Sunday, 20 July 2014

An Actual Update - iOS Device

A lot has happened this last week and a lot of gear has finally arrived. Most importantly, I have received my new iPad Mini (w/ Retina display, 32Gb).

There have been some growing pains....

But, I'm being optimistic and everything is now working well. I've been playing along with Garageband virtual instruments and honestly, I wish I had something like this years ago.

I've even had a chance to do a couple initial test recordings. One thing became evident right away; this will not replace a proper DAW, but it's perfect for getting down quick demos.

I've uploaded a couple quick clips on my Soundcloud page. The first clip was done using the internal iPad mic (which caused a ton of feedback that I couldn't hear at the time; my fault) and the second one was done using the iRig preamp. Both left a lot to be desired.

The next time I record, I'll be running my mic through a PRE-73 first, then direct into the iRig, which will basically just serve as an interface.

Quick and easy setup.

Audiobus. This is a great app that lets you use instruments and effects from other apps and route them to your DAW. This app was a few dollars; I've just gotten used to Apple asking for my credit card every 5 minutes.

Vocalive. This app is part of the iRig suite (with in app purchases). I'm pretty sure this is where all of my bass disappeared, but I've looked and couldn't find it.

In conclusion, I actually had a lot of fun with my first recordings. I immediately want to port these virtual instruments through a proper DAW and get some actual tracking going...and that's the point. It's so easy to develop ideas that you quickly get drawn back into the studio.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Up In The Cloud

Being able to upload songs is especially vital when recording outside of the studio. Cloud services have made this incredibly easy. I typically use two of these services; both are completely free.

These are both pretty standard apps; I'm sure you can find detailed reviews online if you want to know more.

1. Transferring files between devices: Dropbox

2. Uploading songs to the masses: Soundcloud

The cross-platform compatibility of these apps, makes them perfect for this project. There may be many alternatives, but I've never had a reason to stray.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014


Songwriting is a very passionate hobby of mine, but that's all it is: a hobby. I don't work on any sort of deadline and I never force myself to sit down and write.

On average, I'll play for an hour or two each day. If I'm not working on a project, I'll just play cover songs. Once I have an idea, I don't need much motivation to lock myself in the studio.

When inspiration does strike, I'm usually out getting groceries or in the middle of dinner. Luckily, I've been using an app that makes note taking very effective:

Google Keep

This app is free for Android, but at the time of writing, no app is available for iOS (only web portal access).

Stock Image

So what makes this different from all the other note taking apps?

First of all, it's incredibly quick and simple. When you have a string of lyrics in your head, they can be lost by the time you've opened the app. Google Keep has a very effective widget that gets you straight into a new note.

So do all of the other apps...


Second, there's a lot more than just notes and check lists. Google Keep also let's you quickly attach pictures or record a voice note. This is especially handy if you want to hum a tune for later.

Third, you can colour coordinate your notes. This can be used to separate songs that are in progress or have been completed. If you like to be organized, you won't be disappointed.

Fourth...yes, there's more. Syncing is incredibly fast between devices. This is great when you are operating multiple devices at the same time. This may only apply to a handful of people, but I'm using 3 or 4 devices for this project alone.

I could go on but I feel like this post is getting a bit long...

Highly recommended!

Monday, 7 July 2014

Getting Started With Apps

There are a few apps that have become staples for me around the studio. The first of those apps is Ultimate Guitar Tabs. This app is about $3 for Android (also available for iOS).

I can only assume that UG has the largest tab library online; it's massive. In addition, this app will transpose chords to match whatever key you want to play in and autoscroll at a specified rate as you play along. Tabs can be stored on the device for offline viewing and are synced to your account for easy backup and cross platform access.

There are in-app purchases for various guitar tools, but most are unnecessary.

Definitely worth 3 bucks.

Please forgive all of this filler; my iOS device is currently shipping. As soon as it arrives, I can start the actual recordings.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

From Last To First

Today, I'd like to talk about monitors. Once you're happy with a mix, the next step is to play it through as many different speakers as possible. This allows you to hear and adjust for different treble and bass responses. The final mix must pass the drive test; it has to play nice on the stereo as you're driving around in your car.

Last step complete.

Since the songs will be recorded on my mobile device, and my device is already connected to to my car via bluetooth; at no point will I have to make a hard copy of the mix and transfer it. That step is already done.

Headphones: Audio-Technica M50s

As you can see, these are new in a box. I have two pairs. The other pair is beautifully broken in. I don't ever want to chance not having a set of these headphones. Approx. $175.

I apologize for taking such crappy photos. The full res 16MP pictures on this camera are enormous, so they get compressed to hell. I know I can just turn down the resolution in the settings, but that defeats the purpose of having a high res camera.

That being said; it is very convenient that I can take a picture on my phone, upload it to Dropbox, open it on my computer, and paste it to this blog. The only thing that isn't free, is my domain name. 

Gotta pay the man.

The Android

This was an easy choice, for many reasons:

- Pure Android 4.4.4
- Flagship specs (at time of posting)
- I had a spare one laying around

Android: LG Nexus 5

Google recently announced that it will be implementing USB audio as a standard in the upcoming Android "L" release. This is something a few other Android manufacturers have already added on their own.

What does this mean and why is it important for a studio recording device?

Well, here's my Samsung S5 running an Audioengine D1 headphone amp with nothing more than a generic $5 USB to micro-USB adapter (OTG cable) drivers, no apps, just plug and play. This makes for a wonderful listening experience and allows you to drive your headphones well past the healthy limit. OTG cables also allow you to plug in external hard drives, thumb drives, mice, keyboards, gamepads, and pretty much anything else via USB. These will be very handy features during the mixing and editing stages.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Preamp Unboxing

The first preamp I'll be testing out is the iRig PRE by IK Multimedia. This unit retails for about $40.

I chose this as my first mobile preamp because it's compatible with both Android and iOS...and it's incredibly portable.

This preamp simply plugs into the headset jack of your mobile device. It runs on a single 9V battery, which claims to provide up to 10 hours of recording using phantom power. It has a single XLR mic input, a headphone output and an on/off/48V selector switch. There is also a convenient velcro strap to attach the device to a mic stand.

I will be testing out the hardware and companion apps in the near future. Expect a few more devices to show up soon.