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Sunday, 25 March 2012

EastWest StormDrum2 2-day 50% sale

This time, its the StormDrum2 virtual instrument going on a 50% sale! Promotion ends 26 March 2012, midnight USA-Pacific time.

SD2 is a collection of beautifully recorded exotic and ethnic drums and percussion samples. These sampled percussion pieces come from all over the world, and they range from small Tibetan bells to a huge 42"  drum. For some of the ensemble patches like the "Earthquake Ensemble", they recorded it with eleven musicians hitting drums of various sizes in unison, in the EastWest Studio 1.

These can sound as big and epic, or as up-close and personal as you want it to. These are the sounds that we hear on huge movie soundtracks that we hear, ready to use right at our fingertips.

If you are working on film, games, multimedia, instruments from this library immediately takes you to exotic places and conjures up euthentic and gritty landscapes in the listeners' minds.

Go over to the product page from the links above, and listen to the demo tracks for the product and be amazed!

At the EastWest product page, Producer/Composer Nick Pheonix who is in also responsible for so many EastWest's Quantim Leap products, gives a very detailed description of the product.

He talks about the detailed programming that went into the instruments on the product page:

Generally there is a lot of velocity switching going on and some round robin (alternate) sample switching. The sounds are usually organized with the middle of the drum hits on the lowest keys, and as you move up the keys, the hits move to the outside of the drum. Use CC11 volume and CC12 pan inside your sequencer, because they work per midi channel, unlike CC7 and CC10 which control the entire instance of PLAY's volume and pan. The mod-wheel controls a fantastic filter which can give the sounds more life and sound design options. 

Here's an official demo of SD2 in action on a track called "Herophobia"

Friday, 23 March 2012

EastWest Fab Four on a 2-Day Sale: Part 2

As I was writing the last post EastWest sent another email about Fab Four being on sale!

Same deal, people. It's 50%!

Fab Four is a virtual library of 45 instruments that are inspire by the music of the Beatles.

The recording of samples were done by recording engineer Ken Scott. He was the actual recording engineer for 5 Beatles albums. This is the real thing!

Fab Four won producer Doug Roger the award of M.I.P.A 2008 for Best Sound Library at Frankfurt Musikmesse. That is testimony to the quality of work put into the product.

The instruments sound amazing and true to the sound of the Beatles, yet unlike the deteriorated quality of so many tracks from the 70s, the audio fidelity of the sampled instruments in Fab Four is crystal clear.

Here are some videos from YouTube.com: a multi-part tutorial video of the Fab Four library to see and hear the product in action!

Remember, the product is half price for 2 days only. Sale ends on 25 March 2012 at midnight, USA-Pacific time. Act fast!

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EastWest Ministry of Rock 2-day Sale!

Today soundsonline.com sent me an email.

It's a 2-days-only offer, 50% off on EastWest Ministry of Rock virtual instrument!

It's now 9pm Singapore time on the same day, so that's half the day gone. Offer ends 24 March midnight USA-Pacific time.

Ministry of Rock sells for $395 originally, and now for 2 days it is going for $195.

If you have been eyeing this, go grab it before the offer runs out!

Produced by Nick Pheonix, Ministry of Rock is EastWest's virtual rock instrument. Consisting of 4 drumkits, 5 basses and 6 guitars, the instruments carefully miked up, some with different configurations of miking techniques and different amps, then meticulously sampled. This includes multiple takes on the same note for a round-robin sample playback technique to enable a human feel when playing the same notes in quick succession.

With a long list of relevant articulations sampled from each instrument being played in different ways, there's plenty of potential for total freedom for realistic expression when using this virtual instrument library in your music.

Ministry of Rock was so well received that EastWest went on to produce Ministry of Rock 2. This successor contains a whopping 57 gigabytes of samples, about 3 times the size of the first one.

Unfortunately MOR2 is not on sale. It is selling at a regular price of $395.

Undecided? Here's a series of 3 video tutorials from YouTube.com that showcase quite a few of the instruments, showing how they can be played with convincing realism. Part 1 shows drums, Part 2 shows the guitars and Part 3 shows the basses.

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Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Johnson and Weiping's Wedding Worship Recording

Listen to this at SoundCloud.com

I've just uploaded this, so it may take a while to get converted and show up.

This is the description that accompanied the upload:

This is the recorded worship segment of Johnson and Weiping's wedding. This took place in Singapore at the Grace Assembly of God at Tanglin Road.

The first song "Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)", was sung live.
The following 2 songs "So You Would Come" and "Zan Mei Zhi Quan" were sung with my backing tracks, which I've also uploaded on soundcloud.com.
Singers were Peter Lim, Christina (my wife) and myself (the softer and muffled male voice).

