Thursday, 5 December 2013

Okay, more stuff in the studio......

I know I know, I said in a previous post that I wasn't going to be getting any more stuff, but hey, any chaotically minded muso such as myself has the right to change their mind - often several times in an hour......!!!
Anyway. Some new and truly fabulous additions to the GTK Studio, both hardware and software, courtesy of eBay and the amazing Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals that many companies now offer.
First up is an excellent hardware dual-channel compressor from Behringer called the Composer Pro-XL MDX2600. It's almost a complete vocal channel strip as it comprises not just a compressor, but also an expander/gate, a peak limiter, a de-esser, a dynamic enhancer and a tube simulator. Being dual-channel means that I can connect 2 separate microphones without the need for a second compressor unit. It sounds great and looks the business in the rack when in use with it's many little twinkling lights :-)

The next hardware acquisition is a Novation ReMOTE ZeRO SL MIDI controller. You may recall that I once had a Novation ReMOTE 61 SL MIDI keyboard controller, well once I had sold it, I sort of regretted it and so looked to get back the level of control that single keyboard had given me. Space is at a premium in the GTK Studio, and coupled with financial limitations, another ReMOTE 61 SL was not really an option, particularly as I wanted the MKI model which has 2 LCD displays, as opposed to the single display on the MKII. A compromise was needed, so I had a re-shuffle of my synthesizers and set up the Alesis QS 6 as my keyboard controller, replacing the previously used Roland SH-201 because the QS6 has both a 5-octave keyboard and, most importantly, after-touch. The ReMOTE ZeRO fills in the control aspect of the ReMOTE 61 SL with it's multiple knobs, buttons and sliders, giving me almost total control of my software synthesizers and DAW's.

Moving on now to the new software.
Black Friday deals are just the best and many of the major companies will offer their products with the craziest of discounts. First of these, and perhaps the best in terms of bang for buck, is the Total Workstation XL bundle from Italian music equipment company, IK Multimedia. The Total Workstation XL is a collection of 5 “Powered by SampleTank” virtual instrument plug-ins, including all 15 of the Xpansion Tank 2 multi-sampled instrument collections. I have to say that it has pretty much everything you could need to write and arrange music in whatever style you want using the huge range of acoustic, electric and electronic instruments of SampleTank to the incredible synths, pads and leads in Sonik Synth 2. Also included is the masterpiece orchestral and choir collection of Miroslav Philharmonik and the distinctive analogue sounds of SampleMoog as well as the very cool vintage sound of SampleTron. So, everything is in there: drums, pianos, keyboards, synths, strings, pads, basses, guitars, leads, percussion, ethnic sounds, brass, woodwinds, sound-effects, loops and much more. The price was a total steal with it's 75% discount!!!

Another great deal was found with  Audio Damage. I now have another two of their amazing products: Eos reverb and Panstation auto-panner. I'd been looking for a high-quality, low-cost software reverb - a big ask if ever there was one - but with Eos, I found just that. It's a beautiful luscious reverb, capable of the most wonderfully warm and enveloping reverbs. It comprises three high-quality reverb algorithms: 2 plate simulators and Audio Damage's own Superhall algorithm. These allow for a broad palette of reverbs and it's interface makes adjusting Eos amazingly simple. Alongside being my current "go to" reverb, Eos really does set itself apart when you use the Superhall option. This setting gives incredibly long hall sounds that can provide you with those luscious Eno-style ambiences, something that is tricky with convolution reverbs. Second from Audio Damage is their excellent Panstation auto-panner. I was totally sold the Panstation by the demo mp3's on the Audio Damage website and when I had my first play with it, I was even more sold. I had a good look around the marketplace when considering my auto-panner purchase, as I do with anything I buy, but I have to say that Panstation certainly seemed to be the most sophisticated autopanner plug-in on sale. Audio Damage based Panstation on the highly desirable Drawmer M500's panning engine, adding the counting features from the Audio & Design PanScan, considered to be the "secret weapon of many well-known producers". Panstation sounds great and is a pleasure to use.

Next up is the purchase of the fantastic software emulation of the legendary Korg MS-20. The great thing about this little software synth is that it's not just a synth but can also be used as an effects unit, meaning you can feed an audio signal through the famous MS-20 filters. I have always yearned for a real MS-20, and even with the issue of the new MiniMS-20, funds won't quite reach that far just yet, so I am more than very happy with this software version. I hope to be able to acquire the MS-20i MIDI keyboard controller one day - this is shaped like the original MS-20, complete with knobs and patch cables, but is 84% of the size of the original.

So, for now, that really is it because I've just ordered a new lens for my camera and I now have no money left :-D