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Reason 11 Review

This Reason 11 review will help you figure out if Reason 11 is right for you. If you’re looking for a great DAW for hip hop and EDM, reason may be just for you. However, if you like to make more complex styles of music, the Reason 11 workflow will bog you down.

The Reason 11 update is the latest version of Propellerhead Software’s flagship DAW. Of course, Propellerhead has now changed its name to Reason Studios. Which makes sense, I guess, since that’s basically what they do.

Reason 11 was released on September 25, 2019. It added two totally new effects: the Quartet chorus and the Sweeper phaser as well as a half dozen minor workflow improvements. It also repackaged a few pre-existing effects. Still, I’m making the Reason 11 upgrade from 10 (here’s my Reason 10 review for reference).

The biggest new feature of Reason 11 is that it can now be used in other DAWs as a plugin (except logic, for the time being).

Should you buy Reason 11? Check out the video review.

Skip to your favorite part:
What’s new: 2:07
New User 5:26
Plugin User 7:58
Upgrading from Reason 9 – 11:56

Download the beginners Cheat Sheet.

The bottom line for my Reason 11 review – if you’ve got Reason 9 or below, it’s worth upgrading. If you’re using Reason 10, hold off. If you’re interested in getting started with Reason, there’s never been a better time! Even if you don’t love using Reason as a DAW, the ability to use it as a plugin in your favorite DAW makes it incredibly powerful!

LoopCloud vs. Splice (Best Site for Samples and Loops)

Today, I want to do a comparison of Splice vs LoopCloud by Loopmasters. These are two really good pieces of sample management software and also sample libraries that innovative designs to get you sample management easier in 2019, but we need to address which is the best of the best! So, I’ve done reviews of these previously, but today I want to focus a little bit more on how they stack up with each other.

If you’re just straight up looking for the best free sample libraries, check out this list.

The first thing I want to say is before we go any further if you have any questions or comments or if you’ve used some other library like sounds.com or something like that, leave a comment down below with your experiences with them. I’m always interested in learning more about how people are experiencing these.

Why You Need to Download LoopCloud

Also, I’m gonna cut to the chase already. The conclusion of this review is that you absolutely need to get LoopCloud because it’s free and it’s amazing. Download it (affiliate link)!

I’ll explain why in a sec.

The other thing is Splice (affiliate link) is really really good for certain people, but based on the fact that it is using a subscription model that you have to pay seven or eight dollars a month for, I wouldn’t recommend it for people who don’t produce a lot of music. All right, that’s the recap or the summary.

The Differences Between Splice and LoopCloud

Now let’s get into the differences. This section is going to cover the differences in: software, the quality of the samples, and pricing.

LoopCloud’s Software is Incredible and Every Musician Should Download it

So the first thing I want to talk about is the software. LoopCloud is hands down the winner. It is an amazing piece of software and I would say probably one of the best free pieces of software for music period. Everybody should go download it because what it does is it manages your entire sample library.

It categorizes your samples in this incredibly intuitive powerful database where you can search by type of instrument or key or tempo, and it can adjust key and tempo on the fly so that everything fits together with your song. And this works with every sample you own, whether you downloaded it for free from one of these sample libraries, bought it from Splice, or made it yourself!

It also has a powerful sample tweaker/chopper/resampler built into it so you can deconstruct your own loops before you drop them into your song and it’s just a powerhouse that lets you access your samples and new and interesting ways. Highly recommended!

The Splice app is good, but all it does is it manages the samples that you download from Splice. It lets you search through them, sort them by key, tempo, by different types of instruments, that sort of thing… and that’s helpful for managing your Splice samples, but only does the Splice samples.

Splice Has the Better Sample Library

Now, let’s talk about the quality of the sample libraries. The samples on Splice are the best in the business. And it’s got tons of exclusive, unique libraries.

So it used to be that Loopmaster’s loops and samples were available on Splice, but they’re no longer available on Splice. So, now we’re really comparing apples to oranges.

Splice I think has a better size library and it has a much vaster array of unique sounds. So, as a producer trying to do electronic music or something… if you’re looking for a bubble sound or 80 different wooshes or a shattering glass or a rifle shot or a crazy trumpet or a lot of normal things… a lot of normal good sounding things, vocal chops, I think Splice has a much wider variety of sounds.

