The blog is being migrated and merged with multiple Imphenzia blogs so the format and content will be inconsistent for a while.

Release of Nostalgia [Dub Chill Edit]

I've recently discovered the Dubstep genre and even though there are a lot of the tracks of that genre that I don't particularly like, there are quite a few I really DO like as well. As I mentioned in an earlier post it was "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites" by Skrillex that got me interested and I really liked the structured randomness of stabs and the wobbly bass.

I suggest, while reading this post, that you listen to Nostalgia [Dub Chill Edit] =)

Yesterday after I dropped off my son at daycare I had the melody of Nostalgia in my head and I imagined what it would sound like with some wobbles and random stabs in that track. When I came home I launched Cubase and loaded the chill-out version of Nostalgia to play around a while with the idea.

A few hours later I had a decent draft going with a duration of about a minute. I had to stop for the time being to resume some everyday-normal-duties but around 9 PM the kids were a sleep, we had finished eating Thai food, and the Cubase project was loaded.

I couldn't stop until the clock showed 03:30 AM but I happy with the result and I considered the edit to be ready for release. Since it's an edit the production time was greatly reduced because in general all the melodies and midi data is already there, it just needs rearranging with the exception for the additional random stabs, a modified beat, the wobble bass, and some instrument substitution.

To get the wobble bass, by the way, I use Sylenth1 and set the Low Frequency Oscillator 1 (LFO) to sinus wave and that it should modify Cutoff Frequency A. I then use VST Automation (see my tutorial on VST Automation in Cubase) to alter the rate of the LFO to achieve the wobble effect.

2 hours of sleep anyone?

I released the preview on Soundcloud last night before heading off to bed at 04:15 AM. My son woke up again at 06:55 and I had to get up with him to drop him off at daycare again . 2 hours and 40 minutes of sleep - wohoo. Following some positive comments about the track on the Imphenzia Facebook page I then started the process of releasing the track on Imphenzia.com.

The process of releasing a track

To release a new track on Imphenzia.com there are a few things I have to do.

Unmastering the skill of Mastering

First thing is first and I have to master the track. Unfortunately my mastering skills are absolutely awful and close to non-existent. I spend about 2 minutes mastering the track because my ears can't really pick out the difference when it comes to EQing, limiting, compression, and altering the dynamics.

To give Nostalgia the drive through audio wash I load the 32 bit floating point WAV file I rendered in Cubase. I then apply quick EQ to drop some of the deepest bass frequencies and increase the mid-range and treble because I think my tracks are usually quite bass heavy when down-mixed in Cubase. I then normalize the track. And finally I use the Volume Maximizer in Sound Forge to limit at -6dB and compress the loudness. I only have my Sennheiser PXC 450 headphones and a pair of Logitech Z4 speakers to listen to the mix so, again, I wouldn't know how to tweak the mix either way so I just release it. If you are reading this in disgust, and you possess amazing mastering skills, please contact me and help me out =)

Encoding the mp3 and flac files

So the track is "mastered" and re-sampled down to a 16 bit WAV-file. I then use my VBScript to encode the 320kbps MP3 version and the lossless FLAC version. This is a simple and automated process now and the script also creates the necessary mp3-tags and metadata.


When releasing a single, I just have to create a small track icon in 100x100 pixels and 70x70 pixels for my web site. Since it's an edit of an existing track, I just modified the Nostalgia icon - took me about 5 minutes.

Uploading to Soundclick

I have all my tracks on a VIP-account on Soundclick.com because I use their web player for streaming audio to Imphenzia.com visitors. I used to need this because I didn't have enough storage on my website to host all my music but nowadays I could in theory stream it from the .com-site but then I'd lose out on the exposure at Soundclick. I usually hover in the top 10 of their trance charts so it's a valuable self-promoting greater good to continue to have my music there. So I upload the 320kbps Mp3-file to Soundclick, write a description, and I also upload the 100x100 resolution icon.

