New and Updated Production Guides

Over the last few months I’ve had a number of people request PDF versions of my Production Guides and Tutorials, mainly for storing and referencing on their iOS devices.  I apologize that it took me so long to get this done, but things have been pretty busy here lately to say the least!

But, at long last I now have all of the PDF versions completed and online here:

http://tarekith.com/tutorials-and-reviews/

I tried to make the PDFs nicer looking than the html versions, a few more pictures and some nicer formatting mainly.  In case anyone is curious, I actually used Pages on my iPad2 to create all these, and I have to say it was really easy to use.  Never thought I’d prefer to use an iPad app over a Desktop one for this sort of thing, but it was much quicker in this case. Pretty impressive actually for only $9.99!

There’s also two brand new Guides I just finished as well, one on creating space and depth in your mixes (previously a blog post here) and one on working with other musicians.  Just some helpful tips people might find useful.   🙂

As always if you spot any errors or notice something that needs correcting, please let me know and I’ll do my best to correct it asap.

 

 

Blue Dream DJ Set

 

Blue Dreams Downtempo DJ Set

What can I say, I’ve been on a roll lately I guess.  🙂 Here’s a new downtempo DJ set, recorded live on Feb 13, 2012 using Ableton Live 8, Allen & Heath Xone62, Akai APC40, and NI Traktor Audio 6.

Tracklist:

Time – Artist – Track – Label
00:00 – Culture Cruisers – La Piscine – Ajnavision
07:12 – Deep Fried Dub – Submerged – Iboga
11:29 – Consciousness Federation – Causes And Effects – Uxmal
20:36 – Mooryc – All Those Moments – Freude Am Tanzen
24:51 – Ephemeral Mists – Looming – Sa Trincha
28:31 – BlueBliss – Splashed – Ovnimoon
33:25 – Flict – Orientation
36:22 – Consciousness Federation – You’re Not Your Memory – Uxmal
40:57 – Tripswitch – Roll Your Own – Section
46:49 – Banco De Gaia – Shanti – Disco Gecko
52:26 – Amber Long – Foresight – FineGrind Audio
56:23 – Fastus – Hero – Independant
59:43 – Tarekith – Slope Lifter
65:56 – Carmen Rizzo – Morning Glory – Electrofone
70:07 – Screw Bus – Brazzaville Beach – Time Tools
75:42 – Bobby Benninger – Moments – Independant
80:34 – Tomas Dvorak – The Bottom – Minority

You’re A Tool

I’m always slightly amazed at how truly committed many musicians become to their tools. To the point that they don’t even want to try anything else, and referring to other options as the “competition”. I think we’ve all seen it, bitter discussions about which DAW is best, which EQ or Compressor is better than another, or which method of DJing is ‘right’. I think if they were taking place face to face, some of these arguments might even come to blows!

From a practical standpoint I certainly understand a small part of it. Some of these tools are expensive, and a lot of people just don’t have the money to invest in multiple options. And of course there’s no forgetting the huge amount of time it can take to become familiar enough with something like a DAW to make it suit our needs the way we want.

But at the same time, I really find a lot of this short-sighted, and dare I say close-minded. In my view, someone who truly wants to excel at their craft does their best to learn as many tools as possible. To know what the strengths and weaknesses are of each, and then have the knowledge to chose the one that best fits their need. To categorically write off other options one might have at their disposal simply because it doesn’t happen to be the artist’s favorite or preferred choice, seems like a bad decision.

Take DJing for instance. Some of the most heated and frequent arguments I read are people going at it about which method of playing music for people is the best. You have your vinyl camp, your CD lovers, those who use laptops with MIDI controllers, those who use laptops with control vinyl, even arguments among each of these groups as they debate things like which DJ software is the best! I would think that anyone who calls themselves a DJ, or professes a desire to want to get really good at it, would WANT to learn ALL of the different methods available. Not only to be ready in any situation they might find themselves in, but also just to learn more about the craft in general.

Another example is the heated debates about which DAW is the best, Logic, Live, Sonar, ProTools, etc. Having been lucky enough to use a lot of different DAWs over the years, I certainly have my own favorites. But I also realize that each has it’s own strengths and weaknesses, and I choose which one I use based on what I’m attempting to do. Even if I don’t own a particular DAW, I’d never pass up the chance to work with a fan of another one and try to learn more about it if the opportunity presented itself.

