Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Black Country Communion = Pure Awesomeness

I know, I'm a little late to the party, but this band just kicks ass. I'm just a huge fan of Joe Bonamassa and love this band. Black Country Communion. Check them out.

Creative Ways to Use Guitar Effects Pedals

New Audio Ecstasy article! Creative Ways to Use Guitar Effects Pedals Very cool ways to use your guitar effects pedals! Featured on Ultimate-Guitar. keywords: audio, ecstasy, music, guitar, stompboxes, effects, pedals, ultimate, guitar, ultimate-guitar, blog, rock

Tips for Better Mixes

New Audio Ecstasy article! Tips for Better Mixes Featured on the front page of Ultimate-Guitar.com This article is full of great tips for helping you get great sounds when recording in the box with whatever DAW you prefer! audio, ecstasy, music, guitar, stompboxes, effects, pedals, ultimate, guitar, ultimate-guitar, blog, rock, DAW, pro tools, logic, avid, reaper, apple, mac, digital, audio, workstation, bit depth, sample rate

Tips for Recording Electric Guitars

New Audio Ecstasy article! Tips for Recording Electric Guitars Featured in the Tuesday Wisdom segment of Ultimate-Guitar.com! Tips for getting great electric guitar sounds. audio, ecstasy, music, guitar, stompboxes, effects, pedals, ultimate, guitar, ultimate-guitar, blog, rock, recording, electric, guitar, amp, microphone, gain, staging

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Seriously, Apple Computers are a Joke

It's quite comical to me how Apple computers function. I perceive it like a child playing in the sandbox that doesn't want to share their box of cookies with you. There is so much potential and capability with an Apple machine, they just choose not to let you utilize it.

Perhaps Windows is too user-friendly. That was sarcasm, people.

I attended a lecture on common maintenance procedures for the recording studio, and the focus was on Macs. To restate, I realize a large portion of the multimedia industry runs on Mac. I am perfectly adept at The workflow of a Mac

Gibson vs. Epiphone

Sure, Gibson has the notoriety, but Epiphone makes damn good guitars. Many people prefers Epiphones to Gibsons purely because Epiphones have certain necks that are entirely their own, in addition to many other specifications.

Many, many players even endorse Epiphone as readily as they do Gibson. When it comes to live performance, however, I've noticed that these same players rely solely on Gibson for their show.

I just think it's interesting that when it comes time to truly throw down, Gibson is the only one they go to...


I own and play both brands. Of course Gibsons are "technically" better, but I've played some Epis that just smoke. Epiphone makes a mean semi-hollow (I'm looking at you Dot!), and they are more than worth considering. To my mind, there is little difference between a high-end Epiphone and a low-end Gibson.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Boycott Apple

On one hand, the Apple corporation is a bloated monstrosity of a fortune 500. They design products that inherently fail, are under-intuitive, and they farm their customers for every penny for features that come immediately standard on competitor devices. They upgrade too frequently (...Avid....) They don't stand behind their products, and will abandon ship without hesitation.

Apple fans can be divided into one of two camps. People who are totally unaware of how a computer works, and people who are distracted by shiny things. I can totally get on board with someone who's not in to computers just wanting something that functions, but it's a real shame how many people are getting ripped off/ripping themselves off/letting Apple rip them off. Most of this comes in the form of customer farming on Apple's part, as well as unnecessary/required updates, and many people's unending desire to test out the newest most expensive, unproven gadget.

Apple has come a long way from the days of exclusively proprietary hardware and frantically searching the yellow pages for someone who can perform "Mac repairs". These days there are fewer differences than ever between PCs and Macs, but those differences are still readily apparent and divisive.

The fact that Mac sells so many integrated desktops is a shame, considering from a component and constructive perspective it's just a really, really gawky laptop that's not mobile. Integrated is integrated. What's even more a shame is that Apple is well-known in the media industries of film and audio for being a workhorse, but this is totally unfounded. It's the same answer as to the question, "Why is Pro Tools the industry standard?"

...because it just is. No rhyme or reason. Give me one legitimate argument for Mac over PC in the audio world. None. Logic is a joke, and the name is certainly tongue-in-cheek (as anyone who's operated it knows, there's nothing logical about that GUI!)

At least most things can go cross-platform. The only real problem seems to be when Mac guys have to go back and forth with PCs. I know that I never have any issues going from PC to Mac and back again. I hope I haven't jinxed myself!


If you don't feel like spending the time to find an alternative to an Apple product, find someone like Audio Ecstasy Productions that specializes in IT and DAW customization. I guarantee we can find you an amazing machine for about 1/3 of the price of any Apple product you've looked at.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Digital Devolution

I had the blessed opportunity to attend NAMM 2012 in beautiful Anaheim, CA. I noticed that there were a lot of new gadgets to interface with iPad and ooPods and every other new digital musical toy under the sun.

