London Elektricity

The Questions: London Elektricity

Another round of The Questions, and this week we’ve got Hospital Records’ own London Elektricity, whose LP Yikes! and its accompanying remixes LP is making waves in the drum and bass scene and beyond.

Name: London Elektricity

The name of the first song I was really proud of was called: Stories, by my first band Izit

Most fun person I’ve ever worked with: Liane Carroll

Best musical advice I’ve ever been given: I’m still waiting for it

A piece of gear I couldn’t live without: My wurlitzer ep200

A piece of gear I wish I could live without: My stomach

My studio environment in three words: Bedroom #4

A song I wish I’d written: Fair Warning by Todd Rundgren

If I could do it all again, I’d: Not have sellotaped my hair to my neck before going to bed when I was 15 so I looked liked David Cassidy on the bus to school the next morning.

London Electrikity: Site / Twitter / Facebook

London Elektricity has a Loopmasters sample pack out now, filled with drum and bass inspiration – and here’s a single taken from his current LP Yikes!

Getting Started with MIDI Controllers

Video: Getting Started with MIDI Controllers

It’s here! We’re continuing our video guides by following on from our What is a MIDI Controller? tutorial with a holistic look at how to get started with actually hooking up and using your MIDI controller. Rather than go into the specifics of how to connect just one particular controller to a particular piece of software, we’ve decided to show you the general principles so that you can gain a more grounded understanding of how it all works. Let us know what you’d like to see in future, from specific tutorials to more general guides!

 

drumkit

Smart Tips: Get More Realistic Drums!

Welcome to the first in our new regular series, Smart Tips! The idea of quick tips is to give you a little titbit of info and a little bit of inspiration between our more in depth tutorials.

When you’re programming drums, it’s easy to make a pattern that just doesn’t sound quite right, somehow… and it’s often down not so much to any rhythmical errors but more to do with what we associate with being ‘correct’ when it comes to drum sounds.

There are two very important things to bear in mind when it comes to programming drums:

  • How many hands and feet the virtual percussion section has
  • The physical attributes of the instrument that’s being hit
Waste of a great drummer?

To start with, let’s deal with the first point. If you’re creating a part for a standard western drum kit, then the assumption is that there are two hands with drum sticks in them and two feet for pedals. With this in mind, there’s no way that a high hat, a kick, a snare and a cowbell can all hit at exactly the same time. Similarly, if you are making a bongo part both skins and a rim all at the same time just won’t sound right. There’s an art to figuring out how to make a drum part as varied as possible in real life whilst accepting the fact that we’re not all Dr Octopus, and if you can simulate those decisions you should immediately hear a more realistic style to your drum patterns.

The second point requires an understanding of how the instruments you choose to use make their sounds and how we can simulate the same kind of response on our equipment.

  • As a basic example, take hitting a drum twice in quick succession. The second time we hit the drum, the natural decay of the first sound will be interrupted by the second sound.
  • We also need to consider instruments that can make more than one distinct sound, like a high hat. The short, sharp, closed high hat sound will interrupt the natural decay of an open high hat.
  • Thirdly, it’s extremely difficult to hit a drum exactly the same way consistently – especially for, for instance, a ride cymbal that will be constantly moving and thus nearly impossible to guarantee the exact same volume every time.
  • Finally, a drum kit takes up a fairly large amount of space, and so occupies more than one place in the stereo field.
Battery 3 has excellent voice group settings

In order to get sounds to cut themselves or each other, we use our sampler’s group and choke functions. Different samplers will require different methods to set groups up, and some (usually specialised drum samplers) are structured so that each individual slot can already mute itself, like Akai’s MPC series, and sometimes even a neighbour, like Reason’s Redrum. Because you can assign groups their own polyphony, putting your open and closed high hats in their own group and setting polyphony to 1 will allow them to cut each other out without affecting the rest of your kit. Some samplers also have ‘choke groups’, which do the same thing but don’t require polyphony to be cut.

When it comes to making samples make slightly different sounds, we have a few options. One option is to use an LFO to modulate the sound, and another probably preferable method – providing you have a keyboard/pad input device – is to use velocity so that you have complete control. Attach whichever you choose to volume, and voila.

The final point is such a simple but often forgotten tip, and that’s to give your drums some subtle stereo wideness. Maybe hats go a couple of clicks to the right, cymbal a couple to the left, and so on. Don’t forget that open and closed high hats need to be in the same place!

Now, go use these rules to make some more realistic sounding drums! And then break them all and make something crazy!

