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Music Production Tip

How to Win the DAW Wars

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MAGIX Software & VEGAS Creative Software
Dear music producer, there are many different ways to record music and there are 100 times as many people trying to tell you how to do it. While this may mull over as just another voice in that crowd, I would like to offer an alternative solution to the never-ending question of which DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) should I use?
MAGIX Software & VEGAS Creative Software
Just about all over advice on this matter would suggest that you find one DAW and stick with it. Or even better, find the one that works best for you. What in the hell does that mean to some who is interested in beatmaking or just starting out? Most modern Digital Audio Workstations have a learning curve that outlasts the free trial.


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Since most workstations pretty much do all the same things with a different workflow, I suggest using multiple DAW’s. For instance, I use Reason for sound design, Acid Pro for anything dealing with audio loops and Pro Tools for recording. It would be easy to use just one but each one brings something different to the table. I use each ones strength to my advantage while bypassing its weakness and frustrating myself.

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I have developed a workflow that allows me to use 3 different DAW’s. The best advice I can give to anyone is: Develop a workflow and the music will make itself. Remove the technicalities from the process.

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Consumer Electronics

MPow – Budget Bluetooth Headphones

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Nowadays everybody is walking around in their own world with headphones in their ears. Some of us enjoy bulky over-the-ear studio style and some enjoy teeny tiny barely visible in-ear headphones. For the latter, I took a chance on a surprisingly cheap set of Bluetooth headphones and have a wonderful review in store.
The MPow Coach which retails for 22.99 USD is a lightweight, comfortable headphone. They feature 6-8 hours of battery life with normal use. While not incredibly bassy, they are good for music and very clear for conversations.

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The MPow Coach headphone has wonderful Bluetooth connectivity with a range of over 20 feet and works well on airplanes. Conversations are clear and the music sounds nice. These headphones do not complete with $100+ product but they blow competitively priced headphone out of the water.

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The build quality is nice and solid, particularly compared to many other comparable products in this price range. After about 2 months of daily use, the charging port has not broken.

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I would definitely recommend these headphones for casual listening and conversation use. They may work well for exercising but they are a bit heavier and may come out of your ear with during heavy movements.

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Review Smartphones

Reason Compact: First Look

Yesterday I got an exciting email from Propellerhead stating that they released a mobile version of Reason. Aptly names Reason Compact, I am interested to see if this is something more than a stripped-down instrument.

In the email there was a link to a YouTube video which I eagerly clicked. The video displayed a mobile version of their newest synth, Europa. A bit disappointed, I still downloaded Reason Compact to see if that was all it to offer.

After downloading, that is exactly what it was, a mobile version of Europa. The app does not allow for recording of tracks to make up a song like a traditional desktop DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) but it does allow users to create loops that can be exported. There are 3 exportable file types: Europa sound patch, Reason file and WAV audio.

There also a few sound pack advertised within the app but they are all currently unavailable. I would suspect that they will be for sale in the near future.

Generally, music making applications for smartphones and tablets are crappy. They are normally have nothing in common with what they are trying to mimic. To some, these apps are fun and/or useful, to me, they are frustrating.

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Since Reason Compact is free, it is definitely worth checking out. I am not sure how much use I will get out of this app, but it has some nice features and is worth a shot.

Categories
Consumer Electronics

USB Microphones For Professional Recordings – Yes, No, Maybe

USB Microphones

 

I decided today that I wanted to start recording a little bit so I decided to go buy a Blue Microphone Yeti. The Yeti is a very popular USB microphone amongst streamers and recording artists alike. (My first trial is the basis for this post, so my opinion may change.)

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Rode Podcaster USB Dynamic Microphone Record high-quality audio and vocals on your computer with the Rode Podcaster USB Dynamic Microphone. The Rode USB Microphone is ideal for vodcasting, podcasting, creating corporate or YouTube videos. It creates a professional broadcast sound quality. Songwriters and musicians may also use this USB audio microphone to record demos for their prospective clients and music producers. The A/D converters and the 8-48 kHz sampling bypasses your computer’s sound controller to produce a high-quality sound that your listeners can enjoy. The Rode USB Microphone includes a tight cardioid pattern for superior off-axis sound rejection that eliminates background noise that can lower the quality of your presentation. The 28mm dynamic capsule makes the USB dynamic microphone easy to hold while you are recording. You can plug the USB audio microphone into your Mac or PC with a USB cable, eliminating the need for an outside digital interface.

As soon as I purchased the mic, I hurried back to try it out. All of the research I had done was based on clarity, and the devices definitely live up to its reputation in that aspect.


MXL Tempo USB Condenser Microphone

What I failed to realize is that these types of devices are not ASIO (Audio Stream Input Output)compliant and does not work well with ASIO devices. Within the software that I use (Reason, Acid Pro), there is no way to mix between ASIO, DX, and other audio input/output formats. With that said, I had no choice but to download ASIO4ALL. With ASIO4ALL I am able to use the Yeti microphone while using my USB interface for monitoring. So far it works decently. I am having a hard time finding the right latency to use.

