31 March 2009

Lift from AeroDynamics preview on MySpace

Since MySpace is my main source of marketing I decided to do something extra on there. I'm featering the song 'Lift' from my first album 'AeroDynamics' on my player there to promote my first album a bit more. So if you don't know that song yet go and have a listen on my MySpace page. You can't hear it anywhere else. You can find my MySpace page here: http://www.myspace.com/synthnl.

If you don't have an account there yet. Make one and become my friend as well on there. MySpace is a great place to discover new music. Please note that you will need the latest Flash player installed to be able to listen to the player on the MySpace page.

30 March 2009

Synth mounting creativity

When a normal person looks at a picture like this he probably thinks that it is a nice picture with a lot of synthesizers on it. Well that was not what I thought. I was thinking it should be possible to mount on more synthesizer there. The stand on the right where the two Roland are on was designed to hold 3 synthesizer, but when I mount on more on top of that it blocks the vision into the rest of the studio and that makes everything looks smaller. But I thought maybe there is a way to mount another on just above the Yamaha, but I didn't want to buy an extra two synth stand for that. So I came up with this:

As you can see in the picture I managed to mount a Roland Alpha Juno 2 above the CS50 without sacrificing any vision and also not too much space in the room. I used the mounting holes for the third synth from the stand where the Rolands where on and mounted a bracket from the synth mounting system I use on the walls backwards on that stand. Fortunately there is a nice way Quicklok uses to adjust the angle of the stands that was identical on both the systems.

Here you can see a close-up of what I did. As you can see I did the same trick on the other stand that was next to it. I had to use other bolts and nuts though. The new bolt had to be a bit longer than the one Quicklok supplies. That one just didn't go far enough through to screw the nut on. But you can get this stuff in any hardware store. So with four bolts and four nuts and two remaining wall brackets I actually made room for two extra synthesizers in my studio. I think my wife will be so happy to hear this ;)

In the picture on the right you can even see an overview of the extra space that I created. It cannot hold a very deep synthesizer, but I already selected a suitable candidate to go into this spot later on. The synthesizer you see in the front by the way is an Yamaha SY99. That may well be one of the best digital synthesizers yamaha has ever built. Vangelis used it a lot actually. It uses FM synthesizes combined with samples. But the best thing about it is the effects sessions. You won't believe how good the reverb sounds on this machines, making it perfectly for ambient sounds. There SY77 is also nice for this. This is also the biggest keyboard I have in the studio and since my oldest daughter just said that she wants to learn playing the keyboard or piano as well. It will be nice for her to practice on it. You can use the extra octave for that of course.

Apollo Studio Airco Installation (Part 3)

All work on the installation of the air conditioning is done now. Here you can see a picture of the inside unit that was placed in the server room next to the studio. This one was really necessary since there is a lot of computers and storage units in there. When I switched everything on and closed the door it would get very warm very quickly. This unit is a special unit that can run day and night and it regulates itself so it doesn't run full speed power all the time like a lot of airco units do. It also uses less power in this way.

Here you can see where it is placed. It is on the back wall of the server room directly behind the 19 inch rack that holds all the servers and storage. As you can see it takes two 230 Volt power lines to hook it up. A special group was created for this unit as well by the electrician on the power distributor that he made downstairs. I'm not sure why there are two power connections I think one is for the inside unit and one is for the outside unit since they pulled an extra power cable along with the cooling pipes to the roof. But I forgot to ask about this.

And here you can see the result of the airco. All equipment is switched on now and the door is closed. It felt nice and comfortable right away. I put the air conditioning on its highest possible cooling and after a few hours I measured and the result. It was a stunning 19 degrees Celsius!! The humidity is quite stable stable at about 54 percent which is ideal for the equipment and I put the temperature higher now to 23 degrees. That is cool enough for the equipment and takes less energy. It has no use to make it too cold. Well this concludes the airco installation. At least something is really finished now :)

Roland System 100m

I recently acquired a very nice piece for my collection. It is a Roland System 100m (semi) modular synthesizer. It is a very nice analog synthesizer with a very typical sound. I found one is pretty good condition that came together with a Roland Model 181 keyboard. This keyboard outputs CV and Gate and is also very usable with the other modular synthesizers I already have. So I can quite pleased to find this set actually. One thing that was strange though is that it came with a 120 to 100 Volt converter. This indicates that the power supply apparently doesn't handle 120 Volts well. And I will have to go down from 230 Volts first as well.