Lostribe - Sophie

Lostribe – Sophie

This Friday’s music post is an early look at Lostribe’s Sophie, due for release on August the 23rd. The team of producer JustLuv and vocalist Agustus ThElefant call in a host of guests, from Casual to Gift of Gab to Talib Kweli to produce a hip hop album with not just a broad reach but a fresh sound that successfully melds electronica with classic hip hop undertones.

a fresh sound that successfully melds electronica with classic hip hop undertones

From the juxtaposition of light guitar licks with borderline industrial sounds in Come Down and Find Some Meaning in Life’s wonky beats to No Other Word, an elegant ode to the early 2000s soulful boom bap it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Talib Kweli blessing, what Lostribe succeed with most is what much hip hop misses nowadays – a sense of variety, but with enough contingency not to feel like every track is an abstract collection. Sophie feels like an album, a collection that you can draw a circle around and enjoy an entire, self contained experience. If any criticism is to be levelled at the LP it’s that perhaps a definitive Lostribe ‘sound’ doesn’t come forward, so much as their willingness to create tracks in various styles and bring them together. Nonetheless, Sophie is impressive.


whatismidi

Video: What is a MIDI Controller?

In this tutorial, we’re going to give you a complete beginner’s guide to MIDI – something to build on for future guides, where we’ll be taking more in depth looks, looking at production software and hardware, and how to connect everything up and start making music! Enjoy…

Supraphonics

Supraphonics – Supraphonics

Classical, sun soaked instrumental funk and soul music seems to more or less something that is only heard in the 70s sections of record stores or in the hands of covers bands.

would – or should – you sample this?

So, it’s with a not inconsiderable amount of surprise that we came across this self titled album comprising solely of instrumental music from Supraphonics, a Portland based funk band. For a moment we wrestled with whether the question of whether or not the Supraphonics sound was a little pastiche, before pulling ourselves together and remembering all the unashamed genre music that we’ve been happy to lap up from more electronic climes. That question made way for another, then; would – or should – you sample this? One one hand it’s barely finished gestating (and Chris’s ‘vinyl only’ self imposed rule precludes him from even considering it), but on the other, if there’s inspiration what’s to really stop you? After all, a genuine J Dilla classic, Busta Rhyme’s Show Me What You Got, sampled Stereolab’s Come Play in the Milky Night mere months after its release.

What do you think?

 

John 00 Fleming

The Questions: John 00 Fleming

This week’s installment of The Questions sees John 00 Fleming, a trance legend, cutting his teeth on our little selection. JOOF has over 20 years experience in the business, but is only just releasing his first self produced LP Nine Lives. A DJ first, producer second, Fleming’s sound is serious, progressive, and dance floor oriented – listen to the JOOF Editions Volume 1 mixtape below to get a better idea of the John 00 Fleming sound…

Name: John 00 Fleming

Most fun person I’ve ever worked with: The Digital Blonde. I never want him to grow up

Best musical advice I’ve ever been given: Twiddle these knobs to make the sound you want.

A piece of gear I couldn’t live without: Dynaudio BMA6s monitors they are my honest ears

A piece of gear I wish I could live without: Dynaudio BMA6s, they are just too honest.

My studio environment in three words: Where’d the day go.

A song I wish I’d written: Trifonic ‘ Parks on fire’

If I could do it all again, I’d: Used ear plugs more…. dam tinnitus:(

John 00 Fleming: Site / Twitter / Facebook

 
Global Trance Grooves celebrates it’s landmark 100th Edition! John 00 Fleming 2-Hour mix by john00fleming

pair

Review: Monkey Banana Turbo 5

Pro audio equipment manufacturers trade on their reputation, and that’s never more true than in the monitors market. The focal point of most producers’ studios, it’s vital for monitors to sound great, and look distinctive enough to be recognisable. New starter Monkey Banana have certainly nailed the latter, so where do they stand in the all important sound stakes?


SPECS:

5″ woofer @ 50W, 1″ tweeter @ 20W – SNR >99dB / 95 dB. THD 0.02%/0.05%. Frequency response 55Hz-30KHz

 

PROS:
  • Distinctive look
  • Sound fantastic
  • Excellent tweaking controls
  • Balanced, unbalanced and digital inputs
CONS:
  • All rear adjustment slightly awkward
  • Not much else
Price at Review: €249The Turbo 5 is an excellent mid level monitor speaker that has the connectivity and adjustability to fit right in in your studio.
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For the more traditionally minded amongst you Monkey Banana will supply their monitors in jet black, but the adventurous will surely fall for the bold red trademark design. The hexagonal shape is unique and eye catching, and a subtle backlit logo indicates the power status of the unit.

Bass ports are rear mounted, with a grill shielded soft dome tweeter weighing in at 20W and exposed woofer that hits 50W, and that equates to each of them reaching over 95dB. Volume and pressure wise it puts them ahead of the KRK Rokit 5 and about in line with the Yamaha HS50. The size and weight of the unit is about average – there’s not a great deal of difference across the market with 5” speakers tending to come in at around 6kg and the Turbo 5 is no different.

