The Beatles Remastered Stereo LP Box Set

September 28th, 2012 Jonny Kaine Posted in General 1 Comment »

I’m a huge Beatles fan and I yes I’m one of those folks that likes to listen to vinyl LPs from time to time so I’m pretty excited that The Beatles Stereo LP Box Set is finally coming out (on November 13th.)

Not only is this awesome because it’s the first time these new remasters are going to be on vinyl 16 audiophile 180 gram LPs) but it’s actually the first time that most of The Beatles albums will be available to buy new on LP for a long time (only Abbey Road has been available to buy new… and it was actually the top selling vinyl LP of 2011!)

Basically this is the vinyl version of the Remastered Stereo CD Box Set that came out back on 9/9/9. (I can’t believe it’s been more than three years already.) It includes 16 audiophile 180 gram LPs all together.

That’s 13 original Beatles albums and the Past Masters double album set of non-album tracks (for the most part that means songs on singles that were never included on their albums.) 13 + 2 = 15? Yes, you’re right! But of course one of those Beatles albums was a double album (1968’s The Beatles aka “The White Album”) so there’s the 16th LP.

If you dig The Beatles and you dig vinyl you may want to make your order quick because they say they are only making 50,000 copies of this box set worldwide. That doesn’t seem like very many.

Click Here to order this Box Set on Amazon.

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Wisdom from Jillian Michaels “Ripped in 30”

September 27th, 2011 Jonny Kaine Posted in General No Comments »

I was following week 2 from the Jillian Michaels “Ripped in 30” DVD with my wife when something Jillian said struck me as being wise. As being something that doesn’t just apply to working out, but also quite directly to music (as well as many other things, I’m sure.)

I’m paraphrasing from memory so this may not be exactly what she said but it was something like this: “If it doesn’t make you uncomfortable then it’s not helping.”

I think this is so true when it comes to improving as a musician. For years when I would play guitar I would just play whatever I already knew, whatever was comfortable and easy. Even though I played guitar quite a bit during this time, I never really improved my playing much at all. I had very little improvement over the course of about 7 or 8 years of playing because I didn’t push myself to learn new skills.

Over the past year or so I’ve been actively trying to improve my skills as a musician and the difference is night & day. Now that I’m practicing daily with guitar lessons that often make me feel “uncomfortable,” instead of just playing around, I become a much better guitarist.

I’ve also been playing guitar more often and for longer periods (I think this is mostly because I find it more enjoyable to play when I can play better) but I think the big difference between now and before is that I’m now actively practicing to improve rather than just playing. It makes all of the difference in the world.

This goes for more than just playing guitar of course. It goes for all musical skills, including songwriting (and drumming: from a background of having never played drums in my life, I’ve become a decent drummer over the course of the last 6 months by practicing about 30 minutes a day on average – by the booksee my post from early March on my new drum set.)

Before, I would “write a song” by just singing whatever came to my head while I was strumming some chords on my guitar. I still sometimes get initial ideas that way. But now I push myself much farther. I study the musical structure of songs I love (and those that I hate – it’s good to know why things don’t work too.) I write down my melodies and try all sorts of variations with them on the piano (which I’ve also learned to play, at a basic level, this year.) I’ve read books about lyrics and lyric writing and study the lyrics of songs I love.

This can be quite hard, quite uncomfortable. But I find myself understanding music at a much deeper level than I ever did before. And I think my songwriting is improving significantly.

Another important point that I think goes hand in hand with this is that everything is difficult at first. No one is born a great guitar player for example. When Jimi Hendrix first picked up a guitar he sounded like crap. Even a skill we think of as being something someone is “born with” like singing is mostly a learned skill. The people who we say are born great singers simply learned to sing at a very young age.

And no, getting better at something hard doesn’t happen overnight. But if you keep at it every day, you will notice a few weeks later that you can do all kinds of things you couldn’t do before. And then a few months later you will barely recognize the blundering fool you were before. It’s an amazing thing!