Blue Microphones ETI USB Condenser Plug-and-play Microphone with Kit

Conclusion

I would only recommend USB recording to streamers and gamers. If you are looking to record and edit, find a great mic to plug into an interface. While the USB mics are just as good, they are not as easy to integrate into the professional recording software. These microphones, while having headphone jacks, are not designed to be monitors. Lesson Learned: The USB microphone is not a replacement for a recording interface.


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Review

Is YouTube Premium Worth $15.99 per Month

YouTube Premium at a Glance

I love YouTube. I most days, I watch more content on YouTube than on traditional television. Recently I started a free trial of YouTube Premium because there is a particular documentary that I wanted to watch and forgot to cancel it. Now I am wondering, why is Google charging $15.99/ month for a few exclusives and commercial-free viewing.

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Personally, I don’t mind the commercials. I do not like them, but they do not make the videos I like unviewable. Some videos have more commercials than others. I guess that depends on whether or not the poster has monetized their content or not. I truly believe in people making money off creativity but I wonder exactly how much is going to content creator and how much does Google keep for itself.


The original content available on YouTube is great. I started the free trial to watch the G Funk documentary and have watched a few other documentaries and shows. In the back of my mind, I feel like they will eventually release the premium content for free. Google should create a structure where the premium content becomes available for free after a certain length of time.
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The Conclusion

While the premium content is very good, there is not enough of it at this point to justify a $15.99 price tag. Generally, the price of online services do not go down, they sort of grow into worthiness and then go up. I would be very interested to know how many paying subscribers there are for the premium service alone. Since the premium service is not included with the TV service is would be interesting to know how many subscribers have both services. It would be nice if Google would consider dropping the price for a year or combine the service with the tv service for a lower price. I have really gotten used to not seeing commercials and would like to continue paying for the content.
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Categories
Comparison Travel Vacations

Hotel Rewards – Getting the most from your stay

How To Live A Lavish Lifestyle On A Budget – Hotel Rewards

Nowadays you do not have to call a 1-800 number to book a hotel room. You can use your phone, tablet or computer and book through a website or an app. With 100’s of sites with the same information, trying to find the best deal or even proper accommodations can become overwhelming.

While using comparison sites like BookVip, CheapOair, OneTravel, Booking.com, Priceline, etc. make it easy to compare and contrast many hotels across a variety of brands may seem like the best option, but I would have to argue it is not, Especially if you book a lot of rooms.

Most large hotel chains have their own online booking system and loyalty rewards program. At one point in time, you could get a better nightly rate by booking through the comparison site but most big chains guaranteed they their prices are the lowest and no longer offer additional deals to the discount sites.

The loyalty rewards programs offer many perks including Free Early Checking and Late Check-Out, Floor and Room Preference, Discounts for local attractions and most importantly, Rewards Points.

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If you are still reading this, you must be interested in how the rewards system works. Each brand has their own reward setup but generally, you receive 10 points for every dollar you spend, not including taxes and fees. The more expensive the room, the more points you receive. Some programs offer options to buy points outright while others let you receive extra points by paying a few dollars more when booking a stay.

Booking off-season, from the late fall to early spring, is a great way to rack up points to use during the summer. On top of that, most programs offer additional ways to earn points during the off-season such as; booking multiple times during a specific period, applying for a brand-specific credit card and using a specified payment method during a particular period.

Booking a room at a hotel once or twice a month off-peak has other advantages as well. Being able to use the hotel’s amenities such as pools, spas and fitness equipment for free and the change of scenery would add to your quality of life. Many of the brands that offer these programs provide free breakfast and/or have wonderful dining options nearby.
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mega retailer

Lazy Shopper: Wal-Mart In-Store Pick-Up

Lazy Shopping 101 – In-Store Pick-Up

Today there are many options for lazy shoppers, those of us who would prefer not to deal with the long lines and horrible service of shopping a brick and mortar business. One such option is Wal-Mart’s In-Store Pick-Up. You shop and pay online, then go to a special counter at the store and pick up your items as soon as the same day. I needed a few items so I decided to try it out.

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Item not available
Item not available

This first item I searched, a USB A to USB B cord, was not available for in-store pickup or shipping. The price is unbelievable so I will have to venture out to the store to pick one up. None of the items I selected were available to be picked up today at my nearest location.

Price for Shipping
Shipping

In-Store Pick-Up
In-Store Pick-Up

Wal-Mart.com USA, LLC

Since they have a deal for free shipping on orders over $35, I elected to have the items shipped to me. I would not have been able to get my items faster from the store. Perhaps I will at some point be able to pick items up the same day or use the option to shop for groceries instead. For the sake of argument, I would not normally shop like this but I could see how this would be a good idea for people with disabilities. I could also see this as a great option for people with children. Most importantly, for those of us with limited time, frivolous spending habits or are just plain lazy, getting in and out of Wal-Mart in minutes instead of hours is a blessing.