Digitech even had an iPad/pedalboard dock. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for technological advancement. There is just absolutely no sense in these products! The board costs approximately $500, as does the iPad. The fees associated with the iPad such as subscriptions, app costs not even factored in, one could buy the actual gear they are trying to replicate with the tablet/pedalboard combo.

I honestly cannot see why so many companies are trying to make bandwagon sales for products with SUCH a short consumer shelf life like iPads. Everyone knows these things are fly-by-night. Nothing will ever truly replace analog for music.

Have fun with your toys. Me and the rest of the real guitarists will still be running across the stage to stomp on those little boxes.

If your tone ain't broke, don't break it.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Reaper is a Great DAW

Seriously, if you haven't tried Reaper yet give it a shot:


It's extremely intuitive and customizeable. It completely blows PT right out of the water. And it leaves virtually no footprint, freeing up your system!


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Your Earbuds Are Driving You Deaf

Earbuds are insanely bad for your hearing. The funny part is, most people have no idea that they're even detrimental to your hearing, let alone to what extent...

Would you put your head inside of a kick drum...?


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

AEP eCrater Store

We just opened our eCrater store, check it out!

guitar pedals


AEP Blujay Store is up and running!

Check out the Audio Ecstasy Productions Blue-Jay store. - guitar pedals- cables- effects- signal processing- used gear

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Pro Tools for Pro Fools

DISCLAIMER: An audio professional who doesn't like Pro Tools? Right here. I don't like anything Apple either. And guess what? I have zero problems in my sessions, because my non-Pro Tools, PC rig is so stable. I have an intimate knowledge of Pro Tools, as I feel every audio professional should, but I would never recommend it be used and I would never opt to use it myself. Anything PT-related in my studio is a project sent to me and if at all possible I always bounce the files to another DAW.

When building a new DAW or looking to purchase one, many people ask me "Why is PT the industry standard?"

My response?

"...because it's the industry standard." Let's start at the beginning...it's a warm summer's night in ancient Greece. Maybe not that far back...

The truth of the matter is that this whole digital audio thing has really only become plausible in the past few years. There have been some great advancements in the technology, but pretty much up until recently Avid (formerly Digidesign) had a total head's-up on the market. This has drastically changed.

This is how they were able to control the hardware market. Until recently, you had to have Avid hardware in order to even open PT, they've since realized the dire situation in the economy and fixed this. This is where the previous question of how PT became the industry standard gets answered. Studios have spent thousands, and sometimes hundreds of thousands, into their PT HD and other rigs. Despite any amount of technological advancement, no one is just going to abandon a huge investment like that for the newest, unproven incarnation.

So aside from the hardware aspect there is another little piece of pertinent fact...PT just isn't that intuitive. By this I mean that PT is just NOW getting capabilities that other programs (Reaper...cough...cough) have had for years, or even since V1.0! This is probably the biggest check mark in the con column against PT for me...why would something that costs hundreds to thousands of dollars to get going be intentionally designed to be so under-functioning?

The reasons for this could be many. Obviously, Avid wants their customers to be totally subservient to them. Newest unproven and bug-ridden update? Gotta have it. Expensive tech support when your system inevitably and inexplicably fails? Maybe Apple has something to do with it...

Now down to the actual end user operation of the Pro Tools DAW...

Have you ever tried to use it? The constant switching of tools and grid modes is beyond tedious. Not only is it the tedium, the frequent switching of these necessary applications to do anything at all in Pro Tools leads to an even MORE round-about and sloppy editing process. Other DAWs allow you to perform the switching of editing tools, etc. through keystroke shortcuts and macros, essentially only requiring you to use one tool (the mouse cursor).

The way that PT handles plug-ins is another issue entirely. You mean there are only a few type of Pro Tools-specific plugs that I now have to acquire and master? TDM? Audiosuite? RTAS? Why should you allow Avid to dictate which plugs you use, and not the power of your computer? Complete nonsense.

"So, what does PT do right...?" you may be asking. Not a whole lot, comparatively. While I do like PT for editing audio for video, it is a huge problem that it's only possible to export Quicktime movies (there comes Apple again, rearing its unwanted head). Quicktime movies are not a professional file extension by any means. Whether or not the exportation of higher-quality video files is a feature of better versions of PT (like HD) is unknown to me. I have only done foley in PT to an already edited video file. If I were to have to edit together the video in PT, I would probably find a new line of work. I can only imagine how that workflow would be...

I think the worst part of the whole Pro Tools argument is their blatant disregard for the customer. Instead of really trying to make a solid product that needs few updates, they intentionally cripple and neuter the program, so that the constant updates and frequent upgrades in hardware and software just become unmanageable. This might mean nothing to the million-dollar studios (of which there are very few left), but it means everything to the musician(s) trying to record in the bedroom, basement, or garage.

