Challenges faced when mastering the new Dicepeople album

For each of the songs on the new Dicepeople album I’ve used mastering plugins in Logic as I’ve gone along. Despite this, however, I felt as if all the songs still needed some additional work during the mastering stage in order to make them work better together and to give them more presence.

I used Apple WaveBurner – a decent application which comes as part of the fantastic Logic Studio 8 suite – to master the CD. Initially I tried using Logic’s plugins to add the desired additional presence to the songs, but I found that, although I think Logic’s internal plugins are fantastic (I don’t currently use any third-party FX plugins at all when working on songs within Logic), this wasn’t quite cutting it. I therefore decided to investigate third-party mastering plugins for WaveBurner.

Initially I looked at the Waves plugins, as these are generally regarded as being very good. I attempted to try a demo of the Waves Masters Bundle, but, after a confusing ordeal, it became apparent that I couldn’t run the Waves demo without first buying a hardware dongle. This seemed fairly ridiculous, so I looked for alternatives. A good bet seemed to be iZotope Ozone, and this came in the form of a demo which I could use straight away.

Ozone is much cheaper than the Waves plugins but still seems to be well respected, and I found version 4 of Ozone to be just what I needed. I used its Paragraphic EQ and Multiband Stereo Imaging modules subtly, and I used the Multiband Harmonic Exciter, Multiband Dynamics and Loudness Maximizer modules more overtly. (I didn’t use the Mastering Reverb or Dithering modules.) The end result was more fatness, presence and warmth on the songs in a way that I’m very pleased with. I was so impressed with Ozone that I decided to buy it once its demo expired, and I’m sure it will come in very handy again in the future.

I have to say, though, I found the process of mastering the CD quite a strain. It’s involved weeks of agonising over subtle details, relative loudnesses, comparisons to commercial CDs, and so forth, and it’s been quite exhausting. I can see why it’s generally recommended that you should pass your album over to a dedicated mastering engineer for the mastering process – their experience and objectivity are things that are very hard to emulate.

Using Drupal to make the new Dicepeople website

I’ve made a new Dicepeople website using Drupal as a content management system. Drupal sits on top of PHP and MySQL and makes the site look nice as well as providing lots of handy things like RSS feeds and user comments.

There are lots of themes available to drastically change the look and feel of the site. I used the ‘Zen Midnight’ theme and tweaked the code a bit to improve the layout. I’ll probably modify it further to change fonts and colours and stuff when I’ve got some more time available to do so, but for now I’m pretty happy with it.

Facebook being rubbish

I was trying to add the Music Player to the Dicepeople page on Facebook so that I’d be able to upload MP3s like I can on MySpace, but when I tried to add the application it didn’t list any pages that I could actually add it to, so I wasn’t able to use it.

Therefore I attempted to contact Facebook to ask them how to fix the problem, so I typed in a message explaining what the problem was and clicked the Send button… and then this happened:

Great. So I guess I just give up now. Sorry, Dicepeople fans on Facebook; no music for you.

NeoOffice: a better version of OpenOffice for Macs

After getting annoyed with OpenOffice recently I suddenly remembered the existence of NeoOffice, which is a version of OpenOffice specifically designed for Macs. I found that they’ve released a new version of NeoOffice based on OpenOffice 3, so I installed it.

I’m quite impressed. It’s faster than OpenOffice, it looks tidier and more like a proper Mac application, it uses the correct keyboard modifiers for moving through text, and it seems to be more stable and generally less irritating. If you’re a Mac user I’d suggest going straight for this instead of the standard version of OpenOffice. It’s also well worth considering as a usable alternative to Microsoft Office, plus it’s about £433 cheaper than that (i.e. free).

Edit: In vaguely related news, I’m trying out a beta of Firefox 3.5 and am pleased to note that it’s a lot speedier than version 3.0. Hoorah.

More OpenOffice pain has caused me to try Google Docs instead

I started up OpenOffice to create a word processor document. Firstly it started annoying me with horrible Windows-style yellow popups from the corner of the screen. Then it started autocorrecting my text, which I ABSOLUTELY FUCKING HATE, and there’s no obvious simple way just to turn autocorrection off. And then it crashed when I pressed Return to create a new line.

So now I’m trying Google Docs instead, which seems much better. Also, it has the added benefit of allowing me to see my documents on my iPhone.