I know in many ways this is all quite obvious; but I’m sharing it because I know that while it is obvious I somehow didn’t really manage to realize it until about a year ago (you can see the kindling for where I’m at now in this post from July 2010) and I think it may help light a spark under the ass of some other person out there who is going along just doing what’s comfortable with their music. Get better by getting uncomfortable!

Jillian Michaels?

And yes the “Ripped in 30” DVD is pretty good. Yes the target market is clearly females, but the workouts are pretty tough. They kick my ass and I’m a guy in decent shape. And I know that if I do them every day and push myself to the point of being uncomfortable that I will see the same type of positive changes to my body that I’m seeing with my guitar playing and other musical skills.

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The Beach Boys Smile Sessions Box Set

September 4th, 2011 Jonny Kaine Posted in General No Comments »

As a big fan of The Beach Boys who is very interested in Brian Wilson’s songwriting process (I have this cool book on Wilson’s songwriting) I’m very excited about The Beach Boys Smile Sessions Box Set coming out on November 1.

Not only will it be the first time the 1966 & ’67 original recording for Smile are released in a form something like they were originally intended to be heard but there are also going to be a lot of alternate takes that will hopefully give some interesting insight into how Wilson was writing and arranging his songs during this very creative period.

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NetGear WN111 Wireless Adapter

November 7th, 2010 Jonny Kaine Posted in General No Comments »

I’ve ran into audio glitch problems with wireless adapters on numerous occasions. Most recently with the ASUS 802.11 adapter which was causing huge latency spikes (according to the DPC Latency Checker) which made my audio glitch badly or drop out entirely (for very short periods, but long enough to be noticeable and very annoying.)

What this meant was that I couldn’t be online and listen to music at the same time (at least not without getting really irritated by the glitches/drop outs.)

I encountered this same problem on my last computer (with LinkSys and another one that I can’t remember) and it wasn’t until I got the NetGear WN111 wireless adapter that I was able to be online and listen to music at the same time!

So when I had this problem start up again I decided to borrow the ol’ NetGear WN111 to see if it would get the job done again. And sure enough, it seems to have fixed the problem.

The best thing about this solution is that this particular wireless adapter is actually one of the cheapest ones on the market. And as far as I can tell it works just as well as the other more expensive ones (as far as internet service) without the huge downside of messing up my audio.

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Magnetic Stud Finder: How To Find Studs

October 20th, 2010 Jonny Kaine Posted in General No Comments »

Today I drilled 9 holes into my wall looking for a stud to screw my new Ukulele String Swing. This is not unusual for me. I have always struggled to find studs! By the way: I’m not exactly the most “handy” dude around. Not my strong suit.

Anyway, to get to my point, I decided to search Google for any tips on how to find a stud without making thousands of holes in the wall first. I came across some stuff about an electronic stud finder which I wasn’t too excited about because I had tried one of those in the past without any success but then I came across something I somehow had never heard of before and had never thought of before either: Using a magnet to find a stud.

The idea is that you run the magnet over the wall and when you run it over a nail you feel it tugging. Luckily I happened to have some little magnets that I bought a hardware store (I think they were like 50 cents each.) I tried it out with one of these and this technique worked like a charm. I was even able to get the magnet to stick to the wall!

Yes you have to rub it around the wall a bit before it picks up on a nail, but it didn’t take me long at all. And it’s definitely better than making a bunch of holes in the wall.

There are magnetic stud finders built specifically for this purpose and they probably work even better (being larger so it’s easier to find the nails.) But my little cheap magnet worked fine for me and I plan on using it from now on whenever I need to find a stud.

Hopefully this post will help someone out there who has similarly driven themselves crazy (and driven a bunch of holes into the wall) looking for a stud.

