25 April 2009

Synth.nl on TDFZ Radio Dream of Peace Special

I'm happy to inform you all about a very nice radio show that is online for you to enjoy on the Tangerine Dream Fan Zone Radio hosted by Chris Newman. The show is called the 'Dream of Peace' special and it is all about promoting the peace and how music unites all of us in that. I made a contribution to this show with two nice surprises. Chris plays a very unusual track from me called 'WarGames'. I made this track just for fun in the past and it won't be released anywhere I guess, but it fitted in this show. I announce it myself in this show and tell a bit about the movie that this track was inspired me on. This movie has been very important for me and you can read in my biography why that is. The other surprise is the music that is played behind the announcement. This is actually some rough material from a track I'm working on for my new 'OceanoGraphy' album. So be sure to check this out. The show can be found on this website:


The show is in two parts since it is quite long. I'm in the first part by the way. Here are the direct download links for the two parts:

Part 1: http://soundfuturesdirect.com/TDFZ_Podcasts/TDFZ_Dream_Of_Peace_Special_Part_One.mp3

Part 2: http://soundfuturesdirect.com/TDFZ_Podcasts/TDFZ_Dream_Of_Peace_Special_Part_Two.mp3

Have fun! I hope you like it.

19 April 2009

Apollo Studio Acoustics (Part 10)

As posted before I'm still testing different monitors in my studio. I liked the sound ot the 8050's a lot, but I saw that they also have an all digital system with build in room correction (in the speakers itself). So I decided to give them a go as well. I'm currently testing the Genelec 8250's that look exactly the same, but are from the DSP powered series from Genelec, also the sub was exchanged for a 7270A and that is also the digital (DSP) version of the 7070A that I had before. It comes with a piece of software that you have to install on your PC, a special audio interface that connects with USB to your PC that also works as a network interface for the speakers and a specially calibrated test microphone that also connects to this box.

The first thing you have to do is install the software on your PC and then connect the audio interface so that the drivers are automaticly installed. This all went very smoothly. Then you connect the speakers with UTP CAT5 cable (same you use for network) to each other. You just make a big loop going from the audio box to the sub woofer and from there to the left speaker and then to the right. They all have a network in and through for that. Then when you fire up the speakers they instantly are recognized. You will also have to hook up audio after that. The sub again acts as a central hub and only accepts AES/SBU for input signals. So I put a converter on the SPDIF output I used for my monitoring. Then again you just loop to the other speakers. And in the software you appoint which speaker is left and right. A very weird way to connect speakers if you think about it, but it works just fine :)

After that you set up the microphone onto your primary listening position and start a wizard in the software that takes you through the room correction process. Speaker by speaker it does a number of tests to determine the distance, and after that a frequency sweep to measure the room response. What is very remarkable by the way is that you have to enter the serial number of the microphone. All microphones are calibrated by Genelec in a special room and a compensation is done in the software for each individual microphone. On the left you can see what was measured and compensated in the EQ of the particular speaker. I'm still experimenting around, so this wont be the final settings. But you can see how much parameters are available and also you can adjust them later manually to your own taste. As you can see it did some corrections in the low end that are in line with the measurements Toine did from Sound Scapes.

After the main speakers also a series of tests is done for the sub woofer. The most important one is a phase test. Usually the biggest problem using a sub woofer is to get it in perfect phase alignment with your other speakers. Well this is just a dream come true then. As you can see in the picture also the sub woofer has a build in equalizer and it is really bad to see how much had to be compensated here. Again proving that we need to do more on the acoustics of the room itself. But the end result is stunning. It really sounds terrific. So balanced it is almost unbelievable so I can say that the system actually works :) And it really does make the overall sound way better than the already good sounding 8050's I had. I wouldn't want to go back at this point. Actually I'm so satisfied with the result and the flexibility of this system that I think I'm going to go for it. I love the concept and sound of it. I wouldn't know what could possibly impress me more than this. Besides that it allows me to start working on my mixes already before the final room treatment is done. I like that idea as well :)

10 April 2009

Synth.nl at E-day 11th of April

I will be at the E-day festival in Oirschot (The Netherlands) tomorrow. It is a very nice electronic music festival that is organized by my record label Groove Unlimited. I will be present there with a stall so you meet me there and buy my albums there with a nice discount. You can also get them signed there if you want, also if you already own a copy. Just bring it along. There will be some nice performances during the day and there will be a lot of other artists present as well. If you can make it you should come. You can find more information about the festival on this website: http://e-day.groove.nl/

09 April 2009

Apollo Studio Acoustics (Part 9)

Last week Toine from Sound Scapes send me the first results of his measurements of the studio. He measured on several positions in the room. Here you see a combined graph of my primary listening position (shown in red) and 1 meter behind that (shown in green). Then you see three green lines. 90 dB is the volume that was send out and the graph shows the room respons. Then the result should be between the 90 and 100 dB lines. As you can see it isn't even that bad. Only in the low end on my primary listening position the are some dips. So far this is consistent with the measurements we took. We only looked at the low end until 200 Hz, so this graph looks different because it shows the whole spectrum.

