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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Ignite Amps Emissary - Free Guitar Vst Amp Simulator plus sample


Hello everyone and welcome to this week's article! Today we're talking about a really good Free Guitar Amp Simulator Vst, that deserves an article on its own.
Ignite amps is an italian manufacturer which actually builds real amps and stompboxes, both for guitar and bass.

Ignite amps often releases the free vst version of their hardware products, and these plugins are really high quality (click here for the download page), just try the IR-loader NadIr or the bass amp simulator Shb-1.

Today we're focusing on the Emissary plugin, which is considered by some of the mix engineers we've interviewed as the best guitar amp simulator ever made, and that is also used by Bloodtruth's guitar player Stefano as a live guitar amp, going from the computer to a tube power amp, and then to a real cabinet.
The amp is a 2 channel head, with bright and deep switch (only the bright one for the clean channel), which gives more control than the average on the overdrive channel eq by featuring 2 mid controls: Lo Mid and Hi Mid, plus a general Depth and a Presence control.

The sound is very warm, mid-rangey, and it can go from the classic rock/stoner sound to the extreme metal without the real need for an overdrive in front of it.
The sound stays very natural and organic at any setting and is very "mixable", not caricatural as some other guitar amp modelers on the market.

Plus it's free.

You can listen to a sample of its clean and overdriven sound made by me in 5 minutes by Clicking Here.

Give it a try, you won't regret it!

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Interview: Stefano "Saul" Morabito (Eyeconoclast and 16th Cellar Studio)


Stefano "Saul" Morabito is an iconic italian Producer, which has worked with many known extreme metal bands such as Fleshgod Apocalypse, Hour of Penance, Bloodtruth, Devangelic, Subhuman and so on; he is also a talented guitar player, which plays in Eyeconoclast, a thrash-death metal band from Rome (Italy).
Here's our interview:

GuitarNerdingBlog: Hello Stefano and welcome to Guitar Nerding Blog! Introduce yourself to our readers, tell us your story!

StefanoMorabito: Hi, Stefano Morabito here, Nice to be on your blog! 34 years old, Producer/audio engineer at 16th Cellar Studios since 2002 and guitar for Eyeconoclast.

GNB: Tell us about your career. We know you've been playing in many projects during the last few years, and the most important one is obviously Eyeconoclast.
Which are your career highlights? Which are the artists that influenced you the most? Is it there still some collaboration that you wish you would do?
SM: Begun playing guitar in a death metal band called Chthonian Nemeton in 1997, played in Hour Of Penance in 2001, with Rust of Reason in 2003, and from then on, I've been playing guitar in Eyeconoclast. My favourite metal artists of all time are Dan Swanö, The Crown, Dissection, wtf list could be too long let's say basically all swedish death from 1990 to 2000 and a lot of american death metal from the same age :D
My career Highlights with Eyeconoclast have been touring Japan with Septic Flesh and Svart Crown, the best place i've ever been to, there you can see the kind of support you could expect 10, 15 years ago, when everything was new and magic, the people is really interested in your music, and supports bands in a way that is forgotten here. 
Yes, they could download your album, but everyone, and I mean everyone who comes to your show, buys your cd. Japanese people is hungry for metal, and they gave to us so much enthusiasm and will to continue!

GNB: What do you think about the actual music business? What are your thoughts about underground and mainstream music scene nowadays?

SM: Actual music business is based mainly on hype and money. With File sharing everyone has a place, everyone can be heard, which is great, but the downside of this is that there's so much offer than request for music, so: more bands, less quality, and the bands need to invest more on promotion, so money talks here. 
Whoever has more money gets more hype, and buys a bigger place in the heart of fans. 
That's how it works: artistic quality is often found in the second or third place.


GNB: What do you think about the digital music distribution? What about the file sharing? How do you think the music business will evolve in the future? 

SM: File sharing had a bad impact on music business. While it is also true that if there was no file sharing, we probably wouldn't be here speaking: your blog is shared, my music is shared, the works I do in the studio are shared. I think that at the moment we (the music business) are learning how to deal with the good sides and the bad sides of file sharing: music busines at the moment is like a baby who's learning how to deal with a new world, and hopefully someday this situation will reach a balance that will satisfy the companies and the people. At least this seems how it's going.

