Conductive Labs NDLR – opinion and ideas

conductive labs ndlr

So we have had this excellent Conductive Labs NDLR sequencer, or how we like to call it: the midi “brain” for quite some time now. And boy what a brain this is.

We have been comparing it a lot to the Torso T-1 sequencer (review coming very soon). It is different but not quite that different. As loopop said in it’s video, the NDLR is quite unique. Traditional sequencers allow you to input notes fast on a grid type structure. In turn, they allow you to listed to the idea that you have laid down pretty fast, and judge A. it’s own musical qualities and specifics and B. how it sits along with the rest of your tracks. Thus, sequencers are a very powerful creative tool, most of us techno and minimal heads consider them the centre of our creative process (mostly because we can’t be bother to take the proper time to learn to play keys properly).

Traditional sequencers vary in complexity and flexibility, from the very primitive ones that can be found in groove-boxes (like the old Roland drum machines and Korg volca line) to very sophisticated ones that can allow you to program velocity, note length, probability and all the other parameters that can be tweaked on that specific piece of gear (think Elektron with it’s parameter locks). At the top of the line of traditional, note-input sequencers is the Cirklon, which is a dedicated step sequencer that can do all kinds of fast, creative tweaks and has a great workflow that most producers swear by. Let’s not forget software, basically all DAWs have a sequencer, be it direct like fruity loops or a piano roll (which is a two-dimensional sequencer, with time and pitch in the same screen). Also, pad-style instruments like the Ableton Push and Novation Launchpad can be configred so that the pads work as a sequencer.

Conductive Labs NDLR: a non-traditional midi sequencer

Now, let’s move it up a bit. We talked about the traditional sequencer, what they all have in common is that they always start with a blank slate, a noteless sequence of 16 steps (usually). You place notes there in the order and pitch that you desire and you can instantly hear how that ‘sequence’ sounds. You can ajust the notes and hear changes, so you immediately get a feel for where you want to take the melody of drum tracks of your music.

Non-traditional sequencers differ because you usually input the ideas and the midi hardware takes care of the notes. For the NDLR, you input the key, the degree and if we are talking about chords, the type of chord that you want and it spits the notes on it’s own. There is swing of course (called “Humanization”) and there is velocity. For monophonic melodies, there are two aspects that contribute the most to your notes: the patter and the rhythm.

Conductive Labs NDLR: Motifs

So the way sequencers work is that they create a rhythmic pattern for your sound generators. With the NDLR midi sequencer you get two dimensions to control this: pattern and rhythm. The pattern controls the notes, or pitch of each step in the sequence. There are three types of patterns: scale, chord and chromatic. The values that each pattern step takes indicates the note in an imaginary piano roll: chromatic is in absolute terms, not keeping any scale, scale limits the values to notes in the selected scale and chord is like scale, functioning with limited note choices but also makes the notes relative to the degree of the chord that you choose from the main panel.

Rhythm is similar to pattern but the value per step actually indicates velocity. You can create ties and rests here. For both rhythm and pattern you can select clock division and total length, separately from each other to get extremely interesting sequences.

The way that NDLR presents the sequence pattern and rhythm that you chose this is truly unique. Instead of providing you with a blank slate for rhythm and pattern settings, it always provides you with a filled sequence. This is so you can get grooving A.S.A.P. There are 20 presets and 20 user generated rhythms and patterns. To mark the departure from traditional sequencers (which present the sequence is a straight line), NDLR shows the pattern and rhythm as a circle, going clockwise.

This is just a slight scratch on the surface for what NDLR can do. The way described above is called Motif in NDLR, and represents the monophonic sequence way. Other than Motifs (which NDLR has two independent ones), this midi sequencer can output two more midi sequences, which are polyphonic and independent.

The way it works is very simple, you just select the rhythm, pattern, the way you want it to be played (left to right, right to left, random 1, random 2), clock division, etc and just press play. The sequencer takes care of all the note placements, so you can start tweaking in real time.

