The Console War

Ok so the PS4 and Xbox ONE have now both been released in America. People have been calling the battle of the “next generation” consoles a console war. People have been debating and debating what console they’ll be getting next, and it has come down to people basically insulting each other ,and their mothers, to get their “point” across. The truth of the matter is, the debates of features are pretty pointless. At the end of the day, people are just going to buy the console that all their closest friends have. It doesn’t matter whether the Xbox is basically now a sports box, it doesn’t matter that the PS4 is going to have the next Metal Gear title, it will come down to what your friends are having. Unless of course you don’t have any friends, then you’ll probably just get whatever one your mother will buy you for Christmas.

But I find it sad that no one has looked at the Wii U as a ” next generation” console. I think the Wii U has a lot of potential in what it offers. The games look fun, I like the whole living room experience it gives and it could serve as a brilliant multiplayer console for friends and family. But unfortunately Nintendo have dug themselves a hole here. They pushed away most of the “hardcore” fans away with the Wii and realised that now the only people who have a Wii only get it out at Christmas and for the rest of the year use it as a doorstop. As a result, when Nintendo decided to say “hey guys, it’s for hardcore gamers again” they had all moved on. That said, I still see myself getting a Wii U at some point…but that’s because I wanna play the next Zelda game and…pause for effect….SMASH BROTHERS!

We so excited

But really when it comes down to it, who has won the console war? None of the above. Because the fact of the matter is, the PC is still the best gaming platform. When the PS4, Xbox and Wii U are sold as “next generation” the PC has always been a generation ahead. The graphics are better, it’s faster, you can play all types of games, you can have all you games and social media in one place etc. “oh but some games are better with a controller” well I’ll just plug in my gamepad. “oh but what if you wanna chill on the sofa with a big TV” uh there’s a HDMI socket on the back of most PC’s nowadays, have you tried Minecraft on a 40″ TV? I have. And it’s EPIC. “Ok but there’s no motion sensor stuff!” you got me there, but you come back to me in about 6 months when that gimmicky crap has worn off and at the end of the day you just wanna lie on the sofa, drinking monster energy drink and play some crappy FPS. And of course with a PC, there’s no need for any of this Media stuff. Netflix, Spotify, Facebook , Twitter, Twitch Integration all mean NOTHING. As PC’s have had all that since…well…forever.

Then there’s the argument of cost. “a good gaming PC will cost you loads of money though, when a PS4 is only £350”. Well though this may be true let’s look at the big picture. If you’ve got a PS4-3 whatever, chances are you also have a laptop, probably priced around the £400 marker. Now add 350 and 400 together and you get 750. So if you instead opted that money all towards one PC you would have a £750 gaming PC. I would consider my PC a pretty powerful gaming PC and mine cost just over £600. SO when it comes down to it, PC is master race and it isn’t the “next generation” gaming console, it is always a generation ahead! SUCK IT NERDS!

DAWs Part 1

Now I am an Audiophile. Being that I am studying Audio Production, I’ve got to be really. As such, I am passionate about things to do with audio. In this category of my blog which I am calling “Audiophile” I am going to discuss and rant about Audiophile stuff. I feel the best way to start is where I began getting into being an Audiophile, and that was with my first DAW.

For those of you that don’t know what DAW is, it is a Digital Audio Workstation which is a piece of software where you most commonly can record, edit, mix, compose, sequence, perform and create audio and music. You may have heard of a few: Apple Logic, Pro Tools, Ableton Live….FL Studio. These are probably the most commonly known ones. The screens normally look something like this.

Mixpad – My first DAW

In this post I am going to discuss the DAW’s I have encountered and what I like, don’t like or protest about each one.

Sonar

SONAR Home Studio 7XL

Ahh my first proper DAW was Sonar Home Studio 7XL. Before Sonar I had a DAW called Mixpad, but that feels like an age ago and I don’t really want to discuss that one. Sonar is my nostalgic DAW, it was what got me into recording music. I remember getting Sonar and just recording stuff for days. I never released any of the music to anyone, I just enjoyed using it myself although I did compose, with a friend, one my first proper pieces of music with it, which I did release.

Now what I liked about Sonar was its simplicity. There was no playing around. If you wanted to record something, you plugged in a Mic and pressed record. If you wanted to play around with levels and panning. Easy. You could look at a Sonar session and know what was going on. One of the sole parts that I love about Sonar, and I’m still yet to find anything as good, was it’s drum sequencer. The sequencer was SO easy to use, and you could get stuck in and creating drum patterns and loops in seconds.  The string virtual instrument as well was brilliant! You could tweak the perfect string sound you wanted and then record the MIDI right in.

