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Holy Bot

Bedroom music production, gaming and random shit

Month

July 2015

https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/216289044/stream?client_id=3cQaPshpEeLqMsNFAUw1Q?plead=please-dont-download-this-or-our-lawyers-wont-let-us-host-audio

Thought I’d finish this track, but I didn’t and I won’t.

It’s a half-baked attempt with some analog hardware (Moog Music Minitaur versus Arturia MiniBrute versus Gakken SX-150 Mark II) and sampled drums.

It’s less than a minute.

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Early Farming for Blood Echoes

You can farm for Blood Echoes (and Blood Vials) quite early in Bloodborne. But first you need to defeat the Blood-Starved Beast in a ruined church at the bottom of Old Yharnam.

This will cause the Snatchers to appear around Cathedral Ward. So go there and get killed by a Snatcher.

You will now wake up in a prison. Leave the cage and ascend the stairs, and reach the lamp of Hypogean Gaol (which in fact is in Yahar’gul, Unseen Village).

Fight your way through the main hall and exit the building.

  1. Outside Hypogean Gaol. Wait next to the stairs for the Giant Pig to reach the top where the note “Behold! A Paleblood sky!” can be found. Kill the bloody pig.
  2. Advance forward on the main street (left of Hypogean Gaol).
  3. On your left side there’s another Giant Pig. Dodge the attack and then kill it.
  4. Continue up the streets and kill the Rabid Dogs. Pick one at a time.
  5. By the end of the street there’s a Snatcher and two more Rabid Dogs. Ignore them, and turn back to the Hypogean Gaol.

Follow the alley to the left of the building and open a door to the lamp.

Return to the Hunter’s Dream.

Now wake up at Hypogean Gaol again. Take the shortcut that you’ve just opened so that you don’t need to fight the relatively tough Snatchers in the main hall. Repeat step 1-5 above.

At this point of the game, every time you wake up at Hypogean Gaol – before you kill Rom, the Vacuous Spider – the Giant Pigs and the Rabid Dogs will respawn, and these creatures are pretty easy to kill and will get you over 10,000 Blood Echoes each iteration. The Giant Pigs are also likely to drop Blood Vials.

A Method to Make Synth Strings

Recently I got a Roland Alpha Juno-2. It’s an analog synth that has a couple of uncommon features: pulse width modulation on both the pulse/square and the sawtooth waveform, and a 7-stage contour generator, which adds a huge range of sonic possibilities.

Anyway, the AJ-2’s pretty good for lush polyphonic pads and strings. But instead of writing a review of this nearly 30 year old synth, I thought I’d give you guys a quick rundown of how to make strings, which you can translate to other subtractive synths. For this, I’m skipping the unique features of the AJs, although it’s best if the synth you’re using has pulse width modulation (PWM).

  1. Set a first oscillator to pulse, give it a pitch of 8’.
  2. Add slow movement by applying some PWM. You might need to use a LFO to do this; route LFO (triangle wave) as source and the oscillator’s pulse width as destination.
  3. Set a second oscillator to sawtooth and an octave higher than the first. Detune the pitch a few cent steps to render unison and fatten the sound.
  4. Mix the two oscillators so that the second is slightly lower.
  5. Add a subtle amount of vibrato (pitch modulation) using a LFO (triangle wave or sample and hold) to modulate the pitch of both oscillators.
  6. Bring in some white noise, though most of it should be muted by the LPF (see below), it can give the sound a little shimmer.
  7. Add a sub-oscillator set an octave down from the first oscillator.
  8. Set the low-pass filter to about halfway (aim for a mellow tone) and add a bit of resonance.
  9. Optionally, you can tweak the filter envelope for timbral variation.
  10. Adjust the amplification envelope to a slow attack and a medium release time. Bring up sustain so that the sound doesn’t lose volume over time.
  11. As far as effects go, try chorus, a little delay and/or a hell of a lot of reverb.

There you go – a thick, lush, synth string. Nothing like real orchestral strings, but yet a sound with its own characteristic, that’s just as valid as any other instrument.

Machined Drums Part 2

This is the second part of synthesizing drum sound. The first part covered the kick drum and the snare, now it’s time for the hihats and the hand clap. Let’s dig right into it.

Synthesize Hihats

There are several ways to create a metallic-sounding hihat and it can be rather complex. A simple way though, is to use a pure noise source with HPF, or a square wave with ring modulation. (It’s also possible to mix these two sound sources.)

Set the envelope of the VCA to a slow decay and a quick release time. Play staccato which should render the closed hithat, while a held note produces the open sound. You could of course save two patches with different decay and release to finetune both of the variants.

Add presents to the hihats by boosting at 3 kHz on the EQ.

It’s very hard to mimic recognisable, convincing, metallic percussion. This quest have defeated many before me, thus I’m just letting it be. Still, if you insist of accepting a sound you could use as a cymbal – though it sounds totally unrealistic – then grab a hihat patch, accentuate the high-pass filtered white noise, add a longer decay and release time and put some flanger effect to it.