Here is a closer view of the modules that are in the cabinet. From left to right there is the '112' which is a dual VCO, the '121' a dual VCF, the '130' a dual 'VCA', a '140' that has a dual Envelope and also an LFO and finally the '150' that also holds an LFO, a noise generator, a Sample & Hold and a Ring Modulator. So all in all it is quite a complete monophonic analog synthesizer on its own. Below the modules in the cabinet is also a nice board with multiples to be able to use the signals on more than one connection. And on the back are some connectors as well to connect the modules to the central power supply that is in the cabinet.

The keyboard fits perfectly with de modular desk and fits right under the raiser that I made in the center. And even then I had room left to put my soldering iron right of it. Looks nice right? :) I had the keyboard of the Formant there before, but I think this keyboard is more versatile since it has the outputs for CV and Gate on the keyboard itself. The keyboard does have to be connected to the modular though cabinet, since it takes its power from there. When connected the CV and gate signals are prepatched by the way to the modules. So in fact it is considered a semi-modular for this reason. I don't know actually if there are more prepatches. I'll have to find out.

I put the modular itself on top of my modular cabinet for now. I can take it down easily if I want, but probably it works fine when it stands there. I don't think the electronics would have anything to suffer from it standing on its side and the spot that was still open is perfect for it. I put the Formant keyboard on top of the Formant synthesizer for now as well. I'll probably won't use it so much when the Roland keyboard works like it should be. Hopefully I can start working on my DIY projects as well soon. I still have lots of stuff to finish, but I want to finish work on the studio first. And besides that last week I started to finally make some music as well. And that was also too long ago.

28 March 2009

AtmoSphere now on Amazon

My AtmoSphere album is now also available on Amazon.com. You can buy the album in digital form here as MP3 download. You can find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Atmosphere/dp/B001U27E38/

Even though I'm quite happy with these new ways of distribution, since I know lots of people buy music this way nowadays, I'm not really into this myself. I still prefer a physical CD for my record collection. I would like you to consider the same as well since the quality of the music is even better and you can enjoy the artwork even more and read some interesting stuff about the album in the booklet. Well in case you agree with this you can find the other sales links take sell physical CD's on this URL: http://www.synth.nl/AtmoSphere

And please do consider to buy my music when you like it. You will support me and my record label for the hard work that was done and you will make future releases possible.

And thank you so much to everybody that already supported me! I do appreciate it a lot!

Synth.nl mentioned on the Cakewalk Blog

It looks like Cakewalk/Roland noticed the blog posting I put up on the V-studio 700 console I put up on here. I found this post through the Cakewalk newsletter they send out to their customers. It is nice to get some exposure in this way. Too bad though that they didn't read that well in the biography on my website and got the date wrong that I started producing music on the bottom of the article. That happened in 2005 and not 1990. That was the time I started collecting synthesizers actually. Ah well I shouldn't complain about some free publicity right? ;) Here you can find the Blog posting they did:


Apollo Studio Acoustics (Part 7)

Recently I also did some new measurements together with my friend Hans in the studio. This time we tested with the bass traps in place. Compared to the last measurements it looks a bit better and much smoother, but there are still some nasty dips there that we hoped to get rid off. So I'm afraid the bass traps alone wont be sufficient and we will have to do more to get a good room response in the low end. Something else that is strange is that the frequencies of the peeks and dips shifted a bit compared to the older measurements. I don't really understand how that can be. In the higher frequencies everything is quite OK now by the way. And for me it is good enough now to be able to start getting used to working on monitors in stead of headphones. But is as to be better to be able to make good mixes.

