Posts Tagged ‘music’

A while ago I worked through what I think was a path to make better recordings easier for myself.  If you look back at my requirements list I created, I checked off the interface by going with the Focusrite Scarlett 6i6.  I’ll be releasing a video that outlines my impressions of that but it boiled down to bang for the buck. It has two hi-z, xlr input combinations (also takes line in) on the front with more on the back.  Add in MIDI, SPDIF, and multiple headphone outputs and I’ve got a compact device that can grow with me.


After that choice it was easy to pull the trigger on the Positive Grid software.  I still want a Bias Rack at some point, but I found that Bias FX has enough amps in it as I sprung for the Pro version.  This has gotten me a good chunk of tone for not a lot of money.  This has been quite useful for the writing of my second EP, which I am in process of slowly tracking, though I am releasing as I finish each song.  This one will be interesting as three of the songs were composed using Music Score as opposed to me goofing around until I find something I like. You can hear the first track on my Bandcamp site.

In addition, I’m expanding my “studio” to include my garage.  Why? While I enjoy and want to continue to get better at creating/recording/releasing music, the music I really enjoy and write is very niche.  I know money shouldn’t be the reason to do things you enjoy, but I had hoped that I might be able to at least find enough interest to get some strings, but that hasn’t even hinted at materializing.  One EP does not a “career” make or break, but the time I have to spend on it probably means this is what it will look like in the future.


So I’m expanding more into my moniker of “Music, Make, Tech”.  That has me researching more into woodworking, but I hope to also get into electronics, CNC, 3D printing, and metalworking.   While this probably doesn’t mean side income either, it does give me more options and of course it sets me up for being able to build things for my music production.  For instance, a desk that integrates a rack to better suit my needs.

As part of this I have created a new YouTube channel under EmptyLabs, so part of my thought is that it will give me another outlet to create music, but also allow me to explore and experiment with other mediums.  If any of that sparks your interest come check it out and let me know your thoughts.  I know there is a large, incredible community of makers out there and I’m trying to document my journey into how I might fit into that world.


It has been nearly a year since my post on what I want for a studio upgrade because there have been a couple of new products that I think get me everything I need for nearly my original $300 price point. In addition it has been surprisingly difficult to find an Eleven Rack under $300. As a quick review my requirements were as follows:

  • Can I quickly capture an idea?
  • Am I able to get the sound I hear in my head?
  • Can I get a dry track at the same time?
  • Can I get the dynamics I want?
  • Can I get back to previous settings quickly?
  • Does it limit noise from my home studio environment (computer, family, dogs)?
  • Can I record whenever I want (in other words do I need a mic to capture and wake people up at 2am)?
  • Can I use that tone away from my studio?
  • Does a device need to be attached to run the software?

I had originally focused on the Eleven Rack or Bias Amp with an interface, both of which were just under the $300 budget.  A couple of changes this year have me now focused on Bias Amp and the interface, although I would be going over my initial budget a bit.

The first change was with Positive Grid.  They released a stand-alone version of the Bias Amp software so that you can now use it with or without the DAW.  The tones are killer and this ability puts that over the top, especially with the Eleven Rack now aging significantly (USB 1.0 and still not really coming under $300 even used).  The second is that Behringer (yes, I know) has come out with the UMC1820 at $300.  This is a rack mounted interface (which would work great with my desk mounted racks) that has 18 inputs, including 8 pre-amps that can be XLR, instrument, or line.  My hope is that since this interface would not be leaving my studio, that it will last.  With Bias Amp Desktop (not looking for professional at this time) at between $70 and $100 (depending on sales) it would complete the upgrade at $400 and the expansion of inputs is worth that extra money.