Synthesize Hand Clap

To achieve something that can be called a hand clap, try to run white noise through a band-pass filter and use two individual EGs to shape the VCA. Modulate the first envelope with a LFO; set to sawtooth and the frequency to about half way, to and render a clap effect. Then set a second envelope to a long decay to add reverb. You should tweak these parameters as you se fit.

Boost the mids on the EQ to make an aggressive snap.

Try to put on a gated reverb effect to the sound, or just a tiny delay.

Machined Drums Part 1

This is the first of two articles about creating drum sounds with a synthesizer. While many of the popular vintage Roland TR-x0x sounds are generated by analog circuitry, it is possible to achieve a variety of drum sounds using a common monosynth.

My aim is to give you some basic ideas and guidelines of the concept – presented as simple as possible. These are, after all, quick and dirty tips and tricks of a rather complex subject.

First off, you can use an analog or a digital synth, even a softsynth, it really doesn’t matter, although it needs to meet the given specifications, like noise source, voltage-controlled amplifier (VCA), preferably a faster envelope generator (EG) and so on. The output will of course differ from different synths.

Ideally, the synth should have a couple of oscillators (VCO, DCO et cetera) with different waveforms, a ring modulator, a white noise generator, high-pass (HPF) and low-pass filters (LPF) able to self-oscillate, ADSR EGs, separate for filter and amplifier, and in a few cases, e.g. hand claps, a low-frequency oscillator (LFO) with selectable waveforms.

Synthesizing the Kick Drum

Use a LPF that can be sent into self-oscillation. Set cutoff to zero, turn up the resonance almost to max. Use a filter envelope to modulate the cutoff in a quick downward sweep, that is, turn up decay, just a little bit. Also give the sound a little release time. VCF envelope amount should just over half.

Combine this zap or thud sound with a VCO sine wave or a sub oscillator played on a low note. On the amplification envelope, set a short decay and some release. Go ahead and contour these EG parameters; a longer decay and release time can introduce a tonal quality to the sound (but keep attack and sustain at bay). To get it right, you might need to reduce the VCF EG amount and raise the cutoff frequency just to let the lowest harmonics pass.

You could boost a little in the 50-150 Hz range on an EQ to add some bottom depth.

Synthesizing the Snare

Use a white noise source and two oscillators, i.e. triangle wave, at different pitches. Run the noise through an HPF to add more snap.

For a more complex sound, you could use individual VCAs, filters and contour generators for the noise and the oscillators, and then mix the levels of the three sound sources. If you use a separate HPF for the oscillators, try sending it into self-oscillation, to get extra tone and resonance.

Contour the VCA (or multiple VCAs) with a just little decay and release (as always, the attack should be instantaneous and a snare drum shouldn’t sustain).

Use an EQ and cut the low-end. Boost the mids around 500 Hz to add body to the sound, and boost some at 2.5 kHz for extra snap and attack.

That’s it for now. Here’s a sound example of drums made on the microKORG using this concept, https://soundcloud.com/johaneckerstrom/suffix.

The next part will cover synthesized hihats, toms and hand claps, and perhaps even cowbells, claves and metallic percussion. We’ll see.

New Speakers

image

I promised a piece about synthesizing drum sounds, well, I’m still working on it (I’m testing the theory on different synths), it should be finished later this week. In the meanwhile, here’s a studio update.

I’ve just replaced my powered monitor speakers, the Yamaha HS 50M and the subwoofer HS 10W, with the Genelec 8030A.

I got a used pair of the discontinued model for a good price. And I’d say that speaker technology probably haven’t changed that much and the 8030s were built to last. For example, the only difference between model A and B is the Intelligent Signal Sensing (ISS) which is an auto-sleep/wake function.

Moreover, I’m very familiar with how the 8030Bs sound from my job. However in my bedroom environment, the 8030s act a little differently. Could be I’m just used to the old setup, with all its bass traps and other flaws.

The 8030s are more accurate than the HS 50Ms, but paired with the HS 10W subwoofer, the low-end response of the 8030s is much less.

Now it seems to be possible to use the old subwoofer with the 8030s for more precise monitoring of low frequency content. I could achieve smooth integration by switching on the bass roll-off, and high-pass filtering at 85 Hz on the 8030s, that should complement the low-pass filter on the subwoofer at 85 Hz. But then again, this room isn’t suitable for a subwoofer, so I better learn how to mix shit without it.

Swords, Swords, Swords

For me gaming last half-year has been filled with single player sword fighting. (I miss playing with friends and I miss shooting in first person.)

Swords

It started off with Dragon Age: Inquisition by the end of last year. I was playing as a rogue with double daggers.

DAI was pretty huge but full of meaningless quests of the sort: kill 5 enemies and collect award, gather 10 herbs and collect award… The stories and characters were okay but not fantastic in any way.

