Thursday, 31 December 2015

Product Review: Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD

Since he was a child, the german Uli Behringer spent a lot of time learning about music and technology. As a result, he went on to study sound engineering and classical piano at a university in Düsseldorf. During this study he began constructing his own equipment, believing the equipment of the university to be lacking. Fellow students picked up on his efforts and soon requests to build equipment were exceeding his ability to produce them. This led to the foundation of the company 'Behringer' in 1989, which has grown considerably since then. In 2002, it's own manufacturing facility was completed. This facility produces more than 2,5 million pieces of equipment each year, including about 300.000 mixers alone.

One of the latest additions to Behringers' supply line is the U-Phoria series. This series includes five audio interfaces, the UM2, UMC22, UMC202, UMC204 and the UMC404. A sixth interface called the UMC1820 hasn't been released yet, despite being announced early 2014. The UM2 and UMC22 support a resolution up to 48kHz, while the other three versions support up to 96kHz. These last three also feature HD versions that support a 24bit/192kHz resolution. Apart from that, the main differences between all versions are the type and amount of inputs and outputs available. Therefore, this review of the UMC202HD can be used to decide which version of the U-Phoria series is most suitable for your needs.

The UMC202HD version features two mic/line inputs, featuring pre-amps from sister company Midas. This company has been around since 1970 and their pre-amps carry a good reputation in the music industry. The only version that features a different (Xenyx) pre-amp, is the UM2. Outputs for the '202' version include the standard 6,3mm jacks for stereo as well as headphones. The '204 and the '404' feature additional in/outs, including MIDI. The Pad function, which is useful to reduce clipping during recording, is only featured in the three digit versions. However, all versions include a switch to turn on the +48v phantom power, allowing the use of condensor microphones. Combined with at least a 48kHz resolution, recording quality is on par with professional recordings.

When unboxing the device, the first thing you'll notice is the metal casing. For someone who travels a lot, it's reasurring to know that it can take some abuse. Next to that, the knobs feel really solid, although the buttons feel a bit wobbly. The indication lights for signals, clipping and power might seem a little small, but are clearly visible. After downloading and installing the software from Behringers' website, it was instantly recognized by my preferred DAW and ready to go. While recording vocals I noticed no latency with the Direct Monitoring feature, which makes it a valuable asset for many musicians. 

Anyone looking for a reliable audio interface to record high quality sounds, will enjoy the UMC202HD. It's easy to use and offers enough possibilities for the serious bedroom producer. The solid design is also a big plus, the only negative remark is that the little buttons don't feel as solid as the rest of the product. Also, if you prefer additional features such as the ability to connect MIDI and/or external signal processing devices, the slightly more expensive versions from the U-Phoria series might be a better choice. 

Do you have any questions or remarks about this review? Share them in the comments!
Also visit Majestic Entertainment for Music, Videos and more!

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Album Review: Canal Street Confidential by Curren$y

After already dropping an album and two mixtapes in 2015, 'Canal Street Confidential' is the fourth project from Curren$y (a.k.a Spitta Andretti) this year. His consistency to create and distribute good music is one of the reasons the loyal fanbase loves him so much. But can his new album live up to the expectations? Or does it feel like a rushed cash-in?

Canal Street Confidential

The album features eleven tracks in total. There's also a deluxe edition available with two bonus tracks, but will not be taken into account during the review. The majority of the instrumentals are produced by Purps from 808 Mafia, the other tracks include productions by Cookin' Soul and Cool & Dre, who are known to collaborate with Curren$y once in a while. In my opinion, it always felt as if his other projects were missing some bass-heavy tracks. However, in Canal Street Confidential there seems to be more bass present than usual. Although it still maintains the 'smooth' sounds that are characteristic for Curren$y.

