In the studio

What’s going on in the cave?

Fuller’s Hill Video

Fuller’s Hill is an original instrumental played on ukulele by Mike de Velta. The title is dedicated to Blind Boy Fuller who inspired me to use an alternating picking technique and apply it to the uke in an unconventional way.
I recorded it with an Sm57 through a Great River Preamp and a Daking FETII Compressor. Sound was processed with Pro tools.

Mbira Magic

Busy recording Sally Quealy’s new album and it’s coming together beautifully. If you like African music played on Mbira (Finger piano made from flattened nails) this is just magical and a must hear. I am so proud to be a part of this project. I’m thinking I need to record more ethnic music, it feels like time travel, music translated over thousands of years to arrive at my little studio in Beeliar, I’m wrapped! Thank you God.

To him who has Ears and the home recording revolution.

I recorded my first 2 releases in a “professional” studio with extortionate fees to match and was only ever really 70% satisfied with the results. Back then the idea of recording on your own gear was just out of reach of the average home consumer just through the sheer expense of it all. For the price of a professional analog to digital converter you could buy yourself a decent car! But how times have changed amidst our current technological revolution, home studios have now become a phenomenal success with many big studios now closing their doors.

It’s been about 3 years now since I bit the bullet, researched like hell and buried my head in every article, book or magazine I could find to go about my vision of creating a home studio. The outcome?
Complete autonomy and creative freedom! Every song snippet, idea, guitar rift, or some weird flurry of ad lib vocals at 2am in the morning is all captured here through these microphones. They are in a sense my “dream catchers”.
I now possess hundreds of burgeoning songs in various degrees of completion all residing on my hard drives just waiting for me to recall them in exactly the same fashion that I’d left them say eighteen months prior. Oh what joy! What a revelation! This is the degree of immediacy and recall that every artist deserves. Autonomy and freedom!

For me personally the idea of booking a studio now in the hope of pulling that EP off in say 3 or 4 days is absurd. My belief is a professional recording studio will only benefit you if you can really afford the the time. For example ,I am happy to spend several hours just mixing the drum kit, or meticulously editing vocal lines to the n’th degree, at $800 a day you are unlikely to pursue that path unless you are a very wealthy or supported by a large record label.

Sure, while I admit I was fraught with fear on this initial expedition into the unknown land of music production it is now paying dividends. Write, record, mix-master, upload, distribute, done! Next! The work flow is established.

My last album “Frontline” took me about 12 months to write and record and boy was that difficult, my first self produced project. Yes I admit at times it was stressful not achieving the results I wanted with L plates on my back but persistence paid off I do believe I am achieving some great results.
Do I have lots to learn? Yeh sure! But man, what a trip! This is the real deal.

Yes home recording is definitely a viable and worthwhile option.

To him who has ears let them hear.

Mike de Velta

Pro tools 8 First Impressions

How I love Pro tools 8, let me count the ways. Well the boys at Digidesign have certainly put in the hours to create something most streamlined and beautiful. You know how pro tools 7.4 had that hard and sterile looking GUI? Well Pro tools 8 is very easy on the eye, it looks slick. But looks aren’t everything but it doesn’t take long to realize this is one mean peace of music creation software.

After only a couple of weeks I can only tell you what strikes me first, after all writing a comprehensive review on Pro tool 8 would have me at this keyboard to the wee hours of the morning, it really is that extensive.

Ok, what I like.


Midi to score feature is going to be great for passing on my compositions for horn and string arrangements, I can’t write notes and humming it to a would be session musician just doesn’t cut it. Love it!

Um..Mini Grand, sounds great to my ears, maybe not to a concert pianist but within a pop style mix, purfect!

Pro tools 8 with the Mini Grand

Pro tools 8 with the Mini Grand

The DB-33 organ, growls like the real thing, I’ve heard NI’s B4 and there is a difference in tone but I’m not particularly concerned whether an organ sounds exactly like a real Hammond, I just want a good sounding organ and this one sounds lovely.

Pro tools 8 with the DB-33

Pro tools 8 with the DB-33

Automation is much smoother, you know how in previous versions nailing your automation with a mouse was real tricky.

Smoother automation edits

Smoother automation edits

The new AIR plugin in list is extensive.

New Frequency Shifter plugin

New Frequency Shifter plugin

• Effects Plug-ins:
• Chorus
• Decimator
• Distortion
• Dynamic Delay
• Enhancer
• Ensemble
• Filter-Gate-Sequencer
• Flanger
• Frequency Shifter
• FuzzWah
• KillEQ
• MultiChorus
• MultiTap Delay
• Nonlinear Reverb
• Phaser
• Reverb
• Spring Reverb
• StereoWidth
• Talkbox
• Vintage Filter

Now that’s a sweet list ain’t it? I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of what these can do for my creativity but I’m real happy about having all these new options, Previously trying to find these effects from third party developers was time consuming and expensive.

Ok, check out the above graphic, this is real nice, see how you can highlight GRID mode and SHUFFLE mode at the same time, a new feature in Pro tools 8. This is really helpful, one less move  when pushing around those regions. Also the Universe is great new feature. Just above bars and beats you can see a series of blue lines which overview the layout of my tracks without having to waste time zooming out. Clicking around this box will navigate me to that particular area in a flash.

As I said, there are so many features but is it really worth that expensive upgrade?

Well I think it’s a bit pricey but then again consider replacing just what I’ve listed here with third party products and you’d be up for thousands.

In a nutshell Pro tools 8 is empowering and it’s more of a one stop shop than ever.

Improved midi performance, state of the art design, a super plugin database, awesome virtual instruments. yep sold me.

A definite thumbs up!

BTW Upgrading from 7.4 to PT8 was a breeze, I thought I would at least lose a few of plugins with incompatibility issues but surprisingly they have all survived.

If I find more interesting stuff I’ll post it here soon.

Happy playing,

Mike de Velta