The Making of a Sample CD Rom Page 1
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Sound Development Journal of Rich the TweakMeister  while Making the Post-Industrial CybrSound Depot

by Tweak

October 10,2000 to

March 18, 20001
(more info on this cd rom)

 

10-10-00

I've decided to do it and make an EOS only version of my Emu format sample CD Rom "Ice Kold Tekno". I am already a week into the project. Every preset will be re-tweaked in EOS 4.1 and more controllers (cords) will be added to each patch to make your Emulator sing like a vintage MS20.  Plus I will be adding more samples and more presets, how many more is still up in the air at this point, but I won't stop till I break some boundaries. As some of you know I don't stop till I blow myself away!

(ed. note:  Post Indie turned out to be a new product entirely.  I did update Ice Kold to V3 during the course of the project, then let Post Indie go its own way.)

Already I've got a few of the Ice Kold Tekno Orkestras I made when doing the SoundFont version mapped in and you will find them powerful and useful. Plus there will be some far out space effects I learned while making Celestial Windowpane (ACID cd rom) and there will be plenty of tempo synced loops and tempo modulated stuff. I just have to add a few samples tweaked with all the great plugins I have. Finally, I will be adding some Trance 'N Dance presets.  ESi users should still order the original Ice Kold Tekno 2.1 as this coming "EOS only" disk will not be compatible with their samplers. EOS users should definitely postpone buying Ice Kold Tekno till this update is in the can. Its going to cost a little more, but it will be well worth it.

10-21-00

The Ice Kold Project moves along with great momentum. I've sampled in about 125 all new ms20 samples so far and the bank is now 126 megs, 602 samples and 514 programs. I'm retweaking all the sounds to make them contemporary with an industrial electronica edge. It's interesting to note how my own tastes have changed in the 3 years since I published the original Ice Kold. The new disk has a harder and softer edge to it. The dancey sounds are bright and quick and the pads are dripping with luxurious softness. Making great use of the morphing filters in EOS and have lots of trance like bpm presets made up. I also am not shy about using my great plugin library to add effects to samples before sending it to the e5000. I am at the point of deciding to go beyond just doing a great update to the Ice Kold project and calling it a different product. Ice Kold Electronica perhaps, as its more trancey than techno. Debating including my great 808/909 set, which I've yet to release anywhere. Rich

11-02-00

Tweaking like a madman every night since the last update, except last night when I had to update the mp3 page.. Two of my songs hit #1 in their genres!  Making projects of this scope is intense.  Time flies away so fast.  You open up something like a 128 meg bank and start tweaking  then the sun-comes-up-again and..the next night we do it again.  Every night, new discoveries, new sonic terrains explored, gems excavated and polished in the search for the newest and coolest sounds. Sound development is the quest for quality, something ineluctably subtle, but powerful. I am reminded of the old book I read in college, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and the discussion of Quality.  Added about 50 more samples. more drums to round out the kits, 808 toms, some deep kiks, and a more authentic sounding dance snare, more hats, snarey filters (stuff you can edit to make more snares) a crisper and thicker handclap, more hand drums (which work great as mallets) and of course I can't resist effects samples of the ms20's idiosyncrasies.  My old kits and new kits are retweaked in EOS and the envelopes are made precise and exacting.  Of course I fixed all occasions of emu's translation bugs from the ESI to EOS.  I've added more analog replicas of orchestral instruments, violins, violas, cellos, sections, and made up new woodwind waveforms.  I'm making sure the analog orchestras sound better than they do in the Ice Kold Tekno Orkestra.  That's not easy as those are tweaked as deep as SoundFonts will go.  But EOS tweaks even deeper, and these will be great when finished!  I've added most of the ms20 sourced loops that i made for Celestial Windowpane.  But I downsampled every one to make them small, munged them up, added delightful weirdness, and placed them all in a kit so they would play together.  The kit is one of the coolest lo-fi presets I've ever made, bizarre, yet usable, ala Mystik garage. 