Conclusion

While shopping online is a way of life for many, many others do not enjoy it so much. For those, this could be a segway into online shopping. GOD bless the greedy and the lazy. Click any of the links in this post to try it for yourself.

Categories
Travel Vacations

Bali Bay Resort Myrtle Beach Review

Bali Bay Resort

The Good

Location – Steps away from the beach and the Family Kingdom Amusement Park, the Bali Bay resort is at the center of the action of the south end of Myrtle Beach.
Spacious – The 3 Bedroom suite pictured in this review has enough bedding for 6 and with some creativity could easily sleep 2 to 6 more.

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Bali Bay Resort Main Living Space

Bali Bay Resort Main Living Space

Decor – Upon entering the suite, it is like stepping into something you see on tv.
Comfort – The beds were pretty comfortable, lots of space to spread out and unwind after a long day or night on the town.

Bali Bay Resort 3 Bedroom Master Bedroom
Bali Bay Resort 3 Bedroom Master Bedroom

The Bad

Small Pool – 2 small pools in the back of the property, facing the beach, enough for a few small groups but not half of the resort.

 

Hallway Outside – In the summertime it is hot, as soon as you step out the door you are in the elements.
Sea Dunes Oceanfront – The property next door is obviously a hangout for locals, lots of drugs and partying, quite entertaining until it is time to go to sleep.

The Ugly

Check-In – There is no office or front desk onsite. I booked thru Priceline and they did not specify that I had to go to the Atlantica Resort, about 20 blocks away, to check-in. On the weekend, there are so many people on Ocean Dr. I could have walked over there faster than the drive.
Falling Apart – After further inspection, there were many imperfections in the unit.

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Pool Unkept – Shortly after arrival, on Saturday afternoon, a trip to the pool ended in disgust. By Monday morning when we left, the maintenance crew must have had enough complaints to justify cleaning the pool.
Cheap Furniture – The furniture was cheap, particularly the bar stools at the island in the kitchen, the chairs at the dining room table and the chairs on the balcony.

Bali Bay Resort Kitchen w/ Island
Bali Bay Resort Kitchen w/ Island

The Final Result

At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is, would I stay there again? The answer is, I would, I love the location. I like that area of the beach. It is closer to the Skywheel and the center area of Myrtle Beach in comparison to other resorts I have booked. Most importantly, the resort fits the group I was with.

 

Categories
Comparison

Apple Music vs Tidal

Streaming Services: Does It Even Matter

We can trade the pros and cons of the two music streaming services that would last for days. Honestly, the functionality of either service or any other service doesn’t really matter. What it comes down to is how will the service integrate into your lifestyle. I personally do not care much for Pandora or Spotify. To me, they essentially pull you in with the promise of being able to stream millions of songs for free with the hopes that you will pay to have more control over what plays next. From my experience, those who want to pay, pay and those that do not want to pay, do not pay. I love music, and I want to build my own playlist. I want my playlist to cross genres and invoke multiple feelings; happiness, sadness, nostalgia, etc.. I make a playlist for road trips, cookouts, and moments to myself. To me, control is where Apple Music and Tidal rise above the rest.

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Orlando Vacation Package

The Real Difference

Where Apple Music and Tidal differentiate is simple, if you use other Apple products and services, Apple Music is definitively better. If you do not use other Apple products and services, I could not imagine Apple Music is a very good experience. The fact that you can integrate Apple Music with tour local iTunes library is amazing for someone like me who has an extensive collection of out of print music, not available on any streaming service, from the 90’s and early 2000’s. Add in the fact that you can upload your local collection to the cloud, from a Mac (of course), and stream it as well it is the hands-down winner for me. While I feel that the flow of Tidal, particularly on mobile devices is leaps and bounds better than Apple’s approach, the seamless iPhone integration is too much to ignore. I actually used Tidal for the last year or so, and it was pretty good for when I used it. If there was one complaint that I could give to both, it would be the lack of an app for Linux. As both companies strive to improve there services, we will likely revisit this debate soon.


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CBD

Are CBD and Weed the same thing?

What is CBD?

CBD or Cannabidiol is one of at least 113 cannabinoids identified in cannabis or marijuana or hemp. CBD alone does not give the “high” of marijuana or hemp. That effect is caused by tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Many CBD product does not contain THC which means taking CBD in many cases will not cause you to fail a drug test.

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Diamond CBD

So Why Try CBD?

CBD is actually the element of marijuana that causes the feeling of relaxation. CBD is being credited with helping treat a host of medical problems including epileptic seizures, anxiety, inflammation, and sleeplessness. Documented evidence is few at this point.

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Is It Legal and Safe

CBD is legal in 30 states where recreational or medical marijuana is legal and as many as 17 other states have laws that allow it to be sold in many forms including candies and oils. Most likely if it is openly sold in your area it is legal. As with anything, you should do research on brands and products before consuming anything you are unsure about.

Diamond CBD

Diamond CBD