For years now, there’s been a couple of 19″ modules drifting through my house. For the greater part of that time I’ve been thinking about building my own rack. Printed scematics, trolling the interwebs for instructions, and so on.
About four years ago I ran into an article about the Lack Rack, a DIY solution where a low cost Ikea coffee table is transformed into a 19″ rack using no more than a drill.
I picked up a discarded Lack from the street, hoping to have a no cost 19″ rack. This is when I found out that the Lack has gone through several iterations, and recent ones are pretty useless. I picked up a recent one.
I then found out about a slightly costlier —but still no-budget— solution: The same company has a nightstand called the Rast, which has exactly the right size, is made of actual wood, about the cost of a Lack and is only missing a mounting option.
I picked one up —from the store, not the street— ordered some 6U rails, nuts and bolts, and got to work. In half an hour I got me a functional rack. Wooo!
The past weeks I’ve been mixing a friends’ tracks. Two drone/sludge/doom metal inspired tracks, nice and heavy. He asked me if I knew anyone who could do this, and I said yes. Great fun!
I used Ardour to mix the stems. He recorded in Protools and exported stems with some effects and panning, and importing went without a hitch. Some downsampling happened —there was no need to run at 96kHz— but conversion was completely inaudible. In the end, I was running 28 stereo tracks. I had to adjust latency in Jack to get rid of dropouts, but I was using an old and beat up laptop so this was to be expected.
Reopening the projects was another story. There’s a bug in Ardour2 in combination with Jack2 which prevents saved projects from being opened. That’s a big bug if you ask me. The solution was to replace Jack2 with Jack1, which unfortunately caused problems for Mplayer, Avidemux and Qtracktor, all of which expect Jack2. The project was too important, though, and other programs I use (Pure Data, Moc) still worked, so I went ahead. And Hey Presto, I could reopen the projects again.
I searched around for a way to use some of my old VSTs, but I settled for the CALFLV2 plugins. I didn’t have to use them in any radical ways, and the parametric EQ and compressor plugind worked fine. I noticed the compressor starts to distort horribly when pushed, so I was glad only medium compression was all I needed. Next time, I’ll see if I can use my beloved Blockfish, old school but excellent. Non-free, which is a pity, but right now I don’t know any good compressor LV2 or DSSI plugins.
Mixdown was easy: put all layers in busses, put compression and/or equalisation (if any) on the bus, adjust volume and render. After 3 versions, my friend was happy and so was I.
Ardour is awesome. Can’t wait to try Ardour3, which is the current version. VST-support would be cool. All in all, audio handling is superior to Sonar 3 which I used until about 6 years ago.
The CALF plugin suite is very nice. The compressor doesn’t handle more extreme settings well, which is a pity. Let’s donate and see if this can be improved. Overall, the parametric EQ and compressor (as long as it isn’t pushed) sound nice and transparent.
The ability to mix 28 stereo tracks on this old beater of a laptop (Dell Latitude D610) came as a surprise to me. Nest time, I’ll try if I can mix at 96kHz. Overkill, but I’d like to see how far I can push this old dog.
Mixing is fun!
I’m going to experiment with VST support, either with DSSI-VST or with some external host via inserts. Dig up my old Voxengo plugins and track down the licenses.
I’m going to demo some of the LinuxDSP stuff. I already have awesome plugins but new stuff —native stuff— would be nice. Not too expensive and I hear it’s pretty good.
On sunday, january 13th I attended the Optimus Prime Noisefest. It was awesome.
I did a short set, just over ten minutes, which was very… crunchy. It’s as close to a noise set as I’ve ever come. Hardware only, too: The Vatican Analog crew stated that it was okay to bring a laptop but only if it was sawed in half at the end of the show.
So, only hardware it was: an MD-player, an old walkman, my Electribe EA1, a delay pedal and a mixer. The MD-player and walkman provided a drone and a field recording respectively, which got processed with the Electribe and stomp box. The mixer has no headroom to speak of so things started to get distorted pretty quickly.
I enjoyed the other performances immensely. Looking forward to the next edition!
Recorded for the Knorr preview at the Dagschotel party, feb 11 2012. Very rough mix because of a beat up soundsystem and no monitors. The crowd certainly didn’t mind.
Recorded with my Zoom H2, gear was a pair of Pioneer CDJ-1000 mk3s and a Pioneer Mixer.
This mix represents the other side of what I tend to spin.
On friday 11 february I played a set at Bosch Acousmatic. Apart from the usual tape stuff, I ran my set through a pd patch on my netbook. This went very well.
The evening was opened by The Acoustic Electric Chamber Orchestra. TAECO are Steven Vinkenoog and Frank Baijer who play guitars, balalaikas and toy microphones. The room and silence play a large part in their music. The set they played last friday was truly mesmerizing.
My set included more synthetic tones. I started with a drone which returned later in my set. I also used unprocessed field recordings to contrast the processed noisiness.
My usual rollercoaster of feedback loops was completed with a Pure Data patch. Pure Data, Pd for short, is Max/MSP’s half sibling and is an impressive piece of Free software. My patch isn’t very impressive but worked very well and the bits and pieces it was built from are available for download here.
Unfortunately, I forgot to switch on my Zoom H2, so no recordings. NOOOOOOO
To my frustration, I noticed that my trusty Edirol UA-25 refused to work properly on Ubuntu 10.04. I spend quite some time tracking this problem down; eventually I found out that USB soundcards are moved down in priority.
The result of this are, among other things:
Jackd won’t start
Pd won’t find the soundcard
Mixxx won’t start
In other words, no end of grief. br>
On Ubuntu, this started from 9.10 on (and because of this, also affects Pure:Dyne), on Debian this affects Squeeze.
Fortunately, there’s a simple solution!
On Debian’s bug-tracker, I found the following simple fix: br>
in /etc/modprobe.d/ create a file called local.conf. In this file, add the lines
alias snd-card-0 snd-usb-audio
options snd-usb-audio index=0