GNB: Tell us some funny story: which one has been your best/funniest experience as a musician? And your worst one? 

SM: worst one but also funny: Going to play to Stonehenge fest in Holland: Lufthansa air company lost one of our guitars and one of our basses, which arrived 2 flights later, so we were late for the show, we had the driver run like crazy from the airport to the festival, something like 130km/h in a shitty van risking our lives at every turn, then we arrived on stage, plug guitar in and PLAY in front of 1000(ish) people:  here's exactly 5 mins after we took our stuff out of the van ahaha!
The best one was the afterparty after one of the gigs with Cryptopsy, Cattle Decapitation and Decrepit Birth, where Cattle decapitation offered us so much stuff that we were completely out of our mind, the night finished with me, Mauro and Paolo in the streets near the venue doing spanish corrida/bullfight to the passing cars with our jackets, and being asked by the police what we were doing, fortunately they had a laugh about it and everything went good ahah!!! Crazy stuff!

GNB: Since many readers of our blog are mainly interested in the technical side of the guitar world, can you tell us something about your studio and live equipment? Can you tell us about the recordings of your latest album? 

SM: In the studio I have some good amp: Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier (first version), Peavey 5150, Engl Fireball, Engl Savage, I also own some great OLD Geloso Amps, from Italy (1965) completely refurbished and adapted for guitar. About the cabs, I use a Carvin Legacy loaded with Celestion v30 stripped off from a Mesa cab. This is why the Mesa cab was too bassy, but I liked the mids, so I created this "frankenstein" that I like so much, along with some classic Boss, Ibanez and Maxon pedal; I also have some guitars to choose, a 92' Jackson Dinky reverse loaded with Quad rail pickups, a Schechter Hellraiser loaded with Bare-knuckle Aftermath pickups, an '89 Kramer guitar loaded with Emg81, an Ltd guitar, and some "Overload guitars" an ITALIAN company who makes incredible axes (http://www.overloadguitars.com/) and basses, who basically kill any other competitors when it comes to recording guitars here :)


About the recording of our last album there's not much to say, we wanted it to sound OLD style and raw, like Angel Corpse's "The Inexorable" meeting The Crown's "Hell is Here" album, so drums are completely not triggered at all, except for a minimum on kick drum: we wanted to go in the opposite direction of the standard metal format of today. Quad tracked guitars with Savage and 5150, and lots of headbanging going on ehhehe

GNB: Tell us something about you recording studio (16th Cellar Studio): which Daw do you use? What are your favourite vst plugins? Do you use hardware outboards or you prefer to mix in the box?

SM: Studio is in working business from 2002, I begun in 1998 doing stuff for friends, when Hard disk recording was mostly unknown for the general public, and often seen as a low quality option for recording, (as many of the new technological breakthrough in their early age) in that period ADAT was used. To mix totally outside the box for today's extreme metal is completely unrealistic and unpractical, and very few do it, Just maybe really really big 1 year / >3 months productions , mixing outside the box a project of 60/100 tracks needs a really big mixer, and people who follows the automations by hand when tracks are reversed on the final stereo tracks. What is often and most likely done, is to mix inside the box AND outside the box together, at some degree, for example I often use buss compression on drums with my API 527 compressor, and bass, vocal, acoustic compression with my telefunkens U373a, U373bk, u373S, or my emt 277 dx limiters, old stuff with big punch. 
External Insert with delay compensation rules here, and then I take care of the volumes with my Mackie Control Pro, extender pro and c4 pro, or just draw lines to automate stuff. that's a healthier life for sure, eheh. For mic preamps I use Neve 1073 (bass, vocals, kick), Api 512c (snare, guitars, sometimes kick), Telefunken v676, v672 (works well on vocal, bass and toms) and neumann pv46 pres (works wonderfully on cymbals and rooms). On vocals I've found the paradise using Neumann U67 mic, since a year and a half. Favourite VST plugin is the Sonitus: fx Equalizer, a bit old but it is the most precise EVER for me :D

