Q & A with Fenix – Social Distancing for DJs

Q & A with Fenix – Social Distancing for DJs

Q & A with Fenix – Social Distancing for DJs

The music industry has been especially impacted by the coronavirus, causing postponed and cancelled events across the globe including Ultra Music, Tomorrowland, and countless others. Artists cannot tour, instead opting to live stream performances and create new music. With this change comes an opportunity to take a step back from the crazy touring schedule that DJs are so often accustomed to, and spend this time creating at home in the studio. We spoke with Russian artist Fenix about his thoughts on the situation, and how he maintains his life as an artist during this uncertain time.

Q:The COVID-19 situation is unprecedented in its global impact. What does this moment mean to you personally and as a DJ? Where are you and what does your day-to-day look like?

I agree with you that the situation is out of the ordinary, and really everything that happens now affects absolutely everything. 

For me personally, this is a significant break in my performances. I had to cancel absolutely all shows before the end of April, and the Winter Music Conference in Miami and the International Music Summit in Ibiza were canceled as well, so I had to get tickets refunded and remove all reservations. I also had to quickly transfer my entire team to remote work, and now all of our processes are happening online. 

Right now I am at home in Moscow. I just passed self-isolation, 14 days after my tour in Europe. Now my day begins with sports, then breakfast and after that I work in the studio until the evening. Then there is a dinner with family and after we watch TV shows and films. I haven’t done this for a long time. And I’ll tell you honestly, now my day is just perfect.

In spite of everything that is happening, I’m even a little glad that I have to spend all this time at home and in my studio. You can’t imagine how many tracks will appear in the near future from me. 

Q: What tips do you have for managing your time and work/life boundaries when home and studio life intertwine?

Now I work at the studio on a schedule like an office worker – I go to the studio in the morning, take a lunch break and then continue until the end of the working day. It is optimal and very productive. During this time (from 10 AM to 6 PM) I manage to do a lot, and I have time for myself and my personal life. It is also very important to plan your day, I do it in the evening. We also use cloud services for organized work on projects, this helps to move towards our goals.

Q:What kind of setup do you have at home to keep you creating?

In addition to the main studio, I always had a studio at home, this is a large space for working with music and also for working with a project for organizational work. I have the following setup for working with music at home: 

iMac Pro with Logic Pro X

Focal Solo Be6 monitors

Analog synthesizers

Moog Sub Phatty

Roland Juno Di

Yamaha MOX8

Access Virus TI2 Desktop

AKG C214 & BLUE SPARK microphones

I also have a couple vintage synths from USSR and A LOT OF VST’s, and of course Audionamix XTRAX STEMS as a main tool for my Remixes. 

 Q; For producers and DJs who previously relied on shared workspaces and studios to create, what would you say are minimum requirements to begin creating at home?  

It is enough to have a laptop and headphones to make some kind of demo at home, or as the musicians say “on their knees”. For vocalists, some kind of simple microphone, although many people manage to record on their phone. This is music, just enough to do what you like and that’s it. As I am an Apple user, Logic Pro X or Ableton software, or even easier, Garage Band will be more than enough at home. For example, Logic Pro X already has both VST tools and VST plugins. Therefore, the list is not large.

1) Laptop

2) DAW

3) MIDI keyboard

4) Good internet

Q: Since most gigs have been postponed or canceled, how do you maintain a substantive relationship with your fans?

Here, in fact, everything was simple and practically nothing was crushed, live broadcasts on Instagram and Facebook. Shared broadcasts with musician friends are also interesting to followers. Since productivity is now at a high level, announcing new music will lead to continued interest and support from fans.

Q: There are many artists hosting live sets and performances online and earning a living through tips – do you recommend any platforms?

Frankly, it’s difficult for me to recommend something specific, since now a lot of things appear on the Internet. Personally, I would spend my time on training and master classes from professionals.

Q: Have you participated in any “virtual parties”? What are your thoughts on the concept?

