Rock on! or off…

While my inspiration for the electronic side of the Glitzerstrahl project is running a bit low at the moment, I decided to do some intensive guitar practice instead. For this I need a new practice amp since I sold off my old ones when leaving the states.

So far I’ve narrowed my choices down to the following:

The Bugera V5 which is a tiny all tube amp with a power attenuator that allows you to switch between 5, 1 and .1 watts. This should come in really handy when practicing late at night. It’s a really simple amp with what sounds like a great clean channel and no frills except a built in digital reverb.

The Orange Crush PiX 35LDX which is a solid state amp rated at 35 watts with a 10″ speaker, digital effects and a built in tuner.

Both amps have headphone out and are comparable in price, so really the choice is between an all tube setup or a solid state. I can’t get rid of the feeling that the Bugera would sound just a tiny bit better (as in warmer, fuller and more natural) thanks to its tubes, but that the Orange would be more convenient.

Btw, I already have the pedals I would need to create most of the effects in the Orange box, but it would be more of a hassle to pull them out every time I just want to add a bit of delay…

Which one would you have chosen? Or would you go for something completely different?

Update: After much back and forth I ended up getting the Orange. Yes it may lack some of the tonal character of an all tube amp, but it makes up for it in convenience. Also, in all honesty the little different I could here in tone between the two is sure to be blanketed by my poor playing any way.

I’ll save the tube lure until I’ve learned to play properly and saved enough money for a really good one…

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Stuck in an endless AdSense loop…

I’m not extremely active on Youtube, but I do post a video from time to time and some of them have accumulated at least a some views. I’ve been thinking about monetizing them using ads, so a while back I applied to join the Youtube partner program.

In order to complete the application I had to also create an AdSense account and link it to my Youtube account via a publisher ID. Said and done, about a day later I got an email from AdSense saying my account had been approved for Youtube monetization.

I went back to the Youtube video manager and sure enough a green dollar sign (woop!) now appeared next to my videos. A quick click through and ads were enabled for all the uploads.

I also noticed in the AdSense admin UI that I my account had the word ‘Hosted’ next to it in bold, red letters. Curios I decided to dig a bit deeper to understand the meaning. As it turns out, if you create an AdSense account via a Partner (Blogger, Youtube, …) your account is considered ‘Hosted’ and you are only allowed to monetize through the channel you used to sign up your account.

AdSense offers an upgrade path if you want to also monetize other channels, such as a blog or webpage. Since I run a few other sites I figured I’d try to upgrade and show some ads on them as well. This is when the trouble started.

Since hitting the upgrade button I have now gotten stuck in an endless loop of approvals and rejections between Youtube and Adsense, which seems to go something like this:

  1. I get an approval from Adsense to monetize via Youtube.
  2. I enable Ads in my Youtube channel.
  3. This triggers a rejection from Adsense which…
  4. triggers Youtube to disable monetization again.
  5. I try to login to AdSense which now says my account has been disabled, but there is no info or email from AdSense about the reason. All I can do is reapply for the AdSense account.
  6. Which I do.
  7. The loop repeats from step 1.

This is now happening on almost a daily basis, and since neither Youtube or AdSense offers any support to minor channels, I’m at a loss. Since AdSense wont tell me the reason for the ‘rejection’ I’m not sure what needs to be ‘fixed’ either.

If you have any experience with AdSense or any clue as to what’s going on please leave a comment and I will send positive vibes via the ether!

UPDATE (2014-08-17): The problem was resolved via some friendly folks at the AdSense forum. Still no clue as to what the root of the problem was…

The MicroBrute from Arturia

So Arturia is about to announce ‘something BIg‘ on October 25. The internet is full of speculations but the most likely contestant is a mini version of their wildly successful MiniBrute synthesizer, dubbed the MicroBrute. The picture below has been floating around for the past 24h or so. No one knows if it’s real or not…

microbrute-image

I’m just speculating here but one detail that seems to give cred to this story is that already today the following link

http://www.arturia.com/evolution/en/products/microbrute/intro.html

appears to be a valid URL. It wont give you anything but a blank page, but any other ‘invalid’ URL on the Arturia domain actually produces an error message. The above one, which mimics the format of other Arturia product pages, actually looks like it exists.

If the new product is indeed a mini MiniBrute (MicroBrute) my guess is it will probably have the same fat and interesting sonic character, but with less variation due to fewer hands on controls and mod possibilities.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see…

GAS and Reflections on the new Maschine Studio

Maschine, the all-in-one but sadly not stand-alone beat production groove box from Native Instruments has just been updated to its third generation. For me Maschine has always held a very dear and special place. It was the first DAW (though some hesitate to call it that) I learned and it’s intuitive workflow continues to be one of the fastest and most inspiring ways of quickly sketching out ideas for new tracks.

When Maschine MK2 came out I didn’t hesitate for a second before buying it. Granted the number of new features were limited and the controller looked mostly the same in terms of layout. But the new color coded pads and the upgraded tactic feel of the buttons made a world of difference to me, especially when jamming live.

This time around though I’m a little bit more hesitant to jump the gun on the new Maschine Studio. Not for lack of new features or upgrades, the new Studio package looks amazing, but because I feel a little betrayed by NI’s launch tactics. I may be cynical and perhaps I’m wining, but to me it looks like the MK2 controller was released simply because NI wanted to keep the platform’s mindshare while the actual next gen (Studio) was being developed.

I say cynical because from a holistic perspective NI manages a complex ecosystem of controllers and software including the Traktor line of DJ interfaces and it’s very possible that NI wanted keep the Maschine family up to par with advances on other fronts. It could also be that they simply wanted to try out some of the new interface concept of the next gen on real users while developing the Studio controller.

I say wining because the MK2 did de facto deliver a lot of value for me and now I simply wish I had held out and waited another year for the even shinier new toy… On top of this NI has already announced that the new Maschine 2.0 software suit will be 100% compatible with all previous generations of Maschine.

Regardless, I don’t really see what I would do with 3 Maschine controllers so I can’t motivate buying the latest one just yet. And on that note I really wish NI would offer some kind of upgrade discount price for those of us who own the previous generations.

The steep increase in price compared to previous versions is most likely due to higher production costs and more expensive components, and those who complain seem to miss the fact that the old, full controller is also getting an upgrade but now represents the middle tear. Still, to take advantage of the benefits of the new HW based workflow the top line Studio controller is really the only way to go.

On a slightly tangential but related note I was also considering buying a Traktor Kontrol S4 and I was holding out for the MK2 versions released last week. Now the sudden jump in features for the new Maschine has got me wondering if NI is about to pull a similar trick with Traktor, dropping a new version that really pushes the envelope in about a year or so. Going the Serato / Pioneer way is an option. The DDJ-SX is a beautiful piece of gear, but staying in the NI family is tempting due to familiarity.

Anyways, random thoughts on a Friday evening.

What are your thoughts on the third generation Maschine controllers and the new Maschine 2.0 software?

Problems with Sound Locks on the Analog Four

While I intend to invest in a Machinedrum from Elektron at some point in the (hopefully near) future, at the moment I’m restricted to only the Analog Four for song production.

# I’m traveling so I do not have access to my full studio. Yep, I miss my modular…

Because of this predicament I have been learning a lot about the A4, and I’m getting really impressed by its feature set. Restricting myself like this has also proven to be a very exciting way to work, but that’s for another post.

Anyway, when you are limited in the number of ‘voices’ and instruments at hand, the Sound Locks of the Analog 4 can be a real killer feature. Essentially it allows you to ‘lock’ a sound to a particular step (or ‘trig’ in the Elektron parlance) in the sequencer. Thus you can use just one of the A4 sequencer tracks to play back for example a Bass Drum, Snare and HiHat, instead of using 3 tracks. Make sense?

However, while this works great for synthesizer lead patches and many other types of sounds, I’ve run into an interesting issue with one of the Bass Drum presets.

The following video actually explains it better than I can with words:

Essentially locking the Bass Drum with any other sound on the same track causes the ‘volume’ of the BD to drop sharply as soon as the other sound plays, only to slowly come back up over time. If patch 2 is continuously triggering on the same track the Bass Drum will never return to audible lands. Note that this behavior only occurs with certain kicks.

There is also a thread on the Elektron forum discussing the same phenomenon. Essentially it would appear to related to the filter, and an effect of kicks constructed by self-oscillating it. Here’s a secondary thread that provides more info and a few other angles.

I will continue to research this but if you have run into this problem, found solutions or have any thoughts on plausible causes please share in the comments!