It’s A B(L)og Post 002 – Studio Tour Part 2
What’s going on! It’s a new entry! The second to be exact. What do you think of the B(L)og series so far? Well we’re back for Part 2 of The Daydream Sound Studio tour! We’re going to pick up right where we left off. In Part 1 we went through the construction layout all the way up to the first part of the equipment list. If you haven’t read Part 1; it would be best to start there first. Alright before we go forward I want to thank you for spending a moment with me and with that…….. Let’s get at it!
SAMPLERS & OTHER INSTRUMENTS CONTINUED
While rack one is a 60/40 split between audio monitoring and samplers. Rack two is an 80/20 split with samplers taking up the majority of space.
Elektron Octatrack DPS-1
There’s definitely a history with this sampler. I initially had no intention of using it. It just wasn’t on my radar. It was recommended to me as a sampler that I would like. This was in July of 2014. By November of the year I bought one blind. It sat there in the box for awhile. I just wasn’t interested in diving into it as yet. Finally, in December I cracked it open and began to use it. I kinda liked it. Before I got too familiar with it I made an Initial Thoughts review of it on YouTube
I thought it was great for live performance and creating crazy songs but that was about it. It never crossed my mind as a main sequencer for my studio. Fast forward 5 years into the future and look where we are! That very said Octatrack is the main control centre for my entire studio. Everything interacts with it in one way or another. It’s go so many uses that it’s made itself so useful that it became the best choice. It’s got a useful sequencer, arpeggiator, live input audio looper….. I mean I could go on and on about this thing.
Applied Research & Technology P48 Patch Bay
Here’s the little bit of real-estate dedicated to signal traffic in the entire rack. I have personally never dealt with patch bays in my own workspace before. In the past I would usually just wire up the instruments I wanted to use on a per session basis.
Going into the wiring preparation process of the studio I knew A patch bay would save me time getting setup. Turns out its done a whole lot more than that. More on that later.
Alesis 3630 Stereo Compressor Limiter with Gate
Classic affordable wonder compressor. It comes in handy when I need it. It’s also got a little sound to it as well.
Roland S-760 Digital Sampler Truly wasn’t familiar with early Roland samplers until I got a hold of the S-760. It’s got a great tone and an odd structure all wrapped into a 1unit rack space. The monitor that sits on top of the Roland VP-9000 is what I use to look at the S-760’s internal menu. The onboard display has gotten old and pixelated. It’s almost as if Roland knew that it would happen. Its become one of the first samplers I reach for when I’m creating stuff. Great overall sampler! Like the majority of the instruments in here its got a floppy drive for storage. I like it that way. There’s more immediate opportunities when you narrow the space you work in.
Why did I get it in the first place? This one was given to me by a subscriber on YT! It happens every now and then and this time I was blown away! Usually the S-760 requires an optional (and rare/expensive) video/digital card that’s fitted in the back to make it compatible with an external monitor and mouse.
This one came with all of that already installed. I no doubt have the most generous people that support my work online ever!!!
Ensoniq EPSm Sampler
If there was any question as to whether I appreciate Ensoniq samplers just know for a fact that I think they’re superb! The keyboard Classic EPS is the first sampler that I learned on. The one I have now is the rare rack module version. The EPS is the ancestor of the infamous ASR-10. It has a ridiculously open architecture where you can make what you want happen.
There are three things that make the EPS really special though. The first is the variable sample rates that you can choose to shape your sound. At the high end it’s capable of sampling at 52kHz and 6.25kHz on the lower spectrum. That means you’ve got a lot or room to shape your samples. It’s crazy! The second thing is that its bit depth is 13bit. Why? I don’t know but I’m happy that it does! There’s a pretty subtle congestion that happens with the EPS because of it.
Lastly is the output sample resolution. As far as I’ve experienced I haven’t found another sampler that let’s you control playback sample resolution like you can on the EPS (and the EPS16+) What are you talking about in regular English please Yohance? Okay alright! Even if you sample at a low fidelity quality you can still playback that very said sample through a hi-fi digital engine and vice versa! That means more opportunity to create interesting sounding stuff! The EPS is the silent power house in this rack. It lends an otherworldly quality to my music. It’s the space between the audio.
