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New Vape Site…

April 21, 2015

I’ll go ahead and let everyone know I enjoy vaping.  It has helped me to quit smoking and overall, it is quite enjoyable. I’d like to let you guys in on a new little secret I’ve found.  It’s a new website that sells genuine vapor products called My Vapor Deal.

They feature the best, hottest vaporizers, tanks and batteries around on limited run deals at great prices.  Their prices are consistently better than almost any other vapor site you can find.  They only carry a limited number of different items at a time, but they seem to be some of the best new products out on the vapor market.

Right now I’m using the Kanger Subtank I got there, and it’s one of the easiest, best vapes I had so far.  Additionally, their service is good and they are prompt to respond to customer questions.  Check it out when you get a chance.

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Review: Shure SM7B as Podcast Production Microphone

May 1, 2014

shsm7b-xl-05If you are new to the audio production world, or the podcast production world, then you may not have heard of the famed Shure SM7B microphone.  Allow me to introduce it:  the SM7B is a mid-priced dynamic cardiod microphone commonly used in the radio broadcast world, but can also be heard on many famous studio recordings including Michael Jackon’s Thriller.  Today we are going to explore whether or not this microphone would be a cost effective choice for those producing homemade podcast content.

For those not versed in the technical lingo surrounding microphones, a dynamic microphone is a passive, meaning it requires no external power source, and a cardiod pickup pattern means that the microphone is built to primarily pick up a semi heart shaped area in its front.  Generally speaking, a microphone with a cardiod pattern is ideal for voice recording because it is designed to reject most sound coming from the sides and back.  Dynamic microphones are generally known for being especially good at rejecting unwanted sound in the recording area.  In most amateur podcasting situations, the recording space is going to be a small room, likely with sources of unwanted noise such as fans, traffic, and small children.  The SM7B is extremely useful in this situation because it allows the user to more easily capture a clean recording when compared to a studio condenser microphone.  The SM7B is also very adept at avoiding poor quality sound by rejecting unwanted reflections from the walls of the podcast recording area.

Overall, it is quite easy to get a good, professional sounding voice recording with the SM7B.  The quality can be described as warm, crispy, and somewhat dark.  For female talent, the SM7B is good for reducing unwanted sibilance(harsh, high end sound created when saying S’s).  Females with higher pitched voices will generally be pleased with the darkening of their voice recordings.  Male podcast hosts may find that their sound is a little too dark and muddy, requiring some EQ to get a polished result.  Condenser microphones have a edge on the SM7B in this respect because they capture more high end detail.  An example of the SM7B, or the similar RE20, can be heard on pretty much any radio broadcast.

At $350 US, this microphone may be a bit more than many are willing, or able to pay for a starting voice recording solution.   This, coupled with the additional home studio equipment needed to amplify the signal, may make the SM7B a bit out of reach for many up and coming podcast producers.  The SM7B is notably quiet, requiring a great deal of gain to boost the sound to acceptable levels.  This means that one will have to purchase, at the absolute least, an outboard audio interface with high preamp gain, such as the Presonus Firestudio Mobile.  A comprehensive article regarding this topic can be found here.  Factoring in the mic, XLR cable, and audio interface, the total cost approaches the $700 range.  Although this can be considered a worthwhile investment for serious podcasters, it will be above the budget of many.

For those willing to drop a few dollars to produce a top notch professional podcast, the Shure SM7B is a high quality, easy to use microphone and a sure fire way to invest hard earned dollars.  In most cases it is simply a matter of plug it in, dial in the levels, and get great recordings.  To use the SM7B, one will need an audio production and editing software.  Two great, free choices are Audacity and Garage Band.

For those interested, a low cost option in the condenser microphone selection is the Rode NT1A for $229.  Condenser mics require a little more know-how and a better recording space, but are able to capture a clearer, more detailed recording than a dynamic mic.

Check out a podcast I produce at Drop by Drop Podcast and/or my portfolio site.  Thanks for reading!

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Drop by Drop Podcast

March 19, 2014

Drop by Drop Podcast Link

Hey everyone.  I just wanted to share a podcast I have spend many hours co-producing.  It’s called the Drop by Drop Podcast and it features stories of passionate people that are making a difference in the world, enhanced by music and sound design.  I have included a short description below from the site.  It would be awesome if you went over and checked out the site or subscribed on iTunes.  I’ll include a link to that below as well.  Thanks!

Description:

Drop by Drop Podcast tells the stories of incredible people who are pursuing their passions. Each episode has a theme, usually centered around a social cause or a unique perspective. We hope to expand the awareness of our listeners and inspire them to  facilitate change in their own lives and the lives of others…drop by drop.
Passion. Purpose. Productivity.

Our values

Passion: Interviewing people who really love what they do – and work hard to keep doing what they love, because it’s not always easy.

Purpose: Empowering listeners to bring about positive change in their lives and the lives of others by raising awareness of social issues and profound concepts.

Productivity: Inspiring creativity, leadership, and community involvement.

iTunes-Podcast-Subscribe-Button

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Creating a Lay-back Mix In Pro-Tools (No More Bouncing)

January 24, 2014

My Portfolio Site

Today we are going to go over how to create a Mix Bus or Layback Mix inside of Pro-Tools.  It can also be done in a similar fashion in other DAW software.

