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#3923 - 08/22/07 09:36 PM [Post your own Tips and Tricks here] Re: my tips... [Re: manning1]
manning1 Offline

Registered: 05/08/05
Posts: 1992
Loc: Canada
ok...folks we are now up to trak 34.
with 6 spare ones for "song sprinkles".
(plus we have blank traks that we have left in our earlier recording work on bed tracks etc etc and other tracks.)
thus ,remember when i said try and do a song in 40 traks ??
as you can see this song will prolly be comfortably
done within 40 traks.
heres why i'm pretty firm on this max 40 trak belief of mine.
the answer is cos ni find i'm fooling myself if i need more traks.
let me explain.
typically i find that if i need more than 40 tracks,
i'm compensating. ie..trying to polish something that mebe wasnt a good tune to begin with.
thus if i need more than 40 traks this is a clue to me that ive screwed up.
and believe me ive done major lulus...its called being human.
i just keep in the back of my mind all the time that great records of the past were done with
way less than 40 traks.
for example those great rok n rol records recorded "off the floor"
in the 50's to mono that became hits.

now you can record "off the floor" useing ptw.
particularly a great guerilla recording idea if u have a very slow old computer.
i urge u to try it.
it can be lots of fun, and youll learn a lot bout mic positioning.
what this term "off the floor" basically means is that everyone .
ie....the whole group is recorded "live" at once.
how would u do this in ptw ??
pretty simple actually.
in main tracks view (also u can do in classics view.!)..
right clik over the midi plug icon on a trak and select stereo audio.
its THAT EASY. then record live off the floor.
but let me warn you. you need ace musicians n singers that really jive
together. your main PROBLEM will be correct mic positioning on everyone to achieve
a good sounding track as well as a nice sounding room.
as well as possibly some creative mic leakage.
its not for the faint
if u want to cheat a thing you can do is just record the band firstly on a stereo trak
then the lead vocs n lead instruments on
seperate traks.

what do i mean by the term "sprinkles" ??
sprinkles can mean anything that improves the song.
it might mean useing something as simple as a tamborine..
right thru a whole violin section or mini orchestra for example.
it can also mean doing additional fx to improve the sound picture.
sprinkles .in essence are what makes the final house seem very pretty.
a good corollary is my wife n i sometimes go out on a sunday..
and suddenly my wife says .what a pretty
ie..the house stands out from the rest.
paying attention to the sprinkles idea might just make the song
stand out like the house.

now i would like to pass on a tip on sprinkles.
and its not an original tip.
its one a engineer once passed onto me in a big studio.
he said...over time, try and build in a notebook, and by your own research
an itemisation of every single instrument u can think of includeing all
orchestral instruments that can think of.
a difficult task of course..
but with things like google today...
one could build up a huge list of instruments i am sure to make it a bit easier.
why did he tell me that ??
the answer is that we all get locked into what is familiar.
mebe by useing something unfamiliar in a song , it might add to the song.
for example a guitar band like CEFE might just use guitar sounds.
but if they extended their thinking mebe some orchestral instruments might
add to this song. OR..instead of the same old zillion notes a second guitar break,,,
mebe record a rok violinist for the guitar break.
mebe a harp might be usefull as a sprinkle . or some special unusual softsynth sound that lifts the
song. in summary a "sprinkle" is anything that makes the song more interesting.
in summary try and build up a list of lots of different instruments or sounds u
could use as sprinkles.
ptw itself could help u build sprinkles.

remember when i mentioned earlier that ive used ptw to create odd ball
sprinkle sounds out of common household items by morphing useing
ptw effects ?? these last 6 tracks tr's 35 to 40 is where u could experiment with these types of ideas.

in summary after all the major traking is completed.
take a break and a rest, then come back to the song and listen with fresh
ears. and write down all your ideas for sprinkles that might make the song sound better.
i dont have every answer...but heres a weird tip.
i find at this stage that listening to the song play back on tiny speakers seems to help form my next step
sprinkle ideas. what i do is play the song and sit casually in another room...
trying to put myself in the mind of a casual consumer listener.
dont ask me why. but i find that this way i often hear lots of song or production flaws as well
as any sprinkle ideas. honestly i cant explain why it seems to work.
it just does. or i'll make a test mp3 of the song...
(i'll cover mixdown etc later.) and put it on continuous play so...while im doing say a crossword in
another room , i hear the flaws.

(more to come.)

#3924 - 08/23/07 01:55 PM [Post your own Tips and Tricks here] Re: my tips... [Re: manning1]
manning1 Offline

Registered: 05/08/05
Posts: 1992
Loc: Canada
ok....youve added your sprinkles to a song.
and we have plenty of spare traks still.
cos we left blank traks tween the various recording phases as well.

if u recorded some sprinkles up to trak 40.
this still leaves traks spare after trak 40 also.
plus.....once we have all our tracking
finished....if pushed, we can also wipe punch in
traks we used to get final traks that i discussed in previous
posts. but generally i try to keep to 40 traks total max in a song.

now lets get into mixing this song.
heres what i do.
firstly mute all traks.
and put all faders down.
then i start unmuteing each track and bringing up the fader
on each trak....but not to its MAX.
i start about a third of the way up.
starting with the bed traks followed by the intermediary traks and then
finally the lead traks and sprinkles.
i watch the ptw output meter like a hawk.
the ptw output meter reflects the level of the mix in stereo.
(u can also use it to monitor a track useing SOLO.).
now..heres a tip.
if u find yourself always pushing up faders on traks for more volume,
its likely your monitoring system isnt calibrated properly .
for example.the applet in the sound card isnt set up properly to send
level to the power amp driving your speakers. if the speakers have a level
control, mebe its not up enough, OR mebe the power amp input level control
isnt hi enough. in summary....i cant explain in more detail,
cos there are so many varieties of monitoring gear and situations.
but heres a likkle TRICK to help u calibrate your monitoring
in your spare time.
fill a track with any audio so that the ptw output meter shows -3db.
and play it while adjusting your sound cards output level control,
(usually a user dialogue in windows.)
and your power amp/speaker combo level controls. for a decent listening level.
if u find your not getting a decent level in your speakers
(assuming they are working properly....check levels on each component.)
in summary if your not hearing well the test track u sent out of ptw at -3db its
likely your monitoring isnt calibrated properly.
one last point to firmly understand. as your bringing up tracks.
NEVER put all tracks at max....never ever. lol.

now i want to cover some difficult mixing problems youll come across.
first one is...youve achieved a decent mix balance..but at one point the bass
guitar track pops out. say tween 1m20secs n 1min30secs.
you dont want to move the fader of course DOWN for the bass trak cos in
the rest of the song it sits well in the mix.
thus what to do ??
this is where ptw's audio edit window is your friend.
just hilte the 10 secs where the bass pops too high, and use ptw gain change to lower it.
conversely....mebe the bass trak might be too LOW in that 10 secs time frame.
once again dont change the fader and affect the rest of the trak.
audio edit window again and try the trik i outlined earlier copying the section
over itself useing merge in the paste...then if too high...lowering it with ptw gain change.
(u could also use gain change itself for the boost...but do it in likkle increments.)
as you can see this is very detailed work that has to be done.
now to a "VERY NASTY ISSUE". lol.
to do with boosting a section of a trak.
you go to the audio edit window and find u cant boost the bass anymore cos its already
a bit high in level.
not a good thing.
at this point u have two options.
either remix the other traks around the bass lowering their faders,
...a lot of work of course !!. also there are other implications for the areas of the
bass trak that dont need boosting....THINK ABOUT IT !!.
is there a solution without doing lots of fader alterations n rebalancing the mix ??
YES THERE IS. AND ITS ONE REASON WHY IF U earlier posts i suggested
leaveing blank tracks btween major phases of recording a song.
ie..instead of re-arrangeing all the faders ..we copy that section of
bass trak tween 1m20secs n 1min30secs, to a blank trak , so we can control
it with its own fader !! thus negateing the need to rebalance the whole mix,
and the work involved to do that. ie...a simple copy n paste jobbie.
this new trak i would typically name sumpin like ...
bass fix up...1m20secs n 1min30secs.
(remember all through your recording n mixing i hope u were makeing notes
on your own custom prepared trak sheet ?? i mentioned before ??
so this little bass "fix up" would be noted on the trak sheet.