The waterfall graphic looks quite different from last time. As you can see RT60 decay times of the low frequencies have drastically decreased. That is the work of the bass traps dampening these low frequencies. But we did decide that it was time now to call in the professionals because we can only start guessing what to do next. So we went to ask around and found two professional acoustic engineers. I invited them both to come over and look at the room. They both had a very different approach in looking at the problem. The first one was more practical and the second one more scientific. I decided to start with the scientific one. On Monday this specialist will come and do some measurements with his own equipment and he will take exact measures of the room. This data will then be entered in a special computer program that will start simulate the sound behavior in the room. From these simulations it is possible to predict what needs to be done to solve the problems. With this data I will go to the first specialist and together we can then determine what needs to be build or bought in acoustic treatment. I'm quite curious what they will come up with. This whole acoustics theory really is starting to fascinate me. I learned a lot of new things in a short time. I'll keep you posted on the progress :)

Apollo Studio Airco Installation (Part 2)

The airco installation in the studio is done now. Here you see a picture of the unit that is placed in the hall. On the left you see a little pump that pumps out the moisture that is taken from the air. This water is then pumped upstairs. You can also see that they made a nice enclosure around the airco unit from white painted steel. It looks much nicer now. It is still a big thing, but it is just a hall where it is hanging so who cares :) It shouldn't have been much deeper though. The door can only just open under it.

On the other side they also made a nice cover for the hole they made. They mounted a wooden plate and painted it in the right color with the paint we still had left. When they were done installing they switched it on and there was no cold air coming from it. They said it would take a while before it would be cold. But after an hour or so it still was blowing air at normal temperature and it even switched itself off after about two hours. So the next day I called them and they came very quickly finding out that they forgot something silly on the outside unit. But after that it worked like a charm. It is much nicer to work in the studio now. And the noise is quite low, but I can switch it off with a remote when it is not nessecary.

The electrician was there during the installation as well, to provide the airco installation with power from two extra groups. He also mounted an extra pump for the ventilation system. We used to have one for the upstairs and downstairs of the new part together. But since upstairs in this room there is a washing machine and dryer the ventilation has to be on full power, where for downstairs the medium power was sufficient and gave less noise in the studio. So now they are separated on two pumps and I can control the new one from downstairs as well, where the controls used to be upstairs first. The control comes with a timer as well, each time I press a knob I can give it 10 minutes of full power. So usually when I leave to studio I press it a couple of times. But now everything is nice and comfy. Last thing left is an airco for the server room. There airco is needed because it gets very hot from the computers running there.

22 March 2009

AtmoSphere review on Guts of Darkness

Sylvain Lupari of Guts Of Darkness just wrote a very nice review on my AtmoSphere album. You can find it here:


But since it is in French I place an English translation here that he posted on the Groove Unlimited website.

Please enjoy :)

Michel van Osenbruggen (Synth. NL) 2nd album is inspired by the layers of atmospheres which surround our planet. A little in the same vein as its 1st opus, AeroDynamics, the Dutch synthesist continues to forge energetic music with catchy rhythms. Atmosphere offers a beautiful range with a touch closer to nebulas atmospheres than cosmic one, as we found on AeroDynamics. A new kind of progressive synth pop with a heavy approach. Troposphere is fomented like a grain in space. A train comes from nowhere and releases heteroclite sound effects. The ambiance is cosmic, except for fine cymbals which initiate a percussion set more vigorous, in a cosmic sphere with Mellotron chorus and light hazes. A syncopated sequence is melting agreeably in this space landscape, creating a sustained rhythm which girdles an active nebulosity. In a track, Synth.NL situates his music. Melodious and rhythmic, stuffed of heavy Mellotron which gives the impression to slow down the tempo. Heavy and dilly-dally Troposphere, just like Cumulonimbus which seems to be his remix, rebound in the tympanums with an amazing sound richness. Atmosphere abounds of these titles with vaporous and climatic intros which lead to frank and vigorous rhythms, with a Jean Michel Jarre touch. Titles like Troposphere, Altocumulus, the excellent Altostratus and the very Jarrian Exosphere with his delightful violins, exploit chipped sequences on percussions very well freshened and on melodious synth. Some great cosmic candy, intelligent and appealing. Stratosphere intro plunges us into a cosmic static broth which is animating softly on circular cymbals and a hiccupping sequence which surrounds a movement hardly rhythmic. Melodious, the synth floats wistfully whereas the title immerses in a black mood with, in background, the initial melody which floats more than agitating. One of the more ambient tracks we find on this album, along with Thermosphere and Cirrostratus which always oscillate between the fragmented nebulosity and rhythms. Atmosphere is more elaborate. A soft rotary sequence with a Mellotron choral insufflates a soft melody that dry strike of percussions does not manage to spoil. A good track, like the majority that composes Synth.NL 2nd opus. Synth pop with a more progressive touch, like Mesosphere and its long synth solos and Nimbostratus with its dramatico-cosmic approach.