The album also features some popular collaborators, including Future, Lil Wayne, Lloyd and of course Wiz Khalifa. These good friends of Curren$y were specifically asked to contribute, instead of ''anyone who happened to walk in the house that day''. Each of them brings their own sound to the track, giving Canal Street Confidential some nice diversity. The track 'Bottom of the Bottle' featuring Lil Wayne and August Alsina even has a mainstream feel, which got Curren$y some radio plays. It wasn't even on purpose though, the three artists from New Orleans each added their own part and the song just happened. 

Curren$y's performances are once again remarkable, with a flow and delivery that continue to impress. And especially for people who are inspired by his achievements, the lyrics are very relatable. As always it also includes his usual braggadocio lines about bitches, drugs and cars, with the typical humoristic twists. The hooks sometimes lack a little in lyric variety, but despite that they are still memorable in a good way.

It also includes a fun and memorable skit, which acts as an introduction to the track 'Winning' featuring good friend Wiz Khalifa. In the skit, Curren$y tells a little story about their humble beginnings which shows that he doesn't forget where he came from. This little insight adds to the experience that is Canal Street Confidential. The other skit after his solo track 'Cruzin...', as introduction to 'Superstar' (featuring Ty$), feels like it's just there to fill up time though. I would've preferred another verse for 'Cruzin...', since it features one of my favourite instrumentals from the album. However, this little annoyance doesn't change much when looking at the whole package.


With Canal Street Confidential, Curren$y maintains his streak of releasing good projects. It includes memorable instrumentals and solid performances from the man himself as well as the featured artists. Overall, it's is a great experience for the die-hard Spitta fans, but it also offers something for every kind of taste. I think me, and a lot of other people will enjoy the album even after Spitta's next project comes like three months.

Do you agree with the verdict? Or do you think Curren$y could've done better? 
Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Monday, 30 November 2015

7 Useful Lessons from the World's Best DJ's and Producers

Nowadays, there are a lot of people trying to get noticed as a DJ or Producer. But the artists that are popular now, had to go through that same journey. Since they already have the experience, there's is a lot that can be learned from these people. Are you always ready to learn? Then take a look at these 7 useful lessons from the world's best DJ's and Producers.

1: DJ Tiësto

''I've always wanted to be a DJ so I could play the music I love for other people. That feeling hasn't changed, but my sets are always evolving.''

If you don't know what you're ultimate goals are, it's hard to make a good plan of action. When setting up your goals, it's important to be honest with yourself, because in the long run these goals will help to challenge you. Part of DJ Tiësto's long successful career, is his ability to set challenges and improve himself.

2: Armin van Buuren

''Who am I? I'm just a humble law student from the Netherlands, who's not into drugs or crazy after partying or making money. I'm just in this industry because I'm really, truly passionate about this music, and I hope that shines through.''

Sometimes you might wonder if you're missing out on a lot of fun by preferring to stay home for once and work on your music. Just remember that all the time spent, might pay off in the end. If you're passionate about what you're doing and you work hard to achieve your goals, people will take notice. Staying humble even when gaining popularity is a great personality trait and will increase your likeability, which can attract even more fans.  

3: Carl Cox

''I've always tried to be creative as a DJ. My schooling came from hip hop era within the hip hop parameters on house music. Always quick mix-ins, quick idea's, quick change in records just to keep the vibe alive, real and exciting. Set the record playing but also put my own soul into what I'm doing.''   
Creativity is very important, but it's also important to be recognizable. A lot of artists can be recognized by a particular sound or phrase, which is part of their own style. You also have a unique style, influenced by your favourite artists and/or genres. It may take time to find your style, but when you do, try to bring this forward as much as possible.
Think about yourself as a brand, what are you famous for?

4: Avicii

''There's always haters, no matter what you're doing - whether they're complaining that everything you do sounds the same, or it's too different.''

Probably one of the most important things to learn, is to believe in yourself. Like Avicii says, there's always haters. Don't let them hold you back from achieving your goals. Issues with self-esteem can hold back the most talented individual from achieving their full potential. Don't take criticism too personal, but also try to gain as much feedback and advice as possible. Maintaining a good balance between this can be stressful, but it will help to keep your head cool when you gain more popularity.