from the foregoing one can see that mixing is a lot of work balancing the various
traks and their audio clips etc etc in conjunction with working out
fader and pan levels as well as fx useage.
as ive said...i'm not an ace mixmeister. my first love is songwriting.
i just want u to be aware of some "triks" ive picked up
from my own experience.

now lets talk about automation a bit.
some people use automation in some daw software useing the mouse to draw in
automation etc etc. (ptw will let u record mixer moves for example.
notice the red icon in the ptw mixer ??).
mebe some will disagree...but i find by the time i draw in the automation
or have the software record my "moves"....often i find i get
a more accurate mix result through the type of hand editing i described,
above with the bass. ive used some packages with lots of automation drawing with the mouse,
and i dont weant to anger find with such automation facilities
i sometimes dont get the lines drawn properly with the mouse,
and i spend some time futzing around with the mouse.
i much prefer just going into the ptw audio edit window and achieveing
sorta a poor mans automation via editing in the track itself and working with the trak.
now ..obviously some will say...but your hard changeing the track !!
particularly if u consolidate after.
my answer is...if this is a concern to you..just copy the bass track to a spare trak and name it spare bass track .
(and mute it of course..) in case you change your mind on what youve done to that bass trak.
OR....just save the bass trak before hand editing it to an external wave file from
ptw and name it in the seq song project folder something like..
naked bass back
there is another aspect of fancy automation also i want u to be aware of.
the power of ones pc might come into play.
in theory watching all the little faders and pans and settings etc flying everywhere...
sounds nice n it looks real "purty" to watch.
all those settings are kept as a file by the daw software.
ie..another file to be read and checked and what about the security aspect in case it gets mucked up somehow ??
as always there are both plusses and minuses to each tek advance or feature.
thus mebe the ptw devs have thought about these issues , which is why ptw has limited
automation features for audio traks.
i'm fine with that personally. i said.i hand edit the trak anyway when
difficult issues like the bass trak rear their heads.

now also let me add..if u need to set a pan or fade in ptw mixer...
and i'm sure most are aware of this , u can right clik...
and enter a value. or...of course set a pan or fader with the mouse.

there are two basic phases to creating the mix.
1. basic balanceing of various track components of the
mix useing pans/fades/fx etc etc.
2. the hand editing phase to "finesse the mix".

the idea being to achieve the best mix balance and sound picture over
the monitors that one can.
all the while keeping your eyes skinned on the ptw output meter that it doesnt go over -3db.

(mastering is a topic i'll cover in later posts.)
let me cover one final point firmly.
if u find u have to push up a fader on a trak continually...
dont do it. your fooling yourself.
bring other faders traks down. cos u could go over the -3db
mix level in ptw's output vu.

now on this particular CEFE band song weve created seperate fx traks.
why did i do that ?? answer is i feel that i get better control this way in mixing exactly the level of fx i want.
instead of takeing this approach some people...(no bricks
chain oodles of fx on each track.
my attitude to this is you dont bake a pie just by slapping lots of ingredients together..
do you ?? no...u do it in measured thoughtfull amounts to make
a nice tasteing pie.
therefore if u find yourself useing lots of real time plug ins....
once again...mebe the source traks werent right ??
are you trying to tart something up that wasnt recorded with the right sound
in the first place ??
some people might think i'm anti plug in.
i'm not. all i'm arguing for is a measured approach to fx and plugin useage.
old saying "everything in moderation." youve got the mix well balanced, it sounds good over the speakers etc.
mebe at this point you want to create a stereo mix wave file.
then mebe convert to an mp3 to hear on an mp3 player and/or mebe an audio cd
to play on a cd system whatever.
typically what i do is mix to stereo wave firstly then play the mix in win,
and i have a little speaker selector switch i can switch tween
various speakers. now we get into testing the mix.
thisis an exercise in frustration in example a mix done
useing a fine pair of monitors might not translate to computer speakers or
one of those speakers u attach to a ipod for example.
or u might play the mix back in the car, and get a different perspective.
in summary its a BIG CHALLENGE , and it drives me nuts all the time ...
trying to create a mix that sounds good on headphones, baby mp3 player speakers,
big quality studio monitors, car speakers and any other type of speaker system u can think of.
mebe for example the mix breaks down on ear buds.
or on a certain type of playback system.
this is not trivial. as i think i mentioned earlier once i did a mix in a big facility
that sounded great over the expensive studio monitors.
but didnt as much over smaller speakers.

one thing you MIGHT CONSIDER is if youre hell bent on issuing a serious album
of songs and selling it... maybe is takeing your song mixes to a mstering pro.
these guys are quite amazeing. but it depends if u have the budget.
once , as a test i took a stereo mix of a song to such a person that i knew
was a problem mix, and i was rather surprised at the quality of the result.
it depends on the person hired of course.
another time...i wasnt as lucky, some friends felt they liked my mix better.
but mebe they were being
in summary its really really tough.
no daw software will rescue u in this regard.
cos it all depends how you go about achieving the final stereo mix.
the daw software like ptw is just a tool.
its how one uses it....thats where the rubber hits the road.
at one point years ago i was much more serious than today now that i'm getting so
i used to slave for hours n hours over a mix.
my own problem is i just think up too many new songs...
but i often dont have the time i would like to devote to properly producing each one.
i think my main point is .even if your not the greatest mixer.
just have fun with it, and do the best u can... like i do.

now let me touch on some little ideas after u have created your mix.
mebe you had a drum clik lead in for two bars for example.
before the song starts ??
or u want a fade in or fade out of the song ??
just bring the song back into ptw or your editor of choice.
silence the two bar lead in.
(or u could have done that in ptw before creating the final mix.)
and/or do your fade in or out by hiliting and useing the fade in or out feature
either in ptw or your chosen editor.
for example if u analyse certain hot songs of the past...
youll find sometimes they fade in at a certain level then gradually get louder,
or fade out to a certain level or to no level.
its all a matter of what u want in a song.

now i want to cover a mixing trik.
that i touched on in an earlier post and explain it.
youve seen those movies and heard the effect where the
or spaceship zooms across the stereo image ?? from left to right or right to
left ?? lets say we want it in this CEFE song or for example a rock lead violin,
panning around the stereo image. or say a psychedelic lead guitar
moving all over the place in ones headphones !
how do we do that ??
the proper technical name is DYNAMIC PANNING.
heres what i would like u to do as a test.
to show u how its done.
start up a new session of ptw.
set two traks to audio.
lets say trak 1 and 2.
in ptw mixer i want u to set tr 1 pan all left and tr 2 pan all right.
(ie 7 o'clok and 5 o'clok.)
then i want u to record any old synth sound on tr 1,
for 24 seconds.
if there is a blank space before the 24 secs start i would like u to
cut it out on tr 1 by hiliting..
then edit>>>CUT...close gap.
after this..duplicate tr1 on tr 2. (TRACK>>>>duplicate.)
then i want u to use the audio edit window for both tr 1 and 2.
in conjunction with gain change(GC) fade in and gain change fade out.

