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Messages - Paul Vnuk (Ma Ja Le)

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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.


Everything and Nothing / Re: Ravi and Anoushka
« on: October 15, 2008, 07:49:53 PM »
Saw them 3 times over the years down in Chicago, the 1st & 3rd times were magical, the 2nd was an off night for Ravi. One of the greatest musical masters of our time!


Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Singing Bowls
« on: October 14, 2008, 07:06:50 AM »
....shortly hit upon the idea of using one of the temple bells (two small cymbals on a string) and twirled one end around inside the bowls as fast as I could - was definitely edgy and dischordant - and apologised to the bowls all the time I was doing it. Surprisingly none seem to be any th worse for wear.

Ok now I have to try this when I get to the studio later today...


Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Singing Bowls
« on: October 10, 2008, 07:49:56 PM »
I got my favorite singing bowl in Hong Kong a few years ago, ornate and carved with a gorgeous tone.

Gigi (Oophoi) has one of the nicest collections I have seen, although if I remember he was selling some of them a few years ago.


Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: 80's Music Forum
« on: September 27, 2008, 02:27:38 PM »
One thing I have always found interesting for myself is that I was never a fan of most 80's music while I was living through it...well the synth pop stuff anyway.

I did like Missing Persons and the Go Go's quite a bit, and maybe early Cars (that was late 70's though), but for most of the mid 80's (84-88) I was into metal like early Ozzy, Priest and Maiden and then moved swiftly into Venom, Exodus, Slayer, Exciter and early Pre-black album Metalica, from there it was punk and hardcore for a few years, Black Flag, GBH, Naked Raygun, Minor Threat and then that evolved backwards into classic rock again like Zeppelin, Beatles & Floyd which I liked before the 80's. The only late 80's band I really liked a lot was the Cult.

Strangely it has been in the past 5 years I have been able to appreciate the sound and skill of bands like Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Japan, Talk Talk, Tears for Fears, Sade and such and now with very few exceptions, I cannot listen to most of my older hard core and extreme metal tastes.

One of the things which blows me away now about many of the 80's pop and new romantic stuff is the production and precision of the playing and the music, especially when you consider, they had no auto-tune, softsynths, pro-tools, drum editing and such...they really sang and played that tight. Amazing!


ohh and on your second part, I think the "pleasure" part of creation is a most assuredly one of the reasons artists keep going and become engaged in the first place.


I would agree Forrest, thats why I never trust that reasoning from artists as their way out of criticism or a way to dodge said rules...

I would push the point that whenever any artist looks deep into their creative process and their beliefs for that matter, as I am not sure you can successfully separate the two, then they will find a set of rules and/or ideologies to which they will consciously or even sub-consciously become guided by...and that it is the art which is devoid of such principals and rules that is ultimately over the course of time...useless and forgetable.


Interesting thread,

9Dragons, I really enjoyed your take on this.

...pushing this train of thought further,

I also see a parallel in that:

Art or what we call art, be it song, sculpture, painting, architecture, whatever, like societies of old, especially those with deistic leanings (everything from Roman Catholicism, native tribal culture to Judaism) as well as societies with imposed socialistic deism like many Chinese and Roman Dynasties...they all had rules or codes of conduct, which weighed heavily on Art. These rules created both a reason of intent for the art as well as a level of what was acceptable, many times down to something which we take for granted like style, color, chord choice, instrumentation and so on.

I would wager that in many instances these "rules" and the skill required to work around them led to work that is subjectively longer lasting and superior to what is being created today.

Like 9dragons implied, in many cases the work, much like the world back then carried greater meaning.

Now in our "oprahesque" society (just an example not meant to spark debate...sorry to the Oprah fans here) where anything goes, right and wrong are on an individual sliding scale and art (and religion) has become entertainment, it is all largely disposable. What (or whom) is the modern artist/musician creating for?

I have even seen this make its way into our art colleges in the US, where students used to be pushed hard to learn tradition and technique...IE rules, now students are allowed to..."BE".

While this may be arguably beneficial to their inner child, I am not necessarily sure it is so for the cause of art.

In many ways this is why the artistic arguments, safety blanket of..."I create just for myself" may be partially to blame for the throw away media of the day...again no rules, no striving and many times no passion behind the creative drive, because once you reveal your passions or your reason for being, then your art will have a measurement on which it could be judged... as well as be open to debate.

Also add to this the constantly obsolete movements of Cool, what is "in" now, won't be in 6 months, is this really long enough for any artistic movement to reach fruition?

Ok thats all that will come pouring forth for now.


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