5: Steve Aoki

''It's a really diverse time in music, with all these different DJ's and all these different categories, and we are all taking footnotes from everyone else. There are no real genre boundaries anymore; you can put a trance idea in a trap record - it's not that uncommon.''

The recent developments in EDM certainly open up a whole lot more possibilities for DJ's and Producers. There are hundreds, if not thousands of music genres and sub-genres available to experiment with. Even if you have your own style or a preferred genre, a lot can be gained by learning elements or tricks used in other genres.

6: Skrillex

''The people who I grew up making music with, we've all grown up and become successful in different ways. My manager supported me since I was 16 and believed in me as a musician. He's been there since day 1, and there's so much to be said about doing something with people you love.''

This shows that surrounding yourself with the right people, can make a lot of difference. Although it's important to believe in yourself, working together allows you to learn from and motivate each other. Many like-minded artists are always looking for collaborations, asking around in your network is a good place to start if you want to find them.

7: David Guetta

''Every time I come with an album, I try to do something different. And obviously my life has an influence on how I feel and the type of message I want to give with the music.''

Doing the same thing over and over again can get boring.
On the other hand, changing up your procedure or looking
for innovation can freshen things up, for you as well as your audience. 

Next to that, it's also good to know where your inspiration comes from. So you can tap into that source when it's necessary. Most popular artists can convey certain emotions with their music, which is an admirable skill to possess.

These were 7 lessons from the world's best DJ's and Producers, thank you for reading!
Any other lessons that you learned from DJ's and Producers? Please share them in the comments!

Thursday, 22 October 2015

5 Successful Music Producers You Probably Never Heard About

There's a huge amount of succesful music producers active in the business. However, if you would see one walking down the street, you might not recognize them. Therefore, since it's usually the artist that gets all the fame, let's put the producers in the spotlight for a change!

Lee 'Scratch' Perry

The start of his career wasn't very succesful, since financial conflicts caused him to part with two different record labels.
After forming his own record label and releasing the single 'People Funny Boy', which can be regarded as the start of reggae, he finally achieved success. His creativity in the studio, as well as his unique personality, earned Lee 'Scratch' Perry his popularity. 

During the time he was active for his own record label, Lee produced numerous memorable reggae songs and albums.
A wide variety of musicians have collaborated with him, but perhaps the most notable ones are Bob Marley and the Wailers. However, during these years he was under a lot of stress, which caused him to burn his own studio in 1978.

It took almost ten years to get his career back on track again, but he has been succesful ever since. Including winning the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 2003 and more recently featuring as Radio DJ in Grand Theft Auto V. 

Brian Eno

After attending a presentation about non-musicians using tape machines, he became inspired to make music himself. A few years later his professional music career started as a synthesizer player for a glam-rock band. But he quickly grew tired of the rock-star life and disagreements with the lead singer made him quit the band in 1973. This was the start of Eno's solo career.

In the early years of this career, his tendency to use a wide variety of ambient electronic and acoustic elements, earned him his popularity. Since then, Brian Eno is generally regarded to be the first to make 'ambient music'. During his solo career he also produced albums for a large amount of artists, including U2, Talking Heads and Coldplay. 

The list of achievements of his entire career until now is remarkable. For instance, Microsoft even asked him to produce music for Windows 95. for which he composed the start-up sound known as 'The Microsoft Sound'. At the moment, Brian Eno is involved in various projects. 

Danger Mouse

Starting out early with Trip-Hop and Remix CD's, he became well-known after 'The Grey Album' in 2004. This album was created using vocals of Jay-Z's 'The Black Album', backed up by beats made from samples from The Beatles' 'White Album'.

