products get marked down and sold at Best Buy for $14.99 without seeing even a penny of the sale. The icing on the cake is that Navarre sold inventory they had in their warehouse to liquidators. Today there are multiple listings of Home Studio on eBay at liquidation prices. Ouch!

I do not want to come across as bitter because over the years salespersons like myself have earned a lot of sales commissions thru the CE channel. However, the way it is ending is bittersweet, unfair, and, plain and simple, a BS way of doing business with long-time partners. If you are reading this blog post and agree, and you are a Consumer (or even MI) Op-Ed person, contributing writer or perhaps just totally feel pissed off like we do, please share this post with someone who you think might be able to help expose these corporate bullying tactics.

In the interim, we have gone ahead and set up Mixcraft 8 Home Studio on Steam, which is a cutting-edge leading software download distributor. Sales are nearly the same as on a Big Box CE retailer shelf, our physical COGS are zero, shipping is electronic and we are seeing rapid sales growth in this emerging digital download marketplace.


Editor's Note:  If you would like to take a closer look at Mixcraft 8, please visit www.acoustica.com for more details. Thank you for visiting Anthony’s Home Studio.