The quality of the sounds on Splice is excellent.

The quality of the sounds on Loopmasters is excellent as well. But, in terms of variety, Splice totally wins. In terms of the quality, they’re both equally good. I think it’s just that there’s more on Splice.

Pricing Differences

Now, we’re going to turn to pricing. Splice subscriptions start I at $7.99 a month for 100 downloads (you can cancel any time). You can download one sample here, one sample there à la carte from all of the sample packs they have. So if you’re the type of producer that has an extensive sample library that you’re drawing from, and you just need to fill in the blanks here and there, that monthly pricing is a really good choice. Splice frequently adds new samples, so it’s also a great way to constantly stay inspired.

Another cool aspect about Splice is that it’s got a lot of incredible plugins that you can rent-to-own. For example, you could get Serum for $9.99 a month and own it free-and-clear after 19 months. Or you could stop after a couple of months if you don’t like it!

In contrast, LoopCloud is totally à la carte. There’s no subscription. It’s kind of like iTunes. You want that song? Ok, that’s going to be 30 cents. You want that? That’s going to be a dollar… that’s going to be 50 cents.

No subscriptions.

And so I think in that respect, it’s a no brainer to at least download LoopCloud and get what you need when it’s available.

The Best Bang For Your Buck

I think it’s a better value if you’re still in the stage where you’re building up your catalog to buy full on sample packs from LoopCloud or from Sample Magic or from anybody, not this à la carte stuff. It’s much cheaper when you’re building up your library to just buy full-on packs and buy five or six packs in areas that you’re interested in.

So, like if you’re into lo-fi hip hop, buy five or six different packs that are sort of adjacent to that and that’s going to be a much better value. Drop those all into LoopCloud, have that manage your samples and then from there, maybe you can à la carte on Splice maybe you can à la carte on LoopCloud.

Should You Download LoopCloud or Splice?

So I think there’s slightly different value propositions. I think you have to get LoopCloud if you’re a musician making music in 2019 and I think a lot of producers get something out of Splice just because of its vast library and the ability to find exactly what you’re looking for every time you need it.

I mean how many times have you bought a full sample pack for $40 and only use 5 or 6 samples? So to pay eight bucks a month for that even if I just downloaded five or six samples – if it was the exact sample I needed – is actually a great value. That’s more for like production music If you’re producing at a high and fast clip.

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Recommended Recording Equipment

Since some of you have asked, here is the gear I use, I’ve found everything on here to work well for me and would recommend all of it. After a lot of trial and error and money wasted on gear that I didn’t use, I’ve settled on the following selection of music equipment.

Note that some of these may contain affiliate links. But that doesn’t influence my decision to use these.

Best Books for Musicians (music theory)

I’d divide the best books for musicians into two categories: great stories about musicians, and those that teach musicians how to be better.

Both types of books are important for musicians to read, not only because it’s important to invest in yourself, but also because it can provide a lot of extra knowledge and inspiration!

In fact, these are the books the have made me better at licensing music.

Over my 20+ years of playing music, I’ve read a lot of each. Below are some of my favorite. These books make great Christmas gifts for musicians and also make great birthday presents.

Best books for musicians: The Beatles – the Complete Score

The Beatles were simply the best songwriters of the 20th century.

Period.

End of story.

This incredibly usable book includes all of their songs, arranged for all the major instruments on each song. It includes guitar tab and notation, lyrics, etc.

I can’t tell you how many cool chord inversions, riffs, licks, and chord changes I learned just by playing around with this book. If I only had one music book, this one be it.

Best Books for Musicians: Fretboard Logic

Fretboard logic is probably the best book for guitar players. It clearly explains complex theory in everyday layman’s terms. Plus, it full of useful charts, exercises, riffs, and chord shapes.

I’ve recommended this to tons of friends, and they all agree: Fretboard Logic is amazing.

Best Books for Musicians: Standing in the Shadows of Motown: The Life and Music of Legendary Bassist James Jamerson

Almost any bass player would agree that James Jamerson, who played on countless gold albums, was the greatest bass player ever. He was the house bassist at Motown records. So of course, he pretty much defined soul bass.

