RSS

Tag Archives: mpc2000xl

Best Album of 2012! ……that was released by me


Image
Did I tell you about that time I released an album for ‘pay what you want’ download?  No?  Well, I’m about to tell you now!

Firstly, download it here: http://iamfg.bandcamp.com

It’s 13 tracks (at least…….) long and has some great guest appearances from Empty, G-box, Wisdom2th, Hallows and DJ Silence (and maybe even ASAP……..).

I finished this one in November last year and only just then realised that I never told you folks about it (mostly because I’m doing all my blogging at http://www.thecommunity.com.au/FG now).  Anyway, download it and enjoy!

Let me know what you think.

PEESHE
FG

P.S You can also buy a hardcopy on CD if you want.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 4, 2013 in Album, Hip Hop, Making Space Album, Production

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Using the MPC2000XL for live shows.


Image

Long time no blog.  I’m usually blogging at http://thecommunity.com.au/FG these days.  However, I thought I’d drop a technical blog here because the other blog is just for my musical endeavours.

I’ve been doing a bunch of shows lately.  Emcee sets and beat sets, mostly.  Regardless of the type of set I’ve been keeping my MPC2000XL central to the show – playing beats off it for raps and doing live beat stuff on it when I run out of breath.  Over the course of these shows I’ve encountered plenty of “technical difficulties” and found some solutions so I thought I’d drop a line for anyone who’s looking at doing a similar thing.

Here’s a list of 5 things you should do to ensure that your sets run off the MPC flawlessly:

1.  When preparing a song, sequence or program to play live make sure you don’t gain any of the samples.  If something is too quiet, mix everything else lower rather than raise the level of that sound.  It can be very tempting to go into the TRIM –> PARAMS window for a sample and crank the level to 200.  You will be very tempted to do this for kicks and snares in particular – but avoid the temptation.  Similarly, don’t turn the VEL% on your sequence tracks up above 100, either.  Here’s why…

The Digital to Analogue Convertors (DAC), I think, run before the volume gain stage on the outputs.  This means that any internally gained sounds have the potential to be sent from the MPC to the front of house mixer at greater than 0dB.  This is part of the reason that MPC’s have an “analogue” sound to the audio they output.  However, the result can be a catastrophic clampdown by the front of house compressor (if they have one, which 99% of the time the venue does) or, even worse, over driven and distorted sounds and, even even even worse, you could blow out the venues front of house speakers and end the show entirely.

Front of house compressors are much like mastering compressors in how they’re set up.  They have a relatively slow attack time and a very long release.  Anything that goes into them too hot will cut through for a moment (which sounds like a big POP) and then the level will drop enormously before slowly creeping back to normal (at which point the hot kick or snare usually hits again and the process is repeated).  This not only sounds terrible but makes it damn near impossible to stay on point with any pattern that you’re playing live.

If you never gain sounds in the MPC, then you should never send a signal hot enough to make the compressor shit itself and you should never have any problems.

2.  If you’re not playing a program on the fly (a la Exile or ARAAB) then make sure you name your tracks and sequences.  You can even go so far as to arrange them in the SONG window and convert the whole song to one new, giant sequence.  That way, if you have an outro without any vocals, you can jump into the MUTE window and do a nice little ‘on the fly’ drum/sample drop sequence.

3. Convert as many samples as you can to mono.  This is usually absolutely fine for drums (kicks, snares, hats etc) and percussion.  You have to decide for yourself whether it’s worthwhile for samples.  It usually won’t hurt for bass (as many systems mono the bass anyway to avoid phasing issues in the venue).  The reason for doing this is purely to reduce the time it takes to load a new program and sequence.  If you have a Compact Flash drive or SCSI drive then the load time will be between 10 and 30 seconds for a song.  Needless to say, if you run off floppy disk still – then you’re in for a world of hurt waiting for the MPC to load so you’re better off just learning how to adlib really well between songs.