If you have like AeroDynamics, AtmosPhere will not disappoint you. A strong album in rhythm and which brushes the roots of ambient EM does not go unperceived. There is a strong Jarre influence, in particular on percussions and synthesized refrains which bite easily the ear. A good album for fans of pop synth, with great percussions moves and well builds orchestrations.

21 March 2009

Follow Synth.nl on Twitter

I was asked by some people to join Twitter. So I just setup a new account. You can follow what people are doing on Twitter. So from now on you can follow me too. I'll try to update this regulary. It is simple to sign up, so if you don't have an account yet, make one and start twittering :)

You can find my profile here: http://twitter.com/synthnl

20 March 2009

Roland Jupiter 6

A couple of years ago I bought a Roland Jupiter 6 when I was actually looking for a the Jupiter 8 sound. When I finally got the synthesizer I liked the sound a lot but was even well disappointed, because it sounded nothing like the Jupiter 8. I thought a Jupiter 6 was just an 6 voice version, but it is a completely different synthesizer. So after a while I sold it and started looking further for a Jupiter 8 that I eventually found as well. But it took a while before I found one. After a while I already regretted selling the Jupiter 6 since it does have a very nice sound of its own. It is less powerful and warm than his bigger brother, but it is very good in more subtle and clearer sounds.

So I started looking for a Jupiter 6 again but wanted a nicer one that I had (because that one wasn't looking so great) and it needed to have the Europa midi upgrade installed. I had that in my previous one as well and that just adds some neat extra functionality. Then I came across a Jupiter 6 on E-bay that looked so mint that I couldn't believe my eyes. Judging from the pictures it looked as new! Not even a scratch on it. So I decided to go for this one. Well yesterday it arrived and it looked even better in real life than in the pictures. It is just amazing how a synthesizer from 1983 can look that good. And luckily when I checked it out today it sounds like new as well :)

Of course I didn't have to think long where to put it in the studio. I placed it on the same stand as the Jupiter 8. Doesn't this look like a great pair? :) And I can tell you they sound like a great pair as well. I had trouble to stop playing on this nice combination but I had to get back to work :) It is very nice to have the Jupiter 6 back in my collection and now I'm sure I'll never sell it again. Now I just have to find a new spot for the Juno 106 that was in this spot before. Well I'm sure that I'll find a nice place for it :)

Apollo Studio Cabling (Part 6)

I'm very busy at the moment connecting all the analog audio in the studio. For that I'm doing lots of soldering at the moment. On one side I'm making existing cables to the correct length. That means cutting the cable en resoldering the plug. Of course I can only shorten cables this way ;) The other thing I'm doing is soldering a lot of new cables. It is funny how you always end up with cables in two lengths: Too long and too short :) Ah well I don't mind soldering at all. I think it is nice work that I can relax too. I have doing this while listening to some old Vangelis and Jarre albums and that was quite OK :)

Here you see my stack of connectors that I use. Mainly XLR and Jack plugs. I always use the same brand by the way. It is called Neutrik and they are very high quality. The big advantage is that the part that holds the metal pins is made of Teflon and not regular plastic. That means that it doesn't melt on you when you make it hot. And with the new silver containing solder the temperature has gone up. I'm soldering at the moment at 350 degrees Celsius and most plastic is long gone by then.

And here is the result of a few hours of soldering. These are 32 cables with a male stereo jack on one end and an female XLR connector on the other end. I use them to connect the balanced outputs of my DI boxes to the patch panels I have on the patch islands in the studio. In total I need 64 of those cables so here I was halfway. I'm done by now by the way. And if you are wondering why I make these cables myself: Well to start with it is cheaper than to buy quality pre-made cables. Secondly they are exactly in the right length. This saves a lot of mess and space. And st last I just like doing it myself. And next is installing these cables in the patch islands. To be continued...

Apollo Studio Airco Installation (Part 1)

Today we started with one of the last technical projects for my new studio. The installation of and air conditioning system for the studio and the server room. We hoped it wasn't necessary, but the server room overheated very quickly with the door closed. And that door was there for a reason namely to keep the noise out of the studio. And in the studio I was very much under the impression that there wasn't coming enough fresh air in just by the active ventilation system that was initially installed. When I was working there for a longer period it just didn't feel comfortable any more. So first thing today was drill a large hole from upstairs to the server room for all the piping to go through.

Here you can see the big diamond drill they used for that hole. The chunk of concrete you see lying next to the drill isn't all by the way. The whole of that drill was necessary to get down there. It took almost an hour to do this. The concrete is very hard and they hit a lot of steel. These kind of drills also use a lot of water so it was quite messy. Luckily we packed everything in plastic downstairs below the hole (well were the water was supposed to come out) and that worked well. So nothing spilled on the carpet or anything. The hole is big enough by the way to stick your arm in.

Next thing to do was to cut a large hole above the door of my studio. Trough this hole the fresh air will be blown in later. It is amazing by the way how much easier the studio door closes and opens now this hole is there. There is no more pressure difference. This also indicates me that there is no way enough fresh air was being sucked in just from under the door. So I'm glad I decided to install this after all. Of course this hole will be covered later by some nice air outlet panel. This hole was a lot easier to make by the way since this wall is not made of concrete. It is just an inside wall made of kind of big brick like blocks.

And in this picture you can see the other side of the wall. The inside air conditioning box is mounted on the ceiling. Between this unit and the hole over the door they will mount a special sound dampener to make sure there won't be too much noise in the studio from the airco unit. This unit outputs the cold air and on the other side there will be another unit on the roof that dissipates the heat. There will also come another inside and outside unit for the serverroom. For this reason they had to drill the big hole since all the cooling piping and also electricity has to go through for both units. On Monday they will continue this project and hopefully I'm ready for the summer then :)

16 March 2009

Apollo Studio Cabling (Part 5)

I though it would be nice to show you some more pictures of my cabling job so far. In the pictures on the left you see the back of my Friend-Chip DMX32. On the left of it are all the SPDIF connections running to my digital synthesizers. Most of the ports are optical and some are coaxial. You can also see the Word Clock connection on the BNC T-connector there as well and on the right you see the ADAT connections that are also optical. Above this DMX32 is also a DMX12 that I'm not using yet. This one will be only used to convert some SPDIF connections from coaxial to optical. Below the DMX32 is also a DMX16 that I use to hook up my digital Sound Effects equipment.

On the right is a picture of the right side of the back of my main desk. I showed you pictures of that before, but these are a bit more crowded as you can see. You can clearly see two of the hooks that I use to guide the cabling with. As I explained before I don't tie cables up any more, since that only makes it more difficult to remove or reroute cables later. Most cabling you see here is still only the digital cabling. I just started with the analog audio cabling very recently. The only thing working on that part is the monitoring part (the output) at this moment. Though it looks like a mess it is actually very organized :) I know exactly what everything is and where it is going to.

Here you see another picture of the left part of the back of my main desk. Here you can see the guiding system even a bit better. As you can see there is already quite come cabling in there. And there is more to come, but most of that wont go over these paths but more from the bottom 19'' cabinets into the studio. Last week I tested all the digital connections and everything seems to work perfectly. It was nice to finally hear some sounds coming from my main studio PC and also to test the new Sound Effects units that I acquired after I tore the studio down upstairs.