After gaining popularity, he was chosen to produce the Gorillaz' second album 'Demon Days', which released in 2005 and contains tracks like 'Feel Good Inc.' and 'Dirty Harry'. His work on the album earned him his first Grammy Award nomination for Producer of the Year. 

Danger Mouse has collaborated with many different artists, including The Black Keys on the albums 'El Camino' and 'Turn Blue' as well as A$AP Rocky on 'At. Long. Last. A$AP'. But the most notable collaboration is probably the one with CeeLo Green, called Gnarls Barkley. They released two albums of which 'Crazy' became an international hit. At the moment he's working with the Red Hot Chili Peppers on their eleventh studio album.


Determined to become successful in the music business since he was in eighth grade, Babyface started as guitarist and keyboardist in various funk and R&B collaborations. His first success came in 1983 when he wrote the song 'Slow Jam' from Midnight Star, which is still regularly being played on various radio stations.

His popularity was greatly increased after being part of the 'new jack swing' movement. This allowed him to co-found LaFace records together with 'L.A.' Reid. Artists of this label include Usher and Toni Braxton. Other notable artists Babyface has collaborated with are Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Lil Wayne, Beyoncé, among many others. 

Babyface is still active in the business, his most recent success was winning the Grammy Award for Best R&B Album in 2015 with the album 'Love, Marriage & Divorce' together with Toni Braxton.

Max Martin

MMax started out as singer of a glam-metal band called 'It's Alive'. During this time he started producing with Denniz PoP, who thaught him the basics. In an interview with TIME Magazine he once said: "I didn't even know what a producer did, I spent two years--day and night--in that studio trying to learn what the hell was going on." His first huge success was when Max took part in the production of 'Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)' of the Backstreet Boys debut album. 

To date, Max has worked with many other pop artists including, Westlife, Britney Spears, Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift. In total, he has (co-)written and (co-)produced 21 number one singles. This long list includes singles such as "...Baby One More Time" from Britney Spears, "I Kissed a Girl" from Katy Perry and "Shake it Off" from Taylor Swift.

Currently Max is supposed to be working on a number of projects with new artists.

So now you know 5 successful music producers, thank you for reading!
If you liked this, please share with others. Also, if you have any idea's or suggestions for other lists, please leave a comment!

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Open Source Creative Suite (Part 5)

An alternative to the Adobe Creative Suite


The Adobe Creative Suite is a Software Package used by Art Designers all over the world, but unfortunately it's not free.
In this series we will try to give an overview of the different parts of the Suite and where possible give alternative software for you to use.

This week we will be discussing:

After Effects

The post-production software that allows you to apply visual effects and animate elements to your previously edited video. It's easy to use and features many different built-in tools. On top of all the functionality, it's also possible to use plug-ins from simple color presets to advanced lighting effects. 

And as always, one of the biggest advantages of Adobe products is that it integrates with other programs like Premier Pro and Photoshop, as well as third party software. 

The alternative we would like to recommend is:


Blender was first used as an in-house tool, developed by Dutch animation studio's NeoGeo and Not A Number Technologies (NaN). After NaN went bankrupt, it was released as open source with the help of crowdfunding.

The open source project is now a free and complete package for professionals. As part of that package, it features a fully functional (non-linear) video-editor. This means it allows for adding simple effects like transitions, text and adjusting colors. 

But it's way more than that. As an alternative to After Effects, it can be used for visual effects, motion graphics and compositing. And the possibility to create animated films using 3D-modeling, animating and physics simulation opens really makes it a worthy opponent. It even features an integrated game engine, allowing you to create your own games.

Another pro from Blender is that it has a fully customizable workspace environment. Being able to choose the visible functions and more, can be used to build distinct layouts for various tasks. In combination with the hotkeys, it can greatly improve the workflow. 

Like any other program geared towards professionals, it takes some patience to figure everything out. However, once you do, the possibilities seem endless. Luckily the Blender website provides great support with manuals and tutorials to get you started on your creation. On top of that, it has a community that is always happy to help.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Open Source Creative Suite (Part 4)

An alternative to the Adobe Creative Suite


The Adobe Creative Suite is a Software Package used by Art Designers all over the world, but unfortunately it's not free. 

