Monday, October 30, 2017

iPhone X Planned Obsolescence

With the upcoming release of the iPhone X, and the recent release of the iPhone 8, the internet is once again buzzing with iPhone news, tech reviews of these new products, and talk of everyone saying how they want the new iPhone.

Let me clarify off the bat that I am not saying the iPhone X is a bad product. I honestly have no opinion of it because I haven’t used it. It is most likely a top notch product, which is usually the case for most Apple hardware. Now that I got that out of the way, and the reason why I’m bringing up the iPhone at all is to talk about Apple, who has to be one of the worst producers of planned obsolescence technology on the planet.

What is planned obsolescence? Well, during the 1920s and 30s manufactures started to realize that if they made products cheaper that didn’t last as long, they could make more money. Think this is a myth? It’s not, this has been researched, studied, and published that companies intentionally create products that either break or trick consumers into believing they need something new, more stylish, and more fashionable after a predetermined amount of time.

Apple likes to pretend they’re a green company with their new solar powered office. And while this is great, it hardly makes up for the billion iphones sold that have a lifespan of only 1 year, or more recently 6 months! Just take a look at the iPhone’s release history.

  • 2007 – iPhone
  • 2008 – iPhone 3G
  • 2009 – iPhone 3GS
  • 2010 – iPhone 4
  • 2011 – iPhone 4s
  • 2012 – iPhone 5
  • 2013 – iPhone 5c
  • 2013 – iPhone 5s
  • 2014 – iPhone 6
  • 2014 – iPhone 6 plus
  • 2015 – iPhone 6s
  • 2016 – iPhone SE
  • 2016 – iPhone 7
  • 2017 – iPhone 8
  • 2017 – iPhone X

That’s 15 iPhones in 10 years! Let’s take a look at this more closely, and just how completely insane this is. In the original iPhone there’s millions times more computing power there was in all of NASA at the time of the moon missions. and somehow people have been convinced that their iPhone that’s 8 months old useless or no longer desirable! There is something very very wrong with this.

Now let’s take a look at Apple’s computers. How many of you have tried to use a Macbook from 2008 and quickly realized how useless it seemed? A 2008 Macbook has more than adequate hardware to run on today’s internet, but due to the Mac OS release schedule and their absolute refusal to back support the hardware they make, if you’re hellbent on using Apple’s operating system, you’re shit out of luck.

Just take a look at the Mac OS history for the past 16 years:

  • Mac OS X 10.0 – code name “Cheetah”, released in 2001
  • Mac OS X 10.1 – code name “Puma”, released in 2001
  • Mac OS X 10.2 – also marketed as “Jaguar”, released in 2002
  • Mac OS X Panther – version 10.3, released in 2003
  • Mac OS X Tiger – version 10.4, released in 2005
  • Mac OS X Leopard – version 10.5, released in 2007
  • Mac OS X Snow Leopard – version 10.6, released in 2009
  • Mac OS X Lion – version 10.7, released in 2011
  • OS X Mountain Lion – version 10.8, released in 2012
  • OS X Mavericks – version 10.9, released in 2013
  • OS X Yosemite – version 10.10, released in 2014
  • OS X El Capitan – version 10.11, released in 2015
  • macOS Sierra – version 10.12, released in 2016
  • macOS High Sierra – version 10.13, released in 2017

With Linux, at least on computers, you have way more of a lifespan for Apple’s products. I’m making this blog post on a 2007 black Macbook running the latest Ubuntu LTS system 16.04. I use this system every day for everything I do. Blogging, YouTube, Music Production, Video Editing, and photography. if you look at the amount of content I create, you can see that it works very well for me.

My DIce OS will also run just fine on older hardware. And so will many other variants of Linux. You can even get very old PPC, and 68k Macs up and running with Linux, though maybe not as well as post-2006 intel based ones. Still 11 years sure beats the 1 year that Apple wants you to use their products.

When you really think about it, what major improvements have been made on these products to justify so many upgrades? Let’s take a look at the early 2000s when high speed internet was starting to become widely available in the US. Back then a computer with an 800mhz CPU and 1 GB RAM was screaming fast. What could we do online? Well, we could send email, voice and text chat, watch videos, listen to music, play games, and buy stuff online. What can we do now? Well, we can send email, voice and text chat, watch videos, listen to music, play games, and buy stuff online. Albeit at higher screen resolutions and FPS, but still there have been very few major breakthroughs. A more unique and innovative approach in my opinion would have been for technology companies maximize usefulness with the existing hardware, rather than bloat new software to maximize usage of system resources or functionality.

