The Daily Adventures of Mixerman – EVEN BETTER IN AUDIO!

I love to read, but I’m not really into audio books that much. Very few  hold my attention for 8 hours or so, and a lot of authors are not great readers of their own work. So when I recommend an audio book read (in part) by the author, you bet it is a very special audio book indeed! But when I highly recommend one that is around 12 hours, you can be sure that it is fantastic! And when you consider that I have already read this book in paper form, well even the justly-revered Steven Slate would have a hard time coming up with enough superlatives to describe The Daily Adventures of Mixermanthe audio book.

My Black Friday / Cyber Monday / any damn day at all gift to you is my recommendation that you buy this book immediately. Yes, we have almost reached its fifth anniversary but a classic is just that, and this audiobook is a classic. There’s not enough humor in today’s world, and this may be Mixerman’s greatest contribution to mankind. If you’ve read the book in black and white print, the audio version is like Dorothy landing in Oz, seeing the world in full color for the first time. Thus Mixerman and a full cast of characters from the book color his first book with voices and music.

Mixerman is a rare talent – writer, narrator, voice actor, director, producer, even casting director! He could single-handedly create a return to radio comedy! Or even better, audio book comedy. Yes, this audiobook is better than the print book, and even for those who already have the book this is a MUST, for Mixerman fans as well as for those new to him. He manages to combine a hilarious sendup of the recording industry as well as a gold mine of information for those interested in technical details, and a great overview for those with mild interest. It is so good that it can also be enjoyed by those people with no technical knowledge or interest, who are only interested in music in general, or just like to laugh. Anyone except maybe those who object to certain language that is common in the music world (and I don’t mean key signatures and tech talk.)

As you might expect the music in it is superb, with leit-motifs or character themes that describe each character in music as well as marking their appearance on the scene before they even speak — very handy in a sound-only production! The voice actors are top-notch, and you will believe that you are listening in on recording sessions and backroom deals as well as phone calls and messages left. If you have heart problems you will have to monitor your listening as the prolonged gut-wrenching laughter could cause you problems. LOL? Even LMAO doesn’t get close to how funny this book is.

Get this book and give this book, for yourself and for loved ones and friends, for the holidays and just for the fun of it. It’s an inexpensive gift that the recipients will love you for, and that you will enjoy listening to as much as the praise you get for finding it here.

 

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Steinberg’s Cubase Marketing Works on Me!

I can usually resist valueless marketing but Steinberg got me with a truly valuable invitation to start using the free copy of Cubase that I have gathering dust on my hard disk.

A couple of years back my basic interface died so I was looking for a replacement with two audio inputs (mic/line) and two MIDI inputs (IN/OUT); as basic as they get. The best deal I found was the Steinberg UR22, which has the features that I need plus great feedback from users and (I discovered) excellent sound. It also came with Cubase LE AI Elements 7 (the least powerful version of Cubase only available with OEM hardware) at no extra cost. Since I use Logic, I didn’t need another recording program so I let it sit. Some algorithm (or [gasp] possibly a human?!!) noticed that I had not been using it. I don’t know how. Didn’t I ask for tech support enough? Didn’t I ask questions in the forums? Didn’t I check for updates? Or something more sinister????

However they did it, I got an email encouraging me to start using it, and to sweeten the request they gave me three libraries of more modern drums, bass, and guitar sounds as VST add-ins to Cubase: Indie Rock, Dubstep, and Urban. OK, it worked. I followed the directions to download and register them, then watched a tutorial on how to use them in Cubase which was not relevant to my bottom-of-the-barrel version, but it was simple enough to figure out using the top menu bar rather than the nifty little icon that my version doesn’t have. The sounds are technically great, and depending on your taste, great as well. For free, it’s hard to beat, and very nice to get something of value that I will use in future projects because they sound so good I got ideas just running through them.

So for someone just starting out, or on a tight budget, it’s hard to beat the Steinberg UR22 and free Cubase software, especially if they are going to send you free libraries from time to time. Given the fact that this is the same company that produces Dorico I have to say that Steinberg has high standards and gives you more than your money’s worth with their products.

So the Steinberg marketing worked and I’m glad it did. This is a great model for any company that wants to get, or retain, customers. Give us something useful and if it fits our needs we’ll use it.

One-Man Band LIVE (and what a band!)