Conductive Labs NDLR: Drone and Pad

While Motifs are the core aspect of the NDLR Midi sequencer and the most flexible parts that this tool has to offer, they are monophonic. We like monophonic sequences but there is much more composition possible than this. NDLR has two poly modes as well: Drone and Pad.

Drone is a very basic form of note generation. It can be polyphonic but also in mono. What it does is play the root note of the scale that you selected, and if you want, you can add a 5th interval, and then you can add an octave on top. It has a simpler rhythm section than Motifs, but it is there in case you want to go a bit deeper.

Pad mode is for chords. You have a bit more flexibility than Drone and also you can select which chord you want NDLR to play. You do this with the circle of buttons that is close to the centre screen. With the same buttons you select the degree of chord in that scale as well as the type of chord you want to play. This is especially useful for producers that do not know music theory. You can instantly listen to any chord progression that you want, with pushing a minimal number of buttons. You can have the option to strum the chord, playing each note with a small delay so that they individually stand out.

We said Pad mode is a bit more complicated than Drone. This is in part because you can set up the voicing by using some presets that in NDLR talk are called “spread”. There are a lot of spread types, and we fully encourage you to explore them as they can lead to extremely interesting harmony. You can also select the number of notes in the chord, which goes pretty high if your synth has the proper polyphony.

NOTE: There is no rhythm section for Pad mode, The Conductive Labs NDLR midi sequencer sustains the chord for as long as you don’t press the chord type/degree button. If you want to trigger the same chord again, press the same degree button.

For an in-depth feature and usability review, we recommend this excellent loopop video. It is from an earlier firmware version, but still pretty much on-spot:

very in-depth Conductive Labs NDLR review

Extra modulations and MIDI I/O

This Midi sequencer has a lot of modulation options, you can use a multitude of sources to modify any parameter that you want. There are LFOs and Randomisers as sources, and they can be synced to time as beat divisions or actual seconds. There are four modulation busses, so the possibilities are virtually endless.

As far as Midi I/O goes, the offering is diverse. You have four channels on midi USB mode. Then you have two midi ins and two midi outs. You can configure each NDLR output to your preference. There is no power connection and on-off switch, NDLR gets power from the USB. Below, you can find a setup suggestion, with the sequencer in the center, controling multiple hardware synths, courtesy of matrixsynths.com.

Best Prime Day 2020 Music Promotion Deals

It’s (kind of) finally here- The shopping season is upon us and as always, retailers are starting off with a bang with amazon’s prime day.

Although pioneered by Amazon, several brands have joined in on the fun and have started offering up to 90% off their products.

And, as always, we’re here to guide you through the best deals and freebies

VST Plugins Prime Day Deals

Waves

As usual, Waves is running a series of crazy discounts. They are marketed as black Friday deals, though we’ll include them here are they are still on time for prime day.

We still consider their subscription to be one of the best deals out there, especially because it includes a free trial period of 1 month– more than enough to produce several award-winning tracks.

Scheps Omni Channel- 74% off (38.99$)

The Scheps Omni Channel gets its name from the brilliant Andrew Scheps- engineer to jay z, Adele, Metallica, and many others.

This channel strip is a staple of any modern producer, and it’s now 74% off!

Vocal Rider- 86% off (35.99$)

Vocal rider is known for its simplicity and effectiveness. It will adjust your vocals automatically with great results.

It’s at 86% off for a limited time.

Waves Tune Real Time- 82% off (35.99$)

If you run a studio or record vocals frequently, this is a must have VST. It allows singers to stay in tune in real time. It’s basically a magic box that makes anybody a great singer.

At this price, this is a great tool to just play around if you ever wondered how your voice would sound if recorded professionally.

There are a bunch more waves plugins heavily discounted at the waves website, these are only the ones that caught our attention, for a full list, click on the link below:

WAVES DEALS

Plugin Boutique

W.A Productions Back to School Bundle- 95% off (9.99$)

For the price of an expensive coffee, you’ll get WA Babylon, instascale and instachord.

