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Messages - Paul Vnuk (Ma Ja Le)

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Check out Media Monkey and Media Center

I use iTunes to manage my digital library as it still has the best system for playlists, sorting and such, as well as it works best with my idevices. For hi-rez listening I use Media Center.

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Cans.....Whats on your head?
« on: December 30, 2013, 07:48:02 PM »
I listened to the AKG K712's at AES a few months ago and these are what I am saving up for.


Really great Paul....takes me back to when I was about 10yrs old or so and I would bellow my lungs(I cant sing) out to Come oh ye and Hark the herald at this time of the year, though it was just an organ and no such production as you have given it.

Interesting you sent it out to Sadler to master....a great engineer...did you feel to close to it to do it yourself.

Thanks so much!

Thank you Julio!

As to mastering I am one of those people who believes that its rarely a good idea to master music that you have recorded or mixed.  I will do it from time to time with my own ambient stuff, but when it comes to client work like this christmas project especially in the rock/pop/jazz/country realm I will always encourage the client to hire a mastering engineer, which I really am not.

As to Trevor Sadler, I have a 10 year working relationship with him and really trust his ears and gear, although I also have used Robert Rich and think he does a stellar job as well, and last year I had a client who had an album that I recorded hire Howie Weinberg master the project so that is one of the highlights of my recording engineer life.


Thank you Paul! I always wanted listen how you drumming. I know from Discogs you are the drummer for the Rick Santiago Jazztet and also plays percussion with the Grace Church worship band.


Wow I should change that  :D Its been years since I played with Rick and all I have is a bootleg recording of us ha ha!

I should note that I only play drums on the original song, the rest are someone else. Interestingly though the orchestral toms and cymbals and such that I played on that track I am going to re-purpose into an upcoming tribal album because when the strings and guitars are stripped away and some reverb added, its very much a cool percussive soundscape.

Hey friends, I know we have lots of folks here with different faiths, backgrounds and such, and also this board usually centers around ambient music, but at my studio recently I recorded a 3 song Christmas EP for a local church (where I also happen to be the Technical Director). Two songs are traditional Christmas songs, and one was an original.

The songs are all done in an indie rock style, and there was no samples, soft synths, beat detective or sample replacement. Just lots of vibey guitars, drums, string trio and such.

I play percussion and sing background on a few of them as well as being the recording engineer and co-producer.

Anyway, the EP is free on band camp and is even available as a 24/96 FLAC download for the hi-fi freaks  ;D

Tis the season, and now back to your regularly scheduled space program.

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: KVR Black friday/cyber monday sales list
« on: December 14, 2013, 11:04:32 AM »
The recoils are awesome. I was initially skeptical thinking it would be like most audiophile snake oil products...but the difference was immediate in terms of bass response and balance.

Although I have not heard them the IsoAcoustics stands seam to be really great too. I have 3 or friends using them.


This totally reminds me of gearslutz now. A product is not out yet, has no published specs and no one has heard it...but it must suck! Ha ha really?!?

Synths are such a personal thing there is NO way to really label one good or bad. The minute I say oh that synth sucks or I hate soft synths or ipad synths or what ever, I usually have to eat my words because I will end up at a music festival or hear an album done with one of the offenders and it will blow me away.

Synths are instruments and their success or failure is in the musician. Now one may not resonate with you, but thats ok. Does not mean it sucks.

Can you tell a guitarist that a strat is better than a tele is better than a les paul??? No. Is Fender better than Gibson or PSR or Rickenbacker??? No its all preference based on sound, feel, brand loyalty and more.

Every time I have bought a synth based on what I hear others doing with it, I am usually disappointed...that is unless and/or until I take the time to dig into it and make it my own.

As to synth manufactures, a huge factor for them comes down to one thing most of the time and thats "who will buy this, and how many will I sell?" Its that simple.

So its awesome in these rare times when someone says, "hey I'll try something new!" maybe it will succeed, maybe it will never get off the prototype stage or maybe the technology gets absorbed into a future model, but its still cool.

I can't wait to see what this one turns into as the guy has a great track record.

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: KVR Black friday/cyber monday sales list
« on: December 06, 2013, 09:02:24 PM »
As a reviewer and tech consultant  I constantly have to do side by side comparisons and tests, and the reality is most of the time you are right Mike. The differences fall into the 10-15% category that most folks really would not care about. Now I am talking class vs class most of the time as its unfair to compare an old soundblaster card to an Orion 32 or whatever. I have heard the Orion 32, Apogee Symphony 64, Aurora, UA 2192, Lavry Gold, Pacifics Microsonics and a few others and its all really a 10% - 15% sonic difference. I could happily record with any of them and never look back.

Since this thread centers around plug-ins...or did. I have done real world side by side comparisons of most of Universal Audio's wares and they come scarily close to the real thing and the differences is really just the anomalies of air, noise and harmonic distortion present in the hardware that give that slight edge. In other words high end plug-in modeling is getting scary good.

Having said that when possible I will always choose the hardware to work with as I do find the effects of high end, analog gear to be cumulative, IE one high end piece will not make a ton of difference and save your butt so to speak, but a good collection of the right high end pieces can, but really high-end or low-end. It all about having the right collection of pieces that give you the results you want, and secondly get you the results you want when others hear your work.

In all my years of recording the 2 most significant times when my ears perked up and I went ahhhh, I hear it! I get it! were:

1. when I treated my room and put my monitors on Prime acoustics recoil stabilizers
2. When I ran sound through a real hardware La-2a


Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: KVR Black friday/cyber monday sales list
« on: December 06, 2013, 11:38:55 AM »
God damn, I hate gearslutz. What a bunch of douchebags.

Its a crazy place. The only advice and tid-bits I ever pick up from there any more are practical, I almost never go there for gear recommendations or advice as there is always someone with an ax to grind or an agenda. Not everyone, but man its getting harder and harder to wade through the muck.

Back on track here, I met most of the Antelope guys at AES and got a run through of their gear, they make some sick stuff. They make a clock thats like $7-8k...for a master clock, and it looks like a piece of artwork to boot.

Also dollar for dollar their new Orion 32 is just amazing for how many channels of conversion you get for the price.

Oh and Mike, don't get me going on the audiophile forums...I have just started getting into Hi-Rez downloads and the guys at most of the audiophile forums are nuts!!! Its definitly a game for the rich to play.

Just an aside to Paul's post: I see that Kush also have a matching plugin for the Kush Claraphonic EQ.
I wonder how it compares to the hardware version. Only $149.!the-clariphonic-dsp/csaa

I do like the hardware a hair better, but the plug-in is darn close. Its a great tool I use often.

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Digital to analog converters
« on: November 27, 2013, 11:44:43 PM »
Immersion, you seam to hear only what you want to hear. Seriously!

I never said the Sound Toys was BETTER than the H8000FW. In fact I believe I said that the H8000FW is perhaps the best multi-fx processor on the market today. Its freaking incredible! What I did say was it is a cost that I could not justify. For the way that I work I can do everything I was doing with the H8000FW with the Sound Toys Plug-ins. I don't care if they sound exact because functionally as sound manglers and sweeteners they do everything I need them to do. I also feel the same way with the PSP plug-ins and more.

Next thing you don't seam to get. To state that all 2 way monitors are horrible shows your complete lack of knowledge on the subject. Some 3-ways are awesome. I HAVE heard the Tridents, they sound great, Harvey knows his stuff!!! He actually did a great and ingenious job of creating a 3-way that works awesome in a near field space.

However there are also great, not good, not passible but freaking amazing 2-ways as well. Interesting how the dozens of studios I have been in across the country over the years almost ALL seam to use and own a good set of 2-way 8" monitors be it Genelec, KRK, Focal, Dynaudio, Yamaha, Adam and more. Oh wait you don't like experience and usage as proof.