Here is another graph from a measurement that was taken just before the wall in the back of my studio (at the modular desk). Here you can see also some big peeks and dips. These are the problem frequencies I hear in the room. We also walked around in the room to determine where the standing waves occur. And especially in the very low end we could determine that there was a build up in the corner near by door. We did some sine waves at 25 Hz and the door started resonating very badly and it was immensly loud. The funny this is when I opened the door it was gone. So we determined right away that this would be a good corner to do something extra to dampen these standing waves.

Toine also did some RT60 (dampening) tests like I did with Hanz as well. The first thing Toine noticed is that the test results were quite consistent. He had seen that differently. Apparently due to background noise, but my studio is very quiet so there is no interferance what so ever. Which is a good thing of course. Again in the graph you see the red lines indicating the upper and lower boundaries that the measurements should be between. You see a peak in the high end that should be ignored. Toine told me that is the measurement microphones fault. But you can also see that at 80 Hz there is clearly still a peak. This means it takes too long for these frequencies to die out in the room. The rest lookes actually quite OK. Again confirming our previous findings that we should concentrate on the low end. Toine is now calculating and simulating what has to be done to make things better. I'll update you soon on this.

08 April 2009

Roland Jupiter 4

Since I heared that all the Jupiter models from Roland sound so much different from each other I just needed to hear the Jupiter 4 as well. I started bidding on one on E-bay a while ago and I actually won it. It just arrived last week. It looks very different from the Jupiter 6 and 8 as you can see. Especially the knobs on the front are quite unusual. It was designed to put on top of an organ and I happen to have one of those :) So that is exactly where I put it. It is not in perfect condition unfortunately. Some of the preset knobs are stuck. The rest of the electronics seem to work, but it will need some service since I heard at least one voice to be out of tune a bit.

Here is another view of it. As you can see it just barely fitted under the synth mount above it. Well actually at first it didn't but I removed the rubber feet that were on the bottom. As you can see the Jupiter 4 also has wooden sides where the other jupiters have metal sides. OK now to the sound, because that is what a synthesizer is all about right :) And indeed it sounds way different. It is quite aggressive and thick where the Jupiter 8 is more creamy and soft and the Jupiter 6 is cleaner and clearer. Especially in ensemble mode with chorus on it sounds fantastic. I'm also checking now how to get midi on it. All in all a very nice addition to my collection.

New Ikea Furniture

Last week I have been very busy building a lot of Ikea stuff. I don't understand why everybody hates it so much. It is actually very nice to see and it always fits. You just need to read the manual :) (several times). What you see here are four cabinets that hold my CD collection. In the left two cabinets is only synthesizer music and in the right two cabinets is the other music I bought on CD during the years. It is not only synthesizer based music by the way. My taste is actually quite wide, you will find some pop, rock and even some classical music. There are some band that I like a lot besides instrumental music. Examples are: Eurythmics, Depeche Mode, Level 42, U2 and even Madonna. There is also some Guitar stuff there like Patrick Rondat (who played with Jarre) and Gary Moore, Jan Akkerman etc.

Here is a close-up from my Jarre and Vangelis collection. I think I have most albums by the both of them. While I was putting them in the cabinet I thought it would be nice to rip them to MP3 and put them all on my Ipod as well in 192 Khz quality. So that is what I also did last week. On our next holiday (whenever that may be) I will be able to listen to all those albums again :) The last years I'm actually buying only synthesizer music. I'm still discovering lots of new but also old stuff that I apparently missed back then. There are some colleagues on the Groove Unlimited label that I start to appreciate a lot like: Ron Boots, Gert Emmens, Frank van Boogaert and Nattefrost. If you don't know them yet I can recommend you to check them out.

If you thought that is all I did and why that took me so long. Well there is more :) These ones I also build to hold our DVD collection. My wife and I love to watch movies. All these cabinets are in the hall now between the studio and the cinema and in this way that hall has a nice new function as well. If you look close you can see that on the right are also some concert DVD's and even some VHS tapes. I just love those Jarre concert DVD's. The audio on there is in surround and so very good. My favorite though is the Oxygene 'Live in your living room' DVD. I only don't like the 3D thing they did since I get an instant head ache watching that. But luckily there is a 2D version as well. It is great to see those vintage synthesizers being used in such a nice way. If you don't know this DVD I can recommend it. There is also a Kraftwerk concert DVD in my collection and of course some movies with soundtracks from Vangelis like Blade Runner, 1492 Conquest of Paradise and Alexander. I still need to find some others that also have scores by him.

