Barking Aunts Home Studio Project

Reviews, Homerecording, Free VST Plugins, Indie Music Blog, Free downloads

Country Time! He Stopped Loving Her Today (Johnny Cash style)

“He Stopped Loving Her Today”. Free download! A cover song, performed by many country artists. Here’s my take on it, styled (more or less) like a Johnny Cash song. Cash also happened to have recorded it, but in an acoustic version. This one is with a ‘full band’.

Youtube –

Also availble as a free download from Audiomack, click here.

Original version by George Jones. Words & Music by Bobby Braddock – Curly Putman. This version is based on how Johnny Cash sang it, but with more instrumentation. All instruments, recording & mixing: Rudy (Solid Rock Blues Band), 2017.

Recorded using Audacity and Ardour. Final mix: Mixcraft.

Drums – FXPansion ECO Drums
Bass – Harley Benton (Harley Benton MM 84A SB Deluxe Series)
Guitars – Gretsch g5420t Electromatic, KAY K-520
Harp (Harmonica) – Hohner
Vocal Mic – BM800

DIY Home Studio Improvement: put up a blanket!

Acoustic treatment of your home studio doesn’t have to be expensive. I put a blanket in the room and it clearly improves the sound of acoustic recordings (guitar) and vocals as you can even hear on the video recorded with my android smartphone. Guitar in this video is a Washburn WD42S I bought in 2005.

In the Video I’ve posted you can clearly hear the difference. The guitar sounds very ‘dry’ now, as well as my voice. I’m curious what this small change will do to my vocal recordings btw. Because using the blanket creates a ‘vocal booth’ as well. I’ve tested it on a recording that will be available in some time.



Larry Norman’s The Rock That Doesn’t Roll – Classic Christian Rock!

Today I’ve published a (new) cover song, “The Rock That Doesn’t Roll”. A classic Christian Rocksong by the late great Larry Norman. It’s available trough AudioMack (free download) and SoundCloud.

It’s a heavy rocking song, but the original version is a little slower (around 120bpm). Our version is 130bpm and has a more modern feel but still close to the original.

For this song I used my Saga Les Paul for the rhythm parts (a guitar I build myself) and the Hondo for the leads. In the chorus parts there are female backings but .. there were no females involved. Using the Kerovee plugin (also very suitable for autotuning!) I’ve pitched myself to a ‘female’ sound 🙂

Larry Norman

As I’ve written before on my site, Larry Norman was one of my main influences especially in my teen years. I like his work a lot, and have recorded some of his songs earlier. Most of them acoustic. This time I choose the “full band approach”. I’ve tried to do this one before but never even got close to a good version. This week I managed to record it in a way I like it. Hope I ain’t the only one that does!



New demo’s at Audiomack Free Music Service

Recently a new album was released (Yesterday’s Coffee) but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped recording after that.

In fact, while I was recording Yesterday’s Coffee I also recorded a few other (instrumental) tracks and recently (including today) I’ve recorded some other brand new material. They are available (demo’s, free downloads) at AudioMack’s Free streaming service. You can find them at this link.


Audiomack offers great, and free, streaming services like SoundCloud but I feel it’s audio quality is better. Apart from that it’s very easy to use. It also offers you a change to upload cover songs and even make money when uploading your music to them.

As you will notice I’m using a different “band” (project) name at Audiomack. These songs are demo’s/unofficial recordings for now.

Rex Griffin’s The Last Letter

The most recent added track is a song written in 1937(!) and it’s become a real country-classic: “The Last Letter” by Rex Griffin. I turned it into a little more bluesy song, especially the lead part. It just happened to come out this way 🙂

About the recording

The drum was programmed (midi) using an old program: “PCDrummer PRO”, and afterwards edited a little. Bass, guitars and vocals by me. Mixing also of course, using Ardour.

Free Mastering Software Compared AAMS versus Nammick BlackBox Mastering

I’ve been testing Mastering with Nammick’s BlackBox for a few days. BlackBox is a free (sort of) software program for automatic mastering.

I was almost ready to sit down and write a very negative review of this software program. Went to bed with thinking “It’s late, I’m frustrated and am probably missing out on something. If not, I’ll write it tomorrow..”.

When I shut down my computer, I realised what the error message I got when trying to save the files was really telling me..

I started testing BlackBox Masting when an online friend of mine send me a link to it after I reviewed AAMS and published my review a few days ago. He was pleased with it, so I gave it a try.