This “In-Session Bounce” is useful because it allows interactive monitoring of a mixdown and a safety next from software crashes during a lengthy bounce.  It also provides an easy way to keep old mixes in the session for easy A/B comparison. Once you start doing your bounces this way, you will never want to go back!

Brian West Audio Portfolio

As you can see above,  I’ll start out with a basic mix.   Notice that the tracks and subs are routed to the Master 1&2 outputs.

Mix Bus Brian West AudioFirst, we’ll start by creating a new stereo audio track and naming it MIX or something of the like.   This will be final destination of our final 2 track mix.

Next, set the input of the newly created track to any stereo bus and name it something like Mix Bus.  This will be the bus that you will send all of your other tracks through(example below).

Pro Tools Mix Bus, Brian West Audio

Brian West Audio

Ok, now we will highlight all of the tracks and send their outputs to the Mix Bus as seen above(use option+shift click on Mac or alt+shift click on PC).  Make sure that if you have any tracks that are already bussed to an Auxillary Track you only send the Aux to the Mix Bus, otherwise you’ll lose all of the processing on the Sub.  Also, using the keyboard shortcut will not change the output on the Master Fader; you have to do it manually. (Example Below)

Brian West Audio Portfolio

Now, solo safe the MIX track and make sure that nothing else is soloed in the mix.  Hit the record-arm button and double check that everything else is the way you want it.

Mix Bus Layback Image 7

Image 8

The whole mix can now be recorded to a 2 track.   Any processing on the master fader will apply to the mix and you can stop and start any time.   Sometimes you may have to add a small cross-fade upon restarting the recording to prevent any clicks in the audio.   As you can see, this is a much more efficient way to bounces and can save a lot of headaches.  After recording is finished you can export the file using ctrl+shift+k on PC or cmd+shift+k on MAC.  You can also export using the clip list.   Enjoy!  Also, if you get a chance, check out a podcast that I’m producing at Drop by Drop Podcast

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Review of the Cruz T301 Tablet

March 19, 2012

For the price, the Cruz T301 Tablet by Velocity Micro is a decent as a basic reader or internet browsing device.

Specs:

  • 7 inch screen
  • 0.5 inches thick
  • Android 2.2 OS
  • 800 x 600 Screen Resolution
  • 256 MB Ram
  • 528 Mhz Dual Core Processor

From a performance standpoint, the Cruz T301 has decent speed and generally smooth operation.  The construction feels fairly solid and  as far as budget tablets go, it is surprisingly efficient.   As mentioned above, this makes it a fairly good choice for standard web browsing, book reading, or low end gaming.

On the downside, the battery life is sub par and the screen is of a lower resolution.  The screen looks OK when on the desktop or browsing the web, but starts to show its graininess when watching video.   Another frustrating aspect is the lack of support for android market applications.  There are some alternative sources to get many of these applications but certain ones are simply out of reach.  It also seems to be notoriously difficult to hack or upgrade the firmware.  For app geeks and those that like to stay on the cutting edge, this makes the Cruz T301 a waste of money.

Another con is the poor audio quality from the 3.5 inch headphone jack.   The audio from the speakers is basically not listenable , but I expected the audio from the headphone back to be at least decent.  Upon plugging it into the aux of my car stereo, or a set of USB speakers,  the audio  sounds unnaturally bright and thin, making it almost unusable as portable audio device.

The front facing camera/video camera is useful but the video/picture quality is quite low, producing a low resolution grainy image.  I tried using skype on the tablet and was fairly disappointing by the quality of the picture.

Overall, the Cruz T301 will make for a useful, lasting device for those with little money that simply want a tablet.  It works fine as a portable internet browser but is not an option for those with a larger budget that seek a device with long future and upgradeable hardware and software.  I am quite impressed by the speed and stability of the tablet for the price but that’s about all that is has going for it.  Hopefully, Velocity Micro will bring it’s tablets closer to the standards it has for its PCs, while still keeping the price on the lower end.

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Cubase 5: How to Set Up a Reverb Send Effect

March 12, 2012

This tutorial will explain how to set up a send effect in Cubase 5 using a stereo FX track.  Send Effects are useful when you want to use the same effect on multiple tracks or to control the wet/dry levels of an effect.

I have started off the project with one mono Audio Track.

First we’ll need to create a stereo FX track to put the Reverb in.

Go To Project>Add Track>FX Channel on the Menu

The menu above will appear.  Select the Roomworks Reverb Effect and change the configuration to Stereo and hit OK

The Roomworks  screen will appear.

Next, hit the F3 key to bring up the Mixer Window.

Open the edit window for the mono audio track by pressing the Edit Audio Channel Settings button on the channel strip for the audio track.

On the right we see the sends column.

Click in the top column box to bring up a list of active FX tracks and select the Roomworks effect.   Then activate the effect by clicking the power button above it called “Activate Send 1”

The send effect is now set up and active, all we have to do is adjust how much of the signal from the Audio 01 Track we want to send through the Reverb FX Track.

You can adjust this by either clicking and typing or by dragging the thin blue bar below the words FX-1 Roomworks.

Hit the Space Bar to play the track and adjust the send level to taste.

Now you can adjust the Reverb settings in the Roomworks window to taste and easily adjust the amount of effect on the track.

Congratulations… you have just set up a Reverb as a send effect in Cubase 5.

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Welcome

March 1, 2012

Welcome