A New Setup For 2017

UPDATE FOR JULY 2017:

StudioVJuly2017.png

My fifth home studio setup, thus Studio V.  After years of analog PortaStudio’s and a bit of time with desktop DAW’s, the iOS platform is now my chosen Music Production vehicle. An iPad with iOS DAW Auria Pro, it’s Fab Filter plugins and the scores of synth, guitar & drum apps available is just as powerful as a MacBook with ProTools was three or four years ago.

 

I try to avoid being political in an overt way, prefer to let my lyrics and songs do the communicating. But as a life long Democrat, unashamed to be called a liberal (or even socialist for that matter), I feel I have to say this as the country spins into a regressive minefield with a sociopathic fraud at the helm:

2017 is more volitile, divisive and uncertain than 1967 was. We need the healing power of music now more than ever.

In the face of adversity, creativity is vital. I don’t just love to play music, or want to write music…I have to play music, I need to write music. I hope musicians young and old begin to use music as a vehicle for change again. I hope the microphone becomes a microscope aimed at the ills of our society. We must use the greatest form of art there is to do more than just sell soda and pound away endlessly at a party.

All the best in 2017, be safe, be creative…

Original setup in new room Jan. 2017:

Studio V Session

A session I did before the old desk came back. For a solo musician doing the engineering too, this set up is very cool. Guitar, bass, vocal overdubs, synths, etc can all be added from the sweet spot. Luckily the room sounds pretty decent.

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JohnStevensonMusic.com & Studio V Are Up And Running…

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The JohnStevensonMusic.com site is up and running and will feature all the links and information to my new music streams, downloads and general updates. The site is merged with my  old blog so some older stuff will be up as well. I’ve updated the featured article Studio Stories with some information on my current gear and plans for new material. My newest home recording setup, Studio V, is working out great and is detailed in the Studio Stories section. Be cool…

JRSIV’s uLoops Studio

uLoops Logo

If you’ve ever read this blog or spent five minutes discussing music and/or technology with me then you know how much I love uLoops (www.uloops.net). And I love the Android phones that run the uLoops app, especially my beloved Fender MyTouch 3G. In a previous post I detailed how my Fender MT3G was totally ruined by the Android 2.2 “Froyo” update sent “over the air” by T-Mobile a few months back. Going from a fun, functional, awesome little phone to a slow, buggy, aggravating plastic paperweight really pissed me off and T-Mo’s customer care got a healthy dose of my vitriol; and I got a MyTouch 4G upgrade for my trouble…

While I love my new MT4G, I missed my Fender phone for uLoops. It’s size was perfect; not too big, not too small. Not to mention it looks great, come on it’s a FENDER logo’d phone that just screams music and “I’m badass”. Moreover, (love that word), after some experimentation I kinda preferred the mic and speaker in the Fender MT3G over the 4G’s (even though you don’t really use the speaker to listen to uLoops stuff it’s good for quick listens) . So after the last few months of poking around the many Android forums and asking techie friends for ideas,  I finally found a way to get my Fender MT3G back to Android 1.6 and I am happy to report it works great.

If your Fender or 32A 3.5mm jack myTouch 3G didn’t take kindly to the OTA Froyo update you can use the method described here in this thread at the Android Forums of Phandroid.com to go back to the Android 1.6 “Donut” version that came with the phone originally. The xda developers forums also has info on getting back to 1.6 but this method doesn’t require rooting the phone and was really easy to pull off.

So my ‘uloops studio’ phone is back in action, along with the badass Bose IE2 earphones I use as my ‘monitors’. These in-ear cans are absolutely brilliant. They reproduce all frequencies without ‘hyping’ any segment of the frequency spectrum.  I tried several different earbuds and headphones to use in conjunction with uloops but none felt right. My old Sony MDR7506’s were too bulky to use with the portable recording format that uloops provides and the several cheaper earbuds ($20 to $40 range) were well…cheap. I also don’t like the isolation style earplug ends most in-ear buds have. Just too uncomfortable for long term use and if not precisely inserted they can distort the stereo image as well as bass response (it’s true Junior!).

