27 November 2010

Apollo Studio Decoration (Part 2)

Last week I started again to work on the decoration for my studio. I'm going to build this rocket together with my oldest daughter. It is the original Saturn V rocket that landed Neil Amstrong on the Moon in 1969. As you might have read already I'm currently working on an album about these Apollo space missions to the moon back then. When this rocket is ready it will be 114 cm tall by the way, so it is quite a big model kit. I don't know yet though where I'm going to put it :)

First thing to do is build the platform that the rocket will be standing on. We are doing to paint job together. It is hard for me because my daughter is a bit less careful and less patient than I am. I will have to put my perfectionism a bit aside now and accept that the outcome will be a bit less than when I did it on my own, but well this project is about the fun of building it and not about making the perfect rocket :) Besides it is dark in the studio so probably you won't see that the paint work is not so perfect anyway ;)

When I started with the rocket my youngest daughter was a bit envious and also wanted to help, but I promised my oldest daughter that I would build the Saturn V rocket only with her, so I decided to build another kit with my youngest daughter. We are going to build a Space Shuttle together. It is really fun to do this with them. So much fun in fact, that last week I bought a few more kits from E-bay. I explained to the youngest one that NASA used the Space Shuttle to build the International Space Station and there happened to be a model kit of that as well. So I ordered it and we will build that later. I also found some very old kits of some Russian rockets that put Sputnik in orbit and put Yuri Gagarin in space. I couldn't resist bidding on those as well. So we will have plenty to do to get through the dark winter days here :)

23 November 2010

Interview with Sylvani Lupari

I recently did a nice interview together with Sylvain Lupari who writes for several music magazines. We talked a bit about the Refuge en Verre album and the cooperation that I did with Ron Boots. You can read the interview on this URL:


Sylvain also wrote a review of the album that you can find on this URL:


I'll also place a copy of both on my own website very soon. Enjoy :)

20 November 2010

Apple Ipad in the Apollo Studio

Last week I sold my Korg Mono/Poly. It is a really nice synthesizer, but I just could not find a nice spot for it in the studio. With some cash money in my hand I couldn't resist getting an Ipad for the studio. I had seen so many nice apps for it already and last week Jazzmutant declared the Dexter end of life, so I guess eventually I won't be able to use that one in the long run any more, so better look for something new already. Here is a picture of them together so you can compare size. I played around a bit with the Ipad already and  I must say it is much more responsive than the Dexter. Apple has made that touch surface so good. The Dexter feels more solid though and is made to reside on a desk, where the Ipad is more a mobile device. I must find a nice stand for it I guess.

The next thing to do was rearrange my desk again. I was so sure last week that I had the right setup, but now I had to add another device on an already crowded desk. Eventually I managed. The app you see running on the Ipad by the way is the new iMS20. An emulation of the Korg MS20, I must say it is a really really cool app :) I haven't connected the audio of the Ipad yet to my PC, but over the headphones it sounds very good as well. Too bad there is no digital audio output on the Ipad. That would be really cool, but I guess most people use analog audio inputs on their DAW.

Here is a picture of my complete workspace again. I think I like the Ipad best in the horizontal position, I just need to find a stand to tilt it up a little bit and to have it more solid on the desk. But now I'm going to look for some more apps. I'm looking at Touch OSC now. An app that turns the Ipad in a midi controller. That is actually what I'd like to use it for. I just have to figure out how to get that working with Sonar. But from what I've seen to far from the Ipad I can highly recommend it for usage in a studio. There is just too much cool stuff already and I'm sure there will be lots more to come in the future. I really hope Cakewalk will see this too and integrate support for the OSC (Open Sound Control) protocol from the Touch OSC app and I'm sure more will follow.

19 November 2010

Great Fun at Hampshire Jam 9

Last weekend I joined the Ron Boots and his new band 'Morpheusz' on a trip to the UK. They played on an Electronic Music festival called 'The Hampshire Jam 9' in the Millennium Hall in Liphook. I went a long just for fun and to help out as a 'roadie' and to sell CD's at the Groove stall. We had great fun over there and they gave a very nice show over there. Morpheusz also released a new CD recently called 'Days of Delirium & Nocturnal Nightmares' on the Groove Unlimited label. If you are interested in the music you can find some clips on the Groove Unlimited website at http://www.groove.nl/ and you can order it over there as well if you like it.

Here is a picture with the other band members. On the left is Eric van der Heijden on synthesizers, on the right is Frank Dorittke on guitar and in the back is Harold van der Heijden on drums. Next to my also Harry was there he is not in any of the pictures though since he took them :) Harry went along just like me for fun and as a roadie. Morpheusz is a real band now and they play music that is more close to Prog Rock than traditional EM, but the audience seems to love it. They just have fun on stage and that is addictive to look at. It is so much better to look at a real band than just a guy sitting behind a notebook in my opinion.

