Free (Always)

I don’t have words to describe this one. So I just played a little…

As always, thanks to my friends for all the fun (an unforgettable one this time). And thanks to you for listening.

Getdown in the lockdown

Cool & funky template from sami, and he asked for bass & drums. Well I’m no drummer, but I wanted to try another microphone position on my upright recording anyway, so I started with that – and ended up using both the double and the fretless bass. And drums are still missing, so that – like the last one – isn’t ready yet:

Thanks to sami for all the fun, and thanks to you for listening (or even more if you also join us and play or sing or both) 🙂

Edit: oh, and about that microphone position: here it’s pointing to the bridge, and until now I’ve had it pointing to the lower fingerboard instead. The instrument is/was also much closer to the mic here, about 5 inches (normally 10). But while that sounded better on someone’s instrument on Youtube, I think for my bass I’ll go back to the old position – it’s easier to setup and play *and* it sounds better on my instrument…

Don & Wolfgang have the Blues

Sweet track from Don_T which he wrote in January just for me (I feel honoured, really). So finally here’s my bass on it, ready to be filled with drums, vocals, guitar soli etc.:

Thank you Don for all the fun, and thanks to you for listening to it 🙂

Unanswered questions

Wonderful contemplative track from FrankieJ, couldn’t resist to add a little low end to it:

Second of two recording takes in Reaper, mixed and finalised in Ardour.

As always, thanks to FrankieJ for all the fun, to the Wikiloops supporters who make this all possible, and to you for listening.

Ardour and Reaper

Since I got my audio interface and a studio condenser microphone to record my own voice for videos, I was using Ardour as my main program for recording on my Debian Linux machine. I have tried the Windows version as well, even the new 6.3 one lately, but in my opinion this free and open source tool runs best on an operating system like Debian which is also free and open source, and I think it’s natively developed on Linux as well.

With the audio interface I had gotten some free goodies like for instance the very nice XLN Audio Addictive Keys Studio Grand (what a name!) sampled Steinway grand piano – a 90$ value in itself. I had tried it, loved it, and also installed it on Linux where Windows VSTs need an additional layer to work. It does work, but of course it puts some load onto the machine that way, which is counter-productive in a near realtime usage like music. I’m no pianist, so for me the Salamander Grand, a Yamaha C5 nicely sampled by Alexander Holm was almost equally good. Plus it is under a Creative Commons license, and it runs natively as a soundfont on Linux.

Then I’ve got some more free plugins (and they keep coming if you buy an audio interface from Focusrite, thank you very much to that company!), but like most if not all freebies such as these – they exist for Windows, and for the Mac, and that’s it. So Windows, hm, never was doing much in there…

… I had tried Reaper since version 5 or even earlier, but since I never do much on Windows anyway, that trial version was just laying around mostly unused, and the 30 day trial period was way over, although I had only started it a couple of times. So when I learned about some really cool tricks and about the new version 6.x of Reaper, I decided to pay for it and to license it – it’s no free software like Ardour (which I also support nevertheless). And so I installed Reaper 6 both on Windows and also on Linux (which I also hadn’t done before). For my last two collaborations with other musicians from Wikiloops (see below), I’ve used both Reaper *and* Ardour.

There are many reasons to have them both – first Ardour, since it is open source, runs on Linux, Windows, and Macs, and because a download of a compiled version for Windows or Macintosh machines start at 1$ (or now 1€? Forgot…) – but if you’re fair, and can afford it, you can pay more of course. Ardour is wonderful.

But Reaper has a few things which really save you some time, or which can’t be done at all in Ardour. Take video as an example – yes, in Ardour you can have a video timeline in case you’re making some music for it, but in Reaper you can actually *edit* video. See one of Kenny Gioia’s videos (and he has lots which is another reason to use Reaper) about that:

This is REAPER 6 – Video Editing (13/15)

So you don’t really have to go and to use kdenlive or other programs for simple editing like this, which is cool. And that is just one of many things.

Adam Steel tells us a bit more (but his mentioning of Sonarworks on the monitoring only is what I’m also using in Ardour since I have it):

Why I Love Reaper with Adam Steel!

So no matter if its free or commercial plugins, or any of the tricks Reaper can do but which are difficult to impossible to realise on other DAWs (even ProTools), there’s a reason to try it. Some of my friends over at Wikiloops also use and love Reaper, so in case you can’t or you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars or euros on programs like Cubase or ProTools, you should have a look at these two – Ardour, and Reaper. Best would be a combination of both of them.

As always, thanks for reading.

About strings…

This is the video I was *not* waiting for (well actually I was, but then decided that I needed strings, so I’ve bought some already):

PIRASTRO PERPETUAL Double Bass Strings Review (Plus: How do they compare to Spirocore? Hear both!)

HervĂ© compared the two sets of strings for double (or upright) basses I was most interested in – the relatively new (invented in 2019 I think) Pirastro Perpetual against the old market leader amongst steel strings, the Thomastik Spirocore Weich.

Both sound pretty good in my opinion. I bought the Thomastik, and have them on my instrument right now – you can hear them on the last two collaborations on Wikiloops, and they made my bass sound way better than it did with the nylonwound strings I had on it when I bought it. And I can also bow it now which is cool 🙂

So thanks again Hervé for that nice comparison, tho I had made up my mind even before you published that video.