The other piece of equipment set to come out later this year that helps confirm this direction is the Bias Rack from Positive Grid (edit 11/02/16: there is now a pre-amp version as well at $999).  At $1200 it certainly isn’t “budget”, but looking down the road a bit it would fit in with playing live, allowing me to take the tones I will have spent time creating and push them to my power amp on stage.  In addition it appears I would get the upgraded version of Bias Amp Professional as well.  It would definitely be a tough call between that and the Mesa Boogie 5:25 but since this isn’t eminent it is just a mental exercise at this point.

To finish up then, a UMC1820 plus Bias Amp Desktop will allow me to quickly capture an idea with ample tone crafting all while keeping things quiet without having to have a specific interface attached.  Getting the tone away from my studio would still be difficult but would have a path forward with at least two devices.  I’ll be setting aside $35 a paycheck with the goal of being able to get these two things in January.  Since I hope to be done writing my EP and start tracking in January this lines up perfectly.  I would love to hear people’s thoughts on that setup.  Am I crazy?  Did I miss something?

Thought vomit

Posted: April 26, 2016 in B2B, Family, music
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The last couple of months have been a bit chaotic.  From work to home projects to music it seems that while there has been forward motion, there just continues to be an unending number of tasks popping up.  I’m moving forward but the sidewalk is moving the opposite direction under me and keeping pace!  In addition my wife got a new job after 10+ years at her last one.  So my plan is just to puke it all out here quickly as an update.  Hold on, here we go.

Work – If anyone has any experience with manifesting in Oracle, I’m all ears.  It seems like it should be straight forward, but apparently nobody has actually done it before.  Or at least they aren’t talking. 🙂  Between that and XML Gateway I have found a lot of what it is, but not a whole lot of actual practical knowledge of how to make it actually function.

Music – I’ve been taking lessons and that has been great to talk through and learn more about the instrument.  I feel like I am starting to take strides again and move off the plateau I seem to have found myself upon.  So while I have ideas in place for a new EP, I have not spent a ton of time fleshing them out as I try to incorporate what I am learning.  I am looking to get more serious about writing again very soon. If you are on the mailing list you heard a bit of one of the songs.  I went out and saw the Intervals show, which included a ton of artists (Rest Repose, Save us From the Archon, Angel Vivaldi, and Plini).  It was amazing to see such talented artists up close and to feel the music.  I can definitely see a gap between them and where I am, but not so much that is wasn’t also inspiring.  Here is a shot from where I saw the show.


Home – This winter was not kind to the house.  We had a 25 foot tree blow down, the fence continuously try to fall over, and the usual assortment of yard work that spring brings.  Plus the carpet on our 15+ year old carpet (4 kids & 2 dogs) had to go.  So we got to learn all about the parts of the stairs and how to add skirting so that we didn’t have to pay for 48″ (they come in two sizes, 48″ and 36″) worth of board for 38″ of tread.  Though I have to admit I think it will look pretty good, it is taking awhile so I don’t ruin anything.  Each tread is $30 and that was inexpensive!  Here is a peek (not sure why it went sideways, it isn’t like that on my PC).


Office/Studio – I had last posted about the studio retrospective and course as soon as I posted that I ended up changing a ton of stuff, including building out rack space on my desktop.  Between this and the house project I find myself doing more woodwork than I ever thought possible, but I am finally getting better at it.  It of course started with a Youtube video of a desk I didn’t know existed and another Youtube video of an alternate monitor arrangement.  I just finished the left rack, so now you can get an idea of what it will look like (picture them painted black).  Switching to two SSD drives and an upgrade to Windows 10 meant a total rebuild of the PC software.  Changes everywhere!  Here is what it looks like from my perspective.


There you go.  3 1/2 months of life in 5 paragraphs!  Now maybe I will be able to finish off some of these projects…

Creating new music

Posted: September 11, 2015 in music
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Now that I have released my first EP, I’m looking to start working on new material again.  Ideally, I’m looking for guitar (me), bass, drums, keys, and a singer to create and play original tunes.   I’m looking for it to be more hard rock or progressive metal but I’d rather see what comes out of collaboration than set a specific genre.  Since I have not had much luck in the past trying to get responses, I think this time I will propose a new way to start the interaction.  If you are interested, let’s do just one song remotely.  It does not have to be a good song, but we can get it to a demo state by trading tracks through email.  If we think it works, great, let’s do another one.  If not we go our separate ways, no hard feelings.  There seems to be a fear of commitment to a “band” so I want to put those fears aside and get to the music.