I think it’s time people stepped back and realized that the tools we use do not define our music. They might guide how we create it, or help us more easily realize our goals, but in and of themselves they are just that, tools. After all, when a stranger asks what you do, you don’t say “I’m an Abletoner” or “I’m a “Pioneer CDJer”.

You’re a musician, a producer, or a DJ, you’re not a tool.

(except for you in the back with the goofy hat)

—————

A quick note for those that follow this blog. Earlier today I had to make some major changes to some of the WordPress foundations of the site, so if anyone happens to run into any errors or spots anything that seems out of place, please let me know. Thanks!

The Beautiful Decay

The Beautiful Decay
(Right Click to Save As)

 

Downtempo & House DJ Set, Recorded 09-08-2011

Start Time – Artist – Track – Label
00:00 – Bird of Prey – Pathfinder – Addictech
04:42 – Thievery Corporation – Fragments – ESL
08:37 – Chris Zippel – Stretch Marks – D’Vision
14:28 – Sergio Walgood – Project 29 – Anjavision
20:23 – Kilowatts – Deliriously – Kilowatts Music
24:47 – Digitalis – 1992 – Eardrum
29:31 – Jakob Thiesen – Clocks – Obsolete Components
34:55 – Erik Sumo Band – Show Me The Light (Hanssen Rmx) – Chi
41:25 – Evren Ulusoy – Fade To Blonde (Paronator Rmx) – Proton
46:28 – Jonny Blanco – Souk – Tocame
52:39 – Wasabi – Go Back (Costin 105 Rmx) – Lovely Mood

Originally, this mix was supposed to air on the No Warning Shot show on Brap.fm later this month.  Unfortunately, due to reasons out of my control (something about a group of badgers stealing the server and the country of Sweden refusing to pay their ransom demands), No Warning Shot has been put on the back burner for a few weeks.

Since this mix was mainly intended to celebrate the winding down of summer, and the coming Fall (my favorite time of the year), I decided to go ahead and release the mix now.  The set starts off with some downtempo, and then works it’s way into a more upbeat housier vibe.  Loving the Hanssen remix of “Show Me the Light” at 34:55, such crazy vocals and a deep groove.

Enjoy!

Tarekith DJ EFX V8.5

Well, it’s been awhile since I last released some of my free FX racks for Ableton Live, so I figured it was time to add some new ones to the collection.  This time around I have 3 new racks that are pretty wild sounding, good for some really out there tweaking in your live or DJ sets.  The racks were created in Ableton Live 8.2.5, but they should work in any version since 8.1.4.  Please check the “READ ME!!!!!.pdf” included in the zip file for information on how to install these.

Tarekith’s Ableton Live DJ Effects version 8.5
(right click to Save to your computer)

Brake Check

Wild rack that messes with the time of the audio passing through it.  Sounds similar to the effect you get when you turn off a turntable while it’s still playing, after taking way too much acid.  Sounds different if you turn the knob fast or slow in either direction.

Time Check

Same idea as Brake Check, except the speed up and slow down effect is synced to tempo.  Turning to the right works best when you turn the knob slowly.

Buzz Kill

Turns the audio into a buzz saw effect that increases intensity with knob rotation,  different flavors if you turn left or right.  Use the Shape knobs to alter the tone and style of the buzzing.

Hope you like the new effects, or the old ones if you’ve never used them before.  If you do like and end up using any of these in your live performances, please consider a small $1 donation via the button below.  Or, if you just don’t have any spare cash, hit the Like button at the top right of this page.  Thanks, and I hope to have some more EFX Racks for you soon!

Broken Past DJ Set

BrokenPast (<- Click to download or play)

I was going through some of my older tracks one day last week and decided it was time to to put together a mix of some of my more uptempo tracks from days gone by.  Some of these songs are 6-7 years old (and sound like it!), but it was a lot of fun revisiting some of my earlier tunes again.  Mainly breaks in the beginning, with some 4/4 stuff towards the end.

Start Time – Track (all tracks written by Tarekith)
00:00 – Devoid
03:52 – Playing With Forces
08:49 – The Thin Line
15:42 – Somewhere In Here
21:37 – Talus
26:32 – A World Away
33:10 – Shadows Falling
38:45 – Huck & Drop (2010 mix)
44:29 – In Your Place
50:06 – Deception
53:53 – Curver
59:25 – Base5
65:59 – Know No Limits

Very Sary – Downtempo DJ Set

Very Sary
Downtempo DJ Mix 06-19-2011

Smooth downtempo for the coming summer, perfect for the beach, poolside, or late-night lounge sessions.  This is probably one of the best mixes I’ve done in a long time, really happy with the tunes I found for this one, and how it all came together.

This set was recorded for the RK2 Podcast 5 year anniversary, thanks to Korruptor for asking me to be a part of this celebration!

http://www.rk2podcast.com/

Start Time – Artist – Track Title – Label
00:00 – Soulstice – Changes (Rocket Empire Rmx) – OM
05:58 – Solid State Drive – Lazy Hazy – Dusted Down
07:39 – TV Victor – Part 3 – Tresor
14:40 – Ruggero – Zaffiro – Wormland White
20:45 – Phutureprimitive – Burn – Native Harmonix
26:53 – Green Beats – The Beach – Synergetic
34:05 – Tarekith – Ridgeline – Tarekith.com
38:50 – Solid Sessions – Janeiro (Chiller Twist Rmx) – Cloud 9 Dance
45:59 – Green Beats – Tokyo Romance – Dubmission
51:32 – Hybrid – Every Word – Distinctive
56:17 – Zoubir Madani – Joy – Kinjo
61:31 – Bassus – Waterfall – Sambit
66:29 – Lomez, Ivaylo – Rila (Sound Solutions Rmx) – Houselective
73:02 – Fastus – Vol du Nuit – Master

 

Machinedrum DJ Set Vol. 2

Machinedrum DJ Set Vol. 2

This is the second in a series of collaborations initiated by the Elektron-Users.com community.  The basic idea is that each user contributes a pattern they wrote using only the Elektron Machinedrum SPS-1.  Then, users of the forum can perform a sort of combination DJ and live set using only those patterns.

Unfortunately I was pretty busy around the pattern submission dead-line, so none of the songs in this set were written by me.  Still, it was great fun performing the set, so thanks to all of the producers who let me use and modify their patterns so I could still participate.

This set was recorded live in one pass on 05-07-2011 using only the Machinedrum recorded direct via a RME Fireface400.  2dB of limiting was applied to tame one large peak during the set, otherwise no additional processing was applied.

Here’s the tracklist:

00:00 – Dubathonic – SubTerra
03:10 – Catabolic – Biz’n’Veetz
07:52 – Catabolic – Escalate
12:04 – djd_oz – Monopoly
15:37 – Jonathon Doe – Derive
19:10 – djd_oz – Jenga
22:44 – Jonathon Doe – Fraktur
26:23 – djd_oz – Scrabble

The sysex files of my edits to the original patterns can found here:

http://tarekith.com/assets/MD02_Edits.zip

Here’s a link to the first Machinedrum DJ/Live set I did as well:

http://tarekith.com/mp3s/Tarekith_-_MD_DJ_Set.mp3


 