GNB: Let's talk about guitar tone: what is your favourite way to get a good guitar tone? Do you use vst amp simulators or you prefer to mic a cabinet? Have you got any tip to share?
SM: I rarely use any simulators (if not never), for rhythm guitars, maybe I still havent found anything that sounds 100% right to my ears, although in the recent year a good company popped up, making some plugin that works very well, and is ITALIAN, its name is Ignite amps
They also build the real stuff, so they're a step ahead to other simulators, they really know what the hell is going on inside those boxes with lights that produce sound eheh, I used it for the Solos of Bloodshot Dawn, an UK band who came over here 2/3 years ago to record their album, you can check it out here; pretty nice stuff!
Anyway for rhythm guitars I stick to my beloved amps and pedals. Favourite way to get a good guitar tone? Bring with you more guitars than you can and listen carefully to each one, with and without the amp (hi-z), to better understand how each guitar behaves; the one who wins, records the album. 
NEW strings every 2/3 songs Golden rule! Sm57 mixed with another mic of your choice will always be my favourite choice!

GNB: Do you have any advice for the guys that wish to open a recording studio on their own, or to become mixing or mastering engineers?

SM: 1) forget sleep
2) be patient
3) learn psychology
4) never lose passion
5) the project needs FUCKING ORDER dont do a mess with tracks!
6) build your experience day by day, never give anything for granted
7) learn to do things in 10 different ways to have the same result
8) learn from others, even unexperienced people can make you understand important stuff
9) If you have time listen to what others do, there's always a good tip everywhere
10) learn how to repair your own stuff
11) never use presets, begin each project from scratch, otherwise one day you will find that you have produced xx albums which sounds identical to each other
12) be methodic, and Have FUN!!!!


GNB: The interview is over! Tell us about your latest works, projects and tours! Thank you very much and we hope to see you soon live!

SM: Tours with Eyeconoclast are being planned as we speak, hopefully everything will fall in place! We are also planning the third album!! About the studio: You can listen the last Fleshgod Apocalypse's album or the last Hour Of Penance Album (where you can hear the mighty engl fireball roaring on guitars), or the new Hideous Divinity album or the new Bloodtruth album! Too many damn good bands in Italy are around these days!!!
Support the scene, buy albums but most of all: DON'T PLAY SHIT MUSIC. Thanks :D


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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Review: M-Audio Delta Firewire 410


Hello and welcome to this week's article! 
Today we're reviewing a discontinued product, which was in production until 2010-2012, the most successful firewire device ever produced by M-Audio, before part of the production was acquired from Avid (specifically the Usb audio interfaces).
The M-Audio Delta Firewire 410 features 2 jack/Xlr preamps, 2 line inputs, 8 unbalanced jack outputs, 2 headphone preamps, S/Pdif input and output, Midi Input and output.
This very complete Firewire interface, debuted in the market with a very affordable price (less than 500$ - 350 Uk pounds), and it represented a step forward in professionality for many bedroom producers, since until then, the only manufacturers that produced audio interfaces with those specs were Behringer, Samson and Phonic, two brands known for the cheapness of their components.
M-Audio sets itself one step higher than those three brands, making audio interfaces affordable and at the same time accettable in terms of quality; obviously its preamps cannot be compared with the Apogee ones, and its drivers are not well performing as the Presonus Ones, yet after ten years I still use this interface, today mainly for monitoring purposes, having switched to other devices to acquire the sound.
Today M-Audio, as well as many other producers, is moving away from firewire interfaces, since are dangerous for the motherboard (which can sometimes fry when hot-plugging), and since Usb interfaces are getting more and more reliable, but ten years ago firewire was essential for every "small studio", since it guaranteed a reproduction stability, especially for large projects, which Usb interfaces weren't able to give.
If you happen to cross one of these, and it is in good conditions and at a cheap price, I'd recommend you to give it a try! 



Specs taken from the M-Audio Website:

Sample rates: from 32kHz to 96kHz, plus 192kHz playback only to output channels 1/2 and headphones.
Analogue inputs: two, balanced XLR with switchable global +48V phantom power, or unbalanced TS quarter-inch jack instrument, both using mic preamp with up to 66dB gain plus optional 20dB pad, or unbalanced line-level TS jack at fixed -10dBV sensitivity.
Analogue outputs: eight unbalanced TS quarter-inch jacks at -10dBV level (can directly drive up to 7.1 surround), two headphone outputs with individual level controls.
Digital I/O: S/PDIF in and out on phono co-axial and Toslink optical supporting AC3 and DTS formats.
MIDI: In and Out.
Connection to computer: two six-pin Firewire ports.
Frequency response: 20Hz to 40kHz, +0/-1dB.
Signal-to-noise ratio: -104dB
Dynamic range: 108dBA
THD + noise: 0.00281% at 0dBFS.
Dimensions: 9.25 x 7 x 1.9 inches.
Weight: 2.95lbs.