4. Fall in love with the 16 levels function and the SLIDER.  They are both limited.  You can’t turn 16 Levels on or off while a sequence is playing, for example, but with some deft skills you can stop a sequence in the final count of the loop, hit 16 levels, and then press PLAY START in time to catch the first beat of the next bar.  Make note of my qualification about DEFT SKILLS… you’ll need them.  This does allow you to, for instance, go from some on the fly arrangement into a synth solo on the MPC though so it’s worth experimenting.  The SLIDER can only be assigned to 1 pad at a time but you can get some gnarly effects from it.  Assign it to a synth/siney tone and you can go pitch shift crazy.  To make this seem flawless, set the sine tone as a short loop and make the END time for the amplitude envelope quite long.  The SLIDER can’t vary the pitch while a sample is playing but with a long release you can tap the sine pad repeatedly while moving the pitched and create a fairly seemless sounding sine pitch shift.

5. Learn to love the filter envelope (PROGRAM WINDOW, highlight cutoff or resonance and press OPEN WINDOW to access it).  This can turn a really simple looped sound into a damn good imitation of an old analogue synth.  For even more Moog-ish funk, link the pad to another pad with the same sound but pitched up or down 120 (1 octave).  You can then alter the filter envelope on the second pad in an entirely different way to the first pad and create very interesting sounds such as a bass not that falls hard, sharp and low at the start and then sweeps in with a squelchy higher frequency towards the end.  Very cool.  You could also link two patches of the same sound and pitch one down 1 or 2 and the other up 1 or 2 for a fat detuned bassline.  Just beware of phasing.  Either way, this can really cut down the need to bring a synth to your gigs.

And, that’s my top five recommendations for using the MPC2000XL live.  It’s nearly 13 years old and I’m yet to find a replacement machine that can compete (and trust me, I’ve tried Maschine, Ableton, the MPC1000 and many other units).

PEESHE

FG

 
9 Comments

Posted by on August 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Maschine Heart.


Image

I finally picked up Native Instruments Maschine last week and have spent all day today working on a remix so that I can learn how it works.  I’m not going to review it just yet because I’m still getting my head around it all.

All I can say right now is “MY BALLS!!! THIS SHIT IS DOPPPPEEEE!”.

Seriously.

You always take a gamble when you buy new gear.  This is particularly so when you buy complex gear like samplers and midi controller interfaces and software etc.  So far, Maschine has been awesome.  I’ll do a gear review of it in the future when I’ve mastered it a bit.

However, my experience with Maschine so far is bitter sweet.  I’m actually legitimately saddened.  The reason for my sadness is this:  I can see Maschine coming to replace my MPC2000XL for the majority of my production.  That is seriously heart wrenching for me.

I bought my MPC2000XL in about 2000/2001 when I got my first proper job.  Since then I must have produced well in excess of 1000 beats on it.  It has never faltered or caused me any issues.  It has travelled thousands upon thousands of kilometres with me.

Perhaps people who aren’t producers wouldn’t understand but the truth is – you build up a relationship with your music making equipment.  Sometimes these bits of circuitry and buttons are your only respite from all the bullshit that is happening in your life.  If I had a bad day, I always knew that I could go into the lab, fire up the MPC and forget about all my problems for a little while at least.  And you come to know ever little function, feature and quirk of the gear that you use regularly.  It really does become like a friend.

It’s not mere nostalgia talking here.  There is a genuine sadness.

However, the MPC2000XL does have its limitations and they are limitations that are now limiting my ability to keep up with the demands of my production cycle.  Primarily, the fact that I mix in Logic (and the MPC doesn’t interface with computers like Maschine does) means that I spend far too much time bouncing individual tracks out so that I can mix my beats.

I’m about to move my MPC2000XL to the small “ideas table” in the corner of my lab.  This is the place where I leave stuff to use irregularly whenever I’m looking at changing my workflow and generating some new ideas.  I’m going to put Maschine here in front of my iMac as my primary production tool and sequencer.

Just know that I do it with a very heavy heart.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 19, 2012 in Audio production, gear, Production

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Turning Samples into Instruments


Hey folks,

I just put together a quick video for some of the folks at http://www.ozhiphop.com and I thought I’d link it up here, too.  It’s just a simple technique that you can use on your sampler to turn tiny parts of samples into instruments.

PEESHE

 
2 Comments

Posted by on December 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

REMIX!


Hmm

Not my workspace but oddly quite similar.

