My New CD is Out!

Aug 09 2010

I’m very excited to announce that my new CD is out, Erik Hawk & The 12-Bit Justice League. If you like electronic dance music fused with orchestral elements, I think you’ll enjoy this CD. Plus, the physical CD contains remix stems (WAV, REX, and MIDI files) for your remixing and DJ-ing pleasure. The physical CD can be purchased through CD Baby, and digital only downloads are widely available, from iTunes to Amazon.

Here’s the official press blurb:

The new album by Erik Hawk, Erik Hawk & The 12-Bit Justice League, plays like the soundtrack to an action movie. Every song could underscore a scene, from the opening action of “Introductions”, to the heroics of “On a Mission”, and the closing images of “Into the Sunset”. So, it comes as no surprise to learn that Hawk’s alter ego is composer/producer/remixer, Erik Hawkins. His music has been featured in countless film and television shows (from The Informers, to Ugly Betty, and CSI:Miami).

Joining Hawk on his musical adventures are several critically acclaimed musicians, including Gilli Moon (vocals), Christine Wu (violin), Lygeia Ferra (vocals), Craig Seganti (trumpet), and the album was mastered by pioneering hip-hop producer/engineer Michael Denten. Hawk wrote/co-wrote, arranged, and produced all of the tracks. He plays guitar, keyboards, and sings throughout the album.

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And, here’s my official YouTube announcement:

Most of my compression tutorials focus on recognizing what compression can sound like in your mix. Because, if you can’t imagine what properly applied compression will sound like before you reach for the compressor’s controls, you’re working in the dark and your results will be, at best, hit and miss. That said, you do of course need to understand the common controls found on most compressors: Threshold, Ratio, Attack, and Release.

Nick from PrimeLoops does a great job of explaining these four basic controls and their relationships to one another. I discovered Nick’s tutorials as a video response to my How to Use EQ Like a Pro video tutorial. His video tutorials are promotion for Primeloops, a company that sells royalty free loops and samples. They’ve got some good sounds on their Web site. And, some of Nick’s other tutorials look quite good as well. Definitely worth checking out.

Just one thing to mention about Nick’s Compression tutorial, it looks like he’s using an old version of Reason because his demonstration is done using the Comp-01 device. The information is still relevant, because the controls are universal on most compressors, but, if you use Reason, use the MClass Compressor device rather than the Comp-01. The MClass Compressor is a much better compressor in terms of sound and controls.

If you haven’t already heard, Propellerhead has released a brand new recording application called, Record. Though Propellerhead doesn’t advertise it as a DAW software program, this is indeed what it is. There’s been a lot of buzz about Record, so chances are you already know something about it. But, even though Propellerhead’s promotional video is informative, and very entertaining, there’s nothing like actually using the program to hear how it sounds and feel how it handles. Over the past couple of months this is exactly what I’ve been doing, putting Record through it’s paces. Now, after spending some quality time with this new DAW, I feel comfortable commenting on Record and answering the questions I keep hearing from students, “Should I buy Record? Is it a good DAW and can it take the place of other DAW programs like Pro Tools and Logic?”

If you’re a registered user of Reason (any version, from 1.0 to 4.0), it’s hard to pass up the deal that Propellerhead is offering. For only $149 USD you can pick up a copy of Record. Plus, if you haven’t yet upgraded your last version of Reason, you’ll get the upgrade to Reason 4.0 in the package. So, if you’re a registered user of Reason, picking up a copy of Record is a no brainer.

Considering that this is only version 1.0 of Record, it’s a fantasy to think that it could replace a time tested DAW program like Pro Tools or Logic. But, Record does indeed sound impressive, and if you’re already comfortable using Reason, transitioning to working in Record is a piece of cake. Indeed, as I was composing and mixing in Record I couldn’t help but feel like I was using Reason on steroids, with a side of audio tracks. It’s really much more than this, but the user interface and general operations very closely mirror Reason’s interface and operations. For example, there’s a rack of virtual hardware devices, complete with a backside view and a jumble of cables, just like in Reason. And, the sequencer window in Record looks pretty much identical to the sequencer window in Reason. It’s the improvements that make me feel like Reason has been pumping up on steroids, such as the ability to have racks side by side, the virtual SSL mixer, and the Line 6 guitar and bass POD effect devices.

There’s a ton of great features in Record, far more than I can cover in a single blog. For example, its real-time audio time stretching algorithm that allows the audio tracks in your song to follow tempo changes. And, this is after you’ve recorded your audio to track. This feature is similar to Warp in Live and Elastic Audio in Pro Tools, and sounds just as good. It’s also easy to find fault with Record. For example, it doesn’t support third party plug-ins and there isn’t a bussing function on the mixer. But, these shortcomings are more than made up for in the fact that Record supports rewire. That’s right, it will operate as a rewire slave. This means that you could compose entirely in Record and then rewire your tracks into a Pro Tools HD system for a killer TDM mix down! Don’t try this with another DAW program. I’ve always said that the rewire slave mode is one of the coolest features about Reason, and I’m happy to see it lives on in Record.

To summarize, Record is an awesome program. And, it didn’t crash once on me while using it these past couple of months. If you use Reason and want to get into recording audio, Record is an excellent choice for your first DAW program. But, don’t expect it to replace a tried and true DAW program like Logic or Pro Tools. Though, I wouldn’t be surprised if someday it has features that rival today’s most popular DAW programs.

Keep up the great work Propellerhead!

Ever wish that you could do take after take in a session without having to look at the clutter of tracks piling up? How about the ability to turn one take on at a time and listen to it without having to turn all of the other takes off? The old school term for this sort of function is, virtual tracks. These were widely employed in the first hard disk recorders to hit the market because they had a limited track count but a not so limited storage capacity. For example, you had 24 voices that could sound simultaneously, for 24 track playback, but each track could have up to 99 virtual tracks associated with it (dependent on the size of the internal hard drive, of course). This greatly expanded production power, giving you more options in the number of takes you could record, or create through editing, per track.

Even today, with our powerful computer based digital audio sequencers, virtual tracks are still very useful. To this end, Pro Tools features a type of virtual tracks function called playlists. Each track (MIDI and audio) in your Pro Tools session (LE and HD) can have as many playlists as you need attached. These might be different vocal takes, different real-time groove settings applied to a MIDI performance, or different arrangements of the track’s audio or MIDI regions.

A sound designer I know in Los Angeles who has developed sounds for many movies and TV shows uses playlists to quickly audition different treatments of sound effects for the director. He uses AudioSuite to process the sounds ahead of time, and when the director comes to listen he can fluidly play different versions of his effects while locked to picture. Pretty darn cool.

Here’s a video I made about using playlists in Pro Tools to easily record and manage different MIDI takes.