And this book not only includes an incredible look into Motown Records and James Jamerson (and the “claw”), but transcriptions of his best bass lines and lots of useful insight into how to improve as a bassist.

Best Books for Musicians: The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook

Now, not every musician is interested in learning to record and mix their own recordings. But trust me when I say that learning to record, even a little, opened a whole new world to me.

When I started recording, I wanted to write more interesting, complex songs, experiment with arrangements, and share my music with the world!

Most of all, this book offers loads of practical tips, advice, fundamentals and a discussion of the theory behind mixing and mastering.

Other best books for musicians?

So are there any books I missed? What would you recommend?

Since I’m always looking to learn more, please let me know in the comments!

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Best Gifts for Musicians on All Budgets

Having played music for 20+ years, I can say that these are the best gifts for musicians, hands down.

These are tools I use every day to make hundreds of dollars licensing my music.

Most of these gifts are biased towards guitar players, but there’s plenty of affordable gifts for all types of musicians.

So whether you’re shopping for a birthday gift for a musician, a Christmas present for musicians, Hanukkah, or just a thank you, check out these presents. They’re arranged by budget. Under $20, under $100, and $100+. But there’s something for all budgets.

These are also great birthday gifts for musicians, because most musicians neglect to take care of their gear as much as they should.

While some of them may not seem “sexy,” a lot of these gifts are the sort of thing gift a musician would never buy for themselves. They’re high quality and I’ve personally used most of them or have friends that would swear by them. So the musician in your life will really thank you for your thoughtfulness!

Best Gifts for Musicians Under $20! AKA The Best Stocking Stuffers for Musicians

There’s actually a lot of great music gear under $20. It’s not at all sexy, but these are the things that really do make a difference!

Strap locks

An essential tool for electric and acoustic guitar players and bassists, these keep your guitar from falling off while you play. The great thing about these rubber ones is that they work incredibly well, but don’t require any installation!

Cable Organizers

Keyboards, guitars, basses, djs… really all musicians deal with frustrating cables all day. And they get tangled just like your headphones.

Do your favorite musician a favor and give them one of the best gifts around – cable organizers. Multiple colors makes it easy to tell cables apart at a glance! They cost less than $10 and make great stocking stuffers for musicians.

Ear Plugs

Losing your hearing, developing tinnitus, and having ringing in your ears sucks. Most people think it will never happen to them.

But it’s not true.

I’m 34 and I already have a “good ear” and a “bad ear.” I’ve worn my share of ear plugs, but I’m still in trouble.

Do the musician in your life a favor and give them the gift of high quality ear plugs that don’t reduce sound quality too much.

Best Gifts for Musicians Under $100

These here are some of the best gifts for musicians under $100. You can buy some really great gear in this price range.

Direct Injection Box

A direct injection box is useful for gigging musicians and recording musicians. Whether they play guitar, keyboard, or bass, a DI box allows you to eliminate hum from your signal, boost a guitar to be compatible with a mixer-level signal, and convert 1/4″ cables to XLR, for better fidelity over long range.

A DI box has saved my butt on several gigs. Highly recommended.

A High Quality Pocket Recorder

These are super handy to record your live shows, demos, and practices. Unlike your smartphone, pocket recorders are built with heavy-duty gear, able to sustain loud music and still sound clear and undistorted. They also record in stereo, for a much wider sound footprint.

My band uses my Tascam DR-05 every couple of weeks to record our practice and keep ourselves honest. It’s a must have.

A hum-free Power Supply

Most guitar players, bassists, and even keyboardists spend a lot of money on pedals, but instead of buying a nice power supply, they are constantly throwing away money on new batteries. Or they’ve got wires everywhere with individual power supplies for every pedal. So do them a favor and gift them a high-quality power hum-free power supply. They’ll thank you.

And as an added bonus, a hum-free power supply is an ecologically friendly gift because they won’t need to go through batteries!

A guitar tuner pedal

I know so many musicians that have skimped on a good tuning pedal. It’s a terrible idea. Every guitar player and bassist should own one. Not only do they help you stay in tune, they also act as a “mute” button so that the audience doesn’t get annoyed while you tune up. Pro-tip: be sure to get one that is bright enough to be seen when playing outdoors, though (for example, the Boss pedal is more popular, but trust – it’s not bright enough to see outside)!