It’s a no-brainer.

Soundspot Union & Expansions sale 90% off (16$)

IK Multimedia

Total Studio Max 2- 75% off (249.99$)

17 synths with over 2000 presets, 2 400 instruments, 34 effects, 39 high end audio processors, guitar amps, samples, and much more.

All this for 249.99$ (Down from 999$). What more can we say?

Sample Tank 4- 50% off (149.99$)

Included in Total Studio Max 2.

This is a huge sound library of over 260GB with a beautifully designed interface.

IK Multimedia is running a couple of other promotions, which you can check in the link below:

IK MULTIMEDIA

Musical Instruments

Amazon U.S Prime Day Music Deals

Amazon’s prime music deals are too many to list in one single post.

So feel free to browse headphones, musical instruments, and home audio using the link below:

AMAZON DEALS

The BEST Online Music Production Masterclass Course [2021]

Investing in an online music production “masterclass” course is one of the best decisions you will make this year.

This might seem like a bold statement, specially for those of you who have previously tried free courses or dabble around some youtube videos on production, but it’s the truth: Knowledge is more important than any piece of gear in your studio. Furthermore, enrolling in one of the below courses is nothing like doing a free course or watching youtube videos.

These online music production masterclass courses allow you to follow a tried and tested structure devised by top producers and engineers, plus incentivises you to follow through, as you have money invested.

Anyways, if you’re looking for a summarized version of this article, check out the below table with our favorite online music production courses, including our very own choice for the best online music production course. And if you are also looking for a music production laptop, we have a comparrison and test article with the top models here.

Note: if you are on a mobile device, scroll left and right in the table to see all the entries, and up and down in the cells to see all the content.

Summarizing Table

Course Name Cost Duration Main Focus Our Rating
Editor’s Choice – Best Value
Groove3
Starts at under 50$
– Over 20 000 hours of video,
– Over 20 books.
– Workflow,
– Plug-Ins + DAWs,
– Recording,
– Production,
– Mixing + Mastering.
9.5/10
Deadmau5 Masterclass
Starts at under 20$ / month or under 100$ total
– 6 hours of video,
– Assignments
– Electronic Music Production,
– Synths,
– Music Business,
– Mixing and Mastering,
– Workflow.
9.3/10
Hans Zimmer Masterclass
Starts at under 20$ / month or under 100$ total$
– 4.5 hours of video – Film Scoring,
– Soundscapes,
– Composing,
– Industry, and More.
8.7/10
Timbaland Masterclass
Starts at under 20$ / month or under 100$ total$
– 3 hours of video – Hip-hop Production,
– Beat Making,
– Inspiration and Workflow,
– Industry and Motivation.
8.5/10
Point Blank Music School Online
Under 150$
CHECK PRICE
– Huge subject diversity
– Mixing/Mastering
– Dj
– Music Business
9.6/10
Udemy Music Production Courses
Under 150$
CHECK PRICE
– 38 hours of video
– each DAW has it’s own course
– other specific topics have dedicated courses
9/10
EQ Fundamentals
Under 50$
CHECK PRICE
– 2.5 hours of video,
– PDRs,
– Assignments
– EQ,
– Mixing + Mastering,
– All Musical Genres
9.2/10
Berklee Online- Electronic Music Production
Under 150$
CHECK PRICE
– 16 weeks – Electronic Music Production,
– Vocal Recording,
– Ableton Live.
9.3/10

Groove3 Online Music Production Course Review – Editor’s Choice

  • Music style: All
  • Financial Investment: Low
  • Duration: Over 20 000 hours of video + over 20 books. 1 077 Courses 17 979 Individual Tutorials.
  • Main DAW used: All DAWs available.
  • Our Rating: 9.5/10
  • Skill Level: Beginner / Intermediate / Advanced
  • Certificate upon completion: No

PROS:

  1. High quality of content
  2. Content available on all formats and platforms: Video, books, Desktop, iOS, Android, Apple TV, Roku.
  3. Very affordable on a month-to-month basis
  4. High quality instructors
  5. Most comprehensive library of learning resources

CONS:

  1. Lack of focus
  2. Can be overwhelming

We’ll start with our favorite online music production course: Groove3. What an absolute gold mine of music production knowledge.