Hey folks,

Here’s a little remix I worked up for Organic Affiliates.  They posted an acapella on their Soundcloud account yesterday.  Coincidentally, I was looking for reasons to avoid working on the niggling details of my album so I wasted my time slapping together a beat for this track.

The second verse (which was actually the first verse) was kinda loose so I tried to mess with the arrangement to make it fit rather than drag everything on time (that’s a touchy decision for a lot of emcees since you’re twisting up their flow).  If the remix was anything more than a mess around I would have got the second emcee to spit their verse again.

PEESHE

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Perfection of Imperfection.


Akai EX85P... mmm.

Hi folks,

The advent of digital recording and the unrelenting pressure of pop music has ushered in an age of super-clean recordings. For the most part, this makes me sad. I tend to comfort myself by going on eBay.

I’m a fan of eBay. I can frequently be found scouring various lists on the hunt for audio gear of all types. Generally I buy obscure, unknown bits and pieces just to see what they sound like. Rarely do I bother bidding on well-known kit because the savings to be had are pretty slim – you just can’t get a TR808 for $250. Everybody knows that.

Most recently I picked up an Akai EX85P parametric equalizer for about AU$50. I’d never run across one before but it looked interesting. It’s a circa 1990 model of prosumer gear with all the classic beige and red design elements that old school MPC users can’t help but love. Aside from it’s appearance and what I could read from the screen, I knew nothing else about it. However, I’m yet to buy a bit of gear that I haven’t put to good use so I figured it was worth a bid. And, lo and behold, it’s an absolute cracker of an EQ.

The specs are as follows:

  • Mono, 6.5mm balanced ins and outs (hence prosumer)
  • High and low shelving (40hz and 12000hz respectively) with +/- 18db
  • Two sweepable mids ranging from 100Hz to 8000Hz (with considerable overlap) at +/- 18db
  • Adjustable Q for each mid frequency band (the Q factor isn’t listed but it seems to be about 6 to .7)
  • It has a footswitch input too, but I haven’t got a pedal for it and, moreover, I can’t see what it would do except engage and disengage the effects bypass.

Overall, it’s pretty standard in terms of features. However, the amount of boost/cut is pretty substantial and it can really have an enourmous impact on the shape of the sound. I haven’t put it on any tracks yet but I’ve been having a great time doing super-resonant filter sweeps on everything from synth lines to dodgey mariachi records. Good fun.

Many years ago I also bought a mono Ashly peak limiter/compressor for something like $40. Again, information on these units is thin on the ground. In short, it is simply not pro-grade gear. That said though, I’ve used this compressor on numerous recordings in the signal chain of numerous instruments and vocals and it is a lovely bit of kit. The design doesn’t allow you to set a threshold (a true peak limiter), which means you have to drive a signal hard into it before it starts to operate. However you can adjust attack, release and ratio settings (the ratios are all pretty intense) and you can adjust the level of output. The thing I love about this compressor, though, is not it’s features nor even it’s intended sound. Rather, I love it’s terrible design flaws and angry grittiness.

Since owning the unit, I’ve discovered that the manufacturers made a terrible mistake when they put it together. They used a kind of foam to line the top and bottom plate of the casing which worked fine for a year or two before age and heat began to make it disintegrate. Consequently particles of foam would build up on the circuitry causing the various transisters and op-amps to overheat and, essentially, malfunction. As a result, the unit I now own (though cleared of any residual foam lining) generates considerable harmonic distortion which, although far below “hi fi” standards let alone “pro audio” is not entirely unpleasant when used in certain circumstances.

Of late, I’ve been running the compressor as a parallel compression unit, driven very hard and then filtered and layered with clean vocal recordings to generate a gritty low end warmth. It’s pretty solid on live bass, too, particularly if you’re using a DI approach.

So, what’s my point? Well, just this – sometimes the best tones you can create don’t come from ultra-high end, super-clean studio gear. Sometimes, you’ll only achieve your own brand of perfection if you let the imperfections run wild for a while.

Any of you have stories about temperamental or downright lo-fi gear that has made you smile?

PEESHE

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Remix! Arms In Motion feat. Wisdom2th (FG remix)


I did the remix on this beautiful creature.

Hey folks,

Here’s a little remix I did just for fun.

Hope you enjoy it.

PEESHE

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,