Traktor S4 – Long term use

Well, I’m not totally sure I’m going to sell it yet, but it’s definitely something I’m considering.  I have a feeling we’ll see an update around Winter NAMM, so I’m waiting to see how responsive NI is to user requests before I make up my mind.  If I do sell, likely somewhere around $799.
As for it being a love affair, well, sort of.  I’ve always said that my main reason for going to Traktor was just to see what the competition was up to, and not because I was leaving Live for DJing per se (just used it two nights ago in fact).  Yes the S4 is pretty, and it’s new, and there’s a lot of hype around it, but it has some flaws too.  After quite a bit more time with it, here’s my updated thoughts on the S4 as a DJ package:
The Good:
– Track browsing and crate organization is excellent, lots of options and ways to customize your playlists, and the way NI implemented the push encoder for previewing is one of the nicest things I’ve seen in awhile.
– Overall build quality is very good, especially the knobs and the jog wheels.
– Easy set up.  One usb cable, one power cable, done.  Does not draw a lot of power either, I often use it with my laptop running on battery power when I’m too lazy to move the laptop powercord from my studio to dj set up, lasts for hours like this.
– The loop recorder is really nice, grabbing recordings of audio as you tweak it via the filters, EQ, and effects is really convenient, and you can even move recordings from the loop recorder to a sample slot fairly easily with the hardware.
– Some really useful DJ features for when things go bad.  IE, the main volume knob is seperate from the software volume knob, so you can always kill the sound instantly if you need to.  The fact that you can hook up an MP3 player to the hardware and that it’s hardwired to the main outs is useful too if you need to reboot.  The USB socket deserves a mention too, it’s SUPER snug so there’s no worries about the USB Cable coming unplugged.
– I like the layout of the Traktor software, they do a really nice job of letting you configure what you want to see.  Having a dedicated button to switch the browser to full screen is nice too.  Dual waveform view is nice too, though the waveforms are a little small IMO.
– No denying the usefulness of being able to manually beatmatch tracks if you need to, or if you don’t want to prep (grid) your tracks.
– Overall sound quality is good, as long as you really pay attention to your gain structure (see below for caveats).
– On the fly looping is implemented really well, though I wish loops could be longer than 8 bars when set on the fly with the loop encoders.
The Bad:
– The EQs are really not that good IMO.  Not even counting the lack of the Traktor Pro 4-band EQ, the current three options are just not that good sounding IMO. Very phasey sounding, not that transparent.  This is probably my biggest complaint with the S4.  They’re still useable of course, but hard to be subtle with them.  I’ve had more than a few people point out that it was pretty audible when I was EQing tracks, and I barely cut that much when using EQ for DJing.
– The metering on the hardware is next to useless.  I don’t find that the signal is really represented well, does not seem to be accurate at all.  Personally I think it’s reacting too fast and possibly the tiny bit of latency could be throwing things off.  Basically it’s hard to accurately know your levels looking at the meters on the S4, I tend to look at the software meters instead, which is the opposite of how it should be.
– The faders and gain knobs are so so feeling.  Not the worst I’ve used, but not up to the same quality as the knobs and jog wheels.  The gain knobs have a potentially useful feature in that if you push them, they reset to 0dB.  Unfortunately in order to keep the soundcard in the S4 from clipping, I often need to keep the channel gains closer to -6 or -7dB.  This means accidentally pressing the gain encoder causes the volume to jump drastically and distort. Bad when this happens mid-mix.  Also the gain knobs are detented, which can sometimes make narrowing in on an exact value impossible.
– Auto-levelling and the output limiter in the software are not that good.  For some reason Traktor always BOOSTS the signal of tracks to level them, which means you need to crank the channel gains down a lot to keep from clipping.  It also means it’s next to impossible to keep from hitting the limiter as well, which sounds not that good IMO (granted I’m really picky about this doing mastering for a living).  I disable both of these functions and manage gain myself.
– The Sample Decks are not key-locked or timestretched, which means if you assign a sample to them from a track that’s not playing exactly at it’s original tempo, it will be out of sync or out of tune with the audio currently playing.  As a result, I almost never use these unless I grab a loop with the loop recorder first, and then assign it to a sample deck.
– Effects are so so.  They make it very easy to assign the effects you want to the effects knobs, but honestly I find most of them to be pretty bland.  Also things like the delay do not show the delay time in musical values (i.e. 1/8th, 1/4, etc), unlike how it is done in Traktor Pro.  All values are 1-127.  Effects are prefader too, which is not how I prefer them.
– Very hard to see the hardware controls in low light.  Too much black, and too small of text in most cases.  Also the glossy area around the EQs and volume faders is super prone to collecting fingerprints, which makes your shiny new toy look very messy in no time.
– Not very easy to remap controls with the default S4 configuration.  For instance, if you wanted to reassign the loop length knob to global tempo, there’s really no simple way to do this currently.  So you either use the S4 hardware as NI intended, or switch to MIDI mode and lose a lot of funtionality that can’t be accessed via midi mapping.
It might seem like I have a lot of complaints about the S4 system, but in all honesty most of these are just minor annoyances.  I think the main thing I’ve learned is that the S4 system has enough flaws that it’s not an obvious winner over my previous Live set up for DJing.  It does a lot of things very well, but in some ways it feels like it’s not yet done or was rushed to market on the software side of things.  Stability has not been a concern, which is the main thing, but I think NI still has a ways to go with making things a little more customizeable for power users.  Most of my wishes are things that can be addressed by a software update, as well as being things that many other users have been asking for as well.  That’s one reason I’m waiting until NI releases the next update, to see what (if anything) they address.  Better sounding EQs, more accurate metering, and key-locking of the sample decks would definitely win me over.