A lot of us find ourselves in remote places at times, or in other situations where we ourselves are the band. It helps to be able to play a number of instruments if we want to record something “band-like”. Even those of us who are able to play a number of instruments well enough, and to sing without inspiring washroom breaks for anyone listening, it can be an exciting if somewhat nerve-wracking experience each time the red-light goes on and the recording is happening.  But of course we can always re-record, although finding the acceptable version without the need for “just one more tweak” can be a mind-killer without a producer to say “Good enough; now move on.”

So I salute all of you who produce your own music because you have to, or because you <…shiver…> want to. Now, that said, there is a level that only a few enter into, and of those who do, it is no great shock to find musicians of the calibre of Jacob Collier.

I found out about Jacob Collier from NS Design, who are stoked that Jacob plays their new NTXa bass (which I guess makes my old NXT bass a ‘vintage’ model now), but this is just one of the many instruments he has mastered, which helped him to win TWO Grammies:1) Best Arrangement: Instrumental or A Capella and 2) Best  Arrangement: Instruments and Vocals.

The NS Design artist web site for Jacob Collier says this: “Based in London, UK, Jacob has been inspired by many sounds – his music combines elements of Jazz, A cappella, Groove, Folk, Trip-hop, Classical music, Brazilian music, Gospel, Soul and Improvisation (to name a few), which culminate to create the world of ‘Jacob Collier.’ ”

Jacob’s own web site features his debut album and live dates, as well as quotes such as these:

“I have never in my life seen a talent like this… Beyond category. One of my favourite young artists on the planet – absolutely mind-blowing”

— Quincy Jones

“Wow!! Jacob, your stuff is amazing”

— Herbie Hancock

“Staggering and unique… Jazz’s new messiah”

— The Guardian
It also features his astounding “Jacob Collier and his One-Man Live Show Creature perform[ing] ‘Don’t You Know’, an original song from Jacob’s debut album ‘In My Room’; filmed live @ Village Underground, London, May 28th 2016.
This is a pretty amazing tour de force of technology, and I applaud him for being able to put it together and use it so creatively. Maybe it will inspire some of you to make music you never thought possible. Or maybe it will just make you appreciate your current band mates a bit more. Either way, you win.

Slate Virtual Recording System (VRS) – Q & A

My post on the Slate Virtual Recording System (VRS) prompted a lot of questions via email. I still can’t find out what’s going on with comments, but one got through; how many others didn’t I have no idea, so the best route is still email to my address drdavejjg on gmail.

COST

Several questions revolved around my rough figure of about $5,000 (US) for a full Slate setup. This is for a single VRS module, which has 8 physical inputs (digital trickery aside). How many inputs YOU need depends on the group or individual you are recording. Some engineers would use more than those 8 just for a drum set, so for most bands with a full drum set you would need a second VRS joined to the first one via Thunderbolt, UNLESS you wanted to record the drums separately, and then add the band. If I were in that situation I’d prefer to use 7 inputs for the drums and keep (at least) one for the bass and record those two instruments at the same time. Of course that depends on several things, such as how many toms and other percussion instruments need to be miked. Remember that the one bass input can be duplicated on another track in your recording software and treated differently to get a fuller or other type of enriched sound.

Of course, with another VRS you will need more mics, cables, etc. You may even need these with a single VRS if you don’t use and DI instruments.

WHICH COMPUTER?

The other most common question was which computer to use and its specs. This is a HUGE question, and several books have been written about it, most if not all of which are now obsolete because the field moves so quickly, but I’ll tell you what I can for today. I prefer a Mac but that’s my own choice. I can’t comment on the Thunderbolt card for PC’s except for the obvious: an additional component in the signal chain and another potential point of failure. Laptops area great choice for portability, but beware since the trend is to solder the RAM on these, so you can’t upgrade later without a skilled technician re-soldering new RAM onto the motherboard, IF that is possible (i.e. the system will support it) and, if it matters to you, whether it will void the warranty. So choose as much RAM as you can at the outset to put off becoming obsolete for as long as you can (the computer that is; time will take care of your own obsolescence). Go for the most memory and powerful processor your budget can afford. I like the Powerbook Pro, which (maxed out) should be able to handle most bands thanks to the work offloaded to the VRS’s. If you have a dedicated studio and don’t do location work you may be able to get by with a desktop or tower. (If you make enough from your dedicated studio you should be able to afford a laptop if you need it, and the extra work should pay for it once you have it.)

