HomeJulien's BlogGear Talk

Catalinbread Belle Epoch

March 3, 2015 Category: Gear Talk Tags: , , ,

Catalinbread Belle Epoch

I started to gather replicas of old classic stompboxes some years ago in order to set up a full vintage pedalboard. It all started with a Marshall Supa Fuzz clone made by Lumpy's Tone Shop and a Hartman flanger (a recreation of the classic Electric Mistress flanger). Lately, I got a Buffalo Power Booster, which is a replica of the original 18V Colorsound Powerboost.

So basically, I'm always looking for this kind of faithfull recreations of good classics. And something I'd like to try is a good clone of the legendary Maestro Echoplex. I heard very good things about the Strymon El Capistan but I also just discovered the Catalinbread Belle Epoch which is, according to Catalinbread, a "faithful sonic recreation of the EP-3 tape echo".

Here is a good demo fom Youtube:


It sounds pretty good! I'm not sure about replacing my Maxon analog delay by this unit but I'm definitely looking forward to giving it a go!

Catalinbread Belle Epoch page: http://www.catalinbread.com/belleepoch.html

Here is a nice video by Wampler which demonstrates very well how microphone placement affects the sound. The video is about guitar amps but this is true for basically any source.

The slightest change in angle or in distance can really change the sound of your recording track, you can hear it very well in the video.

No matter how much money you spent on your guitar gear (for example) or how much time you spent on choosing your overdrive stompbox, it's all in vain if the microphone placement is neglected and it doesn't sound as you want and you wait for the mixing phase to fix the sound with EQ...


Heptode Virtuoso Phase Shifter

"The Virtuoso is a boutique recreation of the original Maestro PS-1A Phase Shifter, as used in the 1970's by keyboardist John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) and guitarists Steve Howe (Yes) and Ernie Isley (Isley Brothers), among many others." - Heptode.com

I've always been curious about the phaser sound on Rush's 1976 concept album 2112 and found out that Alex Lifeson was another user of the Maestro PS-1A on the early Rush albums. The original Maestro is quite hard to find, expensive and rather fragile so I was very excited to find that Heptode, a French boutique pedals small company, builds a faithful recreation of the original Maestro!

You can hear the original Maestro phaser on clean guitars all over Rush's album Caress of Steel, here in "Lakeside Park":


And here in "2112" on lead overdrive guitars:


And this is the Heptode Virtuoso in action:



I've always liked the Small Stone and the Phase 90 but I've never been so much impressed by any of them to be honest. I kept them both mainly because the Phase 90 works great on dirty sounds and the Small Stone works better on clean sounds and because I've made them modded by Analog Man so they don't have any volume drop issue.

My pedalboard changes almost every month and it changes even more since I got a new amp. My effects don't sound the same on my amp compared to my previous "no amp rig". It's even more the case with overdrive and distortion units which behave quite differently on a tube amp. It's the right time to set up a new pedalboard as I'm about to start the recording of Spleen Arcana's third album. I guess the Virtuoso would be a very nice addition to it!

Visit Heptode home at http://www.heptode.com/

My drawer of mics

December 3, 2014 Category: Gear Talk Tags: , ,

Here is my selection of microphones that I use to record my music. It covers quite a wide range of uses. From left to right :

  • Shure SM57 - Classic mic for guitar amp and snare recordings
  • Oktava MK-012 x2 - I love them for acoustic instruments and drums overheads
  • Studio Projects C1 - Mainly for vocals
  • Oktava MK319 - Vocals too, I prefer this one on my voice

I'd like to try other mics to record my amp though. I know the SM57 is the obvious choice for this task and kinf of an industry standard but I'm not too fond of how it sounds actually, I feel like something is missing so I'd like to try something else, I don't know what exactly so any ideas welcome!

How to automate colours and icons in Reaper

November 26, 2014 Category: Gear Talk Tags: , , ,

Automate colours and icons in Reaper

Here are my custom colours and icons. Any new children track gets automatically the colour of its parent.