HAPPY THIRD BIRTHDAY GUITAR NERDING BLOG!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

My Favourite 5 Vst Plugins for Mastering (with free and Paid Vst plugins)


Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today we're completing the overview started with the article "My 10 favourite plugins for Mixing", taking a look to my favourite 5 plugins, free and paid, for mastering.
Why this time 5 instead of 10? Because even though the track can be processed in many ways for mastering, as many as for mixing, I personally prefer to arrive to the mastering phase with an already perfect mix, in order to reduce the processing in this phase to the minimum.

So here's the top 5 Vst plugins that are essential in my opinion in every mastering chain.

1) Compressor: I usually use a broadband compressor instead of a multiband one, because I've noticed that sometimes multiband compressors can ruin the complex castle of cards that is a balanced mix. Among the paid ones, my favourite ones are the Slate FG-X, and the Black 1176 module of T-Racks,  while among the free ones I suggest to try Variety of Sound Density, which is really good, Reacomp from the Reaper plugins suite, and the DiscoDsp Nightshine, which is the reproduction of an Alesis 3630 hardware module.

2) Equalizer: In this section I'm going to repeat what I've always said in the Mixing version of this article: my favourite paid equalizer is FabFilter pro Q 2, which features also a very useful frequency analyzer, and among the free ones, one of the most reliable of all is ReaEq.

3) Harmonic Exciter: Here too, I suggest the same plugins that I use for mixing, confirming once again that often you can mix and master with really few processors, there is no need to load 200 different Vsts in the same project: Harmonic Exciter for its capacity of choosing the frequency area, among the free ones (or you can also try the interesting Antress Audio Modern Exciter), and Izotope Ozone among the paid ones, because it's probably the absolute best for the task.

4) Limiter: On this side I like to keep it simple and traditional: the classic Waves L2 is a standard choice for many professional studios, while among the free ones, there is an insteresting clone of the Waves L1 called Yohng W1, that is definitely worth a try.

5) Metering Tool: I actually use metering tools and frequency analyzers on every step, from mixing to mastering, and even though there is often a frequency analyzer and a metering tool bundled on most of the Daws, I sometimes stick to those 2 freeware ones:
TT Metering tool to keep an eye on the general loudness, and Blue Cat FreqAnalyst to see if there is still some frequency left to tame.

Let me know what do you think about this list and which are your 5 favourite mastering plugins!

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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Interview: Marco "Cinghio" Mastrobuono (Hour of Penance and Kick Recording Studio)


Marco "Cinghio" Mastrobuono is a lot of things: he's the bass player of one of the most influential death metal bands in Europe, Hour of Penance, he owns a Promotion/Production Agency and a recording studio: the Kick Recording Studio.
Here's his interview:

GuitarNerdingBlog: Hello Cinghio and welcome to Guitar Nerding Blog! Introduce yourself to our readers, tell us your story!

MarcoCinghioMastrobuono: Hi there, and thanks for this interview, really appreciated!
I'm Marco, 28 years old, bass player in Hour of Penance, guitar player in Buffalo Grillz, and dictator at Kick Recording Studio.

GNB: Tell us about your career. We know you worked in many projects during the last few years, and the two most important ones are obviously Hour of Penance and Buffalo Grills.
Which are your career highlights? Which are the artists that influenced you the most? Is it there still some collaboration that you wish you would do?

MCM: Touring with Cannibal Corpse (2 times) was a real dream coming true. I was always musically inspired by them, and Alex is one of the living reason why I play bass.
They are great musicians, and you have no idea how much they are great people, so easy, so funny. 
I still remember one night around Melbourne with George totally wasted after so much drinking. Still one of the funniest night of my life.
It was incredible to play in Indonesia too, the crowd there is crazy and we played in two of the biggest festivals out there, Rock in Solo, and the Hammersonic Metal Fest: thousands people, surely the biggest crowd I've seen in my life.
Another collaboration I wish to do? Slayer. After that I could even quit with music, hahaha.