Uploading to Imphenzia.com

Then it was time to upload the MP3 and FLAC versions to imphenzia.com (I use FTP) and these are the tracks that Full Access contributing visitors can download. I also update the MP3 and FLAC zip archives that contain all Imphenzia releases to-date. So it's a fairly hefty bunch of megabytes being uploaded at this stage. I also upload the 70x70 and 100x100 track icons.

Updating the database

The PHP code on impheniza.com retrieves information from a MySQL database and for every track release I have to fill in some information. This includes, name, release timestamp, keywords, description, story, equipment used, duration, unique identifiers, etc. It only takes about 5 minutes or so, not too bad.

Notifying everyone

The track is up, time to notify everyone. First I announce the release on Facebook and Twitter. Then I use my e-mailer script to send out a notification to all subscribers. Today the list contained 806 e-mail addresses but over 180 e-mails sent bounced due inactive e-mail addresses and people having reached their quota. I decided to tidy up the list today so it meant manually removing the 180+ e-mail addresses from the database.

Updating the RSS XML File

This is the final step of my release process. I update an XML file containing the RSS feed for imphenzia.com but admittedly  I haven't done this yet so I'll have to do that in a second. I'm not sure if anyone even uses my RSS-feed to be honest, but I'll keep updating it for the time being.


3 New Non-Exclusive Music Loops Released

Tonight I added three loops to the non-exclusive music library.

What else did I do today?

Even though I am on paternity leave things are quite hectic at the moment - but in a good way.  I drop my son off at daycare at 08:45 in the mornings and then I have some time to spare for my projects until 13:30 when I pick him up again. He is only spending short periods of time there still as he just started last week but it's still a bit heartbreaking leaving him in the morning as he bursts into tears as I leave him. My wife is taking care of our new baby girl most of the time so I can spend the 4 hours on my projects most days. Today was an exception though, I had to spend 2 hours searching for my wallet (which I had apparently left behind at the daycare center) and another 2 hours cleaning my car.... so no time for my projects during the day today.

3DS Max and Unity

Render of final space shipI'm also spending some time in 3DS Max learning some low polygon modelling. I am making a little space game so I can learn both 3DS Max and Unity3D properly because I plan to make the sequel to the yet unreleased game "Performa Cars" using Unity's powerful 3D engine. I will still make the game very much 2D looking because my passion is top-down racing.


[caption id="attachment_364" align="alignright" width="300" caption="My KXF 450"][/caption]

Our local motocross track is open on Wednesday evenings (as well as weekends) so today I spend 3 hours there practicing. I rid my Kawasaki KXF 450 (2008 model) and it went fairly well until blisters in my left palm put an end to the session. I'll have to figure out a way to tape it up for the weekend. My goal is to ride twice a week all year around. In the winter I put on spiked ice tires and I actually prefer to ride in the winter because the grip is amazing... and I don't overheat as much as I do in the summer =)

Modern Warfare 2

I also managed to squeeze in a two hour session of playing Modern Warfare 2 with a mate of mine tonight.

Plan for the coming weeks

My plan for Imphenzia Projects during the coming weeks include:

  • Re-launch the Imphenzia Games web site with the new design (as Music and Soundtrack)

  • Release Performa Cars (a.k.a. project Computer Touring Car Championship) as freeware

  • Composing more music for release on Imphenzia Soundtrack

  • Continue to learn low poly modelling and Unity3D development for future Imphenzia Games projects

  • Keep this blog updated

Imphenzia aside, I also need to:

  • Spend time with my family

  • Practice motocross

  • Keep fit (run 3 times a week)

  • Buy another car... can't fit the new double pram in the boot/trunk...

  • Contact contractors for building plans... boring...

Now it's time for bed at 01:53 - should have no problem sleeping.


Sonic Landscapes with Absynth 5

Following the launch of the revamped website, Imphenzia Soundtrack is currently my main priority. I tend to switch focus between Imphenzia Music (my trance music), Imphenzia Soundtrack, and Imphenzia Games depending on where I find most motivation at any given time.

