go/no-go recording blog #1

it took about a billion years, but we finally managed to get the go/no-go “autofocus” release shipped off to the duplicators (and flying over the internet in the general direction of itunes, which feels a bit weird).

we got a few clips done as well, thanks to stu willis for making the “catching up with you” clip possible.

anyway, we did it all DIY, and it worked out okay, so we’re gonna have a shot at a follow up EP the same way. but hopefully a bit quicker this time. i’ve had the urge to write about the recording process for a while, and this seems like a good place to start. also, i’m waiting for a plumber to show up and can’t really do anything else in the meantime.

it took a few years, but i’ve finally got myself a mobile recording rig that works pretty good and fits in the back of a daihatsu charade. the main problem is getting enough equipment to get a nice drum recording – once you get past two channels, everything gets a bit spendier and more complicated. and you end up with mic cables everywhere, and i’m really bad at winding them up neatly.

anyway. last sunday, we dragged our gear down to zen rehearsals to track drums and bass. we record there mainly because they run free bbqs on weekends, and they have a well maintained cappuccino machine. also, because some of their rooms are really well sound-proofed and have excellent room treatment, which is important – if the room sounds boxy (or if sydney’s loudest metal band are bleeding through the air conditioning system), the recording will sound bad.

cue: five hours of recording, five tracks of drums and bass done, despite 50% of the personnel suffering from crippling hangovers.

check out all the mess!

once i get everything home, i usually mix up a nice sturdy martini and transfer the tracks over from the portable recorder to the PC. the ancient vs1680 recorder i use is cheap, solid and sounds good, but getting the raw audio out of it onto the computer requires screwdrivers and lots of time and weird software and usually i have to shout at it a bit as well. but eventually i end up with the session loaded up in reaper, ready for edits.

there’s usually a bunch of takes of each song. sometimes one is just perfect the whole way through, but usually each one will have bits of inspiration hit at different times. this is where that martini comes in handy. i usually just map out the song on paper, then mark each take with ticks or crosses depending on how awesome or hideous each part is:

once i’ve mapped it out, i hack the best bits together, get a rough mix up, and start thinking about another martini. and overdubs.

with a quickie mix and some keys, it’s sounding a little like this: [audio:blog1b.mp3]

in other news… where the hell is that plumber?

next up: percussion. in a week or two. with any luck.

‘avocado’, ‘floaty’ js effects demo

i’ve uploaded a quick demo of some of the free js effects i’ve built for reaper (linked here, click for more info)


this is just a quick guitar improvisation, played into two instances of floaty and one of avocado, streamed live to disk – no offline edits or effects except for a limiter were added to this.

update: i’ve just updated all of the effects, here’s a demo of avocado tempo sync’ed to some drums:


more js effects for reaper – ‘avocado’ and ‘floaty’

i’ve been mucking about making some effects using reaper’s js effect engine, and i’m happy enough with the results now to release them.

there are three effects in here:

  • floaty – modulated delay inspired by mda’s dubdelay, but with lots of extra craziness
  • avocado – powerful glitch engine, with a ducker built in so it won’t stomp all over your tracks
  • tonegate (previously released) – triggered tone generator

click here to download all three effects:

and yeah, i’ll get back onto the dsmcu/bliptracker ds stuff soon. as soon as i can find where both of my ds’s have gone…

edit: audio demo of these here

dsmcu (ds wireless mix controller) video clip

here is a short video of dsmcu in use

dsmcu is a wireless mix controller for reaper (and possibly other applications if they tolerate my abuse of the particular midi control spec i’m using).

click here for more info

(song download link HERE)

note: i haven’t had much of a chance to work on this lately and my ds is a bit sad, i’m only really posting this in the hope someone will donate a pink ds with a properly working touchscreen (black is also fine)

dsmcu – nds mix controller [preview!]

