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Messages - Paul Vnuk (Ma Ja Le)

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Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Ambient music and Mastering
« on: March 05, 2009, 11:14:46 AM »
Here is an interesting thread started on this very topic on Gear Slutz FYI


Everything and Nothing / Re: List of words it is not OK to ever say
« on: February 27, 2009, 10:36:13 PM »

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Ambient music and Mastering
« on: February 10, 2009, 08:51:29 PM »
you are right, re-mixing is a whole different subject. Mastering is just that, say you have 5 finished mixes for your cd, all mastering does is apply judicious amounts of EQ, Compression and limiting to ensure that each track hangs together as part of a greater whole.

I also agree that when ever possible a person should attend the mastering session because it is their project after all.


Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Ambient music and Mastering
« on: February 06, 2009, 10:49:48 PM »
Actually that is the misconception, a mastering engineer should not have a sound, they should not change the composition of your music. They EQ & Compress, that should in no way alter or harm the integrity of your tracks, it should really just improve fidelity, thats all.

I agree you need to pick a mastering engineer who understands this kind of music. Most of the best sounding albums in our genre were mastered by people other than the composer.

Bob Ohlson is a great example.


Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Ambient music and Mastering
« on: February 06, 2009, 07:33:04 PM »
I gotta say in many ways this is a very bizarre discussion. Its like mastering is some right or wrong voodoo. APK hit the nail on the head, Mastering is essentially massaging a collection of tracks into a final release ready product.

It really is that simple...and yet it isn't.

Mastering engineers use specific equipment specialized to this task. The best advice I received from a professional mastering engineer was:

One EQ, One Compressor and one Limiter in that order. You use them all in tandem to achieve the desired sound, some more than others and maybe very little of each. Usually good final mix maybe only a boost or cut of 1.5 to 2 db of a frequency is all that is needed, and most of the time you may be just "tickling" the compressor to control the dynamics a touch.

Mastering should not be used to rescue and save a mix. If its that bad, fix the mix first.

My best advice and one which I am sure will be met with much disagreement, is use an outside mastering engineer whenever you can. A second, specific and specialized set of ears is invaluable to the final presentation of music, even ambient.


I have a late 70's Rhodes MKI and a 1973 Rhodes keybass, both see quite a bit of use in my studio. I will probably be using the keybass live this fall. Korg Wavedrum I guess could also be considered "vintage".


Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: R.I.P. - Klaus Wiese
« on: January 28, 2009, 04:48:09 PM »
I knew little of him, other than the his music which Gigi shared with me. It is sad whenever we loose one of our kindred.

My prayers are with his family and friends.


Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: AKG C 3000 B
« on: December 28, 2008, 02:03:06 PM »
Just did a search and it looks like they sell for around $300 each, now this is only an opinion, but you can do a lot better in that price range.

Quite frankly any AKGs other than older 414's and the C-535 I would avoid. (Well ok C-12's rock).

In the $300 range, from personal experience I would recommend the Shure KSM-27 (very, very nice mic for the price), the Blue "Blue Bird" which is about as natural and open sounding as you can get in this range. The MXL V-6 is a very under-rated mic with a natural/vintage vibe to it.

There are also other choices from sE, MXL, Audio Technica and ADK (the Hamburg & Vienna) which are all better choices than the AKG C 3000 b


Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Where are they now? another edition
« on: December 24, 2008, 08:36:22 PM »
Hey guys...

...yes Ma Ja Le still record together...well at lest we hang out a lot. We have been working on a cd for years now, in fact I can no longer make fun of Mike about Fabrications  ;D

The struggle to finish music is 3 fold for me:

About 5 years ago I decided to make my studio a commercial facility, and while I am about a year behind on my 5 year plan (next year I hope t add a second room to said facility) it has been going well and exceeding my expectations. This is of course a blessing and a curse as between my day job, doing sound design for a major software company and recording bands...I work an average 65 hour work week, which of course leaves little time for doing my own music...I also write monthly articles, interviews and gear reviews for Recording Magazine.

Two: I have a family with 2 children and a 3rd on the way

Three: Chris is in a similar, work and such.

Actually 3 weeks ago a good friend of our got us to pull our rigs out and perform live as a duo for the 1st time in years and it was awesome.

The album we are working on is about 70% done, but the problem is (and James Johnson and Vir Unis will attest), we are kind of like Steely Dan in the studio...perfectionists to a fault. We finish one overdub and suddenly want to re-do that last 3 because now the new one has pushed the sound into a whole new it is hard to ever call anything done  ???

Of course this is when we can find time to be in the same place at the same time.

Also as musicians I play percussion and jazz kit in various Jazz and worship bands and Chris plays guitar in a lot of funk and gospel groups so musically we are always playing.

As as JKN mentioned I am planning on putting together an album of my performance from City Skies last year (my 1st solo gig ever) for Atmoworks soon, or at least hopefully before my performance at City Skies this coming spring... :D

I have also been working with Atmoworks tracking a new band with MJ Dawn for release next year that all involved are pretty excited about (not ambient though).

So, probably more than you guys needed to know, but there it is!

I love and miss doing this kind music, so we will see what the future holds.


Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Favorite ambient cover art?
« on: December 02, 2008, 10:20:10 PM »
Ok, as to great cover this day Well of Souls may very well be one of my all time favorite covers, which truly compliments and conveys the music.