now hilite 3 secs of tr 1 and GC fade in. for the next 3 secs, GC fade out,
for the next 3 secs (now we are up to 9 secs.) GC fade in...
continue this process for the whole 24 secs.
once youve done this on tr1...
i want u to reverse the idea on tr 2.
first 3 secs...GC fade OUT, next 3 secs fade in, next 3 secs....fade out..
and continue alternating like this for the 24 seconds.
(god i hope i got this all my daw pc is in
a different yes i believe i did !!
now i want u to hit play and make sure initially your head phones are at a low level.
just in case u set the synth level recorded very high..
on playback u should hear the synth moving around in the stereo image.
if u want it to ping pong fast.
instead of useing 3 sec intervals try 1 sec intervals.
if u want it to ping pong slower use longer intervals than 3 secs.
if u want an effect for the whole 24 secs where the spaceship gradually moves in the
24 sec time frame from one ear to the other.then heres how to do it.
hilite the whole of tr 1 and GC fade in , plus hilite whole of tr2
and GC fade OUT....then PLAY. kinda neat huh ??
hear it move slowly from one ear to the other instead of ping ponging ??
now lets try something else.
hilite the first 12 secs of tr1 and GC fade in, then the last 12 secs..
GC fade out..and on tr 2....first 12 secs..fade out , and last 12 secs fade in !.
see what that does ! listening over phones.
now repeat these steps changeing the pan subtly in ptw mixer.
and see what different pan settings on tr1 and tr2 do.
now lets get fancier. find some industrial sample...
or some sound..record it to tr 3, dupe on tr4...and in the audio edit window for tr3 and tr 4..
do some of the same ideas at various time spans.
once again setting pans initially like we did for tr 1 and 2... 3 all left and tr4 all right.
if you do it right u will find if u put your phones on...
the industrial sound or sample will move around the stereo image while the
synth sound does TOO. kinda neat huh ??
this is called dynamic panning.
therefore see how you might use the idea on your own songs.
and experiment.
for example for a really whacky approach you could then create a fx trak also for
both the synth sound and industrial sound...with a bit of echo.
lets say fx traks 5 and 6. 5 panned all left and 6 panned all right.
and really go to town on 5 and 6 also doing GC fade in and out triks.
if u experiment enough and build your own tecxhniques ,
youll discover lots of production ideas for songs.
in ptw mixer...
as well as the audio level of the different sections of the traks
in the audio edit window for each trak.
(eg break each trak up into likkle audio clips with spaces tween each clip n see
what that does !!. LOTS OF FUN FUN FUN !!!!)
(more to come.)
retired puter engr....powertracks on amd......NICE !
"what is the black art of audio engineering ?"
my silly
see my tips in the tips section.

#3925 - 08/23/07 10:48 PM [Post your own Tips and Tricks here] Re: my tips... [Re: manning1]
manning1 Offline

Registered: 05/08/05
Posts: 1992
Loc: Canada
the SONG and SONG PICTURE and HOOKS are king.
(and some other aspects like money n fame etc.)
ive tried to cover a lot of basics with ptw in a short time via an example session.
(and there is lots more intricate ptw details to explain.)
but would like to digress a bit, and give you further ideas.
i covered in earlier posts the importance of haveing a good song with hooks
and a good sound picture.
lets talk about some added tools that might help you.
firstly u can get a chart showing the frequency ranges of different instruments ,
and post it on your studio wall.
this might help u a bit in the mixing process. and building sound picture.
if u have some instrument or sound not covered by the
something unusual, you could alwats record it to a trak
in ptw, then invoke ptw's RTA (real time analyser.via fx button in the ptw mixer.),
and look at a frequency plot of the sound or unusual instrument.
and mebe build over time an addendum to the frequency chart
to remind yourself.
another usefull tool, and something to help with writing lyrics would be a rhyming dictionary.
for people new to songwriting, its a good idea to get a huge 3 ring binder ,
and fill it full of paper, and just start writing song ideas down and snippets of lyrics.
as well as your thoughts on whats going on in the world around you.
thinking of a good title also is important.
over time as u write down lots of different lyric ideas youll find
u might be able to merge different ones into a song.
conversely , mebe a beat or a song idea will pop into your head.
when this happens to me....sometimes at
i rush to the pc and get the germ of the idea down.
even in its roughest form...then i refine it later on.
if u have a lot of trouble thinking up lyrics,
and eg..youve done a couple
of music traks to quikly get the musical idea down....
dont laugh , but a vocal trak even if its just mumbling.
then play the mumbles back and often words might start forming in your mind.
this has happened to me on many occasions.
sometimes playback will create certain emotions in you
psychlogically .which in turn ..could lead to words asnd lyrics.
maybe also at the same time with just a music idea with no lyrics yet formed..
open up your big 3 ring binder with all the words n ideas you saved over time,
and then try fitting some of the words to the music.
this might get u started.
dont EVER give in to writers block.
cos if u tell yourself you cant do becomes a psychological
instead just keep on writing and writing anything that comes into your head
in your lyric 3 ring binder. at any time of the day.
now another aspect is the TEMPO of your song.
say your working in midi traks trying ideas for example,
and a tempo isnt working. try another tempo.
heres a trik i do in writing songs.
i vary the tempo until i get a "feel" it is correct for the song
in conjunction with the music and style of the song, as well as the vocals and lyrics.
mebe the tempo is too fast for the lyrics or the tempo is too slow
for the particular song. in summary i use ptw to experiment a lot with the tempo
of the song before going into full blown recording of a song.
youll KNOW when a tempo is correct. it just "feels right".
is the only way i can explain it.

now to those memorable song HOOKS.
in summary dam tough.
let me give you some clues to help.
someone i respect said to me in the past , if u want to write
a big selling should have at least a minimum of 3 or preferably 4 hooks.
as i said before...a song hook is something that a listener cant put out of their mind.
how do u go about creating hooks ?? ie..saveing that really grabs people ??
not easy. some hooks just come about by jamming.
for example a guitarist jamming over a rhythm section,
or mebe trying a different instrument completely.
OR...mebe the rhythm section is itself a hook.
a good example of a rhythm hook , would be for example..
george bensons loverly rendition of "On broadway".
everybody knows when that rhythm starts that its the broadway song.
another example of a rhythm hook intro might be the sharona hit by the knack for example.
some might disagree, but if u analyse sharona.
(if i remember it starts on G.) there is rather a lot of interesting stuff going on in it.
for example the main lead break hook.
this was a big selling record all over the world.
notice in the lead my opinion anyway...
how well the notes are presented. and the sound picture ??
not a zillion notes a second , but cleverly starting rather slow.
when anyone hears that song, and that lead break its unmistakeable.
ie..hooks. some might disagree..but i feel a lot of clever
thinking went into that song.
another example of unmistakeable hooks might be the pounding rhythm
that starts off lyndleys version of crazy bout my mercury.
conversely in an older realm , how about the soaring intro
to gershwins rhapsody in blue. a signature intro hook imho.
do you notice a commonality between these songs ??
no i'm not nuts...there IS as commonality...what is it ??
answer .imho that each song immediately through clever
techniques captures the listeners interest right off the bat.
well it does mine anyway. lol.
in summary each of the songs ive mentioned has a memorable start to the song.
(mebe u disagree cos your musical taste is different to mine...dunno.
i'm just trying to use examples.)
anyway i think ive belabored the hooks point enough for someone starting off new
in songwriting to get the gist of what i'm talking about.

IN SUMMARY..the CHALLENGE....and i often fail miserably as do many...
is how to create , record and mix and put out a song that not only
grabs the listener right off the bat but maintains the listeners interst right
through the song. that is if your interested in writing commercial songs.
not everyone is. i just write for fun.
and occasionally at various times in the past sold cassettes of my songs direct to the public.
which helped me buy more

but be carefull of fame.
ive not met many...just a few big names includeing one recently.
(no i cant say who..youll have to trust i tell the truth as i respect
peoples privacy.)...and it does seem to have some downsides from what ive been told.
particularly the fact of trying to lead a normal life.
just something to consider.
me..i decided years ago.i just wanted a peacefull quite life creating crazy

as i said..all the tools are in ptw to do a huge song.
its just a question of how the tools are used.

all i can say is paying attention to lots of little details all
the way through can make a big difference.
one option if u have a great song.....and u feel u cant bring it to its full
potential via your own skills is to export all the tracks
from ptw as wave audio . plus mebe a rough mix.
and take both to a large facility and use top session players to reinforce/add tracks
as well as top engineering talent for final mixing etc..
but this can get costly of course.
but sometimes u can strike a less costly deal with an up and coming studio mebe.
or try and find session plasyers that might help you.
for example...lets say you found some top session players to help you.
how i would possibly approach this is .for example.
an option.
you could start a brand new session of ptw.
import your ruff song mix as a stereo tr 1.
then record the players over the top ....and following roughly the
CEFE approach i outlined..or your own modified approach.
and once u had them recorded mute your ruff mix.

