Thursday, November 25, 2010

comments for every1

hi guys,

I just changed the comment-rights, now everyone can comment without any need to register.. (even anonymous)

I only hope this won't result in a spam wave..


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Coding, it's a funny world

hi guys,

I'm checking in to tell you there isn't much to say here.. xD

At the moment I'm using the joystick to see what the possibilities are.
For this I'm rewriting some code, which is hard because I never used C or C++ before..

Where do I stand? I already managed to change the buttons behavior.
They used to change the channel, but just yesterday I managed to let them play notes. (But they don't stop playing after that, but I'm working on that!)

As you might know the joystick's input is changed to the MIDI protocol, which I sniffed out to find what I was looking for.

Be sure to check the site every so often, because there is going to be tons of useful info here! Every day I notice new things that should be documented better.


I'll write a post soon with more info about installing Linux as a program on windows, and after that the world is yours to start experimenting with it!

keep tuned!


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Getting some joy out of a stick

Hi guys,

I've just picked a joystick up that I've bought from a site like ebay. This is the first one of two that will be used for the midi controller...

It's a trust joystick with 6 axes and 12 buttons. But for some reason my software picks up 7 axes and 13 buttons, so that gives me a mission to exploit that! with a little luck I find two extra unused connectors inside of the joystick!

trust joystick
trust usb joystick

I already had a joystick a trustmaster topgun fox2pro usb joystick, but that one cost me over €50 (+/-60$) so I won't be using that one. The reason I mention this is because both joysticks helped me determine if the software could handle two joysticks at the same time. and guess what, it does!
(btw, you really feel that the trustmaster is way more decent then the trust.. the trust uses suckers to keep in place whereas the trustmaster has weights inside to be more steady!)

trustmaster joystick
Trustmaster usb joystick

This is a very welcome event because that means there isn't much left that would make my project fail.

You might remember I said a goal of making that midi-controller (that everyone could make) for less than 20€. Well, the original idea was to use just 1 joystick for that. but having 13 buttons and 6 axes might not be enough for some of you, that's why I decided to add an other controller. I did this for a few other reasons as well:

-you now can control two programs without interference
-you can add multiple effects
-the second controller is a playstation2 controller, a big advantage because everyone can find one of those..
-it makes the controller a decent competition for other midi-controller out there that cost over 120..

Now because of those huge benefits I've chosen to use two of them, leaving me with not much money left.. This controller cost me €5 second hand. The other controller will be a new one and costs me €10. I'm starting to doubt the possibility to get all faders and knobs we'll use for €5..

Dough I am confident that when you use only one controller (playstation controller, 6 axes, 10 buttons) you can make the controller for €20 with faders, knobs, and case!

So I'm hoping to get everything under €20, you better start praying for me ;-)

P.S.: when I was testing the 2 controllers I noticed that my trustmaster didn't respond on one channel.. I made it open and saw a connection was broken, fairly easy to make. But I'll be making a video of it so anyone can make his joystick..


Friday, November 19, 2010

get your voice out!

See the Open-Source Sound/Record Studio Project overview

hi guys!
Today I want to talk about microphones. I've just spent over 2 hours reading stuff about microphones! And guess what, I still haven't got it all figured out. But have figured out what matters for recording! (I don't think most of you will lie awake because they don't know how the microphone works, electromagnetic forcefields aren't that interesting (for recorders))

At first I want to make three big categories: Dynamic mics, Ribbon mics, and condenser mics.

dynamic microphone

A dynamic microphone is one of the most common used microphones out there, they are quiet cheap and are able to handle a lot. In general we can say artists use these microphones when performing on stage. They can handle a damn high amount of dB's and are very shock resistive. But if you want to record audio in a studio there are better options, the strength and the ability to handle high dB's make the quality less good than the other mics.