11-15-00

Last Sunday I hit the 640 preset mark I had set for myself.  We are at 726 samples in the 128 meg bank.  I've added my custom 808/909 samples tweaked out of rebirth and have put in a multisampled 303 bassline keymap too, where every key has a different 303 filter.  The 808/909 kits give you that classic dance/trance drum sound which you have heard before.  But what you have not heard is my ms20 kits (and there are many many all new ms20 drums in this project) layered with the 808/909.  This allows you to get drums that are classic and crunchy with totally original and unique colorings.  You may not be able to find better analog synth drums anywhere else. 

Right now I am making demos and just tweaked up the original Ice Kold Tekno demo "The Ogre pops In" on the new project, to ensure compatibility between the two.  I want to make sure those of you that have the original Ice Kold Tekno will be able to play your older songs.  That part, thankfully, is done, and I can get back to breaking new ground.  There is a (rough) demo of some of the bpm presets on my mp3 site.  

The way these work is that when you have the midi tracks running in your sequencer, you can speed up or slowdown the tempo and EOS will automatically make these looping sounds stay in sync.  This is absolutely great for trance and dance tracks, and it gives the project some incredible uses in diverse forms of electronic music.  I've also made sure that there are many presets that are arpeggiator ready--i.e., short attack and release.  I've made dozens of new synths out of the ms20 samples, lots of bright Junos, Jupiters, prophets, Moogs, Oberheims that have a dancey edge.  While there were a handful of these in the original ice Kold, now they are here in plenitude.  These work great with block chords and with arpeggiators, and also make great synth loops if you like to construct those.  (They will be a critical part of my next acid loops project, so i am making sure they are as loud and bright and mix cutting as possible.)  As I did with the ESi, I have found the tricks in EOS to make loud and huge soundscapes.  I think i have even found ways to make the harsh distortion of the 'harder' filters to sound tasty.  There are precious few settings that do that and you have to hunt a long time to find them.   

Probably one of the more striking features of the bank are dozens of all new 'FX waves'. I discovered during the original Ice Kold that i could loop and idiosyncratic blerp, bubble, or blip on the ms20 and come up with awesome stereo synth FX.  Well I have more of those and I've gone farther down this road.  In the waveform editor I look for those miniscule moments where an ms20 patch fall in/out of sync/ tune, or completes a filter cycle and starts another.  Then I crop to just that little segment, loop, and viola,  new strange synth sample.  I recorded hundreds of ms20 patches of knob twists and scrutinized each one for novel, interesting transformations.  I found a bunch of cool stuff, and they will smoke your Emulator in very industrial ways.

I'm not done tweaking yet.  And I'm not done thinking about ways to make this the most mind blowing cd rom you ever loaded into EOS.  Here's some ideas--tell me what you think, OK?

1. Making the project updateable by sysex.  That is allowing you and me to create and post new patches presets and midifiles.  just like people do with synths.  After all, This is a massive bank of synth sounds, with 4 times the memory of a typical modern module.  Why not support it just like a synth?  Because SoundDiver has such an excellent EOS interface, we could easily share small files of sysex data and completely update the bank as often as we like. 

2. Opening a station on Mp3.com where I will post all of your songs made with the project.  I already got my feet wet doing this with Celestial Windowpane and I like the idea of developing the community of people using the project.  This is something neither emu nor any sound developer gives you.  I think of it as unparalleled support.  Tell me what you think about that.

I'd like to think that when you buy into my projects you really buy more than a set of sounds.  You get into a community of artists. 

OK back to tweaking.  

 

Post indie thinks out of the box

11/20/00

OK, I admit.  I am having a hard time putting this project to bed.  That's because I MUST blow myself away before I release and I am not there yet, nor even close.  And believe it, I am working like a madman on this project.  Decided the MS20, no matter how extensively i tweak it, cannot deliver the Kraftwerk/Orbital type sounds I am wanting. I can get close tweaking the EOS filters to the max, but it's just not the same.  So i have gone to the fountain of gear and slapped a used TX7 in my rig. Just a note here:  I have tons of synths and samples here, but I will not sample anyone else's samples.  I program from the ground up.  This assures you of getting a real royalty free disk, and I can sleep better (hah! what programmer ever sleeps!)  

