Hands On with the Focusrite Saffire PRO 26

saffire-pro-26As a user of Avid’s (formerly Digidesign) 003 Rack FireWire audio interface, I know my days are numbered. While Avid still provides driver updates for the unit, they haven’t sold it since 2011 and they’ve announced that support will end on March 31, 2016. The 003 has worked well for me over the years. I don’t need a ton of I/Os as I use external preamps, I like having two headphone jacks as I’m usually recording with just one other person, and I use an Eleven Rack so I need S/PDIF inputs to embed guitar settings into Pro Tools. In my search for a replacement interface these are the basic things that I need. When Focusrite recently announced their new Saffire PRO 26, I wanted to see if it would make the short-list.

According to Focusrite the Saffire PRO 26 is an 18-in, 8-out 24-bit/96kHz FireWire/Thunderbolt compatible interface designed with professional users in mind. Its four award-winning Focusrite preamps along with the very latest in A-D/D-A conversion technology combine with the powerful Saffire Mix Control software to deliver professional sound quality, flexible routing options and rock-solid reliability.

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Posted on 08/5/14 at 7:51 am Related Gear 0 Comments

Making Noise – Kiev

On the eve of their full West Coast tour, the Orange County band Kiev released a live video of Solving and Running, a track from their latest release Falling Bough Wisdom Teeth. For some reason this video seemed to capture a summer vibe for me so I thought I’d share it.

Formed in Orange, California, Kiev was a slow burn, extracting inspiration from improv, working in cohesive insularity in their creative space, a 1940s avocado warehouse. Kiev, formed by singer/guitarist Robert Brinkerhoff, was fully realized in 2009 by carefully adding members, one by one over the years, organically metamorphosing into a lineup with an uncanny ability to weave decades of musical traditions into a cohesive fabric. Kiev is about layers: Between the five members, an intricate, tight-knit web of post punk, psychedelic funk, indie, jazz, jam, and minimalist styles are conjured through meticulous musicianship and mastery of electronics. Adding to the musical imagery on the album are guest players contributing French horns, bass clarinets, bassoon, trombone, oboe and ARP synthesizers.

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Posted on 07/31/14 at 5:52 pm Related Video 0 Comments

Hands On with Session Horns Pro

NI_Session_Horns_Pro_VisualI first discovered e-Instruments when they gave away copies of their Session Horns Native Instruments library earlier this year. Shortly after that I did a review of their new Session Keys Grand S/Y which has now become my go-to virtual piano instument. More recently Native Instruments, in partnership with e-Instruments has released Session Horns Pro, a major upgrade to the above mentioned Session Horns, offering 10 times the power, flexibility, and detail of the original. We’ve received a copy for review a few weeks ago and have been enjoying it ever since.

According to Native Instruments, Session Horns Pro provides users with an extended and comprehensive sample library of horn sounds, customizable horn sections of up to six instruments, and intelligent play modes for increased playability. Its highly detailed 30GB sample library is ten times larger than the one in the original Session Horns and comes with additional velocity layers and true vibrato samples. The instrument range is expanded to include three saxophones, two trombones, three trumpets, a tuba, and a flugelhorn. There are 38 pre-arranged section presets and the Animator feature has also been boosted.

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Posted on 07/25/14 at 12:05 pm Related Gear 0 Comments

The Challenges Facing Neil Young’s Pono Music

ponoNeil Young’s music has been with me for as long as I remember. As a teen I would sneak out of the house to see the midnight showing of his Rust Never Sleeps movie. After moving to California in the 80′s, I’d catch some of his unannounced local shows and regularly attend his annual Bridge School benefit concerts. More recently my band Needle covered Helpless on our debut album. Neil’s latest project is Pono Music, a high-resolution music store and music player. In addition to being the founder and face of the company, he was just named CEO earlier this week. But in this age of ear buds and streaming services, is there room for something like this? And how do you move beyond the rabid Neil Young fans to create viable repeat customers who will make this a sustainable product and service?

I started looking at my own transition from analog to digital to see if Pono would be something that would work for me. The iPod was released in 2001 and I purchased one shortly after that. At the time most of my vinyl records and cassette tapes were being replaced by CDs. The convenience of having all of my music in the palm of my hand was too good to pass up. Years later, as vinyl made its resurgence and more artists released music that way, I picked up a new turntable and pulled out my old records. It was a joy to go back and hear music that way again. Not only did the older stuff sound great but newer material started to grab my attention in ways I hadn’t heard before. If you can combine the high quality sound with easy-to-use technology, I’m all for it and would embrace the format. Below are some ideas to make sure this can happen.

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Posted on 07/17/14 at 4:14 pm Related Articles 0 Comments

Making Noise – The Antlers

On Friday I got to see The Antlers at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. They’re out on tour in support of their latest album Familiars, which was released on June 16th in the UK (via Transgressive) and June 17th in the U.S. (via Anti-). Hana Tajima directed the above video for ‘Palace’ and it’s the first track from the new album. The Antlers have a few more shows in the US this month before heading to Europe in the fall.

For more information, please visit www.antlersmusic.com

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Posted on 07/13/14 at 12:33 pm Related Video 0 Comments