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Messages - Paul Vnuk (Ma Ja Le)

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The Blue Sky is amazing and is the first hardware verb for lush space stuff I have heard and loved in years. Even though it is a guitar pedal its conversion is quite good and it uses a full Sharc processor for its sound capabilities.

You are right, I use the M7 more for real spaces for traditional types of rock, jazz, folk with clients...having said that it is a fantastic drum reverb even for ambient which is where I use it most in that context. Its also nice for cathedral type spaces.

When I want deep, lush vintage Lexicon style verbs for my synths I use the Strymon Big Sky reverb most. In fact I have not used or turned on my Lexicon PCM96 in almost a year because of these other two...also because the plug-in PCM is just more convenient.

Every year I sort of set a goal and save up for those one or two items for the studio that I want or need. 2 years ago I upgraded my monitors with a pair of Focal Trio6BE and a set of Amphion One18s. This past year it was a matched pair of Chandler RS-124 compressors, a Bricasti reverb and the Apogee Symphony I/O MKII converter.

This coming year it will probably be a Chandler EMI Redd Microphone and another 2 Redd.47 Tube mic preamps which are the single best and most open, wide and euphonic microphone preamps/input devices I have ever heard or used in my life just magical.

Then next year it will probably be computer upgrade time...

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Waves End of year Sale
« on: January 01, 2017, 10:33:36 PM »
I gave in and purchased the Abbey Road collection. It will make a nice addition to my real Abbey Road/Chandler Mic pres, compressors and Redd mic. :-)

The plates are very nice from a quick play with them and from what some trusted friends in the industry have told me the ADT plug in is the star of the whole package.

Everything and Nothing / Re: R.I.P. Jeff Kowal aka Terra Ambient
« on: April 27, 2016, 05:47:43 PM »
This is quite sad! I feel blessed to have gotten to know Jeff better over the last 3-4 years. Lots of hour spent talking about gear, music and recording. Our conversations got fewer over the past 2 months and we spent more time texting and facebook chatting. I know he was really struggling. This is just such a loss, of a friend and fellow musician and gear freak. My prayers go out to his family!

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: The Modular Synthesizer Thread
« on: April 12, 2016, 04:28:23 PM »
My Mini MiniMoog,

Had this mother for a few days so its still new to me but its really straight forward as far as tweaking sounds very very good and its reasonable priced, actually its a great deal when you consider what your getting, oh and the build quality is first rate.

Ran the sequencer a few times and re clocked it externally which gave it some interesting patterns. Also functions as a keyboard.

Have not explored the patch bay in much depth yet other than taking the direct pulse and square wave outs and patching them into the main modular.

This is a great piece of kit whether a part of a larger modular system or just by itself hooked up to a midi or cv controller.

Why the QuNexus vs a Midi keyboard? Just curious if there are obvious benefits that I am missing.

I liked it and it was really fun to play and I would highly recommend it, having said that I don't see myself buying one. I already have a Moog Voyager and a Dave Smith Prophet 8 so I don't feel the need to add another analog synth to my set up. I am more of a minimalist when it comes to synthesisers and I told myself I wont buy anymore until I feel like I have milked everything out of the ones I already have.

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: New stuff at NAMM
« on: January 27, 2016, 10:52:28 AM »
Played around on that little Korg and it may look like a toy but it was really great sounding and very fast and fun to play, and at that price it will move a ton of units.

...also in defense of the Prophet 8 which IS all analog and the Prophet 12 which IS a digital board and never positioned as a pure analog board, both sound incredible and are fantastic creative pieces. I know folks doing great music with both. Digital oscillator synths from Nords to Korgs, Rolands and more all have their place in the musical landscape. I think its cool that Roland for example are making new analog system 500 modules that can interface with the digital euro rack digital stuff they introduced last year. Its a brave new world for synths and sound design.

Do wish I had more time to spend with the new OB though :-)

Next purchase for me in any case will be a pair of Moog Mother 32 units.


Forum Member Projects News and Promotion / Re: Forrest Fang news
« on: January 09, 2016, 03:08:08 PM »
Just bought the new album, along with a copy of Gongland which I was sure I already owned but must have lost...

Anyway about half way in and I am quite enjoying the thick, warm sound stage of the album and the harmonic content which is a great balance of subtle and complex...very hard to pull this off well and Forrest did that quite nicely. Meaning it the tones and layers are subtle enough to not draw undo attention to them selves in an obvious way and yet they are quite intricate if you listen deeply. Not sure if I am making sense ha ha!

I am also enjoying the blend of real acoustic instruments and electronics and even more so the delights of actual performance!

Great job Forrest!

Hey Drone On, do you post at Hoffman often? Just wondering what handle / screen name you use there?

My hobby has also expanded to collecting and comparing different masters as well as new hi-rez releases, although I am often cautious about those. Sometimes they offer little over the original cd and other times they are amazing and revelatory.

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Who is Sanjay Nadeem?
« on: December 14, 2015, 12:32:29 PM »
How does one remix a DAT tape... ???

