Logic 10.3.2

 

AL LPX 10.3.2Apple fixed the GUI bug present in some of its Retina-Optimized instruments and plugins in LPX 10.3.2. For those who took notice, some of the stock Logic Pro X instruments and plugins produced an annoying graphical bug in regards to the number entry field when placed on any scale factor other than 100%.

Some of the plugins affected by this issue included: Retro Synth (in the screenshot above), Vintage B3, Vintage Clav, Vintage Electric Piano, Drum Kit Designer, Compressor, Channel EQ, Linear Phase EQ.

In the past: The blue halo that appears around the number entry field was distorted and out of place. That issue has now been resolved. The blue halo that appears around number entry field now complies with the scale factor of the plugin. Rock on Apple!

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Android: What to Look for When Purchasing an Android Device

 

AL And P

As audio professionals we are always looking for new ways to enhance our audio lives an example of this is latest technology to accompany us while on-the-go. That may come in the form of the latest media capable smartphone. Most audio and video professionals opt for a device running iOS as (out-of-the-box) it is optimized for audio and video production. Some folks are fans of Android and hence the reason for this article.

iOS and Android are currently the most popular mobile operating systems on the market. Both iOS and Android are based on the rock solid foundation of Unix/Linux powering many devices from smartphones to tablets. iOS gets updates directly from Apple when they come out thus enabling the majority of iOS devices to remain secure. Apple does not allow third parties to have any control over its platform, which is excellent for both Apple and the consumer. This is not the case with most Android devices.

With Android, manufacturers are the gatekeeper for their respective devices. The current hierarchy is: Google -> Smartphone Manufacturer -> Customer.

If you bought your phone from a carrier, such as T-Mobile, AT&T etc the hierarchy is: Google -> Smartphone Manufacturer -> Carrier -> Customer.

In other words, when Google has released a security patch for their Android operating system, the manufacturer then decides whether or not their respective devices will receive the update. This is a serious problem as it means that many devices will be left venerable to hacks and exploits.

To add to this problem many manufacturers/carriers still produce and sell low-cost Android devices running out-dated software (as old as Android 4.2.2 JellyBean) and with no chance of upgrading. It is this phenomenon that has led the term known as Android fragmentation.

Today, I show you how to have your cake and eat it. Today, I’ll show you what to look for and what to buy.

Why You Should be Concerned About Security

Outdated devices provide a nest for hackers to thrive. Compromised apparatus enable them to gain full control. Once the device has been compromised hackers will be able to read your SMS messages, access, send and receive emails on your behalf from your device among other things. Hackers can activate your device’s camera and microphone thus enabling them to view or listen in on conversations/sessions taking place while in use or at that location. Stored financial information can be obtained and used for malicious purposes. It is therefore critical to maintain a secure and up-to-date device. Do Not Compromise!

What to Look For

  1. Only purchase devices running the latest version of Android (Android 7 Nougat at the time of writing)
  2. Only purchase devices from manufacturers with a reputation for updating their respective devices on time.
  3. Opt to purchase devices running Pure Android. You will thank me. Many manufacturers believe they are doing their brand justice by customizing every last detail of the OS and installing irremovable software that provides duplicate functionality of the features already present in Android but the truth is this just causes more bugs, more bloat, weaker performance and an overall inconsistent experience. I’m not asking, It is a fact! Over-customization also makes it a lot more difficult for the manufacturer to release device updates on time as new updates released by Google have to be tested against their customizations before they are pushed to their devices.
  4. Look for devices based on Qualcomm processors. They are currently the most compatible, secure, and stable processors on the market for use with Android devices. In addition when you device becomes obsolete you will have a better chance of installing a third party ROM such as Lineage OS to keep your device up-to-date.
  5. The device should have at least 2 GB of RAM and 16GB storage space.
  6. Purchase your devices online, carrier unlocked and directly from the manufacturer.

What to Buy

The Pixel line replaces the Nexus line as a premium set of devices made by Google running Pure Android. Pixel devices are made by Google so their is no 3rd wheel in the picture. Updates from Google will always come to these devices first. The Pixel line promises to provide “the best Android has to offer”.

* The Honor 5x was and still is one of the best Android phones made at any budget. It has a great sounding audio chip onboard, looks beautiful, has a premium aluminum build and has solid specs. It is based on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 processor and can be flashed to run the latest version of LineageOS. In order to install LineageOS you will need to unlock the boot loader which will require an understanding of ADB/Fastboot and third party software (to obtain the boot loader code). Once that is done you will have a usable device running the latest version of Pure Android.

If you stick to the devices on this list you should have no problems in the security and stability department. You will have an Android phone as Google intended. Clean, pure and free from all the junk that manufacturers and carriers love to put on their devices.

– Alexander Lindo

Android: Sustain Mobile Data

 

AL And S

Many Android users have been plagued by the issue of their data plan depleting even when the “Data Saver” option is enabled. I looked all over the Internet and did not find a solution. This led me to go back to the basics and think of the basic primitive protections put in place before the age of smartphones. In today’s quick tip, I am going to show you how to prevent data hemorrhaging on Android.

The first question many people will ask: “Why is my mobile data depleting even though I have disabled data usage?” Great question. Cellular Data is used on boot before the device’s settings come in to play. Once the SIM Card is present and has mobile data access available it will be used during boot. So how do we fix it? Well the answer is quite simple.

Enable SIM Lock

Go to Settings > Security > SIM card lock > SIM Lock settings and toggle “Lock SIM card” to the on position. Change your default SIM PIN (default is usually: 0000) to something else. When SIM Lock is enabled, the device will boot without access to services provided through the SIM card, thus retaining available data. Once device has booted, Android will ask you to enter your SIM card’s PIN. At this point Android won’t use your data (unless data usage is enabled).

I cannot say whether this is a bug or if it is done by design however above tutorial should help to alleviate this common problem. Please note that the above tutorial is not applicable if you have just factory reset your phone as Android will require you to enter your PIN immediately before the phone is even setup. In this event, it is best to boot the phone without the SIM card. Once the phone has been set up, install the SIM card.

Upgraded to Sierra

LPX & Waves on macOS Sierra – Inst

I upgraded to Sierra and I am glad that I did. The OS feels much faster and lighter than El Capitan and the new optimized storage features are certainly a welcome addition. Logic Pro X appears to be working much better than it was on El Capitan and best of all, I am no longer having audio drop outs / distortion when using applications such as iTunes.

After copying over all my useful content (such as music, photos, videos etc.) from a backup, my first step after installing a new OS was to create a backup. For this, I used Time Machine. The backup when through just fine with the exception of “iCloud Drive” which took a while to download content during the backup process. Once all iCloud content was downloaded, the backup process was complete.

I opened up Logic Pro X and tested it without any 3rd party plugins installed. The DAW was as fast as its ever been since the OS X Mountain Lion; certainly a plus in my book. The next step was to install 3rd party plugins. Many companies in this area have warned users not upgrade to Sierra yet. Of course that did not stop me as I tend to keep 3rd party plugins at minimum. I opened up Waves Central and installed a local backup of my plugins after which I authorized. At first it did not authorize but this may have been due to the unstable internet connection at the time. After trying again it worked.

I opened up Logic Pro and my Waves plugins were fully operational. Recorded, mixed and mastered a song. Performance wise the improvements are certainly visible.

Plugins from Plugin Alliance do not work officially yet as told by the manufacturer however, I found a temporary solution that will work until the problem has been officially fixed. See below:

  1. First copy the auvaltool file from the /usr/bin folder from your El Capitan install on to a USB Stick.

  2. Restart your Sierra install and hold down Command + R until you see the Apple logo and loading bar.

  3. Once in recovery mode, Open Terminal from the Utilities menu and type csrutil disable

  4. This will disable System Integrity Protection, which will enable you to replace the auvaltool on Sierra with the one you copied from El Capitan. Be sure to keep System Integrity Protection disabled while you use the previous auvaltool otherwise the it will not work anymore.

  5. Once a fix is officially released, simply replace the auvaltool you copied from El Capitan with the one installed by Sierra.

  6. Reboot your Mac and hold down Command + R until you see the Apple logo and loading bar.

  7. Once in recovery mode, Open Terminal from the Utilities menu and type csrutil enable in order to re-enable System Integrity Protection.

After following steps 1-4 you may need to configure file permissions. Do the following:

cd /usr/bin

sudo chown 0:0 auvaltool

sudo xattr -c auvaltool

sudo chmod 755 auvaltool

Disclaimer: Please note that this temporary fix is not endorsed by Plugin Alliance and you must use at your own risk. Plugin Alliance say that they are working on an official fix. SIP must be disabled in order for this workaround to work and should be re-enabled as soon as an official fix is released by Plugin Alliance. Disabling SIP (System Integrity Protection) poses a security risk and should only be disabled when it is absolutely necessary.

My EP entitled “Progression” has been released recently and is available for purchase on iTunes, Amazon MP3 and Google Play. BUY IT NOW!

Once again than you all for the support.

Alexander Lindo

Download: auvaltool from El Capitan

Update: Plugins by Plugin Alliance now officially support Sierra. Rock on!

Studio Tips – Episode #1

alstudiotips1

Music is an art-form. It builds, strengthens and enhances the human life. It is built with the purpose of delivering a message. It is therefore extremely important to ensure that (as artists, producers, and engineers) our message is delivered in the most accurate way possible. In the “Studio Tips” series I discuss methods on how to enhance the experience and delivery of “the song”. Enjoy!

Location

Ensure your environment is optimal as an uncomfortable environment will leave you with a poor performance. Surround yourself with people who love you for who you are, what you do, both as an artist and as a person. Do not be quick to “take what you get”, as you always have options. Never let anyone make you think that you don’t have options. If you are unhappy with the situation it is bound to show.

Preparation

If your intention is to record, make sure that you have adequately practiced the material before hand. Magic can and may happen in the studio but it is always best to prepare. If you are a singer ensure that you are hydrated, as failure to do so may leave you with some dry sounding vocals. If you are a guitarist ensure that your guitar is properly tuned and that you have at least 2 extra set of strings available. Other than failure to prepare it can be equally disconcerting when the performer is unable to record a take due to technical difficulties. If you are the producer/engineer set up your project with plugins that introduce the least amount of latency / CPU usage during tracking / recording.

The Message

Vocals / Lyrics are the most important part of every song (that contains vocals). They tell the story, and you want them to shine to the best of their ability. Be sure that your engineer is providing you with a space carved out just for you. Listen to the mix. If you cannot hear yourself clearly when the music is playing, you will be shouting above the mix and this is never recommended. The same goes for performing live. If you cannot hear yourself, you will not perform correctly. It is therefore extremely important to get the balance right, before you open up.

Focusrite Red 2 & 3 In-Depth Look

 

AL Red 2 & 3 In-Depth

The Red Range was established in the year of 1994 by Focusrite. Both hardware units inherit the sound and circuit design of their predecessors from the ISA range of processors.

The Red 3 is a compressor was built as an outboard successor to the ISA130 compressor module built by Rupert Neve for Sir George Martin’s console at Air Studios London. This compressor is famously known for maintaining mix intelligibility, even in the event of significant compression. Due to its simple and intentional VCA circuit design, this compressor is well suited for a variety of sound sources.

Focusrite has continued on with the philosophy of providing  microphone pre-ampfliers that are accurate with the least amount of artificial colouration possible. Where many audio companies today seem to create equipment that purposefully imposes harmonic distortion onto the signal being passed through it, this has never been the aim for the folks at Focusrite.

The Red 2 EQ and Red 3 Compressor had no measurable distortion as evidenced in their specification sheets and thus you will not find any present in their plugin counterparts. In addition to near zero distortion, these pieces of equipment also had a lot of headroom available to them thus making distortion due to overdriving them near impossible to do.

The Red 2 EQ and Compressor plugins come bundled with the purchase of any Scarlett, Claret, RedNet, or Safire audio interface and are also available for sale via the Focusrite website.
After testing these plugins must say that I was rather impressed with them. Aside from the beautiful and realistic graphical user interface, the sound that I produced while using them was truly remarkable.

Red 2 EQ: I placed the Red 2 EQ on a Kick Drum, shaved off some lows using the low pass filter, boosted some lows at around 60 Hz while taking out some of the boom using the low-mid bell filter with a medium bandwidth. The result was a more solid and punchy kick. Using this graphical representation of the hardware piece always re-enforces what great joy it is to use hardware, due to its knobs and VU meters. I will always love my VU meters, to the point where, if they are not present on the hardware, then I probably will not buy it. Of course there are exceptions to this rule, for example in the event of the audio interface: most use LED meters, but non-the-less VU meters are definitely preferred.

