About Richard Robertson

Lots of experience with music production, especially on digital platforms. Using virtual instruments to create unique sounds & rhythms.

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Acoustica Holiday Special

Acoustica Holiday Special – 15% Off Mixcraft Upgrades

acoustica music equipment sale

Registered Mixcraft users get a break this Xmas to upgrade their version of Mixcraft. Until December 31st 2012, Acoustica is offering 15% off Mixcraft upgrade purchases.

Get more details and all the prices on the Mixcraft Upgrade Price List.

Not sure if you should stick with Mixcraft regular version, or go with Mixcraft Pro Studio?
Compare Features of Mixcraft 6 and Mixcraft Pro Studio 6.

This deal is good until the end of the 2012.

If you are not already a Mixcraft users, then listen to my own Mixcraft demos (mp3 player on the right sidebar), read my reviews on the blog, and try Mixcraft for yourself.

Mixcraft can’t be beat for ease of use and features at this price.

Prime Loops Samples

Prime Loops – Another great source for rap beat samples

Prime Loops LogoRecently, I have been looking for more websites with quality samples and loops to download. I have already made several posts about Loopmasters in the past, but now I have found a few other sites that are worth mentioning. So today I will talk about Prime Loops. PrimeLoops.com is another UK based website specializing in electronic music. They provide royalty-free music loops and samples for musicians, DJs, producers, beat-makers and music lovers in general, in a variety of music styles. The sample collections are ready for download in various file formats.

PrimeLoops pros and cons

The Prime loops website is very well designed, easy to navigate. They offer over 200 sound libraries  of various types (Bass samples, Drum Loops, Vocal Samples, Guitar Loops, Synth samples, Midi files, Artist Series, etc…) in various music genres (Drum’n’Bass, Dubstep, Electro, Glitch, Hip Hop, House, Pop, Rr&B, Trance, Classical, Ambient, etc…). They have also tutorials and tips, and they run competitions.

All products are exclusively available through downloads. So you cannot buy a physical copy (DVD) of a sample pack, which may or may not be a problem for you. Unfortunately, they don’t offer free loops and samples like Loopmasters do. Each product has a good demo song, but a few free samples to download would have been nice. Their price range is a little more affordable though compared to Loopmasters, I find.

According to their user testimonials, big names in the music industry use their sample libraries. If you’re interested in hip hop instrumental production, you should also check out: HipHopProduction.com


Prime Loops Download

So, like I said, unfortunately no free download of samples. But if electronic loop-based music is your thing, then Prime Loops is definitely a great source of top quality samples at affordable prices. So check it out.

Interview with The Nextmen

The Nextmen – Hip Hop and Electronica Sample Pack (Loopmasters)

nextmen - hip hop producersFrom the 10 Loopmasters sample libraries I’ve won earlier on this year, my favorite one is The Nextmen Hip Hop and Electronica.

The Nextmen are a duo composed of Brad Baloo and Dom Search, from Cambridge (UK).
I did not know about them. I am not sure how well they are known in North America but they seem to be pretty well known in the UK and Europe. They have released several albums and they are performing as DJs as well. Their style is a mix of HipHop, Electronica, Reggae, Funk and Club music, and once you will hear their stuff, I am sure you will become a fan like me.

The Nextmen Library Content

Their Hip Hop and Electronica collection is pretty varied, and I personally find the drum loops amazing.
Here is what’s included:

  • 120 Instrument Sounds
  • 120 Single Drum Samples
  • 65 Drum Loops
  • 65 Music Loops
  • 46 Bass Sounds
  • 35 Basslines
  • 20 FX
  • 14 Scratches
  • 12 Bass Pads

This library is available in many formats (Wav, Acid, Rex2, Reason Refill, GarageBand, …) as a download or as a DVD. It has a 5 stars rating with Loopmasters customers, and it received 10/10 from ComputerMusic magazine.

The Nextmen Free Samples And Demos

You want to try out a few samples?
Download those free samples from The Nextmen Sample Pack
(these free samples are for personal use only – you need to buy the library to use the samples commercially)

Listen to the official demo ….