This direction for me now looks the most interesting and has great potential. In fact, a lot of people are faced with the fact that they cannot physically attend an event for various reasons, and this technology allows them to quickly find themselves in the epicenter of an event without leaving home. Indeed, I participate in such projects very actively. I would like to draw your attention to the new platform Sensorium. This is one of those examples where the quality of the product and the scale of the project are implemented at a very high level. Clearly, the future belongs to similar projects.

Q: What do you think about the future of these trends in the long term?

Now we all perfectly understand that technologies are pushing the usual formats for us, simplifying and making things previously inaccessible for us, more than affordable. The distance between artists and their fans is shrinking, and now everyone feels involved in a creative or other process that is connected to the formation of an artist. Coronavirus showed everyone an acute shortage of ready-made solutions in this direction, but at the same time confirmed their need.

Q: What is your go-to song or album to lift your mood when cabin fever sets in?

I’ll tell you honestly, as always I don’t change my tastes and when I just want to enjoy the music, I listen to my favorite band AC/DC.

Q: How can people stay connected with you (social media call outs, upcoming events, etc)?

I always control my official website: www.djfenix.com

There you can always find all my music, radio shows, links to social networks and accounts on streaming platforms. By the way, during the quarantine period, all remixes are available ABSOLUTELY FOR FREE. There are upcoming shows in May that have not been canceled yet. So we hope that they will take place. You can find all my upcoming performances on the site in the Tour section.

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Follow Fenix on Social media!

Instagram

Facebook

Twitter

 

DJing in 3D: How DJs use Music Stems with Dolby Atmos

DJing in 3D: How DJs use Music Stems with Dolby Atmos

DJing in 3D: How DJs use Music Stems with Dolby Atmos

Surround sound technology made a significant advancement in 2012 when Dolby Laboratories debuted the ultimate surround sound experience dubbed Dolby Atmos. Many movie theater chains began replacing their 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound systems for Dolby Atmos equipped theaters, some even requiring an upcharge for the Dolby Atmos experience. Now, we are witnessing a new trend of Dolby Atmos slowly making a mark on nightlife by introducing Atmos into nightclub sound systems. The possibility of having Dolby Atmos available at your local nightclub is something that is exciting and promises more creativity for DJs to experiment with 3D sound placement, as well as a more dynamic music listening experience for club goers.

Dolby’s DJ App for Atmos

The switch to Dolby Atmos is a step away from traditional stereo systems found in most venues and nightclubs, which only allow the placement of sound in the left, right or center channels. With Dolby Atmos, the increased speaker count allows the DJ to place a sound in 128 different placement points around the room. First introduced to London’s Ministry of Sound nightclub in 2016, Dolby Atmos proved to be a successful investment that revealed a new market available for Atmos technology. In 2017, Chicago’s Sound-Bar nightclub became the second venue to brand itself with Dolby Atmos. San Francisco’s, HALYCON, is now the third music venue in the world to introduce Dolby Atmos, and the first on the West Coast. Debuting the new sound system with 14 additional Pioneer speakers, HALYCON with sure to attract more attention with upcoming events featuring artists like I_O, Chus & Cabellos, Christian Martin, Doorly, Hydra, Solarstone, and Yousef.

The process of mixing song stems in Dolby Atmos requires extensive preparation using Dolby’s panning plugin to place the instruments around the room to create an immersive experience. Luckily, Dolby has a useful Stem Creation Guide included on their website that may help clarify this process for DJs who have never mixed in Dolby Atmos before. According to the guide, DJs should approach their stem creation with the final format of a maximum 12 total groups/stems. The drums and bass would remain stereo, and only the melodic and FX elements would be the sound “objects” placed around the room. These types of elements might include stems such as Keys, Pads, Synths, Leads, Percussion, FX, and Vocals. With this information it is clear how valuable obtaining the individual stems to a song is when DJing in Dolby Atmos. XTRAX STEMS can be a useful tool if you do not own or have access to the original stems of a song. Given that DJs would need to have the stems to the song to play in Atmos, XTRAX STEMS can become incredibly useful for someone who may want to DJ at a venue with Atmos technology. Only time will tell if Atmos continues to spread to other venues and if audiences will express increased interest in events presented in Dolby Atmos.