The problem with it was though, was that it was TOO basic. Once I got to a level of learning basic audio production, small things were really hard to accomplish. Adding a simple fade in was a mission, editing multiple takes was time consuming, and I STILL to this day don’t know how to create a stereo input. Looking at how Sonar has evolved since then makes me smile. It’s like watching a child grow up, they really have come a long way since I last used it. I hope one day to purchase it again just to try it and see how far it has come.

Pro Tools

One of my Pro Tools sessions

Oh yes, Pro Tools. I remember when I first heard about Pro Tools when researching into an artist. I first came across Pro Tools when I did some work experience in London in a film studio and just from being there for a week, I witnessed how powerful Pro Tools could be when it came to doing anything to do with audio. Pro Tools is my current primary DAW (Pro Tools 11 to be precise) and I also currently hold a certificate in Pro Tools 101, which makes me a qualified Pro Tools user. *go me*

I couldn’t list all the features of Pro Tools. I really don’t think I literally could. I have a book which has MOST of the features in and it’s over 300 pages! What I really do love about Pro Tools is it doesn’t play games. If you want to achieve something, you have to do it yourself. This may sound like a bad thing but it really isn’t, as Pro Tools is so innovative, achieving most tasks is still easy but you need to get suck in add all the inputs and send yourself. The signal flow is incredible and it’s ability to move signals and audio around Pro Tools is amazing. It’s editing tools are so powerful. You can easily edit audio to the point where you can even zoom into the physical waveform. Like I said, I couldn’t list the features as it would take a VERY long time and there are books that can do that much better than me. It’s these capabilites that truly make Pro Tools the industry standard DAW that most Sound Engineers, Sound for Film and T.V Editors, Mixers and Sound for Games go to do their jobs.

What I don’t like about Pro Tools is two things. Price and lack of inspiration. Now with lack of inspiration, Pro Tools is great for everything when it comes to recording, mixing, editing and mastering. But when it comes to actually sitting down and saying “right, today I am going to compose a piece of music with just Pro Tools” I find it quite hard to do just that. It’s MIDI sequencing capabilities feel very long winded without recording yourself playing the MIDI information yourself with a keyboard. When it comes to automating Plug-ins, it’s quite difficult to set up even to do the simplest tasks. I can only assume it is like this because initially Pro Tools was never designed to do any of these things, and these capabilities are very new to Pro Tools anyway. And the price….well without student discount you can buy Pro Tools 11 with the discs, and an iLok, for £500+. It is an industry standard DAW I know but to be honest you don’t get a whole lot with it. I’ve been using Pro Tools for over a year now and all ready I am looking to buying some 3rd party plug ins. You’d think by spending that much money you’d get a LOT more plug-ins and instruments bundled along with it. And this is just for the standard Pro Tools package. If you want Pro Tools HD…which is basically and EXTREMELY powerful version of Pro Tools, you’re looking at spending well over £2,000+ pounds, although this does include a PCI E Sound Card and a sexy piece of hardware.

Luckily being a Uni student, I picked up Pro Tools 10 last year for £200 and I get 4 years free upgrades. Also, when that runs out, if I want to upgrade from say Pro Tools 12 to Pro Tools 13, it won’t cost me much more than £100, which isn’t TOO bad. I imagine I will be using Pro Tools for a VERY long time, maybe even ’till the end of my DAW career. But one thing’s for sure…I LOVE using Pro Tools!

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This blog post has been VERY long but I wanted to get stuck in with this new type of blog post. I will be posting another later talking about other DAWs so keep on the lookout for them if you enjoyed this one.

Dark Captain Light Captain

As my blog is meant to be about logging my “Music Discovery’s” I thought today maybe I should start logging that. For a few days I have been listening to this band called ‘Dark Captain Light Captain’ so I thought I’d share their work with you guys.

Album Cover

Album – Miracle Kicker

Their best album is an easy choice as they only have one album and three EPs. This album really is great though. The style of ‘Dark Captain Light Captain’ is atmospheric acoustic, and there music fits very firmly in that category. The acoustic guitar is played brilliantly and is recorded in a very nice stereo field. The vocals are recorded using a technique called Double Tracking which is when you record the vocal line,  then you record another take of the vocal line and layer it on top of the other vocal line to get this double tracking effect, famously used by the Beatles. What I like about the way their vocals are is that they sound so similar to Sigur Rós. Anyway, away from the techy side of things, the music is phenomenal. The overall sound is so atmospheric and relaxing but I do also find myself bobbing my head a long to their tunes, they are in fact quite catchy. The instrument choice is so good aswell. They use mainly acoustic guitar, bass and drums but in some of the songs I do catch some organs, electric guitar and even the odd synth….it really is such a great sound.

Song – Jealous Enemies

This is the first song I heard by them and is the first song on the their album…and it is easily my favourite. I love the minimalistic style this is composed in and the vocals really do give a great atmospheric effect. What I said earlier about their music being catchy…I was mainly referring to this song. I findd myself tapping along and humming the tune even when it’s not being played. The drums sound great also, not sure what it is. Either the drum playing is just really groovy or they used a really nice compressor on the snare or maybe both.