If you watched all of groove3’s videos back-to-back you’d take over 2 years to finish, probably much more, given that they update the content regularly.

There’s tutorials on all topics you can image, including all DAWs, Plugins, and musical styles. If you search around the forums, it’s often mentioned as a student favorite, along with some of the masterclass courses we’ll review below.

When it comes to price, an all-access pass costs only 89$, with b&hphoto. This represents without a doubt the best value of all courses.

We’ve found this to be a great way to stay focused for idle studio time. Simply browse around their website, find an interesting video, watch it, then apply it to your current project.

MORE INFO

Deadmau5 Masterclass Review

The first course we’ve had a chance to review is Deadmau5’s Masterclass Course.

  • Music style: EDM / Electronic
  • Financial Investment: Low / Moderate
  • Duration: 6 hours of video + assignments
  • Main DAW used: Ableton, though teachings can be applied to any DAW.
  • Our Rating: 9.3/10
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Certificate upon completion: No

Pros:

  1. Very entertaining, huge production value. Very easy to follow through with the teachings.
  2. Very well-rounded. All major topics are discussed (mastering, mixing, synths, drums, music business, live performance, and more).
  3. Composed of videos, assignments, and discussions.
  4. Great community if you’re willing to engage.

Cons:

  1. This 6 hour course will set you back 90$. It’s not a cheap course by any means, but we found the cost/quality relation to be quite good.
  2. It’s a short course. It could benefit from going more in-depth into certain topics.

Course Structure

The course has 23 lessons, all delivered through video classes. It also has assignments and discussions.

The classes touch upon the following topics:

  • The Deadmau5 Production Process
  • Building Your Home Studio
  • Melodic Structures
  • Arrangements
  • Synthesized Sounds
  • Modular Synths
  • Digital Vs. Analog Synths
  • Sound Design with Effects And Processing
  • Drums / Beats
  • Song Structure
  • Remixed
  • Mixing
  • Mastering (includes case study)
  • Starting a Career
  • Music Business
  • On Stage Performance

Our Thoughts

Overall, this is a solid and very well rounded online music production masterclass course. It won’t hold your hand and automatically offer you a career in audio engineering or music production, but if you follow through with all the tips shared, your chances of making it will increase exponentially.

Furthermore, if you take your time to network and reach out to the community, you’ll likely make some useful connections out of this online music production masterclass course.

This is a great course for anyone looking for a well-balanced course on electronic / pop / hip-hop / digital music production, with no specific focus on any are of the music production process, but rather a wholistic approach. It gives you a framework, the one used by deadmau5, to produce a song. It is not a case study, i.e- it won’t show you how deadmau5 produces a song from scratch, but it will show you every single step of the process. We recommend deadmau5’s online music production masterclass course to people that are starting out and want something a bit lighter (shorter) and more fun.

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Hans Zimmer Masterclass Review

Up next is Hans Zimmer’s online music production masterclass course.

  • Music style: Film Scoring / Soundtrack / Sound Design
  • Financial Investment: Low / Moderate
  • Duration: 4.5 hours of video + assignments
  • Main DAW used: N/A.
  • Our Rating: 8.5/10
  • Skill Level: Intermediate

Course Structure

  • Themes
  • Story
  • Directors
  • Sound Palettes
  • Creating with Synths
  • Scoring to Picture
  • Scoring Under Dialogue
  • Tempo
  • Music Diary
  • Character
  • Case Study: Frost/Nixon
  • Working With Musicians
  • Feedback & Revisions
  • Audience Feedback
  • Writing Tips
  • Hans’ Journey
  • Learning by Listening
  • Life of a Composer
  • Closing

Our Thoughts

This is a very interesting course. The simple fact that you get to hear Hans Zimmer talk on the first person about stuff that he has never revealed on interviews is worth the cost of the program.