The bass response of the Turbo 5 is very clear and well rounded for a 5” speaker

The bass response of the Turbo 5 is very clear and well rounded for a 5” speaker, and the highs are exceptionally transparent. Whilst most manufacturers state flat response up to 20kHz, Monkey Banana boast their tweeters can handle 30kHz, way past the threshold of human (and most dog) hearing limits. The result is an air that allows tweaking of those high registers without straining and a general tone that works well from rough electronica through to acoustic classical.

The Turbo range outshines pretty much all the competition when it comes to inputs, with a TRS/XLR combo input, RCA, and S/PDIF. S/PDIF is handled by including a pass through and a left/right switch on the speakers and is a really welcome addition. All three sound great, the digital input is as clear as you’d expect and the same goes for the balanced ins, but even the RCA inputs have a great SNR.

 

 

The Turbo 5′s rear is impressive

Another area the Turbo 5 really stands out is in its tone control. 100Hz and 10kHz each get a +/-6dB adjustment pot that allows you to tune the speakers to your room with much more accuracy than the switch based cut and boost on most competitors, and it’s this versatility that really puts the icing on the Monkey Banana cake. We found the bandwidth of each to be wide enough to smooth out issues with bass and those resonant top mids, not so wide that they simply relegate the mid ranges into negative space. Many of you will have less than ideal spaces to work with that give a slight boom to a certain trouble area, and the Turbo 5 have more scope than most to fixing it.

 

All in all we really, really like the Turbo 5s

Niggles? Manufacturers seem to insist on placing their on/off switch at the rear of the unit, and Monkey Banana are an equal culprit. Maybe an option to switch off the backlit logo would be nice. We think you’ll agree, these are small issues. We’re tempted to wish for front mounted adjustment controls, purely for the level of tweaking that can be done to get things just right, but it’s a general no-no across the board and we’d hate for the form of the Turbo 5 to be spoiled.

All in all we really, really like the Turbo 5s, and would assume that the rest of the range is similarly great; it’s rare for a new speaker manufacturer to come in and throw itself into direct price competition with the entry and mid level market, and the features and quality of the Turbo 5 means that we’d definitely want a pair of Turbos in our studio.

Visit Monkey Banana’s website for distributor information

Finest Ego - UK and Ireland

Finest Ego – United Kingdom and Ireland Collection

We know what you’re thinking… the Oh Drat podcast is looking strangely absent. It is coming, but it’s getting harder and harder to separate time in the lab to grow in all directions at once so we’re doing our best to make sure that we put our time into making it great… and maybe having a little think about the style and format we present it in.

musicians with various genre leanings have come together to create new styles and a scene that is held together with a six degrees of separation-esque collective similarity

This Friday’s music post is a compilation – gratis, no less – that showcases some of the finest talent that the UK and Ireland has to offer. Over the past decade, the electronic music melting pot has bubbled away like never before. Electronic musicians with various genre leanings have come together to create new styles and a scene that is held together with a six degrees of separation-esque collective similarity, as tempo, tone and rhythm are freely experimented with yet the resultant music can always be tied in context somewhere in the collective ‘beats’ atmosphere. What we’re presented with here is an amazingly sonically diverse slice of that phenomenon, from the turntable focused musing of Vince Mack Mongrul to Darkhouse Family’s take on West Coast funk, Om Unit’s mesmerising touch with rhythm and meter, and more… Download it.

Berkson and What!

The Questions: Berkson and What!

This week we’ve got two for one on The Questions, as Dan Berkson and James What, collaboratively Berkson and What! (what else?!) square up to the task. Releasing music both individually and separately, they flit between soulful deep house and a percussive, understated techno bounce that could see their music being played at various times during a night depending on the context of what they’re rubbing shoulders with – and their new Loopmasters sample pack might help you achieve the same thing – take a look. Here goes…

The name of the first song I was really proud of was called: Dan: “Easy” – Gourmet Recordings .

James: The Dig – Poker Flat.

“it’s not what you play but what you don’t play” – Berkson

Most fun person I’ve ever worked with: Dan: Robert Owens.

James: Robert Owens.

Best musical advice I’ve ever been given: Dan: It’s not what you play but what you don’t play…

James: Drop the kick on the 3.

A piece of gear I couldn’t live without:Dan and James: Roland Space Echo.

A piece of gear I wish I could live without: Dan and James: Roland Space Echo (one of them is always broken so we have three between us)

My studio environment in three words: Dan: Big Green Disco.

James: Big Yellow Storage.

A song I wish I’d written: Dan: “In Time” Sly Stone.

James: A Day in the Life – The Beatles.

If I could do it all again, I’d: Dan: skip this last question.

James: Ask for the dressing on the side.

Berkson and What!: Site / Facebook 

Check out a preview of It Feels Wrong, the forthcoming single from James What…

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