Friday, June 29, 2012

DIY high quality portable digital audio recorder!

This is something I recently did that I thought I'd share. How to get a high quality audio recorder, perfect for live gigs, practice and documenting performances for under $40! Last year I got a sweet little MP3 player called a Sansa Clip Plus. As a player, it's probably one of the better ones for very little money on the market. I noticed right away when I got it that it also had a voice recorder. I tried using it to record my performances using the built-in recorder, but like most other voice recorders, it was distorted and sounded horrible. Plus it only recorded at low sample rate.

I pretty much forgot about this feature until recently I relocated to Brooklyn, and portability is a necessity in New York City so I started thinking about ways I could use it again. I remembered that a few years ago when I still had my older Ipod, I had installed Rockbox on it, which is a third party firmware that allowed me to use the headphone input as a mic input. I used to use it pretty regularly to record my practices until I got rid of the ipod, but I wondered if Rockbox could do the same for my Clip Plus. I went to the Rockbox website, and sure enough the Clip Plus was a supported player to run Rockbox. I installed the firmware, which was slightly trickier than it was for the Ipod, because you need to have a copy of the original Sansa firmware, which was a bit of a task to locate.

Once I got Rockbox installed, I went into the recording options, and noticed that there was no option to use the headphone input as a line in like on the ipod. I was a little bummed at first, but went ahead and tried the built in mic, much to my surprise, it actually sounded pretty damn good! One of the biggest reasons is there is actually an adjustable recording level now, which it didn't have using the standard Sansa firmware. Also you can change the frequency from 16khz all the way to 48khz! You can select the format as well, either mp3, wav or aiff. I used wav at 44.1khz, which is CD quality. I adjusted the recording level, and a full volume band rehearsal recorded perfectly clear with no distortion!. The only quality issue is it sounds like there's some type of limiting on the signal, so it gives you a somewhat compressed sounding mix, but it's very good for what it is.

You can get the clip plus with the link above at a great price from amazon, download the rockbox installer and firmware linked above and have a tiny pocket sized audio recorder for under $40!
Below is a short clip of a recording made with my Clip Plus using the built-in microphone!

Another great thing about these is they have a mini-sd slot, so you can swap cards for recording and store up to 16gb!

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Children of Mu - Shows and Updated Site!

Hey Friends,

I thought I'd let you know about what I've been up to musically.

The Children of Mu has been very busy and we have a newly redesigned website. We also have a bunch of shows coming up.

July 6th at 6PM in Harlem, at the Shrine World Music Center
July 12th at 9PM in Brooklyn at Bar 4
August 20th at 8PM in Williamsburg at Trashbar

We have an exciting new line up and these shows should be very fun. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Max Roach & Dizzy Gillespie Duo!

This is some amazing footage of Max and Dizzy from 1989. This is also one of the best solos I've seen from max on youtube. Max had real phrasing to his drumming, it wasn't just beats and flash, they were like melodies and songs. No doubt the senergy between him and Dizzy brought out the best in both musicians. His toms play the bass melody to Dizzy's soloing. Great stuff!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Children of Mu - Comets (new track)

Recorded live to cassette tape on an Optimus CTR-115 and Radio Shack 33-306 microphone on 6/12/12

Justin Wierbonski - Drums, Percussion
Steve Husted - Bass
John Lavibora - Guitar
Matt Giella - Trumpet
Chris Diasparra - Saxophone
Scott Collins - Guitar

Monday, June 11, 2012

Photos from Figment NYC

Here's some of the photos from Figment on Governor's Island 6/10/2012! I was playing drums with Con/Science Experiment. It was a great time and good sound. There was a lot of great music happening all around. Kids playing everywhere, bike riding, amazing artwork and a great view of Manhattan and The Statue of Liberty. I had a great time! The back line consisted of this awesome Yamaha Maple Absolute, which sounded incredible. I brought my Ludwig snare and cymbals. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Playing at Figment NYC 6.10.12

I'm going to be playing some drums at Figment NYC with Con/Science, and experimental improv group. It's on governor's island and going to be packed with all types of art! We start at 2PM, take the ferry over and spend the whole day, it's going to be awesome!

What do drums look like being hit in slow motion?

Pretty much exactly like this!

This amazing video shows you what drums look like being hit in slow motion. it's pretty amazing that they can take that kind of beating if you think about it. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Video - GGFL by Derrick Heart - Drums by me :)

Here's a new track from my old friend Derrick Hart. I played and recorded the drums on this song. He sent me a rough mix with a click track, and I used headphones and tracked the drums to his rough mix. I used my Pro Tools setup and miked up the kit using a somewhat interesting mic setup. 