However, we found the structure a bit random.

Unlike deadmau5’s course, this program kind of jumped around topics, with one class being solely about Hans’ career and progression in the industry. To be honest, if we wanted to learn about that, we could just check one of the hundreds of interviews that he’s given.

Having said that, there are loads of golden nuggets there about his process, inspiration, and process. It is packed loads of synthesiser tips as well as general aesthetic in sound design.

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Timbaland Masterclass Review

To finish off our selection of Masterclass courses, we’ll have a look at Timbaland’s online music production course.

  • Music style: Hip-Hop / Pop
  • Financial Investment: Low / Moderate
  • Duration: 3.5 hours of video + assignments
  • Main DAW used: Ableton
  • Our Rating: 8.5/10
  • Skill Level: Beginner / Intermediate

Course Structure:

  • Studio Session: Making a Beatbox Beat
  • Building Beats: Tim’s Process
  • Making a Beat: Getting Warmed Up
  • Song Origins: “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”
  • Making a Beat: Starting With a Chord Progression
  • Making a Beat: Tweaking and Layering Drums
  • Song Origins: “Pony”
  • Making a Beat: Manipulating Vocal Samples
  • Making a Beat: Creating a Breakdown
  • Song Origins: “Gossip Folks”
  • Making a Beat: Adding a Topline
  • Song Origins: “Are You That Somebody?”
  • Tim’s Influences
  • How to Persevere

Our Thoughts

We found this masterclass to be the least technical of all online muic production masterclass courses reviewed. Perhaps on purpose, as Timbaland’s production process seems to be based a lot around feeling, leaning on his team to fill in the more technical gaps.

We still found it very useful and inspiring, with some pretty straight forward but useful tips such as thinking about drums through beatbox.

His team of “co-producers” also share some gems on drums layering, chord progression and more.

If you’re a hip hop head, you’ll love this course. You’ll learn about how Timba produced hits for Missy Elliot, Jay-z, and others, as well as some inspiring tips on how to succeed in the industry. If you’re not a hip hop nerd, then you might find it not that inspiring. Though we still recommend purchasing it as part of the masterclass bundle of classes.

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Point Blank Music School Online

Point Blank is an well established English music school, which has opened it’s expertise to the online sector. The sheer diversity of courses that they offer, including Music Business courses, is practically unmatched. This Online Music Production Masterclass Course set is both formal and fun.

  • Music style: None in Specific
  • Financial Investment: Medium-high
  • Duration: Depends on the subject of choice.
  • Main DAW used: Ableton
  • Our Rating: 9.5/10.
  • Skill Level: Intermediate-High

The “Online” courses of Point Blank Music School are actual real-time/live lecture by teachers, customised to you as a student. You get to ask questions and interact with your teacher via webcam. Each course thus has it’s own structure.

Our thoughts:

So this is clearly something different. Theere are no pre-recorded sessions, like the others. This would also explain the high price point compared to the others. As a drawback, their online music production courses are not instant, you have to enroll like you would to a school. Only that the school location is your home, if you cannot access the offline schools Point Blank Music School has running in London, L.A., Mumbai, Ibiza and China.

We feel like this product is for the more advanced music production, since asking questions is key here.

If you feel like you have run out of material to study on your own and feel like it’s time to get 1:1 with a teacher who can guide you further then look no further and click the button below to access the Point Blank Music School website.

