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EZMix 2 by Eric Parsons

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EZMix 2…  Many of us have home-based recording setups.  And many of us may be only marginally proficient in the art of recording.  By ‘marginal’ I mean that while it’s relatively easy to record music, it can be quite difficult to produce a finished product that compares favorably to a commercial release.

The reason for this discrepancy in quality is really quite simple: the folks who do this for a living are incredibly talented and have been practicing and perfecting their craft for years, they work with high caliber musical artists, and they have access to the best gear that money can buy.

Many of us who dabble in audio recording strive to improve our skills by listening to a lot of well-produced music, reading books by engineers we admire, buying gear, attending seminars, buying even more gear, and then praying that all of this effort and expense is actually taking us down the path toward sonic excellence….

If any of the above mini-rant on home recording seems a bit daunting and depressing, take heart – help may be on the way.

So…. What Exactly is EZMix 2?

In techno-geek speak:  EZMix 2 is a multi-effect preset-driven plugin with over 350 pre-configured signal chain options.  Translation:  EZMix 2, by Toontrack, gives you access to a toolbox full of mixing presets to help get you a little closer to achieving your goal of producing pro-sounding tracks.  List price is $179.00.

Installation and Registration

The download, installation, and registration of EZMIX 2 was quick and easy.  I’ve owned software from Toontracks for a few years and registration used to be a little bit confusing, but they’ve really worked at simplifying this process for the end user.  EZMix 2 requires a minimum of Windows XP SP3 or newer or Mac OS 10.5 or higher.  There are 32 and 64 bit versions.  Toontrack provides you with a well-written manual in PDF should you have any additional questions regarding this process.

In Use

You treat EZMix 2 like any other plugin or VST instrument, so just follow the procedures recommended by your DAW to insert it on a track, channel strip, or buss.  Again, you can refer to the EZMix 2 operation manual, should you have any questions.

Once opened up, EZMIX 2 provides you with a nice GUI to help you browse and select the appropriate preset.  You can narrow down your choices by filtering by Instrumental Group, Effect, Type or Genre.  At any time, you can apply a given preset to your track by simply clicking on the preset row and then listen to how it sounds.  Depending on the selected preset, you are provided with up to two additional controls to vary certain aspects of the sound.

Toontrack has stuffed over 350 presets into EZMix 2 and I really felt like a kid in a candy store, exploring all the options.  There are separate presets for bass, drums, guitar, keyboards, percussion, strings, vocals, and even ‘miscellaneous’.  In addition, you can select different presets for modeled amplifiers and speaker cabinets as well as all the classic studio effects, including chorus, compression, delay, distortion, EQ, flanger, gate, reverb, rotary speaker, stereo enhancer, tape simulator, tremolo and wah-wah.   Many of these presets are constructed of multiple chained effects, which give the user an even wider palette to choose from.

A Simple Example

EZMIX Bass Sample, please click to listen:         

The file is a short looping clip of my bass.  Every time you hear a triangle ring, an additional EZMIX 2 effect is added.

It starts out totally flat (with old strings to boot!).

Ding! – A kick drum preset (SubKick2) that adds lows and highs and cuts the mids…

Ding! – Another drum preset (Parallel Drums) that adds parallel compression…

Ding! – A vocal preset (Wide Vocals) that is an enhancer and chorus…

Ding! – Another drum preset (Distorted Drums) that adds some distortion…

I found this plug-in to be extremely functional in the studio—you can mix and match settings from any of the available categories.  (As I was writing this up, it occurred to me that I didn’t even include a preset from the bass category…, which just shows you how usable many of the presets can be, regardless of how they’re labeled.)

While I focused on the bass guitar in the above example, EZMix 2 is designed to work not only with a wide variety of musical instruments, but also in various locations within your setup.  You can apply EZMix 2 as an insert in a channel, as I did in the example, or to a group buss when you want the same effect applied to multiple tracks, or as a mastering effect for overall eq or compression to the entire mix.   EZMix 2 also has a relatively light footprint on system resources.  I was running 10 EZMix Plugins on an older dual core system and still only using 15% of the available CPU.

In Closing

I find EZMIX 2 to be an easy-to-use, fun, and effective tool to quickly dial in usable sounds.  I’ve already used it on a project where I added chorus to a fretless bass track for a client.  I’ve just scratched the surface of all that EZMIX 2 has to offer.  In addition to what we’ve covered here, EZMix 2 has automation capabilities and can operate as a stand-alone product.   Also, Toontrack offers a variety of EZMix expansion packs with presets developed by top flight engineers such as Chuck Ainlay and Mark Needham.  I would encourage you to check out Toontrack.com, watch the videos, and then download the available demo to try it out for yourself … it just might help you kick your tracks up a notch.