I was simply stating that to truly utilize the clarity and power of many sets of full size  3-ways or even large 2-ways for that matter, you need a good room that is big enough to get a nice distance from your monitors. To tell someone who mixes in an average bedroom, den or small basement space to go get large $3,000 to $5000 monitors is, in my line of work, misleading and irresponsible.

Did you know that they make 5" and 4" monitors so you can get closer to your speakers in a small space and often get better results? Did you know that for the most part if you don't spend some decent cash and treat your room for early reflections and trap some of your bass frequencies, you are by and large wasting your money since your speakers won't give you all the clarity and accuracy that you spent so much money on in the first place?

Did you know that most really good engineers can mix on anything and trillions of great sounding albums have been mixed on Yamaha NS-10's as a reference.

In our genre I know of many great sounding albums which have been mixed using the old Mackie speakers (the model escapes me) which I find harsh and fatiguing personally. But if a person can mix on them and get the finished product that they have is all that matters in the end. Of course that will be interpreted as me telling folks that good results can be had on cheap gear again.

The thing is, while I have alluded to it, it is true to a point. People can get great and professional (whatever that really means) results on less expensive gear. There are countless big label releases that have been recorded and mixed without 3-ways, Eventides and such.

Its also true that high end gear can give amazing results and make getting them easier than cheap stuff can. Wisdom lies in knowing which is best for you. My point is why would you go and buy a Ferrari when you are just learning to drive??? Other than because you can I guess.

Now having said that, I do agree with you that it is just as much of a trap to fall prey to the cult of good enough. Buying every cheap piece of crap that comes along with an arrogant attitude of "this is just as good as the pro stuff" can also yield disastrous results, but in this thread no one has said that.

However if someone like the original poster comes in with, "this is what I have, this is my budget, please help!" and you essentially imply, "what you have is crap, spend crazy $$$ like I am or you CAN'T make good music". Well someone needs to balance that with a reality check of, "do the best you can with what you have, despite the cost and save up for better stuff one step at a time".

If a person can only afford $200 - $300 and asks my opinion of what is the best microphone for $200 -  $300 I owe it to them to point out what is the best value in the price range they have mentioned. Its even ok to point out $400-$600 microphones that may be better if they are patient and wait a few more months. But, if I come at them with the usual gearslutz attitude of..."if you don't drop $2-5k on a mic then you can't make good music"...that would make me a jerk of the highest order.

I mean dude...can I call you dude?

I cannot find any fault with your gear list. Eventide, Dangerous, Burl, Trident all make killer stuff! Great gear of the highest order. Any studio with that kind of gear should have no excuses for poor recording quality.

The problem here is, as others have tried to tell you again, and again, and present these items as the holy grails of gear, nothing can be better. Nothing...NOTHING!!! You also present it as a fact that everyone in the universe has accepted as a sonic purity law!

Sorry to tell you that there are other great monitor choices than the HG-3 and other great compressors than the Bax and so on...the one unit you have that even in my opinion cannot be bested and has no true competition in its world is the H8000FW. Still does not mean everyone needs one, and you are not some kind of artistic genius cuz you own one.

If you started a post like "hey I just got an H8000 and its blowing my mind!" I would guess folks here would respond with, "really? Wow, thats cool, what do you like it on? How are you using it?" and so on and so on. Its a much better presentation than what you have been doing.

Lastly, really I do think its cool and encouraging to see someone pursuing music and engineering with this kind of passion who is willing to go all the way and get some of the best gear out there to accomplish sonic goals which it seams you are setting for yourself! Bravo!

I know you refuted this before, but its actually what I did when I started out. I drew a line in the sand, decided on the quality and level of seriousness I was after, and then set goals both financially and educationally to make these dreams reality. 12 years ago I saved up for two years so I could afford my 8-channel Millennia Media HV3D Preamp. I still have it today and use it all the time.

