Our regular column devoted to readers' hints and tips about their recording equipment, instruments, software and playing techniques.
If you've discovered any special techniques or tricks on your instruments or recording equipment that might help other readers, send them in to us. The sender of the best tip each month will win a super prize. This month, it's a free copy of Craig Anderton's highly informative book MIDI FOR MUSICIANS.
Yamaha's FB01 FM expander can produce up to eight different sounds simultaneously, each with its own volume control and selectable pan position. Unfortunately, the benefit of having multitimbral sounds is reduced somewhat by the fact that only three pan positions are possible on the FB01 - Left, Centre or Right. Or are there?
Using the following tip, sounds are no longer restricted to three positions in the stereo field. To pan a sound between Centre and Left, say, all you do is this: Set up two voices to have the same sound, one in the centre the other on the left. By adjusting their separate output levels, you can easily position the sound anywhere in between (similarly for sounds you wish to pan between Centre and Right).
The only trade-off is that this uses up one extra FB01 voice, but can be worth it for the added flexibility it provides.
Alex Fulton, London NW1.
Everyone knows that whatever the number of inputs on your mixing desk, there will always arise a time when you need at least one more. One way of putting off the inevitable event, at least if you are an owner of a Seck 12:8:2 or 18:8:2 desk, is to make full use of the mixer's separate tape return input sockets and stereo echo send on the discrete monitoring section.
By routing the stereo echo send to two of the main channel inputs, you can effectively achieve 26 inputs on a 12:8:2 - 12 tape, 10 channel (two being used to bring in the 12 tape inputs via the stereo echo send) and four auxiliaries. Of course, there are limits to this configuration: the tape returns can only be used for line level signals, there is no independent EQ available for these inputs, and there is only one auxiliary send for them - Foldback 1, which is mono and has no dedicated return socket of its own. However, with some thought and planning regarding 'dry' and already processed signals, this can be a very useful set-up.
M. Richard, Reading, Berks.
I recently bought a secondhand Aphex Type B aural exciter which I originally intended to use to add 'sparkle' when duplicating cassettes. Having used it successfully to resurrect lifeless tapes, I then wondered whether it could possibly improve the quality of some of the poorer sounding, dull samples I had accumulated in my sample library.
It did! Feeding the stereo outputs of my sampler into the Aphex, then into my mixer, I was amazed at the difference it made! What were once pretty boring, 'one dimensional' samples were transformed into vibrant, punchy sounds. Particularly those sounds which I had originally sampled at reduced bandwidths. These seemed to gain most from this 'enhancing' process but the Aphex even appeared to change my best samples - and for the better. I am now on the look-out for another Aphex, or an equivalent processor, which I can leave patched permanently into my sampler.
I wonder why no manufacturer has ever thought of building one into their sampler before, because it really does improve the sound. It's much better than boosting the treble and it helps most sounds cut through the mix. Try it!
T. Keefe, Liverpool.
If you own a Roland D-50 synthesizer you may get a fright when you set the MIDI mode on your instrument to 'Local Off'. Doing so disables all of the front panel control buttons preventing you from turning Local Control back on! Don't worry, you haven't broken anything - even though the instrument no longer appears to function.
To restore normal life to the instrument, you have to first switch off the power, then, whilst holding down both the 0 (zero) button of the numeric keypad and the Data Transfer button at the same time, switch the power back on. This will re-boot the synth and the controls will all function as normal again.
Martin Russ, Ipswich, Suffolk.
Here's a tip of a different sort! In his review of the Alesis MMT8 sequencer last month (p62), David Mellor implied that a sequencer which worked like a drum machine - where you could loop tracks and record in 'continuous overdub' mode - would be a good thing. I agree. Although I know of no hardware-based sequencer which will do this, I thought readers might like to know that there is a software sequencer program which works exactly as David wished - and it's brilliant! It is called Texture II by Magnetic Music and it runs on any IBM PC or clone.
I have been using a version of it I picked up in the States whilst on business but, unfortunately, I don't know who distributes it in the UK.
John Hancock, Harrogate, N. Yorks.
[Editor's note: According to a press release we just received, Texture II is now available in this country from MCMXCIX Distribution in London. 01-258 3454.]
Previous article in this issue:
Next article in this issue:
mu:zines is the result of thousands of hours of effort, and will require many thousands more going forward to reach our goals of getting all this content online.
If you value this resource, you can support this project - it really helps!