Archive for the ‘Drum Machines’ Category


Artists Profile: Portishead, Orange Amps and Vintage Synths

January 28, 2009


The members of Portishead — Beth Gibbons, Adrian Utley and Barrow — hadn’t made a proper studio record since 1997’s Portishead (Go! Discs/London), the follow-up to their own gi-normous debut, Dummy (Go! Discs/London, 1994), but they have been listening. Barrow didn’t like what he heard.

Portiheads Geoff barrow speaks his mind and appears to have held his tongue for the last few years…till now.

“[America’s music] is s**t, isn’t it?” he continues. “The hip-hop artists are just rubbish. Jay-Z’s records always sound good, but he got the sack from Universal. If you end up with a country Britney, it doesn’t matter ’cause they’re all twats anyway. Timbaland came to England trying to find a Coldplay to produce. Everyone told him to f**k  off.  He went to America and got his own band and they are gi-normous, the most revolting people you have ever seen in your life. They are called Timbaland. We all like it underground but no one is buying it. Even Moby is struggling.”

Digital radar??

Working in a Radar 24 digital system, Portishead generally avoided direct sampling, instead creating its new nightmare scenarios with a combination of live and programmed drums (played by Barrow and Clive Deamer), guitar and a massive battery of modular-synth systems effected by a collection of ’60s and ’70s compressors and EQs, further warped by a Roland Space Echo. But it began with the group’s wholesale rejection of Pro Tools.

“When we began recording Third in 2005,” Barrow recalls, “Pro Tools sounded s**t. I would go into recording sessions where no one was listening — they would just be staring at a screen talking about a fu***g plug-in that sounded s**t. People were really excited when Pro Tools could reproduce the sound of a turntable stopping on a beat. That made me want to puke. They sorted it a year or so ago; now, Pro Tools sounds great, but it doesn’t create soul, it just creates nerds. Jay-Z’s albums always sounded good, but there was generally a lack of soul.

“But Radar is amazing,” he adds, offering a solution. “It makes you make decisions. When you record a bad saxophone solo on 138 channels, you can to listen to it forever in the [Pro Tools] mix. With Radar, you have 24 channels, like tape. So you have to make a decision. Also, Radar sounds not dissimilar from tape.”

“We used to have a tape machine, an Atari 1040 computer and a couple samplers,” Utley (guitars, synths, production) recalls. “We’d record live through nice equipment or terrible equipment. The difference with Radar is now we can capture audio on a hard-disk recorder and cut up things and have multitrack loops. We used to play a track and overdub or get people in to record, mix that, then cut it to vinyl, then sample that. Now we’re just playing straight to Radar, which sounds so good. Pro Tools|HD is up there now, but Radar sounds like tape. There is no sense of urgency — obviously, we took 10 years to make this record — but it really works for us.”

Writing and recording as far back as 2000 (“Nylon Smile”), Portishead met at Barrow’s SOA studio (called State of Art because it is anything but). Moving beyond their former roles, Gibbons brought in guitar riffs; Utley created noise and ideas from his ARP, Analogue Systems, Doepfer, EMS, Plan B and Moog modular synths; and Barrow recorded guitar and bass lines, as well as drum loops (created one drum and cymbal at a time). Barrow is not impressed with the general state of the plug-in, so Portishead avoided them.

“When you listen to people who make interesting production records,” he says as he ascends the soapbox again, “they all sound like they’ve been made in a box. They’ve taken a plug-in, and when they get really crazy they stick it through an amp. For f**k’s sake, look at the people you really respect, and that just sounds boring. Music is so easy to distort or alter now. That is why the drums on this album are quite normal. I just want them to sound real and interesting rather than ‘plug-in interesting.’”

“Even from the early days, we wanted to achieve the same sound as now; it’s only 15 years on,” Utley adds. “It’s usually slightly disruptive and experimental and pushing a few boundaries. We use a mixture of extremely broken equipment and extremely rare equipment, like my valve [Neumann] U 47 and RCA ribbon mic; they have this warmth but also a fidelity that we would then completely deconstruct. It’s not all that stuff that you can hear on modern recordings. That’s not interesting to us.”

Orange Amps and Portishead

Orange Guitar Amp News: Portishead’s Adrian Utley (Orange Ade) talks Orange Guitar Amps:

“I’ve always been a huge fan of vintage amps,” Adrian explains, “but I haven’t been so happy with an amp as I have with my AD30 which I’ve used for everything ever since I first got it about four years ago. There’s something about that amp… I can mess with it and really change the sound and the gain structure of it – but I can do so really simply. In my extensive collection of about fifteen amps I’ve got a 1950s and a 1960s Fender Twin; an Ampeg Reverb; a 1950s Fender Tweed and some old AC30s. But the AD30 can produce all of those vintage sounds partly because I can drive it without going incredibly loud.”