LEARNING

As for learning about recording, especially using the Slate plug-ins remember that the Everything Bundle (included for a year with the VRS)  includes the Tutorials created by pros who use the plug-ins in their work as well as Slate engineers. You can view several of these on YouTube just searching for things like “Slate Digital” “tutorials” “Everything Bundle.”  Some people have done their own tutorials, some of which are very good, but be careful about ‘knowledge’ that might be mistaken or the long way around a simpler method. In general, I’d stick to tutorials from Slate Digital or well-known recording pros (e.g. Mixerman). If you sign up to their newsletter you will be notified when they make some of these available for free, as they did over the holiday season. But like anything, if you want to do good work, you need knowledge of your tools, how they work individually and how they work with each other and the full system.

As for recording in general, Mixerman’s books and e-b00ks are invaluable resources.

NEAR FUTURE

I do read all of your emails, as well as every comment that gets through (they all go to the Spam folder). I can’t provide tech support for your particular system, nor can I compare big systems that I don’t use. A lot of questions asked for comparisons of ProTools  and Logic or another program. I don’t have ProTools and the comments from engineers seem to agree with Steven Slate’s own, so I’d suggest you look those up or contact Slate pre-sales support who I am told are quite approachable.

I have to go in for minor surgery so I’ll be offline for a little while, but I’ll get back to reading your emails as soon as I can, although I might just be checking News once a day for a few days.

I hope to return soon.

Slate Digital Completes Its Virtual Recording Studio

If you have been following Steven Slate realize his dream, you have been expecting this day. After revolutionizing software plug-ins to rival classic effect and pre-amp models, it was only a matter of time before he moved into the hardware side of recording. The Raven replaced the physical desk with a virtual one via touch screen, and provides a great interface for using the plug-ins. The Virtual Microphone System brought the same kind of software modeling of classic hardware to the microphone realm. Now the Virtual Recording Studio picks up the rest.

video-thumb-virtual-recording-studioYou can find out all of the details of the Virtual Recording Studio and how it fits into the entire Slate ideology by clicking on the link or image above. It looks and sounds great to me but I am NOT a hardware engineer, so I can’t comment on how it compares to the high-end gear that Steven discusses, nor on their custom components. I also can’t A/B the mics as he does in the demo video, so I suggest that you check out the engineering forums to see what the recording  pros really think.

The deal itself seems incredibly great, which is why I think it is worth your while to check it out. For about $5,000 (USD) you can set up a state-of-the-art studio with the mics, inputs, plug-ins, and extras that you need (stands, booms, cables, etc.). (Oh, except for the high-end computer that’s going to be running this thing. A modern Mac Pro or PC tower should do, and if you are into recording it’s quite likely that you have one now or are planning to upgrade soon.) That’s pretty amazing — if you have a space that can make the most of such precise equipment.

So now you have 8 inputs for your sound, which you can make seem like more by doing things like adding second mic emulations on a different track but using the same physical mic, as Steven does in the latter part of the video. You can get more physical inputs by joining several VRS’s via Thunderbolt too. You now have a choice of large- or small-diaphragm mics that can emulate different vintage mics (or in some cases, the same ones, at least close enough). Because most studios outside of bedrooms need more than one mic, the VRS can be purchased with 5-packs of either type of Slate mic, and it comes with permanent licenses for the mic emulations, as well as a 1-year subscription to the Everything Bundle. But remember that it won’t be long before you want a Raven to control those plug-ins.

Slate has always provided great value for the money, and the Virtual Recording Studio looks to be the epitome of their line-up. If you do any recording, you must look into this one seriously.

Slate Takes On the Entire Recording Process

For those new to Slate Digital I’ll give a short history,  then the new software and hardware. If you are already familiar with Slate, scroll down to NEW SOFTWARE.

SLATE HISTORY

When I first wrote about Slate Digital they had begun marketing plug-ins that emulated analog recording gear well enough to fool the ears of some of the best engineers and producers in the business. In fact, it was Mixerman who gave me the heads-up on Slate, and since he had been so adamantly against using plug-ins I had to hear them for myself. I was amazed.