Those are the people who are really investing in Pro Tools, and the ones that Avid cares about the least.


Monday, March 5, 2012

Use Your Guitar Pots!

It's astounding how many guitarists just turn all of their volume and tone pots to 10 and forget about them.

The volume control alone is worth at least 1 boost pedal! How about some guitarists past that used one channel, non-master volume amps? How did they get a clean sound? They rolled their volume back!

The tone pots provide an EQ within arm's reach. One of your pickups too brittle? Roll off some highs.

There are a zillion variations.



Our eBay Store!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tasty Links

I wanted pass forward some amazing resources that I've found very useful. I give you the gift of information. This is an ever-expanding resource, so check back frequently as I compile a more comprehensive list. I don't claim ownership of anything available here, I'm merely trying to pay forward some of the amazing resources that have helped me. I've tried to organize the resources:

: Simply put, the best pro audio forum. Whatever you need to know is in there.
Reaper: My choice DAW. Very lively community.
KVR Audio: Great resource for plugins

Pro Audio Resources
Tweakheadz: This writer definitely knows what they're talking about. Great info.
Slipperman's Guide to Recording Distorted Guitar: AMAZING! Read it.
Pro Sound Web
Pro Audio Files
Pro Sound Blog: love this guy's writing

DIY Components and Custom Builds:
Build your own gear!

General Guitar Gadgets: GREAT resource for guitar pedal builds, and general electronics schematics
DIY Stompboxes: more great DIY stompbox and circuitry information
Geofex: More amazing pedal info
AMZ Guitar FX Projects: Great schemata!
AMZ Guitar FX Blog:

Touring Resources
Indie on the Move: Terrific list of venues and touring resources.

Lo-Cal Music:

Guitar Sites

: I write articles for them. GREAT tabs! There is some great info to be found
Uber Pro Audio: Outlines gear rigs for famous musicians, mostly guitarists and bassists. Some drummers.  Fantastic resource.
GuitarGeek: They let the site gather dust and will randomly update it every 5 years. What information that's there is great though
Jamtracks: This is a great site that offers backing tracks to solo over. A great assortment of meters and styles.

Articles This is a list of articles I've found around the web that really enlighten and inform on all aspects of music. Descriptions beside each link.

Creating Realistic Drum Parts via Samples: Tips and information on making drum parts assembled with the variety of sample programs available more realistic.
Avoiding Intersample Peaks: Inter sample peaks and how they relate to master clipping in your finished mixes.
Issues with 0dBfs: A great read on how the levels of your mixes translate to different playback systems.
Black Viper: This guy is the Yoda of digital audio recording. Read every letter in his site and then commit it to life. He is a master.

Stoner's Top 6 Tips for Becoming a Better Guitarist

These are tips that every guitar player of any skill level can take to heart. They really do work.

1. Rehearse how you are going to perform.

I spent a good year and a half basically sitting most of the time when I would play. I had to completely retrain myself to play standing up. Save yourself some time and stand the hell up!

2. Learn entire songs, not just riffs.

It's great to learn riffs from your favorite bands/popular songs, but in order to fully draw every last bit of inspiration from looking over the songs of others you should learn every last note. And don't be afraid to tackle a song that's a little bit above your ability!

3. Change strings regularly/wash your hands.

There is no better sound in the world than a saturated tube amp and a sweet axe with fresh strings. Dead strings sound bad, so change those bitches at least once every 2 weeks. Dead strings also affect what the singer hears (don't ever forget those guys)!

EVERY TIME you play, make sure you wash your hands first. This will at least double string life and make it much easier for your fingers to glide across the strings.

4. Enjoy yourself.

The minute you stop having fun is the minute the music suffers. There is nothing greater than coming home from a great band practice and jamming out to some Green Day or Nirvana. When you are enjoying yourself it will shine through in your playing.

5. Diversify.

Something can be learned from all genres, even the ones you hate.
I'm about as typical a rock guy as you'll meet. But I recognize the amazing ability of players like John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola, Joe Pass, etc. Rock music is basically an orgy of styles so don't be afraid to branch out.

6. Read Guitar Magazines!

I cannot explain how much reading Premier Guitar, Guitar World, Guitar One and all their affiliates (and occasionally Guitar Player) has helped me. They have lessons galore on any facet of guitar playing you'd like to learn as well as interviews, reviews, etc.

The internet is also an amazing place for knowledge. It's quite literally unending. Most guitar magazines now feature loads of online content, not to mention the internet-only guys like Ultimate-Guitar.

Read these. Soak up the information. You will be a better informed guitarist. It's great to learn, cause knowledge is power.

