Friday, 25 August 2017

Quiet times

Not much going on for me now thanks to work mostly. Might be quiet until February but March time will see some new toys to play with and a new location for me.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Reverse reverb with Reaper using the Surefyre Yamaha SPX90 impulses - virtual My Bloody Valentine

Doctor, I am a Loveless tragic. The earlier MBV stuff doesn't do that much for me and the new album is good but not astoundingly good. It's all about Loveless and that swooping in and out guitar sound.

I've had countless rack units to compare reverse gate sounds. The GEP50 is a little duller in tone than the SPX90. The FX500 is a little brighter and clearer. The Midiverb II reverse is really good in its own right but I don't think it's on Loveless that much. The SPX90 is where it's at. 

So what if you're someone like me who owns no amps, a few pedals, and relies on his computer for his noisemaking? 

Answer: Impulse Response files. 

I won't explain convolution reverb and IR files here as places like Sound on Sound do it far better than I could ever do. I've been working more with IR reverb since upgrading to Reverberate 2 from Liquidsonics. One morning at Gearslutz, I chanced upon a chap selling some IR files he'd done of the Yamaha SPX90. 

Surefyre's website:

The first thing to do was to consider the effects chain I'd need. A normal chain would be something like this:

Guitar with the trem arm being abused for pitchbend effects --> guitars pedals for overdrive and distortion --> SPX90 set to Reverse Gate --> amp --> recording device

I haven't got a Jaguar or Jazzmaster with a trem arm so I'd need some kind of pitch modulation going on. The effects board right now has a Thundertomate LM308N Rat clone and a Skreddy Lunar Module clone on there. The SPX90 would be satisfied by the Surefyre impulses and an amp... not necessary as I'll record it through Reaper. 

SPX90 settings and replicating this in Reverberate 2

The SPX90 settings Shields is meant to have used are like this:

Reverse Gate. Output and balance to 100%. Liveness at 3-5. Room size 20. LPF and Pre delay unknown.

I've written elsewhere on my blog how it wasn't 100% wet all the time and other videos on Youtube using the SMMH for example show that it's somewhere around 50 to 70% wet so you get this wonderful mushing between the dry signal and the wet signal. Personally I go for 70% on the rack units so went for this in R2. 

Liveness - anywhere between 3 to 8 works for me. The Surefyre impulses offer Liveness of 0, 2, 5, 8 and 10. I tend to use 5 and 8. For this demo, I shall use 8. 

Room Size 20 - yep, all sorted. 

LPF - I always had this at Thru on the SPX90 so no need to cut any highs on R2. 

Predelay - I set this to 0.075 seconds. 

Organising the effects chain

My lack of tremolo arm means the chain will go from guitar to effects pedals to computer. The first effect in there is Melda's MEqualizer just to roll off a little of the top end as the SPX90 converters do this in real life. Just a little bit off. 

Next up is my pitchbend element. For this, Melda's MVibrato is brilliant. It's set to 100% wet (as obviously you can't have 50% pitchbend when you're using a trem for real: it's all or nothing!) and then set the step sequencer to 100%. Random values and random shapes set there in the step sequencer and then the rate is set to 0.0458Hz. 

Add Reverberate 2. Load up the IR file you want, in this case Early Reflections 2, Reverse, Liveness 8, Room Size 2. Set predelay to 0.075s. Make sure both IR1 and IR2 are the same. 

I then added some compression via Klanghelm's MJUC and set Reaper to mono. Why mono? Because Divine Emperor Shields said he recorded Loveless in mono. 

Making noise

I first start out with the Thundertomate Rat. Definitely a bit too much gain on this (more later) and possibly a bit bright. I switch to the Skreddy clone which is set at 75% gain and with the body control right up. Much better, I think.

Conclusions and thoughts

-Get into pedal stacking. The more I play around with this stuff, the less convinced I am that overdrive pedals need to be run flat out. A half gain Rat into a 75% gain Lunar Module works much better than a Rat flat out. 

-Compression is definitely needed. Not too much to squash everything into a flat mush but enough to keep things level. 

-Loads of people say that you should try reverb before distortion. I've done it with so many units and it's always sounded shit. 

-I don't claim my sounds here are astounding. I'm using the wrong guitar and there's no amp which would compress things a great deal more. If I buy S-Gear in the future, I'll re-record it to see how it makes a difference. 

Plugins used:

Reaper as my DAW (free if you're not wanting to pay, $60 if you value it that much and I most certainly do)

Melda's MEqualizer and MVibrato - free from Melda. Well worth paying a bit more to get rid of the ad screens. 

Reverberate 2 by Liquidsonics - £100 and well worth it*

MJUC by Klanghelm - 24 Euros. 

Yamaha SPX90 IR library by Surefyre - £10. 

*anything that can play IR files will do. Reaper's reverb plug will do it.

Monday, 20 March 2017

The Retrosonic chorus - a CE-1 that isn't noisy or with lousy bypass.

People who know me, which totals 8, know I love the older JC-120s. The third series with the direction connections to the power amps rule. Absolutely top three amp material there. 

The chorus is great. I had a 1st series JC and the chorus just wasn't as good. The third series may not be the real original but it works better for me. 

So this... well, it's good. It's a good chorus. It's limited in what you can vary with it as there are so few knobs. The vibrato is a bit too fast for me even with the rate at minimum. 

I like it but quite honestly would rather have a Boss CE-2B. 

Spoken like a true heretic. I'll be on fire by evening. 

Listen here!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

The Gurus Echosex 2 echo pedal - doing that whole Binson Echorec thing

If you want pristine clean echo, this is not for you. 

Short version: does a lot more than I thought it would. Nice front end, surprisingly good on the MBV smeary sound. 

Beautifully built.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

The Yamaha FX500 - distortion hates me. Modulation loves me. And it does reverse reverb!

I bought one of these about ten years ago and really liked it (yes, it was sold. Just like most of my gear). The bypass isn't great but it has so much going for it. The operation is simple and there are plenty of good sounds within this unit. 

None of the distortion sounds are good. About half of the presets you will skip over within seconds. The compressor has the ability to be a bit crunchy in a very digital way that sometimes works but mostly doesn't. 

But the modulation.. oh, the symphonic modulation. It's fabulous. If I want reverb from a rack unit of this era, I'm jumping on an Alesis Midiverb II, Quadraverb, or one of the cheaper Lexicons like the Reflex. The biggest strength of the Yamaha units like the FX500 and SPX90 (if you're not into the reverse reverb) is the modulation options. 

To start with, I'll go through some of the presets I like. As ever, it's straight DI recording with a small amount of compression to balance out the audio at the end supplied by the Kotelnikov compressor plugin.

Monday, 20 February 2017

The Yamaha FX500 - Soft Focus setting - look, plugins can get you sort of there too.

A rather self-explanatory video really...

Plugins used:

Audiomulch as the host
Klanghelm's DC8C compressor's Microverb plugin
SDelay (native Audiomulch plugin)
Valhalla Space Modulator (free to owners of Valhalla plugins)

All the relevant settings for the FX500 Soft Focus sound can be found in the manual (easily found online).

Imagine something like thisL

compressor at the front --> reverb set for 3.4s of reverb, 100% wet -->  delay plugin with 250ms left, 380ms right. Set for 72% feedback, 70% wet mix --> Symphonic chorus type sound adjusted to taste.