01 April 2009

Synth.nl on the Musik Messe 2009

On Thursday and Friday I will be at the Musik Messe in Frankfurt, Germany together with two friends. It is a always great place to be. We have bee there last year as well. It is the biggest exhibition of musical instruments in Europe. A lot of manufacturers wait with releasing new products there. So we hope to see some nice new stuff. I'm sure we will have a great time anyway :) We booked a nice hotel and I'm sure well find a nice restaurant as well afterwards. I'll try to make some nice pictures and show them on the blog here when we get back. So maybe I'll even see you there :)

You can find more informaton on the Messe on this URL when you are interested:


The Juno Brothers

I keep getting more and more request when I will post new overview pictures of my studio on my website. Well not yet. I'm still not completely done and I want to let my friend Chris take the overview photographs since he is a much better photographer than I am. But I'll try to sneak in some nice shots in from time to time until then. So how about this nice shot of these three Juno brothers :) On top is the Juno 106, then the Juno 6 and below the Juno 60. So do they sound the same? No not really. The Juno 6 and 60 are quite similar, very warm and deep where the 106 has a much cleaner sound. It sound a bit more digital. On the Juno 60 you can save patches though while you can not on a Juno 6. But the 106 has standard Midi and the other two don't. On the Juno 60 I use a Kenton Midi to DCB converter and the Juno 6 has a retro fit midi kit build in. Which one is my favorite? Definitely the Juno 60. I love bass lines with the arpeggiator on that one with the internal chorus on :)

Apollo Studio Acoustics (Part 8)

I have posted a lot about the acoustic treatment and measurements I'm doing in the studio. But another very important project is to select a decent pair of monitoring speakers. In my old studio I had a pair of Behringer Truths, but they are really not that good. So I went to both my regular suppliers and asked them if they could arrange that I could test some monitors in my own studio. The first pair I tested where the KRK VXT8's. For the price they are actually quite good, at that moment I was actually quite satisfied with them.

But I made a list with speakers I wanted to check out so I went on. Next on the list where these Genelec 8040's. The first thing I noticed was a much better stereo image and much more detailing a bit like they missed some low end compared to the KRK's. So I thought it would be good to maybe go for one size bigger even though I'm going to use them as near fields.

So then we went for the Genelec 8050's. And they do have much more low end. Of course because of the bigger size. But I decided that I like this better. In comparison to the 8040's they sound much more at ease. Like they don't have to work so much. I'm always amazed about all these monitor manufacturers drawing these straight lines when you look at the speaker characteristics graphics they provide, and they all sound differently ;) In the music i heard  layers I could only hear on my headphones before. So I liked these ones better than the KRK's instantly. The only thing I found was that they sounded  Ah well. I guess it is a matter of taste and also depending on your room and style of music what sounds right to you.

Together with the 8050's I also got a 7070A sub woofer on loan. I first listened to the 8050's without the sub woofer, but finally hooked it up any way. And man what a difference does that make :) I love that low rumble. I use that a lot in my music as well and since I hope to do stuff for movies in the future it could be a good thing to add a sub woofer. The nice thing is that it acts as a crossover as well. So you connect you audio outputs to the sub and then your monitors to the sub woofer. There is also a remote bypass switch on it, so you can listen with and without it. I really like this idea.

I like the Genelec setup I have now a lot, but I will test some more speakers soon. I'll update you on that of course. Last week by the way Toine from Soundscapes already did some acoustics measurements in my studio. He is a pro in this field and has a very scientific aproach to the whole matter. He instantly had some very good and creative recommendations. He is now going to put all the data he collected (measurements, room size) into a computer simulation program and I hope to get a rapport from him soon. Of course I will share his findings on my blog (with Toine's kind permission). But judging from his first impressions there is much more work to be done on the acoustiscs side. So keep following this thread on my blog if that interests you.

Intercom for the studio

Since I'm under the ground now with my studio, it is a long way to the front door. So I didn't hear the door bell any more and when I did it took me too long to go to the door. Apparently our postal delivery services in The Netherlands are not very patient. So to solve this problem we installed a nice intercom system with a camera in the hall downstairs. I can hear the bell very well now and even tell the person on the door to wait a minute or even open the door remotely when the kids are at the door. It is amazing how simple it sometimes is to solve a problem :)

Pictures from the Schallwelle Preis Event

Recently I was nominated for a German Electronic Music Price called the 'Schallwelle Preis'. Some of you voted on me for the audience price. Thank you all who voted. I was also nominated by the jury together with three other artists for 'best newcomer of 2008'. Unfortunately I didn't win eventually but it was nice to be nominated. On the event there were taken a lot of pictures. Here is one with all the nominees and price winners of the event. You can see me standing second on the right. The event was organized perfectly by the way and they took very good care of us artists :) The picture on the left was taken by Werner Vollmer. Thanks for letting me use it on here.

Here is another picture that was taken of me toghether with Stefan from the Syndae podcast. Stefan has played my music several times on there, so obviously he likes it :) I went to this event togheter with Ron Boots who was also nominated. Unfortunately he also didn't eventually win, but we had a great time togheter. You can find more pictures and information on the event and see who eventually did win on the website of the Schallewelle Preis on this URL: http://www.schallwelle-preis.de/. I hope I will be invited again next year and I can recommend you to get tickets.


I just got this update from Stefan (who is in the picture and was also in the jury):

You should mention that AtmoSphere has been voted third in the auditors' election for best Album 2008, right after F.D.Project and Schiller. And that you were voted amongst the best 10 in the artist category, too. :D Cheers, Stefan P.S.: The second photo is from Judith, my beloved partner in life.

That was even news for me :) I seem to have missed that.