Thursday, July 18, 2013

Summer Sampling

Jee, it's already mid-summer. Anyhow, I am taking time to better learn the Integrated Sampling in the Yamaha MOTIF XS workstation.

Last week I recorded/captured some very nice bass samples from my friend's Ibanez bass with active pickups. I plan to slice them up and create something new using the samples and then add other musical elements in the XS.

More and more, I am enjoying recording and creating music all using the MOTIF XS and no other tools.

A typical session consists of a microphone jacked into my vocal processor which is then jacked into the XS AD INput to the sampler. This hardware setup all fits inside my keyboard case so, one case of equipment (MOTIF, mic and mic stand) is literally all you need to seriously record and create music. And, I am very glad that I am taking time to learn this aspect of the MOTIF better.

In the recent past, I used the XS mostly with 01x and LogicStudio on my MacBook. And, I still enjoy working this way and plan to do so much more after I get the 37" LED monitor mounted in the studio. But, the sheer portability and power of the MOTIF XS makes it a clear cut winner. The only major hardware difference compared to working with 01x is not having motor faders on the XS; and it is not annoying. Of course, I would prefer the XS to have motor faders and it ahs been discussed at great lengths on Yamaha's website, and it is not going to [ever] happen; more than likely do to expense and demand. Most users now are working with USB audio systems and only elite users are concerned about flying faders, rotary encoders and other hardware which eliminates having to use the mouse on a computer.

I also record my MOTIF XS using my iPad. I have the AKAI EIE 4channel USB audio interface. This way I can jack my MOTIF in stereo and my vocal processor in stereo and record everything (with effects) all in one take. Of course, I can do the same thing directly in the MOTIF strait to USB stick as a WAV file. However, during recording there are a few modes you cannot access, such as transpose and fader volumes.

Summer 2013 here in Cobb amongst the tall pine trees is superb!


Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Being an active XBOX 360 user I was anxiously waiting for the unveiling of the new Xbox from Microsoft.

After watching the #Reveal video for 5 minutes, I was unimpressed with Microsoft's presentation for a number of reasons.

First, they began selling me on the idea of their beliefs and concepts about what I should realize as my reality for gaming, TV and entertainment. This bored me to tears. I am a gamer. Show me the new console! Show me the new features!

Well they finally did get to showing me the new console; nearly 30 minutes later. And, again, many of the features having to do with television and watching movies. Which for me, is now managed superbly using AppleTV and Netflix on my iOS devices; and occasionally on my Windows PC.

The XBOX One surely is a powerful 64-bit console. But I use a wireless controller when I play games. Further, I am not interested in playing games using Kinect. And, if new games that come out require Kinect, then it will force me to Sony Playstation4.

One feature about the XBOX One that annoys me is the hand gestures. If you're holding the controller in your hands, why would you set it down just to make hand gestures to use the operating system. Perhaps you don't truly need to do this and they are simply showing how to command the console using Kinect. But for the controller-minded gamer, this makes no sense whatsoever.

Also the new console turns on and signs you in when it sees you. Does this mean that every time I walk into my living room and just by chance happen to look in the direction of the XBOX One, that it is going to turn on and log me in? I find this rediculous. Logging into XboxLIVE is not a difficult or complex task using a wireless hand controller.

Further, I am glad the new XBOX One now has a Bluray drive. This makes sense because the stores already have been phasing-out the DVD movie inventory and Microsoft needed to get the XBOX up to speed anyhow. I am sure the new NextGen games will require the Bluray's massive storage space. But in hindsite, Playstation3 has had Bluray all along and in years I have not seen any real graphic improvement having 50GB game discs. But from what I saw during the presentation, the XBOX One NextGen games truly do look "nextGen".

Microsoft is vague about the release date stating only that the console will be available "Holiday 2013" which this alone does not appeal to me. Moreover, they have not "revealed" any pricing information, something that Microsoft severely needs to learn from Apple when they announce new products.

I am guessing the new XBOX One will sell for $399 or more. Whereas I am not a cableTV watcher I am already not interested in the new console. I own a quality Phillips™ Bluray player and 5.1 optical surround system so I won't purchase an XBOX One to watch movies. And my current movie-watching is managed using AppleTV and Netflix on my iOS devices.

With regards to this topic, the only upcoming home entertainment purchases that I can see happening will be: A) 
60-inch, 240Hz LED TV, B) a new 5.1 surround system to replace my 7-year old 300-watt, Sphere-X 360.system (which is still working just fine!)