In this series we will try to give an overview of the different parts of the Suite and where possible give alternative software for you to use.

This week we will be discussing:

Premiere Pro

Which is a software application designed for video-editing. Sometimes they use the term 'non-linear editing system' (NLE) to refer to these kinds of software. This is because you're not tied to a predetermined and ordered sequence, unlike 'linear video editing', which was just called 'video-editing' until the computer-based systems became available. 

Premiere was actually one of the first NLEs, released for the Mac back in 1991. Due to the competition from Final Cut Pro, made by Mac itself, Adobe chose to release the Premiere Pro version on Windows-platform as well. 

There's also an Elements version of Premiere which is geared more towards the Consumer. The Pro version is, as the name suggests, targeted at the Professional and has a lot more input and output formats, effects and features in it's arsenal.

There are several free video-editing Software applications available, but we like to recommend:


Although it's not really open source (see: this thread), it has a free version as well as a paid version. The Free version has a few less features and output formats compared to the Pro version. However, you probably won´t miss them unless you´re a real professional.

The only minor issue with Lightworks is that there is a pretty steep learning curve to be able to get everything out of it.
However, there are some great basic and advanced tutorials available on their website to get you started. 

Once you start to understand how it all works, you´ll probably grow to love it. The layout is customizable and in most cases you can choose multiple ways to achieve what you want. It all works really smooth, especially when trimming or cutting scenes or audio. On top of that, there are some nice transitions and effects that are easily modified, aloowing you to create the video that you want. 

Compared to Premier Pro, the only thing really missing in Lightworks is the integration of other software and plug-ins. Some special features like the ´Shake Stabilizer´ for Premiere are nice a touch, but if you want to get started or do semi-professional editing for free, Lightworks is the way to go.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Open Source Creative Suite (Part 3)

An alternative to the Adobe Creative Suite


The Adobe Creative Suite is a Software package used by Art Designers around the world, but unfortunately it's not free. 

In this series we will try to give an overview of the different parts of the Suite and where possible give alternative Software for you to use.

This week we will be discussing:


Which is Software that has been built to design prints. 
Think of newspapers and magazines, but also simpler stuff like folders, flyers and posters. Next to printing you could also use InDesign for making a newsletter you want to distribute via mail.

It's pretty much a must for anyone who frequently uses a Desktop Publishing (DTP) program. 

As a free alternative to InDesign we recommend:


There are some differences to be found between the two. 
For starters, in Scribus you're going to be opening and closing a lot more menu's than the 'original'. Since for most functions you need to open a menu as opposed to InDesign, which always has the menu's opened. 
A good thing to note though, is that the same functions are available for Scribus, it's just a little bit hidden. 

One way to bypass this problem is to remember the shortcut keys for Scribus. This way you'll be moving you're mouse less and helps you get more work done. 
Even though the Graphical User Interface (GUI) needs some help, please remember Scribus is an open source project. This means it's still being worked on, so it could improve over time. 

Something that might be a nice addition, is that you're able to link it up to the Gimp (covered in Part 1). 
This way you'll only have to right-click on an image and click 'Edit in Gimp'. Lo and behold, the Gimp opens up your image allowing you to edit it instantly. Quite useful, I say.

One minor annoyance would be that you can't 'Print-Preview' without installing a plug-in first. This plug-in is however easily downloaded and installed which might take a few minutes. 
When opening up Scribus for the first time using this plug-in, it might say it's missing 'GhostScript' and that you might want to install it. Following the instructions will make you able to use 'Print-Preview in Scribus. 

If you need help getting started, there's an excellent tutorial in the Help files. For more help, try the Wiki page made by the creators of Scribus. 

Get Scribus here!

Written by: DatAsian

Posted by: Boundless