Shifting Focus

The first half of this year I put a lot of effort into Imphenzia Music by rebuilding the entire web site from scratch, creating a new web shop, introducing Full Access feature, releasing new singles, releasing the Chillout album, introducing all my music to digital stores and Spotify. I also made the decision to allow full length streaming of ALL my tracks (previously high quality streaming was only allowing the first two minutes.) I'm not sure if that was the right thing to do because since then the number of Full Access users have dropped and now one person every other month opts for (the low end of) Full Access. I will keep things as they are, but I think the lack of interest in downloading my music is one of the reasons why my motivation has switched to Imphenzia Sountrack at the moment. Not to worry, it'll shift back at some stage =)

There is a hole in my virtual studio

I've purchased quite a few great music products over the past few of years, and my current virtual studio consists of the following:

I'm fairly happy with this list of software but there is one gigantic hole. For trance I don't feel I need anything more than Nexus2, VanGuard, and Sylenth1 at the moment - it's such a competent set of instruments for that purpose.

For Imphenzia Soundtrack, on the other hand, I am missing an instrument or library for soundscape textures, glitches, and futuristic grunge style sounds.

I've done some online searching today and I found Native Instruments Abysnth 5 which I think will fill this hole perfectly. Absynth comes with 1800 presets and a, what seems to be an amazing, morph feature that will allow the creation of totally unique sounds. I've been looking at the demo videos and listened to the sample tracks and all I have to do now is to decide whether I should by the boxed DVD version or the digital download version. If I get the digital version I'll have it straight away but I've got boxed versions for Nexus, Cubase, and the Complete Composer's edition (featuring all the large sample libraries) so it would be nice to have the cyan colored Abynth 5 box in that collection. Both the digital download and boxed version is €179 (including shipping) so I'm leaning towards the box after all. My PayPal account is missing $25 so I'll wait to see if any non-exclusive licenses go so I can place the order.

Good hardware for the gigantic sample libraries

The only music hardware I use nowadays is my 88-key Roland FP-7 stage piano as master midi keyboard and to play improvisation to come up with new ideas. Some will find it amusing, but I use the Asus motherboard sound card. I down-mix all the audio without it ever touching the sound card so it serves no purpose to get another one. In fact, I've got a Creamware Pulsar 2 DSP sound card that I bought for £2000 - but it's old now and they didn't bother to release any Windows 7 drivers for it... But again, I don't need it =)

If you found this post because you are looking for a computer with a lot of memory to run the EastWest libraries - I can confirm that my current computer handles it beautifully:

  • Asus P6X58D-E Motherboard

  • 24 GB RAM using 2 x Corsair 12GB (3 kit) DDR3 1600MHz/CL9/DOMINATOR

  • Intel Core i7 3.06GHz Quad 8MB Cache Processor

  • Corsair AX 850W PSU

  • Crucial RealSSD 256GB (for the sound libraries, they consist of over 177'000 files)

  • Corsair SSD Force Series 120GB (for Windows 7 x64 Ultimate

Signing off with a bombshell

To finish off I'll take this opportunity to share s sample of an orchestral piece I started working on today. Enjoy!
Imphenzia Soundtrack work in progress "Arm for Battle Loop" by Imphenzia

Finally I'm finished with the new site design of Imphenzia Soundtrack

[caption id="attachment_191" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Screenshot of Imphenzia Soundtrack"]Screenshot of Imphenzia Soundtrack[/caption]

I’ve worked hard into the early hours every night for the past month but I’ve launched the new Imphenzia Soundtrack site. I already had my design template finished as it uses the same design as my artist site (and spacebox4096.com and beatball2.com) but it took a lot of time creating the new filter functionality to enable easy browsing of the hundreds of music tracks and sound effects.