Our trip went very smooth. We left on Friday morning early to Duinkerke in France were we took the boat to Dover. From Dover we drove to Liphook where we had a hotel with a little restaurant next to it where we had breakfast in the morning. We drove with two station cars packed with equipment that we had to load and unload a couple of times because we could not leave the stuff in the car. At night we put the stuff in out hotel room to prevent it from being stolen. The gig was on Saturday and that night we also stayed in the hotel to drive back to Dover and back home on Sunday morning. The six of us had a lot of fun over there and I already said to Ron that even though I was tired after the weekend I would gladly go along the next time again.

Here is a picture of the little stall we had in the hall of the Millennium Hall. We sold quite some CD's there actually. Of course a lot of the Morpheusz CD when people walked out of the gig, but I also promoted my own music a bit of course ;) So hopefully I'll have some more requests for CD's coming from the UK the coming period. If you look closely you can see my CD's in the picture and also the new 'Refuge en Verre' album I made together with Ron. The atmosphere there in England is very nice by the way. I can recommend it. The people are very friendly and open and somehow seem to have a lot of humor. I really like that. Great weekend. Thanks guys!

Using The Last Space in the Studio

Last week I made good use of the last space in the studio. Together with Gerrit that also build my studio desk, we mounted some planks on the wall to put stuff on. Here is a picture left of the door just above the movable modular rack. We mounted some rails there with hooks where you can put planks on. In this way you can decide later on, on which height you want something. That makes it very flexible. I will use these planks to put some Apollo studio decoration on. The Moon-lander is already up there now.

Between two rows of synthesizers there was another gap. Those of you who visited my studio know that it is already quite full there, but here was still some room. So we mounted three planks there as well to put stuff on. I build some little desktop synthesizers before like the AVRSynth32 and the MB6582 and they put there quite well. Not to use them of course because then you want to have them in front of you, but just to put them away. I can't use everything at the same time anyway.

And also above the far left and far right screen in the studio we mounted a bigger plank. I'll probably use them to put on some more studio decoration stuff. I'm not sure yet :) We'll see about that, but at last the room is there. In the process of mounting this I accidentally damaged one of the screens by the way. I pushed a bit too hard with my thumb on the screen and that resulted in a crack it :( After that it was unusable. Luckily my wife had the same screen on her monitor so I used that one and gave her another one. Too bad this happened, but ah well.. I'm used to setbacks by now :)

16 November 2010

Rosée du Matin on Robocast #46

On the latest Robocast Podcast you can hear another song from the Refuge en Verre album by Ron Boots & Synth.nl that didn't get any airplay yet and also has no samples online anywhere. The track is called 'Rosée du Matin' and that is French for 'Morning Dew'. It is one of my personal favorites on this album, but it is a very quiet and slow track. So if you would like to hear this track go to the Robocast website and download show #46 to enjoy it. You can find the podcast on this URL: http://robocastradio.podomatic.com/

15 November 2010

La Roche-en-Ardenne on Elektroland #118

Bjorn Jepessen played the track 'La Roche-en-Ardenne' from the 'Refuge en Verre' album by Ron Boots & Synth.nl on his latest radio show Elektroland #118. He also played a track from the latest Nattefrost album called 'Close Encounter' were Bjorn and I play together on Elektroland #117. So Two Synth.nl collaboration track on two different shows. The shows are still online as a podcast on http://www.nattefrost.dk/elektroland. You can listen to them online, or download them to your mp3 to enjoy on a later moment.

11 November 2010

Beamer working in the Studio

When we build the new studio I told you that we also build a little in-house cinema. Before that we used to watch movies in the living room on a beamer, but in the cinema we bought a new Full HD beamer with HDMI. I kept the old beamer back then to use it in the studio. And today I finally hooked it up. Only everything has HDMI now and the beamer doesn't. I found a nice little device called a HD Fury 2 that converts  a1080p HDMI signal into VGA. This beamer is able to display that on 16:9 and it looks quite OK :) I was surprised actually about the quality.

Here is a picture I took without flash from the screen that I project on.  It is an electric screen that I can also put up when I don't need it. You also see that the same picture is also on the left and right LCD screen, that I usually use as extra screens on my PC's in the studio. I can do that because those screens are both hooked up to HDMI switches with multiple outputs and the beamer is connected to those switches as well. I do the same trick on there as I do with my sound monitors. I connect the output from the first to the input of the second switch and back. In this way I can put the picture of any source on any of these three screens. Very convenient.

And here is another overview with all the screens. Doesn't it look nice? :) Oh and just in case you are wondering which movie is playing on the screens. It is Monsters Inc. I love those computer animated movies. I'd love to do some 3D work myself, but unfortunately no talent there ;) I can do some video editing. And that is what I'd like to do some day. Make a DVD or even better a Bluray with some video's and surround versions of some of my better tracks from my albums. A sort of  'best of', but that will take a long time I'm afraid before that will be done. First some more solo work on CD. The only thing left now todo is hook up a HDMI over UTP converter to get rid of the long loose HDMI cable that is hanging in my studio now. And I still need to hook up the outputs of the RME fireface 800 (on my video PC) to the surround controller. More about that next week :)

Surround Setup Working

I wrote before that I would like to do some music with surround sound in the future. Preferably music for a movie or a documentary. (well keep on dreaming). I already put up the surround speakers in studio on specially made stands, but last week I did the cabling of these speakers. They are hooked up to an SPL surround controller, but I also needed a surround decoder. I found this little box from Teuffel. A German company that makes speakers, but also makes these stand alone DTS 5.1 decoders. I must say I really works fine.