XTRAX STEMS: Tips and Tricks

XTRAX STEMS: Tips and Tricks

XTRAX STEMS: Tips and Tricks

So you have just purchased your own copy of XTRAX STEMS, the world’s first automatic stem creator. Now what? Here are few tips and tricks that can be used in XTRAX STEMS.

Choose a song that will be ideal for remixing or sampling. Many users of XTRAX STEMS intend to isolate the vocals of a song and use the newly created a capella stem for remixing. However, if there are no vocals in the selected song you use in XTRAX STEMS, you will still be able to create a drum stem. Because of this, you can also run separations on instrumental songs as long as there are drum elements present. An example of a song that wouldn’t be ideal for remixing would have only piano, bass, and synth because all three instruments would be categorized as the music stem. Import your song by dragging and dropping it into the XTRAX STEMS playlist or use the import command (ctrl+I / command+I).

person playing the drumsTry running multiple extractions simultaneously to save time. XTRAX STEMS allows for up to four different songs to process at the same time. To do this simply open four separate windows of XTRAX STEMS. This will reduce your wait time if you need to separate more than one song.

Compare your results with the different Algorithms. Process your song with the Automatic, Automatic HQ, Generic, and Generic HQ Algorithms and listen to all of your results to determine which is best for your needs. When selecting the Automatic separation option, the vocal separation occurs using an Automatic Voice Activity Detection process. Vocals are separated only when detected. This algorithm is recommended as a good starting point, as it is more likely to discern and separate only the vocals compared to the Generic options. With the Generic algorithm, the Vocals stem will be made of the main melodic content extracted on the entire duration of the file. It can be useful when the automatic voice activity detection misses segments of the voice, or when trying to extract a monophonic and melodic instrument, such as a saxophone solo.  Use the Solo/Mute buttons to listen to each stem or listen to a pair of stems together.

Save your project with ctrl+s / command+S after you run a separation, if you need to return to the project.

Export your stems into an outside Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). Adjustments can be made to the panning and volume parameters inside of XTRAX STEMS, but these will only get you so far. Once the stems are exported (ctrl+E / command + E) and imported into a DAW, you will be able to adjust the stereo separation and add as many effects as desired. Adding a reverb effect to the vocal stem inside of a DAW will help smooth out the vocals to create a more usable stem. You can also edit out instances of unwanted bleed. 

Separate 2 Create! The beauty of XTRAX STEMS is that you can use the separated stems to independently adjust levels or take it to another level and create an entirely new version of the original song. Add your own samples and remix the song and create something unique. Create a mashup by using another song in the same key/tempo. With each element available independently, you can also export in the NI Stems format to mix with the TRAKTOR CONTROL series of controllers. The opportunities are endless with XTRAX STEMS!

 

Tips & Tricks: How to Save the Best Takes Using IDC: Instant Dialogue Cleaner

Tips & Tricks: How to Save the Best Takes Using IDC: Instant Dialogue Cleaner

Tips & Tricks: How to Save the Best Takes Using IDC: Instant Dialogue Cleaner

IDC_BoxL_HiResWe in the post-production audio world know that dialogue – and more specifically, performance – is king. The take where the actress nailed the line, getting just the right amount of authority balanced with feminine charm, is the one the director NEEDS to use. It doesn’t matter that there’s a plane, or bus, or gale force wind in the background. It’s our job as audio engineers to make it work. Sometimes we use an alternate take. Sometimes, the actress reproduces her lines perfectly in ADR. But many times we need to find another way.