Anyway, not an awful lot I can say about these guys, only thing I can say is that I suggest you go off and listen to their stuff. It’s so good, and I really hope they release some more stuff as this album came out 5 years ago. Safe to say they are due for a new album.

Spotify Link to album – Dark Captain Light Captain – Miracle Kicker

Boogie2988

Bit of different post today, this is part of my personal blog section where I just talk about what’s going on in my mind and life. I got introduced to a Youtuber by the name of Boogie2988 by an old friend. At first I didn’t understand it, just seemed like some big guy talking about losing weight. Then I watched a few more videos by his Francis character and got into the more funny side of his channel, I then clicked subscribe. Ever since then I have watched almost every single video by him (there are nearly a thousand).

If you don’t know about Boogie2988 or haven’t seen any of his videos, I’ll post a load of links at the bottom of this post to my favourite videos and the videos that I talk about in this post. But why I am talking about Boogie today is because Boogie has had quite an influence on two of my views on; life in general and views on people who may be different from me. Not going to lie, but before I got into Boogie, I was quite homophobic, found overweight people disgusting and didn’t really take much time in caring about what I was necessarily doing with my life in terms of health and appreciation. Boogie actually changed my opinions on all this. It’s rediculous that I believed those things above but I did, and I can see now why that can be considered a wrong way of thinking. Just to clarify I don’t believe ANY of those things anymore.

I do owe Boogie a lot I think and it’s weird to think that his videos have become a part of my daily routine, going on Youtube and checking what his latest videos are. He doesn’t just talk about serious stuff, he does a lot of fun and funny videos, but he also talks a lot about games and the internet and I value his opinion so much.

Now the reason why this blog has come out today if because at the moment I feel Boogie needs a bit of support. Due to the changing nature of Youtube with the G+ integration, all the negative comments that he gets, relating to his weight mainly, now all appear at the top of the comments?! So all the nice comments get hidden away under all this horrible stuff. Yes he made a video saying that he looks past all these and that may be true, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s just a defensive mechanism. By sharing this blog I hope that I will attract more people to watch his videos and help support him in what he does. He always stressed how much of a rubbish life he’s had up until recently when he got married, so all these negative comments really aren’t going to help in what he’s going through.

So, my proposal is to click the links bellow and watch. Take particular notice of his ‘Draw my Life’ one mainly, you’ll see what I mean by a rubbish life. The second video will be to his latest video which you may agree with is a defensive mechanism by hey maybe I’m wrong. All the others are to my favourite videos by him. Hope you all like him and maybe if you like him enough, you too will subscribe to him and maybe he will change your life like Boogie has changed mine in a small way.

Links to Boogie’s Videos

Draw My Life

On the Topic of Viral Videos

Francis gets The New Furby

Francis HATES that Disney bought Star Wars

Fat Guy Destroys Xbox

Story Time, It’s the Food?!

Story Time, Sick and Nearly Dead

Story Time, What it’s like being broke

Will you Marry Me?

 

American Dollar

This will be my first post about an artist that I would categorize under my ‘Ambient’ artists. The main reason I am posting about American Dollar today is because I am currently listening to them. However, it is also quite relevant as these guys started my passion with the Ambient genre when I came across them whilst artist surfing on Spotify.

So without further ado, my favourite album by American Dollar

Album – Atlas

Atlas Album Cover

I think this is actually the first album I came across of theirs, though I’m not a hundred percent sure on that. What I love about this album is it’s ever changing themes. The first song could be related to an almost hip hop sound. The electric drums and the lopping of the piano riff. Great opener to an album as it jumps you right in. The second song is probably my second favourite song by American Dollar, The opening of the sequenced E piano synth, and then the elctronic drums and strings fade in with a drone building the song up…then bam! In come the acoustic drums and lead guitar. Fantastic post rock stuff! Man I do love this music…anyway, this whole album is full of this excitement throughout, I could talk about each track like this but I think it would be paragraph after paragraph of me just explaining the exciting parts. But this is why I love this album, great chilled listen, great ambient work and yet manages to get my blood pumping.

Spotify Link – The American Dollar – Atlas

Song – Starscapes

Ambient One Album includes Starscapes

This was a tricky decision as I love so many of their tracks. So why I chose this song? It sums up American Dollar’s sound. It doesn’t have the drums which I love about American Dollar but as an ambient song, it is their best.