Put it in a blender?  Maybe add some whine? ;D

That's what I was thinking  ;D

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Who is Sanjay Nadeem?
« on: December 14, 2015, 11:38:41 AM »
How does one remix a DAT tape... ???

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: That Audiophile thing again
« on: August 17, 2015, 10:08:19 PM »
I understand the guy in the original article's point, and yes Audiophiles are an obsessive bunch, but then so are ambient fans, jazz fans, goth fans...basically anything we claim as "ours".

Thing is, it is OK to be an expert at something. Its ok to know more about jazz than someone else and be an expert. Its ok to know more about and appreciate ambient music than someone else. Its ok to devote your time and money to the best sound playback in the universe and train your ear to hear detail and nuance that others do not, the same can be said for a somallie (pretty sure I spelled that know professional wine guys), its ok to be a foodie.

Here is the thing, the balance is A: Don't be a snobby jerk about it, but B: if you are not one of the above, don't get defensive when someone knows more about something than you do, remember a persons opinion is never  more valid than true study and expertise. This second part is a real problem in the world of the internet of instant opinions. Its almost an anti-snobbery, snobbery.  :D

Now on the subject of audiophilia...yes it gets crazy. Many of these guys have playback systems better than the gear used to originally record the music.

Just bumping this back to the top for fans of Ambient'sh ECM style Jazz. Our album is now available on Apple Music if you have that service and want to check it out.

See post number one for more details on the album.


Be carful cuz you know what they say, "Kyma's a bitch" ha ha ha

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Cans.....Whats on your head?
« on: May 20, 2015, 07:58:20 AM »
First of all thanks for the compliment on Seed Julio, and second I agree with Mike, great post!

I just upgraded my headphones to the new Audio Technicha ATH-M70x and all I can say is WOW! The clarity is stunning. The low end may seem shy to some, but its really more that it is not exaggerated like some headphones.

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: CD vs. CDR
« on: May 20, 2015, 07:54:38 AM »
I just went through a huge re-ripping binge and re-ripped my entire CD collection at lossless and unfortunately pretty much any cdr I had which used a sticky label of any kind is dead  :(

So all of my Oophoi, James Johnson, Vir Unis and Gears of Sand Discs are all DOA.

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Ambient music and Mastering
« on: May 13, 2015, 10:38:41 AM »

Using a set of monitors that complete each other is a good idea I agree.
I have heard "Avantone MixCubes" is a good choice for secondary monitor.
They are not ment to blow you away but if it sound goods on them they will translate good on most systems.

Also In general doing reserach on which monitors that does translate best is also a good
idea. Genelecs for instance they do not translate well to other sound system, while it sound good
on them it might sound dull and boring on other speakers.

using analysing tools is good to see problematic frequencies that you might not here.

Hey Extasis,

Yes the avantones seem a good choice for a ''second opinion'' regarding a mix..

I've read and discovered in person exactly the opposite regarding the Genelecs they translate superbly and sound good at the same time, especially the ones that use the ''SAM'' system that fix the room acoustics with a probe for calibration to the listeners position. Maybe your information is outdated? They are very, very serious about room acoustics and the way their systems integrate, a thing other companies don't care..And since I can't hire an expert in acoustic treatment to fix my rented house reflections, options are scarce don't you think?

I know gearslutz bash Genelec and maybe it's where you got that info, but I've listened to some recent models and I was blown away...

For people with limitations regarding, little, or no room treatment, they look like the best option available, what is the purpose of buying a 4k monitors if your room is a shit and all you have is third party calibration options not tailored to your specific speakers?

I was going to chime in as well, but you beat me to it. Genelec are great speakers. They do have more of a modern studio monitor sound than some others, but actually they kind of invented/defined that sound. There is a reason why Genelec are some of the most ubiquitous speakers around. In fact most true profession high end rooms I have been in around the US use Genelecs.

Also I concur that Avantones are great 2nd or 3rd option mix checkers.

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Ambient music and Mastering
« on: May 12, 2015, 09:10:46 PM »
Hey Paul,

Thanks for the time you spent clearing some myths.

I have some questions:

1. Besides the obvious room treatment procedure and a pair of good ears, what set of tools, brands, do you consider crucial for good translation between systems?

I can really only speak to this from a mixing stand point as that and recording are what I do for a living, mastering rarely.

The simple answer would be to have a few sets of monitors that you can switch between and a good pare of headphones that you know well and if you can get a mix sounding good - not the same on each but good on each then you are pretty close to the way there.

Also I would say converters are very important.

Brand wise, I use an Apogee Symphony I/O for my converters and love them, I also have used and liked converters from Lynx, Antelope, Prism and UA.
As to monitors, currently I am in love with two brands, PMC (I use the TwoTwo 6) and Amphion (the One18) Since I switched to these mixes translate beautifully.

2. What good practices should one take to seamless blend the result you ear in your studio and like you said, earbuds, car audio etc?

Have a set of good headphones you know and trust, especially the low end, and I also think its good to get to know your car stereo well.

3. Mixing with headphones, still a tabu in 2015?

Mixing from start to finish...I would not be comfortable doing that as things in headphones can often be exaggerated in a stereo field and there can also be phase and filtering issues that you might miss, but again I always check my mixes on phones.