E-MU Systems Proteus/1 Digital Sound Module
Story time! I read an article in Sound On Sound magazine about a composer who wrote music for television. It was a feature on her studio and workflow. I don’t know why this stuck with me but she mentioned that the Proteus/1 was really useful to her. Okay cool. Years later I’m doing research on E-mu as a company. Sure enough I run into some specification notes about the Proteus/1. What I found out was that it’s a sample playback unit aka ROMpler. What’s more is that its internal samples were from the legendary E-mu Emulator III. A really classic sampler.
“Well the Proteus/1 must sound really good then!”
That's what I said to myself in my head. So I filed that thought away for the future. Some more years later I’m moseying about in Long & McQuade, which if you’re not Canadian is our biggest music store chain in the country. I go into the used gear section and guess what I see there chillin, with an attractive price tag. You got it a minty E-mu Proteus/1. I get it into the studio. Fire it up; and when I tell you this thing sound nice. I ain’t joking! That’s why it’s here. It’s great to sample and do all kinds of things to. Despite what it looks like it’s also got a good bit of interesting features on it as well! I use it so much without even noticing.
SAMPLERS IN THE MACHINE/REMOTE ROOM
Yeah so in “stand world” here’s what’s going on.
Hands down the most unique sounding sampler I’ve ever come across. It’s a magic box with some serious range. Yeah it can sound pretty clean when it wants to and if you give it the slightest inclination that you want something dirty; Man will it ever go there in a heartbeat. This was the second sampler that I bought. I was so interested in what the first Ensoniq sampler actually sounded like. Oh yeah I forgot to let you know that the Mirage is Ensoniq’s first sampler ever!!! Made in a time when analog gear was still kinda prevalent. And because of that its got an analog filter with resonance on it. It’s so responsive and alive!
But before I hype it up too much I gotta talk about the fact that it’s one of those oldies that are short on memory. You’re not gonna get a whole lot here. Of course that’s right up my alley but for the general public I’m certain it would insight anger. And to make things even worse it has a 2-digit display. That’s it! There’s a list of numerical functions that you have to remember in order to get going. These luckily are available on what’s called a “Parameter Card”.
I’ve printed out a copy and keep it close by. If I use the Mirage for a few days straight, I have no problem remembering the codes. If not; I gotta break out the parameter card. I’m not done. I’m not done! This last part is the one that really turns most off from the Mirage. Guess what? It operates in Hexadecimal. Yeah I said it. Hex! I don’t have any problem with it but it’s like sunlight to a vampire for many! So check ting! I like the Mirage so much that I bought two. And they both have been designated to the machine room when I want to get extra vintage.
Ensoniq ESQ-1 Digital Wave Synthesizer
A synth? What on earth am I doing with a synth around here? I know right? Well here’s the reasoning behind it. This thing sounds like a Mirage! Yep it’s got 8bit waveforms for oscillators (sound generators). And the same analog filter as the Mirage. With all that onboard I just had to add it to the studio.
The good thing about synthesizers are that the sounds are always present as soon as you turn it on. There’s no loading or anything like that. I like that every now and then. So while I don’t use the ESQ-1 all the time, it seems to have made its way onto every album I’ve made since I’ve gotten it.
Ensoniq EPS16+ Sampler You’re probably here in the first place because you heard of some eccentric man online who
thinks the EPS16+ is great! If not now you know how everyone else ended up here. This sampler was my very first sampler ever. I learned the nuts and bolts of synthesis and digital audio with this vintage sampler at my side. We’re gonna save the backstory of this sampler for another time. For now, just know that it’s my favorite sampler to use.
Ensoniq ASR-10 Sampler
When I finally picked up the ASR-10 I was just plain old flexing. I did it because I could! It’s a
great sounding sampler. It looks amazing too! It’s very similar to the EPS & EPS16+ with more power and guts to it. I use it most frequently because of it’s reliability. The full set of FX are mad on this by the way!
