Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category


Mastering with Focusrite VRM

February 12, 2014

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had the privilege of working on the final stages of a new album – Kiss of Grace – by Lorna McDougall.

The recordings of the tracks arrived with me for mastering and preparing for production.

So the question arose – the tracks sound great on my speakers: but what do they sound like on others…

Big budget studios and mastering houses do this the brute force way – playing the tracks through arrays of differing speaker types in differing acoustic spaces… which mere mortals like me can neither afford the space or the finance to achieve.

Thats where the Focusrite VRM comes in.

Focusrite VRMThis neat little box is a USB audio interface providing a headphone out (and SPDIF in – but more on that later), a sweet volume control and an application that simulates different speakers in different acoustic spaces…

So – with a good pair of headphones you can hear what your mix ‘may’ sound like across a range of pro to domestic speakers in a ‘studio’, ‘bedroom’ or ‘living room’.

Add this to your desktop or laptop and off you go – where ever you are mastering the sound of your recordings is a doddle.

I’ve got to admit that since this has arrived my headphones have been ‘superglued’ to my head… the sound is just so good… at least to my tastes…

The range of speakers and environments is very useful… and some extreme differences between speakers/environments can be interesting to work on mastering against.

VRM Speakers

In use…

The music I was working with was in Studio One, on my old iMac core duo.

My iMac has been my workhorse from 2006 – I use it for everything… and I was interested in what effect the VRM would have on the system…

I created an aggregate audio device with my Presonus FW mobile (used to route FX via SPDIF to my TC Electronic M350)  and the VRM… and routed the ‘main’ out to the VRM.  The outs of the FW mobile went to my speakers as a cue mix.

And it worked – first time, no sweat… badda bing!

Studio One VRM

A screen capture from using VRM today!

Working on the final mix today – the Focusrite VRM has been great.

Now I have it and understand some of its limitations – I will be using this almost constantly from now on.

If you get one of these – and I don’t see why you shouldn’t at £49, from Absolute Music – register it and get the updated software – the 1.0 software… well… sucked!  the 1.4 is significantly better…


  • Price
  • Convenience
  • Great sound – speaker emulations sound fab.
  • Built like a brick shed – I’d be happy to throw this in a laptop bag knowing that at the ‘far’ end that it would be functioning perfectly.
  • The volume control – very useful, very sweet to use- always by my right hand.


  • The VRM software takes up CPU cycles and increases latency from the DAW.
  • If there is a load on the computer – or there is a particularly memory hungry application running the VRM starts to crackle.
  • The volume control – there can be noticeable ‘steps’ in volume than would be expected from a purely analogue control… (but I’m being extremely picky)

Poem – Of Truth and Flies (or, When the Wifes Away…)

November 4, 2013

Autumn Trees

Of Truth and Flies  (or, When the Wife’s away…)

A still, clear November morning.

The lochan ringed with golden trees

Reflected in the mirrored pool

Give warmth and light more than

The shallow incident rays of autumn sun.

A line unfurls, reaching out over the waters

Settling gently, kissing the reflecting interface

Between cold clear water, and crisp clean air.

There presents the ‘lie’ – a sharp, curled, barbless abdomen

Dressed red body and ruff – dips into the water

Dark hairs clinging to the tension of the surface.

A piscine mind – always hungry, always eating

Always looking for an opportunity to feed – sees food…

And voraciously takes the lie – creasing water, twitching leader

In expectant moment arm muscles tighten

Rod tip lifted high, bows towards an unseen opponent

Strike! – it’s on – battle commences.

A smile broadens.

The line once lazily resting on the pool

Now taut describes a vector between two worlds

One of water and one of earth.

Racing – tugging – pulling – snatched to and fro…

Adrenaline flows… arm wearies… smile remains

The vector shortens, and at times lengthens

As the war of will plays out

But inexorably the line taken is more than is given out

Drawing fish and fisherman to waters edge

Soon, all too soon, man and fish are eye to eye

Surrendered to an encounter with each other

What will the final outcome be?