Official Nextmen Hip Hop & Electronica Demo / Loopmasters (mp3)

And a little demo of mine …

My Nextmen Hip Hop & Electronica Demo – with Mixcraft (mp3)

Here is what Dom search has to say about their sample pack:

“We’ve put together a large selection of original loops, hits and phrases for you in this collection, all made The Nextmen way; that is to say with a whole load of lo-fi attitude, stellar processing and in-your-face mixing. Every element of this selection was created with one eye on the clubs. We’ve used vintage guitars, dirty old synths, mos-fet compressors, mellow EQs and a good few studio secrets to bring you ready-to-use parts that should slot nicely into your own productions. We’ve covered both retro and contemporary drum loops and hits, buzzing basslines made from layers of contrasting sounds,  party-vibe lead lines and vocals, all spread over a nice range of useful tempos. We hope you enjoy using these parts as much as we did making them…”

So check out the details for The Nextmen HipHop & Electronica at Loopmasters.com. They also have a few Nextmen videos embedded on their page, worth to watch.

And finally check out  this video, The Lion’s Den by The Nextmen featuring Ms Dynamite and Andy Cato …

… And don’t tell me you don’t like this beat! (great video too)

Midi Controllers For Your Home Studio

Midi Controllers For Your Home Studio

Midi controllers at Musician's friend Are you wondering if you need a midi controller for Mixcraft or your preferred DAW?

Midi (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) controllers do not produce any sounds. By using a communication standard, they serve 2 main purposes:

  1. They allow you to control external midi sound modules, midi instruments or drum machines;
  2. They let you control your music recording application: your transport controls, parameters for vst instruments and effect plugins, track automation, etc…

You don’t have to use a midi controller to make music. You can do everything using only your computer keyboard and mouse to control your DAW and play/record music. But it will be painful. Basic midi controllers cost less than a hundred dollars, so it’s a good investment if your are serious about making music.

How to choose a midi controller?

There are a lot of midi controllers available, in all price ranges and with very different features. So if you are new to making music and beats, here are a few pointers to help you choose your controller.

To select the proper midi controller for you and your home studio, you have to consider the following:

  • What is your music style?
  • Do you play any instrument?
  • Do you have any constraints on space and budget?
  • Do you need a portable controller?
  • What are your goals and preferences?
  • Will you use your midi controller on stage?

You will then be able to choose the features you need:

  • combination of keys, sliders, knobs, pads, buttons
  • number of keys: 0, 24, 49, 61, 76 or 88
  • keyboard with weighted, semi-weighted or synth action
  • usb powered
  • midi connectors
  • audio interface included

Midi controllers are usually usb powered. Musicians into Rap/Hip Hop tend to favor midi controllers with pads (easier to program beats) and small or no keyboards. I personally went for a 49 keys midi controller keyboard.

I am not a piano player so I didn’t need 88 keys. 24 keys didn’t seem enough to me, but it might fit your needs and budget.
If you want to have a lot of control over the parameters of your DAW, you might prefer sliders or knobs, or both, and possibly a lot of them.

Some midi controllers also come with an audio interface. They are more expensive, but if you need both pieces of equipement, it could be less expensive for you than buying a controller and an audio interface separately.

Midi Controllers Suggestions

Here a few suggestions for midi controllers from reputable companies:

AKAI Professional LPK25

AKAI Professional LPK25 Midi Controller $69.00

AKAI MPD26 Performance Pad Midi Controller

AKAI Professional MPD26 Performance Pad Controller $199.99


M-Audio Oxygen 49 MK3 Ignite Midi Controller

M-Audio Oxygen 61 – USB Midi Controller $149.99

Novation Impulse 49 Keyboard Midi Controller

Novation Impulse 49 Midi Controller $349.99

All of the above examples for midi controllers are available at Musician’s Friend. Check out zZounds also for excellent prices and service online.

Other studio gear related posts:
Studio Monitor Speakers
Studio Monitor Headphones

Free Plugins From PluginBoutique

Pluginboutique.com, (another website from Loopmasters) is dedicated to selling virtual effects and instruments plugins online. It has now just released a new section with the best free plugins for musicians and producers all over the world!


