Late last month, I finally received the Yamaha PSS-480 I had won on eBay, and it has definitely been good reconnecting with a keyboard from my youth!  I had not done too much with it yet, partially because after the passage of several decades, I cannot remember all of its functionality and simply have not been able to force myself to sit down and read the manual.

With the Presonus AudioBox Stereo I recently bought from Guitar Center, the PSS-480 is now set up to send and receive MIDI, so I can use it as a 49-key MIDI controller.  I can also get audio from the keyboard into the computer via the audio interface, which then spawned an idea:  Perhaps I should try sampling the keyboard’s various sounds (maybe not all 100 of them!) so that I can more easily use them in my music efforts.  Beyond that, I have yet to find any evidence online of others sampling this keyboard, and given that I have seen more of an interest in the PSS-480 recently, perhaps sampling the keyboard could be useful for others as well.

I still have some issues to rectify in terms of the sound quality from the keyboard to the audio interface – I may end up recording through the on-board sound card on my desktop computer instead.  But then there is the issue of time to sample even just one of the 100 instrument presets on the keyboard.

Then today, thanks to the February 2016 issue of FutureMusic (page 34), I discovered Samplit 2.  This looks like a really good and fast way to sample the PSS-480, as well as sample my VST instruments to save myself some headaches when layering CPU-intensive synths.  I have not bought Samplit2 (yet), but it is definitely a strong possibility for once I figure out the sound quality issue in getting the keyboard’s sounds into the computer.


Kudos to Guitar Center!

I like Guitar Center in general, although I specifically do not go there very often because my wallet would otherwise start screaming!

Christmas Day, out of the blue, I decided to check the Guitar Center Web site to see what offers they might have, and I ended up getting a bundle which includes a USB audiobox and other items – the brick-and-mortar locations were closed that day, of course, and I am not in a particular hurry, so I opted for ground shipping to the nearest Guitar Center location.  I knew it meant that the items I ordered would not even leave until today, which was fine – again, no rush on this from my point of view.

Out of curiosity, I just double-checked the e-mail with the UPS tracking number, and I happened to notice this:

We transport ground-ship packages directly to regional UPS hubs. This reduces handling and improves shipping time by up to 24 hours. It’s also why you may notice a 24-36 hour delay in finding your tracking on the UPS website. Rest assured that your package is on its way.

That is very, very impressive!  I never would have thought of this tactic, but something so relatively simple meaning that I can get my order sooner certainly makes me even more likely to order from Guitar Center 🙂


Year 7 Begins Now

Christmas Day 2009 was when I began making music with my computer, finally achieving a goal I had had since the 1980s when I first learned of MIDI.  That goal seemed to come a step closer in (I believe) 1988 when my parents gave me a Yamaha PSS-480 keyboard for Christmas, and I then proceeded to play it into the ground over the next decade – to the point that buttons stopped working, and it would not even make any sound unless a paperclip was properly unfurled and snaked just right underneath the volume fader.

Fast-forward to Christmas 2015, and I am soon to be reunited with a PSS-480!  I had been thinking about my old keyboard for several months, and recently began looking on eBay to potentially buy one.  I finally found one which I believe is in fairly good condition, and if all goes well, it will be in my hands early next week.  To be honest, I have no idea if/how I will integrate it into my music workflow, but simply having a PSS-480 again will almost certainly be quite inspiring for me.

Other things I want to do musically in Year 7:

  • Upgrade to Reaktor 6 and get my hands on the Blocks, as I figure that should really teach me a lot about synthesis
  • Actually finish and release more music – 2015 has largely been a year of lack of inspiration mixed heavily with projects being stuck in mixing
  • Work more with Vocaloid – specifically Hatsune Miku, but perhaps there will be a new voice released in 2016 which captures my attention

One major decision, of course, is whether to upgrade to Windows 10 while it is still free.  I have Windows 10 on a test computer, and while it is passable in my opinion, I am not particularly thrilled with the new operating system.  More importantly, however, I have yet to see confirmation that many of the programs (music and otherwise) which I use regularly are actually compatible with Windows 10.  At least I have until July to make the upgrade decision, but I know that I should make that decision sooner rather than later.

May 2016 be a good music year for us all!


Elders React to Vocaloid

I do sometimes wonder how people who are not well-versed in Vocaloid (or at least in anime) think when they hear a Vocaloid song, especially one featuring Hatsune Miku (since she is the Vocaloid I now use exclusively).  It never dawned on me that perhaps someone should create a video with senior citizens experiencing Vocaloid music for the first time.

…then tonight, I found two such videos on YouTube.  To say that their reactions are classic would be an understatement 🙂

These are particularly relevant for me right now, as I am in the middle of a Vocaloid project with Hatsune Miku – one which actually sounds to me as if it should have been included on the Paprika soundtrack:

If all goes well, I will be able to complete the composition part of this project over the weekend or early next week, and have the final mix completed and released before Xmas…


Car Test

I have mentioned previously that I like to use the car test to check how my mixes are progressing, and now that I believe I am fairly close to completing the mixing of a Vocaloid project, it is time to do a car test (in the morning!).

Unfortunately, I have no idea exactly why the speakers in my car seem to work so well for testing my mixes, but I am definitely glad that they do work so well.  Somehow, they have the ability to really highlight what is wrong with a mix, especially in terms of a track being too loud or too quiet, the bass frequencies being too muddy, and the higher frequencies threatening to become too piercing.  I believe that part of why the car test works so well is also due to the fact that I inherent cannot fully devote my entire attention to the music (especially not in Austin traffic!), so if something seems wrong to me while trying to change lanes to avoid being tailgated by the jerk behind me, then it is definitely something which needs to be fixed in the mix.

I wish that I could claim being “right” and only ever needing one car test per project, but that has happened only once.  Still, even if something about the mix does not sound quite right in the car, there is something about playing music no one else has heard and having someone in an adjacent car give me an inquisitive look, especially when I am testing a Vocaloid project on the car stereo.

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