For more information, visit www.toontrack.com

Bass Videos

Review: Minuendo Lossless Earplugs Live 17dB

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Review: Minuendo Lossless Earplugs Live 17dB

Minuendo Lossless Earplugs Live 17dB…

Minuendo Lossless Earplugs Live 17dB – Hearing protection has always been front and center on my mind because I love music so much, I cannot imagine my life if I were unable to hear.

You might remember back in 2021, we had a good look at the Minuendo Lossless Earplugs featuring adjustable protection. This system has a lot of very good features but there was always the question of how much sound attenuation to choose.

Now, the great folks at Minuendo have come up with a new version of their earplugs that has a set 17dB noise reduction. You still get a lot of the great features of the adjustables but you just don’t have to think about the specific sound level. In addition, this new version of earplugs comes at a very attractive price point.

For more information, visit online at Minuendo.com

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Gear Reviews

Review: Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp

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Review: Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp

Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp: A Tribute to 90’s Iconic Sounds

Disclaimer: This pedal was kindly provided by Joyo for the purpose of this review. However, this does not influence our opinion or the content of our review. We strive to provide honest, unbiased, and accurate assessments to ensure that our readers receive truthful and helpful information.

In the realm of bass preamp/DI pedals, capturing the essence of iconic tones from the 90s can often feel like an elusive pursuit. However, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp emerges as a great option for bass players seeking to replicate the signature sounds of that era, particularly the revered tech21 SansAmp. With its robust feature set and compact design, the Tidal Wave offers a faithful homage to classic rock tones and low-gain distortions, all while providing modern conveniences for today’s bassist. Let’s delve into why the Joyo Tidal Wave stands out as a versatile and budget-friendly tool for both stage and studio.

Specs:

Measuring at 130 * 110 * 50 mm and weighing 442g, the Joyo Tidal Wave strikes a balance between portability and durability, making it ideal for gigging musicians and studio enthusiasts alike. With a power consumption of just 100 mA and a working voltage of DC 9V, the Tidal Wave ensures reliable performance in a variety of settings.

Controls:

At the heart of the Tidal Wave’s versatility lies its comprehensive control set, allowing bass players to sculpt their tone with precision. Key features include:

– Level: Sets the overall output volume of the pedal.

– Blend: Blends the dry signal with the cab-emulated signal, offering seamless integration of the pedal into any setup.

– Presence: Controls the dynamics of the high upper-mids, crucial for shaping drive tones.

– Drive: Introduces low-gain distortions and classic rock sounds into the clean tone.

– Treble, Middle, and Bass: Provides a 3-band EQ with frequency selectors for bass (40Hz – 80Hz) and mids (500Hz – 1KHz), offering ample control over tonal shaping.

– Middle Shift and Bass Shift: Allows for further fine-tuning of midrange and bass frequencies.

– Ground Lift: Helps eliminate ground loop noise in certain setups.

– DI Attenuation Switch: Adjusts the level of the DI output signal.

– LED Light Switch Control: Allows users to customize the ambient lighting of the pedal.

Performance:

True to its inspiration, the Joyo Tidal Wave excels in delivering classic rock tones and low-gain distortions reminiscent of the tech21 SansAmp. Whether you’re seeking gritty overdriven sounds or pristine clean tones, the Tidal Wave offers unparalleled flexibility and sonic versatility. The inclusion of a headphone out, XLR DI out with cab simulation, and throughout for the original bass sound make the Tidal Wave a versatile tool for both stage and studio applications. From practicing silently with headphones to crafting quality recordings in an ampless setup, the Tidal Wave delivers on all fronts with clarity, definition, and unmistakable character.

Pros:

The Tidal Wave boasts an array of advantages that set it apart from its direct competitors:

– Headphone Out: Transforms the pedal into a convenient practice tool.

– Size and Weight: Compact and lightweight design for easy transportation and setup.

– Rugged Construction: Durable build quality ensures longevity and reliability.

– DI and CabSim: Offers professional-grade direct recording capabilities with authentic cab simulation.

– Familiar Tones: Faithfully replicates the classic rock sounds of the tech21 SansAmp.

Cons:

While the Tidal Wave excels in many aspects, it does have a few drawbacks:

– Plastic Knobs: Knobs may feel less premium compared to pedals with metal controls.

– Cab Simulation Only on XLR Output: Limited cab simulation functionality may require additional routing for certain setups.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of classic rock tones from the 90s. With its faithful homage to the tech21 SansAmp, comprehensive control set, and modern conveniences like headphone out and XLR DI with cab simulation, the Tidal Wave offers bassists a versatile  tool for sculpting their sound with precision and finesse. Whether you’re seeking to replicate iconic tones from the past or forge new sonic territories, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp is sure to inspire creativity and elevate your playing to new heights.