As they continued to produce more and more software, they also moved into hardware with their MTX/MTi touch screen controllers for the plug-ins so that their emulations were even easier to use than the original hardware. (In his book #Mixerman and the Billionheir Apparent, Mixerman’s MTi console is virtually one of the characters, showing up at several key moments and always there in the background of his studio.)

Hardware continued to develop with the Virtual Microphone System, where a single mic and pre-amp is programmed to emulate some of the finest (and most expensive) mic & pre-amp combos in history, many no longer available commercially. Another dream-come-true for any studio owner.

As the plug-in list grew, Slate re-wrote the rules of selling plug-ins by selling subscriptions to EVERY plug-in that Slate makes, PLUS some of the finest plug-ins from other partners (their EVERYTHING Bundle).As of this writing, the price point has held at $14.99 per month for an annual licence; and $24.99 per month ONLY for months that you use the software; if you don’t use it some months, you don’t pay for it for those months.

NEW SOFTWARE

Ever improving, this month Slate announced the VerbSuite Classics Digital Reverbs. By partnering wisely Slate is able to include “eight of the most popular professional digital reverbs from the past forty years” — some of which have never before been emulated — in a single plug-in. VerbSuite Classics uses LiquidSonics proprietary Fusion IR processing, which captures the actual tone of the modeled reverb and so “is able to reproduce the evolving character of modulating digital reverbs for the first time.”And since the EVERYTHING Bundle includes all updates and new plug-ins, bundle users have access to this suite of reverbs automatically and immediately. A similar set of Repeater Analog Modeled Delays is coming soon and will be available the same way.

verbsuite-classics2

NEW HARDWARE

The Slate Control is an analog monitoring device built as the “official monitor section of the new RAVEN MTX mk2, and the RAVEN MTi2.” It can be used as a standalone monitor control or be retrofitted into existing setups.

slate-control-top

SUMMARY

Slate has given the greatest gift to studio owners of all sizes by providing state-of-the-art processing and hardware at incredibly low prices.Their continual additions to the EVERYTHING Bundle makes it one of the greatest deals in all of music history!

#Mixerman and the Billionheir Apparent — by Mixerman

This is a brilliant book. Buy it!

mixerman-fron-small

#Mixerman and the Billionheir Apparent is one of the best books I have read in years, and THE best one I’ve ever heard, so I suggest buying the audio book. I’ll come back to that. The story is a hilarious satire on the current state of the music industry. Most of us still have the idea that music is the same as in The Beatles’ time, where a group of talented kids from the sticks can make it big by playing endless shows and recording their own songs for a company that provides them whatever they want. In fact, the continuing spate of “new” Beatles products, while in some cases excellent, also prolongs the myth. Even better, bedroom studios are within the budget of any musician, and with the Internet anyone can become rich and famous as long as they have talent, right? The reality is very different. This book presents an industry where those four guys would be working minimum wage jobs and becoming famous, never mind rich, is like winning the lottery. Repeatedly.  The book is especially funny for those who have read Mixerman’s first book, The Daily Adventures of Mixerman, and so are familiar with many of the characters who reappear, although this is by no means a requirement. This is the story of an Indian billionaire father whose son wants to be a producer, so naturally dad wants him to be the greatest Bollywood producer of all time. Of course, the son prefers rap and wants to create his first big hit with a ditty about oblivious Prius drivers who slow down traffic, not the most urgent problem in the hood from which famed rappers such as the Pharcyde see the world.

The book revolves around Mixerman getting an offer he can’t refuse to tutor the son and heir (the “billionheir”) of this Indian billionaire in music production. This is the first appearance of money making the seemingly impossible happen, but it won’t be the last. As Mixerman teaches this gifted intern the basics of music, his understanding of the business of music (and ours) is turned upside-down as the very presence of the billionheir changes his world. Along with Mixerman, we learn how money is not a power, but the power, without which success is denied to even the most talented and hardest working musician. Billionaires (and billionheirs) are a club into which not all are welcome, and which can control membership as easily as they control everything else. But our hero Mixerman is a fast learner who has some tricks of his own. Will he and his team ultimately prevail? Read the book and find out. It’s a real page-turner, so you may want to set aside some time for it. Also, if you haven’t yet heard the hit “The Douchebag Song” you might want to wait until it is recorded (or at least written) in the book to get its context. In the audio book, this process is heard, which makes its ludicrous creation, and that of its video, all the more obvious.

