Recording from mixer to Garageband 11…

If you own an Intel-based iMac and want to record vinyl records via a mixer into Garage Band, here’s how to do it

  • 1. Open GB’s prefs, select the Audio MIDI tab, and choose “Built-In Input” from the Input pop up menu.
  • 2. Create a New Basic track by clicking the ‘plus’ symbol in the bottom left corner and hit record
  • 3. There is no 3!

The other strange thing which we’ve just realised could have been affecting the iMac during all the problems we’ve had recently is the connection of the cables from the digital mixer into the audio port at the back of the iMac. I had just plugged the cable in to record some mixes from the decks and that’s when the old problems started again – video and audio not working, web pages not loading, the beach ball of doom coming up most of the time, programs freezing etc.

As soon as the cable was taken out, it all started working again. I have no idea how that cable connection can have such a significant impact on the functioning of the computer (particularly internet functions), but hopefully that’s it sorted.

Happy days again : )



Severn FM tour…

I had a brief tour of the new Severn FM community radio studio last week and was impressed by all the work done there and how professional the setup is. Aside from the main studio room, where the broadcasting goes out, there is a seperate training room and other areas which could be used for future expansion. It’s broadcasting on 87.9 FM till 29th December but always from the website.

Caro, the Programming Director for South Gloucester Media CIC (AKA Severn FM) showed me round and I also met Andy Clarke (the boss) and Alan (DJ). Baz Kirby (Marketing Director) was also there testing out the alarm system and involved with the morning show (on his birthday – very commendable dedication!).

So, Baz asked me if I wanted to get involved and i’ve been getting used to the idea for a while. It could be a good opportunity to get back into DJing, but in a different environment to the clubs and student union which I was used to at Uni. The main idea is to play Drum and Bass, but if I do get properly involved, I would want to mix in a few different genres related to general underground music.

Every hour is split into 3 lots of 18 minutes, each seperated by 2 minutes of adverts. So this could be a good way of breaking down the music. Roughly 5 tracks per 18 and 7 tracks for a mix.

So, some ideas for the show would be;

1st 18: general tracks (recent music)

2nd 18: ‘classic quarter’ (quarter of an hour of classic tracks)

3rd 18: matt mix

The three parts could just be doubled if the show was 2 hours long.The original idea was a drum and bass (D&B) show but I would also add in breakbeats (breaks) as well to put out some variation, with both styles working well together.

The mix part could be recorded at home on my Technics and then just played from the studio. This would work better as there is only one turntable there and my equipment is setup for vinyl, not digital.

This is the only real issue involved – I need a way of moving the vinyl recording (analogue) to the digital format for use in the studio. There are many ways of doing it but one way could be to hook up my iMac to the mixer and use a bit of sotware to record then edit the mix. Narrowing down the options could be hard but I know i’ll be using either free software or very cheap stuff. I’ll also need to record off each of the records which would take some time to do. Another way is to try and download the tracks I want to play from the net, but there may be a cost for this.

Either way, i’ve recently done two 1.5 hour home mixes on the new Technics, after getting a replacement monitor speaker and wiring up the left cartridge properly! The first 11 track mix was slightly ropey, but good for the last few tracks. The 2nd mix was better and some good track selections plus some practice moving from a hih tempo to a low one, then back up. The real learning part of the mixing is using the Technics, as opposed to my old (starter level) Direct Drive decks. The Technics are more responsive and hold the music more level but are heavy to the touch, meaning a firmer control is needed.


Amazon Kindle…

I was getting quite excited about the new Amazon Kindle…until I realised I didn’t need one!

But, the idea is a good one. The Kindle is basically an e-book (but it also displays newpapers and magazines), but it also has internet browser and MP3 player and is small enough to fit in the pocket. The Amazon digital library apparently has over 400,000 titles and the Kindle can hold 3,500 books!

There have been many of these types of ipad/PDA devices, but i’ve never been tempted to jump on board, until now! E-book + MP3 player + Internet browser…ideal.

I’ve read a few articles recently about the impact of the printing industry, particularly newspapers and magazines, in terms of the waste and chemicals used to make them. That in itself is a good reason, and if prices come down in 6 months or so, even better.

I’m also not a fan of huge amounts of books – bad reaction to my growing up with thousands of my Mum’s books which are left to die in piles + just the waste of space! I’ve shifted so many boxes of books around in my life and that has certainly led to an annoyance with their bulkiness & weight and amount of space they take to store!

It seems the technology has just made the ‘next stage’ leap from the basic concept and initial stage, to the more mass-market stage, including much better performance. This is also reflected in the price, meaning you get far better value for better overall features.


Digital aerial…

We just had a new digital TV aerial fitted and it’s turning out to be a really good investment already. It cost £150 to supply and fit but there are a couple of significant advantages.

First, it saves us £20 per month as we no longer need to use Virgin Media for ‘Free’view and we can look around for cheaper internet and phone deals. We’ve signed up to Plusnet, which is £22.74 a month for 8MB broadband and anytime calls (includes line rental, 0845 and international landline numbers – handy for calling France). Our bills with the 3 for £30 Virgin Media package were usually around £45, when you added the cost of calls.

So, after 8 months it would have paid for itself.

The second thing is that the picture quality is noticeable better and the DVD player is now on the right channel. We also only need one remote control now as well, as there is no digi-box remote – makes things a lot easier if we’re only trying to find one remote!

I had thought that getting the TV signals through the cable would have been better given the direct connection, but obviously not. The installer scanned the new channels in and within 5 minutes it was all working. Really smooth and clear picture quality – HD for paupers!