We’re pumped to announce that the band will be playing on Friday, February 23rd at Silvie’s Lounge in Chicago!

This is a great small venue on Irving Park in my old neighborhood that’s known for booking up and coming acts into multiple band reviews. We’ll be on for a 45 minute set that night, featuring a boat load of songs that have never been heard in public. It will also be the debut of new bassist Steve Kingwell, who joined the band via a mutual friend in the Oak Park School of Rock program.

This will be a big night with a lot of firsts so I hope you can join us to be a part of our band’s history. More info about the event is available on the venue’s Reverb Nation page.

After a few weeks of swapping ideas for a band name, the guys and I did an unscientific survey of the people around us and landed on: Miles Maxwell. The logic for the move was pretty simple, there’s already a website with lots of stuff about our music on it and it’s pretty easy to say. Hopefully, it’s easy to remember as well.

So that means the focus of the site will shift to content about the band, which brings me to another album update. The song list has grown a little shorter in order to facilitate a quicker turnaround. 6 songs are written and recorded, but have yet to be mixed. Well, I’ve mixed them but they sound like the speakers are sitting under a thick blanket so I think it’s wise to enlist the help of a professional.

I plan to provide the final edits to a friend of a friend this weekend and see what the level of effort and turnaround time will be. In any event, it’s exciting times and I’m thrilled to be so close to sharing this stuff with the world.

I spent some time this weekend rethinking my recording template as I prepare for some tracking this week and next. I’ve done this with other programs but decided I wanted to make something new with Reaper. I’ve been using this multi-track recording software for a few years now with no complaints. I realize now though that I was missing some key features that I know will help. In this post, I’ll write up what I created and why.

reaper track view

The track view above is the primary window I use while tracking. It’s got the different sections of the band color coded with some groups and folder of tracks for midi.

Track Templates

I start with the pink tambourine and shaker provided by EZdrummer. I use these instead of a click track as I find I perform a bit better to those percussive sounds than a metronome. I don’t imagine they will stay in most songs but they serve as a nice sound bed for an acoustic and a voice to do a scratch track. They are saved as Reaper Track Templates, which was one of those features I didn’t know about but am now using pretty extensively.

The Green Tracks are the basic string instruments and they’re mapped to the same number track as they are inputs on my audio interface. That means, I see track 3 in the track view and I know the gain and effects for that are running through channel three on my preamp strip. Pretty obvious but feels good to know it’s idiot proof when recording. Same goes for 4, 5 and 6. Right now, 5&6 are a stereo pair coming out of a Line6 Pod Pro guitar preamp so I can record silently while playing along with a drummer. Bass too is recorded directly and silently so the bass won’t bleed into the mics for capturing the sound of the drums. These are a second track template in Reaper.

The blue tracks are a track template specifically for capturing midi from a USB controller and passing that signal along to a Motif Rack tone generator. This allows me to capture my crappy keys performance, fix up the midi after the fact and change the tone patch as it would like later. If I like the take, I can “print” it to another track and repeat if necessary. No latency that I can tell so I’m happy with it. Again, another track template.

The yellow tracks are my basic drum setup. Again, mapped the track numbers with the input channels on my preamps so that track 9 is coming from input 9, same for 10-13. I would also like a hi-hat mic but no extra stands (or SM81s) at the moment so we’ll have to make do for now. Have some basic gating and EQ setup because I know I’ll add it eventually. A fourth track template.

The purple and light blue tracks are another place where my newfound Reaper knowledge has come in handy. I knew I needed a monitor mix and I didn’t want to be constantly muting things so I watched some Youtube videos about how to create an aux bus. Turns out to be pretty simple. Just needed to create two new tracks, one to replace the master (purple) and send it to the monitors and another to send out to the headphone amp. These two are the fifth track template I use. I find myself going back to old mixes and adding these just to get the control for overdubs that I’ve been missing all these years.

reaper mixer view
Reaper mixer view

Hardware In Use

The current hardware chain starts with a pair of Focusrite OctoPres (8 channels each) going into an Apogee AD-16. These tracks then get sent via adat optical to a RME Hammerfall 9652 card for recording. The Hammerfall card then sends 16 tracks back out to an Apogee DA-16, again via adat optical cable. At this point, I’m sending channels 1&2 to a Presonus HP4 headphone amp that’s connected to my nearfield monitors and 8&9 to a Behringer HA4600 headphone amp for the monitor mix. This hardware is all over a decade old. Some of it is premium stuff and other is budget. Latency is still great.

Now, I’m just excited to get to work.