Orange Guitar Amps have been used on Portishead’s recent album, Third. The track ‘The Rip’ neatly illustrates Adrian’s open-minded approach and attitude to recording the guitar:

“I have lots of acoustics and electrics. One of my main stage electrics is a 1964 Fender Jazzmaster and for acoustic I use a Brook homemade guitar (see photo) by a company from Dartmoor in England. But when we recorded ‘The Rip’  I used a beautiful little kid’s guitar that I bought in a junk shop for four quid. It had just the kind of different tone I’d been after for a quite a while. It cost another thirty pounds to have the frets sorted out and then I used it in the studio…recorded with a three-and-a-half grand mic!”

“My first perception of acoustic guitars was from records – and on records they never sound like they do when you’re in the room… they sound more spacious and have much more frequency. So for me to play a kid’s guitar means it’s got limited frequency range already when recording; so it gives space for loads of other stuff.”

At a recent festival, Adrian hired an Orange rig and for the first time ever used a 4×12 speaker cab:

“I’ve never used a 4×12 before in my life and what I found was that I could make it feed back in a more controlled way which was really good.” How did you first hear about Orange Guitar amps?

“I remember Orange from the 1970s when I was beginning – quite a few friends had them. But those old 120-watt ones were way too loud for me. Then a few years ago I was doing a session for Marianne Faithfull which Polly Harvey was producing and she had an AD30 with a 2×12 cab and I used hers in the studio. It was so totally brilliant – and not just for guitar… we played bass through it for certain things and that also sounded great.”

Another thing that’s quite extreme and unmissable about Portishead’s backline is Adrian’s customised Orange 2×12 Cab:

“I wanted to have a loud speaker cab – that’s two separate words [laughs] – and so I asked Jim Barr who plays bass with us, to spray-paint a design on the speaker grille. I really like what he came up with and in a weird kind of way it fits in with the pictures you get on old Orange amps – the mountains for the echo and stuff.”. Jim Barr explains more about his artwork: “I did it with masking tape and a can of spray paint and I used my imagination a little bit and wanted something to look like a picture of loudness. I could waffle on about all kinds of arty stuff like German expressionism – bit I won’t [laughs] ! We sprayed the whole grille black, then put on the masking tape and sprayed over with matt white car primer. It took about twenty minutes all in all.”
Watch this amazing live set from 2008 or Portishead in Portishead

Source :Orange Amps


Spectrasonics Stylus RMX 1.7 Now Here

January 23, 2009

Stylus RMX 1.7 demonstrated at Namm

Spectrasonics demonstrated Stylus RMX®version 1.7 featuring an innovative and completely new capability called ‘Time Designer™’ which intelligently transforms RMX audio loops into different time signatures and features the ability to “Groove Lock” the feel of any groove to another – all in real time.

Time Designer also lets the user create instant pattern variations with smart algorithms based on musical rules, and to ‘simplify’ any RMX groove in a musical manner. Version 1.7 is also the first 64-bit native software release from Spectrasonics and includes useful workflow enhancements to RMX, such as Suite Editing and Host Transport Sync.

Eric Persing, Founder and Creative Director of Spectrasonics notes, “Stylus RMX version 1.7 with Time Designer will be a major creative boost for many users with its ability to instantly Groove Lock to the feel of any groove across the whole core library of grooves and expanders. It’s like suddenly having ten times the amount of grooves at your fingertips! Over the years, many composers and arrangers have requested the ability to have any groove in any time signature: now they can. With all of this and the ability to create pattern variations in a totally musical way, the new version of RMX is almost a rebirth of the plug-in and how it can be used. We are really looking forward to seeing how this inspires our users to take their groove production into brand new musical directions.”

The new RMX version 1.7 reveals a totally new way to browse and use the entire RMX core library and SAGE Xpanders by offering the user the ability to Groove Lock any loop in real time to another loop or MIDI File. The user simply chooses a designated loop as the Groove Lock master, and switches one button: now all the loops that are played as the user browses are Groove Locked to that main feel.

And all of RMX’s Time Designer capabilities are available in any designated time signature. Once new Time Signatures are selected, the browsing experience works the same way – dramatically changing the experience of groove production in time signatures other than 4/4. Working on a 6/8 ballad? Simply choose 6/8 in Time Designer and the entire RMX library is now instantly available rearranged in 6/8 patterns!

For multiple time signatures in a piece of music the user simply sets the first time signature variation, drags and drops the MIDI file to the sequencer, then sets the time signature to a new one and repeats the process for each section of music that requires a new time signature. The MIDI Files that are dragged to the host sequencer are “imprinted” with all the Groove Lock and Time Signature changes in the MIDI data, making it easy to customize the loops further.