Now the basses sound right and I have some wonderful FM strings.  I know FM synthesis from the years I played with a TX81Z. Thanks to the great editor in SoundDiver, patch-making is intuitive.  Yes! The editor is that good!  When you need clean and precise sounds, nothing does it like FM!  I've already made 100 patches and I've only had it one day. I'm excited because FM is the perfect antidote for the MS20.  The ms20 is analog and sloppy, gritty, and wonderfully imprecise.  FM is clean, precise, almost surgical.  So Yep, the disk is going to have both, plus the 808/909/303 stuff.

So! This disk is going to let you do what many of us remember from the 80's.  Blending analog with digital.  Some of may remember the sounds of the Juno and Jupiter with the DX7 and how nicely these made music.  Well the MS20 is the granddaddy of all these analog synths and when sampled it can mimic them all.  You want those brash Jupiters and tweezy Junos?  There here!  I even tweaked up the ultra cheese-mo CZ Violin on my ms20 (in addition to very warm sounding legato strings and tons of intense analog orchestras.  Now with the TX samples making their way in there's a clean sheen on the top.  I am not gonna stop till the sound of this project is absolutely breathtaking. We are closer.  Pleased stay tuned!

11-22-00

We are now at 770 Samples and 708 Presets. The big news.  You guys are in for a treat, you are going to get my newest batch of FM Noise forms.  The inspiration for these comes straight off the cutting edge, which for me is like hyped electricity.  There's 17 of these.  I was saving them for a later project, but decided they had to be in here.  These are the most interesting FM noise based waveform I have ever heard.  When you are doing industrial you need lots of sources of noise.  The Analog Noiseforms from the MS20 are in this disk too, and its a softer, richer noise.  FM noise is harsh, grating and more metallic with odd overtones and ripping harmonics.  The thing about noise harmonics is that the EOS filters react to them as there are more frequencies present. .   For instance, put one of these in the bat-phaser and you get shards of metal falling like snow. 

Since I have the TX7 all hot and bothered (the flat top makes a great coffee warmer) I just had to sample in the classic DX7 piano.  Ok, you tweaks, I can just see you guys rolling your eyes. For those who are new to this game, the DX7 classic "bell piano" is probably on more hit records than any other synth sound ever made.  Every general sound module on the market tries to imitate it.  So why did I add it?  Well, it sounds exactly like a DX7, and I think that sonic footprint is needed to make a range of other cool ambient sounds.   Its just 4 samples, but it sounds great. 

I am now focusing on ambient sounds.  Just listened to Orbital's album "Diversions" and made a list of 20 ambient sounds I want.  These are all short little samples of a filtered bell tone.  Then there is a matter of pads with inharmonic bell qualities that create beautiful atmospheres you have probably heard in some of Vangelis stuff and Kraftwerk.  To me this is the critical offset to analog.  As we paint with colors, contrast illumines the qualities of the opposite.  Maybe now you see why i had to add the best patch the dx7 ever made.  I am not the first person to layer it with others sounds, and when you hear it in my bank you'll hear the ghosts of many great tweakmeisters when FM and analog was all we had.    

Also just about finished demo 2, which demonstrates the 5 velocity layered TB303 patches.  Each of these 5 has 4 layers of velocity so you get those idiosyncratic "squelches" when you play hard, "edges" when you back off, "glurps" in the middle and does the classic spectral lowpass when played light.  Also note the new awesome ms20 sounds--from woodwinds to classic synths, new outrageous filter effects, hehe, and a sharper drum kit. 

 

     I still have 2 megs free from my last cleanup/relooping.  Some of those MS20 samples from Ice Kold Tekno were really long so cut them up, more efficiently looped them and downsampled where I could get away with it.  The mystery: what will make the cut. 

