Transitioning back to Windows has been pretty painless. This here refurbished ThinkPad is happily humming along and I’m able to do nearly everything I want to do.
I still can’t find anything that even comes close to MainStage so I’m keeping my little MacBook Air around just for that purpose. When the Air up and dies, I’ll revisit this.
I’m enjoying catching up on all the tech I’ve ignored for the past decade. This has led me to rediscovering my old hobby of building phantom computers on Newegg.
I’ve moved back to a mouse when the ThinkPad is in desktop mode. I found Windows software for the Apple Magic Trackpad which adds most of the macOS gestures into Windows but, while it’s close, it’s nowhere near as precise or velvety smooth as it is on a Mac.
This Razer Deathadder though … it reminds me of just how shitty Apple mice are.
On the music side of things, I’ve been using Harrison Mixbus more and more. I purchased it last year when it was on sale and played around with it a few times on the Mac, but never really gave it an honest go. I always found myself back in the familiar world of Reaper. I have to say, it’s quite the fantastic DAW. I really, really, really like the channel strip EQ and Compression. The ability to tweak on the fly without having to dig for plugins is incredible.
Mixbus 32c is on super sale right now.
I just might get it. I wound up getting it.
Speaking of Mixbus, that song I’ve been working on since April (yeah, I know) is nearing completion. I’ve laid down the bass and most all of the guitars. Next up is to rewrite and record the drums. It’s coming together nicely.
Those GLS ES-57’s are a goddamn steal. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Go buy a couple of them.
When setting up my office/recording area, I needed a shelf of some sort to hold my outboard units and the Mac Mini and the stereo and store my bits and bobs. Always with the and. I wound up with one of those Ikea HEJNE (the older version that was 50cm deep), plain pine storage shelves. Sure it held everything but it was chaotic. And ugly. I mean, they look fine in storage rooms and garages, but in a home office?
Another problem with big shelves: Not only do they take up excess room, they give you an excuse to keep everything.
Last week I walked into the room, took one look at that shelving unit and decided that it was too much. It had to go.
I’m typing this post on a second, maybe third hand ThinkPad, testing out IA Writer 1 on Windows to see if the experience mirrors that of macOS and so far so good. Reaper and Mixbus are doing their things as the licenses work for both platforms. Hell, pretty much all of the apps I use these days have Windows versions and they all run pretty damn good.
The dark horse is MainStage which I use quite a bit and is an absolute steal if you’re on the Mac platform. It’s thirty bucks and comes with untold gigs of samples and is, quite simply, one of the most powerful, easiest to use music performance apps out there. Moving to Windows is going to be super hard without MainStage.
Here is a snippet of a composition I’ve been working on since April. This is one of the most recent variants of the song and includes testing the GLS ES-57‘s I bought last month.
That recording is dry. There is no eq or compression on any of the tracks, just panning and volume.
I used my LTD EC-200QM (with 12 month old strings – I really need to change those) and a Schecter Revenger I borrowed from H, Opium Winter’s guitar player. Both guitars were played through a Kustom The Defender tube cobo amp* (also thanks to H) miced with an ES-57.
Interface: Tascam US-16×08
Three rhythm guitars tracks miced as mentioned above
The melody guitar that comes in at 0:25 is straight DI with an amp/pedal sim on the track
Room: Behringer Ultravoice XM1800S through a Behringer MIC2000 with the gain cranked up
The drums were recorded about two weeks before the ES-57’s arrived. I did get four of them and plan to test them on snare and toms as soon as I can (I also need some more mic stands and/or drum mic clips). If the sound as good on drums as they did on the guitars, then they’ll be used when I lay down the final takes of this piece.
* The Kustom is out of this world. H can get it to howl and scream with distortion and effects but up until now, I’ve never heard it clean in a quiet environment. This thing has colour and a well rounded tone. I’ve played a lot of budget amps in my life and this has to be my favorite.
The thing is, there is room for all of it. There’s room for trashy pop music, there’s room for electronics. I mean, when people say: “I don’t like this this kind of music, I don’t like that kind of music”. Well fine. You don’t have to listen to it, bu there’s still no reason why it shouldn’t exist. There’s room for all of it.
So I did this thing. It’s pretty off the cuff and rather ridiculous. It was born out of practicing recording techniques and trying to remember anything I learned while taking drum lessons. I setup a Soundcloud account because I think I’m going to do more ridiculousness.
Punk rock and metal is a slippery slope … You start with something like the Ramones and go, Wow, now I want something faster! And then you get to DRI and it’s, Wow, I want something noisier! And then you get to Voivod and it’s, I want something crazier! And pretty soon you wind up listening to white noise and thinking it’s the greatest thing ever!
I’m a big fan of budget equipment. I honestly enjoy digging around and researching all kinds of lower end gear. It’s really awesome when you manage to find something amazing that does exactly what you need, especially when it doesn’t break the bank. This is how I found the Tascam US-16×08 and the 12 Step.
That being said, there is something that’s even better than new budget equipment: buying second hand.
Through a small stroke of luck I’ve begun stepping into the world of vinyl records. I have a Fisher turntable and a Pioneer receiver (coupled together with a Realistic stereo preamp*) that came included with the house we bought two years ago, and a set of speakers that I bought second hand from Mez, Opium Winter’s drummer.
I wrote and posted this bit back in July 2015 after Neil Young announced he was pulling his music off of streaming services because of sound quality. I wanted to put it back here as it’s a nice precursor to a piece I’m finishing up abour vinyl albums.