Time Designer’s Pattern Variation section allows the user to instantly check out useful variations on a loop – which works differently than the constantly shifting/improvising ‘Chaos Designer’ feature that RMX introduced. Time Designer makes rearrangements of the pattern based on a series of musical rules creating useful variations, and is available for all time signatures (including 4/4 pattern variations). Best of all, Time Designer and Chaos Designer can be used together!

All Time Designer features will also work on third party RMX libraries and imported REX files, as long as the grooves are sliced properly.

RMX version 1.7 also sports several user-requested features such as suite editing for easy customization and better ‘Favorites’ management of users own collections of loops, sequencer host transport sync so that RMX will follow the host sequencer’s transport controls and song position.

Version 1.7 is also the first 64-bit native software release from Spectrasonics, keeping pace with the industry-wide move towards 64-bit systems and access to more RAM. Windows 64-bit compatibility will be released first, then 64-bit Mac versions to follow.

The release date for Stylus RMX v1.7 with Time Designer is March 2, 2009, the update will be FREE to all registered RMX users as a download from the Spectrasonics website.

Here is some details on the previous versions applications.


Roland MV-8800 Complete Production Solution

January 2, 2009


Since 2003, Roland’s MV-8000 has been a coveted centerpiece for many of the world’s greatest hip-hop and R&B producers. With its powerful hands-on features, and its ability to incorporate a VGA monitor and mouse, it brought the best of the hardware- and software-based production worlds together. Today Roland sets a new standard in production power and flexibility with the MV-8800.

  • Complete production solution, from beat creation and multitrack recording to mixing, mastering and CD burning
  • Tight integration of drum machine-style pattern recording and DAW-style linear recording
  • Realtime control of audio pitch and time, groove quantize, and pattern/song arrangements — great for both studio and stage
  • World-class sound library pre-installed on the internal hard drive
  • Legendary Roland instrument and effects models onboard, including TR-808, TR-909, SRV reverb, SDD-320 Chorus, SBF-325 Flanger, Boss BF-2 and HF-2, and RE-201 Space Echo
  • Three MIDI ports (IN x 1, OUT x 2) for connecting external MIDI devices
  • Color LCD with icon-oriented interface
  • Accepts external VGA monitor (optional) and optical mouse

Create your own sounds or load up to 128 instruments or drum kits at once from the MV-formatted sound library that’s preinstalled on the hard drive. Newly created drum kits are provided, including a special collection of 16 vintage drum machines such as the legendary Roland TR-808 and TR-909. Acoustic and electric pianos, strings, guitars, horns, synth basses, and other essential instruments are also included.

Amazing Pitch & Time Control

Load hundreds of loops, hits, or vocal phrases at once, all with realtime BPM matching. Just tap the tempo and all the samples lock to your new tempo! You can match the pitches of melodic phrases just as easily. Create loop-based tracks on the fly, all locked together in perfect pitch and time sync.

Vintage & Modern Effectsl

An incredible lineup of modern and vintage effects is built into the MV-8800, including models of classic Roland SRV reverbs, SDD-320 Chorus, SBF-325 Flanger, Boss BF-2 and HF-2 pedals, and the legendary RE-201 Space Echo. The MV-8800’s multi-effects processor includes an Analog Modeling Bass that turns the MFX engine into a virtual SH-style bass synthesizer. All MFX knob tweaks can be automated as you mix.


The Future of Beatmaking?

December 2, 2008


Petr Hampl is a Czech designer with his mind set on making music, and this was never clearer than when he decided to create the “portable idea creator” set, a gadget that’s as good-looking as it is useful.

Destined for those who feel like making music, or at least creating some new beats and phrases, this attractive recording set will definitely provide you with lots and lots of fun; and, why not, open a new horizon of inspiration to your music talents.

The Portable Idea Creator is a record-as-you-play tool that will allow you to creatively interact with the environment around you; even if it looks pretty much like a cyber-reality set designed for audio, the Portable Idea Creator will definitely have a lot of fans among children and adults alike.


The backhand-mounted disc is a recorder and a Bluetooth transmitter

This set comprises a glove and a pair of headphones that can communicate via a Bluetooth link in real time. The principle is quite simple and can be easily counted among the ranks of the “how come I didn’t think about that first?” gadgets.

The glove sports a set of five sensors, one for each fingertip; these sensors are responsive to tapping and scrubbing and they will allow you to create rhythms and all sorts of sounds with your hand.

A simple and nifty idea

On the back of the glove, Petr Hampl placed a small round piece that is the recorder and the Bluetooth transmitter. Basically, it will create the sounds, have them beamed in real time to the Bluetooth-enabled headphones but at the same time also store them for you to edit later. In fewer and simpler words, the Portable Idea Creator will let you create some beats with your hand and record your ideas for later.

You can then get home, unload the tracks and see whether you can pull your next big hit from what you recorded during your train trip or during your waiting in queue for the dentist!