Recording equipment used, Samsung Galaxy S2.

Recording has a break in the middle. Front part was recorded as a video (mp4) and the back part I switched to the default audio recorder and recorded only audio (3ga).

That is because the video was recorded with the phone pointing at the ground all the time while I had to play the keyboard with both hands.

Recording quality is not ideal because Peter and Christina were stage front, and my keyboard was positioned a bit behind. The phone was recording off the monitor speakers from stage front. (Yes it means I was barely hearing my own singing and playing, so please forgive my poor pitching)

For your amusement, you can watch (listen to) the video here:
There is a part in the middle where I raised my phone to take a quick look around at the congregation. ;) 

Monday, 12 March 2012

Creative Zii Sound T6

This is a premium 2.1 speaker set that is at the top of the Zii Sound T series. The sound is distributed across 2 satellite speakers for the mids and highs, and a bass on the woofer. The woofer is mentioned quite frequently in many of the reviews I've read. A few of the reviews mentioned that the bass tend to be overpowering. (I've set them up and I find myself turning down the bass volume balance at the woofer to only 10 o'clock, a third of the way to full volume)

The powerful volume that this set of speakers can pump out is also often mentioned in the reviews. It is praised for undistorted bass and clear highs even at high volumes. A few reviews also commented on muddy and weak mids.

I bought it at the Creative shop at Marina Square at S$445 at from the already discounted $495 (usual price was $650). There was an I.T. show 2012 going on at Suntec City Convention Centre, and this was the show price that Creative offered on the pair of speakers. 

The friendly sales guy showed me the T3. I must say that the T6 sounds much better than the T3. I think it mainly has to do with the fact that it has dedicated speakers for the mid-range frequencies. The difference between the models was like an additional dimension of sound. There was depth in the sound in T6 that was lacking in the T3. 

An added bonus on the T6 is that it featured a bluetooth connectivity option. I know that wireless audio streaming and the Apt-X audio codec is a big thing with Creative's wireless technology recently. I know wireless is the buzzword when it comes to internet/home networking/TV/audio nowadays. I know we've all been using it in our tv remotes, wifi connections. I've even played with wireless mics where its using an FM transmission and reception devices and plugged into a regular radio that is tuned to the transmitting FM frequency. My church uses wireless microphones for singers too. 

We are all used to wireless in one-way or another, but when the sales staff got me to pair my Samsung Galaxy S2 to the T6 and play a track from my mp3 collection, I was really impressed! Something inside me wondered at the possibilities when I realised I could play music from my phone and walk anywhere in the room (within the 10-metre Bluetooth range of course), and I felt a sense of freedom just thinking about it. 

The sales staff told me that I can input audio with 3 different inputs: wireless Bluetooth, 3.5mm aux-in jack, and via a USB cable. I realised that for the last option means that there must be a soundcard inside the circuitry for USB to work. I wonder if the T6 could be used on a system without a soundcard.

I asked for tech specs, about frequency response curves, and the sales staff did not know. I asked to see the packaging, to try and find any labels on the box that gives any hint of frequency response. There was none. 

I told the staff I needed time to consider the purchase, and I went immediately to scour the internet for reviews on this product. Here's some links I found:

The first link I posted actually put one of the cons for the fact that the main sound (either from aux-in or USB connection) does not mute when Bluetooth audio source is receiving and playing. I was overjoyed because this means that the T6 is acting like a 2-input mixer. Being a musician having multiple sources of inputs, I can immediately think of a few uses for this. For example, I could play a track through bluetooth and jam/practice/play along with it either from my Triton LE with on-board sounds going into from the T6 aux-in or playing on my virtual instrument in FL Studio through the USB connection from computer into the T6.  

I also could not find any information on the frequency response. The Ziisound T6 is touted as being audiophile grade in quite a few reviews and articles, but it is disappointing that I cannot find even a simple indication of the range of frequencies that it can handle. Even the tech specs in the manual talks only about the amplification and power of the device and the frequency and range of the bluetooth signal transmission. Nothing was mentioned about frequency response curves.

When I finally made the decision to buy it, however, it was based solely on the sound of the T6, and not the wireless Bluetooth capability. Nevertheless it was a huge plus! It was based solely on my ears, from what I heard of the sound. I decided I could mix my compositions and audio content decently with this pair of speakers.

Well, I have already made the purchase. I've brought it home and set it up. I do realise a certain lack of definition in the mids. Feels like there is still a small gap of some kind, that almost begs for another pair of satellite speakers to fill that gap. Nevertheless, the sound is still quite pleasant, and I believe I can work with it. 