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What People Call “Talent” Is Actually…

July 5th, 2010 Jonny Kaine Posted in Books, General No Comments »

This Is Your Brain On Music (which I recently finished reading) mentioned something called the “10,000 hour rule” which I first came across while reading Outliers by Malcom Gladwell. What is this “10,000 hour rule”? The idea behind it is that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become a true expert at anything (anything that requires a great deal of skill that is, I don’t think anyone would claim it takes 10,000 hours to master tic-tac-toe.)

In This Is Your Brain On Music, the author (Daniel J. Levitin) references this rule when talking about people’s perception of “talent.” When most people see someone performing with a great deal of skill (example: Eddie Van Halen playing a guitar solo) they think “wow, that guy is so incredibly talented, I could never do that.”

People seem to want to think that people are born with such skills but the truth is that kind of skill comes from long hours of practice. There is no one who has that level of skill without putting in the hard work.

This is not to discount genetic factors entirely. Certainly there may be some people who are more predisposed to certain types of skills, but all of the scientific evidence (read these two books for the details) shows that time spent practicing is far more important than genetic factors.

Sadly, it’s doesn’t seem to be the case that all practice is created equal. The general rule is that the earlier you start practicing the more effective it seems to be. When people think of a young person as being extremely “talented” at something it’s really because they started practicing at a very young age (because they have an adult mentor, consider that Mozart’s father was considered to be the best music teacher around.) Children can often pick up new skills with more ease than adults.

That said, regardless of your age I believe that if you really want to be great at something, then it’s very likely that you can be. There’s probably nothing stopping you but your own lack of resolve (aka laziness.)

It’s this resolve that really what sets the “talented” apart from the rest of us. They have a true dedication that has pushed them to practice until they become a master.

Finally I want to leave you with this nugget of wisdom I took from This Is Your Brain On Music: Successful people tend to fail far more often than unsuccessful people. I think when you consider this in light of what it takes to become a true master then it becomes clear that failure is really just a lack of trying.

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Technique Is More Important Than Gear

March 9th, 2010 Jonny Kaine Posted in General 2 Comments »

It’s easy to get obsessed with gear. It’s easy to think that the real key to making great recordings is using a $5000 microphone plugged into a $4000 preamp. And sure, it probably does make it a bit easier. But I really think that the equation on what it takes to make a great recording is something like 90% technique and 10% gear (not accounting for the quality of the music itself which is of course far more important than either in the grand scheme of things.)

I believe that as long as you have gear that can “get the job done” you need to stop making excuses and stop dreaming about pro gear and start learning how to use what you got! I’m sure there are plenty of GearSlutz out there who would point and laugh at my setup because I use a $300 preamp and a $800 microphone (on the other hand, I’m sure there’s people reading this who would love to have an $800 microphone!)

But I really do not blame my gear at all when my mixes don’t sound the way I want them to. I know that the real problem in such a case is not the gear, but me. It was me not knowing how to set the compressor or position the mic. Knowing how to use the compressor is more important than the quality of the compressor and knowing how to position the mic is more important than the quality of the mic!

This is why I think it’s a huge mistake to spend all of your time shopping for your next upgrade in gear instead of learning how to work with what you’ve got.

One of the worst (and most common) examples of this is when people spend many hours testing out lots of different plugins instead of working with the ones they’ve got. I’ve been to sites where you can download hundreds of different free plugins to try out. This is an evil site that I plan on never visiting again. We’re taught that more choice is always better but at some point it becomes paralyzing.

My advice is: Stop looking for perfection in your gear and stop looking for the latest plugin and start working on improving your recording and mixing technique.

And that’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with upgrading your gear or looking for a piece of gear that you really need. All I’m saying is that you need to get yourself to the point where you are focusing on recording and mixing (and not on acquiring gear) as quickly as possible. It’s easy to drag out the “looking for gear” phase way too long.

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24bit FLAC (The Beatles USB)

November 6th, 2009 Jonny Kaine Posted in General 1 Comment »

As you may have heard, The Beatles music is finally coming out digitally but not in the way most people assumed it would (as downloads on iTunes & AmazonMP3) but instead on this Apple (Beatles Apple, not Mac Apple) themed Beatles USB stick. Along with the 320kbps (high quality) mp3s, this USB stick also includes The Beatles entire remastered stereo catalog in 24bit FLAC and that’s what interests me.