Unfortunately, Apple hardware is so locked down that even if we wanted to put our own software on an iPhone to extend it’s life, we can’t, so with iPhones, they quite literally are throw-away items. The wastefulness of this is unfathomable. I’m not trying to guilt you into not buying and iPhone X, but if you do, maybe keep the one you have until it really is no longer functional, not just unfashionable.

If you have an old Macbook, don’t thow it away. Try installing Linux on it, or give it or sell it to someone who can use it. The way our society is functioning at this moment in time is not sustainable. Apple, despite their wannabe Green, Earth-Loving PR attempts, they are one of the worst contributors to the wastefulness.

Things you can do to help combat planned obsolescence

  1. do not buy products with short lifespans
  2. research and find ways to extend the life of the products you already own
  3. support companies that back-support their own products
  4. only buy new when function truly dies, not when they become unfashionable
  5. purchase refurbished products rather than new ones
  6. fix products when they break instead of buying new ones even when economically impractical
  7. when a product truly dies, recycle it, don’t just throw it in the trash

Thursday, October 26, 2017

How To Choose a New Snare Drum

The snare drum along with the kick drum are the two most predominant sounds on a drum set. Having that perfect sound for your snare can literally define your drumming and give you your signature sound. But how do you select one?

Well first you should determine if you actually do need a new snare. In all actuality there are very few snares that sound bad, aside from ones that have some design flaws or damaged parts. If you have the right heads and know how to tune, you can make nearly any snare sound good for what it is.

Most people’s problem with snare drum tuning is they try to make the snare they have sound like a different snare. For example one may like a deep snare sound, but have a 14×5″ snare. 5″ is not very deep, and it’s not going to sound deep. Loosening the head to where it’s floppy on the drum is just going to sound bad. If you want a deep sound, get a deep shell. You have a little more options for a tight sound even with a deep shell, because it’s easier to tune up than it is down.

Also, be very careful where you get your tuning advice. There’s one absolutely terrible tutorial on YouTube that has millions of views where a guy is unevenly tuning the lugs on his snare to get rid of overtones. First off, you get bad overtones from improperly tuning. Secondly, if you are constantly banging on a drum with 2 or 3 lugs completely loose and the rest tight, you’re going to warp your rim, and then eventually start tearing through heads.

So rather than trying to make your snare sound like something it’s not, learn how to make it sound as good as it can that is appropriate to it’s size, or if you don’t like that sound…. then it’s time to get another snare. 

Let’s talk about materials

Quite simply snares can be broken down into 3 types of material.

  1. Wood
  2. Metal
  3. Synthetic

There are many different types of wood, and several types of metal, but only a couple of synthetic drums. Drum manufacturers and guys that spend hours reading drum forums and reddit would like you to believe there’s huge differences in sound between different types of wood. There’s not. It’s a lie. Sorry. I’ve been playing drums for 30 years, and I can honestly tell you the difference in sound between poplar and maple is next to nil. What really changes the sound is shell thickness, treatment of wood (whether it’s finished inside, or raw) bearing edges (this is the part of the drum that touches the head), snare tension, depth and diameter, and of course heads!

There’s a lot of variables in wood manufacturing, and sounds can very from drum to drum, but in general a wood drum will have a warmer, drier sound than a metal one. Metal on the other hand is far more consistent than wood. Most steel shelled snares have the same thickness and edges are bent, not cut. Most of them are bent in the same way too. Metal will generally give you a brighter tone but deep metal snares can have a nice meat to them that seems to lack in wooden snares.

Finally synthetic snares are ones like Vistalites, or Piglite snares, most often made from acrylic, and then some very rare carbon fiber snares. The acrylic drums tend to have a very sharp attack and if you’re looking for a loud drum that can really penetrate, acrylic drums can have a serious bite. However they tend to sound a little thin.

When it all comes down to it, even with all of what I just said. You can have two of the same exact model snare drum, with the same heads, and tuned the same, and they can still sound different. This is because the tiny variations in manufacturing, head seating, room sounds, and the way one plays all can have an effect on the way they sound.

