Not Obvious

Reaper & Saffire Pro40 – External Hardware Integration

2015-12-01 09_43_18-Untitled - Saffire MixControl

If you’ve got audio generated by or recorded in Reaper that you’d like to run through external hardware via your Saffire Pro40, this walk-through is for you.

Hardware setup

Before you make any connections, make sure that your monitors are off, your headphones are unplugged, and all gain knobs on the Pro40 and your external gear are all the way down.  Whenever you’re looping anything out of and back into your interface, you run the risk of creating a feedback loop.  In the event that you miss a step and produce a loop, leaving your monitors off and gains low will give you a chance to see any visual indications of feedback on the meters before you damage any equipment.

To set up your hardware signal path, (more…)


Which is Better?

I needed a few more long-run mic cables for a session the other day, so I dropped by my local large chain music store.  I poked around the cable section, but only found upper end cables that would run me $60 a piece or more.  A salesperson spots me and asks if I need any help.

Me: “Say, do you have anything 50 feet long that’s less expensive?  Maybe a store brand or something?”

Salesperson: “For longer lengths you don’t want to buy lower end cables.  For shorter lengths they are ok, but the cheaper, longer length cables are especially susceptible to degradation.”

Aside from the always irritating suggestion that I don’t want what I just asked for, the salesperson makes a pretty good case.*  What’s an audio engineer on a budget to do?

Whether we’re starting your own shop or just maintaining a hobby, we’re consistently faced with how to spend our modest gear budget.  Do we buy the cheap stuff (the low-end 50′ cable) or buy the higher-end stuff but with less features (a better cable that’s 20′)?

The problem is matter of perspective.  Go ahead and pick the cable that will give you the least amount of degradation . . . just be sure your definition of ‘degradation’ is large enough.

The cheap 50′ cable will introduce a little noise or smear the frequency response.  I’d call that degradation.  A 25′ cable at the same price will introduce less noise, less smear, but it also won’t reach all the way to my bedroom, where it needs to be to get a decent amount of isolation . . . which can cause a lot of problems during mixing and post processing.  I’d call that degradation, too.

Its easy to let the promise of perfection lure you away from the perfectly usable and economical  solution or workaround you were headed for.  Don’t let it.

*Assuming they are right about longer runs of cheaper cable degrading a signal, which they are . . . sort of.  A post on this in the near future.

Why Pre-Mixing Your Electronic Instruments is a Good Idea.

You are a modern band.  In addition to your drums, guitar, bass, you’ve brought along your keyboard, your other keyboard, your drum machine, your laptop, your Thingamagoop, and your circuit bent Speak & Spell.

And all this stuff, as wonderful as it is, is causing a crisis of conscience:  Someone, somewhere told you that you should never mix anything from the stage.  ‘You can’t hear things properly from that perspective’ they said.  ‘Let the pro do their job,’ they said.

But as you look at your plethora of outputs you can’t help but feel as though you’re asking a lot, maybe too much, of the man or woman behind the mixing desk.  So, should you stay true to the ideal of using and objective audio engineer and let them mix everything from their perspective off the stage OR do you solve what you’re fairly sure will be a logistical problem of too many inputs by bringing your own mixer, thereby committing the sin of mixing from the stage. (more…)

Make it Go: The Launchpad as Monome (Part 2 – MIDIYoke and Polygome)

Welcome back! Last time, we went over the initial setup of the Launchpad as Monome and reviewed rudimentary use of the beat shuffling program MLR. If you’ve gone through that how-to, you’re prepared for what will follow in this article. If you haven’t, I highly reccomend you complete at least the first part (Initial Setup) of that tutorial. If you’ve got no need for beat shuffling, you can skip the MLR portion.

Also, in case you did not get ahold of it last time, here’s every program you’ll need in one convenient package:
Launch-Mono Starter

Intro to Polygome

First, plug in your Launchpad and launch nonome. Depending on what you were doing last time you used a Max5 patch, nonome might try to access ASIO4ALL, even though it does not need any audio outputs.  Why? Max5 Runtime will try to use the same audio device (more…)

Make it Go: The Launchpad as Monome (Part 1 – Startup and MLR)

So, you’ve finally got yourself a launchpad.  You’ve installed the drivers and the ‘Launchpad Edition’ of Ableton Live. . . .

. . . and you are totally underwhelmed.

The clip launching is nice but that’s not what you got it for, is it?  You want to slice clips, make drones, and step sequence monome style.

Well, you can.  And, contrary to the instructions that come with the Launchpad would have you believe, you don’t have to spend a dime on Max4Live, or a full version of Ableton Live, or a full version of Automap.  Everything you need to geek out with your grid is available for free.  And I’ve collected it all in one convenient place. (more…)