ribbon microphone

Ribbon mics and condenser mics, those are the once you want to use when recording in a studio. If you compare them both there can be discussion about which one is best. But in my opinion condensor mics are just a slightly bit better than ribbons. They both sound very full and will be able to get a lot of warmth out (think about the radio presentators who have voices you'd kill for.. they use ribbons or condensors). I think a condenser just has a little more warmth in the lower spectrum. There is a nice warm, deep tone that's just a little better than the ribbons.

condenser microphone with stabilization

An other thing you'll have to keep in mind is the polar pattern of your microphone.
This will tell you how which amount of the signal is captured from different angles.

when you're in a studio and want to record voice it doesn't really matter, you just don't want a 'shotgun' pattern. If you are using a drum and want an overal sound you'll probably have a better sound with an omni-directional.
If you're singing with multiple people a subcardioid pattern is great.

Different microphone patterns

Everyone of you who has allready spoken in to a mic knows the ssssss and pop effect. it ruins everything. That's why you'll want to use a pop-filter, normally you can find those for around 10€ these days, but you can make one yourself. Just take an old nylon, cut a leg off, cut the toes, cut it open lengthwise, fold double and clamp over a embroidery clamper.
An other thing that might help is a stabilizer. this allows your microphone to stand still when minimal vibrations occur (yes it can make a difference with good microphones), such as a passing car on the street.
A stand is quiet essential, without it you won't be able to set the mic in a permanent position and this will affect your record!

As a last hint I want to advice you to look around on ebay for a secondhand microphone, and if you are to buy one consider buying a set. I've seen a set with a pretty decent Fame condenser microphone, a cable, pop-filter, stand and usb soundcard for 180€. This is a lot of money but a microphone is everything for your song!

One encore: monitoring your output true a set of headphones will not be the same as just hearing yourself sing. Studies have proven that the sound of the headphones and the sound we hear in our head differs half a note!


Cheapest usb midi mixer I could find.

Hi guys,
I was just looking at some midi mixers. I've noticed that the cheapest once are those who only have usb.

There were two wo took my intrest:
the Behringer BCR 2000 B-Control Rotary USB Midi Controller

but at €139 that's a lot of money if you're just starting.

behringer BCR2000

The other one was the Miditech MTB Command "Black" USB Midi Controller
at €148.

Miditech MTB command black usb midi controller

Again this isn't cheap. There's even more, the Miditech device has 17 analog controls and a jog-wheel, which you could call semi-analog. (more about this in the MIDI tutorial)
The Behringer has 32 analog controls but no linear faders, only knobs..
Anyway, both these devices (esp. the Behringer) are really really sharp priced!(but you might even find them cheaper on ebay) Still this is a huge amount of money, considering we'll be making a mixer with 11 analog controls for only 20€ (27$). And not just any mixer, a mixer in which you control how your knobs or fader should go!

Wondering what the benefits are of a custom mapping?
Well some of you might want to use it to record a performance of there musicgroup, they don't need to have control about the monitor and the record signal, a monitor would be useless, they are performing life!

But others among you might want to sing a duet, they need a monitor signal of there voice so they can hear te music and there voice at the same time!
for them a control surface with two channels might be prefert. They can use the other controls (2 left per channel) to control there gain and there fader.

Stay tuned,
this tutorial will be shockingly simple!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Open-Source Sound/Record Studio: How to set up your physical installation

See the Open-Source Sound/Record Studio Project overview

Time has come, get started building that studio!

a Home Recording Studio
a Home Recording Studio

I found a video the other day that makes everything I would write about subject even better. It's well explained, and very clear. So instead of making a tutorial about that part myself, I will be cheating (only this one time..) Unfortunately it doesn't include some tips about what you should invest in and what not. So, I'll be still covering that part myself ^^

Anyway: How to set up your physical Sound/Record Studio:
Howcast - how to set up a home recording studio

So, if you saw the video you'll be aware that you require these:

work surfaces
swivel chair

No I must say it's true.. BUT your work surfaces should reflect what you are going to do with your studio, if you don't have a keyboard stand but you'll be using a keyboard you'll need more space than someone who's going to record some vocals.

keyboards @ your studio
keyboards @ your studio

Next comes my biggest problem with the whole video, the swivel chair. Yes you'll need a good seat if you're planning on working a whole day in your studio. But paying 100's isn't going to make your recording better! If you're a singer you'll be much more with a good microphone than with a swivel chair... (but more about microphones later.