dsmcu is a nintendo-ds based emulator of the MCU control surface protocol. it talks to your audio workstation over wifi via dsmi.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD (beta software, please exercise care, no warranties expressed or implied, and you’ll need the readme file to get it working)


requirements: a homebrew-capable ds (which can connect to your computer over wifi), compatible audio workstation software (like ‘reaper‘) and dsmi correctly set up on your computer. more details in the download link.


tested on: reaper; (primary testing platform, works great), samplitude V8 SE (works but no VU display).

does not work with pro tools or logic yet, but support is planned

the following subset of the mcu protocol is supported:

  • fader send, receive
  • vu display
  • track select, mute, arm and solo (w/ feedback)
  • bank up/down
  • scrub
  • more coming soon…

possible applications include: a wireless rec/arm remote or end-user monitor mix interface for tracking, touch-sensitive automation recorder during mixdown, multi-user mixing, ‘left-hand’ level control while tweaking VSTs…

lots more planned, more info soon.

some user interface elements have been taken from Reaper – BIG THANKS to White Tie and the Reaper posse for granting permission for use of this and helping out with design/layout. cheers again to tobw for the dsmi library. also uses palib and devkitpro/libnds, yay.

dsmcu – setup instructions


Note: in theory this stuff all works on Linux and OSX but you’re on your own, let me know if you get it working!

(click through for more info…)


Note: in theory this stuff all works on Linux and OSX but you’re on your own, let me know if you get it working!

Maybe print this out before you start.

  • Obtain a Nintendo DS and a cartridge that will let you run homebrew (I use an R4DS – http://www.r4ds.com – works great). If you get stuck here, hit up Google.
  • You need a wireless router or something else that will let you connect your DS to the network your computer is on. Make sure that you can connect to the Nintendo WFC online services. If you get stuck here, hit up Google.
  • Go to http://www.midiox.com/myoke.htm#Download and download MIDI Yoke NT 1.75 (163K 09-23-07) (NOT the manual install). Run it. You might need to reboot.
  • Go to http://dsmi.tobw.net/index.php?cat_id=1 and download the DSMIDIWiFi Server for Windows. Extract and run it.
    • Set input to “IN FROM MIDI YOKE PORT 1”
    • Set output to “OUT TO MIDI YOKE PORT 2”

setup dsmi

  • Download the dsmcu.nds file and get it onto your DS flash card (i.e. R4DS, whatever). You don’t need to patch this file or do anything weird with it, just put it on there.
  • Boot your DS and run the dsmcu.nds file. If it locks up with a faint “MIDI: ?” message on the bottom screen, that means it can’t connect to your network. If you can play DS Tetris on the internet and this still doesn’t work, contact me.
  • If dsmcu can connect to the internet, the screen will fill with faders. This is good.
  • Download and run Reaper. Go to options/preferences and select the Control Surfaces section (near the bottom). Click Add to add a new control surface.
    • Set: Control surface mode: Mackie Control Universal,
    • MIDI Output: OUT TO MIDI YOKE 1,
    • Leave everything else at default settings.
    • When you click OK, everything should work.

setup reaper

If it’s doesn’t work, try setting the DSMI output to Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth and seeing if noise is made when you click on the transport buttons on dsmcu.

reaper – tonegate js effect

i’ve recently started using reaper as my main audio software. one of the best things about this thing is that it comes with a built-in plugin programming language. it’s pretty basic but you can do some cool stuff with it, and it’s way easier than futzing about with compilers and vst frameworks and garbage like that.

i’ve just released my first effect for this environment, called tonegate. it’s based on a number of other effects supplied with reaper – it’s really just a basic tone generator triggered off a gate, mainly to add sin, square or noise tones to kick or snare hits. tone type/pitch is configurable (the pitch can optionally raise or drop during tone decay), there’s a simple low pass filter and wet/dry mix.

this is a quick audio demo of the effect in action – first part is dry kick and snare tracks, second part has some (not-so) subtle sin and noise added to kick and snare, last one is way over the top. with enough of these you can do all sorts of weird nintendo-y sounding stuff: