Following the post of my experience of the Beyerdynamic T5p I thought I’d like to share about my experience with the power of hi res audio as well.
For those unaware, previously the common mainstream listening format of music was the CD. One day some engineers managed to greatly reduce the amount of data required to represent the audio recording by removing some of the components of recorded sound, ending up with the format most people consume music today, which is the MP3. And yeah, it does sound great for casual listening.
Back to the uncompressed CD, the standard resolution that is used to manufacture them is 44.1khz/16bit. Meaning analog audio is recorded by sampling it 44,100 times per second, and then these samples are used to reconstruct the audio signal when playing it back.
Hi res audio takes it to a different level and currently there are albums out there that are available up to 96khz/24bit, 192khz/24bit and up. All these being numbers, how does it sound?
It sounds glorious! Put on a piece of music in hi res that you were previously used to listening on MP3 and you will find details you never noticed, musical nuances you never knew existed, subtle panning movements in the stereo field, a counter melody. You’ll enjoy the unadulterated luxury of listening to the separation and impact of a mix the way the artists and mixing engineers intended. Once you listen to a hi res audio file, you’ll suddenly realise how much you have missed in the current MP3 age, and way more, as the resolution suddenly surpasses even the CD format which is usually the source MP3s are compressed from. As a music maker, these details unsurfaced actually inspires more ideas when I’m creating my own productions.
There are now brands like Sony, Pioneer, Pono etc releasing Hi Res Audio players. After trying out a few brands, I settled on a Astell & Kern AK100II.
And how do you get these hi res audio files? You can purchase them like what most people used to do Sites like Hdtracks.com offer hi res audio files and they are really not too much more expensive compared to purchasing albums on ITunes if you compare the vast difference in the quality of the files.
I’ve purchased well recorded albums like Beck’s Morning Phase , Soundgarden’s Superunknown , 30seconds to Mars’s LOVE LUST FAITH + DREAMS, Florence and the Machine’s, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful etc. Even though I have purchased some of these albums in CD previously (and some in casette tape and vinyl as well) but I do not regret it. The experience is different and you’ll feel like it’s a new album all over again.
So yeah, I’m a Hi Res Audio convert. Don’t take my word for it, go experience it!
Almost to the mid of 2016! Last year was cool as we continue to not only train but also discover more potential writers from our composing courses to join the FM exclusive writers fold.
With an average of 70 units of songs sold by FM yearly. This firmly makes us believe our efforts are worthwhile to realise our vision of making FM Pop Music School not just a school but also a gateway for us to help aspiring professionals into the industry!
Moving to our spanking new office last year with great vibes and with our new motto “Write the song in you”. I decided my new year resolution was to
try push FM’s publishing unit to greater heights and that included writing more songs myself and with my trusty team of FM Exclusive writers to contribute to the cause!
I’m happy to update that in the past few months of 2016 have been exciting we’ve been pushing our works to many exciting to be announced top artists!
More songs also equal to more fun production cases, I’ve had a hectic first half year recording many fun projects here’s some of them =D
There might be a few factors why this year is picking up for FM Publishing,
for e.g. our fortnightly writers gatherings where we share ideas, the encouraged collaboration, the yellowness of the office or for the fact that we believed and signed the right people to come on onboard our hit making team =D.
This wouldn’t have been possible without our writers’ hard work, and of course our powerful admin team to kick our asses to keep shifting songs and our partners at Warner Chappell as well!
With our upcoming songwriting camp, I believe we’ll be able to attract more promising talents and increase our community of like minded individuals and future hit collaborators!
20 years into the industry and 10 years of grooming talents in FM pop music school…Am I tired of it? Naaahhhh I’m more excited than ever for the FM team. On to more hits!
Lyla turns a glorious three! Im glad that she has grown to be a true jolly bean, having fun everyday and making us crack up with her many expressive faces and random remarks.
It’s crazy cool the positive impact kids have in our lives. I’m still ever grateful I work from home most of the time when I’m not travelling. I can wake up and do silly things with her before actually starting my day.
Though I’m in Taipei for her actual birthday but we had an early weekend celebration with our family.
When I’m back we’ll take her to the Zoo to check out her favourite elephants!
Ok, disclaimer about this blog. 1. This is not a sponsored post 2. I am sharing my experience with these cans coz it’s been rocking my life 3. I have returned these cans and purchased one for myself!
I’ve had these cans on loan for a while and decided to run it in so I can write a more accurate blog about it.
The T5p comes with a sturdy travel case. Made in Germany, it feels solid and well built.
5 weeks later, I’m still enraptured everytime I put them on and listen to a piece of music. Working on music for almost every moment of the day and still feel excited to listen to something when the day ends, that says a lot. It helps that I’m listening it through my Apogee Symphony or more often, with my Astrell & Kern AK 100 II audio player. Previously I tested the T5p 1st Generation cans and I loved the details in the highs however I found the bass a little too mellow. This time, the 2nd Generation has a bump on the bass and that suits my tastes to a tee!
As a self taught musician, I won’t know how to describe the sound in exact frequency speak but as with the music I hear and make, I can tell what sounds good or not, right or wrong. And the T5p sounds really good!
As always when I discover something exciting I’ll shared the experience with many friends, some of whom are experienced recording artists whom I shall not reveal for non endorsement purposes. One thing that kept occurring when they put on the cans and listen to a 96khz/24bit or 192khz/24 bit hi res recording is that they naturally close their eyes. The aural details from the T5p leads you to close out the visual world and draw you into an aural space where you can almost “see” the artist performing in front of you, with all instrument seperation and the depth and space thru the reverb and delays designed by the mixing engineer, clearly laid out for you. And as with all well designed audio equipment, they bring out minute details that you never knew existed listening thru less favourable mediums. When I listen to an old favourite, it’s like I’m listening to a remastered or re recorded version. The T5p does that to me and to some of my friends as well.
As a recording musician/arranger/producer, I find this actually beneficial to my own music making as I find myself picking out things even more clearly in the recordings of others as well as my own.
Retailing at SGD$1899, these cans are not exactly cheap. If you are listening to music thru lossy mp3s or other low res sources, this will be a torture to listen to as it will amplify the discrepancies of what was lost thru compression. However if music is more than just a casual past time for you and you are always looking for something you can take around and absorb the joys of recorded music. This is for you.
So there it is, my personal take on the T5p, these cans have been inseparable whenever I’m travelling or chilling on my own and I suspect it’s gonna be this way for quite a while.
Yeah! It feels good to be able to announce “20 Hits in 10 hours” The songwriting camp that we’ve been working hard on. The idea was spawned when Lj and I chanced upon a songwriting camp ad when we were in LA a few years ago. Fast forward early last year we witnessed how fun it was when Xiaohan and I were invited as consultants for the 12 hour boot camp of 中国好歌曲, where each contestants had to complete a song in 12 hours.That’s when I decided, yes, this is what we should be doing!
Actually this camp would have been a closed door event among our own writers. However after sharing this idea around, everyone we spoke to felt that this will be an exciting thing to open up to the public and with the help of our supportive partners we managed to pull it off! So here’s a big heartfelt thank you to the National Arts Council (Noise Singapore), COMPASS, Warner Chappell, Beyerdynamic/Peak Fusion, Teo Heng Trading & Ktv Studio, the Star Vista, Gibson, KRK systems and Samuel Seow Law Corporation.
And what better time to do it than this year! Being our 10th year anniversary of training new generation hit makers at FM Pop Music School. The past 10 years have been a blast grooming trainees who’s homework ended up in albums by Stefanie Sun, Guo Jing, Angela Zhang, winning songwriting competitions or winning awards thru their very own releases as singer songwriters.
There is no charge to join this camp. However this is not going to be a 2 day training class, this is an open call for passionate individuals who’ve had experience writing songs and believe they can join us at Funkie Monkies Publishing to be the next generation of chart toppers in the music industry.
Interested? Think you’ve got what it takes? Here are 10 things to know if this camp is for you.
1. This camp is open to Singaporean and Singapore PR only.
As our music partners include COMPASS and the National Arts Council (Noise Singapore), who constantly champion Made in Singapore talents. Our aim for this event is to spread awareness of the joys of songwriting and search for the next generation of made in Singapore hit makers.
2. You must have a ready, passionate, hardworking attitude
Success as a hit songwriter is not something that happens overnight, you must be willing to perservere. When I first started, I handed a song every week to my music publisher for 3 years before I struck my first hit single together with 小寒 with纸飞机 by Sandy Lam. I’ll readily admit that those first few 100 songs were raw and mostly bad, but with every song, together with a music publisher who believed in me, plus great advice given mentors, I got closer to understanding how to write for a mass audience.
3. You must be free of any music publishing commitments
Another important aim for this camp is that if you’ve got what it takes, Funkie Monkies Publishing wants to provide you with a platform and groom you to be Singapore’s next hit maker. With over 10 years of experience pushing our writers works all around Asia, this is an open call for us to you, the songwriter who wishes for your works to be heard by millions.
4. You must show us you’ve got what it takes
We don’t need a long story of you and your qualifications. What we need to hear/see is what you can accomplish now. For lyricists, you are to reinterprete and rewrite lyrics over an existing released hit song. For melody writers, you are to send us a clear audio recording with a melody (it can be ‘lalala’ if you don’t have lyrics) sung by a human voice. The music presentation/arrangement for melody writers does not need to be complex. As long as the melody is in tune and in time with a simple chord accompaniment, that’s good enough.
For music arrangers, you are to send us works that are completely arranged and programmed by you.
Only lyricists need to write in Chinese, so even if you can’t speak a word of Mandarin but have a powerful knack for composing a melody or music arrangement, you are definitely welcome!
More details can be found at www.fmmusic.com.sg/songcamp . And you have more than a month to do this (our submission deadline is on the 1st of June). To me, that’s way more than enough time! I’d say submit as early as possible, as we only have up to 80 slots and we’ve already received quite a few submissions!
5. You must be able to work as a team
In this camp, we will be grouping you up with fellow lyricists, melody writers or music arrangers. They will probably be strangers who have passed the selection process and are talented, just like you. We will need you to get past your comfort zone, check your ego by the door and explore working with like minded individuals. Which, by the way, is how successful music professionals work too.
6. You must be clear of your strengths
In the registration form, state clearly what your strengths are. If you are a melody writer who can arrange music as well, go ahead and let us know. If you are a lyricist who can sing well, go ahead and tick your strengths. This will allow us to pair you guys up with suitable team partners for the ultimate 20 self sufficient songwriting teams.
7. You must turn up raring to go write hits
We will provide you with an aim during the camp to write the hits that the guests came for. Guests include Chen Jian Ning from F.I.R, Huang Ting, Ah Guan with Vickey Tseng, Jessica Chang from Warner Chappell. These are either accomplished hit makers or experienced song pushers for top artists. They will provide you with a list of songs that are needed by the market right now. So don’t come expecting to re use an old song
8. You are open to feedback from experienced hit makers and industry leaders
Ask any successful musician and chances are they’ve had 贵人, or mentors who gave them valuable advice when they first started out. I for one, had a lot of useful feedback handed to me 20 years ago. During then, there were many hit music producers from Taiwan and Hong Kong dropping by Singapore to source for musicians. This is another reason why we decided to organise this camp. We want to bring the industry over to your doorstep and give you direct access to tap our expertise. Be open and make the best out of it.
9. You must be prepared
If you have been writing good songs but are used to working alone, time to get out there and start collaborating. Try it before the camp so you won’t be caught off guard . Who knows? You might enjoy it! Many great ideas are sparked through bouncing ideas off others.
10. You are ready to have fun
If you love music, you’ll know music making is fun. Work with others and allow their strengths to compensate your weaknesses vice versa. If you are selected, make sure you keep both days free, there will be the 10 hours camp and the 2nd day will be a full day of listening to your hard work and mentorship sharing sessions. This is going to be a fruitful and fun 2 days. I’m sure you’ll walk away gaining a valuable experience!
So there you go, 10 things to know for “20 hits in 10 hours”, start cracking on your demoes now! Hope to see you there!
Once again, for more details, head on to www.fmmusic.com.sg/songcamp
Was chilling at a hip club in Taipei last night with my 80s rock tee, slacker shoes and berms, looking totally out of place but feeling totally fine when my friend brought over a service staff. He wanted to tell me he spent his high school years listening to 假动作，a song performed by Jaycee Chan, written by Xiaohan and me. The song was released in 2010 and to me, that’s just like a couple of years back, so I was like huh? how old are you?
He said he was 22. Wow…But that’s not the first time, I remembered I once spoke to a 14 year old student, also in Taipei and she said Oh! You wrote 纸飞机？Wow, I loved that song when I was a kid! 金典老歌！
Last year around this time I was at the Naked Finn’s boss bday party, a swanky restaurant at the Gillman Barracks having a conversation with this lady who suddenly exclaimed quite loudly to Xiaohan and me “WHAT? You guys wrote 无底洞？That’s the song that inspired my break up!” At first, we were not too sure if that was a compliment or we were to blame for the breakup =D
On one hand, I’m thinking, wow time flies, and on the other hand, this feeling of ‘job satisfaction’ never gets old.
Just this year, I was told by an artist friend her initial impression of me was that I’m this heck care hippie looking lazy feller till she started to work with me. That’s when she realised that I’m a heck care hippie looking feller who’s actually hardworking =D
I’m only hardworking coz I enjoy making music. And I enjoy songwriting the most. Some might scorn at writing hit songs aimed for the ‘market’, I don’t consider it as writing for the market, I consider it as writing for people. Lots of them, as many of them as possible. I enjoy the look in strangers eyes when they realise this slacker looking feller wrote a song that was part of their lives. I am totally grateful for my ‘part time job’ as a touring musician with Hua Jian, as I enjoy getting on stage and watching thousands of people singing, dancing, crying, united by a hit song. It just reminds me why I still continue writing vigorously whenever, wherever I can. In fact, I’m in the plane on my way back, before typing this post, I was humming a tune into my iPhone.
If this is the feeling I get as a songwriter of a few songs that get a reaction from people around Asia, I can’t imagine the pride people like Paul Mccartney gets when he says, Oh…songs I wrote? Let it be, Michelle, I wanna hold your hand and Yesterday…just to name a few? Or Max Martin when he can say he was involved in writing Blank Space for Taylor Swift 2 years ago and “I want you it that way” for Backstreet Boys 17 years ago! I can’t imagine, but what I can do is keep writing, and that I will never stop doing.
A little teaser here, if you are, like me, an inspired songwriter, always looking to write the song in you. And you’re always wishing that your song can reach out to millions of people. Do keep a look out on our Funkie Monkies FB. Something very fun is gonna happen!
In case you haven’t heard, Hear Me Sing is Singapore’s first and biggest online singing competition presented by StarHub where the winners of the competition move on to be groomed, headline their own concert plus be signed and featured in MM2’s ongoing regional tv/movie productions.
We had the auditions over the weekend and we had to start at an unearthly hour (At least to Jim and me anyway) at 9am =D
I’d say initially I was concerned over how the standard of the talents will turn out, but as the day progressed, I was increasingly excited to see many new faces, new talents of different, interesting new styles.
From the few 100 talents that walked up to audition, we had to select 16 of them for this program. It was definitely not easy, as we definitely had more than 16 promising talents. However I mentioned before the final round of auditions that after so many years in this industry, I’ve realised it’s really not the goal that matters most, it’s taking the journey that’s more memorable and important. So we should take every opportunity that comes seriously and give it our best. The rest is 顺其自然.
And did the best they did! I think we end up selecting a very dynamic and interesting bunch of 16 contestants for Hear me Sing. Do come join in the fun when it starts very soon to vote for your favourite local talent!
Ok, I went to Tokyo this time with one main mission. MUSIC. I wanted to buy a guitar and I wanted to buy records and CDs. That mission was overwhelmingly accomplished!!! Besides that I wanted to get a camera too. We had four days there and LJ already helped me lay out a mission plan of where we wanted to go for those 4 days. And it narrowed down to three places.
Ochanimizu (Guitar Street)
As a bonus, the place where we stayed, Ikebukoro was a very well contained town with lots of nice shopping including BIC Camera, one of my targets to get the camera. I heard that’s another trait of Tokyo, where all the towns are individually very well laid out with almost everything you need so you don’t need to go very far to get something you need.
While doing my research for guitars and music, I already had fair warning that I will be faced with a ridiculous amount of guitars and record stores that have more stock in one shop than all of the Singapore shops have combined.
Before I could even step on a train to the 3 places, I saw a Disc Union in Ikebukoro. Upon entering, I stood there in a daze for a while because there was so much going on and the shop was hustling and bustling with activity! I was messaging my friend that it was crazy, after 2 hours in the shop, I couldn’t even get past a quarter of the shop coz there was sooooo muuucccchhhh music! The used CDs were in great condition, way better than mine so I went ahead and re bought stuff that I already have. And the price was very reasonable so I was grabbing stuff like crazy.
The next day we decided to hit Shibuya, coz it was a shopping district as well so LJ can go shopping while I checked out Ishibashi music, a well known online Japanese music instrument store who’s biggest store is at Shibuya. It’s really amazing to walk into a store to a wall of Gibson custom shop Les Pauls, my favourite electric guitar, all laid out nicely. These are guitars you only usually get to browse through in magazines and you’ll maybe see 6-10 pieces in a better guitar shop. To see them laid out like these just leaves you speechless.
Usually if I intend to buy a music instrument when I’m overseas (which is most of the time =D), I tend to look for local made ones. As all the Gibsons are made in America, I decided to look for a Japan made Fender Telecaster instead. And there was a huge row of them, so I picked up 3 of them and doodled with them for almost 2 hours, the sales guy was cool and patient and didn’t show any sense of frustration even when I was nit picking and switching guitars every minute! I knew the next day I was heading to Ochanamizu so I told him I’ll make a decision tomorrow. He was cool and even let me reserve the guitar under his name as the Tele I wanted, a classic special 50s Tele was a limited edition piece.
After that I went record shopping and decided to drop by Tower Records, it’s really amazing that all the huge chains like Tower and HMV all over the world have since crumbled but here is Tower having a whole building to themselves standing strong in Tokyo!
The next day we went to Ochanamizu. Once again, I felt like a kid in a nation of candy. Guitars of all kinds, custom shop models, boutique brands I never knew existed, Japan exclusive versions in every store.
Once again, I was looking for a Japan made model and liked the model I played yesterday. To me, every guitar is unique. Even if they are exactly the same brand, same model, they come from different trees so they feel differently to me. When I bought my first Gibson acoustic in New York, a J45 in 2002, I went through about 10 pieces of the same make and decided on the one I felt suited me best! So after trying another 2 pieces of the same model, I decided to head back to Shibuya to buy the first one I tried.
Upon further research, I discovered that Shibuya was the best place to look for record stores. The Disc Union I went on the first day at Ikebukoro had an even bigger store in Shibuya! Afraid that I’ll never be able to get out on the same day, I went to check out another shop named Recofan instead. I was pleased that they had tax free shopping so I went digging again and I found my most satisfying record buys this trip.
The four K.I.S.S members’ solo albums in great condition! Those covers are not just albums of recorded music, they are classic works of visual art!
After buying my guitar, we lugged it to Shinjuku where there’s Yodobashi, the other camera tower in Tokyo to look for my camera. Except that it was not a tower this time, it’s a village!!! They have a whole building allocated for mobile phone stuff, another one for household electrical items, one for entry level cameras and another one just for DSLRs! It was quite an experience however unfortunately they didn’t have stock for the Canon 7D Mkii that I was looking for. So we went back to the BIC Camera around our hotel to get the camera.
One last tip before I wrap up. As taxis aren’t exactly cheap over in Tokyo, there will be a lot of walking around and taking JRs and Metro. And if you are shopping, carrying loads of stuff, it’s gonna wear you out. Luckily, our friend advised us to look for lockers which are in every train station. In Shinjuku, we even found a locker big enough to store my guitar! So yeah, unless you wanna develop muscles shopping in Tokyo, always look for lockers if you are buying many stuff but wanna continue shopping at a different train stop.
And so yes, that completes my 10 days in Japan experience, for the music, I’ll definitely be back again!
Sapporo is the capital of Hokkaido Prefecture. We followed the Wakin crew over here as they wanted a few days of shopping before we headed to Tokyo by ourselves. There are brands that we find in Singapore like Daiso, Uniqo, Loft etc which offered way more stuff than what we find at home.
I was itching for a new camera so I went to visit the electronic towers, I call them towers because they are so ridiculously huge with anything and everything you want to find ever released in the world of electronics. BIC Camera and Yodobashi, 2 of the biggest brands in Japan are in Sapporo so I had a nice time looking around. However as my next stop is at Tokyo, I was advised to get it when I get there as the shops there are even crazier.
Browsing around, I came across another gadget that I always wanted but didn’t know about. Hi Res players! Small portable players playing audio that zooms past compressed mp3s, 44.1khz 16bit CD formats landing at 96khz 24bit audio! I heard the sample audio and was blown away. As the brand I’m interested in is made in Korea, I’ll get it back when I get back to Singapore.
On the 1st night, me and my friends decide to go check out local bands at a live house and so I googled “best live house in Sapporo”, I was guided to this place called “Beggar’s Harlem” to our dismay, there was no stage at all let alone a stage! Another search led us to this place called Spiritual live house, and the staff told us they were closed…we had a chat with them and told them we’ll be back tomorrow. On the way back to the hotel, we came across a 24 hour record store! I was super amazed as I told my friend in Singapore, don’t even say 24 hour record stores, you’ll be amazed even if you find one anywhere! When we entered, we realised it was a rental shop for CDs and DVDs! That was cool except that we were not locals so we can’t rent anything, however we stilll had a nice time browsing through and checking out albums at the listening booths.
The next day we went shopping along a strip of shops on a road named Li Xiao Lu which is famous in Sapporo for shopping so we went there to check it out. To me, it’s like a Bugis village but just about 7 times longer! You can find a whole load of different stuff there but I’m was not interested in anything except guitar shops and vinyl. And the vinyl….man….I knew I was heading to Tokyo and the vinyl shops there were legendary, but at Sapporo I was already going bonkers at 2 shops, one called Records Records and the other called Fresh Air records, digging thru crates of vinyl of used classics that I grew up on at very reasonable prices.
The next night we went over to the Live Spritual house and by the time we reached there, 3 bands had finished their sets but we managed to check out the 3 remaining bands. The 1st one was No Colors Actor. They were a funky pop rock band and they were really really tight, tight as in they were so well rehearsed and had great chemistry that each band member’s parts blended very well with the rest and they synchronised very well musically (later we realised that all the other bands were amazingly tight as well)
The next band, Edward Johnson was the highlight of the night, they were a parody metal band. Musically they were all very tight and accomplished however the singer’s antics were way over the top that we felt like we were watching a heavy metal musical play instead of a underground club gig. One thing in common of all the bands is that they performed as though they were playing to a crowd of 100 000 when the club had about 40 people watching. Its really inspiring to watch bands who take their responsibility to entertain very seriously. In this case, so serious that it was funny. On one song he dedicated a song to his mom and had a crying “why god why?” expression throughout the whole song.
The last band $#$!@# who’s name I can’t even pronounce as it’s in Japanese was a 3 piece stylish brash and SUPER loud straight up rock band. The songs were screamed in a great “finger to the world” fashion and they were very nice original tunes. That was the next thing in common among all the bands, they all played really well and had great original tunes. Japan’s music industry still manages to thrive for a good reason.
And with that, we said bye to the Wakin crew and headed to our own holiday to Tokyo.
Yeah just got back from a 10 day holiday to Japan! Previously I only had been to Tokyo once and that was during the Sandy Lam Asian tour in 2002. Things have changed so much since, and one thing I greatly appreciate this trip is GOOGLE MAPS!! And next is there are more places in Japan where we can converse in Mandarin and English.
Our 1st stop was the Hoshino Resorts Tomamu, a ski resort in Hokkaido, where we met up with the Wakin entourage to have some fun. This was the 1st time I’ve ever seen so much snow. The temperature was about -15degrees celsius, it was cold but not unbearably cold.
1st of all, here’s the breathtaking view from our room!
And here’s the 森林 restaurant that we had dinner, the view was gorgeous at night with the snow clad forest view. This was also where Su Hui Lun had her wedding dinner.
Over the next 4 days we had fun in the snow, the 1st day was just walking around, getting on the gondola and marvelling at the view provided by Mother Nature.
I had my first snow boarding experience…at 40 years old. 活到老，学到老. I fell so much my ass hurts, but still, once I got the hang of it, it was fun! And also mandatory for a resort like this is the onsen (hot spring), in which we soaked in the hot spring while the snow fell on our heads…Quite an experience I must say…
There’s also this ice village which only opens when the temperature falls below -15 degrees and off we went!
The Ice Restaurant!
When Lyla grows a little bigger, we’ll definitely bring her along the next time.
There’s only that much you can do at a ski resort, next stop Sapporo!