For the mixer I'd like to say following, having an audio mixer is nice! As you are recording some audio source with a microphone you'll have to take some things in consideration:

a semi-advanced recording mixer
a semi-advanced studio/recording mixer

For most of us it will be hard to sing without hearing the music, naturally you'll put the music on when you sing. But recording the music on 1 line with your voice isn't a good idea, it will ruin every chance of editing it later on (and if you can manage to get the sound of, it will be tough!)

In order to solve this you can play the audio true your headset. Though this will unable you to hear yourself singing properly. If you're only using a computer you can "monitor" your voice by sending it back at you true the headset. But I dare you to try this out! You'll notice you start singing slower and slower and aren't singing on the melody anymore. Why is that? Latency!

latency kills good recordings
Latency kills good recordings

Latency occurs inside your computer (but almost all monitoring devices will have a minimal amount of latency). The reason that a pc slows the audio output down is because the processor will be to busy recording your voice. You can solve this by buying very expensive audiocard, Creative has a lot of them. So your mixer can be handy to solve this, I've got a very simple mixer to do monitor my recordings.

hi-end audiocard
an expensive, hi-end audiocard

I'm not going to use this mixer in a few weeks because I'll show you how to make your own monitor! this will enable you to connect your computers audio-out to your headset and your microphone, your microphone will be sending his audio to the computers in and your headset will let you hear all sounds.

If you don't have a mixer nor any other monitor device you'll still need to use your computer. if you want to do this you can find low latency drivers to help you to reduce that.
Hint: note that when you are recording multiple channels at once (guitar, voice, drum all live and recorded on a seperate channel) your computer will be working very hard which increases your latency.

So things you should invest with are those that help to make your recording better. A good microphone is worth gold! you'll see this when checking for one, as there prices can be over 1000€ (+1000$). A good headset will let you enjoy your work a lot more, don't use earbuts! they not only harm your ear, but they also start itching and are horrible to wear for a long time!

A good headset
a decent headset, worth every penny

If you have a little band and want to record everything on a seperate channel you might be finding yourself in the position of not having enough record signals on your computer, you can buy USB-soundcards with multiple record channels for under 40€ (45$) if you look for them well. For people in belgium and the netherlands Conrad sells sweex boxes for 30€. Those boxes will not have hi-end quality but thats okay since the quality of your record will mainly be determent by your microphone.
Hint:if you have a playstation with singstar and connect the mics with the singstar usb connector you can use that as two extra inputs. (tho realize there quality is far from excellent)

Ardour, multi-channel recording
Ardour, multi-channel recording studio for free

Making your own music doesn't stop with just voice, you'll need to record instruments (or compose your music on a computer). Some of them use real microphones (guitars,drums,flutes,..) for those the same rules apply as for your voice: USE HEADPHONES! Other instruments like keyboards use an internal recording without a microphone here you just use speakers instead of your headphones.

Of course the rule applies (in general) that more money equals more quality. But spent your money wisely, neither your desk, your chair or your graphical card will let your records sound better!

Before you start over-think the space you'll be using and how you are going to use it. Make sure you've got environmental echoes covered.
Invest in a good Microphone, (a good soundcard)and a good headset.
Speakers are nice when you record microphone-less devices, and to listen final recordings, in my opinion they should be in your studio, but don't spent money on them if you can't buy a decent microphone! Also don't spent money on a mixer if you're not planning on using it for more than just monitoring.
If you are writing your own music and need to record the melody, think about buying a secondhand keyboard if you don't already have another instrument. If you don't know how to play an instrument and want to learn one quick, buy a keyboard, not a guitar! When you buy a keyboard ALWAYS make sure it has MIDI, you might not use it now but it won't take long until you'll miss that option! I'm fairly confident that every MIDI keyboard has an audio out port so no stress for that.