More Swords

Then came Bloodborne – and it was fantastic. The swords were presented as trick weapons that could be transform for different attacks.

Everything about this game was just great: the story and plot, the art direction, the level design, the game mechanics, the voice acting, the thrills.

I’m on my third playthrough now.

Swords Revisited

My third installment of sword swinging games was The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. There were two swords – one of steel and one of silver – to chose from for fighting human and beasts, but that whole thing was merely a gimmick.

I haven’t yet finished The Witcher 3 (I’m on level 22 or so) but so far I’m not that impressed. Yeah it’s huge, and there are endless of loot, and some side quests are deep and intriguing, but most of them go on and on and only grows tiresome. There are just too many things I’m critical of this game, albeit subjective opinions, e.g. juvenile language, writing and stylistics.

Anyway, I hope that the next game for me doesn’t involve swords, just gimme a gun man.

About Drum EQ

Firstly everybody would tell you to have a minimalistic approach towards EQ-ing and to cut rather than to boost. They would say that subtractive EQ avoids adding unnecessary gain to the signal and such. But by doing so, you might need to increase the volume of the instrument you’re working on, because cutting are essentially lowering the gain.

That was the first tip, and now there are a few frequency ranges that you should pay attention to.

Kick Drum

Usually you’d like the kick drum to have both a thick bass thump from the low-end and a driving click from the mids. So to add some extra weight (that is low-end punch or bottom depth), boost at 50-150 Hz. Don’t overdo it as it can clutter up the low-end. And don’t boost the extremely low frequencies as this will mostly cause a muddy sound. If possible, use bell mode on the EQ to better isolate the frequencies.

To reduce boom, or tighten and clean up the low-end in general, set a high-pass filter around 50-60 Hz. (20 Hz and below only adds unnecessary energy to the total sound.)

If the kick drum needs more body, boost some in the 90-120 Hz range.

Apply cut somewhere in the 150-600 Hz range to treat muddiness, while boxiness is most prominent near 400 Hz. Also apply a notch filter at 250 Hz, that can add thump or slap attack to the kick drum.

Push between 2-4 kHz to add attack, and also boost a bit between 4-7 kHz to make the kick drum snappy.

Remove extreme high (for a kick drum you shouldn’t need anything over 10 kHz) and low frequencies (at least kill everything below 20 Hz) with a high- and a low-pass filter.

Snare

You can, more or less, use the the same tips as for the kick drum above with a few changes and additions.

Cut at 80 Hz to remove rumble.

If the snare sounds thin, boost at 125-150Hz for a little weight and a full snare sound. And to give the snare some punch, boost around 250 Hz.

The body of the snare should be around 500 Hz, adding there will give a rounder sound.

Boost around 2 kHz for some crispy edge and add at 2.5 kHz for extra snap and attack. Also add clarity and even more punch by boosting around the 3 kHz area.

You might want to give the snare som air and presence by raising somewhere between 6-15 kHz, like at 10 kHz.

Hand claps and rim shots can mostly be treated as snares.

Toms

For the floor tom that needs low-end fulness, add some at 80-100 Hz, and for the smaller rack tom lift somewhere closer to 250 Hz.

Increase thump and add attack around 250 Hz.

Cut the mids around 400 Hz to reduce boxiness.

Add attack by boosting between 4-7 kHz (depending on the size of the tom).

Hihats and Cymbals

When you’re done mixing the volume level of the hihats, you usually don’t really have to boost or cut. Still, the clank or gong sound is around 200 Hz, but if you want definition, then roll off everything below 500-600 Hz using a high-pass filter. By doing so, you clear out low-end information that is nonessential for the hihat.

If the hihat is sounding thin, boost around 400-800 Hz.

Cut at 1 kHz to remove jangling, and treat clangy sounds by cutting between 1-4 kHz.

A small boost with a wide Q at the 3 kHz range will add presents to the hihat.

Add brightness and get sizzle by lifting at 10 kHz. And if the sound is too harsh, then make a high-shelf cut around 16 kHz.

That’s it. Next time I’ll guide you through the creation of synthesized drums.

Note: processing sampled sounds can turn hihats pretty harsh, therefore use a de-esser to affect the problem frequencies without messing with the overall volume or clarity.

https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/212763639/stream?client_id=3cQaPshpEeLqMsNFAUw1Q?plead=please-dont-download-this-or-our-lawyers-wont-let-us-host-audio

Last evening I made 16 drum sounds on the microKORG. This synth is okay and offers quite a few possibilities with up to four separate envelope generators, four noise generators layered multi timbrally, and a multi mode filter (with resonance able to self-oscillate and to be used as a sound source). Also, complex made easy with the modulation routings on the microKORG.

Some external compression and effects where added to these four drum patterns.

It is what it is. Truth be told, I don’t really remember why I bought the microKORG. They say it’s Korg’s best selling synth ever, maybe I wanted to know why.

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