(more ptw specific stuff/detailed feature useage to come.
where i get into lots of detailed ptw features haveing now covered basics.)
retired puter engr....powertracks on amd......NICE !
"what is the black art of audio engineering ?"
my silly
see my tips in the tips section.

#3926 - 08/24/07 07:57 PM [Post your own Tips and Tricks here] Re: my tips... [Re: manning1]
manning1 Offline

Registered: 05/08/05
Posts: 1992
Loc: Canada
buying pc's for powertracks.

i just want to cover this topic and some tips.
cos prolly quite a few people are looking mebe to buy a pc this year.
particularly as ive worked for various computer companies in
my life. and know the biz from several angles of how computers
are marketed. (just a fact..not trying to be an ego
let me explain how the game is often played by vendors.
the new sexy stuff mostly starts off at a high price to catch
the early adopters,,THEN...when the next phase of tech comes out,
...once again the new stuff comes out at a high price..while the older
gets stepped down in price.
for example now the quad core (and also octo)...
(followed by more cores...)
are coming out i expect to see further deep discounting
of dual cores. and even more on single processors.
THUS..if u always buy top end i would suggest your wallet will suffer.
what i normally do is wait out the new cycle for some time.
i bought my own new dual core after the dual core tek had been out for some time.

buying used is often a viable option.
let the other guy takes all the sales tax hits etc etc. lol.
its like buying a car. u can save lots on a demo or slightly used product.
it also depends on the pricing structures in your country.

but there is another factor to consider.
for example here in canada a dual core amd 64 is about 600 buks while a new
quad core i saw in the last couple of weeks is 900 buks.
while single processor systems have dropped as low as the 300 buk range.
(i dont advise getting celerons. semprons are a better buy imho at the
very low end.)
thus as one can see that quad is mighty tempting due to the price
diff of only 300 buks from a dual.

which makes me suspect that cheap 8 cores are mebe only 18 months or 2 yrs away.

processor standard recommendation these days is 2 gigs of ram and two 7200
rpm hard drives. i prefer 16mb cache hard drives.
this will give you a very nice system.

for laptops i normally recommend ..if the manufacturer allows it..
and many do.. upgradeing the internal 5400 rpm drive to a 7200 rpm drive.
at a minimum. (u can google for laptop internal drive upgrades.)
some people might disagree. but this is my stance on the issue.

on the subject of laptops i see soo many people making major mistakes imho. when it comes to buying them.
sorry .but i got pretty strong feelings bout this.
i personally wouldnt buy any laptop without first running tests on
it with ptw and my chosen sound device.
i really wouldnt. but many do.
one only need peruse various forums to see the results when people buy laptops without first running tests.
particularly related to sound device compatibility etc.
therefore yourself a favor.
check the laptop u select is compatible with your sound device
before buying.

as i said before....most modern pc's in ptw's test of audio performance should show a full
48 track capability. most of the ones ive tested anyway.
but of course then we have to remember real time plug ins.
ptw's plug ins are very very good at resource useage ive found.
and there are more than a few third party plug ins that are
reasonable on pc resource useage TOO.
BUT....if your one to layer on lots of third party real time plug ins across lots of tracks.
one needs to be aware of those that might consume lots of resources.
the reason i mention this is.if u google...youll see all the time,
folks with single processor systems particularly haveing problems as well as the occasional
dual core user.
when i moved from a single processor system to a dual , a couple of my awkward projects
resource useage dropped from the 70 per cent area , way down into the 20's.
thus in my case dual is a nice solution.
i suspect for most ptw users a dual core is a v nice solution.
but the price of those quads is getting v tempting. lol.

if u anticipate useing say firewire, i would suggest u insist on a texas instruments TI
firewire chipset. cos it seems where sound devices are concerned there are far les probs with a TI chipset.
the only way to know is to run a test with your FW sound device.

and this brings me to a MAJOR POINT.
all the time on recording forums one sees people asking of others ,
recommended pc motherboards etc n systems etc.
this ignores a basic fact.
the pc industry is moveing dam dam fast. so in a few weeks there
might be a better deal,
also just cos a particular config works well
for one person, another person with completely different sound
devices n plug ins etc n way different song projects...
it might not.
also .on a more subtle level related to motherboards, mebe there was a design revision,
whereby an issue developed.

thus best bet is to take your ptw song projects plus your chosen sound device and test
a few systems out. and see how your projects perform.
an excellent test is pitch shift i mentioned earlier.
cos on some systems it takes quite a time.
thus a good speed test.

now let me explain one point CLEARLY.
you get a new system and u see its partitioned.
you DO NOT have two physical drives. you have just one.
(unless u ordered two physical drives.)
and if that one drive fails your studio is kaput.
i see sooo many people working off one drive systems its scary.
a second drive these days is soooo cheap its a NO BRAINER.
thus get yourself a second drive 7200 rpm with 16mb cache.
they are cheap cheap cheap.

on the subject of vista. my personal belief is i think it needs another year to settle.
and it seems not all audio devices seem to work with it.
some audio device vendors still have to get drivers out.
frankly i'm v happy with xp.
running ptw never a crash or prob yet.
so i'm staying xp till vista matures more.
i just dont need vista.

if u have very little money.
heres a tip.
the sempron STILL is a nice little processor for the price.
u might find a used sempron system for next to nothing/given away.
but to improve things. upgrade the memory to 2 gigs mebe.
and , as well a its internal drive, get a nice new second hi performance drive for 80 buks.
and that baby will do you sterling service in ptw.
..for little money.
but,as always , before buying such a giveaway....
load up a ptw song project on it....and run tests.
the reason i mention this all the fancy
more and more core pc's come out, youll likely see nearly
yard sale giveaway prices on these one processor sempron systems.

me...i might wait for 16 cores.

so..where will we be in five years.??
well....u can throw eggs at me if i'm wrong....
but the trend is obvious. more and more processor cores.
more power etc.
for example there is talk of 1000 processor systems.
i think at a minimum, we will prolly be at affordable
16 processor on a chip systems in 5 years.
(enough time for u to cook those smelly egggs to throw at me if i'm
overall i think the next ten years is going to be a very exciting time.
all i would suggest is a degree of care choosing when to spend your hard earned money.
(more to come.)

#3927 - 08/30/07 09:53 AM [Post your own Tips and Tricks here] Re: my tips... [Re: manning1]
manning1 Offline

Registered: 05/08/05
Posts: 1992
Loc: Canada
sound devices and typical hairy computer problems.

i want to cover this topic in some detail as soo many problems
new people seem to have whatever recording software they use.
i dont, because i'm v carefull bout how i set things up.
heres the typical problems you run into.
you copy a piece of audio and then go to paste it..but the
paste is SLOW, or when u apply an effect it seems to take a looong time for
the effect to be processed as u watch the horizontal line
display. other typical problems are freezes on the pc
or pops and cliks on playback or the computer seems sluggish.

firstly , understand plug n play sounds good in THEORY.
and with some sound devices and some pc's install of new sound devices
is a breeze. but on others it isnt.
the problem is there are just sooo many different sound devices and
zillions of different pc configs.

