Monday, July 22, 2013

Free Sound Samples

An EXCELLENT set of sound samples - a large library thats good and free (a legit use of torrent!).  Its actually a compilations of compilations donated to the project.  Very extensive, will serve any use or genre.

Use the Torrage link, and enjoy the plethora of goodies.  I've pulled some nice drum samples outta here... still exploring but enjoying what I am finding!

OLPC sound samples

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Winamp Lite

Winamp has long since been a favorite for playing mp3's.

This isn't going to be a long drawn out post... just bringing to your attention a great lightweight mp3 player in Winamp Lite (scroll down to see the link to download).

Super fast load times, good and simple interface.. its really the classic winamp that I fell in love with many years ago.  I suggest not installing the winamp agent, I see no reason for it to run constantly just to speed up the load time a bit when I want to play an mp3... especially since Winamp Lite loads lightning fast anyway - about as fast as notepad!

Here's the link again

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Guitar Cabinets - Open Back vs Closed back - A General Discussion

Guitar Cabinets - Open Back vs Closed back
- A General Discussion -

Open Back

An open back guitar cabinet has either no rear panel or a partial rear panel.  The rear sound wave emanating from the speaker driver will be heard.  This has advantages and disadvantages as will be discussed.

Closed Back (sealed)

Closed back guitar cabinets are sealed enclosures, where the rear wave of the speaker will not be heard - as it is trapped inside the box.  Again, there are advantages and disadvantages to this design.

Frequency Response

Assuming the same driver is used, in general terms an open back cabinet will have less bass and a more pronounced midrange, the higher frequencies are less effected, but they can appear brighter due to the lack of bass.

A sealed back cabinet will typically have more bass, and overall will have a warmer tone with the higher frequencies relatively dim.

However, different drivers will exhibit wildly different behaviors.  Some will sit well in a sealed enclosure, some better in an open back.  Typically speakers with a more powerful motor will work better in a sealed enclosure, while weaker motors will have a smoother response in an open back.


Dispersion is the sound radiating pattern.  Open back cabinets will disperse sound nearly in all directions - whereas a sealed box will exhibit a much more directional dispersion pattern.

Stage monitoring is a benefit to open back cabinets, where the sound will radiate out to the crowd and back onto the stage as well.  A sealed enclosure will better direct sound out to the crowd while the sound will not be heard as well by the other musicians on stage.

As open back cabinets radiate sound from the rear, it creates a situation where placement relative to rear walls becomes a factor.  Even tilting the box up will alter the frequency response  The sound becomes more "open" and less direct, apparantly filling a larger area.  Open backs outdoors, however, lose many of their benefits as there may be little to no rear wave reflections reaching the listeners.


Responsiveness can be understood in terms of slapping the strings... a more responsive rig will have a POW sound that is short and percussive, where a very unresponsive rig would have long boom.

While this is incredibly driver dependent, a sealed back enclosure will generally have a tighter sound and will be much more responsive.  The lower frequencies are more affected, but even the upper midrange can gain responsiveness in a sealed box.

An open back can totally lose the definition of individual notes in the lower frequencies, this may or may not be a concern depending on what is being played.  Sometimes a muddy sound is desirable, and some drivers designed for open back cabinets remain quite responsive in their ideal enclosure.

Power Handling

With the speaker supported by a "spring" of air, the sealed box will naturally handle more power.  It will be much more resilient to frequencies that are below the normal operating range of the guitar, as well.  While there may be less heat dissipation - which can be a concern when there is heavy guitar for long periods - this is generally not an issue.

A sealed box will typically have a more linear response through the operating range.  As more power is added, the speaker continues to get louder until thermals and mechanical limits are approached.  With an open back these limits (particularly in the lower frequencies) are easier to reach and exceed.

The increased power handling allows a closed back box to be cranked with less concern, and more power to be sent to the speaker, which will of course result in more output.


The ability to easily transport and easily setup is imperative.  Ideally one trip is made and setup happens in a matter of seconds.

The storage gained by having an open back can be a wonderful thing.  The inside of the cabinet is a great place to store cables, stompboxes, picks, tools, etc.  Care must be taken, however, to not puncture the speaker cone by poking something through the rear.

Open backs are inherently lighter as well, as the strength of the enclosure is less of a concern than a sealed box.

Open back cabinets will cover a wide range of playing situations, where a wide dispersion pattern may be needed, a quick setup/teardown is needed, and weight is a concern.


For the DIY'ers, an open back cabinet is much simpler to design and build - with a large margin of error.  A sealed enclosure, if too small, may create too much midbass and not enough low end... and if it is too large power handling will suffer as well as weight will increase.

Materials for an open back are relatively not of great concern, construction can be a bit lackluster and great results can still be achieved

In a closed back, however, materials are of great concern.  An air leak can create a whistling sound and alter frequency response.  A weak enclosure can either be blown apart or resonate in very undesirable ways.  A closed back cabinet also needs a method of getting the signal from the amp into the box - which can also complicate things.