Like the best satire, this one does not stray far from reality, and who better to give us an insider’s view of the music business than Mixerman, whose previous four best-selling books have dealt with how grueling the work can be, as well as in-depth technical details for recordists, mixers, and producers. Again like the best satire, there is a darker side to this “American Dream” that begins to surface in short asides from the author, but comes to full fruition in the book’s hysterically funny climax, where the line between the truly absurd and the actual modern world is shown to be an illusion. And in one of the most inspired moments in modern writing, the lens on the oligarchic control of music suddenly pulls back to reveal this undemocratic control of virtually every important aspect of life.

So there is a serious and sad sub-text to this book, but it is embedded in a truly great story. It shows that Mixerman is as brilliantly creative at a word processing keyboard as he is at his beloved Slate Raven MTX recording console. Don’t worry, this is the same uncensored, fattie-loving, musically amazing Mixerman we have learned so much from, but his writing has a new depth and flow to it now that he is free from having to present so many technical facts. In his own inimitable style, Mixerman presents the most important issues of our time that affect every one of us. I found the audio presentation even more immediate, with great performances by a huge cast that really puts you into the middle of the action, and things get quite active.

This is a book that will appeal to two groups: musicians, and everyone else. Musicians will see that they really are up against a system virtually designed to deny them success, while non-musicians will see the way that the systemic inequalities that they find virtually everywhere in life are at their worst in the creative arts. Let’s look at one change in technology that has been in the news lately: streaming. Many of us don’t realize much difference between streaming songs and songs sold on CD. Streaming is touted as being more convenient and cheaper. Why buy a physical object that you have to store yourself and find when you want to hear music when you can just stream it on demand to whichever of your devices is closest to hand? The problem is that far fewer people are paid from streams, and they are paid far less (if at all). Many producers, songwriters, and artists count on their royalties to carry them through retirement, but with those royalties gone with the disappearance of CD sales, so is any thought of retiring. The even more devious catch is that with so many new artists, songwriters, and producers trying to get into the business, the resulting price war means that many will work for free just for the experience and exposure. How does one compete with free? (I’ve faced this myself with guitarists who pay bar owners for the chance to play in public!)

We are all familiar with the huge disparity between the 1% of the ultra-wealthy and the 99% of “everybody else.” In music, this is even worse. If this sounds like a bummer to read, many of us are living it. And kudos to Mixerman for blowing the whistle while still keeping the tone hilarious even as he teaches us the harsh truths of modern music. He achieves this through his deft touch, his wonderfully ingratiating characters, and his ability to make his point effectively and move on with the story. The audio book adds music to the story, using leitmotifs (identifying tunes) for each character that describe them as well as pointing up their similarities and differences. Music also provides moments to reflect on how this situation affect us personally.

The situation is ultimately bad for music, and for most of us in general, but unlike doomsayers Mixerman does point to a way out, if only enough of us demand it. The first step is to discover what is going on, and this book makes it clear, but with enough humour to keep you laughing, which ultimately helps you to remember his points. Then you can discuss this with your friends and colleagues. No one of us has an answer to this dire situation, but unless we work together none of us ever will. This is how we are controlled: distract and separate. And it works — if you let it. For example, if you feel that you are the only one not getting rich despite your state-of-the-art home studio, you are going to keep your “failure” to yourself. However, if you discover that every one of your colleagues is in the same situation and feels the same way, you have the start of a discussion. And it’s OK if it’s an angry one.

For those of you ready to fire up a torrent client I’d suggest actually buying the book because you are going to feel pretty guilty while reading or listening to it. With streaming services paying the bulk of their “royalties” to large corporations (tech or music), the songwriters and artists (including writers) make little enough as it is. Ripping them off by pirating their work only adds injury to injustice. It also takes away the incentive to create new works when you would make more money at a minimum-wage job. And we all owe a debt of thanks to Mixerman — one of the most pirated authors around (8 pirated per one sold) — for bothering to write what is a very important book that is also hilariously funny.

A note on the audio book: It is supposed to be available on audible.com (“an Amazon company”) but after more than two weeks they still have been unable to get my legally purchased copy to work on my Macintosh computer (where it can only be played in iTunes). In fact, they have ceased to communicate with me at all. Some “customer service.” Mixerman himself tells me that the iTunes store is a more reliable place to purchase it.