Dialogue denoising has traditionally been done with tools that learn a selection of background noise by itself, then use this information to remove this noise from the entire file. This works well for constant, unchanging noise, but not for variable noise like those examples listed above. The quality, frequency, and volume of these noises is always changing, so it’s impossible to learn a piece of noise that will match for the entirety of the clip.

IDC_GUI

But what if we attacked the problem from the opposite direction? That is, what if we could somehow identify the speech instead of the noise, and maintain its quality while suppressing the noise in the background, allowing us to perform speech cleanup quickly and easily? Here’s how to do it with IDC: Instant Dialogue Cleaner.

IDC uses a deep neural network (a type of machine learning) based on thousands of speech files, to identify dialogue in a scene in real-time and separate it from the background content. Simply add IDC as an effect on your track (you can also use it as an AudioSuite plug-in in Pro Tools). Hit play and then turn the background knob to the left to lower the volume. You will hear your dialogue stay remarkably intact, even as challenging background noise is removed!

IDC offers up to 24 dB of noise reduction, and the same amount of control over the level of the speech. You can typically turn the background noise down significantly without affecting the quality of the speech. If you’d like to get more noise out, try increasing the strength parameter.

There are many weapons for dialogue editing and speech cleanup. IDC will make a valuable addition to your arsenal, allowing you to be the hero and save that take!

Joachim Garraud FB Live in Paris

Joachim Garraud FB Live in Paris

Joachim Garraud FB Live in Paris

“Audionamix is the only one that impressed me. This technology is amazing” – Joachim Garraud

Here in our Paris office, our French Research and Development team had the chance to welcome the one and only Joachim Garraud. He came for a Facebook Live event, and it was a pure pleasure to meet him. Telma, our Deputy-CEO, began the event by talking about the history of Audionamix. She discussed the projects we did with Hans Zimmer on Inception and our work with Canal+ on the World Cup 2010.

Next, one of our audio engineers showcased how he uses his skills at Audionamix with an amazing demo. Working all day with Pro Tools, Ableton Live and other DAWs is a fantastic way to make a living! Then we featured a little of our core audio source separation technology, and discussed how our researchers use signal processing, machine learning, deep learning and some other dark magic.

The last part of this FB Live featured another one of our engineers, Laurent, and was focused on how we handle product development. Laurent showcased the utility of our brand new software, XTRAX STEMS, with NI Traktor. Laurent performed a live remix, featuring our software.  Also, Laurent gave Joachim a little surprise that you can see by watching the FB Live yourself!

As you will see, it was a fantastic experience for all of us to welcome Joachim Garraud in our office. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Cheers from France!

Love, music and macarons!

 


A little information on the track used during the demo of XTRAX STEMS with Traktor. It was the last track from Fred Rister, a creative genius who unfortunately is suffering from cancer.  Please help support the fight against cancer by purchasing this track. All profits will be donated to the Kidney Cancer Association.

Music Expo Boston 2018

Music Expo Boston 2018

Music Expo Boston 2018

Thanks to all who turned out and joined us at Music Expo Boston! We were thrilled to have the one and only Venomisto join us and present “Unmix to Remix” for all the music producers, remixers and fans in the audience.

Venomisto showcased his vocal extraction workflow in TRAX Pro, and then went deep into spectral editing techniques. He also highlighted our quick and simple pro-sumer approach using XTRAX STEMS, and the powerful results that can come from that tool alone. He then played his file through NI Traktor, to show just how easy it is to create Stems and do a mashup. The crowd response was great!

Lastly, Venomisto brought in Ableton Live and showcased his creative methods for improving an extraction for a remix. He finished it all up with a Q&A session.

We want to give a big shoutout to Loic, Christina and the rest of the Music Expo team for putting together such a great event, and to The Record Co. for hosting.

A good time was had by all, with educational sessions, networking opportunities, and some awesome prizes.

We look forward to getting involved in Music Expo again in the future!