You can see the Eminent media player on the Mixcube. It is a very small box but it streams everything from mp3, divx, mkv and you can even hook up a DVD or Bluray player, but I mainly stream audio from a little NAS file server. You can also see the found speakers sets I have in the studio now. From left to right. My Genelec 8250's those are my main stereo monitors, then the Mackies HR-824 MK1's , Avantone mix cubes and on the upper right the Behringer Thruths. I have five of them with a sub as my 5.1 monitor setup now.

Here is on of the surround speakers in the back. Today I tested everything and tried to get the levels and delays of the surround setup right. I must say I sounds very nice on this set. Not bad at all :) Below the Behringer and right of the Mix Cube you can see the SPL surround controller. It has a big knob to control the volume of all 6 surround channels at the same time. You can also select between two surround and two stereo sources. And you can also hookup a stereo monitor set. I route this signal back to my stereo controller. And from there I route also a signal to one of the SPL's stereo input. So in this way I can also use the behingers as a stereo reference. In the eminent I can also switch to HDMI or SPDIF audio. The SPDIF port goes to the Teuffel Surround Decoder and the HDMI audio out goed to a HDMI switch that can extract the audio again on SPDIF. And that one I route to my stereo setup. So I can listen to a movie from the Eminent on my Genelecs too. I hope you can still get it all. But actually anything can go anywhere :)

Leak Finally Fixed (Hopefully)

Since the last repair it rained a lot and every time I went down in the studio anxiously to see if there was water in my buckets and that didn't happen for weeks on a row now. So I eventually even removed the buckets and called our constructor to come by and put the terrace back. And it has been storming outside all day and it still dry. I'm still not 100 percent sure though because we have thought a couple of times already that the leak was fixed and every time it started dripping again. But I'm starting to get my hopes.up

Too bad it is autumn now and the weather is starting to get worse and worse. Because it would be nice to sit outside and finally enjoy our garden again. Well at least we had some nice days to take a picture again of the finished garden. You can see our little waterfall in the back. Well this story has been going on for long enough I guess now. So hopefully I will never have to write again about this leak. If I do I can promise you that I will be very annoyed, but help me to hope for the best :)

07 November 2010

Studio Desktop Changes

While I was working on finished the last album I was annoyed about some ergonomics in my studio, so I decided to start changing some stuff. The first thing I did was buying a new keyboard. I'm working a lot in the dark and even though I can type blind, you have to start on the right key ;) This new Logitec keyboard is illuminated, so the letters on the keys light up in the dark. And it is a much higher quality keyboard than the two I had previously on my desk. I use a tool called Input Director now to use this single keyboard and mouse on 3 separate computers. Basically this tool makes it feel like they are one computers with 6 screens attached to it :) I also got a new wireless trackball after that in stead of a mouse. That saved a lot of space on the desktop to start with.

Then I moved a lot of stuff around on the desk to see what was most convenient. I ended up moving the Jazzmutant Dexter to the right of my keyboard. It used to be on the left, but since it is possible to control both my Audio and Video PC with it, it was more logical to put it on that side. I had to move the Symbolic Sounds Paca away from the desk to make room for the remote of the Kurzweil KSP8. That had to go more to the back. And the Paca is now right in front of my on the upper layer of my main desk, just under the screens. A much better place actually than it was in before. Maybe I'm going to use it more often now. Who knows. I haven't done much with it yet to be honest. I had to move the Arturia Origin a little bit to the right as well. It is a bit out of line now with the rack mounts behind it, but who cares? ;)

And then suddenly I had space left on the left of my keyboard. I decided to hook up my old Kore 1 controller again. I'm using some Kore 2 SFX plugins lately and Kore 2 still supports this old controller as well. It is nice to have more hand on control over the parameters. And when I was thinking about how nice knobs are I though well maybe in the space that is left I should find another midi controller of some sort. And I decided to go for a Novation Zero SL MK2. I initially looked for the Old MK1 because it has two displays, but several people told me that I'd better go for the MK2 because of drivers support with Windows 7 64 bits etc. Also the new Automap software will be developed for the MK2. I'm not even sure if I'm going to use the Automap feature since Sonar has its own ACT for this purpose, so probably it will stick in Midi mode.

And here is a little overview picture. I already did some work today again in the studio. And I must say it it quite an improvement :) Just a bit more ergonomic and also some extra knobs to tweak around with. It looks like a very small change, but actually this took me two days ;) Of course this was the fifth variation I tried and every thing is attached to cables as well that I had to redo from the back. And that means crawling behind the desk etc. Ah well I'm not complaining actually I like doing stuff like that. I still have some more stuff on my todo list for the coming week. So probably I'll post another update in the near future about the rest of the work I did. Oh and it all looks better in the dark of course so I'll try to post some pictures later on as well how it looks with the lights off. Well enough for today.