It is certainly possible to design an enclosure with a removable rear panel.  This way either can be tested.  This may seem ideal but having a removable rear panel will generally make the enclosure a bit less strong than if the rear panel were glued in.  It, as such, is more likely to resonate and is is not likely this resonance will create desirable results.  Air leaks are also more of a possibility.  A bit of engineering can resolve this, of course.

The enclosure size will have to be designed to favor the closed back, so desirable results can be obtained when the rear is on.  This will likely create a larger enclosure, but it depends on the driver utilized.

This also opens the possibility to create partial blockage, to "tune" the cabinet.  This is certainly the ideal way to prototype a box, and when the greatest results are achieved the final enclosure can be built with the newly discovered information in mind.


Both designs have their ideal situations... with open back being very commonplace in the guitar world as it will cover a wide range of situations and is in general the more practical choice.  Closed back enclosures offer a different sort of tone - the tighter response and greater power handling/output may be worth the extra weight and loss of practicality.

While this post can help you decide in terms of what to look for, you really should listen to both cabinet designs in a few different situations.  Be aware of what your driver is built for and, if possible, build your own convertible box and try all of the above. has a great enclosure design tool called WinISD - this can help you to find the ideal size for your sealed enclosure.  It can also help design ported and bandpass enclosures, although the properties they exhibit are generally undesirable for emanating guitar tones.

Review - Guitar Rig 5 by Native Instruments

Guitar Rig 5 is not only my favorite version of Guitar Rig, but it is also the best method of shaping a great guitar sound that I have found in the digital realm.

Obviously a storage room full of vintage and modern pedals/fx processors/amps/speakers/mics is a tone shapers wet dream - but unless you can swing 100k+ in equipment this just isn't a reality.  Guitar Rig replaces approx ($) worth of equipment in one smooth running standalone app (or VST if thats your flavor).

After some time with it I've come to love GR5 for not only processing guitar, but for processing everything!  The reverbs are excellent, the compressors are as well.  The amp sims are very useful to add character to any and all sounds.  GR5 is really a great mixing tool - perhaps moreso than it is useful for guitar!

The sounds are NOT true to life tube amp full stack stadium quality, not even close... BUT the unique processing options are extremely useful.

The live useability is something I've explored deeply, and frankly its just not realistic.  The inherent delay - the complicated setup - boot times, bugs... etc etc... its just not worth it to run Guitar Rig live.  A good multiFX board (the zoom g3 for example) offers PLENTY of processing capability without the hassle of carrying around a laptop/interface device.  If I had a crew behind me, I'd make them do the work, but I don't so its not happening!

This does not in any way make Guitar Rig 5 less FUN to use though!  The tone shaping options are endless, and amazing results can be had without alot of effort.  The sound remains relatively "digital" in nature, but its not inherently bad in any way.

When I use Guitar Rig on my guitar its typically without any amp simulations - processing the clean sound of the guitar and adding reverb/delay etc as needed.  I like to use it as a VST plugin and combine it with other plugins (like the classic series here).

Mainly, though, I use it to process any and every sound.  The reverbs are very very useful, and the various distortions are useful to add grit and grain to a boring sound.  I like especially to parallel the effect using Reaper's plugin wet/dry mix - or sometimes even automate the mix to make things yet more interesting!

Really, this is one of those desert island programs... give me this and give me Izotope Ozone + Reaper and i can mix some sweet sounds.

I suggest trying it out, get the demo here: Native Instruments

DR Tite Fit JZ-12 - heavy electric guitar strings (with soundclip)

The DR Tite Fit JZ 12's are my string of choice for my electric guitar.  These are the best out of the box sounding strings I know of, and they hold tune exceptionally well.  They also hold tone exceptionally well - while also being pretty durable.

There is much joy in a "heavy" set of strings for the electric (this gauge of strings is "light" for acoustics)... MUCH more tone comes out - significantly more of the guitars character can shine with the heavier strings as they produce much more tone acoustically.  This means more acoustic vibrations and of course more output from the pickups. 

BUT in addition there is more metal for the pickups to pick up, and this helps greatly with dynamics - allowing soft passages to still remain full and delightful where lighter gauge strings can start falling short.

Truly the only disadvantage is the heavier strings are more difficult to play - and the DR JZ-12's are no exception,  Even with a well setup guitar with low action fast barre chord changes are much more difficult to smoothly accomplish than even with a set of 11's.  The big difference is the wound G string, which changes the feel dramatically.

The wound G is really the highlight of this set of strings though, its all personal preference but my ears love the wound sound.  Non-wound G strings are much more "quacky" sounding, and for chords that use the top 4 strings the non-wound G can stick out like a sore thumb.  Style comes into play, but for my style its would G all day.

