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Make Noise upgrade complete!

Make Noise workspaceThe heavy lifting of the Make Noise Studios redo is complete! And it's been a lot of heavy lifting, mostly figuratively but a tad bit literally, as well.

Following last week's installation of the Mac mini, Logic Pro, and MainStage, I replaced the Mbox Pro (3G) with an Apogee Duet 2. The primary driver behind this upgrade was to simplify the working environment. The sound quality of the Apogee is stunningly pristine.

I lost the MIDI port on the Mbox so I also added an Motu FastLane-USB 2x2 MIDI port to support the MIDI Moose / MIDI Solutions Pedal Controller for computer-based looping. I am going to keep the Mbox on the sidelines for now, for its routing capabilities which I expect to use for more complex mixing challenges. For stereo recording and mixing, though, the Apogee is superb.

Speaking of computer-based looping, I spent several hours today configuring MainStage for guitar and guitar synth looping. The initial learning curve was steep but the results are outstanding. I am more excited about this looping setup than any I've ever used, including both hardware and software loopers. I spent several hours throughout the day playing with the setup. It is rock solid and wonderfully functional.

MainStage provides the capability to build virtual controls, define how the controls interface with the real world hardware controls, and how those controls then interact with software plugins. I spent quite a bit of time building a control panel for Loopback and saved it for later use as a building block. MainStage does not allow the use of Program Change messages to do anything except, duh, change programs. This presented a conundrum in that the MIDI Moose only outputs Program Change messages. I installed a nifty utility called MidiPipe that hijacks a designated MIDI input port, manipulates the data stream, and puts the data back out into a MIDI pipe. In this case I simply converted the Program Change messages to Note On messages and configured MainStage to use those to control the Loopback plugin.

With the MIDI problem solved and the Loopback control panel created, I built two looping templates, each with three loopers, one for guitar and another for guitar synth via the GI-20. I can add more loopers if needed in just a few moments, but three is a good working number for most of my looping situations. I can also easily save the sound files from a looping session and import them into Logic or Pro Tools to use in a song.

Make Noise workspaceThe final step was an upgrade from the Line 6 POD X3 Pro to a Line 6 POD HD Pro. The HD is the latest in modeling technology from Line 6 and the amp models "feel" like real amps with the same kind of sensitivity to nuance and touch. I still have the FX Loop for both line level and stomp box effects, a feature I routinely use to patch in Alesis ModFX units, a Boss SP-303 Dr. Sample, or a Korg KP3 Kaoss Pad for serious sonic manipulating, filtering, and mangling. As the HD only requires 2U of rack space, as opposed to the X3's 3U, I consolidated into a single 4U rack with the Furman Power Conditioner, PreSonus MP20 preamp, and POD HD Pro. I use the PreSonus when the job calls for a "straight" signal, such as feeding computer-based amp models or recording DI bass lines.

The new Make Noise configuration is incredibly powerful and sonically outstanding! Just as important, the workflow is greatly simplified with the technology disappearing in the face of creativity. Which is, of course, as it should be!

blog for the music of Loren Claypool



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