I’ve taken a conscious decision to not add fallback functionality for visitors without javascript enabled. It simply takes way too long and there are so few of them that it’s not worthwhile. I also had a lot of troubles with browser compatibility but the site works in the browsers I have installed Chrome 13, Firefox 3.6, IE8, and I’ve had to force fallback to IE8 for IE9 browsers as IE9 hates me and jQuery =) I’ll deal with that some other day and I just wish the browser manufacturers could decide on using the same interpretation engine for html, css, and javascript.

There are some major differences between the new soundtrack site and the old one.

The new features are:

  • Discount Vouchers flexible to offers any sort of discount automatically on non-exclusive music and sound effects =) Let’s see how generous I become but I think it’s a good start with the current 70% discount offer to celebrate the new site (voucer: NEWSITE70)

  • Free Non-Exclusive Music License of the Month allows anyone to very easily get a free license of a randomly selected track every month.

  • New dedicated Non-Exclusive music page where all tracks can be easily browsed through and previewed. The page is “AJAX”-powered which means tracks can be viewed page by page without a full page reload.

  • Advanced search and filter functionality enables visitors to quickly locate music and sound effects based on criteria such as Keyword, Duration, Price, Tempo, Music Genre, Mood, Game Genre, Volume, Loops yes/no. When changing the search criteria the music and sound effect lists are updated instantly.

  • Search Engine Optimization, also making it easy for visitors to share links, for all tracks, track variations, and sound effects, e.g. http://soundtrack.imphenzia.com/non-exclusive-music/duplicate-my-soul/ and http://soundtrack.imphenzia.com/non-exclusive-music/fog-of-war/with-drones/

  • Indie and Commercial license model means only two pricing models (compared to a multi step game budget model before). It’s simple now, if you are an indie developer with an annual revenue below $250k every year you can use Indie licenses, otherwise you have to use a commercial license that costs 5 times more. It’s not that commercial licenses are expensive, it’s the indie licenses that are very cheap =)

  • Shortcuts to properties of music and sound effects means that you can click on music genres, tags, and other words to filter only audio files of that property.

  • Sorting functionality to sort music and sound effects on all columns such as Name, Music Genre, Category, Duration, and Price etc.

  • Audio Previews are now in much higher quality but the files are instead watermarked every 5 seconds. I’ve found out that audio was “stolen” even when it was in low quality so I think watermarking is the only way to go. The audio previews can be downloaded as 190kbps MP3 files and 128kbps OGG files to ensure they fit in your game.

  • License e-mails are sent directly following purchase (like before) but the download links to original WAV file, 128kbps OGG file, 64kbps OGG file, and 190kbps MP3 file, will now only be available for 7 days.

  • Exclusive Music Price Estimation Tool is available under Frequently Asked Questions on the Exclusive music page.

  • No more adverts. Google adverts were generating less and less due to their payment scheme so I’m sparing all my visitors by removing them and making a clean site instead!

Removed features:

  • Site accounts are gone as they weren’t used very much, it was hard maintenance, and I figure people have enough accounts on too many sites already. The download links to the audio files are sent instead to allow direct download from the e-mail. No more passwords and user names to remember.

  • Exclusive music can no longer be licensed automatically from the library. There are a number of reasons for this: 1) Exclusive license for a track resulted in all variations of the track being included in the exclusive license and these may not even be needed by the licensee; It would be a shame for some tracks to never be used. 2) Exclusive licenses are most commonly custom made for a game anyway, so the new Exclusive music page contains a show reel of exclusive music, a tool to calculate the pricing of exclusive music, and the contact details to discuss exclusive music for your game.

  • The “Imphenzia Audio System” for BlitzMax is no longer offered. If you want this code, please contact me instead.

  • Links page to games using my music is removed temporarily. I plan to create a better reference and promotional method for games using my music!

So I hope you enjoy the new site! Feedback and bug reports are always welcome – there are bound to be some issues with such a huge launch.