This is a really nice feature if like me you appreciate to set different colours to your tracks and buses to make things easier and more comfortable. It's really a simple process, you just have to download the SWS/S&M extension for Reaper.

Now you have to go to the main menu of Reaper and then in Extensions to open the Auto Color/Icon dialog. Here you can choose your rules by setting a filter name, a colour and an icon.

As you can see in my autocolor dialog above, I set the extension so that when I create a bus/folder named "VOCAL BUS" for example, it gets the right color and the right icon and children tracks gets the same colour as well (thanks to the filter (children) which gives the colour of the parent).

When you work on projects of 40 tracks or more, it can be relieving to forget about colours and icons every time you add a track. I love this feature!!

EDIT: Before anything else, be sure that you ckecked the box "Tint track panel backgrounds" in your preferences > appearance menu!

Ok I thought I would share how I got my Waves plugins to work with Reaper in Windows 7 64 bit because if my first installation of these plugins was really flawless and smooth, the second time was a nightmare!

I needed to format the hard drive of my recording computer to start with a fresh and clean install before recording new songs so I had to install all my softwares and plugins again. My system consists of Windows 7 64 bit and Reaper 64 bit.

So basically, the problem was Reaper which didn't find my Waves plugins (CLA Comps and V-Series) in my VST folders and asked me to locate the file each time I open a project or scan my VST folders.

I tried almost everything... I installed an older version of the Waves installer (the V9r14 installer instead of the latest released installer when I'm writing this, the V9r21) but it didn't work neither.

Waves V-Series

A bit desperate, I tried to install them one last time but without changing any default path settings of the installer. The default paths are something like this :
C:\Program Files (x86)\ (this is the default path for 64 bit machine, I don't understand why the installer choose the 32 bits folder for program files by default but anyway)
C:\Program Files (x86)\VSTPlugIns (the default path for 32 bit plugins which contains the WaveShell-VST 9.3.dll file)
C:\Program Files\VSTPlugIns (the default path for 64 bit plugins which contains the WaveShell-VST 9.3_x64.dll file)

Now the trick is just to copy (not cut) these .dll files into your own VST folders. And another trick is to copy only the version you are using actually, 32 bit or 64 bit because if you copy both, you'll see duplicates of each VST in Reaper VST window.

Now in Reaper you just have to "Clear cache/re-scan" your personal VST folders (Options / Preferences / Plugins / VST) et voilà!

So my experience is that you need to keep the default path settings when installing the plugins or it goes wrong for some reason... Hope it helps!

Ibanez TSA15H head quick demo

November 18, 2014 Category: Gear Talk Tags: , , , ,

Here is a quick demo I recorded of my new guitar rig consisting of an Ibanez TSA15H and an Orange PPC12 cabinet :


I placed my Nikon D5100 on my pedalboard so the built-in mic is the closest to the cab (hence the weird framing) to avoid as much as possible the acoustic sound of the guitar. It worked better than using my camera on its tripod actually. It would sound even better if I used a microphone dedicated to record the audio, maybe someday, but this video will give you a fair idea of the sound of the TSA15 anyway!

I only played my Gibson Les Paul Custom with various pickup settings...

Gear update - Orange Cabinet

November 11, 2014 Category: Gear Talk Tags: , , ,

Orange Cabinet

I finnaly got a speaker cabinet for my brand new Ibanez head, I'm now a proud owner of an Orange cabinet!

Orange PPC112

It is their smallest model (more than enough for my recording needs), it consists of one Celestion Vintage 30 handling 60 watts and featuring a 18mm high density birch ply construction. Very well built and very, very nice, admitting that you like orange of course!

Orange "Voice of the World"

So here is my new guitar rig, an TSA15H head and an Orange cab. This is the rig I'll use to record guitars for Spleen Arcana's third album. I really missed playing on an real valve amp so I'm very excited to recover old sounds I had by the past and explore new tones for my next recordings.

New guitar rig

Subscribe to Spleen Arcana's newsletter

Curious? View previous campaigns.