So seriously, enjoy your gear. Enjoy and be challenged in your pursuit of music, but stop coming across as Mr. Know-it-all!

First let me say that I love Dangerous products and am the proud owner of their Bax EQ. I wont mix without it. Its filters are great for cleaning up sonic junk. As such I am very curious about their new Compressor and I am sorry I missed the demo and launch of it at AES last month.

You are right Immersion most ambient folks shy away from compressors, me I tend to use 4-12 (mostly hardware) of them on my mixes for creative sonic shaping on percussion and synths and synth leads ect.

On my master buss of EVERY mix I do, along with the above mentioned Bax EQ, and a Kush Claraphonic EQ is the A-Designs Nail compressor and in my opinion from classical to metal to folk and yes ambient and electronic music it is one of the few pieces in my studio that I use on every mix and can't live without. Its a compression that lifts and separates rather than squashes. You should check one out.

They are tricky to uses and if you google Ronan's Roadshow he has a great demo of one. Its on rock, but still gives a cool idea of how it works.


Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Digital to analog converters
« on: November 26, 2013, 10:12:25 PM »
Ok...time to wade back into these waters.

- Interesting to hear Paul say he has forsaken the hardware for software reverbs.  8)

You know, 3 years ago I would have been one of the snobs scoffing at computer/software reverbs and claiming that in no way could a software reverb ever compete with hardware. This is why I had an H8000FW a few Lexicon units ranging from the MPX-1 on up to the PCM's , I also had a TC M3000, a Roland SRV-330 and an Eventide Eclipse.

Then a switch was flicked and companies got it. In my opinion the Lexicon PCM collection is equal to the hardware PCM-96 and is easier to program. Universal Audio got the rights and the white papers and even worked with the original developers to put THE EXACT algorithms of the Lexicon 224 and the EMT240 into the UAD-2 card. The only thing lacking is the original low bit D to A converters and even that was modeled. There are countless others that are amazing.

The H8000FW is an amazing and perhaps the most amazing multi-fx box ever made, but as Immersion pointed out (or Mr. Roach told him) it is a way of life. As a father of 3 and a full time working audio engineer, I do not have the luxury to dig into a box that deep. Plus its programing is very archaic. You need a corse in hieroglyphics. If it had a good computer editor I may have kept it, but at $5500 it sat unused in my room unless I was playing live...IE not a good use of $$$ So I traded it to the owner of a high end mic company for two of his mics, one which I the sold, and one that really made a bigger difference in my studio than any mic before it. Win, win!

Immersion sorry to refute you but I CAN do everything the H8000FW did inside the computer with my various reverbs, and SoundToys plugins, UA plug-ins and PSP plug-ins. I can also do all of that with the same stunning sound quality and sonic integrity. This is not bragging, its just a fact of how I work and what I can do. The H8000FW is a sound-mangling effects box first and a reverb unit second. To buy it as a reverb box alone is a colossal waist of money in my opinion. Also pulling up effects plug-ins in the computer and chaining them is way easier than working with the Eventide. Again this is my opinion and how I prefer to work.

Please don't take this as bragging but I have had a 15 plus year career (you know where you get paid money for your work) of doing sound design libraries for various companies and in reviews of said product, as with my albums sound quality has always been mentioned as stellar.

I really am not trying to be rude, really I am not and if we were talking face to face maybe I would not sound like such a jerk but I just need to point out as Mike has more politely than me tried to point out, there are actual working pros on this thread who are staggered by your empirical statements of what is the best pieces of gear for "ambient" music. I actually find it demeaning to myself, and to many of the others here when you say things like "purity of sound and ultimate clarity and quality may not be as important to us as it is to you"...or what ever, I know I am paraphrasing. I mean gut reaction is "do you know who you are talking to?" Most of the folks here have 10x the experience you do and you may do well to chill and listen a bit! You may just learn something.

