Music and Sound Design

Musician’s stuff

Solution for active monitors + laptop ground loop problem

This seems to be a very common problem. Active monitors (and especially Yamaha HS series) have annoying hum/hiss/scratchy hi-freq noise coming that depends on your laptop activity: HDD, fans, CPU load. It’s like listening to your laptop inner noises amplified.

My setup is
Acer laptop + M-Audio Fast Track Pro (USB interface) + Yamaha HS50m

If i unplug laptops adapter from the electricity socket – all noises are gone.

Two solutions that worked for me (in different apartments). Both unexpectedly easy.

1. Plug your laptop AC into a different electricity socket. Once I separated the monitors from the laptop this way – problem was solved. It did not help in the new apartment though.

2. Try a different laptop AC adapter. In my case I used cheap no-name Chinese “replacement adapter” instead of the original Lite-On that came with the laptop. And what do you know, to my big surprise – noises disappeared!

So don’t be discouraged if you have ground loop problem: just try any kind of silly small fixes, it might actually work.

If it still doesn’t go away, check, for example, this:

and google for “ground loop”.


Tech fetish

I personally have no use for this piece of gear in my studio currently, but hell, such a beautiful piece of hardware! :)

Printed music library online

If you are ever in an urgent need to take a glance on some classical piece – I highly recommend you this online printed music library. It’s in Russian (use Google Translate), but it has tons of scanned music, like, for example, all the most popular pieces for piano. As well as full orchestra score, jazz songs, choir etc. Maybe if you play a piece it will be better to get proper score (printed stuff doesn’t look so good and can be hard to read), but as a “take a quick look at that Chopin prelude” resource it is simply irreplaceable!

Preparing tracks for live performance

That’s very basic, but good technique for making your track ready for live performances – allowing to tweak and play around with different layers without much risk.

Samplitude for DAW

There are certain stereotypes in the audio industry and, to my mind, they are really just stereotypes. When you hear about best multitrack software the list will feature Cubase/Nuendo, Logic, ProTools first. Some years ago I felt somewhat pressured to learn Cubase, so that I meet “the standard” and can write this magic name in my CV. Yet, the only magic I found was from Magix. Samplitude is what I started with back in the end of 90s, and that’s still my choice today.

I just don’t get it how people can wait for so long to just load the fricking Cubase!? What is it loading there? Samplitude opens in a couple of seconds. I always loved that. Maybe it’s irrational, since you need to load your DAW just once to start the work, but once you are used to see a window with proposal to load the most recent projects in a couple of seconds – why would you wait for eternity?

Anyway, that’s not the main reason to like Samplitude. I think its object-based editing is just incredible. It really gives me a feeling of flow. You can split audio into different segments, manipulate their length, duplicate, apply different insert effects to each segment…

On YouTube kraznet is regularly publishing tutorials, some of them are very useful.

Nowadays you can achieve necessary results with so many competing applications – approach is going to be slightly different, but result – the same. I think the time of “industry standards” in software is practically gone. Just find your most inspiring tools that let you work effectively and fit you best.