I miked all the drums pretty close, but backed the snare mike up a bit, about 3 inches from the drum and aimed it right at the center of the shell, like the wood, not the head. This is a technique I picked up from the infamous Rat Bastard and it actually does a good job of picking up the top and bottom of the drum. 

The toms were pretty standard miking, but the kick I actually mounted the mic inside the drum, and had a front and batter heads with no holes. Both heads were Clear Attack "No Overtone" single ply heads, which has become my favorite bass drum head. They just sound awesome, and are cheap too! 

The overheads were something new this time, I had one pointed straight down towards my ride and right crash, and the other I had at a 5 o'clock angle from almost the back of the hi hats pointed more forward towards my left crash. This gave a great stereo separation and I think the drums came out sounding rather nice on this.  

Derrick's song is awesome of course, very spacey and almost swervedriver-ish vocals on this track. I like how it's more of a hypnotic piece than a verse chorus arrangement. 

Reverend Al's Big Ride! Alex Van Halen Signature Ride!

I obsessed over this cymbal for several months, and think it's probably one of the nicest sounding ride cymbals I've ever heard. My only problem is with the way I set up my drums, I just don't have the space for a 24" ride, I went to a 22" again for a bit,but had to get rid of it too because those extra two inches threw off my whole game, haha.

Anyway, this cymbal is Alex Van Halen's signature Paiste 2002 ride. It's a mammoth 24 inches and doesn't come in any other size. What makes it so cool, is it is actually a bit dark and VERY washy. This could definitely be used in jazz as well as hard rock, which makes it unique. It really doesn't seem to sound much like any of the other 2002 rides, with possibly the exception of the now discontinued "Cool Ride" which I have no idea why they stopped making, since it sounded great. But still, Big Al's ride definitely has it's own sound. Sure to be a collector's item one day too!

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All Mothman Synths Now Free!

Since I don't think I am going to have time anytime soon to release any updates for the Z3000 and the Mothman 2000, I have decided to set them free. It has been about 3 years since I released them and I sincerely thank all of you that have purchased the synths in the past! Now you can download the entire set in a single free pack. Just unzip it to your vst directory and you'll have all the mothman synths!

Also, I happened to find these nifty demos of a couple of my synths online! Very cool somebody took the time to do that, thanks!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Entirely Experimental Ensemble - Live at PAX Miami

Drummer, Steve Bristol sent me this video of one of his latest projects, The Entirely Experimental Ensemble. Steve was the drummer for Antipope, after I left and is one of the most dedicated free jazz/avantgard drummers in Miami. 

Miami does have pockets of Free Music if you know where to look, and quite good ones. 

Ludwig Remakes the Club Date set!

I've been seeing these things for a while now, so I thought I'd do a post on them. Ludwig seems to have remade the classic "Club Date" set, which as you can see below looks pretty darn awesome! The club date was a popular setup in the 50s and 60s for ludwig, and you can see many legendary jazz players from back in the day playing these kits.

These kits feature the same single lug design that made the old club dates stand apart from the other Ludwigs. They are pretty true to form of the originals, with the exception of a modernized free floating tom mount, which is probably a good idea.

They're reasonably priced at around $800 and come in awesome looking sparkle finishes and come in 3 different shell configurations, an 18/12/14, 20/12/14 (my personal favorite) and a more standard 22/13/16. Combined with Ludwig's new line of flat based stands, these drums look classy as hell. The shells are made of 6 ply Cherry/Gumwood, and have oldschool roundover bearing edges.

For some odd reason Ludwig does not feature these kits on their website, but it seems like they're a little slow in catching up with their site sometimes. Anyway, I'd love to have one of these myself, click on any of the pics to see the prices and options they're going for.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Video - A Whale's Song

This is a video for "A Whale's Song" which was originally composed for a short film I helped produce, but later reworked the track and released it on my album Yemaja.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Children of Mu - Slabs From Patambo

Slabs From Patambo -- First/Main section recorded on 5/1/11 at the Anthill 2 with Justin Wierbonski on Drums, Adam Deimling on Bass, Kevin Wilder on Keyboard, Gonzalo Ovelar on Percussion and Christopher Kirk on Laptop/Synth. Zanzithophone overdubs by Justin Wierbonski. End section recorded on 4/24/11 at the Anthill 2 with Justin Wierbonski on Drums, Gonzalo Ovelar on Percussion and Christopher Nadeau on Guitar.