I also loved the original package for Spirals of Time by Oophoi.


Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Favorite ambient cover art?
« on: December 02, 2008, 10:17:02 PM »
Ohhh and as to bad cover art. I know that John, Chris and myself were never very happy with the now very dated cover for "Imaginarium", but the label gave us no choice in the matter...

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Favorite ambient cover art?
« on: December 02, 2008, 10:14:37 PM »
Better a few hurt feelings than indefinite mediocrity being allowed to go unchallenged.

Just saw this, great quote Mark!


Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: The Black Hole Reverb
« on: November 27, 2008, 09:20:56 AM »
I think that sums it up perfectly Campus!


Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: The Black Hole Reverb
« on: November 26, 2008, 01:45:24 PM »
Well like I mentioned, I am very interrested in the new PCM 96, I have heard great things about it.

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: The Black Hole Reverb
« on: November 26, 2008, 08:52:36 AM »
Ohhh one more I forgot, in the Lexicon MPX series, the original MPX-1 was probably the nicest and most flexible of the bunch. Its verbs still are not PCM quality, but as a multi-fx processor it rocks. Plus they can be had for cheaper than the MPX100's, 500's and so on on e-bay and they are way nicer.


Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: The Black Hole Reverb
« on: November 25, 2008, 09:49:53 PM »
...I guess I should clarify, Loren I am not saying that the Eventides are bad, it just would not be my (or most other audio engineers I know) 1st choice for reverb when compared to Lexicon or TC. Not bad, better than most, just not the best, and I think its pretty universally accepted that Steve's sound was based on the PCM 70 for years. On sites like Gear Slutz, many consider it to be the last of the true great Lexicon boxes, not that I totally agree, the 90/91 is no slouch and I am currently deciding between a PCM 96 or the Bricasti.  I do

The warning with anything older the the 81/91 series is Lexicon no longer supports them or stocks parts, so if one dies you may have an expensive paper weight. This fact is what kept me from getting a used 70.

Another cool box is the Kurzwiel Rumor, which is the verb only section of thier expensive high end box.

As to plug-ins I do have to agree with Loren as well, there are very few which I really like, short or the DSP based TC/UAD's as they are really not plug-ins in the true sense.

...however, if all you can afford is the MPX series or TC 300 series, the for the same cash I would consider plugins like CSR, Breverb or Convolution based ones as there is zero advantage sonically with most hardware in this class, unless of course you need portability.

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: The Black Hole Reverb
« on: November 24, 2008, 11:35:34 AM »
Reverb is like wine, very subject to price, age, make and of course ultimately, taste.

A few thoughts here from a reverb snob (I am also a wine, beer and coffee snob as well  :P ).

If you are after a great deep space reverb, then you should not look at Eventide, regardless of the preset name on the H7600. Now the H7600 is indeed a great, incredible effects processor, but I don't think you will find many in the pro studio world who would reach for an Eventide unit for just reverbs. They are more known for their pitch shifting, harmonizing and spacial stereo algorythms, but not verbs. I have the Eventide Eclipse which is a great effects unit, but the verbs are pretty bad...

That mantle goes to Lexicon for the most part, and maybe TC if you want realism.

The new player on the block is Bricasti, who only make one product the M7 Reverb which is supposed to be amazing.

Now the snobby part, the reality is if you truly want the luscious verbs you hear on Roach or Rich albums or even what you hear on most music on the radio you are looking at reverbs in the $2000 - $4000 price range. Many will argue but any Lexicon unit below the PCM series or TC unit below the M-3000/4000 series do not even come close to this quality.

The only similarity in the MPX Lexicons or 200/300 series TC units is the brand name.

So what to do if you do not have this kind of cash??? Well there are some decent plug-ins (you will need some decient processing power on your computer) the CSR verbs are nice, Breverb, many Convolution verbs are not bad, as is the reverbs on the TC powercore (they are actually from a TC system 6000), but they are pricey, plus add in the powercore...

...or go used. Yesterday's PCM-70/90 will still blow any modern MPX series away, M-3000's used are in the $700 range...or as JKM mentioned, the Alesis Wedge is not a bad Lexicon substitute if you can live with the noise. I use one all the time live.

Just some opions,


Just a quick heads up, Chris and I are performing an evening of soundscapes this Saturday at Monfortís Fine Art Gallery, Racine, Wisconsin

Not so much a performance, but more of an installation. We will be providing music and sound worlds for the opening of Artist Phil Saxon's latest collection of work.

You can find out more about Phil's work at

Monforts is located at 430 Main Street Racine, WI 262.898.1513

The Artist Reception is from 6-9, and we will be playing for 2 hours.


Everything and Nothing / Re: Who you will vote ?
« on: October 30, 2008, 05:50:55 PM »
Crap, you mean I would have to use my real name.... ::)

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Handsonic 10
« on: October 22, 2008, 04:04:05 PM »
I have had a handsonic 15 for about 7 years now and it is a staple part of my live you will hear as soon as I get atmo-works the final master of my live performance from CitySkies last spring.

Its still not as organic as a Korg Wave drum, but it comes the close to mimicking acoustic drums and the playing styles associated with them.

I like its versatility as I can use it in electronic as well as traditional performance situations equally.


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