lets say your pc has a sluggish "feel" to it.
answer. this can be a myriad of things.
but typically ive found often this occurs when someone tries to run
ptw on the old family pc that is used for lots of other things.
mebe its a slow old processor, or the drives are poor performers,
slow memory etc. i HAVE run ptw on older pc's.
but one must be carefull. some people try to load xp onto a
one drive older pc with 256 ram. this ive found is askeing for problems.
the ram is too low.
it must be clearly understood the OS (windows) needs ram.
AND the daw software needs ram. thus , if your ram is low youll prolly
have probs , particularly if trying to run XP on an older system.
thus , first step ensure that there is sufficient ram.
try a gig for example and see if that helps.
the other problem is possibly the drives arent set up properly.
or they are clogged up.
for daw audio work its important u check that DMA is checked on the drives.
DMA basically is a method of ensuring drives are transferring data
at an optimum high speed. u can check in control panel that its set for your drives.
the other thing is before useing the old pc as a daw, ensure youve cleaned
up the drives. you might have a lot of cookie build up and temp files
(windows>>>temp)...from previous activities on the pc.
another aspect is a ONE DRIVE SYSTEM.
on modern duual core pc's , you can get away with maybe a one drive system,
cos the drives are so fast. BUT i still dont recommend it.
even more..i definitely dont recommend it on a old clunker pc.
why ?? you ask ??
heres the detailed answer.
the problem is that the win OS is on the SAME DRIVE.
and sometimes it can interrupt the audio process (in this case ptw)..
to do some activity. thus by recording to a seperate drive..this
lets windows OS do its own thing.
if you find you get the odd random clik/pop on an old clunker.
try and see if recording to a second hard drive rather than the C win drive solves the problem.
if youve tried adding more memory and a second hard drive,
and assuming youve cleaned an optimised the old clunker pc,
and you cant get say 25 tracks out of it, then prolly you will need to upgrade to a new pc.
on a old pc u should be able to get 25 tracks outta it if its set up
before spending lots of money though on an old system ,
i would run a hard drive performance test. on the hard drive.
there are little utilities u can get (if u google..)
that will tell u the performance of the old hard drive.
me personally , i wouldnt use a hard drive in a clunker pc that
wasnt reported as haveing at least a 20 megs per second transfer rate.
its just not worth it when one can get a new one processor system
for say 300 buks that includes a new hi performance drive.

now let me turn to another issue.
another reason for cliks n pops.
or audio interruptions on playback.
these can occur often with particularly pci sound devices.
if this occurs with you, and your running a seperate hard drive to record to.
check what other devices are in pci slots.
ive mentioned this before. if u have other pci devices , because the
pci bus has finite bandwidth , other devices might be locking out
the pci sound device. if u have this situation.
in windows try shutting them down.(eg network card.) before recording.
on any new system i buy , if i'm useing a pci sound device i try n ensure
its the only device in a pci slot.
i put in no other devices.
gradually with newer technology some of these problems are gradually disappearing.
but u can still run into the occasional problem.
for example, you are useing a firewire or usb mixer where the
ADA conversion is built in. and u get a problem occasionally.
if this is your situation...check if another device is useing the firewire or usb bus.
heres a typical example of a potential problem.
lets say your useing a audio mixer with usb built in AND
useing a usb hard drive external to the pc.
think of a bus (pci or usb or firewire..) like this.
ever drive on a road in your town at 3 am ??
noones around ...right ??
all smooth sailing, no traffic snarls etc etc ...right ??
think of a computer bus similarly.
in simple terms a bus is nothing more than a "computer road"
where traffic travels. in this case data traffic.
BUT the road in your town...the computer bus has a limit
to how much traffic it can carry before traffic jams occur.
thus the more devices that are attached to a computer bus...
the more traffic and MORE THE POTENTIAL FOR OVERLOAD and tie ups.
thus in my example, mebe the usb hard drive is punping traffic thru the
usb bus and thus causeing problems for the usb mixer.
THEREFORE...think carefully before willy nilly loading up devices on various buses.
it all comes down to ORGANISATION of your pc.

now i want to touch on firewire.
many people are starting to use firewire sound devices and mixers etc.
once again be carefull bout loading up other devices..
on the firewire bus ....if your useing the FW bus for
say a sound device. on the other hand it might work.
you wont know if till u try. BUT ...if u DO get probs.
unplug the non audio FW devices and see if the probs go away.
this will be your clue that the FW bus is getting overloaded maybe.
in some cases there are no hard n fast rules.
sometimes youll find the FW sound device doesnt get along with
the particular FW chipset in your pc.
in this case youll need to try an add on FW card.
i would recommend one with a TI chipset. but u might luk out ,
and another FW card might work.

in a modern eg dual core pc i would be surprised if u get many probs.
but if u DO..i hope the above helps.

now lets turn to the sound devices themselves.
there are a huge range of PCI, usb and firewire devices, and its all
SO CONFUSEING ...right ??
youve reached the conclusion.correctly..that on board sound chips
even with mebe isnt the best solution.
cos on board sound chips are noisy.
i told u earlier bout a test u can do to see in ptw exactly how noisy
in an earlier post. (ie..nothing connected...with win line in fader up..
look at ptw's input vu meter...notice the green led's light up ??).
now i MUST say the on board sound chips ARE gradually improving.
it depends on the pc u buy and its on board sound chip.
but STILL its not an optimal solution.
just try a good pro sound interface and youll hear the difference
good quality ADA can make to your recorded tracks.

if u want a good overview of the various sound devices on the market. and have large lists.
(no...i'm in no way affiliated with anyone. in case it crossed your mind..i just find these
sites usefull for keeping abreast of all the sound devices available.)
sound devices can cost under 100 buks right up to hi end convertors costing thousands.
thus it depends on your budget and what you can afford.
one piece of advice is to ensure you can return any sound device u get in case it doesnt work
well with your particular pc. and get a full refund.
in the case of brand new devices on the market....i would give them
a time and peruse recording forums to see if any folks experience
sometimes a new device might have drivers that need further development for example.
typically the MAJOR problem folks have is finding a suitable device that
works well with their pc.
its very difficult to give specific brand recommendations as the market is moveing so dam fast.
but all i can say is folks seems happy with certain brands.
(for recorded audio trak quality.)
for example at the high end folks seem happy with RME and LYNX
sound devices. for the budget conscious folks seem happy with
audiophile 2496 and also the esi julie.
other folks seem to like the emu range.
but the user really must understand how to use the control panel it has properly.
and this brings me to a POINT !
the biggest problem i'm seeing folks haveing is with setting up
the user dialogs that come with many new sound devices.
and their routing outside ptw.
IF your experiencing problems in ptw....
one possibility is that the sound cards own control user dialog isnt set up properly.
typical reported problem is i cant get audio into ptw.
dont see waveforms etc. so people blame ptw.
it must be clearly understood that the sound card and its control
panel set up is outside PTW.
if u dont set up the sound device control panel correctly to get audio into and out
of ptw , then ptw wont work properly.
ptw has no control over these issues.
for example people also seem to sometimes forget to set up delta sound card
dialogs properly.
in summary , u must set up the sound devices control panel correctly for
ptw to perform correctly.
(even windows own audio controls..if useing on board sound.)
a friend has a new yamaha usb mixer that seems nice and clean on a budget.
roland have lots of audio devices. for example the v cheap edirol ua1ex.
if your pushed for money n want to crank out demos.
ive tried it. pretty ok. positive is a simple user control panel.
to get it working well i just needed to change PTW's trak buffer size.
and this brings me to a point...sometimes to get a device working
properly u must be willing to set ptw's audio preferences properly.
if u notice there are a number of settings.
these were put there obviously to help people with the myriad of sound devices
on the market. make sure u read the HELP, and understand what all the different settings do,
and how to identify to ptw your sound device drivers.

ive mentioned a few popular manufacturers of sound devices.
but..there are lots of others of course.
more and more devices are coming out all the time.
how well they might work with ptw and your specific pc
only u can assess via testing.
i'm in some quandary myself , as i'm looking athi end ADA.
but i'm leery of spending a LOT due to pace of change.

some other points to be aware of in running a recording pc.
firstly make sure you dont have any irq conflicts.
(look in control panel). has lots of info on "leaning down" windows
n turning off various features.
and there are other sites if u google.
if useing vista , some folks have suggested ways to deal with vista if u google.
like maybe useing it in classic mode.
once again google is your friend as i'm not running vista.

one final point. if your the type of user that neds to run 48 traks
with oodlesof plug ins...i would seriously think about a new quad core
pc. as they can be had for 900 buks.
(more to come.)