This free custom area features all types of plugins. Effects including EQ , Distortion, Reverb, Flanger, Phaser, Chorus, Delay, Compressor, Gate, Limiter, Gain, Filter, Bit Crusher, Modulator, Randomizer, Mastering plugins, and also Synths, Drum Machines, Sequencers, Spectral Analyzers and Audio Editors.

You just need to signed up to be able to download the plugins you want. You will also be notified when the plugins you have downloaded are updated so you always have the most current version. You can sort the list of plugins by Top Downloads and Top Rated and you can rate a plugin to help other musicians/producers.

Currently the Plugin Boutique Free Area offers plugins from the a variety of companies, including Audacity, Vladgsound, Sys Audioresearch, Inear Display, Softrave, Flux, 7air Media, Sinevibes, Distorque, MeldaProduction, Blue Cat Audio, Variety of Sound, Minimal System Instruments, Syncersoft and many more.

So check out the PluginBoutique Free Plugins Area, an excellent selection of free virtual effects and instruments plugins. Download the best music production vst plugins now, at no cost.

Mixcraft 6 receives an award at NAMM 2013

Mixcraft 6 receives an award at NAMM 2013

The Electronic Musician Editors’ Choice Awards have been presented annually at NAMM for more than 20 years now. Their industry experts select the most innovative products in the field of digital audio recording and music production, and EM’s staff editors recognized Mixcraft 6 as most innovative  in the DAW category, at the Winter NAMM 2013 held at the end of January in Anaheim, CA.

Also presented by Acoustica at Winter NAMM 2013, a new version of Mixcraft coming out soon: Mixcraft 6 Vocal Studio, that will be priced at $169.95. This package will include Mixcraft standard version, and the MVS USB Condenser Microphone by MXL (custom-designed for Mixcraft 6 Vocal Studio). Nothing yet about this brand new Mixcraft package on Acoustica’s website … I will keep you posted.

If you haven’t watched it yet, here is the Mixcraft 6 promo video from Acoustica:

And here is what Electronic Magazine had to say about Mixcraft version 6 at Winter NAMM 2013:

Mixcraft was always good for the price. But with Version 6, it became really good, and it’s still the same price. While it has fast, smooth workflow and tons of content, it’s set apart by video capabilities that beat any music DAW, regardless of price—including text and image inserts, clip crossfades, and automatable video processing. If anything ever qualified as the “direct-from-garage-to-YouTube” program, this is it—for less than $100.

Rap Beat Making Software – DubTurbo

Dub Turbo Beat Maker

I did a review on Sonic Producer a while back, feeling that it could be an easy way for complete newbies to start making their own beats. Well there is now a new “Beat Maker software” out on the Internet, and it’s called DubTurbo.

I bought it last week. Same price as Sonic Producer ($29.95) but it looks a lot better. I just toyed a bit with it. I will do a more in depth review later, but for today I will give you my first impressions and a quick Dub Turbo vs Sonic Producer comparison.

Online vs Download

Both are obviously targeted to the Rap and Hip Hop crowd, but Dub Turbo seems to be suited also for other electronic genres too. Sonic Producer is an online software, so no download, you have to login every time you want to use it. DubTurbo is an application that you have to download and install on your machine. The download took a while, but the installation was easy following the instructions.

Now the DubTurbo team warns you that you should adjust your computer for digital audio and you should. The program requires quite a lot of computer power because it is using (and loading) .wav files for all the samples.

The Sounds

And I must say that the samples library is impressive. More drum and percussions sounds that you will need, but also synths and special effects. The DubTurbo samples sound better (.wav vs .mp3) and the way you access them and choose them in the app is a lot easier than with Sonic Producer.

The Interface

It is the same idea of 16 tracks for both softwares but you can add more measure with DubTurbo where it is fixed in SonicProducer. DubTurbo allows you also to load your own samples, not Sonic Producer. The pads and the standard grid is used in both to program your patterns but DubTurbo gives you also a real Piano Roll.

Where Sonic Producer took me only 5 minutes to figure out to be able to create a beat, Dub Turbo requires a bit more of effort to learn how to use it. You have to watch the videos. But it’s normal, DubTurbo offers a lot more than Sonic Producer.

Try It

I will get back with a more in depth review soon. Give Dub Turbo a try, you have a 60-day no questions asked 100% money back guarantee anyway, and make your own beats.