11/25/00

Looks like I am going to take a bit longer and go the extra mile Right before finishing demo 2 I got into making up the set of space sounds out the the fm noisewaves and fm bell tones.  You'll hear 3 of them in the introduction.  Yesterday I also made up more basses and pads, and cleaned up and fixed more stuff. I'll be making another demo soon--there's no better way to test things.  I'm making sure every preset is useful in practice, not only good sounding. We are up to 756 Presets. I know what some of you may be thinking "Yeah, but how many of them are actually any good". Answer:  all of them.  I certainly know the sentiment.  I have a stack of cd roms 3 feet high and about 85% of that footage has been a disappointment. I am shooting for the top of my stack.

11/28/00

I now stand reminded, thanks to Andrew from the Emusaic list, of the preset RAM limitations in the older Emulators of 456k.  This limitation is going to force a rethinking of things, as the unfinished Master bank now sits at 1177k.  So I will divide it up into smaller banks as an option and make sure I keep it within the older machine's max bank specs.  It's possible i may simply remove all of Ice Kold Tekno yet leave the new ms20 sounds.  If i do this I'll have to remaster the original Ice Kold CDROM adding the EOS 32 meg native master bank.  Freeing up 32 megs means more room for more stuff in a 128 meg bank and I'm looking at my Wavestation and Ensoniq VFX and dare i say some LA synthesis partials. Hmm might have to hook up the Atari to review some of the many thousands of LA and WS patches I made in the early 90s. Man that would be awesome.  But it will add significant delay to release.  Your thoughts are important to me.  So you should know the Ice Kold section of the Cyber sound depot may be axed.

  

 

12/02/00

We have now reached 833 presets and 824 Samples.  My last clean up has resulted in 10 more megs free.  Decided the longest ms20 samples had to go. The master bank from Ice Kold Tekno is still in.  Now we have plenty of creative space left to add some powerful samples from my synth modules.  I've decided to add tweaked up stuff from my VFX and Wavestation.  Both of these are vintage PCM synths.  More than sample playback, and filling in the middle ground between analog and FM synthesis.  I am finding the truly unique and best waveforms, tweaking then sampling.  Decided not to multisample, unless its absolutely critcal, like on strings.  This gives you a vast sound palette, a synthmaster's delight.   With these new waves in I could go on forever.  With the PCM waves in, the sound is now massive.  The more I add, the more patches become possible.  I'm already looking forward to organization and am considering a number of schemes.  By the way, the true test of any bank of samples is organization, so you can find things.  There are 8 full 88 key kits where every sample is represented, in addition to at least 15 different drums kits.  You will find them very useful as you construct you songs.  

12/08/00

Bank organization in progress!  I've been organizing for 5 days!  Whew!  Every sample and preset is named with prefixes that tell you what kind of patch it is, and in the case of samples the source instrument, original key and genre.  Go ahead, see how much work it is to do this with a 850 sample and 870 preset bank.  Not only is everything named, but the samples have been successfully moved and put in order.  Yep, all the drones, kiks, and basses (and everything else!) are now almost perfectly organized.  This makes programming sooo much simpler, you will love what I have done.  I think I have always been ahead of the pack on organization on my cd roms, now, I am WAY ahead of the pack.  Organization should be finished this weekend, then we go on to the final creative tweak. This project is just beginning to cross the threshold from being an all-around great cd rom and into the realm of the fantastic!  Hard work pays off.  It's starting to blow me away.  Organization does the trick.  

12/10/00

Decided the project cannot end yet, though its already good enough to go out.  Today I got the new pro52 VST plugin--this is a modeled replica of the old Prophet5 synth made by Sequential Circuits.  Yep, your gonna get a dozen or so samples from this synth--I find it rounds out the synth section of the disk rather nicely.  I also am adding some custom tweaks made in Dynamo, as in Reaktor fame.  The sound of these virtual synths is phat and awesome.  I really like the ring modulation possibilities in Dynamo.  With it, I am filling the the little gaps in the CyberSound palette of colors, retweaking anything that sounds weak or redundant.  I really like this stage of the project as ever move I make adds value.    