GNB: What do you think about the actual music business? What are your thoughts about underground and mainstream music scene nowadays?

MCM: Everywhere is great, everywhere sucks. I don't like to talk bad about music scene or business around the world. Hey, music is hard, being a musician is almost impossible, it was hard in the past, it is hard now, and it will be hard forever. You can do all you want in your life, you've just to work fucking hard, sleeping is not contemplated.

GNB: What do you think about the digital music distribution? What about the file sharing? How do you think the music business will evolve in the future?

MCM: File sharing killed the music. In the past if you were courious about some band you had to get your ass out of your home and you go to see them, buy the album, follow them.
Now everything is ready, you listen to the band on Youtube. Youtube is the biggest nightmare ever... All music production is going down, why? Because why should I do an album with a giant and professional production if people will listen to it on Youtube at 144p?

GNB: Tell us some funny story: which one has been your best/funniest experience as a musician? And your worst one?

MCM: The best moment was probably when Nergal from Behemoth tried to read my name on my passport and he said “MARCO MASTURBATIO”. From that moment during all the tour I became MASTURBATIO.
My worst one? Almost 10 years ago, I was touring with my old band and after 2 days of traveling we arrived in a shitty club, we played with 14 years old kids playing Black Sabbath cover in the worst way of the planet, we played in front of nobody, the soundguy left during our show, and when I was putting all the backline in the van under a huge rain, a guy with a beer arriveded and punch me in the face. I litteraly destroyed that guy after that.


GNB: Since many readers of our blog are mainly interested in the technical side of the guitar world, can you tell us something about your studio and live equipment? Can you tell us about the recordings of your latest album?

MCM: I recorded bass on last Hour of Penance album using my Spector EuroLX 5 Alex Webster signature. 
I endorse Spector and there are no better basses out there, every time a band comes into my studio, after making the bass sound I say “Hey, just two second, try this bass, then choose which one you want to use”. Well, the last 10 album in my studio were recorded with a Spector.
In studio, for bass I use Aguilar amps, my favorite one is the DB750, but it's a giant head, and very difficult to bring on tour... So I got a smaller Aguilar Tone Hammer, to bring it on tour with me.

GNB: Tell us something about you recording studio (Kick Recording Studio): which Daw do you use? What are your favourite vst plugins? Do you use hardware outboards or you prefer to mix in the box?

MCM: I'm not a VST fan, and I really love hardware. You know, there are some kind of music you can mix in the box... But if you are in a rock band, and with rock I mean from Led Zeppelin to Behemoth mixing with analog stuff (in my opinion) will give you a different tone.
I could spent hours listening my Urei 1178 working on an acustic guitar, or a bass track going thru my Distressor...And yes there are many VST EQ, all working very good, but, i will always prefer my API, and I'll get a couple of Neve very soon.
Are you using impulses from drums with your favourite samples downloaded from Internet?
No problem, but I still prefer getting a real kick and snare thru my 1073 Neve.

GNB: Let's talk about guitar tone: what is your favourite way to get a good guitar tone? Do you use vst amp simulators or you prefer to mic a cabinet? Have you got any tip to share?

MCM: The ONLY vst amp simulations I like are the Ignite stuff. The Emissary VST is the best amp simulation ever, and the ONLY one that could sounds like a real amp.
Don't tell me “Oh my Fractal sounds like a real amp”, “My Kemper sounds even better!!”, you are a liar, and you know it. I always get problems with digital stuff, especially on the low/mids freq...
Try many mics, don't use more than two if you're trying to get a distorted sound, and start always with an SM57, than add something else.
Get a great cabinet, you can use the best head in the world, if your cabinet sucks you'll never get a good tone.


GNB: Do you have any advice for the guys that wish to open a recording studio on their own, or to become mixing or mastering engineers?

MCM: DON'T DO IT.

GNB: The interview is over! Tell us about your latest works, projects and tours! Thank you very much and we hope to see you soon live!

MCM: Thanks a lot for your time, it was a pleasure. I'm working to some stuff in my studio, and you can check on my soundcloud page all the recent works, please, tell me what you and what you don't like, I always try to improve myself, and your opinion is important.



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