Because this thread is already so long I'll make another one (today or tomorrow) which tells you what kind of microphone you should use.
EDIT: the microphone thread is available here
Get your voice out!

BTW: if you have questions, post them as comments..


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A very long long journey

Hi there,

I must say I didn't thought that starting this project would take me so far.
As my list keeps growing and growing I'm forced to learn more and more things.

As I was thinking/working at a new skin for LMMS it crossed my mind that I couldn't fully adjust it. So here I am, starting to learn C++ from nothing with nothing but the LMMS source code...

As I'm not really planning to do a big change or add extra features this isn't really learning to develop C++ information, it's more like starting to learn the syntax and start editing existing code.

If you are making your own skin (or planning to) please let me know and consider uploading it to the LMMS Sharing Platform



Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Additions to the Open-Source Sound/Record Studio Project

Hi all,

Ass I'm working on the first stages of this project, I was thinking I should include you guys. So here's my idea, I want you guys to tell me what else I should cover in this project. Or even better, cover an interesting addition yourself and become my hero!

Btw, The simple mixer I said? it might just be a little more then just a mixer (but still for the same price..)

hope to here from you...


read more about the Open-Source Sound/Record Studio Project @

Open-Source Sound/Record Studio: Introduction

The first project of TechProjectMasters will cover a whole set of 'tutorials'/'tips-and-tricks' about how to make yourself an open-source sound/record station.

For those of you who don't understand why I will make an Open-Source studio: Well.. There are several reasons. First one is price, not everyone has the money to buy all those programs and if you're willing to distribute your music those have to be legal... It's like being a DJ with downloaded music, if they get you, you'll hang!

Second of all because it's just the most rational sollution. Generally we've got three possible systems/OS'es that we can use, Windows, OSX, and Linux.
While most of you will be running windows it isn't really suited for recording. It has really big latency (yes I know we're talking about ms but it really matters). The second option is OSX, which can only be installed on a way to expensive Apple  computer (and I believe everyone should have the change to do it). And as for linux, well, it has special low latency drivers, it's free, it's as advanced or simple as you want, and best of all: I'll show you HOW TO INSTALL LINUX AS A PROGRAM in Windows and still use it as a stand-alone OS. (And I love Open-Source software)

Now I'm saying sound/record station because I will handle  both live performance and recordings. I'm gonna try to handle the whole project from start to end. But please feel free to experiment... And if you find something intresting please post it hear. All tips are usefull and it might just be the solution for someone else here...

Now to give you a better idea about what I'm going to cover in the tuts I'll list it out for you:
- How to set up your physical installation.
- How to set up your verry own Linux Record Station
- How to work with it
- How to rerout internal audio
- How to record either 1 or multiple tracks at the same time
- How to make your own music with a computer
         like I said both live and for records, with a whole load of programs
         from drumcomputers over sequencers and synths to studio software
- How to convert existing music
- How to use a mixer (physical and virtual as they don't really differ)
- How to do a good recording
- How to connect a MIDI device
- How to use your joystick as a MIDI device
- How to setup your midi device

Now, if you think that is a lot, just remember I'm only starting..
The real fun starts after this as I'm going to tell you how to make/build your own:
- Audio mixer
- Microphone or input device monitor (without a computer to avoid latency)
- Super Cheap MIDI mixer (I'm hoping to get it tall made for less then €20 or 27$. 
- Advanced MIDI studio mixer with LOADS of inputs.

Now as you might see, I'm not going to cover all of this in 1 post. To be honest with you I don't even know everything from the above list, but I'm sure I'll figure it out by the time I need it.

I will not do these tuts in this line-up. the reason for this is that the whole project started because my girlfriend wanted to sing again, as her project will have different needs true time I will give those priority.

So, if you are interested in this don't forget to subscribe. Just use the RSS feed and stay in touch while the project progresses