Category Archives: Electronic Musician Presents

TUTORIAL: Production Central: Zen and the Art of Mixing a Record


By Ming (aka Aaron Albano)

I’m one of those jack-of-all-trades music producers. I usually write, record, mix, and master my productions. Every now and again, I’ll have the pleasure of working with a mix engineer or a mastering engineer to get a second listen, but as recording budgets dry up and the music business becomes more single-driven, I find that I’m the one who will make 99 percent of the sonic decisions for my productions. This means that I’m often burning the candle at both ends to finalize a production, which leaves me a bit fatigued mentally and sonically by the time I get to the final mix.

To combat my hectic schedule and make sure I’m making the correct sonic decisions, I employ a number of techniques during and prior to the production process that make the final mixdown a lot easier to manage. Continue reading

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GEAR REVIEW: Roland Gaia SH-01 Review

Unlike nearly every digital keyboard I’ve played, the Roland Gaia SH-01 has no text or numeric readout nor a screen of any kind. I immediately got so lost in turning knobs, moving sliders, and waving my hands around in front of the D-Beam that I didn’t notice this profound omission. This is indicative of Roland’s intentions with the Gaia: to build a synthesizer so engrossing to play and so slick for on-the-fly programming that patch names and menus become meaningless.

Like its popular ’80s predecessor, the SH-101, the Gaia is intuitively playable yet deeply tweakable. If it can find an audience, I think Roland will have a hit on their hands in the educational, portable, and professional markets. Continue reading

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ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Richie Hawtin | Plastik Power


By Bill Murphy

Back in early 1993, when acid house was on the wane and all-night techno raves were gradually giving up warehouse space to ambient chillout rooms, Richie Hawtin decided it was the right moment to try something a little different. “I wanted to go against everything that was happening at the time,” he recalls. “When it came to the records, people were making compilation albums, putting all their singles together and calling it something worth buying. For me, if you wanted to grab people for an hour or more on a CD and really take them somewhere, you had to think about the beginning and the middle and the end. It’s like telling a good story. If you’re trying to make a record that takes people away from themselves, you have to create a physical, all-encompassing experience.” Continue reading

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TUTORIAL: Better Safe Than Sorry

By Mike Levine

Imagine spending an entire week working on a critically important music project. You toil day and night orchestrating, programming, and recording. You bring in other musicians and singers to overdub, and everything is sounding killer. Then, on the day before your deadline, when you’re getting ready to mix, the external drive that you record your audio to from your DAW doesn’t show up when you start your computer. You try rebooting, but no luck. With a growing sense of dread, you try running your disk utility software, but still no sign of your drive. It’s now clear that your drive has suffered a major crash. Your deadline is looming, and you’re back to square one. “If only I’d backed up!” you cry, as you pound the desk in frustration.

Most computer users don’t think about backing up until after they’ve suffered a catastrophic data loss. If you’re serious about protecting your recording data, you need to develop a systematic backup strategy and stick to it. If you don’t, chances are the data-loss gremlin will eventually get you.

To help shed light on the subject of backup, I spoke with a number of working pro musicians and engineers to find out how they safeguard their data. I also interviewed data-recovery specialists and disc manufacturers to get their opinions and advice on the subject.

Data Dangers

One of the most common hazards that your recording data can face is hard-drive failure. Hard drives are precision devices filled with moving parts, and they are vulnerable to both mechanical and electrical failure. Continue reading

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GEAR REVIEW: Propellerhead Software Reason 5 and Record 1.5 (Mac/Win) Review


By Len Sasso

As usual, Propellerhead Software took its sweet time delivering the updates Reason 5 and Record 1.5, and as usual, it was well worth the wait. Reason 5 brings a new drum module, Kong Drum Designer, and a welcome upgrade of the REX file player, now called Dr. Octo Rex. Record 1.5 adds Neptune for pitch correction, transposition, formant shifting, and harmonization. Among many usability enhancements, the two that stand out are Blocks—multitrack chunks that you can reuse at different points in an arrangement—and real-time sampling of external audio or any module’s output. Blocks and sampling are available in both Reason and Record. (Yes, Reason does sampling.) Here, I’ll concentrate on the new modules and user enhancements. For reviews of Reason 4 and Record 1, check out the December 2007 and November 2009 issues.


 When your lead singer’s enthusiasm overpowers allegiance to pitch, Record’s Neptune offers on-the-fly pitch correction. During mixdown, you can wreak your revenge with Neptune’s voice synth and formant shifting. Neptune offers all you would expect from pitch correction at its best and its charming worst. It can make smooth, almost undetectable pitch adjustments based on front-panel settings or real-time MIDI-note input. Alternatively, it can deliver grotesque jumps and swoops, “Cher’ing” with the best of them. And the battle between in- and out-of-tune has never been so graphic (see Web Clip 1). Continue reading

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