Stoner's Top 6 Tips for Touring

Here it is, through years of "get-in-the-van" (and sometimes RV) experience. These seemingly small things matter when you're stuck in the middle of Texas in July and no civilization for miles.

6. Always Have Toilet Paper

5. WELLNESS. The road can wear you out quick. STAY HEALTHY. This means plenty of water, a solid (healthy) diet, and plenty of supplements (I'm talking about vitamins! jeez...). Depending on what kind of tour you've mapped out food can actually end up costing more than gas.
Dollar menus are tempting but the best way to conserve is to buy food and bring it with you. Bulk is even better. You'll have better nutrition with food you bring anyway. If you have to do fast food Subway is your best bet. It's pretty healthy and cost efficient. Not to metion delicious!
One thing about 98% of musicians overlook is hearing protection. You gotta sound good every time you're up there and you can't do that if you're deaf from the opening bands. Decent, although not very "musical", earplugs can be had anywhere. The foam kind that expand in your ear canal.

4.Appearance Agreements, no matter what level of success you have, are VERY important. Tour riders as well. Just because you're not Bon Jovi doesn't mean you can't ask for a few essentials. Even if it's just a case of bottled water at every venue you'll be taking plenty of free water on the road. Did I mention water is important?

3. Logistics. Duh. I was on a tour where we drove from Phoenix through Albuquerque to Houston, and then back to Albuquerque and over to Arkansas. All because the CEO of the label was too arrogant to admit that he needed to alter his strategy. Don't let that happen to you. He was booking us in dive bars in buttcrack towns in the middle of nowhere.

Know your market and have set goals.

ONE SHOW PER DAY. Two if you can swing it. An acoustic/radio/promo show in the morning as a warm-up and then the main show later. You are on the road, so PLAY!
Book every stop within 200 miles of each other. Trust me.

2. !STICK TO THE F*ING BUDGET! I have been on so many tours that ended far too soon because of mismanaged money.
 There are fans you'll meet on the road that will help you with meals, letting the band crash at their crib, or even letting you park the big-ass van in their driveway. These are the true fans, and the people that make this lifestyle so meaningful.

1. Make Band Family. THE most crucial factor in the success of any band is chemistry. If you can't stand being in a room with each other for 3 hours how do you expect to be thrown into a situation (tour is war, trust me) where you are giving everything and making little money, sleeping in the van, etc.

It is a labor of love. Support each other. You are family. No matter what anybody tells you there is no substitute for touring. Road dogs. Your record sales will thank you.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Fix Your Studio Pt. 2: Hearing is Believing


No one is a bigger gearslut than me. I'm always trying to keep my gear acquisition syndrome at bay. I know I'm not alone in this. When something needs to be improved in your studio, the first thought is often to buy some new and relatively useless (b/c you can't use it properly, or you just plain don't need it) piece of gear.

The problem is often no more complex than what you hear, and where you hear it. Let me break it down...everyone wants those expensive monitors...to mount in their bedroom. The fact of the matter is most domestic residences are pretty much the opposite of the kind of construction you'd want for a studio. They're square, right angles for days, and unavoidable standing waves. Modes. It's nasty, nasty stuff.

The point being that it's almost impossible to work with audio when what you're hearing isn't exactly what's there. You'll have problems with your mixes translating always. Unfortunately, this is in my opinion the hardest part of trying to create a professional studio from the ground up - sound treatment is expensive. There are plenty of resources on the internet about how to make your own bass traps (vital for small, square rooms!), diffusors, etc.

It's also important to set up your monitors in an equilateral triangle at ear level in relation to your listening position. This ensures proper stereo imaging and frequency recognition.
I'm going to say it again. It's really, really hard to work with audio when what you're hearing in the room isn't exactly what the real audio actually is. You either have to fix your studio, or learn your monitors and your room very well in order to compensate for the deficiencies of the monitoring environment.

Fix Your Studio Pt. 1: What's That Buzzing?

In my unending effort to enhance everyone's audio experience I would like to start a series of posts based on very rudimentary, but very ignored concepts in audio. Application of these simple ideas will have you making better recordings immediately.

Pt. 1 - "What's that Buzzing?"

DUH! I bet if you look at how your studio is wired, the audio cables and power cables are in a Murphy's Law situation with everything going every which way. Well, this introduces a very nasty kind of interference. It will literally contaminate all audio passing through. Now, it's not a HUGE issue for the project studio, but it will certainly lead to less than professional results time and again.

Electrons are buggy little critters, and they love chaos. So...WIRE YOUR STUDIO EFFICIENTLY AND CORRECTLY. Patchbays are your friend, people! Keep cables maintained and organized, and if your audio and power cables must run near one another, make sure they are running perpendicular and NOT parallel. They should only cross as "intersections" of cable, and some of my fellow engineers even put cardboard between cables that are crossing, although the effectiveness of this technique is debatable.