Red 3 Compressor: After achieving an adequate balance of the drum kit, I then placed the Red 3 Compressor on the Drum Sub-master. I set the ratio at 4:1 with a fast attack and fast release. First ensuring that all levels were correct on the way in to the compressor as to prevent clipping, I then proceeded to bring down the threshold parameter. I could start to hear the aggression kick in, as to be expected with compression, however the aggression that this compressor provided was one of the pure kind. The sound remained solid and took a bit of an effort to became grainy. After receiving a reasonable amount of compression, I then proceeded to adjust the mix knob to taste, in order to bring back the dynamics of the drum kit that were lost due to compression. The result was a solid sounding drum kit.

Placing the compressor on the bass and guitar parts yielded similar results. Using the EQ, I was able to bring out some mid-range on the guitar parts, further adding to their character. Placing the compressor on synth parts led to a slightly more aggressive sound and one that remained full. I was careful not to overdo it as to prevent the pumping effect from occurring. Due to the extensible attack (0.300ms to 90ms) release times (0.1second to 4 seconds), setting this compressor to taste was no problem. In the topic of pumping: I would have loved to see a key input option provided.

I progressed towards the lead vocal for my single entitled “Hurt” of which I originally had the stock Logic EQ and Compressor on. Up first was the EQ, The vocals were recorded using a condenser microphone, recorded through the preamplifier of the Scarlett audio interface. Both the microphone and the audio interface have a relatively flat frequency response and near zero THD (Total Harmonic Distortion). Using the high shelf filter at around 12 kHz (the 1073 frequency) I turned the high end up only about 2 dB in order to increase presence within context of the mix. It did indeed provide a sound unique to this equalizer. A somewhat airy effect, however subdued it may be. After removing some lows, I progressed with a 1 to 2 dB boost at around 1.2 kHz in order to gain legibility in the mix.

I then placed the Red 3 Compressor on the vocal with a fast attack and a fast release. With a ratio of 4:1 and an optimum level, I began to bring down the threshold just until the sound was relatively constant. This was not at all difficult to achieve as compression began will little to no artifacts. I continued adjusting to taste. After was satisfied, I placed a second Red 3 Compressor on the vocal. This time with a medium attack and release. In this scenario, The first compressor is used to level the peaks and the second one is used to smooth them out. The results were as reasonable as one would expect. The voice remained clear, consistent and true to the source with out any sign of distortion.

For the fun of it I decided to lay down an additional vocal take with both the Red 2 EQ and the Red 3 Compressor instantiated. With a buffer size of 64 samples, I enabled Low-Latency mode in preparation of the event, that these plugins created any latency. I am glad to say, that this was not the case. This increases their value in the recording and tracking department. CPU load was placed at a minimum as well, leading one to conclude that these are indeed well coded.

I placed the EQ and Compressor on supporting vocal tracks and set them to taste in order to better evaluate the mix with their presence. After I was satisfied with the vocal mix, It was finally time to move on to the stereo master. Starting with a moderate ratio, medium attack and fast release I listened to the already well balanced mix come together in a beautiful fashion. This compressor has a way of making elements even smother than they already were. The compressor was definitely doing a great job.

Red 2 EQ and Red 3 Compressor are what I would consider to be an underrated pair of plugins that deserve attention (even if you do not own a Focusrite audio interface). If not only for their vivid appearance but also for the clean, transparent and full “character” they impart on your mix. In addition, these plugins do not require a dongle to run, which is always a plus in my book. The Red 3 Hardware Compressor has received praise from the likes of Chris Lorde-Alge who uses it on every mix.

If you are looking for the current hardware incarnation of the Red 2 EQ and Red 3 Compressor your best bet would be to check out the ISA 430 MKII Channel Strip from Focusrite. While it is not entirely similar, this remains the most current, favorable and enhanced reproduction of the original ISA 110 eq module and 130 compressor module originally designed by Rupert Neve, of which the Red 2 and 3 are based. The ISA 430 can be seen in the possession of top producers / engineers like Pharrell Williams and Damian Taylor and Adrian Bushby.