I’m glad to have both print and audio versions of this book. I like to read in bed, and after a hard day, reading a very funny book about music is the perfect way to wind down. In the car or just some down time, the audio book is a perfect companion. The production of the audio is as good as you would expect from a master producer, and the theme music for the characters is just as great as the hit single itself. The voice actors are excellent and Mixerman does himself proud to keep up with so talented a group.

So get a legal copy of the book, audio, or both and join in the fun. Then join in the discussion on how all people in the music industry, and your own, should make a fair wage. Include your elected representatives in your discussions too. You may have to remind them that they represent you too, and even a billionaire has the same one vote that you do. Money has a powerful voice, but a majority of the electorate has a more powerful one. Join the conversation.

Steven Slate Virtual Microphone System

I was planning to blog about some great new books that have just come out, but I ran across a new article on the web site of Mix magazine that gives a rave review to the Virtual Microphone System (VMS) from Slate Digital. As I noted in my column in Just Jazz Guitar, Slate Digital has managed to emulate a number of classic, incredibly expensive microphones and mic pre-amps for the price of a single modern mid-level mic. As these classic mics get rarer and rarer, and so become pricier and pricier, the Slate VMS becomes a better deal every day.

Slate-VMS-1

I won’t ask you believe me, or even Mix: you can check out the real-world A-B comparison of the Slate VMS with some of the finest examples of the vintage mics at the famous NRG Recording Studios by clicking here.

I planned this blog to bring great deals to the attention of working musicians and recording folks, and in the world of microphones it doesn’t get better than this! When a product arrives that can be up to 100 times cheaper than the alternative, doesn’t it just make sense to check it out?

Get Slate Digital’s MONSTER — For FREE

Slate MONSTER

With The Monster Extreme Dynamic Processor, Slate Digital has done it again: they have created a Dynamic Processor that you have to hear to believe! At heart, it is a state-of-the-art compressor that lets you blend the “wet” and “dry” sounds. Wet / dry is more accurate than “compressed and non-compressed” because you have much more control than that. The Monster has High Frequency Detection that makes it react more “dramatically” to high frequencies, smoothing out the high end. Complementing this is a Variable High-Pass Filter that gives you control over the low end for more “punch” in your sound. And being a Slate Digital product, it even has a “Punch” button to get this sound more quickly and easily! Check it out on the Slate Digital web site and hear it demonstrated on the video here.

This great plug-in has an even greater price: it’s FREE!

One caveat: like all Slate Digital products, the Monster requires an iLok2 dongle for copy protection. These are inexpensive, and allow you to try out ALL of the Slate Digital demos. They also let you use Revival, another FREE Slate plug-in that provides wonderful air and space in high frequencies and body, warmth, and fullness in the low end, on either individual tracks or an entire mix. These two great plug-ins make the cost of the iLok2 insignificant if you don’t already have one. But there’s even a way to get the iLok2 free as well.

The best deal is to go for the Slate Digital EVERYTHING BUNDLE, and get all of the Slate plug-ins, some of the very best plug-ins from their partners, 5 great guitar amp simulators, and a FREE iLok2! Click here to see Everything included in the bundle, as well as a few upcoming ones that make it an even greater buy.

As I keep saying, Slate’s bundles are the best deals in the recording world. Why not test that for yourself? Try out The Monster, and Revival, and then some of the free demos. I’m confident that your music will never have sounded as good.

Steven Slate Drum Sale

If you have read my review of Steven Slate Drums in Just Jazz Guitar you know that I consider them the best-sounding drums I’ve heard. The great news is that they are on sale at 50% of their regular price until Thursday, June 16, 2016 at midnight, including expansion packs for both SSD4 and Trigger.

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Expansion packs add new kits, new instruments, and new presets for Steven Slate Drums and for Trigger. If you are not familiar with Trigger, it is an amazing program that can extract drums from your recordings and replace them with any of the Slate kits you like. The difference can be almost beyond belief.

Take a look at the sale on the Steven Slate Drums site and if you are not familiar with them check out their video tutorials to see why so many producers as well as home recordists rave about them.

If Trigger is new to you there are several good short videos that show how to use it to improve the drums on a recording such as this one and more in-depth reviews like this.

If you use a drum kit in your recording, be sure to check out Steven Slate Drums 4 and Trigger today, and take advantage of the sale. (Even if you miss the sale, the Drums are still a great price for such great sounding instruments.)