Best Gifts for Musicians over $100

At this price range, things start to get much more subjective. For example, some people prefer a Fender Guitar, others a Gibson. I’m not here to tell you which is right.

So the best gift for one musician may not be the best gift for another. I’m not going to recommend many instruments, but here are a few utilitarian gifts that I have really enjoyed.

A Good Microphone

Whether or not the musician in your life is a singer, at some point they’re going to want a microphone.

Maybe they want to record their guitar.

Maybe a singer friend is coming over and they want to record that.

Or perhaps when playing live they’ll sing a little back up vocals. Or maybe when playing live the need to mic their guitar amp to be louder.

You will never regret having a microphone.

And the Shure SM57 is a work horse that sounds good and will last a lifetime. They’ll also need a mic stand and some cables, so you can save some money by buying the whole package together.

Nice Headphones

Good headphones make a great birthday present or holiday gift because they help musicians listen to music more clearly. They’re absolutely essential if a musician does any home recording.

Plus, you’re less likely to be annoyed hearing them play the same song over and over again. So really, nice headphones aren’t just a great gift for musicians, they’re a great gift for you!

A pedal board

Guitar players and bassists will love a pedal board. It’s the perfect place to store all of their pedals. It’s portable for easy jamming. And with a pedal board, there won’t be a mess.  Something a parents and significant others will greatly appreciate.

A pedal board is another total win win.

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Eastwood Classic 4 Bass Review

Looking for a new bass?

I’m not going to bury the lede in my Eastwood Classic 4 bass review: it’s a very good, unique bass for its price ($549), but probably won’t be your main bass. In short, there are so many things to like about Eastwood Guitar’s Classic IV bass, from its great semi-hollow body look to its round, thumping tone. But there are also some issues with build quality and, for me personally, playability.





First a little background on me: I’ve played bass for about 20 years, and owned an Epiphone, a Gibson, and a couple of Fenders. My current main bass for gigging is an American-made Fender Hot-Rodded P-Bass with EMG Active electronics. It’s a discontinued model, but I absolutely love it.

However, I was looking to add something a little different to my collection, so I started exploring semi-hollow body basses. I’ve owned my Classic 4 at least a year, so I feel comfortable giving a detailed Eastwood Classic 4 bass review. Before buying it, I also tried out the Epiphone “Jack Casady” Signature Semi-Hollowbody Bass and the Fender Modern Player Coronado semi-hollow body. In my opinion, not only are they both more expensive, they both left something to be desired in terms of tone. And both were more expensive.

In you’re interested in hearing the bass in action, here is some audio of me demoing and reviewing the Classic IV. The bass was recorded clean, directly into my DAW without amp emulation or any special pre-amps or processing.

Ok, let’s dive in.

Eastwood Classic 4 Bass Review – Tone

The first thing to notice about the East Classic 4 is that its a hollow body bass guitar with a shorter scale. It retails for $549, direct from Eastwood. If you enjoy the look and feel of semi-hollow bodies, than you should definitely consider this one.

The Classic 4 features 2 EW retro pickups and they sound great. Its tone is low, warm, and growly, with a little punch. I would describe it as very “round.” And it’s the type of sound that excels in classic rock, country or soul.



However, it has very little “bite” or “cut,” and would not get through a mix in a harder rock or punk setting.

The Eastwood Classic 4 also features a three way pickup selector switch, with independent volume knobs for each pick up, and a tone knob. I don’t find the tone knob to be that effective at shaping the tone, but the pick up selection definitely makes a big impact.

Eastwood Classic IV Bass Review – Build Quality

Eastwood Classic 4 bass review headstock, nut, and fretboard

My Eastman Classic IV bass review has to note that the build quality is generally good. With especially good work on the bindings and the neck. However, one of the screws in my front pickup is stripped, causing it to pop loose sometimes. This effects both the playability and the tone, because sometimes it will actually hit the strings.

Eastwood Classic IV Bass Review – Playability

As for playability, it plays very well, objectively. The fret board is fast and even, and the strings are light and responsive. You can bend notes for days. And the string spacing is very comfortable. Due to the Eastwood Classic IV’s easy playability, I think it would probably make a perfect bass for a guitar player who was looking to grab a bass, or for someone with smaller hands.