The JZ-12's sound great right out of the box, definitely bright as new strings are - but not annoyingly so.  The bass is full, and the sound very clear and articulate.  People say often its all about the player, but there is a reason a tuba doesn't sound like a bike horn - even though they are both horns.  Different guitars/different strings just plain sound different, and the search for what works for us as guitar players can go on indefinitely...

But I am 100% satisfied with the JZ-12's.  The 1st string has enough body while not being at all dull, and the 6th is good and bassy without being muddy.  All in between are equally great, with the wound G in particular sounding more articulate than other sets I've used in the past.

One very important thing to note, though!  These strings are MUCH bigger than what comes with most electrics, and the nut is not necessarily going to fit the top 4 (eadg) strings at all.  So it may not be as simple as slapping these on old reliable and enjoying the tone.  Going heavy can be a commitment, you might have to get your nut cut to fit properly.  I did, and I'm never looking back.

Check out this soundclip - using a yamaha g50-112 and a mic to pickup the guitar's acoustic sound.:

Plenty of my projects include sounds from  This site is dedicated to linking recording enthusiasts with those who require sounds of all sorts in their projects.  Filmmakers, DJ's, Music Producers, people creating presentations... etc.

If you need a sound, this is the first place I suggest checking.  Most sounds carry the attribution license, which means you can use the sound for free as long as you offer the author credit.

When I say "sound" in this context it can mean anything from a snare drum hit to the sound of wind howling to the sound of a Tibetan Singing Bowl .  These sounds may be actual field recordings or synthesized.  There are packs of sounds as well, and one excellent sound pack is this acoustic drum pack . 

If you produce any sort of music I strongly suggest becoming a member of .

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Review - Low Impedance Oxygen Free Silver Cable - UK Made

YES cables matter!  Particularly when dealing with the low level broad frequency signal passive guitar pickups put out.  A cables impedance and capacitance will dictate the frequency response and overall impact of the tone.  A higher capacitance/higher impedance (which is measured per foot) will mellow out the tone, cutting out the high end.  This may or may not be desirable.  Typically with this loss of high end comes a loss of punch and overall dynamics, again, not necessarily a bad thing.

GFS Stock Photo

As well, silver is a better conductor than copper, and copper is a better conductor than gold.  In the case where the metal is exposed to air, though, gold trumps both as it is more resistant to deterioration.

Is the difference dramatic... from one extreme to another, sure, a "bad" cable can totally ruin your tone with hum and total loss of high end and dynamics... but if a cable does not introduce hum it is "good" and the differences are certainly more subtle than going from a humbucker to a single coil pickup... although the overall effects are relatively similar.

With the prerequisite knowledge out of the way we arrive at the meat of this review - how performs the GFS Low Impedance Oxygen Free Silver Cable (its labeled Rosetti, apparantly a UK company)?

For comparison purposes I have here a 10 foot run of the GFS "noiseless" value cable (a great deal as well!) and a 20 foot run of the typical big box sort of 1/4 "instrument" cable.

Between the 3 cables the 20 foot run of big box stuff has the least high end and dynamics out of the bunch -  somewhat to be expected from a longer run of cable, I'm talking the difference between tone knob @ 10 and tone knob @ 7.  The GFS noiseless cable is slightly better, I'd suspect the 20 foot run of noiseless would be slightly better than the big box, if not the same.  A note, I have an older "noiseless" cable that has developed a bit of hum, but I've used it heavily for about 6 months and no cable is indestructible.

The GFS silver cable (Rosetti), on the other hand, blows the other 2 out of the water.  The difference is ASTOUNDING!  Not only is the high end clearer and extended, the entire range of the guitar seems to be cleaner and more punchy.  Noise rejection is as good as any 1/4" cable I've used.  Its not a total game changer, I could certainly "get by" with the 20 foot big box run, but for just a bit more $ the silver cable is absolutely worth it.  Actually the silver cable reviewed here is cheaper than alot of 10 footers out there that are only copper and do not have gold plated connectors.  Most silver cables start at a much higher price.

The increased high end is in no way undesirable.. in fact I find myself rolling UP the tone knob now to get yet more of the new found "crisp" high end into the picture, whereas with my other cables the high end is relatively harsh and annoying.  I draw comparison to speaker crossovers, where the difference between an elecrolytic capacitor and a metal film capacitor is the difference between a smooth high end and a harsh one.

The build is pretty solid, but I'd really love to have a strain relief.  The insulation is pretty tough, though, which is both a good and bad thing as it makes the cable relatively stiff.  The connectors will probably last forever, extremely solid 1/4" plugs.

Really I don't see a reason to buy the cheap stuff, this cable is noticeably better and doesn't cost that much more.  Once signals get to a higher output the differences fade, but if your connecting your guitar to that first pedal/straight into the amp this cable will absolutely transfer more of your tone.

You could pay more for a cable that will muffle your tone, or just go straight to silver, which I am convinced absolutely is a better choice for guitar cabling.

Go check it out, definitely worth the investment.
Link to GFS Website