In the picture on the right you see the back of one of the lower cabinets of the main desk. My furniture builder Gerrit also mounted some 19 inch profile on the back (just 8 HE) where I installed some patch panels now. I can connect synthesizers and AD/DA converters with short audio cables to these patch panels and then run multi-cables from there to the Islands I build. The advantage of multi-cables is that they are 8 cables bundled in one bigger cable and that makes less of a mess and is easier to install of course. I use these to travel distances of about 5 meters.

I didn't want to spare you a nice shot like the picture on the left either :) Again it looks like a mess, but it isn't ;) Well I hope this gives you an idea what I have been doing the last weeks and also why it is taking so long. It is a lot of cable and most of it has to be put in places where it is not easy to reach. What you see here is only the inter-cabinet cabling and there is also a lot of cabling inside the cabinets, but that is a bit difficult to show on the pictures. Last week I also tested all my AD/DA converters and now it is time to hook up the synthesizers and other equipment with analog outputs and inputs up to those :)

15 March 2009

AtmoSphere Fan Video

I got this very nice video sent to my by someone that obviously liked my 'AtmoSphere' title track. I love the animations and pictures he used. Give the guy some credits :)

You can use this link for better quality audio:


Main Studio PC reinstall

Last week I have been busy reinstalling my PC. I had some trouble with this machine. I moved around a lot with hardware and installing and deleting drivers usually leaves some mess behind. So I decided to take out my Windows Vista CD and start all over. It is a lot of work but usually worth it. It is just amazing how much software I have installed on my PC. Here you see a crate where all the install CD's are in. I don't even use all this software anymore, but still I want to have it installed in case I need to open an old project. All in all it took me almost three days to install everything. Only Vista and all the updates and service pack 1 and then updates again is several hours of work. And then I searched for all the latest drivers for the hardware on the Internet. Ah well. Now the PC is running like new again :)

09 March 2009

Friend-Chip DMX16 Modification

Recently I bought an additional Friend-Chip unit for my studio. It is a DMX16 that I plan to use to convert ADAT into SPDIF back and forth. I needed these extra ports to be able to hook up the digital FX processors that I have that all have SPDIF connections on them and I need to connect those to my RME MADI interface which only has ADAT ports. The unit takes Word Clock from my Big Ben and there something strange occurred. When I correctly terminated the unit it didn't synchronize to the Word Clock, but when I removed one of the 75 ohm terminators it started synchronizing. But then the Big Ben showed a red error led indicating that the impedance on that particular Word Clock bus was not correct. Very strange and I was sure that I had everything connected like it should be.

At first I E-mailed the dealer where I bought it about this and they had no idea and asked me to send them an E-mail in English to explain what happened. I got an E-mail back suggesting that the input voltage on the Word Clock bus was too low and they asked me to measure the Peak-Peak voltage on the Word Clock bus when the unit was connected. I connected my oscilloscope and measured 2 Volts on that. I decided to E-mail the answer to Friend-Chip directly to save some time. I immediately got an answer back saying that the Friend-Chip needed at least 2,5 Volts and that they were going to investigate. Then I got an E-mail that they found a solution with two options. Either to send the modules to them for modification or modify them myself. So I opened the unit and investigated what had to be done.

It turned out that the modification was actually quite simple. On the two MQA modules that have the Word Clock input I had to remove a resistor. They send me this neat picture that clearly showed which resistor had to be removed. Removing it was a bit tricky since it are SMD components that are very very small. But I maned to do this quite quickly actually. After wards I carefully inspected the PCB to make sure I didn't make any short circuits and put the unit back together. I hooked it up with both the terminators attached to the unit and it synchronized perfectly and also the Big Ben found everything to be in perfect working condition :) So the modification was successful. I'm very surprised by the level of support I got from Friend-Chip in Germany and it is great that they came up which such a great solution even trusting me to do this modification myself. Big thumbs up for Friend-Chip!!

05 March 2009

AtmoSphere available on Itunes!

I'm happy to inform you that my latest album 'AtmoSphere' is also available on Itunes now. So now you can easily download it to your Ipod or Iphone and enjoy it on there as well.

