Enabling Technologies Part II

As promised in my previous entry, the reason I haven’t been posting much here recently is that I have been playing quite a bit of music. I’ve also been learning how to use new toys (hence the "Enabling Technologies" title) that will enable me to record easier and with a much broader sonic palette than I ever could before.

You see, as a guitar player, one of my most frustrating quests was to find the ultimate guitar sound or tone, especially on the electric side. Most guitar players spend a lot of money on equipment and countless hours tweaking it to find that elusive tone. During the last couple of years that I played in my band, I was using a combination of two separate amplifiers and I must say that I had found a sound or sounds I really liked. My sonic palette was still limited to about 3 or 4 distinct "tones" but, in a band context that is quite alright. Well known guitar players like U2’s "The Edge" for example have a signature tone  that they use most of the time and it becomes part of the band’s sound. I can hear 3 notes from a new U2 song and I know instantly who’s playing them….

On the ohter hand, now that I am playing on my own and will be looking at ways to "sell" my forthcoming musical creations I need to cover a much wider array of sonic styles that my ultimate equipment setup just could not have provided… Come in guitar amplifier "modelers" like the Line 6 PODxt. This little red, bean shaped marvel emulates the sounds of not 3 or 4 but up to 72 classic and modern guitar amplifiers. Buying all this equipment would be far beyond the capabilities of all but the richest musicians. Furthermore, I can plug my trusty Fender Stratocaster into it and play through headphones as loud as I want without disturbing anyone and with a sound I would need to crank a real amplifier very loud to get. It is made for direct recording without the need of using expensive microphones on real amplifiers and mastering the studio recording technques required to get a good sounding guitar on tape/disk.

I have been learning to use the POxt for a few months now and I am getting great results out of it. It needs getting used to and spending a good amount of time "tweaking" all the parameters to get the tones you need but it sounds very convincing and is great to record guitar tracks directly into the computer…

Speaking of recording, computer based home or professional studio needs software to record and edit songs and sounds. The recording software industry is a very competitive one where products of all price ranges compete for market share. These applications often called DAWs (for Digital Audio Workstation) range from the very simple to the very sophisticated and everything in between. I have recently upgraded my copy of one of those applications to the latest version: Sony Acid Pro 6.0. I’ve ben spending a lot of time in the last couple weeks familiarizing myself with this new version as I had not used the previous one extensively. I am very impressed with the sophistication and ease of use of this piece of software. Acid’s graphical interface is of a rare elegance and Adobe could learn a few lessons by looking at some of the more popular offerings in the audio recording market for cues. In Acid, everything is easy to get at, reacts as you would expect and just works great out of the box. Sony has really listened to its customers and delivered what they wanted. Now I just need to get all those ideas and bits I’ve recorded on tape in the last few months and build real music with them…

With these two relatively inexpensive new tools, I’ll be able to do just that and have more fun than ever in the process. I’ll post up clips when I have stuff ready. Enabling technologies that’s for sure!

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