The cream of the crop drum machine! Another flex piece! I do like and use it mind you. It’s got
some undercover features that I really appreciate to no end. It can convert CV to MIDI. That’s more exciting than it sounds! It can spit out SMPTE as well. What I’m getting at is that it’s a
perfect bridge between the old and new world of music technology. Yeah it’s a great drum machine and it sounds crazy. That’s nice and all however it’s really more of a Swiss army knife for my current setup. Oh I forgot to mention; The sequencer is just nasty!!!!
Akai MPC 2000 Classic
Once I got really comfortable with the sequencer on the EPS16+ I went looking for an MPC.
It had everything
that I was looking for. A great MIDI interface and a sequencer. That’s it! And the MPC2000 is just that. Once again it’s in the machine room because of the Octatrack. I use it when I want a secondary sequencer involved and at that point I’ll turn to the MPC2000. Now with that out of the way. It sounds super aggressive an tight! It’s got a pretty scooped out midrange frequency response. So no matter what I still will sample into it.
Ensoniq ASR-X Sampler/Resampler
Well I’ll tell you this. The ASR-X is definitely more than you think it is. I underestimated this sampler really bad. I still do. And every time I’m reminded of why it’s special. It sounds incredible! Probably the best sounding sampler I’ve used. It’s got a lot of control as well. It’s just not apparent at first but it’s there. I have no idea why I bought this one.
A good guess would be for the sound, but how would I have known? I do remember once I started using it I was kinda turned off. It’s really odd, like an experimental DIY instrument. Once I got over that fact, it was off to the races. It’s got major power. Way more than I need so I’m really happy with it!
It runs the software stuff. It needs an update. That’s all for now.
Well let me say this. I would like to try my hand building a computer. If you know what would be the best components to buy for a pretty fast Windows computer. I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.
STUDIO WIRING & PATCHBAYS
The cabling for this place was re-spec’d from the ground up. In the past I’ve always cut corners on cables and whatever money I saved doing so was lost to the frustration of using cheap cables. This time around I leaned my lesson.
When it came to looking for cables I wanted to keep things locally sourced (Canadian) as possible. My first idea was to buy bulk audio cables and then wire them up myself. I’m pretty decent at soldering and by doing so I could really customize things. It seemed like a great idea until the reality of how many cables I would actually need to get this place going set in. I was like
“Forget that idea!”
So my next idea was more realistic and that was to find a cable company in Canada to get cables from. I asked around and was recommended a company called BRTB. Right here in town. As local as I could hope for. Turns out they were contracted to wire up Deadmau5’s studio. If you’ve seen his place, it’s pretty well done so that gave me the confidence in BRTB’s product.
The trunk of the cabling runs between the mixer and the patch bay and then out to every instrument. It’s wired so that every sampler can sample any sampler as well as external sources. It’s given me the freedom to try things on the fly without being distracted with the process of it.
There’s a secondary X-bay that connects the machine room to the main studio. It’s an XLR that I’ve adapted for ¼” connections. That way I can record vocals of Foley and re-amp sounds in there when needed.
Anyway back to cables. I went as high grade as I could. All connectors are Neutrik right down to the patch bay jacks. Has it helped with the sound and noise interference? My goodness has it ever! I really can’t state it enough. Cables are important!
DAILY WORKFLOW IN ACTION
In my head I saw myself using the Octatrack to control all of the rack samplers and I’d pick and choose which one I could add to the music. That was one of the things that actually worked the way I thought it would. Typically, I’ll choose what samplers I want to work with get some sounds into them and it’s off to the races. The race might be a few minutes to a few hours long. Things just flow more on certain days than others. That’s just the way it goes with me. Either way if I get something I like I’ll track it into the computer and start another song. This process will continue until I gotta do some daily chores or something. My days are pretty much a combination of family, studio work and “do whatever I feel like doing. Sometimes I’ll be working and I’ll be like
“I really could use a nap right now!”
And that’s exactly what I’ll do. When I wake up I’ll resume whatever I was working on. Other days I’ll take a walk, skateboard, talk on the phone or anything that tickles may fancy really. The common denominator is that I’ll always return to this studio at the end.
Well that is it! Really hope this helped anyone out with their studio efficiencies. We all kind of look for a way to make our working experience the best it can be. Leave your comments below I'd be great to hear from you! I will catch you on the next B(L)og post. In the meantime; Please do take care of yourself!
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