You can find it on this URL: http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewAlbum?id=305060604&s=143452

If this doesn't work you can just search for 'Synth.nl' in the search box of your Itunes application.

If you don't have my first album yet. That one is also available on Itunes on this URL: http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewAlbum?id=270538959&s=143452

For other sales options on my albums just visit my main website op http://www.synth.nl or E-mail me when you have any questions.

Thank you very much for you support!

Apollo Studio Cabling (Part 4)

I'm still very busy cabling. By now I'm done with all power and midi cabling. And also all digital synthesizers that have USB are connected and most digital synthesizers over SPDIF are connected. But still lots of work is to be done. In the picture you see a mobile 19" rack that I use as connection islands. In total I have three of these throughout the studio. In these racks you see some patchpanels for balanced and unbalanced audio, some DI boxes to go from unbalanced to balanced, an AD/DA convertor, a midi interface, a midi patchbay and a box to transfer ADAT over UTP. In this way I can connect all analog audio and midi cables to the nearest island to keep the cables as short as possible.

In the picture on the right you see a picture of this rack from the top. The red cabling you see are balanced audio cables going from the back of the DI boxen to the patch panel. The multicables you see are going to the Lynx Aurora 16 AD/DA convertors that are in my main desk. So in this island I can chose to either connect a synthesizers audio output to the local AD/DA convertor that is a Behringer AD8000 or connect it to the Aurora 16. This makes the setup very flexibel of course. In the bottom of this rack is all the midi cabling, but that is a bit hard to see. On the top patchpanel I can connect all the unbalanced audio now coming from the synthesizers. I can chose to run them through a DI box to make the signal balanced (decouple it) or connect it directly.

Here you see another of these Islands racks in place. You can see the rack is on wheels which is very convinient since I can easily move it forward if I need to be on the back of the rack. As you can see they are positioned right above the cabling guiding system in the floor for easy access there as well. I put them righ above one of the outlets where it can get power and also UTP connection to the main desk right away. In this way I can connect every thing with a maximum of 3 meter cable where in the past I used to have 15 meter cables running through my studio and I can tell you that gets very messy. I also try to make cables fit to length as much as possible by cutting them on the right length and resoldering the plugs. Unfortunately this is not possible for all cables.

I get a lot of questions how much cabling I still need to do. Well you can see the crates in the picture on the right. They are all filled with cables that I pulled from my old studio upstairs. So most of these will have to go back in downstairs as well. And yes that is still a lot :) But I don't mind it is fun everything something new starts working again. Usually I test everything right away on a synthesizer I connect. And I need to pay attention not to play around with them too long. That slows work down a lot, but is fun of course :) But it is better to find problems right away that find that out on the end of the run and then do debugging. Once you just laid a cable you still know which one it is, but after a couple of weeks this gets harder and harder and usually it is also more difficult to reach since you put a lot of other ones on top. Just the other day I was very happy that I use this method, because I had a broken midi cable. That would otherwise have costed me a lot of time to find out afterwards. OK that's all for today. I you have any questions by the way feel free to E-mail me.

Cakewalk V-Studio 700 arrived

I posted an entry before about the demonstration that Roland did in my studio with their latest product the V-Studio 700. Well I was so enthusiastic about it that I decided to order it right away. As one of the launching customers I could make a good deal on it that will benefit us both I guess :) I will tell you more about that later. I used to work on a Tascam US2400, but always had trouble properly integrating it in Sonar. Well this really is a dream come true. This is really total integration for me. I can do almost everything from the console without even touching a mouse or keyboard. Great job Roland and Cakewalk! I love it already. This will really speed up my work flow. And it also really finished my desk.

Here you see a close up of the right part of the console. One of the things I love is the surround panner that I never got working on the US-2400. Well now it works like a charm and it even can be assigned to more functions. The transport part also is very neat. Also the jog shuttle has multiple functions you can easily assign. You can use it to navigate your project, but also to select parts of your track and zoom in and out. Very cool! The big handle you see is used for several functions as well, but the neatest is that you can fade the controls from your loaded VST's in and out. Easy to adjust some parameter and then go back to your project without having to close and open the VST again.