What makes this song so great is that it sounds like it could have been mixed live. They could have easily just had loops on each channel fader and then faded in each section one at a time, adding effects as they went. The stereo field is amazing aswell, I find myself sometimes closing my eyes and losing myself in all these great sounds coming in around me from all angles. One other thing I really do admire about this song, is the organ sounds they used (could have possibly been an FM synth, but it has an organ timbre so I’ll assume it’s an organ), it is a very bold choice to have such an upfront sound like that in a very chilled song, yet it works so well. These big sounds are what I love about American Dollar, they know when to bring in big sounds like that without compromising the overall feel of the track.

Spotify Link – The American Dollar – Starscapes – Ambient

And so that brings me to the end of this blog post. I’m gunna sit here and carry on listening to American Dollar, I suggest you go and listen to them now…and just sit back, relax and let this music flow all around you…as that is what this music is intended for. And of course, I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy it.

Motivation

This is a general blog update just what’s going on in my life at the moment so most people will find this boring but if you’re interested in my life and what’s going on, please read. 

I’m at very high point in my life at the moment. I am in my second year of Uni, living with my girlfriend, I recently upgraded my PC (which I did myself) I have pretty much everything I want at the moment in my life. Yet I find myself having this feeling of missing something and I think that can only be one thing. Motivation.

Last year when I got myself an assignment I would be excited to get on with it, I normally found myself getting an assignment done a few weeks before it was due just because i wanted to get it done. I gave myself a task last year to watch all of Stargate SG1 and I did it through motivation. I was excited to compose music with my DAW, Pro Tools, and enjoyed playing around with it all and trying new ideas. 

Yet this year, I find i’m not doing any work, I have a deadline in for 6 days time and I have done hardly any of it. I haven’t even opened Pro Tools while i’ve been here, I’ve played the piano no more than 5 times and spend most of my days just sat around playing games and watching T.V shows. I honestly don’t know where I’ve gone wrong. Is it that I don’t find my course interesting anymore? I feel like I WANT to compose, yet I don’t have any motivation to turn on my Mac and compose things. 

I can only think of one rational reason for this. It is the Mac. I have a new fast, amazing PC and if I want to do anything I have to turn on my Mac and completely change my work flow. And with regards to my work, that work is meant to be done with Logic…..and I HATE Logic and guess what, Logic only works on Macs (thanks Apple). The Mac could be a bit scape goat but it’s the only thing I can think of.

So as my blog as timestamp, I will say this. After I publish this post, I am going to get myself motivated. Get my Logic work done and out of the way so I don’t have to go on my Mac, and move Pro Tools over to my PC. I think this way I will be more willing to compose and do work if it’s all in one place. I also believe that if I get more motivated with my work, I will become more motivated with life as well. My work and music is very important to me and I think as I’m not motivated with that, it’s having an effect on my life. 

So, if you actually bothered reading this, thank you, if you can think of another way to get me motivated, please leave a comment. Even if this post is a few months old, go for it. I would love to here what everyone else does to get themselves motivated. 

Owl City

Owl City is one of my primary inspirations to compose music. His style of composition and how he got into composing music is very similar to what I compose and am interested in. His composition style he stated once came about from composing instrumental pieces and then adding lyrics later. He loves music technology and now owns a private studio which is something I would love to do. Away from Adam, let’s talk about his best music.

Took this picture when I saw Owl City live

Took this picture when I saw Owl City live

Album – Maybe I’m Dreaming

It was actually a tricky decision to pick the best album but I have a very good reason for choosing Maybe I’m Dreaming which is his first. Owl City’s style has changed so much over the years that it made it hard to pin point what his best is. Maybe I’m Dreaming highlights Owl City, I think, at his best time. When it was just about writing good music for fun. It comes through in the album. Songs like ‘Sky Diver’ really show that instrumental music composing style he loves, same with ‘This is the Future’. Other songs like Technicolor Phase and Air Traffic really show where his style of mixing and lyrical style shines through, with his sweep panning and delayed vocals. I can listen to this album from start to finish without skipping and as I said earlier, it really does show Owl City at his best.

Spotify Link to album – Owl City – Maybe I’m Dreaming

Song – If My Heart Was House

This has to be his best song. It would be too cliché to say ‘Fireflies‘ and I don’t think that is his best song to be honest anyway. This comes from the Deluxe Ocean Eyes Album which I can’t believe isn’t available to purchase in the UK. The extra bonus songs are brilliant, Hello Seattle Remix is on my favourite EDM pieces to listen to. But away from the album and back to the song. The lyrical style sums up his random metaphorical writing style which I really enjoy. The whole whimsical writing style is what seperates Adam from other pop artists. Whereas mainstream pop is just music to give a catchy hook, his writing style is meant to have a crazy metaphorical meaning, and I love my metaphors.  The musical side is also brilliant, I love the drum sequencing throughout the whole piece and I wish I came up with the drum pattern myself. The synths flow so well together and throughout the chorus, the bass synth pounds out the speakers which gives me chills. The piano which comes in right after first chorus is truly beautiful.

Youtube Link – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dixKa4emCw