12/14/00

Having a marvelous time with Dynamo and the Pro52 software synths.  They are so tweakable, its rather mind-blowing.  The drawback with using software synths in a sequencer is latency, the ever so slight delay from note on to sound. The really cool thing about then is that you can spend some energy making a waveform, sample it, and its sounds better in the sampler.  The latency problem is gone and you have a new stack of filters and envelopes to throw at it.   So there's even more samples and presets.  Looking like its going to wind up at 912 presets and 905 samples, a very well endowed palette indeed, and tons of fun to use.  What remains is making a few more drum kits with the new drum sounds I tweaked up, one more 88 key kit (which will make 11 for the disk). 15 more samples, the creation of a few more performance-oriented presets, then bank reorganization#2, the chop down into smaller banks for older eos machines, the master burn, cd artwork and posting to the secure site, the writing of support pages and deciding on price.  I'm estimating 2 more weeks and a few days

12/17/00

Still at it but can finish a within hours if I want, but I don't want to just yet. As we approach the finish, I am working around the clock.  I filled the remaining 15 sample slots then decided I wanted more 'Orch hits'.  So I found another 3 megs by tightening some loops and re-sampled away.  Made some beautiful stuff today (err...yesterday, it 4:40am): some really huge pads. The synth orchestras are very powerful, wispy, bombastic, pastoral, dark, bright, hi-fi, lo-fi... There must be over 100 pads and 50 synth orchestras on the bank, but today's are, if i say so myself, better than any I've made, and better than any presets in all my synths.  With 930 presets, the possible combinations seem nearly endless.  Also retweaked the basses today. 

12-21-00

Many new developments in the project.  I finally after a few years, got my d110 running again.  Went into SoundDiver and found my old patches and sampled the heck out of them.  The D110 was a Roland synth based on the D50.  it had LA synthesis, which was a combination of PCM samples of instrument attacks attached to a analog like oscillator with filters and resonance.  It also had a facility by which the voices could be combined, like a dx7 combines sine waves.  So you are going to get some of the best sampling from this type of synthesis.  These samples form the middle ground of the palette.  We now have the ms20 with the gritty vintage edge, the TX with its crystalline purity, and the d110 and wavestation and VFX in the middle.  The Software synths add the modern phatness, and there you have it:  Synth Power! 

As a result, the orchestras are upped in sound quality.  There is also another new drum kit--the Cyber kit.  These are tweaks out of the d110 and processed in Sound forge and they are unusual. They don't sound like the old d110's mushy drums.  Spent hours on them to make them really hot for DnB.  I also made some discoveries about the envelopes in EOS and tweaked the basses again. Many are now optimized for Trance.  The old Ice Kold Basses are all transformed with the exception of 3 or 4 that could not be improved.  I sequencer tested them yesterday and they will be some of the best sequencer basses you have played.  They work in a mix.  You will like them!   I'm uploading a new preset list now.  Check it out,  

At this point, no more samples can be added, without deleting something else.  I'm in critical mode now.  If i hear anything objectionable it gets fixed or killed and replaced. 

12-24-00

I am tentatively closing the Master Bank.  I will be back for 1 more sampling session and one more programming session and the final re-tweak.  I am moving to begin to create the secondary banks for older EOS users.

 

12-26-00

Happy holidays.  OK, enough of that. Back to sampling!  The sample set is finished, and yep, there are 998 samples on the bank and i cannot fit any more.  The final samples were some wicked drum samples from my archives.  Developed a new kit just for them, called the "Hard Kore" kit.  They are smokin!  Now I am finally happy with the drums!  There's great variation. Also sampled in some consonants and vowel tones using my voice.  Use these as attacks to synth tones, esp. basses.  Unique and gutsy!  Finally, i am revising the bpm patches tonight.  EOS is not as complete as the proteus units for making these, but I am coaxing out the secrets.  Those of you who have not yet experimented with the time divisors might find my presets to be of great value as you will find out how its done.

12-29-00

Well I thought I was done.  The past 2 days were spent doing a "final" bank reorganization.  As always, this is a true nightmare with Emu samplers, which do not allow the insertion of samples in a packed list.  The larger the bank, the worse it is as the more there is to be moved.  I will only say after a scsi glitch took my computer to its knees, that I am glad I had 4 backups on 3 different drives. Man!  Samplers really need to dump scsi once and for all! 