#3928 - 09/02/07 09:54 PM [Post your own Tips and Tricks here] Re: my tips... [Re: manning1]
manning1 Offline

Registered: 05/08/05
Posts: 1992
Loc: Canada

a poor mans recording control room.

this idea was told to me once by an engr in a big studio.
heres the scenario.
you have a room in your house you use to record your songs.
painted walls etc etc, hard surfaces etc etc.
sound can bounce all over the place right ??
heres some tips. to making it more useable.
1. face your mix position into a corner..
so your nose is faceing the corner...THEN
(follow this closely.)
2. sit down. now ask your wife or a friend..whomever,
to take a piece of string horizontally from each ear to each adjacent wall.
mark each wall lightly with a dot. level with your ear.
3. where the dot is on each wall.
vertically trace up to the ceiling a line on each wall.
4. once you reach the ceiling. with each vertical line on each wall.
run a trace across the ceiling.
ie...line across the ceiling and down each wall.
5. now get some FIREPROOF sound deadening tiles
or auralex (expensive.), and mount on walls and ceiling coming out of the corner to the
line traces on each wall and ceiling.

behind you mebe add some trapping in the corner behind you.
you can google for more info on building even fancier set ups.
with fancy bass traps etc etc.
once i just strung a fireproof curtain across the corner behind me.
it can get real expensive really fast.
you can even spend oodles of dough , and ive seen people DO THAT
without achieving perfection. thus a degree of caution is suggested
in not going overboard.
the aforementioned corner plus sound deadening description is
about the el cheapoist solution ive come across.
nothing is perfect.

big NOTE...when you face desk into corner.
make sure u leave enough space around n behind it so you can get to cables etc.
when you sit down of course your monitor speakers will be faceing you.
with their back to the corner and set that where you sit you
get optimum stereo imageing.
ps.....if u cant afford expensives material...
sometimes in stores that deal with used office furniture u can sometimes find "dividers" that were used in offices once that can have sound deadening properties if u look for the right ones.

#3929 - 09/02/07 10:50 PM [Post your own Tips and Tricks here] Re: my tips... [Re: manning1]
manning1 Offline

Registered: 05/08/05
Posts: 1992
Loc: Canada
guarding against hums n buzzes n things that go bump in the night.
scenario..your getting a hum or buzz over your speakers.
first thing to check.
are u useing a star grounding system ??
let me explain.
if you plug in say a guitar amp into a different electrical outlet
in your house..than your other studio gear you might get a problem.
what is the star grounding system ??
heres what i do.
i come out of ONE house electrical outlet into a series of surge protected
power bars. thus everything is linked back to the one outlet.
the pc n synths n guitar amps n mixer etc etc.
this way i find i dont get hums or buzzes etc.
you can also go a step further and get a qualified electrician to
install a dedicated electrical circuit for the studio.
but this can cost money of course.
(remember also to put fast blow fuses on loudspeakers..!)
if you have a huge set up of course prolly a dedicated electrical studio circuit is preferable.
one other tip.
before turning on your gear ensure you dont have your speakers up full blast.
i normally turn on my speakers after ive turned everything else on
n booted the computer.
another tip is.if useing vacuam tube based gear n mic pre's...
sometimes they need a warm up time to perform optimally.

while we are at it i'll discuss cableing briefly.
some people claim they hear differences.
i dont buy the cheapest and not the most expensive.
sorry..just imho, but a lot is marketing imho.
but run your own tests with different cables.
in ADDITION if you hear hums or buzzes ,
check you dont have an audio cable..(eg...preamp out connected
to sound card line in.) right by a power cable.
in general therefore keep your audio cable runs seperate
from your power cable runs.
an inexpensive cable tester is also a usefull thing to have around to check
the integrity of mic and other cables.
by the way...if your of a diy bent you CAN buy bulk cable
and make your own mic and other patching cables.
with appropriate connectors.
(just google)
in addition.if you dont have one...consider getting a patch bay.
they are pretty cheap. and LABEL each connection.
they are good for connecting lots of gear and patching things/routing.
you can get RCA or quarter inch types.

(more to come.)

#3930 - 09/03/07 07:44 PM [Post your own Tips and Tricks here] Re: my tips... [Re: manning1]
manning1 Offline

Registered: 05/08/05
Posts: 1992
Loc: Canada
making money with ptw.
there are many many ways to make money with ptw.
and to help you buy more gear...LOL.
there are LOTS of people out there , (and i dont mean this meanly),
who would like to do a song or a demo.
but often dont have the patience for the work involved.
or they might have a pc but not have the patience to deal
with the right technology purchases etc.
in summary there are many niche markets....
to name a few.
1. doing song demos for people.
2. doing midi traks for people who dont know midi.
3. doing location recording.
for example if u have a nice powerfull dual core laptop ,
a few mics n a mixer , u could go to someones home n record his/her song.
4. arrangeing songs for people who have a rough song idea in their heads.
(someone i knew a few years back made a v good living doing this.)
5. selling your songs directly to consumers,
at markets. (ive done this in the past for fun.)
6. teaching music useing ptw (and biab) as teaching aids.
(for example mebe teach a class of youngsters basic music theory,
and the basics of songwriting.)
another possibility, helping people figure out how to play some popular songs.
(ptw's chord recognition feature would be usefull in this.)
7. teaching people who want to know midi, how to construct midi traks.
8. cleaning up/enhanceing other peoples songs.
9. recording peoples vinyl record collections and cleaning them up.
(this is very time consuming for lots of people.)
10. doing historical family documents.
for example some people want spoken word recordings of
a familys history for posterity.
11. audio books.
(ie..spoken word format of a book.)
another area is technical books possibly.
12. jingles. for ads.
and i'm sure there are many ive missed.
starting out you might have a local newspaper that allows "free small"
or "nominal pay" ads. or u could even have a website.
for example..lets say your a great drummer. you could use ptw to do nice live drum
traks for people. or..lets say your speciality is latin percussion ,
or your a great piano player or sax player, could use ptw to record traks for people.
via your web site.
another avenue would be to sell songs from your web site.
or use a third party web site.
as you can see..lots of niches.

one thing u might think about if u wish to make money with a studio is not to
locate in an area where there are loads of studios all cutting rates to attract clients.
another thing youll get is...."suchabody has XYZ fancy gear or ABC tools..".
my experience has been that typically folks new to recording will focus on
this question. there is an easy reply.
"theres more to it than gear. record a hour with me n form your own opinion."
i never recorded a zillion clients, but quite a few over the years n i found once they came in
n heard their traks play back, they were rarely unhappy.
it makes it easier of course if the talent level is high.
in fact ive found the more talented the easier it is.
when i was starting out i was upfront with people.
and weirdly enough people valued my honesty when i said i
was just starting out , but would work v hard to help them get their song or whatever down.
yes.there were stumbles along the way. starting out.
but mostly i found folks pretty reasonable.
if i screwed up, say on a trak, (eg recording a good take too hot or whatever..),
i would simply offer some free time to make up for the error.
be aware tho' its a LOT of work recording other people.
if your starting out, the best thing is to just record as many different types of talent as possible.
if your a youngster going to school, mebe start off recording the school choir or band
to get experience. or mebe friends.
or mebe the school neds some audio books.
mebe if your a university student the university needs some
spoken technical texts created.

if your new to midi. one thing that might help you develope is to become very familiar with
ptw's extensive midi facilities.
i know of no other product at such a low price with such extensive midi features.
once youve gained a lot of midi experience you might find
an extensive local market for creating all sorts of midi traks
for people. cos many folks find they dont have the time to learn midi.
then creating audio traks from the midi traks for people.

also...dont forget the tc helicon built in feature.
mebe another local market is clients needing back up vocal or some sort of choir traks.
mebe your a female with a great voice. useing ptw...
u could do nice back up vocal traks.