Warm hand reaches out and gently removes the lie

From the cold blooded lip

Once a prisoner, now released, set free

Leviathan flicks a tail – returns to the depths.

Until next time.

Resting on damp knees, the smile remains

Present at this blue pool, ringed with gold

Thankfulness flows for this place, this time, this moment

And the warm light of a clear, still November morning.

Andrew Gregg (4th November 2013)


discard any lingering doubt…

July 19, 2013

I have a confession… I like rubbish action movies… and sometimes I just feel the need to sit down and waste 90 minutes watching the formula unfold…

Rookie team taking on overwhelming unknown enemy… in the first 2/3 thirds the team losing with members being picked off (remember the red shirts in Star Trek)… then when things seem hopeless the hero steps forward delivers inspiring speech… the team comes together… and the the close of the movie show the team overcoming the odds… baddies overcome… air punched… credits roll.

Last night I watched “Battle: Los Angeles”…

Photo: Richard Cartright (C) 2010 Columbia TriStar Marketing Group

Photo: Richard Cartright (C) 2010 Columbia TriStar Marketing Group

same formula… but four words from the hero speech remained with me…

“Discard any lingering doubt”…

These are good advice to any Christian…

Something in This reminded me of verses in Hebrews…

Hebrews 10:19-23 Hebrews 11:1 Hebrews 12:1-3

Since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

If you’re finding things tough… If the circumstances you are in are difficult… Have faith… Hold unswervingly… Persevere… Have confidence and assurance..

Discard any lingering doubt.

God will prevail.


I am the vicar, I am.

April 19, 2013

Father of Lights

January 16, 2013

The auditorium ready for the showing

We had a showing of Father of Lights last night at the Kings Factory – what a documentary!

The Fishes team at Kings had prepared the room for us moving much of the equipment for the children’s work so that we could set out seating… and it was great having the option of both the normal ‘rows’ of chairs and ‘cafe’ seating around tables.  We were blessed to have access to such a great environment.

Folks from a number of local churches came along to share watching the documentary together…. Inverness is an awesome place…. churches thrive both through the work they do within the communities they serve, but also thrive together – interdependently, partnering, sharing… Loving God together.  God is blessing the Church in Inverness through the unity that is shown.

Anyway… back to the movie…


This documentary shows the impact of Christians responding to God’s leading around the world… saying yes to whatever God asks them… A bank vice-president and his wife who were touched by God: gave up his job, sold their house, gave away their belongings and moved their young family to China… no other plan… just that.  And in a short time they have set up a home for disguarded, vulnerable, sick and lame children… 40 of them. Talking of expressing the love of God the Father to these children and receiving back that love amplified/multiplied… one of the many stories documented in the film.

The movie is about gaining a real understanding of how God the Father wants to relate to His Children – all His Children… whether they ‘know’ him or not… showing love to the lost, broken and vulnerable.

A call to love as we have been loved, a call to show grace and mercy as we have been shown grace and mercy… to Follow Jesus in really practical ways…

It was a challenging evening – laughter at somes times, tears at other, but we all left the showing thinking again what Jesus meant in these words…

“I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”


Global Poverty…

December 23, 2012

The following is an interesting presentation on the state of global poverty…

Influential political philosopher Thomas Pogge argues for a new global institutional commitment to the swift and complete eradication of severe poverty.

In the last 22 years 400 million people have died as a direct result of poverty… roughly twice the number of people who died in all the wars of the 20th century.

5% of households (globally) receive 46% of the worlds household income… the top 25% of households have 90.33% of global household income.

In the past 20 years the poorest quarter income has declined by over 90%.

How do we as Christians respond to needs like this… well Jesus words in Matthew 25 give us some guidance…

Matthew 25: 34-46

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’

45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’

46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”


The key here is action… small actions… a drink, food, clothing, hospitality… small differences that make a significant change.

What action can you take today.


Micah Bournes on creativity

December 22, 2012

There is a growing interest in the links between creativity and church.

This morning I was reflecting on the perspective of christian poet and hip-hop artist Micah Bournes on creativity…

so I thought you might like to hear what the man himself says on the topic…