What is BlackBox?

Nammick BlackBox Mastering Software is an easy to use mastering program just like AAMS (see previous review). It offers some additional features AAMS doesn’t have and the programmer of it put a lot of (good) thinking in it. He’s got experience with mastering. That’s obvious. He’s also a good programmer. And, after watching his YouTube video about the program I’m positive that he indeed is also a very kind man. He must be. His business model is good also. Hand out free software and make it functional but not too functional. So in the end people who like it will use it a lot and end up buying it. Or at least tell others about this neat free program!

How does BlackBox work?

BlackBox is a very straight forward program. You “drag and drop” a (WAVE) file into the program, choose a preset, click on “process” and there you go. That’s the short version. But of course you probably will want to tweak the settings to your preference. That’s possible also. If you want to save the preferences, you’ll get a nag-screen telling you to register. It will cost you 50 pounds.

You can also select short pieces before processing the full song. I’m not writing a manual here, so I’ll keep it short. It works fine and will help you with the mastering process. Downside: do it too many times and the program will crash. It crashed a lot when I was working with it. Most of the time after 3 or 4 “previews” it started crashing. That’s not good..

Preparing your files?

From my experiences with LANDR and AAMS I knew I needed to prepare my mix for mastering. So, I had a 24 bit/48Khz file ready and started working. It sounded more-or-less okay after the ‘mastering’ process. I wanted to save the file. And that’s when I got a screen telling me I could not save it in HQ audio and it was limited to 44Khz. I could not find any setting allowing me to set it to a lower Khz. And got very frustrated!

So after I shut down my computer, I realised it had to be the 24bit original file! Exported it again from Mixcraft, set to 44Khz and it worked. Finally!

I could now proceed and recorded a new, “fresh track”. No mastering done. Only drums, bass, guitars. Ran it trough the mastering process. And again.

Frustration again!

It’s clipping! No matter what preset I used, it’s clipping. I lowered the loudness. Lowered other settings. Still, it’s clipping in some spots. Tested another track. Clipping. Distorting. Lowered the volume of the input track with -1.7dB. Imported. Clipping. The original track isn’t at all. It’s not “in the red”. It’s not too loud. Somehow, and I cannot find the reason why, this software makes the music I recorded clipping.

Even when I lowered the input track to -6dB, set the loudness to 0dB, and some other settings lower it still is clipping (listen to the little sample below).


And the winner is?

In my opinion BlackBox is a very cool piece of software that seems to have some glitches that need to be fixed. If the programmer get’s them fixed he’s got a winner for sure. For now? For “automatic mastering” I prefer AAMS. It doesn’t clip. It’s super simple to use. And it’s got a lot of presets (templates). With Mixcraft’s “in the DAW” mastering (or with a program like Audacity or Ardour, my main workhorse these days as far as recording is considered) you might get even far better results. Especially if you (more or less) know what you’re doing.

BlackBox does boost your track’s dynamic very nicely. But it’s simply too loud! Causing it to clip on parts where the original doesn’t and where Mixcraft or AAMS didn’t do so either. Even if I lower the loudness or other settings. It keeps clipping on specific parts. So it’s something in the software, I assume, that I can’t control.

For now, BlackBox is a no-go for me. But perhaps if one day I might learn how to get the clipping under control and I might start using it. I’m willing to spend time on it, but it’s promise to “push buttons” to master a track cannot be fulfilled. And I must say, I do not like to write this… Since I really like it’s design and how it works! It could be the next “killer app” on the market if you ask me.

You be the judge..

I did a ‘side by side’ comparison. The tracks here are the original track, AAMS mastered and Blackbox mastered. It’s available on Youtube.

AAMS doesn’t allow you to tweak the settings so I used the “alternative” preset and found it only fair to use a preset for BlackBox also (“Indie”). Finally, I did a track “mastered” in the DAW (MixCraft) using a simple limiter and some EQ. It allows me to set loudness, stereo image, eq and so on and much more but I wanted to keep it simple. So in Mixcraft I set the default Master Limiter to -2dB and set the eq to “cut low frequencies”. I also set the main bus volume to where it was still not peaking “in the red”.

– free “trial” allows you to export to wav
– very easy to use

– crashes a lot when “previewing” pieces of the track;
– tracks kept clipping (distorting) all the time, no matter what I did;
– cannot work with 24bit files.

If I had to rate it, as it is now, I’d say 2 stars out of 5.

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