See also on TalkBass.

â–¸Vapourisedâ—‚

What a nice ambient chill-out track from DanDiplo and from FrankieJ – couldn’t resist to add both my basses this time, and also with using two different DAWs (Reaper and Ardour):

Thanks to my friends for all the fun, and thanks to you for listening as always 🙂

I’m not my depression

Wonderful track from sami and from mpointon, couldn’t resist to add some upright playing to it:

Thanks to my friends for all the fun, and thanks to you for listening as always.

Update, from September 30th, 2020:

I remixed my own track since I wanted to clean up some things on my bass track using Reaper, and I had the voice way too low in the first version. So here’s the newer one:

Hope this is better now 🙂 And as always, thanks to my friends for all the fun, and thank to you for listening 🙂

Bowing and plucking for the microphone

Tried the sound of my new strings on my new (used) instrument yesterday – and Zuleikha took some photos of that:

7e4_9212908-bowing-for-the-microphone
Wolfgang bowing his upright bass, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2020
7e4_9212918_sfx019-pizzicato-for-the-microphone
Wolfgang playing his upright bass, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2020

The first one of these photos is also on my Wikiloops profile in case you’re interested (but the music I played isn’t uploaded there yet).

As always, thanks for viewing.

The new Ardour 6.3 is out, and it has a really cool feature

As you might know in case you’re reading this blog once in a while, my DAW (digital audio workstation) of choice is the free and open source tool called ‘Ardour‘. And almost 2 weeks ago, the project announced its latest release 6.3, with the list of changes here.

And today I finally found the time to download (I’m a supporter, otherwise that would cost you at least 1$) and to try this version, which I did on Windows (I normally use it on Linux, but on that platform I always wait for new software being added to the repositories – too much to explain here and now). And I tested this new feature, the new Loudness Analyser, with a cool song from a few friends from Wikiloops which I had downloaded but not worked on yet (so it doesn’t have a bass) – hear Marc’s original remix and keyboard add here if you wish:

Ok; so I’ve put this track in a shared drive which the machine can “see” both from Windows and Linux, so first of course I started Ardour 6.3:

Then I added the track above (“Sunny Garden”), and checked the tracks loudness with right-clicking on it. Result:

As you can see, the integrated loudness is -15LUFS, and the True Peaks are +0.9dB – so integrated is perfectly fine depending on what you’re about to do with it, but the peaks are a bit hot and even distorted.

You’ll find the new Loudness Analyser tool in the master channel/bus of the DAW, on the right hand in the following screenshot, above the master fader where it says ‘LAN’ and ‘0.00dB’:

If you click on that LAN tool, a dialog with an explanation opens:

And if you further click on ‘Analyze’ it will show you its default setting which is EBU R 128:

Now EBU R 128 is for the European TV standard loudness which as you can see is -23 LUFS (integrated), with True Peaks of -1dB. And while that is perfectly fine and always recommendable in case you want to send something to a broadcasting station, most of us don’t do this, but rather use some streaming services to upload to – all of which have different settings to which they’ll reduce your track in case it’s too loud for them. Here’s a list of choices you have:

You see that for instance Youtube which is currently selected would (and will) reduce such a track to -14 LUFS and to -1dBTP – and under the ‘Measured’ column you can also see that for Youtube the integrated (average) loudness could even be higher, but since the true peaks aren’t -1 but +0.9 it will reduce the total gain by an amount of -1.93dB. If we do that ourselves here we can at least check the result *before* uploading it elsewhere…

I always use -16 LUFS and -1dBTP as my target, which is what the choice of the ‘Apple Music’ streaming service would also do. So all of the tracks of all of my albums in Wikiloops (which *I* remixed last) have that same loudness, and to you, dear listener that means that you won’t have to always look for the volume knob in case you’ll hear one of those in the car or elsewhere… and note that the loudness reduction for *this* track would be absolutely the same as when deciding on Youtube as the ‘target’ – because of that peak of +0.9dB somewhere (and note that peak also shown in both the channel and master strips in this screenshot:

So the reduction in this case is also -1.93dB. So, ok – I applied this as my setting for this song and export, which leads to this changed part in the master channel:

So during exporting of the song, I checked that I want another analysis *after* that export (to see the result), with setting the checkmark here:

And after the exporting is done, I see the new analysis:

So now the track is at -16.9LUFS and -1dBTP which is fine, unless of course you even care for that last 0.9 dB of integrated loudness – in that case you’d have to go back to the channel and find that peak marked in yellow in the left channel of the above screenshot, correct that a bit (like with an automated fader down of a dB or so over it), and repeat – it’s an iterative process if you really want to be the ‘master’ engineer of your track(s).

Anyway, I’ve listened to that normalised track with my calibrated headphones again, and be assured that Marc’s (and Oliv’s and Martin’s) track still sounds wonderful.

And what I also find wonderful is that even in a no cost (or low cost with the 1$ for the download as minimal selectable amount) environment we now have tools like these which really make life a lot easier even for us non-technicians. So for today, thank you for reading, and I’ll let Zuleikha (an older photo of her) greet you from the background of my Windows partition: