Posts categorized "DAW" Feed

My Studio Setup: 1 Laptop/3 Configurations + Akai APC40 Eye Candy


Revised 7-3-2009, changes are in red.

For over two years I've been completely laptop based and loving it. Here are some notes on the three configurations I run with my latpop.

First, I'm running an HP DV6500T running Vista, Ableton Live 8 Suite, and various vsts (Alchemy,Sylenth1,NI Massive/Absynth 4,Gladiator 2,Dimension Pro, Morphine...)

I run in one of the following states:

1 - Laptop Only - Laptop alone with Ableton Live +  VSTs. I use the qwerty keyboard and touch pad and do composition and sound-design on the go (or from the couch).

2 - Laptop + Korg Nano - Sometimes I want more control or want to user velocity sensitive keys when I'm on the go. I then add a Korg nanoKey or nanoKontrol to config #1.

3 - Laptop Docked - Last year, my awesome wife and kids re-vamped my studio space as a birthday gift. Besides painting and swanky new furniture, they created stand to hold all my gear by cleverly using the old Ultimate Support Apex column I used to gig with and attached two permanent shelves (painted black and attached with brackets). Shelves are  15 3/4"x 47 3/4" and I believe were from home depot. The footprint for this rig is 26" wide from the wall to the outside edge of the bottom shelf, and 47 3/4" wide. Underneath all this is a dock with tons of USB ports that all the gear plugs in to. The laptop is sitting on a mesh filing box turned upside-down that I picked up from Target (see last picture in post). This setup is pictured below. All I have to do is plug the laptop into the doc and the following comes online:

  • HP Notebook Quickdock
  • External Monitor - Samsung SyncMaster 930b
  • Novation Nio USB sound card
  • M-Audio Studiophile SP-5B reference monitors
  • Bamboo Touch Pad
  • Wireless Logitech diNovo Edge keyboard with built-in touch pad
  • Akai APC40
  • Novation Remote SL 25
  • M-Audio Trigger Finger (Still lovin it after all these years. After touch on drum pads and seamless integration with Ableton drum racks are great).
  • Rode NT-1A on an a broadcaster's boom which is fed into Behringer UB802 Eurorack which is routed to the Nio. I mostly use this for voice overs, recording voice related samples, and vocoding. I also record video tutorials through this mic.
  • Sometimes a Korg TR via USB is added to the mix when I want that "triton" sound or want to play a controller with more keys on it.

For me this strategy is simple, elegant, has a small footprint yet is extremely powerful and flexible. With Ableton Live and VSTs accessible in every configuration I can jump in and out of projects in any configuration. I find the combination of the APC40, Remote SL and Trigger Finger to be perfect for just about everything I do.

The APC40 has made this a dream setup really and has almost completely eliminated mousing for me. I'll close with a few photos of the APC40  in my studio setup.

Just a fun shot in a dark room.


The  APC40, Remote SL 25, and a Trigger Finger fit perfectly on the bottom tier.


Using the APC40 as a Lite Brite - "M" plus pretty colors :^).


Picture of laptop docked.

Mark Mosher

Modulate This! - Best Products of 2008 for Electronic Musicians


Hope you all are having a restful holiday season. I continuously strive for the leanest rig that will give me the best results. In this post I’ll offer a list products that make up the core of my rig. Consider this my “If I was stranded on a desert island” list for 2008.  Note that some products in my list were not new in 2008, but I’m still using them tons so they’ve made the list. If you want to see all the elements of my rig, check out this photo album on MySpace.

Best DAW – Ableton Live 7, $499
01_live_midnightFor me, Live has been become more than a DAW. It’s at the core of everything I do and after years of use feels more like a musical instrument to me than some piece of software. See all my posts on Live here. Official Live site is here.

Best Hybrid Synthesizer - Camel Audio Alchemy , $249
imageCamel Audio just released a new synth called Alchemy. They've been working on it for 4 years. It's an additive, spectral, granular, virtual analog synth. The interface is really well done with a clever scheme for routing modulation. I think it’s one of the finest virtual instruments I’ve ever used. I’ll be writing more posts about this synth in the future. For now you can learn more about it here.

Runner up for me in this category is Native Instruments Absynth 4. It’s not new this year but is also a great synth. I also want to mention Spectosonics Omnisphere. I don’t own it and I haven’t tried it (no demo available), but from what I’ve read and seen in demo videos it’s a monster synth. I went with Alchemy because it has a much smaller footprint and has more features for those like me who want to manipulate our own samples.

Best Virtual Analog Synthesizer - Rob Papen’s Predator, $179
predator_advancedPredator is a virtual analog synthesizer for Windows or Mac that runs as a plug-in (VST, Audio Unit, RTAS).  It ships with a huge library of presets, and built-in tools for patch browsing and search.  It also has some innovative features such as preset morphing, intelligent preset variation, and chord memory. Even though Predator didn’t release this year, Rob Papen keeps the synth fresh with free updates. More posts here …

Best Controller Keyboard - Novation Remote SL, Starting at $299

02_novation_remotesl25 I still love the way this controller and Automap 2 software helps make using software more like using a physical instrument. Check out official site here. I still get a lot of traffic on my posts on the M-Audio Axiom series controllers so it’s clearly a popular choice if you can’t afford the Remote SL.

Best Controllers for Those on the Go -Korg Nano Series, $49-59


This year Korg released USB powered slim-line controllers nanoKey, nanoKontrol, and nanoPad. I have Key and Kontrol and can say they are fantastic if you want more control while making music from your laptop. More here

Best Bang for the Buck USB Audio Interface - Novation Nio, $249
image Microphone/instrument or line-level sources, low latency effects (Direct Mix Monitoring, 'Overloud' Guitar amp and distortion pedal effects, effects from the Supernova II and signal processing from Focusrite), two headphone outputs, four RCA outputs. All this for $249! See official site.

Best iPhone Music App – iDrum, Ocarina
image Hmmm. This is a tough one as there is so much innovation going on in this space. My two favorites are iDrum and Ocarina.

iDrum has a great interface for making beats on the go and synchronizes with iDurm for the PC and Mac. Read more about it here.

Ocarina turns your iPhone into a true musical instrument. It uses every feature of the iPhone and has some fantastic social connection features. Checkout the official site here.

Best Field Recorder – Zoom H2, $179
image I just got one of these back in November. It’s really fantastic. It weighs 4 ounces and has 4 mic capsules onboard for 360° recording in a W-X/Y configuration. You can also use it as a USB mic. I blogged about it here.

Buy Online
Most of these items can be purchased online. Support Modulate This! buy using these links: Musicians Friend, Guitar Center, Zzounds.

Share Your List
I’m sure many of you out there have a your own list so feel free to share your list using the comments link at the bottom of this post.

See You in 2009!
Have a safe new years eve and I’ll see you in 2009.

Mark Mosher

Step 1 - Create Hit Song, Step 2 - Backup Your Data!

Wd_terabyte Last week I accidentally clobbered three banks of purchased presets for my Vanguard virtual synthesizer. Luckily, I had backups and was able to get the presets back. Are you doing backups? If not you REALLY, REALLY need to start.

To help you get started I'll pass along a list of tools and methods I've come to count on:

Image Backups (OS, Programs, Data) / Off-site Storage
I use ACRONIS TRUE IMAGE HOME V11 (WIN 2000,XP,VISTA) software to make a disk mage backup of my entire hard disc to a Western Digital My Book Essential Edition 1 TB External Hard Drive. I store this in a bank vault. Every month or so, I get the drive from the vault and I update the backup set with a differential backup (backups up just what has changed since the original snapshot). I also place redundant data backups (see next section) on this drive as well then put it back in the vault. Why a vault - uh, break in, fire, flood, comet strike, alien invasion... I mean really you don't want lose your data right?

WdData Backups (Data only, No OS, No Program Settings) / Local Storage / Backup on the Road
I store all my data, including my "Ableton" directory which contains all the songs I'm working under one folder - "My Documents". I backup up this folder every week or so, more often when I'm working on something I really don't want to lose. I use a great app called Goodsync and backup on to a Western Digital WDML3200TN 320GB My Passport Elite 2.0 USB Hard Drive - Titanium.This drive is small, light, and is bus powered so you can also take it anywhere. Once you create a backup with Goodsync, subsequent backups only copy files that have changed. This lets me have a handy backup in case I clobber a data file or want to revert back to an older version without having to go to the vault. Backing up only data - and data that has changed from the last backup means that it only takes a few minutes at most.

Data Sync
If you use more than one computer, your going to want to sync folders. Goodsync handles this nicely and works with flash drives (I highly recommend the Sandisc Cruzer ), or with the small drive I mentioned above. I have also done data sync between systems via the internet with tools like GoToMyPC.

There you have it. No go backup your data.

Revised Feb 13, 2009:
Step 3: Make sure you have data stored in at least two places and one of those places is off site - like a bank vault.

Mark Mosher

Video Overview of The Sonar V-STUDIO 700

Cakewalk has announced Sonar V-Studio 700. Here is a blurb from the press release.

"SONAR V-Studio 700 matches SONAR 8 Producer with the VS-700C V-Studio Console multifunction control surface and VS-700R V-Studio I/O audio interface, which includes an onboard Roland Fantom VS Hardware synthesizer. The VS-700C V-Studio Console provides fast and comprehensive hands-on access to all of the power of SONAR 8 Producer, including for the first time extensive editing operations. It also provides dedicated digital control of the VS-700R V-Studio I/O and with the press of a button the VS-700C can switch functionality to control any V-Link compatible video and image hardware including the Edirol DV-7 line of direct linear video editing systems."

Below is a video I found which offers an Overview Video of SONAR V-Studio 700 for Modern Music Production.

Lean more by visiting this Cakewalks dedicate micros site for the product -

Mark Mosher

Pro Tools 8 Announcement


Pro Tools 8 has been announced. According to the digidesign web site Pro Tools 8 features include:

Pt8_collage_54167"a gorgeous new interface, dozens of new plug-ins and virtual instruments, exciting new scoring and MIDI features, expanded editing and mixing capabilities, enhanced performance, and more."


"Pro Tools LE 8 and Pro Tools M-Powered 8 have been expanded to support up to 48 simultaneous audio tracks."

Click the image above to see a larger view of interface changes.

For more details on what is new in this release, check out the Pro Tools 8 release.

Mark Mosher

Crucial Memory Tools Takes the Pain Out of Find the Right Memory

Crucial Memory Selector

Music production software is memory hungry to be sure. Also, most low end Vista systems are sold with less than the obligatory 2 Gig of memory.

I've had good luck with They have good prices on memory for desktops and laptops running PC and MAC. They also have memory for devices (mp3, cameras). More importantly, they have done their homework when it comes to information regarding memory specs for systems and offer detailed documentation on memory slots, installation and more.  They also have some great tools for taking the pain out of finding the right memory for you systems.

I've dug up some links that will save you time and money:

E-MU Windows Vista Compatibility Matrix and Timeline


According to E-Mu - "All E-MU Digital Audio Systems and USB 2.0 Interface products are considered to be UNSUPPORTED and not compatible with Vista until the official Vista drivers are released." So, when will your software/driver be supported? To find out, check out this Windows Vista Computability Matrix and Timeline. In addition to a schedule for software releases, the page also contains tutorials on how to tweak drivers and applications under Vista. For those who want to receive emails about driver/software announcements, the page has a link to an E-MU newsletter.