To add insult to injury, the new XBOX One does NOT support any XBOX 360 games or XBOX.LIVE.ARCADE games! This is a serious mistake that really pushes me into buying a Playstation4 for console gaming.

So, what is the verdict? I will continue playing using both my XBOX and XBOX.360 consoles. I still have NEW games to play on the 360 and don't see my burning out on the 360 even in the year 2014. And, Playstation4 is now in the back of my mind.


Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Digital Piano Purchase

In my previous blog I discussed some details about my shopping digital pianos. I continued my research for quite some time before making my final decision.

After much thought and consideration I have chosen the Yamaha MOX8. The MOX8 was not my favorite graded hammer keyboard. But, it's very playable and its other features out-perform the majority of the other stage pianos and digital pianos.

My primary wishlist was:

  • 88 weighted action keys
  • Transpose ability/function/control up on deck
The MOX8 has weighted action keys and Transpose function up on deck. In addition, the MOX8 is providing me a security blanket in the DAW/Recording department in that it offers 4-channel USB audio recording and no latency monitoring. This is but another way to create and record music in lieu of my other gear failing or becoming obsolete altogether.

Additionally, like the MOTIF XS the MOX8 has a multipart editor allowing for complete internal control of the synth. You can also create VST and mixing templates. This allows you to control your VST plugins using the front panel controls of the MOX8. This alone is a stellar feature, besides the fact that the entire control surface of the MOX8 has been integrated out-of-the-box for Cubase.

The MOX8 arrives today and I'm excited to play it in the new recording space.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Decisions, Decisions.

Currently, I am shopping for a 88-key, weighted hammer, digital piano. Over the past couple months I have scoured the Internet reading reviews and forums and to date, I have read over 40 PDF product manuals. I have visited the San Francisco bay area 3 times to visit various music stores where I could get my hands on the main three pianos I am interested in. Today I spent another 2 hours in San Francisco trying digitals and here are my notes.

I checked out the Roland 700NX. Very nice keybed (right on par with CP5, a bit different) clean piano sound and nice interface. I also enjoyed playing it and I noticed the wood keys straight away. Bummer on the transpose which must be held down for 2 seconds before getting a menu. But, playing this keyboard, gives me "hope" about the A88. NEXT.

Korg Kronos is a very neat synth, a bit pricey, that I would be interested in learning; like how I felt back when I bought into MOTIF.XS, however, Kronos is pricey and not as nice as the 700NX and also does not sport live.transpose. NEXT.

Kurzweil PC3LE8 nice piano sound, plays nice, but I just didn't like the keybed; felt like plastic, no transpose. NEXT.

AKAI MPK88. Keyboard just okay. Knobs and sliders I already have on MOTIF.XS, entire keyboard felt cheap. NEXT.

Yamaha MOX8. Very much duplication of my MOTIF.XS (which isn't a bad thing) and my familiarity of XS makes this board easy to play. The plastic graded hammer action is easy to play and grows on you quickly. I thought about using this board to play samples and plugins, but then my mind wandered to Roland's A88. The MOX8 also has no.brainer vocoder, USB audio interface, and remote.DAW controller; which is a step up from my XS6. But right now I am buying 88.weighted keys. Transpose is spot.on.nice right up on deck and works great!

Roland FP4F. Nice piano; as is 700NX. no transpose. NEXT.

Yamaha MOTIF.XF8 could be my real solution; but if I go this route, I will probably sell my XS6. I have a Korg.i3 so this gives me a 61-synth key for organs, etc. But I would want to sell my XS6 first to apply that money towards MOTIF.XF8, will have to sleep on this idea. My MOTIF.XS6 has all the extras which could command an easy $2400 selling price to the right customer. 1gb.sampler.ram, FC3.damper, mLAN.firewire, $600++.samples,, stand, unopened.unregistered CubaseAI and all printed manuals.

Yamaha CP5. This keyboard did not surprise me at all. What I mean is the CP5 is in its own world. Other keyboards call themselves stage.pianos but this is the real deal. From the moment you power it on to the gas.flourescent display, the CP5 breathes an entirely different feel. The interface is NOT intuitive; but it IS Yamaha, which still feels nice. I LIKE THE KNOBS. The CP5 is designed to be played live and the controls are made for you to taylor that experience. All of the sounds in the CP5 are excellent. It will take me some time to get up to speed with the Spectral Component Modulation controls, but inside of an hour using the CP5, already, the buttons and knobs were making "Yamaha-sense" to me. The shorter.throw wooden keybed on the CP5 played nicely and responded well. Although the keystroke seemed short, the SCM offers very smooth sensitivity at all velocity levels. From zero to pounding on the keys and everything in between. I was impressed. Transpose. I had read ahead of time about it using a single knob to advance 1/2 steps. When I got to the store, I immediately pressed Transpose and turned the knob 1 click. I wished the click was firmer but inside playing for 45 minutues I goofed twice using the transpose. Not bad, 28 successful transposes in 30 tries; and by that time I had got better at using the knob. I can live with the knob in lieu of the other qualities this keyboard breathes.

For those of you who may have asked, what about PhantomG? CP33? CP50? Well, stack them up on the no.transpose pile. NEXT.

Strait away either the CP5 or A88 appear to be my best choices. I wish I was paying cash. Guitar Center is selling their floor model CP5 for $1600 which is $1000 off the price! But, I am buying at AMS with other studio gear on 8.payments. I walked away satisfied that I played a Yamaha.CP5 today. My fingers felt like they got a little workout, but nothing like playing Yamaha's Balanced Hammer (BH) like on the XS8 and XF8. The MOX8 is a really good choice if you don't have any other synth in your collection, but for me, it duplicates a bit too much and the idea of using a MOX8 to play sounds in my XS6 just seems plain dumb. But, I would do it. The MOX8 is very capable. On the other hand, playing the CP5 to drive sounds in the XS6 makes sense now. But then my mind wanders and I say do that with the Roland A88 and save $1500.dollars! I really did like the Roland.RD700NX but honestly, the transpose button is part of my playing style and IS a deal breaker for me.

So, do I sell my MOTIF.XS6 and buy balanced hammer MOTIF.XF8? or do I get the Roland.A88 to master my MOTIF.XS6? or do I go for the gusto and buy the CP5 as if its the last piano I ever buy? decisions, decisions; will give much more thought and run all this through a few more spreadsheets.

Feel? Yamaha CP5
Practical? A88 with XS6
Solution? XF8 sell XS6
Price? MOX8


Saturday, March 02, 2013


Many people [I think] wonder why people blog, Twitter and post status updates on Facebook. Although I am no expert on this phenomenon, I do understand the dynamics of why blogging is important, as I will attempt to explain here. Effort.

In 1993, I sustained a brain injury during the course of a car vs. motorcycle accident. Since that time, I have battled what seemed to be insurmountable challenges which took great effort to overcome. Today some of this is still true, whereas I still deal with the onslaught of morbid headaches. But, for the most part, I have won the war with headaches.

This past eighteen-months is another story, for I suddenly was stricken with ulnar neuropathy in  both of my arms. This condition appeared with little or no warning. Due to fear, I began scrambling and playing guitar and piano more than I usually would, but it was not helping. And as the days and weeks went by, I was losing ability. Here is where sheer terror began for me.

On January 14th of this year I had my first surgery for ulnar decompression. I've been told the surgery was a success in that, during the surgery they found exactly what was causing the problem. However, while I am recuperating post-surgery, it is very frustrating and disappointing in that I have not regained ability and the numbness and original problem(s) are still present. This faking it until you make it, doesn't work too well with me. Nor am I accepting it very well. Some people might be led to say, "getting old ain't for whimps" and they would be correct. And although there is some accuracy to that statement, it really isn't what is troubling me the most.

Creativity through my hands has always been a huge benefit in my life. And even during the horrendous brain injury experience, I had full use of my hands! Lately, I have even said outloud, "give me a headache any day, but give me my hands back".

A few months ago I began using speech to text translation tools, such as Siri Dictation on my iPad. While this is convenient and works very well, I would be a liar if I said I wasn't upset about the fact that I was needing to use such a tool. I appreciate that this utility is available to me and without question it is helping very much. But, I am not quick to accept needing such a device. There is a part of me that thinks if I accept this to be true, then that sets into motion the possibility of losing ability altogether.