Available online at Amazon.com

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Gear Reviews

Review: Joyo Scylla Compressor

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Review: Joyo Scylla Compressor

Joyo Scylla Compressor: When Quality meets Budget-Friendly

Disclaimer: This pedal was kindly provided by Joyo for the purpose of this review. However, this does not influence our opinion or the content of our review. We strive to provide honest, unbiased, and accurate assessments to ensure that our readers receive truthful and helpful information.

In the diverse landscape of effects pedals for bass guitar, finding a compressor that strikes the balance between performance, versatility, and affordability can often feel like a daunting task. 

However, amidst the sea of options, one pedal stood out as a true diamond in the rough – the Joyo Scylla compressor. Despite its wallet-friendly price tag, the Scylla boasts a great array of features and controls typically reserved for pedals with much higher costs. Let’s take a closer look at why the Joyo Scylla is turning heads and earning praise among bassists on a budget.

Specs: The Joyo Scylla compressor measures in at 109 * 72 * 48 mm and weighs a mere 234g, making it both compact and lightweight – perfect for gigs or studio sessions where space is at a premium. With a power consumption of just 100 mA and a working voltage of DC 9V, the Scylla is efficient and versatile, compatible with a wide range of pedalboard setups.

Controls: What sets the Scylla apart from its direct competitors is its comprehensive control set, offering bassists a good amount of flexibility in shaping their sound. With six knobs, the Scylla allows for a very precise adjustment of key parameters:

  • Input Gain: Adjusts the amount of signal being fed into the compressor.
  • Output Volume: Controls the makeup gain after compression, ensuring consistent output levels.
  • Compression Ratio: Unlike traditional compressor pedals with preset ratio options, the Scylla features a continuous knob, allowing for seamless adjustment from subtle compression to limiter-like effects.
  • Attack and Release: Determine how quickly the compression engages and releases, offering a range of tonal possibilities from punchy and aggressive to smooth and subtle.
  • Output Tone Control: A unique feature not commonly found in compressor pedals, the tone knob adjusts the coloration of the compressed signal, adding warmth or brightness to your bass tone.
  • LED Light Switch Control: Allows users to customize the ambient lighting of the pedal, adding a touch of visual flair to their setup.
  • Performance: In practice, the Joyo Scylla delivers where it matters most – in sound quality and performance. Whether you’re aiming for a tight, punchy bass sound or smooth, sustained notes, the Scylla excels in providing transparent compression that enhances your playing without sacrificing dynamics. The granular control offered by its knobs allows for precise tailoring of compression settings to suit a wide range of playing styles and musical genres.
  • Pros: The Scylla’s strengths lie in its granular control, versatility, and compact design. Its sturdy build quality and diminutive size make it a welcome addition to any pedalboard, occupying minimal real estate without compromising on functionality. However, perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Scylla is its price point. Despite offering professional-grade features, the Scylla remains accessible to bassists of all budgets.
  • Cons: While the Joyo Scylla excels in many areas, it’s not without its drawbacks. One notable omission is the lack of metering, which may pose a challenge for users seeking visual feedback on compression levels. Additionally, the plastic knobs, while functional, may feel somewhat less premium compared to other pedals. 
  • Conclusion: In conclusion, the Joyo Scylla compressor emerges as a great option in the world of budget-friendly effects pedals for bass guitar. Its comprehensive control set, transparent compression, and compact design make it a compelling choice for bassists seeking professional-grade performance without breaking the bank. From its intuitive interface to its thoughtful touches like the tone knob and customizable LED lighting, the Scylla delivers a level of versatility and functionality that belies its modest price tag. For bassists looking to elevate their tone without compromising on quality or affordability, the Joyo Scylla compressor is a clear standout.

For more information, visit online at joyoaudio.com/product/265.html

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Bass Videos

String Instrument Humidifiers

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String Instrument Humidifiers

String Instrument Humidifiers

After living in some very humid parts of the country for decades, we moved to a dryer, much sunnier location. As a result, I started noticing some fret sprout on my string instruments and recently did a video on fret sprout correction.

It occurred to me that I should take a more preventative approach to string instrument humidification. Of course, I turned to my instrument maintenance experts, Music Nomad Equipment Care, for a solution and they suggested their Humitar series. (Note: They sent two press samples and I purchased the remainder online.)

Join me as I look at these useful tools for keeping my string instruments in tip-top condition.

The Humitar series is available online at Music Nomad Equipment Care, as well as Amazon.com

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Bass Videos

Review: CrystalBright Rombo Picks

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Review: CrystalBright Rombo Picks

CrystalBright Rombo Picks

PR Sample

Playing bass with a pick is still a touchy subject in our community. I believe you should be able to use whatever you need to get your sound. Even though I mostly play with my fingers, I like to check out innovative new picks that might have something new to offer, sonically speaking.

Judith and Carlos from Rombo recently contacted me about a new material called CrystalBright that they have been researching for the last 12 months and offered to send some prototype picks. After trying them out, I put together this video with my findings.

For more info check out @rombopicks

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