I just ask, where are you getting all of your advice from??? Gearslutz??? The reason I ask is, you have all of your facts of whats great and what is the best...but I have mine, Mike has his, APK has his, so maybe just tone it down to "I am thinking about getting this or that because its what I want and its what I think or have been told will do a good job for me, what do you guys think" Rather than the assumed, "everyone knows this is the best, or that is the best widget in all of creation."

You see a conversation is when one party says I like this and here is why, what do think? Then the other says, I am not sure, I have always like this better, maybe you should check it out, but I am curious about what you just brought up...and so on."

Dude trust me I have been there, right where you are, I have! I chased sound purity for years, I have driven collaborators nuts with my obsession for scrubbing out noise and the clarity of gear, and in the end it got in the way of the music more often than not.

The two best pieces of advice that I have ever received over the years are:

2. NEVER BUY MORE THAN ONE OR TWO PIECES OF GEAR AT A TIME! IE-learn one, master it learn its strengths and limits and THEN add more.

Dude you already have great converters, nice monitors and the king of effects boxes...STOP NOW!

Learning the what the H8000 can do should take quite some time, enjoy that time. the think about compressors or other effects and synths or converters.

Lastly one other bit of factual nonsense...

3-Way monitors are a very poor choice for monitoring unless your room is big enough to have the throw where they can do their job, so telling others that everyone knows 3-ways are the best, is inaccurate if their rooms cannot accommodate them.

I once asked a respected person in the audio industry, a person who has demoed, used, reviewed and tried literally 100's of monitors, what his favorites were, and his answer was like a zen master. He told me "The best ones are the ones which YOU can mix on".

In my room I use a 2.1 KRK E8b set up, I also have a pair of smaller 5" Genelecs, and a small set of $40 computer speakers and I mix on all 3. In my editing suite at my day job doing audio for videos, podcasts and streaming I use a set of MKIII KRK Rockit 5's and at home I have Ribbon Tweetered Emotiva Pros. I can mix on any of them. Do I prefer my E8's ??? Yep. Do I wish I had Barefoot's Yep!

I do agree with you that monitors and converters are of utmost importance and often, because they are not fun toys most people leave them till last and I do think that is a mistake if you want to be a studio engineer. If you just want to be a musician, then get some instruments that inspire you! Even before getting great monitors and converters here is a Gearslutz mantra I wholeheartedly agree with treat your room!!! Treat Your Room!!! Treat Your Room!!! Spend $500 to $1000 making your room acoustically sound and it will make all of your gear sound better. Some may disagree, but when I converted my studio from a room with some gear in it, to a balanced and treated workspace it was night and day, and my work became easier.

Ok, I am done for now in this thread. Sorry if you think I am a jerk of the highest order, not my intention, but there it is.

Interesting thread.

I started out as a PC guy hard core. Then I got a mac, and now I have banned the use of PC's in my house by my wife and children. In other words, get a computer that works, Dad is no longer tech support, ha ha.

Now here is the home internet and music listening computer is a 2011 iMac, my work computer and the one I use for remote recording, video editing and photoshop is a 17" maxed out Macbook Pro, BUT my studio computer which I use for tracking band, mixing and sound design is a purpose built PC.

I am tired of the conflicts and crashes. It crashes once per session minimum and I know its some sort of war between my PCIe cards and I am tired of trouble shooting it and living with it.

So I was thinking new MacPro! but darn thats expensive! And now I am finding speculation from many forums, not just here that it is so far over powered for most musicians that it may not be cost effective. So now I am thinking of a Mac Mini server. Either way I need external drives, and an external Thunderbolt enclosure for my Uad2 cards.

Part of this decision is also based on the fact that I am wanting to sell my 16 channel Lynx Aurora and 2PCIe AES 16 cards and get an Apogee Symphony system.

