Laptop Studio — Music software reviews, news and info for computer music

Same Day Music

26 September 2005

How to set up stereo speakers

Filed under: Making music at 11:19 am Comments Off on How to set up stereo speakers

Listening to music is a very important part of making music, so it’s essential that your listening equipment is set up properly. Arve Bersvendsen has written an excellent tutorial on setting up your stereo system, including a downloadable Audio test CD. You can play back the test tones on your sound system to make sure that the placement of your loudspeakers within the room isn’t messing with your sound.

He also talks about positioning subwoofers and even those little bookshelf speakers, and weighs in on the controversial topic of speaker cables. Follow his advice to set up your room so your music sounds its best, without having to hire an interior designer or spend $1000 on a pair of cables.

Finally, he gives an excellent piece of folk wisdom that we should all remember, since our ears are such an important part of our music-making activity:

Do not let objects smaller than your elbow near your ear.

11 September 2005

Beautiful Erasure remix interface

Filed under: Making music andWeb sites at 8:52 pm Comments Off on Beautiful Erasure remix interface

Here’s a fantastic interface for remixing a track. The pop group Erasure has put a version of their recent single Don’t Say You Love Me on the web in a remixable form. The interface is quite lovely — it reminds me of the fabulous Electroplankton music game on the Nintendo DS. The track is represented as a tree, with groups of leaves representing musical qualities like Warmth, Emotion, Heartbeats, Tears and so on. Click a leaf in each group to determine how to play each quality — so you can have Emotion “a la folie” and Skin “beaucoup” and change it on the fly as the track plays. Click the bird to randomise the settings and use this as a starting point to make your own mix.

Once you’ve got the song just how you like it, you can even pay some money and download your personal mix of the song, with customised artwork to match. Whether you choose this or not, it’s a really nice interface — I like the emphasis on high-level qualities like “warmth” rather than boring technicalities like “reverb” or “panning”.

18 July 2005

Remix Nine Inch Nails

Filed under: Making music at 11:33 am Comments Off on Remix Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails have released their upcoming single Only in several remix-friendly formats. The previous single The Hand That Feeds came with a GarageBand project, but you can download Only in four formats: GarageBand, Ableton Live, Acid, and even Pro Tools. The Pro Tools session has extra tracks containing alternative takes.

It’s a shame they didn’t release The Hand That Feeds in more formats — that track really needed some work. Only is one of my favourite tracks from the album; in fact, I am listening to it as I write this. My copy of Acid is playing up these days, so I may have a go with the Ableton Live version.

12 July 2005

Become a Ringtone Composer

Filed under: Making music at 9:09 pm (1 comment)

If you have difficulty maintaining a musical idea for the length of an entire song, why not consider a career as a ringtone composer? The New York Times reports that artists are composing short pieces for mobile phone ringtones.

“We definitely see a market for original content,” said Andy Volanakis, president and chief officer of Zingy, a ringtone provider that has released an album by the producer Timbaland.

When combined with technology that allows them to sound like music instead of its tinny shadow, and programs that allow anyone to make, mix or otherwise devise his or her own ringtones, the seven songs on the Timbaland album — among the first meant to be played on a phone, not a radio or CD player — suggest that ring tones are not merely a new money-maker; they are a new art form.

And here’s that Timbaland “album” in full. It’s not that bad. Better than the Crazy Frog anyway.