DIY Music Blog #2 – Upgrades, Plugs and Tricks

Hello! Here’s DIY Music Blog numero deux, already. Welcome back…

It’s getting late on a Sunday night and I’ve got work in the morning. I’ve not got half the stuff I wanted done this weekend but I have been productive, and I have just about written this blog post. Since I last wrote I’ve upgraded to Windows 10, signed up to the Slate Digital mix/master monthly bundle and finished production on a brand new Humjunkie track. So Let me tell you all about that.

Windows 10 Upgrade

Change can be scary… Especially when the thing you’re changing is the operating system which underpins your entire home studio set-up. So, naturally, I was a bit wary when I returned from my recent holiday to a notification on my PC informing me that my upgrade to Windows 10 was ready to go. I did some research, asked around in groups and forums, and the general consensus was that FL Studio worked fine, if not better, in Windows 10. Being my main DAW, this was my main concern so after a little procrastination (and a lot of backing up) I went ahead and pushed the button.

The upgrade went smoothly and didn’t take too long. My actual desktop didn’t look too different afterwards and all my installed programs (or ‘Apps’ as we seem to be calling them now) were still there. The first thing I did was fire up FL Studio and load the most recent project I’d been working on.

In retrospect I may have been a bit hasty.

I felt my heart sink when I hit ‘play’ and saw the CPU meter immediately jump up to 100% and my lovely smooth track transform into an unlistenable glitchfest. However, after my initial panic, and a close look at  Task Manager, I realised that there still seemed to be some ‘setting up’ going on with the operating system in general. So I decided to leave it be for a while and watched the last episode of True Detective with my wife instead.

I came back, slightly disappointed with the end of the series but relieved to find the CPU usage had dropped to a much more sensible level with no programs running and fired up my project FL Studio again, this time with no glitches…

except for the fact it wasn’t recognising my audio interface. Argh!

Once again though it wasn’t necessary to panic and it seems that the new OS just takes a bit of settling in. I do now appear to have a working interface and working software. I’ve also checked my screen capture software and that seems to be working too so I should be able to do the next video post very soon.

All in all, Windows 10 does look to be an improvement. But time will tell. Have you upgraded yet? Had any issues?

The Slate Digital Gamechanger

Have you seen this?!

To many of us who are involved in digital mixing as a hobby or part-time venture, Slate Digital products are quite high on the list of “plugins I would buy if I just had a bit more money to spare”. So it’s a fairly genius move on their behalf to introduce a monthly subscription deal. Instead of having to fork out around $150 for just one plugin, you now have the option to subscribe for $20 a month and have all the mixing and mastering plugins. I imagine I’m not the only one who got excited by this prospect.

For me this was a no-brainer. I constantly hear about the Slate Digital EQ and Compression plugins in relation to serious professional mixing and that $20 a month is less than £15 of my British cash, which I can quite happily commit to. I’d recently cancelled a sample library subscription which was costing me £20 a month, as I’ve collected enough samples now to last me a lifetime, so I’m actually much better off in this situation.

My physical iLok arrived in the post this week so I’ll be trying out the renowned FG-S, VCC and VTM on my mixes to see if they can really add something. The great thing is that I can cancel at any time so if they don’t really help I can just cut loose and save my money.

New Tricks for New Tracks

Over the last few weeks I’ve been working on a new Humjunkie track which has developed from learning a couple of new production methods. Firstly I wanted to get to grips with using Slicex to cut up and rearrange a beat. This was quite successful and I added an extra layer of creativity by sampling a drum loop which I created using EZ Drummer, rather than someone else’s recording. I was pretty pleased with the results and will definitely use that technique again in future tracks.

The other thing I’ve delved into is sound design, specifically creating a growly, moving bass synth. I’ve been watching a few SeamlessR tutorials on YouTube. They’re pretty complex but I’ve really learned a lot from them and thought I’d have a go using Patcher with Sytrus and a load of distortion, automated EQ and compression to create something from scratch.

It took a few attempts and lots of tweaking but I’m really happy with the sound I ended up with. You can hear both the breakbeats and the bass design, as well as some other cool sounds I’ve made, on my latest Humjunkie track ‘Forget the Future‘ which I’ve just released on Soundcloud. Check it out and let me know what you think. I may even put together a video guide to how I made it.

Do let me know if that would that interest you and I’ll put it on my to-do list.

The finished track is embedded below and I’ve also recorded a quick track tour video on YouTube. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Until next time…

That’s it for now. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my latest DIY Music Blog. Please pop over and ‘like’ my Facebook page, join our Facebook community, follow me on Twitter and subscribe to my YouTube channel if any of that seems like something you would want to do!

Until next time, good bye.

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