As you probably already know (since you’re reading this blog on home recording) 24bit is the standard for digital mixing and mastering these days. It’s not until the final stage that the music is exported to 16bit for CDs.

When The Beatles music was digitally remastered for the new box sets (and now this USB which is a digital version of The Beatles Stereo CD Box Set) it was done so in 192kHz 24bit quality but of course we ended up hearing it in 44kHz 16bit quality (on the CDs.) These CDs still sound fantastic to my ears, but certainly I’m curious to hear the music in it’s full quality.

The 24bit FLAC files included on this Beatles USB are not full quality, they are only 44.1kHz but they are still the highest quality versions of these remasters now available because they are 24bit rather than the 16bit that is on CDs.

There’s a chance that The Beatles will eventually go the Blu-Ray route like Neil Young’s Archives and include the full 192kHz 24bit files for our listening pleasure, but for now The Beatles USB represents the audiophile peak for The Beatles stereo catalog.

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The Beatles Remastered Box Sets (Stereo & Mono)

September 11th, 2009 Jonny Kaine Posted in General 1 Comment »

I really recommend anyone that is into recording their own music (or recording other people’s music) at home buy The Beatles Remastered Box Sets.

Why? Regardless if you are a fan (I happen to be a huge fan of The Beatles) you cannot deny their huge influence on music over the last 40+ years. I think because of this, it’s necessary for anyone who is serious about music to be familiar with their music and there’s definitely no better way to get familiar with their music than with these box sets (they’re all I’ve been listening to over the last couple of days and they sound amazing.)

Being ignorant of The Beatles work while trying to record music is sort of like being ignorant of Shakespeare and trying to write plays.

There’s so much that can be learned from The Beatles albums. Both as far as their music itself and as far as their recording techniques. While their music was recorded over 40 years ago, it still sounds better than just about anything recorded today (to my ears) – why is that? And how can you incorporate some of the things that makes their music eternally fresh into your own music?

I think both the mono & stereo box sets are essential because they both sound great, but they sound great in different ways. The mono box set is quite amazing to hear for me as it’s the first time I’ve heard their songs as they were originally intended to be heard (The Beatles were focused primarily on the mono mixes in the 1960s.) It’s impressive how great they were able to get these recordings to sound working in mono.

I think there is a lesson in that too.

A trick I’ve been using and will continue to use after being inspired by The Beatles in mono is to mix my music in mono first. I try to make my mixes sound as good as possible in mono before even worrying about how it sounds in stereo. I’ve found that if you do your panning while you are in mono, you can usually find the perfect fit. That may sound counter intuitive to you but I recommend trying it for yourself.

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Buy Windows 7 Professional

August 7th, 2009 Jonny Kaine Posted in General 1 Comment »

An important part of recording music (or doing anything else that takes considerable computing power such as graphic design or video editing) is having an OS that works smoothly without giving you any technical headaches. An OS that works with all of your various sound programs without any hiccups.

That’s why the 10/22/09 release of Windows 7 Professional is so exciting (particularly for those who currently have the pain in the ass that is known as Vista.) It works. It really does. I know this from personal experience because I’ve been a beta tester for it. But I’m not the only one – if you look around the web you’ll find that many people have had great success with it.

I became a beta tester for Win 7 Pro precisely because of all of the problems I was running into with Vista. I couldn’t figure out a way to deal with them (I won’t list all the problems I was having as that would take me all day.) So I decided to try out Win7 to see if it was really all it was cracked up to be (I had heard a lot of great things about it on recording forums.)

Sure enough, all of my problems went away. And just as importantly, no new problems were introduced. So yes, I can give my own 100% recommendation to buy Windows 7 Professional.

Buy Windows 7 Pro

Buy Windows 7 Pro Upgrade
(upgrade from XP & Vista)

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