The closest I came to the Bose set was Dr.Dre’s ibeats, but they were extremely bass heavy to me. I paid $100 for the ibeats and was able to exchange them for the Bose IE2’s, also near $100, and was blown away. Perfect highs, lows and a great fit; they don’t “plug” into the ear like most isolation buds, rather they sit in the ear canal providing some isolation but outside noise can still come in. If you’re into uloops or just love music you should really try the Bose IE2 headphones (Bose should hire me, no?).

It will never cease to amaze me that a little plastic device the size of a box of Chiclet’s can produce music that rivals stuff done in a full blown studio. Me and my brothers in our uLoops music co-op The Collective have no monetary interest in uLoops, but I can speak for them that we will do anything we can to spread the word and make it as successful an endeavor as possible. The apps membership just broke over 50,000 members. If you’re not one and you have an interest in music production, have some musical talent and own an Android phone then you NEED to become involved with uLoops. End of story. Now, some pics of my ‘studio’…

uLoops Studio 1

My Fender myTouch 3G and Bose IE2 headphones undercover.

uLoops Studio 2

The sunburst finish on the Fender MT3G

uLoops Studio 3

BabyJ’s uLoops Studio in effect….

Oh...

Be cool…JRSIV 

Touring the Palms Studio

As part of my Recording Technology class, the Studio at the Palms in my hometown of Las Vegas gave a tour to my class today. Just a beautiful facility! The main studio features a Neve AMS mixer that was originally used in Abbey Road during the late 1980’s…

The Neve mixer at the Palms Studio.

The staff were great and the equipment was to die for. Many top acts have recorded there over the last few years and the studio is probably one of the most popular for hip-hop and R&B acts to record at. I certainly thought the idea of being able to have a session at the Palms one day was really cool…is was that kind of place. Thanks to Prof. Jacobson and the Palm Studio staff for setting up the tour and taking the time to talk about recording, etc. It was a masterclass, great information.

Mind blowing fun with uLoops

Apps for smartphones are so varied and wide ranging anyone can find something they like. Plus, the technology of today is so amazing, (especially coming from someone who remembers the Commodore 64 and Beta tapes), these apps offer a dizzying amount of features and incredible visuals.

For a musician like myself there are some great apps for iPhones and Androids (like my smartphone, the Fender MyTouch3G). Most are music players (mp3, WAV files, etc.) the remaining a mix of guitar tuners, monophonic “pianos” and ringtone makers. The real drool worthy apps though are the ones that allow the user to create new music. iPhone’s iTune App Store has had a few step sequencers and even a four track recorder application, but the late blooming Android AppMarket , with a few exceptions, has been pretty limited to drum machines.

Until the excellent uLoops app was released in January of this year, I didn’t see much hope for a legitimate music “studio in a phone” app. Happily, with a year full of updates and improvements under it’s belt, uLoops fits the bill and is easily my favorite Android app. Period.

The mixer section of the uLoops App for Android.

A step sequencer with the ability to record vocals and other instruments through the phone’s mic, this little powerhouse can turn out kickin’  jams with some talent and a few recording skills. I recorded my first song on it in 30 minutes or less (listen to “Livin’ It Up at http://uloops.net/bank/4461029). The uLoops website is also home to an online community that shares their tracks and loops while giving each other advice on the program. It’s so cool to have other musicians to bounce ideas off of and have help when stumped with the App’s many features.

I can’t think of anything better than to build up drum grooves or even song demos while waiting in line somewhere, in an office waiting room or stuck in traffic, etc.  Just to be able to chill on the couch and turn out a funky rhythm is cool! Download this App if you’re a musician and even if you’re not. You might be suprised how much time has flown by why you were mixing a new track…all on a cellphone.  Be cool…JRSIV