4. Mastering with nearfields, yes or no?

Again, I have done it, and I do know a few mastering guys who have nears in addition to their far field main, but I use Near fields more for mixing than mastering.

Thanks again for your time and it's always a pleasure to read you.

Thanks and good luck!

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Ambient music and Mastering
« on: May 11, 2015, 11:01:43 AM »
Feel free to give us examples where a remastred version have ended up not louder ? :)

Anything done for the Audio Fidelity or MFSL labels, all ECM recordings are mastered, as are those by Telarc and I could go on. What you seam to be rallying against is the "loudness wars" which are quite common in new rock releases and many re-masters. However that is almost 100% label and artist driven. In essence a mastering engineer only has the power that you give them.

Also turning up and making sure tracks hang together from one to the next is not the same as squashing, limiting and crushing it to death.

One other aspect is to "glue the mix together" but how do they do that, if not with compression ?

Traditionally NOT done in mastering. That is, the whole "glue a mix together" thing is done by the mix engineer with buss compression and it is not usually a mastering engineers job or concern.

Sending ambient music to the best mastering studio in the world would be a total joke..they do not even know
what to do with that kind of music all they would hear is production errors..

Sorry but here you are just speaking in hyperbole and ignorance.

Not to be a jerk, but I have met, talked to and personally know some of the best mastering engineers in the world and this is not the case. They all take extreme care with the music they are given. They work with the artist to achieve said artist's sonic goals and would NEVER be content to craft a product that the artist was not 100% happy with.

Ambient music have nothing to do with traditional music production it is totally isolated from that.

I think that you are too easily putting "ambient music" in a fragile box and frankly doing it a disservice.

Its music! It may sound good in your room, on your equipment, but if it does not translate on some universal level to everyone else's music systems then you have failed. Period!

In other words, your music should sound good on ipod ear buds, Grado Headphones, KRK-Rokits, Audiophile home theater systems, 5-1 budget systems, laptop speakers and in your car. Its called translation and if you can't figure out how to do that, then that is what a mastering engineers job is.

Also if your music is so fragile that slight eq changes will ruin it, then that is a problem! Frankly I have never heard an ambient album from anyone that I respect in this genre where subtle eq changes ruin the sonic intent of the music.

How do I say and know this? Well because in any play back environment there will be subtle eq changes.

Mastering houses have played out there role more and more..people have better and better equipment in their home studios..
And sounds more and more like the fish product...  However.. there is many cases mixes can benifit from just go thru magic hardware
to give that extra magic you cannot get with the software... but that is more like summing..

A two sided example/argument you bring up here.

Some people are getting better equipment...but more realistically prosumer equipment is actually getting better. I do hold to the standard, that there is no excuse anymore for bad audio quality, at least in so much as you cannot blame the gear.

So when recordings don't sound good, who is to blame? The engineers and musicians who lack the knowledge of how to make something sound good or lack basic mixing skills, but that is ok because like anything worth doing, there is a learning curve and it will take time to get the hang of.

Also there are professional mixing and mastering engineers who can help. Sure, you can fiddle about and learn to fix everything on your car if you want to, and you can buy the tools you need to do so, it can even be your hobby and passion. But there is also the slight chance you might need some help from a professional with better tools and skills and taking your car to them can save you time, headaches and even by spending money for their expertise can save you more money in the long run.

Also there is no "magic box" that you can just run a signal through and audio sounds better, or where a bad mix is suddenly awesome.

There is great gear out there that can and will make mixing easier, but you still have to learn to use it and even there most professionals will tell you its a process best done, one piece at a time...

Anyway..I do not agree that mastering process is a must.. this I think was more in the past..
external ears can be good and also bad.. depending on how much of external input you are willing to put in.
It is easy to do drastic changes in the mastering process that might be far from the artist vision.

Here we will just need to disagree.

What music have you sent out to have mastered? Did you have a bad experience? Where you unable to work with the mastering engineer to fix the problem?

Here is the thing, some people/artists can and do master their own work at home. But usually they have the right tools, a great treated room and the correct knowledge and experience to do so. This is great when it happens, but I assure you it is the exception and not the norm. And the people who can do it have spent years mastering the art of mastering their own music and they have worked out sonic and translation issues.

Once again..too many good albums have been destroyed by these mastering studios.
Also a lot of them have this "fast food" mentality,  they master a album so fast that they can't even listen it thru
they find a preset and just use it on the full album.. which results in ugly artefacts in some parts..


I would state that you get what you pay for. If someone uses a cheap on-line mastering service or a guy down the street with a laptop and "mastering" software, then what did you expect?

Again out of the numerous mastering engineers I know, NONE of them use set it and forget it processes and all of them listen through a song multiple times to get it right.

I also will say on the flip side that if it takes more than a day/session to master an album, then that person is not much of a mastering engineer. In other words, if you the artist/creator are struggling to get your finished mix to sound right and translate evenly across the board, especially after days and days of eq tweaks and such then perhaps this is when, where and why a mastering engineer is important.

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