Now months later, I luckily won my battle with depression. And, did so without becoming an alcoholic. Other people who I have spoken to about this condition were not so lucky. It is very trying and takes great emotional effort. It isn't like a challenging job where more energy, time or patience may be required. I have energy, I'm now retired and have time; and contrary to popular belief, I have much more patience than most people give me credit for. But, in this case, they would be right. And perhaps, this would be my first time to admit to my impatience in this matter. I am use to Harry fixing things with record-breaking speed. But, this is not the case now. And, when the thought of your mortality kicks in, then you're in trouble. But again, this is also true. Afterall, I am 59 years of age, and as much as I would like to believe I am 9 years old; the fact is, I am not.

So, with all of this said I am redefining my efforts. Taking clear and concise inventory in order to implement the best choices that I can possibly make now.

In order to refuel my musical vocation, I am having my instruments reworked with hopes of them being able to be easier to play. I have found a new guitar I plan to order which will also help in this quest. I've decided to take another stab at setting up my music studio in a new location, with better tools, better technology and a more realistic attitude with regards to what I expect from my efforts.

Standing back and looking at the big picture, I now see this as the same story that has been unfolding for the past 30 years; this is simply another chapter to that same story. But until very recently, I did not know this. Everything in my life always came to me so easily. Not that everything was given to me in life. But rather, I did not have to expend much effort to do anything. I was smart. I was quick, agile, witty and knew how to navigate everything. Then I grew up [a little bit]. Now I must expend effort too. The same effort every body else must exert every day of their lives. And perhaps this helps me to join the human race all the more. Now I have something more in common with everyone.

Now I must apply effort.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Survival Simplification

Well, so much for blogging every week. But, I will keep trying to blog once a week.

January 14th I had surgery on my left arm for ulnar neuropathy. Thus far, it seems like nothing is better post surgery, to the point of being worse.

Music has declined. No guitar playing. Hardly ukulele but I keep trying. I am able to tinker with the MOTIF synth but I become physically tired quickly. Some days my hand and arm are tired when I wake up. This is a disturbing new truth for me.

Of course, as you might suspect, using computers of any kind has become an enemy to my hand and arm. Including iPad. Many days, just holding the iPad is asking too much.

So, what's next?  Well, I am contemplating that. I know that I am going to need to shift my life into a new direction. This is not going to be a pleasant decision. I know, for now, that music is going to get put on the back burner [again] for "x_" amount of time. This is most disturbing and emotionally upsetting for me. But, hey... that's life, right?

The first thought that comes to mind is survival simplification. This entails doing whatever  creates the least amount of stress for my hand and arm. Also, the main thrust here is to improve the quality of life as well. Obviously, computers need to take back seat, as in like 90% of the time. How does a person do that? I suppose I am going to learn how.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Getting Up To Speed

Gee whiz, it is 2013 already!

Some of you know that I have not blogged in quite some time. Lots has happened since the last time I shared about my life here.

I have committed to blogging once a week now and hope this becomes interesting to a few of my fans. Since I began the 01X iPad Recording group on Facebook, more people with my same interests have joined me making life much more appealing.

Right now I am dealing with ulnar neuropathy in both arms and hands. That's a fancy medical term meaning I have numbness and fine motor control issues. JAN 14th I had surgery on my left arm and it is recuperating well, although numbness is still present. It will be close to 6 months post surgery before any determination can be made whether or not the surgery was truly a success. And, as of now I am electing NOT to get the surgery done for my right arm. My right hand is 90% percent better than the left and unless I notice things getting much worse in my right hand, I am not going to complicate things with surgery.

Recording >sigh< what can I say. We moved two times since our leaving behind the NASAV motorhome in 2011. My studio space had been basically eliminated. I had set up in a temporary fashion in other locations, but never was able to create what I consider to be a productive space with workflow.

Now nearly 2 years later I feel exhausted from the lack of production. I lost a lot of momentum and kinetic energy since the RV studio setup. A few months ago I was determined to figure out a way to setup here and get back to recording. The idea of having a couple portable stands with my gear on them appealed to my thinking. Setting up usually requires nothing less than a 6-foot table and this time around I really didn't want to set up that way. Thus came the idea of StudioStands™ which I drew onto paper, then redrew on my iPad using iDraw and I submitted the design to Nedtronics for consideration. A month later the parts were already getting milled and machined and by Christmas 2012 they were ready for pickup. I had a couple extra ideas for the stands which delayed my taking them until JAN 2013. So now I am excited to finally use them in my new studio.

So, as the titile of this blog implies, I AM getting up to speed again and I will blog about it here weekly as things progress.