Another possibility (as i mentioned in a past post) is creation of "foley" special effects.
mebe there is a huge need in your area for the creation of special effects.
or mebe some local film companies need some special effects created for a film.

lots of possibilities. lots of market areas.
just some markets to think of.

#3931 - 09/04/07 09:02 PM [Post your own Tips and Tricks here] Re: my tips... [Re: manning1]
manning1 Offline

Registered: 05/08/05
Posts: 1992
Loc: Canada
a very low cost way to get into audio recording.

i often get asked by friends what is a VERY low cost way to get into audio recording.
so i came up with this ultra low cost studio configuration .
note..a problem with some laptops is they have no line input.
so i see this ultra low cost solution being v usefull for laptop users.
(as always, make sure u can return the gear if it dont work well with your particular desktop or laptop.)
i'm sure folks have many opinions on the subject,
and alternatives...and.of course tech changes all the time.
but for ultra ultra low cost i suggest at least looking at the following.
as an alternative.

to set up for recording audio tracks youll need a mic of course,
a mic preamp , and a sound device.
so our input chain looks like this...
mic>>>mic preamp>>>>sound device>>>record an audio trak in ptw.
for the mic i suggest...possibly. (60 buks.)
for the mic tube mp.(30 buks.)
and for the sound device...behringer uca202 mebe. (30 buks.)
note...pgmusic sells the edirol ua1ex for a bit more money.
( reason to look at the uca or the edirol...
if your starting out.....
is the VERY SIMPLE USER CONTROL panel in comparison to lots of
complex control panels in various sound devices.
which drive some folks bonkers. )
ive used edirol . pretty clean.
(a tip.....record a blank trak, bring up ptw real time analyser n youll see...
low noise device.)

total 120 buks. not bad methinks for the money.
this handles the input side.
now lets turn to the output side.
youll need a headphone amp for your phones. eg 35 buks.
plus headphones. eg....44 buks.

for speakers some people tell me these are good for 100 buks starting out.
(better than puter speakers. remember to put fast blow fuses on the speakers.)

so for about 300 buks total....
there you go !!..
a complete studio. add in the cost pf ptw and some cables.
and we are under 400 buks..for a COMPLETE STUDIO.
(excludeing computer cost.)
not bad i feel.
wish i had it when i was starting out years
very difficult to beat this for the money i feel.
you would connect the stereo out of the uca202 to the
headphone amp and/or the speakers.
(i'll cover a midi set up in the next tip.)

#3932 - 09/04/07 10:59 PM [Post your own Tips and Tricks here] Re: my tips... [Re: manning1]
manning1 Offline

Registered: 05/08/05
Posts: 1992
Loc: Canada
a reasonably low cost way to get into midi recording.

i realise some folks have very fancy set ups.
but this is a suggestion for folks with little money starting out
with midi.
lets cover the input side first.
how do we get the midi trak recorded into powertracks (ptw) ??
i favor a midi keyboard thats essentially dumb with no sounds in.
sometimes u can pick one up used for cheap.
ideally u want one thats touch sensitive.
if it doesnt have usb built in prolly youll need to buy a midi to usb box
for your computer. (eg pgmusic sell one..um2ex.)

an example of a few controller keyboards might be...
they start at 50 buks.
as you can see there are a lot .
(google for more manufacturers...enter in google midi controller keyboard.)

mebe your into softsynths....
but ..if u want to keep the load on your computer down an option is external midi modules.
read this...
for example pg sell the SD 20.
and there are many others. includeing buying used.

for example ive seen more than a few used roland sound canvas for cheap.
for 100 buks.
just google for lots of used midi modules.
in summary..for 300 buks prolly you could buy a controller keyboard and a couple of used
midi modules that are multi timbral.
this would get you started.

now how do u mix in the audio from the multi timbral sound modules.
lets say u want to mix the outputs from several outboard multi timbral sound modules,
and record the result as a track in ptw ??
for this youll need a line mixer....
eg....el cheapo. 20 buks.
there are more expensive ones if u google.
take output of line mixer into your sound devices line input...
and record audio trak(s) in ptw.

buying used gear n adding some cables n we are prolly looking at 350 buks.

if you have a sound device/sound card ALREADY with midi inputs n outputs...
then simply connect midi out of controller keyboard to midi in
for example, and midi out of sound device to a midi splitter box
with several midi outs . each midi out of splitter would connect to a
outboard midi sound module.
in this scenario...
controller kbd>>>sound card midi in>>>>record a midi trak in ptw.
(make sure the correct mid in driver is selected in ptw preferences.)
sound card midi out>>>midi splitter box>>>>external multitimbral sound module(s).
multitimbral sound modules audio outs>>>line mixer input>>>
line mixer output>>>>sound device line input>>>>record a audiotrak in ptw.

if...on the other hand you have a reasonably powerfull pc...
u can use softsynths. either alone or in combination with external
midi modules.
the attraction of softsynths is obvious. lots of free ones.
and thus it saves buying dedicated often expensive hardware synthesisers. but some of the expensive synths and commercial softsynths have really nice sounds. yer pays yer money (or not) n yer makes yer choice.

#3933 - 09/04/07 11:08 PM [Post your own Tips and Tricks here] Re: my tips... [Re: manning1]
manning1 Offline

Registered: 05/08/05
Posts: 1992
Loc: Canada
re sound deadening materials for a control room.
up further in the tips.
Russ Demussel sent me the following pm....
which i'll quote in its entirety as an option for folks to consider.

"In reading your tips about cheapo sound deadening materials I have a suggestion you might add to it. You can get foam carpet pad. It's cheap as it gets. It's usually around 4 to 6 feet wide and you can glue/staple it to the walls and cealing. That's what I've got in my sound booth. Blue carpet pad. And it is fire resistant. Very hard to get it to burn. It will melt and puts out a horrible stink when burned. but doesn't seem to flame up. Just a thought. "

#3934 - 09/09/07 10:49 PM [Post your own Tips and Tricks here] Re: my tips... [Re: manning1]
manning1 Offline

Registered: 05/08/05
Posts: 1992
Loc: Canada
tips...38.(sorry , been busy.)
makeing sure you can hear yourself while recording.
(and other monitoring ideas.).

a common complaint i hear from people new to recording and
this is all down often to incorrect choice of gear often or incorrect organisation sometimes.
for example a friend of mine has a little simple usb audio device for getting audio into/out of the pc.
the problem is a lot of these newish little gizmos often dont have a ton of power for powering headphones.
some do but some dont.
i think i mentioned earlier when recording tracks one should aim
for peaks of no more than -6b, and some pro engineers are suggesting that traks sound even
better if one doesnt have the best sound card convertors recording at even lower levels.
thus the temptation can be to push up the master fader in ptw to compensate and get more level going out to
whatever feeds the phones. it depends on the rig.

BUT..if u have probs hearing yourself, mebe your hooking the phones off
a sound card with a wimpy phone output for example.

therefore i suggest you consider a proper HEADPHONE AMP.
(OR use an old home stereo with a powerfull output to phones.)
in my case ive been useing a older fostex line mixer that i pulled out of
storage (from a studio i sold off.) that has a powerfull phone output.
(sometimes you find em used for 80 buks.)

the hook up would be...
sound card stereo out>>>headphone amp>>>phones.
some headphone amps let several pairs of phones to be hooked up.
usefull for jamming with friends for example.

you can even build your own how good this is...
google for more headphone amp schematics..there are lots.)

(note national also have all in one IC's that will drive speakers also if u search.
some of their all in one chips are pretty inexpensive.
but if u dont know electronics....TAKE A SAFE ELECTRONICS COURSE.)

in summary .if your haveing probs hearing yourself.
1. your sound device passes thru the signal being recorded
to the output.
2. try a reasonably powerfull headphone amplifier.
(pro audio shops that sell audio mixers normally sell them.)

let me now cover something else.
ive never done this...but thought i would mention it.
there is a huge debate currently going on tween hugh end pro
audio engineers (i'm just a songwriter..i dont profess to be a gold record
guy..i just try hard n have
about two terms ITB and OTB.