Thanks for reading… did you make it this far? =)

The new Imphenzia music site

Following three months of development the new Imphenzia music site has been launched to start off the new year. This time it was a total re-make from the ground up of the music site and I had to learn how to develop using JQuery in order to get the visual effects, real-time updating of pages without page reloads (using “AJAX”), and at the same time keeping the development effort to realistic proportions.
During the development process I set two requirements upon myself to fulfill, 1) make the new site clean, and 2) make it very simple to use. By using JQuery and quite modern features of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) I realize that there are visitors that will experience problems with the design and functionality, namely the visitors that use old browsers or have disabled javascript. For the first time, however, I felt that it is a sacrifice for the greater good as the vast majority of visitors will benefit from a much improved experience.

I also had time to reflect on the historic designs and trends that my site has endured over the past 13 years. In recent time, for the launch of the 2008 site, it was all about content, content, content, account features, google ads, and more content. Following the trend at the time the font was small to fit in as much text and information as possible and the layout was split into three columns complicating it even further. The 2011 site is the complete opposite with much less information presented in a tidy manner with larger text and without columns. I also think that the time of content packed sites was a natural way to progress as it was expected to make use of fancy layouts and high screen resolutions, where as we’re now back to putting the visitor at the center of attention making sure that the message you want to get across is clearly visible and simple to understand.

For some time I have been contemplating over how I should release my music. In the very beginning it was only possible to purchase physical albums, then the addition of mp3 albums, then single mp3 tracks, then a “donation” to download all tracks for a period of six months. I found the various options, and how they were presented on my site, to be very confusing. What would my visitors think if I thought it was confusing? The idea of a donation, for example, would only make sense if all tracks were downloadable to begin with since a donation is giving without the expectation of receiving anything in return. Bottom line; it was very confusing.

I hope that the new site has taken a big step in the right direction to combat the issues outlined above. The album section has been totally redesigned with a clean look and a visitor can add digital albums and CD albums into a shopping cart. The donation feature has been replaced with a new feature for full access that still focuses on allowing the visitor to contribute with an amount of his or her choice and is return rewarded with longer term of access depending on the size of the contribution.

New approach to releasing tracks

I update this blog only when I have something to say and also when I have time, and today it happens to be twice! As I mentioned briefly in my previous post I've simply released a track once it's finished without saying anything ahead of time and also saying very little once it's been released. Unfortunately Imphenzia is basically 99% productivity and 1% promotion which is not how it should be if you want to reach out to a wide array of listeners.

My first step towards making Imphenzia more interesting is to announce the release of tracks ahead of time. What I am trying out is first of all compiling a YouTube video clip of the track with some simple yet colourful graphics. By embedding this on my web site and also announcing it to channel subscribers on YouTube and though Imphenzia on Twitter it raises awareness and hopefully the anticipation of a coming Imphenzia track.

My second step is through the new Next Release page. Here I announce the track that is queued up to be released next and I also give visitors an opportunity to request this track to be released totally free to the public. The idea with this is that promotion and word-of-mouth is extremely valuable and by relying on a larger number of people requesting the track to be released for free it would encourage fans to spread the word further in order to reach the goal of requests before the release date. The reward of this is a free track in exchange for promoting Imphenzia through social networks, messaging, twitter, blogs, etc. I set the goal to 300 requests for the first release although some serious WoM will have to take place in the next 3 days to get there, but I am still hopeful!

By the time you read this the release date of October 31 2009 may already have passed for the Tranquil Edit of Duplicate My Soul, but there might be another track queued for release so please have a look at this page http://www.imphenzia.com/release - request the free release if available and make sure to tell everyone about it!

My third step is to offer competitions where everyone who participates will at least get something (generally in the shape of free music) with the potential to win something bigger. The first competition is a task to write a short review of Duplicate My Soul and post it again on social networks, blogs, and music forums. You can see the competition page here to get the idea: http://www.imphenzia.com/music/competitions.php

So whether these steps are the right ones or if they are effective means of promoting my music remains to be seen but again, I am hopeful!