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Producertech EQ Fundamentals Review

Producertech is a well established music course provider. It was founded in 2009 by Rob Jones. Of all their online music production courses, EQ fundamentals is one of our favourites. Here’s why:

  • Music style: None in Specific
  • Financial Investment: Low
  • Duration: 2.5 hours of video + assignments +
  • Main DAW used: Ableton
  • Our Rating: 9/10.
  • Skill Level: Intermediate

Course Structure:

  • Introduction to Frequencies
  • EQ Controls 
  • EQ in Isolation
  • Frequency Demo #3 – Combining the Piano and Sine Wave 
  • The Frequency Spectrum Explained
  • EQ with respect to other parts
  • EQ’ing Drums 
  • Common EQ Practices
  • EQ’ing Kick and Bass
  • EQ on the Master Channel
  • EQ In The Mix

Our thoughts:

This course is, in our opinion, a must do for all aspiring producers. Having a solid grasp of EQ can be the difference between an amateur sounding song and a commercial grade end product.

Producertech’s EQ Fundamentals online music production masterclass course will give you the foundation you need to make clean sounding mixed, at a very accessible cost (25$).

It doesn’t have a rock star teacher or cover 10 different topics, but that is, in our opinion, a strength. There is no magic pill that will make you a successful musician. Instead, the path to success is continued investment in small courses on different topics. This laser focused course will give you a very complete foundation on one of the most important skills in the game: EQing.

It also comes with the EXPOSE software, which allows you to “test” your final mix for any potential issues. We were positively surprised by the production quality of the course. Here’s a sample video from the course:

There is a special focus on bass and kick mixing, thus making it slightly more relevant to electronic, hip-hop, and pop producers, though it really suits any kind of music style.

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Berklee Online Review- Electronic Music Production

Berklee is one of the most famous music schools in the world. This institution is a pioneer in online music production courses, having started in 2002! They still are an industry leader and offer the most formal type of education you’ll find in this list.

  • Music style: Electronic
  • Financial Investment: Moderate
  • Duration: Around 6 months (4 hours / week recommended)
  • Main DAW used: Ableton, though teachings can be applied to any DAW.
  • Our Rating: 9.5/10.
  • Skill Level: Beginner / Intermediate
  • Certificate upon completion: Yes

Course Structure:

  • The Technology of Music Production
  • Introduction to Ableton Live
  • Creating Sounds for Electronic Music
  • The Art of Vocal Production

Our Thoughts:

This is a solid course for students looking for a serious commitment and some degree of credibility. It teaches all the theoretic background + gives you a solid foundation in ableton production and recording / mastering vocals.

If you’re looking for some credibility in the industry, the Beerklee is something to stick in your CV that can also teach you some good theory.

However, there are more advanced and complete courses in this list in terms of knowledge.

Finally, one of the main advantages is that coursera offers financial aid to certain students.

All in all, it is pretty inexpensive, at 39$/month, and if you’re feeling motivated, you can knock it off in a couple of months, getting a “mini” degree for a very affordable price.

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Udemy Music Production Courses review

Next up, we have a couple of udemy courses. We’ll start with probably the most popular music course in the platform, “Music Production in Logic Pro X”.

Udemy has a lot of online music production course programs on it’s website, they mostly have a similar structure to the Logic X one which is our reference.

This course was developed by Digital Music Masters, a well established music school.

  • Music style: None in Specific
  • Financial Investment: Low
  • Duration: 38 hours of video + articles and resources
  • Main DAW used: Logic Pro X
  • Our Rating: 9/10.
  • Skill Level: Beginner / Intermediate

Our Thoughts

This is mostly for those more advanced. What we like is that you can just pay for one “topic” and not buy the whole online music production masterclass course package like with the others. You just get to Udemy, shop for what you want to know and that’s it.

These courses are mostly focused on daw workflows, with some specific items covering hardware gear like the Maschine and others focusing on specific sub-genres like music for games. All in all we think it is good product if you just want to fill some specific empty spaces in your skill arsenal.

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Final Thoughts

We hope that the above suggestions help you kickstart your music production career/hobby.

This article is in constant update as we try new courses, so if you have any recommendations, please post them below in the comments section!