This does mean though that you will need to have the necessary skills/equipment to record whatever it is you bring to the table in a reasonable fashion.  It doesn’t have to be studio quality but enough that it can be put into a mix.  Singing/playing into a phone should be good enough.  That is the only requirement.  I don’t really even care that much about the genre, but below are my influences, so you can get a feel for what I might bring with my guitar and/or bass playing.

My main influences are bands like Dream Theater, Rush, Kamelot, Megadeth, Coheed and Cambria and solo artists like Joe Satriani, Steve Morse and Marco Sfogli. But if you were to look at my Spotify or favorites you will see all kinds of stuff like Royal Hunt, Porcupine Tree, Andy James, Flying Colors, Tom Petty, The Vanden Plas and gasp Styx, Toto, and Firehouse.   I also enjoy harder instrumental stuff like Chimp Spanner and Scale the Summit so I’m open to something like that as well.

If none of that works out, I will apparently have time to work on my next solo EP. 🙂


4th song in demo form

Posted: May 24, 2014 in music
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It is going much slower than I would like, but I’m still making progress so that is good.  I have the 4th song in demo form and I like it quite a lot, especially the solo section.  It came together rather intuitively and even though it is a little cliche heavy it does have a good feel to it.  I’m now onto the 5th and final song for the EP.  This last one I’m going more for a prog feel than the more pop rock the other songs have.  In my mind it is a shift toward what I would like to head toward on my next project.  I’ve also started brainstorming the overall name and toying with ideas for the cover art.  Over at my Soundcloud account I’ve also created a playlist for the songs so far from the EP so check it out if you’re curious.  I’m hoping to get the last song structure sorted out this weekend and maybe into the different melodies.

3rd Song in Demo Form

Posted: March 30, 2014 in music, Uncategorized
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I’ve just posted my third song of my five song EP to my Soundcloud account. I’m not doing it very quickly but I’m trying to keep pushing myself to finish the writing process. I know I’ll make changes as I track but now down to two more to finish writing.   I’m going to try to finish number four in two weeks.

EP Update

Posted: February 28, 2014 in music
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Graham Cochrane at the Recording Revolution threw down a challenge to create more music this year.  That hit me because I have various “songs” in process but have never completed a package of those.  So I am actively working on a 5 song EP that I want finished.  This includes the songs, recording, mixing, master, and packaging.  It will be instrumental rock type songs and while I think the songs are pretty cool, what I am really looking to is finishing the project.  A project that I can say is done.  Not a demo, not something I’m “working” one, but done.  What happens after that I do not know but I will have a finished project and the experience that comes with it.  Of the 5 songs I have two fully completed demos (you can hear them on my Soundcloud account), two with the arrangement finished along with the basic melody, and one with the rough outline and hints of the melody.  I am going with the working title of Taste Of Freedom and the track listing looks like this:

1. Song for Stacy [3:34]  Demo Completed
2. Where are my Sunglasses [3:40]  Demo Completed
3. Sanctuary [3:56] Song outline and rough melody
4. Taste of Freedom [3:24]  Song outline and rough melody
5. Let it Go?  [?] Rough outline
As I finish the demos I’ll continue to post those out to Soundcloud.  I’m hoping to get 3 and 4 into sessions so I can create the reference tracks this weekend.  Once I finish the writing I’ll move onto tracking as I’ve got new pickups and some borrowed gear that should be a big upgrade.  Maybe I’ll try to get some behind the scenes video as I move into that phase to document how I’m doing that.