Category Archives: Podcast

011 R&D – Internet Recording Strategy | Real-Time VOIP Recording vs Sharing Project Files Via Dropbox


Internet

We wanted to consider every option for recording over the Internet while we are on opposite sides of the country. As you may know, I live in California and Dice lives in NH. We developed our Dropbox strategy of sharing .WAV files, but wanted to see if we could do some quality live recording and Dice brought up the fact that his sound quality on the podcast could be better as well.

Obviously, we couldn’t get high quality real-time audio just over the phone because of all the compression and sound degradation and because of the small microphone in Dice’s Android so we began to think about upgrading the whole thing all together by incorporating Voice Over IP or VOIP for all our sessions. We figured this would allow us to connect Dice to monitor the same sound as me as well as upgrade his mic in order to have an actual session. Sounds cool right?

In theory this would work because it would be like we we’re right next to each other in real life having a legit session. I figured out how to set up the auxiliary send through a mixer and Pro Tools where I could send my voice and whatever else I wanted back to Dice. This set up is also known as a mix minus. Ray Ortega from thepodcastersstudio.com has and excellent video that explains this set up. For more information on mix minus visit:

http://thepodcastersstudio.com/how-to-setup-a-mix-minus/

Skype and FaceTime

So we got it all set up and tested Skype and FaceTime and actually got some pretty good results for sound quality. However, we did experience delay and couldn’t seem to get the synchronization quite right which isn’t necessarily good for musical collaboration where timing is everything.

What would happen is I would send my voice and a beat and Millie (who was engineering) and Dice heard my voice and the beat a few seconds after it had actually happened. This caused monitoring issues on my side because Dice’s voice was delayed. We couldn’t do any complicated wordplay like we want to for this album. Rehearsing seems to be tough while 3,000 miles apart.

So not only was the delay an issue, but there were drop outs. This was to be expected though and we determined that this could still work just using similar manual sync techniques as we use in our Dropbox strategy as long as I wasn’t monitoring Dice while recording and we weren’t doing any back and forth wordplay rhymes that required us to hear one another.

The other issue that arose was what Millie mentioned how the tempo sped up and slowed down randomly on their side causing Dice’s performance to be inconsistent with the actual track. This wouldn’t work. We could only assume these tempo changes were caused by bandwidth limitations or network dropouts or something internet related.

The strange thing was that this tempo fluctuations only occurred with Skype and not FaceTime. Everything else was constant; the networks, the hardware. We determined that each service had it’s own quirk. For example, audio quality seemed great with FaceTime, but when overloads of audio information went through, it seemed to drop out as opposed to Skype which compensated by speeding and slowing tempo.

Conclusion

So all in all we liked the sound quality in FaceTime and felt we could better deal with dropouts in FaceTime as opposed to the tempo shifts in Skype. Possibly, there are solutions for the podcast that wouldn’t necessarily work for our recording sessions and visa versa which we are still exploring. For example, in the coming episodes, we are going to experiment with upgrading the microphone on Dice’s Android with an iRig PRE that will enable us to plug his Shure SM58 into his phone while we talk. We’ll report on how that goes.

Additionally, I’ve read a bit about ISDN which is an older radio technology that allows for simultaneous digital transmission of voice. That technology is dying because of the emergence of higher-end VOIP services taking over. These high-end types of VOIP services are certainly not cheap, but I believe will become more and more accessible as time goes on. Also, its worth it to note that these types of services require very robust internet connections and stable computing systems.

In conclusion, for general speaking purposes, connecting via VOIP with a standard consumer internet connection seems to have its ups and downs. Phone calls over an Andriod or iPhone certainly comes with its own faults for quality sake. When tracking, the old Dropbox strategy seems to prevail as it is simply transferring data and doesn’t have to rely on internet connection in real time.

Hopefully you enjoyed the episode and see you next time!