The first thing I would do is experiment with heads. Try different coated or even some clear heads on your snare, and see what you like best.  Also, don’t be afraid to change tuning of your bottom head.

Some things to consider if you do want to purchase a snare:

  1. deeper shells = lower pitch
  2. thicker shells = less sustain
  3. smaller in diameter shells = higher pitch
  4. wood = drier, but warmer sound (most of the time)
  5. metal = brighter, but meatier sound (most of the time)
  6. acrylic = sharp attack, thinner sound

Some things to remember with heads:

  1. medium thickness = most sustain
  2. thickest heads = lower pitch, less sustain
  3. thinnest heads = higher pitch less sustain
  4. coated heads = drier tones
  5. clear heads = clearer tones

Finally here’s some snare recommendations:

Steel Pork Pie Lil’ Squealer

Pork Pie’s snare drums are absolutely killer. They’re durable, made with amazing consistence, and sound awesome. I used one of these when I played with a post hardcore band, and it really cut though the mix. Pork Pie also makes great wood and acrylic snares.

Tama Metalworks Limited Edition Steel Snare 14×6.5 in. Satin Bronze

Tama makes some of the highest quality drums on the market today. Their craftsmanship is nearly flawless and you get some very professional features such as diecast hoops and a pro throw off on their Metalworks series.

Yamaha Stage Custom Birch 14×5.5 Snare Drum, Honey Amber

If you’re looking for a wooden snare drum, Yamaha’s Stage Custom series is great deal for the money. Yamaha is one of the most widely trusted names in drums.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Selecting your first cymbals - Guide for new drummers

If your just learning how to play drums, selecting your first cymbals can be a bit overwhelming. There’s literally thousands of options out there, and a lot of manufacturers making all different kinds of cymbals these days. To increase the complications, there’s many brand loyalists out there on the internet and YouTube who think their particular brand are ‘the best’.

I’ve been playing drums for 30 years now, and I’ve owned all types of cymbals, from dirt cheap to ridiculously expensive. And I can honestly tell you there is no ‘best‘ cymbal out there. There is simply what you like, and what you don’t like. However, this takes time to figure out. When you first start playing drums you haven’t really developed your own style yet, and like wine-tasting, you need some experience before you can really know what is good for you.

There’s also certain types of cymbals that lend themselves to certain types of music. But again, this is still a subjective subject, and just because most people agree on something, doesn’t make it a fact. When you’ve been playing as long as I have, I tend to judge a cymbal based on a particular application and how I can use it in regards to my own personal tastes and creativity. I may use a cymbal considered very bad by some in a way that fits my form of expression and it’ll work exactly as I want it to.

But when you’re first starting, there’s some information you should know BEFORE spending a dime on a single cymbal. There are a lot of falsehoods and myths out there about cymbals and I’ve decided to put together this little guide to help all the new drummers out there make up their minds.

  1. Cymbal Alloy – Alloy refers to the type of metal a cymbal is made out of. Most cymbals are made out of Bronze, but not all. Also, there’s several different types of bronze. These are usually identified by the letter B and a number, like : B8 B10 B20 etc…. There are also cymbals made out of brass, and more rarely, nickle-silver (sometimes called ns-12), and even more rarely, steel.
    THE MYTH: B20 bronze is the best alloy, B8 Bronze is cheap, All other alloys suck. This is just not true. It is true that there are entry level cymbals made out of B8 bronze, but there are also high end cymbals made from B8 by manufacturers like Paiste and Meinl. To my ears many of these cymbals sound better than some of the high end cymbals made out of B20 bronze by other manufactures. There are Brass cymbals out there today that make great special fx cymbals, and there are some vintage ns-12 cymbals that sound beautiful.
  2. Brands – There used to be something called The Big Three, referring to Zildjian, Paiste and Sabian. But now this is turning into The Big Four, because of the recent surge in Meinl’s popularity. Aside from those popular brands there is also some reputable Chinese cymbal makers like Wuhan and Kasza, as well as Turkish manufacturers like Istanbul and Bosphorus.
    THE MYTH: (BLANK) is the best brand. There is no best brand. Every manufacturer will makes some cymbals you’ll think sound great, and every manufacturer makes cymbals you’ll think sound bad.
  3. Price – cymbal prices range from moderate to insanely expensive.
    THE MYTH: More expensive means sounds better. Again just not true. Once again I need to remind you that all opinion of sound quality is subjective. If you like it, it’s good.
  4. Cymbal Types – Crash, ride, hi hats, splash, china, stackers, bells, fx etc…. The most commonly used cymbals you will want for a basic setup are hi hats, a ride and a crash. Hi hats are the two cymbals that are on top of each other with the bottom one inverted and there is a pedal to operate them to open and close. They are one of the most commonly used cymbals on the kit. The most common sizes are 14″ and 15″. A crash is a cymbal that is used to create an explosive sound to designate ends of fills or to add power to a part of a song. They’re size usually ranges from 14″ to 20″. A Ride is a cymbal that is used to keep constant patterns and rhythms on, much like the hi hat, but creates a more open and sustaining sound. Splashes, Chinas, Bells, stackers and other fx cymbals, are more popular now than ever and are used mostly for special accents and fills in drumming to create more color and fun.
    THE MYTH: Rides must be used as rides, crashes as crashes, hi hats as hi hats etc…. Not true, but usually is the case. However in the past there were no such names. Cymbals just came in weights like, heavy, medium, and light. At one point I used two 16″ crashes as hi hats and loved how they sounded. Many rides make awesome crashes. For example Wuhan’s Medium 20″ ride makes a completely powerful crash, though it’s not bad as a ride either.