 

Anyway.  Positively, the 128 meg bank is totally reorganized again.  Is a breeze to program now, just like a great synth.  So I am going to make this great tweak machine and stop tweaking?  No way.  Right now I am tuning, all the samples.  This is another bit of drudge that comes with making a sample cd rom.  Tuning the programs is not enough.  Samples have to be tuned at the sample level and again at the loop level and finally at the preset level. With 1000 samples you can bet this is a daunting task. But the good thing is that once tuned, problems with samples either disappear or fully reveal themselves and as these problems are eradicated the whole bank begins to lock into a domain of quality 

Relooping and retuning gave me yet another 4 megs. I made up a new acoustic guitar, sampled direct to disk.  Its very nice, best one I've made.  Picked out 2 snips from my Pink Floyd-ish super vox archive I made while doing Celestial Windowpane.  When I made the file I had the best Vox in all my synths singing together in logic Awesome.  So more new samples are in, more old samples are out.  Where does it end?  It ends when I am 100% confident that when you load this disk the 1st time you will be extremely happy.  So I ask myself, if I paid $100 bucks for this would i be happy?  Answer, yes.  very satisfied.  Would I be blown away? Ummm. not quite. Satisfied, appreciative, pleasantly amused, but not blown.  :)  That's not enough for me, folks! So we continue onward.  What makes for a world class sample cd rom?

The way i figure it, the cd rom is art that intends to be included in your art.  To be included in your art, I must capture your heart and imagination with my sounds and you must be convinced that you can capture the heart and imagination of your audience.  This is the whole point to music, is it not?  Music is a message. Sounds are the vehicle. Even the most meticulously sampled string section, for example, has utterly no value if it can't evoke the creator to use it.  And on the contrary, I have kept old synths because they can make one or two sounds that I cannot live without in my music. This is what is going on in my mind. Climbing the ladder of creativity, I'd say I'm finally near the top on this massive project,   I have seen night turn to day and day to night all in the same session more times than can be counted.     

01-01-01

 

Happy New Year!  I thought for sure this would be the final message, but it isn't.  The last few days were filled with more retuning, relooping and adding/replacing.  Just added: The acoustic guitar inspired me to add more guitar samples, so I dusted off my vintage Ibanez Cardinal, a dual humbucker from the 70's that is known for interesting tonal colorations.  I plugged it into my little Marshall amp and sampled all day, coming up with 8 new samples that are to die for.  4 of them went to getting a clean electric guitar sound and its warm and fantastic.  The other 4 are samples of distortion.  This is very tricky business sampling distorted guitars.  I believe I have found usable results that actually will work in a sequencer environment.  95% of the synths I have heard do not have usable distorted guitar patches.  This really rounds out the sound set and I've decided to sacrifice some longer ms20 waves to keep them in. 

Also added a few more drums to replace the weaker of the Ms20 drums and a killer lo-fi timpani, tweaked out of a combination of timpani's, and made an Orchestral drum kit.  Let me remind the purists that this is a synthesized set--do not expect accurate sounding orchestral timbres.  I want everyone to understand this is a quirky, intense synthesized orchestra that is very cool, not an attempt to capture what an orchestra really sounds like.  Got it?  Cool!  (I keep fearing some purist is going to buy the disk and do me like they did the new emu orchestral module in the newsgroups.)

 

Back to making demos today and making sure all the new guitars actually will work for you.  They do. I was mildly blown away while making the sequence up--the acoustic guitar is so pure! And I have a new flute--a combo of waveforms from the d110 and wavestation, with a puff of of my own pan flute added in.  Evocative?  Yes!    Retuning is just about complete.  I will do another retweak of the 100 noise based patches.  With noise stuff there is a fine line between genius and insanity, between utter garbage and art.  So many noise effects in synths sound corny.  These will not.  I already have tons of patches where noise crosses the threshold into the modern sonic beatific realm. .  I just need to make sure they all do. 

 

 

 

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