And here is another close up of the left part of the console. The left lower part is what I love the most. It holds all kinds of Cakewalk functions like opnening and closing certain views in Sonar. I used to grab my mouse for that, but now it is so much quicker. In the left upper part is the ACT controller. You can use this to adjust parameter of the currently access VST. You can see in the display right away which parameter you are changing. The same goes for the faders by the way. Very convenient is that you see your track name in the display right over the fader. A great feature Roland came up with is fader locking. You can browse through all your tracks per bank of 8 faders but you can lock one of them. In this way you can assign tracks to faders from different parts of your projects and have just the ones you need at that moment in front of you. Very clever!

In this last picture you see the audio box that comes with it. I won't use the inputs and outputs on there. I'm sure they are very good, but I already have 128 inputs and outputs on my RME MADI interfaces and using two audio interfaces together is possible with WDM/KS but it will have different latencies then and that is not convenient. I usually use the ASIO drivers by the way and then it is not possible at all. But what is cool is that in this box is also an actual Roland Fantom synthesizer that you can use as a VST in Sonar. The unit acts as a DSP and doesn't use any CPU on you host. You can even add an extra ARX board to the synthesizer for even more sounds. The sounds is very good of this synthesizer I can tell you. Well all in all I'm very impressed already and even haven't dug into all the functions yet, but I already know this will save me a lot of time when I'm working on my music production. So big compliments for Cakewalk and Sonar!

Apollo Studio Acoustics (Part 6)

Last week I finally started mounting the acoustics material that I had lying around for a long time. Here you can see a picture of one of the bass traps. As I told before I ordered this special material from a German company called AIX foam. The blocks came in lengths of two meters each and since the total height of my studio is 2,40 meters I had to think of some kind of way to mount it. I didn't want to glue everything to the wall either since maybe this won't even be sufficient and maybe I need to remove them again. We need to do some measurements first. The solution was to mount a plank at about 2 meters from the ceiling. Put two blocks on top of each other. And then I had to cut another block into smaller pieces and put that under the plank. This way I can also easily remove the lower part and still be able the reach the cable guiding system that is running below it. It worked very well in both corners behind me. So now that this is done I can continu to put stuff in front of this corners and start cabling there.

Another thing I did was mounting three acoustic panels on the walls left and right of me. Just on my listening position. This is to improve the stereo image on my main monitors. It helps to keep reflections on that place. You don't want to hear sounds from your left monitor bouncing of your right wall. I didn't want to glue these panels to the wall either, so I started by drilling some holes in the wall, putting screws in there, hanging a wooden plate on the screws (just like a painting) and the glue the acoustic panels on the plates. This worked out very well. I used special glue by the way from Auralex. It is made to fasten quickly and not damage the foam. A lot of clue will probably eat up the material due to chemical reactions. I can really recommend this glue since the panels were already hanging firmly after about 30 seconds.

On the wall in front of me I had another challenge. In both corners is a cable guiding system that is 4 by 4 cm's wide. So I had to cut out a strip of 4 by 4 cm's of the corner traps. Otherwise they wouldn't fit tightly in the corners. I was a bit afraid to cut in the material at first since it is quite expensive to screw up. But well it doesn't happen on it's own. I ended up using a very sharp hobby knive (the type with multiple blades you can break off). You can normally push the blade out so that you have one long blade. Making a sawing motion I could cut through the foam quite easily and even quite precise. So this was not as hard as I had imagined. Only cutting a 2 meter block into 3 pieces is a bit harder since the blocks are quite big and you can only cut so deep. But I also managed this in the end with the same simple knife. Here you see some rest material.

I still have lots of panels left, so I can go around and fix some more problems with those. But first I will ask my friend Hanz to come over and do some measurements again to see what the effect was of this job. I hear improvement already, which is nice of course, but we need to see it in the graphs to know how much effect it had.
I will keep you informed about this process of course. Another effect these panels had in the room is because of the brighter color I have a bit more light now. There is just more light reflecting now. I will have to buy I dimmer now I guess :)