Friday, May 31, 2013

The Basics of Music Production, Lesson 2: Recording Audio

You can have a lot of fun making music, but getting a good recording and arrangement of your song requires some work and knowledge. Last week we set up a home recording studio. This week we're going to start recording.

Note: This is primarily a video lesson and you'll get a lot more information from watching the video above. That said, the instructions below will suffice and you should hang on to them for reference.

If you participated in last week's lesson, you should have all the equipment you need to get started. If not, read last week's lesson first before preceding. We're not going to make equipment recommendations here, but you should know what equipment you're going to need to participate in this lesson:

Your computer with the DAW software of your choice installed (we'll be using Cubase)A digital audio interface (with 48v phantom power) hooked up to your computerA microphone connected to your digital audio interface, most likely via XLR cableAn instrument (e.g. a guitar, your voice, etc.)About 20-30 minutes of your timeOnce you've got everything ready, boot up your DAW software and let's get started!

Interface elements vary between different DAWs, but they embody the same ideas. We'll use Cubase to demonstrate here, but if you're using something else you should find things are pretty similar. Let's take a look at the common parts you'll need to know about.


The main project window is where you'll do a lot of your work. This window lets you interact with your instruments and sounds as well as bring up individual channel settings as needed. You can do a lot more, too, but those are the basics.


The mixer (in Cubase, this is the first of three mixers) looks like a hardware mixing board in a lot of ways. You can adjust the levels of individual tracks, open their channel settings, monitor the master output, and keep a general eye on what's going on with your mix as it plays.


The transporter does what you probably expect: it transports you around your project. This is where you press record, stop, and play, but also where you can toggle the metronome, set time signatures, loop your project, and get information about where you currently are in your project.

The VST instruments panel isn't something you really need to know about until the next lesson, but it's simply where you add virtual instruments to your project.


When you click the little "e" button next to an audio track you get its channel settings. You can add input (track-specific) and send (multi-track) effects here, use the built-in EQ, and adjust gain.

Those are the main elements of the interface you need to know about. Read on to learn how to set up your first project!


You already know how to record audio if you know how to push a button, but digital audio workstation (DAW) software requires some setup before that big red circle will actually capture an audio signal. Although we'll be using Cubase to set up our project, most DAW software works in similar ways. If you're not using Cubase, you should be able to follow along just fine but will need to look in slightly different locations for menu items and certain buttons. Here's what to do:

To get started, create a new project by selecting New Project in the File menu. Select "Empty" as a project type. Cubase will ask you where to save it, so pick one and wait for everything to load.Before you can start recording, you need to make sure Cubase (or whatever DAW you're using) can find your interface and the mics (or whatever else) you have hooked up to it. Go to the Device menu and choose VST Connections.From there, click the Inputs tab and set the first mono input to your first microphone. Repeat this process for any additional microphones or inputs (e.g. electric guitars).Click the Outputs tab and you should see a pair of stereo outputs. Set the first one to your left speaker and the second one to your right speaker.Now that your inputs and outputs are properly routed, close VST Connections and go to the Project menu. Choose Add Track -> Audio.When the new track window appears, create one track and set its configuration to mono. Because we're just recording from a single microphone in this lesson, you don't need a stereo track. In fact, you'll rarely choose stereo even when recording from two microphones because you'll likely prefer to have the channels separated. This provides you with greater control over where they're placed in the recording (i.e. where it sounds like the recorded voice or instrument is) and the character of the sound. When you're done, click Add Track.By default, the new track should have its record enabling toggle button lit up red. You'll see this beneath the track name. If it isn't lit, click on it to enable recording on this track.Also by default, your track should be set to your first microphone. If not, take a look at the panel on the left side of the main project window and you'll see input and output settings. The output should be set to Stereo (which is the default name for Cubase's stereo output) and then input should be set to whatever you named your first microphone (usually Mono In by default, but this can vary). If you see No Bus that means nothing is connected to this audio track, so click on No Bus and change it to the name of your first microphone.Using the transporter—which is the thin horizontal window strip with lots of tools and buttons on it—press the record button. You'll see the recording start. Talk, sing, or play an instrument into the microphone and the waveform of your audio will appear in real time.When finished recording, press the stop button on the transporter.That's all there is to it! You've just recorded your first bit of audio. It probably sounds bad, but that's likely due to a need for EQ, higher gain (increase in the amplitude of the frequency so it sounds louder), or some other problem. We're not going to worry about that just yet because you're still getting used to how your DAW works. We'll tackle mixing individual audio tracks and the entire mix in a later lesson, though you can get a preview if you watch the video above.

Want to learn more? Join us next Tuesday at 5:00 PM PT for our next lesson: playing and recording virtual instruments. Don't forget to bring your MIDI keyboard!

Gizmodo On Using Your iPhone Abroad Without Getting Totally Screwed | io9 Could Spider-Man and Wolve

Sorry, I could not read the content fromt this page.

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Buffalo AirStation N600 Dual-Band Wireless Router Review

Legit Mods and Ends Reviews

Buffalo_AirStation_2Today, we take a look at the Buffalo AirStation WZR-600DHP which is a dual-band N600 Gigabit wireless router that is designed to be a complete solution for the home or small office.  You can find it priced for just under $80 at most retailers.  Like most “dual-band” routers, the Buffalo WZR-600DHP operates over the 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz bands which makes it ideal for connecting multiple wireless clients and devices at speeds of up to 300 Mbps on a single band and 600 Mbps over both bands.

We’ve looked at N600 routers before with some mixed feelings.  While they are relatively inexpensive, their performances have been very good. We were especially impressed with the recently reviewed Netgear WNDR3700v4 N600 which is feature rich and had speeds faster than some N750 routers. Other routers on the market seem to have less-than-stellar performances with user interfaces confusing and lacking.


One very interesting thing about the Buffalo AirStation WZR-600DHP is that its firmware is based on the open source DD-WRT. This customizable interface features advanced options for network gurus as well as first-timers who are looking to connect their PC’s to their game console. The DD-WRT firmware is designed to give greater stability and increased performance for better overall functionality to the user. 

The router also features two external antennas, gigabit Ethernet, and network sharing via USB.  As of this publication, you can grab a Buffalo WZR 600HP from Amazon for $77.74.  For those who are looking to upgrade or expand, the price point really isn’t too bad.  Let’s take a closure look at the AirStation’s specifications.

Featured Specifications:

Gigabit EthernetHighPower TechnologyDD-WRTLong RangeAOSS/WPS SupportEasy Setup WizardVPN Access

Wireless LAN Interface

Standard Compliance     IEEE 802.11n, IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11bFrequency Range             Concurrent dual-band 2.4 GHz / 5 GHz supportAccess Mode     Infrastructure modeAntenna (Tx x Rx)            2 x 2Wireless Security             WPA2 (AES, TKIP), WPA-PSK (AES, TKIP), 128/64-bit WEP

Wired LAN Interface

Speed and Flow Control                10/100/1000 Mbps, Auto Sensing, Auto MDIXNumber of LAN Ports     4 x RJ-45Number of WAN Ports 1 x RJ-45WAN Port Security          VPN Pass Through, SPI, Dynamic Packet Filtering

USB Interface

Standard Compliance     USB 2.0Connector Type                A typeNumber of Ports              1


Dimensions (W x H x D in.)           6.2 x 6.5 x 1.4Weight (lbs)       0.73Power Supply    External, AC 100-240V input, 12V DC outputPower Consumption (Watts)      Max 13.2 WClient OS Support            Windows® 7 (32-bit/64-bit), Windows Vista® (32-bit/64-bit),Windows® XP, Windows® 2000, Mac OS® X 10.4 - 10.7

When you look at the specifications, the Buffalo AirStation N600 seems pretty packed with features.  We are hoping that this sub-$100 Dual-Band N600 router gives us some competitive wireless speeds and a full-featured GUI. 

Let’s go ahead and set up the WZR-600DHP and test the performance.

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Would you sacrifice salary for happiness?

Great discussions are par for the course here on Lifehacker. Each day, we highlight a discussion that is particularly helpful or insightful, along with other great discussions and reader questions you may have missed. Check out these discussions and add your own thoughts to make them even more wonderful!

For great discussions any time, be sure check out our user-run blog, Hackerspace.

If you've got a cool project, inspiration, or just something fun to share, send us a message at Better yet, start posting to your very own Kinja blog so the whole world can participate in your awesomeness. Just be sure to send us a link to your post and if we like it, you might even see it on the front page of Lifehacker!

Happy life hacking, everybody!

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Ventriloquist's Dummy


Pudding basin (small) for moulding head
Plasticine to make face over pudding basin
Waterproof container large enough to hold face for moulding (I used a cardboard box lined with plastic bags)
Fibreglass and resin, or papier mache, (or anything you can make strong enough to take mechanisms which go inside)
Epoxy resin, glue, or anything else you can find which will stick what you're using to make it together
Drainpipe/guttering/roll of cardboard or tube of suitable diameter to make neck
Paint (ideally approximately flesh coloured)


I initially considered making the head from papier mache as per the blueprints, but decided that if he was to survive in a house with three kids crashing about  I would need to make it out of fibreglass and resin.

To make the mould for the face, I took a small pudding basin, slightly smaller than a young child's head, and got our eldest son to built a face over the outside using plasticine.  I wanted the features to be strongly pronounced, but obviously it can look like whatever you want it to.

To make it easier for ourselves we made the lip-line straight line horizontally, and the jowls straight down and parallel to make it easier to cut away the chin section when it was cast.

When we were happy with the face, I mixed up some plaster and poured it into a box lined with plastic bags (if you have a container large enough to hold a pudding basin covered with plasticine you can use that, or anything else you have to hand).  I gently pushed the face, nose first, into the plaster, let it set and then poured more in, about a litre at a time, until the face was submerged in set plaster up to the level of the top of the bowl.

When it was fully set (I left it for about a week), I poured some boiling water into the pudding basin and left it for a couple of minutes to warm up the plasticine to make the demoulding easier.  The water was poured away, and I waited for the bowl to cool down to the point where I could get my hands in to prise it out. 


The bowl came out quite easily, I pulled the plasticine out as carefully as possible so that I could put it back over the bowl, cut away the features and repeated the above process to make the back of the head (although I waited until I'd made the fibreglass face so that I could mould the edge of the plasticine around the edge of the face to make sure they join together as closely as possible).

The face was made by fibreglassing into the plaster mould.  I raised the eye sockets inside the mould to make it easier to glass around them, saving having to cut the eye holes out later.  (If I were doing it again I would also think about ways of casting the chin seperately).

I'm not going to describe the process of fibreglassing here, there are already some excellent Instructables which go into that elsewhere on the site, have a look at

I rubbed a good thick coat of wax into the mould before splodging the resin and mat into it.  Try to get it as even inside as possible, with no sharp pointy bits - you'll be doing some fairly fiddly work in what will be quite a confined space before long, and you don't want to be jabbing or cutting yourself when operating on your creation.When the glass was dry I demoulded it as carefully as I could to keep the mould intact for making the back of the head, and then rubbed and sanded off the bits of plaster which had stuck to it.  There were a few air bubbles which I filled with little bits of epoxy.

For the back of the head, I filled out the features in the mould with dollops of plaster, rubbed around with a rag to get it fairly smooth, and this time I placed the lid of a jam jar - wide enough in diameter for one of my hands to pass through - into the plaster, leaving most of its height standing out enough to give me something to fibreglass around leaving a hole in the back of the head large enough to enable any future maintenance on the moving parts.

I would recommend leaving the head in two parts until you've got the mouth and eyes fixed in and working (see next steps).

The neck was made by fibreglassing over two short lengths of guttering pipe, which were later stuck together and to the head with epoxy putty (when all of the mechanisms in the head were in place and working).

Finally (for the main features), the ears were made out of plasticine, cast in plaster, then positives made in P40 fibreglass car body filler, and stuck onto the head with epoxy putty.

I made a cover for the hole in the back of the head from P40, using the plastic cap of a yoghurt carton of similar size to the hole, which would later be fixed into place with a couple of small bolts into nuts held in place on the head, again with epoxy putty.

Finally. I filled the roughest areas of the face with epoxy, and sprayed the head with pink paint.

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Estimate pi using conductive paint

2013-05-15 20.54.16.jpgGiven an "infinite" 2D square grid of resistors with resistance R, the equivalent resistance across the diagonal of one square is 2R/pi [1,2]. Working out this solution theoretically has sniped many a nerd. Furthermore, it is prohibitively laborious for an amateur to attempt to verify this experimentally -- until now. Using Bare Paint, I drew a square grid of resistors on a page of normal copy paper, and measured resistances with a multimeter. My wishful thinking was that, with a large enough array of resistors (14 x 14), I could approximate "infinity" sufficiently from the perspective of squares in the middle of the page. Drawing the resistors with the Bare Paint seemed easier than gathering and connecting 196 resistors.

While one set of measurements yielded a value of pi as impressive (to me) as 3.38, overall I observed poor consistency of measurements among adjacent squares near the center of the page, and poor repeatability of measurements for the squares tested. Nevertheless, I hope that you, dear reader, will consider trying this experiment for yourself. I will tell you how I did it, and perhaps you will take more care than I to apply the paint accurately and precisely; otherwise, you will too observe a high variance of resistance among your resistors. Note also that the resistance of the Bare Paint decreases as it dries, so be sure to allow ample time for drying (tens of minutes) before measurements.

2013-05-15 19.33.00.jpgI used one tube of Bare Paint, a multimeter with leads (pictured in the intro section), and an 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of paper.

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