So how do you select? Well…. listen!  Watch YouTube videos, but don’t base opinions on ones recorded with built-in camera microphones, this is not a good way to judge. Also, visit the websites of the major manufactures like Paiste, Zildjian, and Meinl. All of them have extensive sound rooms to listen to and compare their cymbals.

My personal recommendations are:

If you’re on a very tight budget and want to get a lot of cymbals in one big pack, Meinl offers this amazing cymbal pack at a very good price (pictured above) that give you a lot of sound choices for very little money. I prefer these to entry level cymbals by Zildjian or Sabian. The HCS Super Pack comes with a ride, two crashes, a china, hi hats, and a splash, and is only $299 total.

If you have slightly more to spend I highly recommend Paiste’s PST5 Line.In my opinion these are the nicest sounding cymbals at an entry level pricepoint. Some of them sound so good they can be used on a professional level. I have a PST5 Crash that I bought when the line was first introduced, and I’ve used it on countless recording sessions and gigs. In this pack you get two crashes, a ride, and hi hats for $399. 

If you want to move up from there, I would consider Zildjian’s A series. The Zildjian A line is their most classic sound in my opinion. They will work with all styles of music and record beautifully. This A pack will also give you two crashes, a ride and hi hats, but it’s a little more at $699.

I personally very much like Paiste and Meinl cymbals, remember though, these are my personal subjective opinions. I highly encourage you to just spend a week or two online researching and listening to samples by all manufactures. Trust your ears, not other’s opinions!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

2 Free Drum Sample Packs - 68 Slingerland 2015 Tama Imperialstar

You may remember my soundfonts I’ve created for the 68 Slingerland and the Tama Imperialstar drum sets. But these were both previously released in .sf2 format so you needed a soundfont player to use them.

That is why I thought it would be a good idea to release them as just wav samples as well for those of you who want to load them into Ableton drum racks, or the drumkv1 sampler for Qtractor.

Download them here!

 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Free Tama Imperialstar Drum Kit Soundfont!

I decided to create a high quality soundfont of my Tama Imperialstar drum kit (pictured above). The kit features a 20″ kick, 14×5″ snare, 12″ rack tom and 14″ floor tom. Cymbals are two crashes, a bell cymbal, stacker, ride and hi hats.

This was part of my YouTube tutorial on creating soundfonts in Linux using Swami.

Download it for free here, or click the image above!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Free Linux LV2 Answer to NI Massive - Sorcer!

The plugins avalible for Linux just keep getting better and better. I recently found this amazing bass synth called Sorcer that is capable of creating those huge, sub bass, worbly, buzzy dubstep style basses similar to NI Massive.

Massive will sorta run on Linux with wine, but it’s super glitchy and doesn’t allow you do really select any presets or do much at all really. If you’re using windows or mac it’s no problem, but now there’s an answer for Linux with this awesome LV2 Plugin.


Alternative Drummer Profile: (AL)ICE

  Meet Alice from the UK! “My name is Alice and I play a millennium mps 850. I use Logic Pro to record my drums. I record myself playing usi...