Ohhh the decisions  :o

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Digital to analog converters
« on: November 21, 2013, 11:12:10 PM »
I have tried to make sense of this thread and it seams like there are two trains of thought here...converters and reverb.

For converters my question really is what is your realistic end goal? If you are just getting started I would actually say, be conservative.

Do you want to learn sound design? Compose? Release CD's? Put up music on youtube and soundcoud?

I ask because there are folks out there doing great stuff with very conservative set ups. For around $200 there are some great 2 in and 2 out boxes from Event, Focusrite, and others that are more than fine for what you may want to do as it sounds like right now you are working in the box entirely.

Sure, Lynx, Orion, Apogee, Burl, Lavree, Benchmark and more make some great pro converters that are stellar, but each of these multi-channel boxes will set you back $2-3k or more. So its kind of like telling a starting guitarist to go buy a high end Les Paul to learn on.

The gear should serve you, your ideas and needs, not the other way around. If you have the skill and the ears which come with time and practice you CAN make killer high end and professional recordings with cheaper gear. Good gear only makes it easier.

My 1st two albums here on Hypnos from 1999 and 2000 (I think) both were done on an ADAT XT, a Mackie 1604/later a Yamaha 01V, with Shure SM-81, CAD E100 and Audix mics and mixed down through  TC M3000 and Alesis Wedge reverbs. A lot of my work prior to that done in a computer was done with a sound blaster soundcard.

My point being that I have long since moved way beyond most of that gear (still have a wedge laying around) and none of it was state of the art. But I still had to start somewhere and I am quite proud of the albums I made with all of it. In fact sometimes I miss the days when it was harder and I had to really push the gear's limits and problem solve to get my results.

So, again just start somewhere with what you can afford.

Now reverbs...

This is a huge issue of taste and I am as snobby as anyone when it comes to reverb. Up until just two-three years ago I would have told you that no plug-in reverb will ever equal high-end hardware. Well now two years later I almost never turn my hardware lexicon on and I traded my Eventide HW8000 for 2 high ticket microphones as I found I could do everything it could do in the box, especially with SoundToys (the ex-eventide program team) and PSP and others...with the one exception being pitch shifting, and that should change soon.

Reverb wise though the new Spark Verb is incredible and capable of black hole like reverb, The Lexicon PCM bundle sounds virtually identical to the hardware PCM96, Softube's TSAR is great for rooms and my absolute go to reverb for big ECM and spacemusic spaces is the Lexicon 224 available by UAD (not cheap, as you need a DSP card to run it, but its still software).

Point being there are tons of choices in the computer now that can do great things. Many others listed elsewhere here.

Pick some starting tools, push them until you know you their limits and beyond and enjoy your self.

Oh and be very wary of advice on internet forums (yes this is an odd place to say this), my point is that on an audiophile forum or on gearslutz  or where ever, opinions become facts! Never treat any of it as empirical data. There is no best mic pre, or best converter or best reverb. In any situation you need to hear it, touch it and use it in your space and then you can decide if its best for you.

To bring this back to your original question...yes better converters can clean up your sound and as I said there are some great $200'sh to $400'sh boxes that might be a nice step up from your Lexicon. If you can swing $500 or so street the Apogee Duet 2 is amazing in terms of sound and function, and it can actually turn the soft synths on your iPad into a real serious sounding instrument.

Ok...I will muddy the water a bit more, and will challenge you with the thought that maybe the lack openness and mud  or whatever you feel is sonically lacking in your mixes is not the converters, but could be cleaned up in better mixing techniques IE equalization, compression, and even synth programing.

I am not attacking your skill, but you have only been at this a year I think you said? Audio engineering, synth programing, performing and sound design are all skills to be learned and mastered over time and in many cases each one is a separate skill, you don't need to master all of them at once.


Everything and Nothing / Re: My coworker stopped talking to me
« on: September 07, 2013, 08:08:46 PM »
You will waist more energy worrying about it than she will ignoring you.

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