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The Shallow End

JJ Biener By JJ Biener

© 2005-2009, JJ Biener. All Rights Reserved. Used By Permission (Please do not reprint without asking permission!)

Have you ever picked up your favorite music magazine and read a review of the latest gotta-have piece of software or equipment. As you read the article, you start imagining exactly how you would integrate it into your studio. You think of the music you would be able to produce if you could just get your hands on it. Then you see the price and you realize it is more than your rent and food for the month combined. For me it is not a matter of sticker shock as much as sticker electrocution.

The Shallow End presents reviews of things the rest of us can afford. Freeware, Shareware, and inexpensive commercial software is available in abundance. While they may not have all the features and ease-of-use of their more pricey cousins, it is possible to produce professional sounding music on a very limited budget. The trick is finding the wheat amid the chaff. The products reviewed here are things I have found useful or unique. I hope you find them useful as well.

If you would like to hear some music recorded on a shoestring, check out my MySpace page.  If you would like to see more my writing on music, check out my blog at The Music Grapevine.

A short bio


  • Hope of Audacity - Can a free, open source audio editor like Audacity really provide the kind of functionality necessary to find its way into the toolkit of someone doing serious audio work?
  • The Soul of the Monk - Every once in a while though, a plugin comes along which is truly unique. It demonstrates its creator’s ability to move past the mundane and ordinary into the rarefied air of creative expression. That brings me to the subject of this column, the Delay Lama by Audionerdz.
  • Getting Our Feet Wet - We live in a wonderful time. The price of entry into the world of recording has never been lower. Gone are the days when a professional studio was required to make a decent recording. With just a little disposable income, the average musician can put together a home studio capable of producing professional quality CD’s. Of course, we all go to sleep on Christmas eve with visions of Pro Tools dancing in our heads, but most of us have to settle for something less pricey. The trick is to assemble a set of tools to do the job and leave enough left over for food and rent.
  • The Synthedit Revolution - Jef McClintock's Synthedit has brought the ability to produce VST instrument and effect plugins to the masses.

A short bio:
JJ Biener discovered the piano at age 11. He discovered the computer at age 15. It was only a matter of time before he would find a way to combine these two major influences in his life. JJ's first "studio" consisted of an Ensoniq SQ-2 keyboard, a Compaq 8086 computer running MS-DOS, a MIDI interface and Cakewalk software. A lot has changed since then: new keyboards, new computers, new software and hundreds of recordings.

JJ began planning a new CD project recently. Part of the planning process was assembling a set of tools with which to work. As he investigated the various and vast resources available on the Internet, he realized that others could benefit from this research. That was the genesis of this column.

If you would like to hear some music recorded on a shoestring, check out my website or my MySpace page.

JJ Biener blogs about music at The Music Grapevine.

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