ITB = in the pc (box) mixing.
OTB = out of the pc mixing.

how do the two differ ??

for OTB normally a sound device with multiple outputs is
utilised..whereby tracks can be sent from the pc to an external mixer.
for final mixing to stereo.
(in the same way as multitrack tape machines were used in past days.)
some engineers feel a better mix is created this way.
but others feel just as good mixes can be done totally in the pc.
anyone reading this might check with pg support...cos i'm ITB.
but...its my understanding with the right sound card/device you could do OTB with
i mention this , just in case anyone is interested for example in
recording a lot of tracks in ptw....then haveing say 8 sound card outs going to 8 ins
of an external mixing console.
ie...just another possibility to consider.

in this scenario...the external mix/monitor console would create the final stereo mix
master. and of course speaker/phone monitoring would be hooked up to this mixer.

now let me comment on speakers.
for monitoring some people use just one set of speakers.
(for value for money i'm kinda partial to yorkie monitors or yorkvilles.)
but i would suggest a speaker switch being fed by a studio power amp,
that in turn can switch tween various speakers.
1. proper monitors (eg the yorks.)
2. a pair of "ratty" speakers. (YES..the problem is lotsa people have them.)
3. a mono speaker mebe. some studios use a tv speaker.
also some people chek mixes on boomboxes as lots of people have em.
(note...u can now get boomboxes fed by a usb port on the pc !).
there are many approaches.
heres an example of a speaker switcher box...
(for non powered speakers.)
(google for many other deals.)

(REMEMBER...put fast blow fuses in speaker lines...!)

simply turn off the speakers when recording with phones.
(note...try and choose monitor speakers that are shielded if your useing an old computer

(if u google youll see lots of power amps for speakers,
as well as speakers with power amps built in.)
(more to come.)

#3935 - 09/10/07 10:48 AM [Post your own Tips and Tricks here] Re: my tips... [Re: manning1]
rockstar_not Offline

Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 7273
Loc: Colorado Springs, CO, USA

foam carpet pads are not actually very absorbent - mostly closed cell foam. Open cell foam works better. Auralex makes pretty expensive stuff, but there is a knock-off company in Michigan that has similar products for a fraction of the price.

Another cheap way to go is to find the used office furniture outlet in your area - find out if they are selling any of the old cubicle partitions that normally have quite high absorbent properties. If they are ugly, cover them with some light, decorative breathable fabric.


#3936 - 09/10/07 07:10 PM [Post your own Tips and Tricks here] Re: my tips... [Re: rockstar_not]
manning1 Offline

Registered: 05/08/05
Posts: 1992
Loc: Canada
yes i'm aware of the issue with carpet pads.
i just wanted to include russels comment.
and let him have his say on the subject.
i mentioned office partitions up thread.
god bless.

#3937 - 09/21/07 01:01 PM [Post your own Tips and Tricks here] Re: my tips... [Re: manning1]
manning1 Offline

Registered: 05/08/05
Posts: 1992
Loc: Canada
an update.
firstly i apologise for not posting tips for awhile.
ive been rather unwell, then got flu on top. jeesh.
finally i'm getting better, but next week will be flying to uk for a month to spend time with my poor old mum.
cos i dont know how much longer i'll have her for.
thus i hope to get back to this in early november.
v v sorry/apologies.
retired puter engr....powertracks on amd......NICE !
"what is the black art of audio engineering ?"
my silly
see my tips in the tips section.

Page 3 of 5 < 1 2 3 4 5 >

PG Music News
Video - Band-in-a-Box® 2018 for Windows® - Installing from an External Hard Drive (Option 2) Tutorial

If you've purchased a Band-in-a-Box® 2018 UltraPAK, there are a few different options for installing the program for you. In this video, we go through the process of installing Band-in-a-Box® using "Option 2" for running Band-in-a-Box® from your computer hard drive, leaving the RealTracks and RealDrums on the USB drive:

For more detailed information, visit

No matter how you install and use your Band-in-a-Box® hard drive, make sure you're saving your songs (or a copy of them) to your own folder not on the hard drive - that way you'll have a back-up copy if your hard drive isn't available to you!

Video - Band-in-a-Box® 2018 for Windows® - Installing from an External Hard Drive (Option 1) Tutorial

Have you purchased a Band-in-a-Box® UltraPAK, which ships on a portable USB hard drive? Once received, there are a few different options for you: Run Band-in-a-Box® directly from the USB drive only, Install Band-in-a-Box® on your computer hard drive (but leave the RealTracks and RealDrums on the USB hard drive), Install Band-in-a-Box® AND RealTracks on your computer hard drive, or choose a Custom Installation!

In this video, we go through the process of installing Band-in-a-Box using "Option 1" for running Band-in-a-Box® directly from the USB drive:

For more detailed information, visit

No matter how you install and use your Band-in-a-Box® hard drive, make sure you're saving your songs (or a copy of them) to your own folder not on the hard drive - that way you'll have a back-up copy if your hard drive isn't available to you!

Bach Chorales - Article: “Musical Perfection”: Reflecting on the Contemporary and Timeless Bach Chorales

In his recent article, "Musical Perfection": Reflecting on the Contemporary and Timeless Bach Chorales, Frank Fortunato describes our Bach Chorales software as "a fun, interactive exposure to the Bach chorales, or to introduce the chorales to students in a more interactive way...":

Learn more about Johann Sebastian Bach and listen to choral ensemble sing some of Bach's most enchanting compositions with our multimedia software The Bach Chorales Volume 1 & 2, which includes a detailed history of the life and times of Johann Sebastian Bach and inspiring performances of his famous Chorales!

"...hours of personal entertainment using resources from one of the most timeless collections in the history of music."
-Frank Fortunato,

Video - Installing Band-in-a-Box® from the Flash Drive Tutorial

When you order directly from us, there's an option to have your Band-in-a-Box® Pro, MegaPAK, or PlusPAK installation files sent to you on a flash drive (instead of DVD).
(this option appears during the check-out process)

We've created this handy tutorial video to walk you through the installation process:

Guitar Riffs Solo Lesson - YouTube Find (EricBlackmonGuitar)

Check out EricBlackmonGuitar's latest video, QUIK LICKS #14 Guitar Riffs Solo Lesson EricBlackmonGuitar HQ, where he not only teached a great guitar riff, but he also repeats that lick over a Band-in-a-Box backing track... what a great way to show how Band-in-a-Box is ideal for backing tracks!

Video link:

Thank you Eric!

Band-in-a-Box® 2018 - Cleaned-up BB folder!

It's the first day of spring today, which means it's time to start spring cleaning!

We cleaned up the BB folder with our release of Band-in-a-Box® 2018. Over the years, this folder has been growing - there were up to 10,000 files in there! We've fixed this and put the files into various folders. This is done with a cleanup routine. The cleanup normally happens automatically during installation, but you can run it manually by selecting the main menu Help | Utilities | Run Cleanup routine.

The cleanup routine does the following:
-Moves Styles files (.STY/.STX) from C:\bb to C:\bb\Styles.
-Moves Soloists files (.ST2/.XT2) from C:\bb to C:\bb\Soloists.
-Moves various Demo folders to C:\Demos.
-Moves various songs and lessons folders to C:\bb\Songs and Lessons.
-Moves various files essential for running Band-in-a-Box to C:\bb\Data and C:\bb\Data\Lib.
-Moves various preferences files to C:\bb\Preferences.
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Oliver Gannon Interview - Appointed to the Order of Canada!

Oliver Gannon (Peter Gannon's brother), was appointed to the Order of Canada in recognition for "his achievements as a musician" on December 29, 2017!

Oliver recently sat for an interview with CBC's Hot Air host Margaret Gallagher - read a summary and listen to the interview at

'I don't know ... why they chose me. But I'm very glad and I'm not giving it back'
-Oliver Gannon

To be clear, and avoid any confusion, there are two brothers: Peter Gannon is the "Band-in-a-Box" PG Music guy, and Oliver Gannon is the jazz guitarist who just won the Order of Canada.

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