The bass is very tight, and the subwoofer is quite solid and well built, on top of being aesthetically pleasing. Also, most of the reviews about the overly strong bass is true. When I set the bass balance it to the default 12 o'clock position it tends to be too overpowering for my purposes. I have positioned my subwoofer on my work-desk, which is made of glass. The subwoofer of my previous Altec Lansing 2.1 speakers (vs2421) was also placed as such. When I played music and movies through that set of speakers, the subwoofer tended to vibrate and shake the table, and it sounded diffused and 'unfocused' as a result. However when I play from my T6, the bass remains deep and tight. It did not cause the whole table to vibrate.

There's this feature where the top pair of speakers can be swivelled outwards about 45 degrees. In this configuration, the listener is supposed to be able to enjoy a pseudo surround effect. This may be a bonus for consumers wanting to watch a movie through the speakers, but it isn't a plus for me. It results in the sound coming out always having a very small amount of reverb. The fact that the speakers configuration options use  the default Windows 7 features, means I have no way to turn off the reverb. There isn't a dedicated Creative Zii Sound Control Panel here. I'll have to consciously ignore that reverb and get do a mental offset of the reverb in my head.

All in all, except for a little bit of inconveniences here and there in the features, the set still sounds good, and I got a good price from the exhibition promotion.

See pictures of my unboxing in the next post!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Creative Zii Sound T6 - Pictures

The incoming set of speakers: Creative Zii Sound T6

Everything the packaging contains

Mystery: Tech specs does not mention frequency response of the speakers. 
The speakers come with a free pair of earphones

The out-going set of speakers: Altec Lansing VS2421

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Purchased the Sample Logic Try Pack!

I purchased the Try Pack from Sample Logic last night. It is really a pack filled with good sounds, high quality and a really good look at whats the various products are about.

All the instruments run on Kontakt player. So I had no problem loading them up and browsing through them.

This is really a sampler pack (no pun intended) with a wide range of variety, truly showcasing the superior sounds quality and musical expression of their product. These by themselves are definitely very usable, and I am glad I bought them. Truly opened my eyes.

I especially like the concept of being able to sculpt your sounds through step-sequencing every parameters in your effects and tone generation section, as they have done in the instance of Cinematic Guitars. This truly gives the composer and sound designers limitless possibilities for generating new sounds every time.

I am regretting not taking advantage of their very recent offer. I guess I'll have to start saving up for some of these!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Sample Logic's 50% Sale!

Sample Logic is having an extraordinary sale! 50% off all their boxed items!
Offer ends 10 March. Thats 4 days away! If you have been looking at their products and waiting for the right time to buy, NOW's the right time! ;)
(Just in case you were wondering, I am not affiliated to them. I just find that they have good products, that's all.)

Sample Logic has its own collection of demo tracks from its products on soundcloud.com: SL sounds on soundcloud.com.

Wanna watch more demonstration videos of Sample Logic's products in action? Check out their youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/samplelogic?feature=watch

And of course, here's Sample Logic on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/samplelogicllc?ref=ts

I've heard of Sample Logic from way back. But I've never actually went to check out their site and products. From a banner ad at the VI Control forum, I saw this and finally came to their page.

I am pleasantly surprised by the their ground breaking innovation and the quality of their product. It shows because many of their virtual instruments get awards and are highly acclaimed.

They also make the instruments with the end users in mind -- the musicians who are going to express ideas through the instruments. It is also their objective to let their products inspire and motivate the musicians in their creation process. That is a tall order, in my opinion, and from all the positive feedback and acclaims they've received, Sample Logic seems to have more than achieved that goal.

I am keeping my eyes on Synergy and Morphestra. Cinematic guitars sound very good too, but a bit too specialised for me at this point.

For those who want an all-round collection of instruments to suit all genres and styles of music as your staple library, you can purchase the The Elements Exp. This features a whopping 14GB of samples containing 2000 instruments. It can also be expanded to another 350 extra instruments and multis with just $40.

For a bite-sized taste of everything, a very tempting Try Pack is available, where you get a collection of 35 instruments totalling up to 750mb of samples, all that for just $5. Well worth the money! I definitely recommend giving this a go.

These products are a very usable and inspiring addition to any musician's library.

In a market of virtual instruments already filled with libraries that boast of hyper realistic reproduction of real instruments that exist, Sample Logic has provided musicians and composers with an additional level of creativity and control. This enables them to break the boundaries of realism and take those instruments to new frontiers, creating expressive sounds that would take huge amounts of time to tweak and set-up, using multiple processing tools. Now they are all here in one place.

It is a brand new world of instruments geared towards creating and designing new sounds, adding that fresh touch to your music. The products would augment your arsenal with something unique, inspiring and usable right off the shelf, Sample Logic products are definitely worth a look.