How To Use an SR18 Drum Machine As a Drum-Sound Module With Your Trigger|iO or USB Pro Drum Kit

October 8, 2008

SR18 brings a fresh face, new sounds, and a host of new capabilities to the most popular drum machine line ever.  Featuring a large 32MB sound set, dynamically articulated stereo samples, built-in effects, 32-voice polyphony, and 100 preset plus 100 user drum kits, SR18 raises the bar for sound quality, ease of use, and flexibility.

While the Alesis SR18 is ideal for backing up guitar players and singers when no drummer is available, you might be surprised that some of the SR18’s biggest fans are drummers! With an electronic drum kit and a MIDI cable, SR18 can become a powerful sound module for drummers who trigger electronic sounds. The SR18’s fully customizable kits dish out ultra-realistic, highly detailed drum sounds that are perfect for the stage and the studio.

One of the best tools to connect your SR18 into an electronic drum kit is the Alesis Trigger|iO. Trigger|iO features ten TRS trigger inputs for single or dual-zone drum triggers, and is compatible with all Alesis pad triggers, as well as most of those from Roland, and Yamaha, and other major manufacturers. Trigger|iO’s 20 programmable presets can be used for storing and recalling various setups. It also features a plug-and-play USB/MIDI interface, which is great for connecting to VST instruments on your computer. VST instruments are virtual-instrument sounds that can be triggered and controlled using external controllers.

Here are some tips on how use the SR18 as a sound module for your Trigger|iO, USB Pro Drum Kit, or other electronic drumset. To get started, visit the SR18 web page and download the custom configuration file. You can load the file into your SR18 by connecting your Trigger|iO to your computer with USB, and connecting the SR18 to the Trigger|iO with a MIDI cable. If you don’t have a Trigger|iO, you can use most other trigger-to-MIDI interfaces, and you will need a MIDI interface to load the custom configuration file.

In the custom configuration file, each of the SR18’s kits has been optimized for use with Trigger|iO. The factory sounds, configuration, and settings remain in SR18 and are not be damaged or lost when you load the custom configuration file. You can delete the file and roll SR18 back to factory settings at any time.

Click above for a connection diagram


Using SR18’s MIDI IN jack, you can tap into the SR18’s meticulously sampled acoustic and electronic sounds with your favorite electronic drum and cymbal pads. If your drum kit has its own sound module, using the SR18 in conjunction will enable you to layer multiple sounds to create new effects, colors, and textures.

You can play along with the patterns on SR18 and create your own using drum pads. Many sounds feature Alesis’ exclusive Dynamic Articulation™ velocity cross-switching technology, which alters the timbre of the sound to reflect differences in dynamics, enabling access to a wider dynamic range and the utmost in realistic response. You can program custom drum kits from scratch using SR18 sounds and the built-in Alesis studio effects.

You can connect the pads and pedals on virtually any electronic drum kit to the inputs on the Trigger|iO. Then, all you have to do is connect the MIDI Output on the Trigger|iO to the MIDI input on the SR18, and you have access to a whole new world of sound. SR18 is packed with drum, percussion, and bass sounds that run the range from the slimmest piccolo snare to the most thundering kick drum.

Trigger|iO supports both single-zone and dual-zone pads and cymbals, as well as the choke feature found on some newer cymbal triggers like Alesis’ SURGE 13” Crash with Choke and SURGE 16” Ride with Choke. When connected through the Trigger|iO, the SR18 takes full advantage of the expressiveness of these new drum triggers. Dual-zone trigger inputs enable you to trigger two different sounds from dual-zone pads, such as a tom on the head and a cowbell on the rim.

All of the SR18’s recording and playback features are still available, even when used as a sound module.  At any time, simply press record to capture your performance as pattern, which can be looped, added to, stored and played back from any of the 100 user presets.  You can also patch a CD player or iPod into the SR18’s rear input and play along with your favorite songs. 

If you’re after the ultimate setup, our new USB Pro Drum Kit combines a Trigger|iO, our best 8” drum pads, and our revolutionary SURGE Cymbals into one unbeatable package.

No other electronic drum kit offers such a realistic acoustic drum feel, superb response and advanced trigger interface.

Connect an SR18 to the USB Pro Drum Kit and you can go from studio to stage and leave your computer and bulky equipment rack at home.

SR18 is becoming a favorite of drummers around the world with its fresh, real sounds, Alesis effects, and Dynamic Articulation™ technology. With just a couple of minutes and an inexpensive, common MIDI cable, you can harness all the sounds and power for your drum setup.


Alesis SR-18 Professional Drum Machine

Alesis Trigger|iO

That wraps up Tips & Tricks for this month. Stay tuned for more tips in each issue. Do you have a tip or trick you’d like to share with us? We’d love to hear about it! Send your Tips & Tricks to .