009 R&D – Concept Albums

Concept Albums

Concept albums have been around for awhile. They are more than just groups of songs. They are elongated pieces of music with recurring themes and motifs not only lyrically, but musically as well. I like to think of them like movies – a single piece of work to be consumed in one sitting. Here are some popular examples:

  • Tommy by The Who
  • Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd
  • The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars by David Bowie

Making a Concept Album

Dice and I set out to write our own concept album. The general theme is working the daily grind at a 9-5 job and then getting home to go to a studio recording session. Here is a general outline of the album broken up into 12 tracks:

  1. Rollz picks up Dice on the drive into work
  2. Rollz and Dice enter the warehouse – boss is always grinding
  3. Daily grind – at least it’s Friday
  4. Lunch break – last day of the week, what a relief
  5. Afternoon lull – much needed coffee break
  6. Home stretch – almost time for the bell
  7. 5 o clock – Yeah buddy!!! Get ready for the show
  8. Studio session
  9. The show – The R&D Show
  10. The Party
  11. The After Party
  12. Rinse and repeat – Wake up and do it again..

Click the play head above to listen to this episode where we talk about writing a concept album among other things.

Calling All Writers!

Also, I’m curious if anybody has any ideas for lyrics or music that they would want to contribute to the album. Leave a comment below or get at @rollzanddice on the tweet land!

Music In This Episode

Here are the songs that we mentioned in this episode:

Thanks!

-Rollz McGuyver

008 R&D – How Do You Consume Music? | Rollz and Dice Wonder How To Present The Album To Listeners

Record

I narrowed it down. When I listen to music, I’m usually at work, in my car, at home, or at the gym using Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, my turntable, iPod, or a CD player.

At work
I’m generally wearing headphones and kickin’ it on Spotify. I’ll visit allmusic.com to reference bands’ discographies and set up my playlists in chronological order by album. I like to listen to an entire album from front to back to get the full idea of it. However, I shuffle once I’ve heard an entire album. The radio works sometimes but if I’m listening to the it’s generally sports radio. When it comes to my music preferences, I’d rather choose the music or have a friend choose it for me.

In my car
I use a 2nd generation iPod and an auxiliary cable into my auxiliary jack. I know people use Bluetooth connections to do the same thing. I also still make use of CDs in my car and still buy them occasionally. Remember mix CDs?  😉 Those were fun. I used to burn mix CDs for my friends all the time!

At home
I have a turntable with a bunch of inherited records and a handful of new records. I also blast Spotify from my desktop computer.

At the gym
Generally, I am holding on to my iPod listening to inspirational podcasts. However, sometimes I listen to jams that pump me up!

 

Conclusion
Anyways, I’m curious to know how most people consume music and audio in general. Be it music or talk radio or a podcast. How do you consume music? Take the Survey to let us know or comment below!

007 R&D – Equipment, Software, and Services We Use | Rollz and Dice Discuss Songs 4-6

Equipment

We added an email opt-in form to the website! The opt-in form is linked to the 6 (FREE) Audio/MIDI Recording Tools PDF! Click the link and confirm your email address to check out the PDF! At that point, we will send you email updates when we have something of value to send! I hope you are into what we are doing and join the email list! RAD!!!

Equipment Rollz and Dice Use

  • Mac mini 2.26 Ghz Intel Core Duo
  • 8 GB ram crucial memory
  • 1 TB External hard drive
  • Two 120 Gb external hard drive
  • Dual Display mini port to vga and mini dvi to vga adapters
  • Shure SM57
  • Sennheiser e609
  • RODE NT1000
  • Mogami XLR
  • PROLINE Boom stand
  • Harbinger 8 channel mixer
  • Zoom H5N
  • M Audio Profire 2626 Audio Interface
  • M Audio BX5a monitors
  • Swis MIDI Controller
  • Hohner B Bass
  • 1/8″ to dual 1/4″ cable

Software Rollz and Dice Use

  • Mountain Lion 10.8.5
  • Pro Tools 11
  • GarageBand
  • Izotope Ozone Mastering Software
  • Izotope RX 5
  • Native Instruments Kontact Komplete 10
  • Rob Papen – Blue 2
  • ID3 Tag Editor
  • Photoshop

Services Rollz and Dice Use

  • Libsyn
  • FaceTime
  • Dropbox

006 R&D – 6 Ways To Set Up A Seamless Workflow | Rollz & Dice Discuss Working Through A Rut

Bass

So many times I’ve had a great idea and then walked up to my computer, turned it on, and come across something that prevents me from getting any work done. Whether it be troubleshooting my audio interface or loading virtual instruments, the little things add up, and by the time I get everything set up, sometimes I have lost the original creative idea. Here are 6 things that I do to set up a seamless workflow:

  1. Set aside a time to go through new virtual instruments ahead of my session.
  2. Determine what the ensemble of instruments will be. If I know I want drums, bass, two different leads, and keys, I think  of parts for each instrument and I think about how I am going to spread the chords across those instruments. Remember, if you can’t decide which instruments you typically use, you can always change virtual instruments after the fact. Just get something down and change it later if you need to.
  3. Rehearse solos and parts ahead of time and be ready to lay it down first try.
  4. That brings up the next one. If the take is not right in the first 3 tries, I’m not ready and I go back to the practice room. Plus things generally sound the most authentic during the first few takes.
  5. Save templates! Most DAWs will allow you to save a template or many templates. This helps tremendously with work flow.
  6. Write your music ahead of time. Just use your home recording setup to get the recording done. Don’t do your writing on the computer. Use a guitar, piano, or your voice.

That’s it! Well, those are only a few things you can do to improve your workflow. There are many more, but at least you can try these!

Thanks for reading! If you dig us, leave a comment and let us know!

-Rollz

005 R&D – Know Thy Cable | Rollz and Dice Talk About Workflow

Know Thy Cable - Rollz and Dice

Know Thy Cable!

It’s important to understand signal flow and how your audio is moving from place to place. This is especially relevant in terms of the cables you’re using. It can be hard enough to find the right adapters and cables, but can be even worse if you damage equipment because of unbalanced impedance loads caused from improperly using cables. Below I have listed three examples of how not to use cables.

  1. Don’t use a speaker cable as an instrument cable – If you do this you may end up introducing a lot of noise.
  2. Don’t use a DMX cable as an XLR cable – A mic cable has lower impedance. Using DMX cables as XLR cables may cause unexpected drop outs in your audio. Using XLR cables as DMX cables could cause unexpected flickering to your lighting rig.
  3. Don’t use a stereo 3.5mm to TS cable to send a stereo signal into a mono jack – You may be doubling your sound load. Whatever mixer you have might not accept as much signal as you are pushing through which can be damaging.

While there are certainly more instances, at least this illustrates a few to look to avoid right off the bat!

For more info on cables, HERE is an audio cable guide complete with pictures that should help you identify a few of the common cable types.

Rollz and Dice Talk About Workflow

Dice and I get inspired while going through our current list of songs and talking about our influences. The first few songs are still in the process of being written, but the structures and skeletons are pretty much there. Listen to the podcast to hear all about it!

I will be leaving some breadcrumb audio samples of our progress on Instragram and Twitter @rollzanddice so see you there!

-Rollz

003 R&D – Developing Concepts and Themes | Songwriting

003 Pic

When writing songs with others, it helps to develop concepts and themes. This is why I prefer setting out to write an entire record versus a single song. Songs tied into a theme can wind up being better in relation to other tracks played before or after them.

Dice and I discuss the idea for the first song and decide to attempt writing lyrics for a chorus and a verse. We’ll go ahead and write 16 bars and send them to each other to see where we are at with concepts.

Songwriting is a fickle beast. She can take up all of your time or can be quick. It seems to be a mindset more than anything. While trying to write at first, it can be tough, but the more you shift your mind set the smoother the process becomes.

Take a listen to the podcast and get into Dice and my conversation as we try to continue our path.

-Rollz

002 R&D – Using Dropbox To Transfer WAV Files Over The Internet | Rollz and Dice Continue To Discuss Plans For The Album

Mixer

So, here’s the story. I’m Rollz and my buddy is Dice. We have already written and recorded our first album. It took us about a year and a half and spanned from the summer of 2009 to early 2011. It’s called Warehouse Funk and you can download it HERE. Now, nearly five years later, we are starting production on our second album, except this time, we are doing it all over the Internet. I live in California and Dice is back in New England. We are developing concepts, writing lyrics, and arranging beats. We have our weekly conference calls via phone/Skype/FaceTime where we share ideas and discuss plans.

We record our conversations and release them in episodic fashion as a podcast called The Rollz and Dice Show. You can listen here using the media player above or subscribe to the podcast in the iTunes Store HERE. In this, our second episode, we talk about the first beat we are working on and some lyrical ideas. I try to share as much information as I can about the technical side of things such as how we are transferring our files using Dropbox and how we get it done. Check it out and leave a rating or comment in the iTunes Store to give us some love! Or just listen and see if you can learn about making your own record!

-Rollz