However, it is not the type of play style that I prefer. I like a bass that is sturdy and pushes back. I find it really hard to play ghost notes and more muted, funk type phrases on the Eastwood Classic 4. It’s simply too forgiving and easy for me to play.

It’s kind of like the difference between a sports car and a sedan. The sports car is harder to drive, but you can feel the road and tear up the highway way more.

And just as a note to this Eastwood Classic 4 bass review: it really does not work well with slap and popping techniques. But to be fair, I don’t think it was in anyway designed for that.

The bass feels very well balanced when sitting down. However, standing up with a strap, it gets a little wobbly.

Concluding thoughts for the Eastwood Classic 4 Bass Review

This is a great bass for the price, and I plan on keeping it. I do genuinely enjoy playing it, and have used it on recordings that have been used by some big name clients. I don’t think I’d use it for gigging, though. It just feels more fragile than a solid body bass (and there are some clumsy mother suckers in my band). BTW, it does not come with a case. And it doesn’t fit into a standard bass case.

I also just want to give a shout out to Eastwood Guitars for making a left-handed version.

Best Sites for Free Samples & Free Loops

The only thing better than good samples are good free samples or free loops. Don’t worry. I’ve done the digging for you to find the best sites for free samples & free loops.

Since rap exploded on to the music scene, the use of loops and samples has become ubiquitous in all genres.

Whether we’re talking about pop music, rock, hip hop, or EDM, there is always a place for samples .

For example, in rock recordings, producers often layer the sound of real drums with sampled kicks and snares. Electronic music has relied on vocal samples and percussion loops since nearly the beginning.

Of course, samples and loops can be expensive. And that’s not to say that they’re not worth it. I’ve pick up some absolutely amazing sample packs over the years that were worth every penny.

Register for Free Samples and Loops at Loopmasters.com

But sometimes money is tight. Or maybe you don’t feel like you need an entire sample pack, just a sound or two.

Whether you’re looking for a song starter, a banging drum loop, or some horn samples, this list of the 6 best sites for free samples and loops will get you making music in no time. Some of these sites are a little on the obscure side, but if it sounds good, it is good.

Some of the links below may be affiliate links.

The 6 Best Sites for Free Samples & Free Loops

  1. Loop Cloud – Loop Cloud, by Loop Masters, is the ultimate tool for musicians making sample-based music. It keeps track of ALL of the samples on your computer, lets you sort by instrument, style, key, bpm, and more. And it comes with 1GB of free samples, plus 150 free samples a week!
  2. Loopmasters.com – Loop Masters sells some of the best sample packs out there, with a huge variety of styles. The quality is professional grade and you can find just about anything. If you sign up for its mailing list, you get 500 mb 1 GB of free samples (Updated Oct. 2019). Plus, many of the Loop Masters sample packs allow you to download free demo versions with about 15-30 samples and loops.
  3. Sample Magic – Sample Magic also makes incredibly good sample packs (I’m in love with the samples and loops in the Sunset Sessions!). If you click on the “store” tab on top of the page, you’ll see a link to “free downloads.” There you can find about a half dozen high quality free packs.
  4. Converse Rubber Tracks – Converse, the shoe company, has created an absolutely amazing royalty free sample library. Which is weird. But let’s not look this gift horse in the mouth. As of June 2016, it had nearly 40,000 free samples, made by some of the best producers in the business. Free samples by the likes of RJD2, Com Truise, and the Gospel Choir All Stars. There are samples in dozens of genres. The only real downside is that samples are very well organized, and it can take a while to find what you need.
  5. Producer Loops – Producer Loops has one of the biggest collections of free samples & loops available. And the library of these free loops is really easy to navigate. But… there’s a catch (there’s always a catch). You can get 2 free sample packs for each sample pack that you purchase. Still, it’s a pretty solid value.
  6. Hip Hop Makers – Hip Hop Makers offers a lot of great samples and loops for free download in the hip hop genre. It also offers a great community for producers looking to get into the hip hop music production game, including a section on how to sell beats!
Bonus Free Samples & Free Loops
(Image by Carnagenyc)