I use Digital Performer, as you may know, and after following Robin Bigwood's directions for MIDI networking [in Sound On Sound March 2007 and on-line at www.soundonsound.com/sos/mar07/articles/ dpworkshop_0307.htm] my life has changed! Robin, you're a star. As for audio networking, you probably know that Abyssoft, who offer Teleport, now offer Soundfly, which works well with Soundflower, so it gives a fix you might test for one of your next pieces.
Thanks for your ideas and wonderfully clear presentations.
Editor In Chief Paul White replies: Thanks for the kind words, Pete. We're all enthusiasts here and keen to share anything we might learn. Thanks also for the tip about Soundfly, which I'm sure Robin will explore further. It's heartening to know that Sound On Sound is a useful resource even for experienced professionals such as yourself.
I'd like to comment on the 'Vista For Musicians' article in SOS June 2007. On page 166, the Multimedia Class Scheduler Service is mentioned, "which should provide bomb-proof audio performance".
In my experience this is over-optimistic. I'm the developer of MultitrackStudio (www.multitrackstudio.com), which supports WaveRT and MMCSS. I've tried hard to demonstrate the blessings of MMCSS, but this isn't easy. The problem is that it only improves glitching caused by low-priority threads. Notorious problem-makers such as Aero painting (or the tool-tip fade effect in Windows XP), however, aren't low priority, so MMCSS doesn't improve this. Even once Aero is completely disabled I haven't been able to demonstrate any benefits. I think MMCSS won't solve anything for people who have audio problems, it will only further improve systems that are already stable.
Giel Bremmers, Bremmers Audio Design
PC Music Specialist Martin Walker replies: Many thanks for the feedback Giel! I deliberately included the word 'should' in the phrase "should provide bomb-proof performance", since over the years I've heard many claims for both software and hardware that aren't borne out in practice. It's only when software developers like you code such features into your products that you find out whether or not such features are of actual benefit.
Microsoft have also gained a reputation over the years for setting down ground rules for Windows developers and then breaking them with other software in their own product range, so it doesn't really surprise me that the potential advantages of MMCSS have been seemingly scuppered by giving their own Aero eye-candy a higher priority than streaming audio.
The many tests that have now been done across a range of PCs by DAW builders have already proved that the Aero interface holds back ultimate audio performance, so most of us looking to run the maximum number of soft synths/plug-ins will disable this anyway. However, it looks as if those musicians looking forward to bomb-proof audio streaming under any circumstances may be disappointed.
In response to Chris Mayes-Wright's Sounding Off article on music education in the February 2008 issue [on-line at www.soundonsound.com/sos/feb08/articles/soundingoff_0208.htm], you may be interested to know that there is a body within the pro audio industry, and has been for a while, which supports and advise educational establishments right up to HE level. JAMES (Joint Audio Media Educational Services) was launched around 18 months ago by the educational arms of the APRS (Association of Professional Recording Services) and the MPG (Music Producers Guild). The partnership was designed to supply increased support to our existing course Accreditation Scheme and associated services such as seminars and masterclasses. JAMES also represents the industry's educational needs to government agencies and wider sectors such as the Sector Skills Councils and awarding bodies.
Most significantly, the JAMES Working Group is made up of industry professionals — engineers, producers, studio owners, musicians — people who have worked (and survived!) many years in the recording industry and have a very realistic view of what is required of a person entering into the industry today.
While your article related generally to Secondary Education, your overall comments on provision at grass-roots level, ill-spent budgets and limited technological knowledge due to 'lack of time' all apply right across the educational sector and are areas where JAMES has identified a real need for support, assistance and advice. This is why we have launched the JAMES Educator's Forum (JEF) which will act as a massive support resource to all educators at all levels, whether Secondary, FE or HE. We want it to open up communication between the industry and education and encourage dialogue about equipment, technology, production, courses, careers... in fact, all things audio!
To further support this initiative we are in the process of setting up a network of Regional Centres to enable local industry support for educational activities.
Our recognised course Accreditation facility is now available to FE courses, and with the recent addition of UK Screen to our strategic partnership we have extended the coverage to post-production courses as well.
Our master-classes and seminars are consistently popular with students and faculties alike. LIPA (Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts), Glamorgan and Leeds Metropolitan University are recent establishments that have requested a JAMES industry panel to share their views and experiences with students.
More bodies are realising that JAMES really has something valuable to offer to education, our most recent development being discussions with Skillset (Sector Skills Council for the Audio Visual Industries) on working closer with them to provide accreditation and support.
News Editor Chris Mayes-Wright replies: Thanks for your comments. I'm aware of the good work that JAMES does in the FE and HE sectors, and it's great to hear about new initiatives such as the JEF and your forthcoming Regional Centres. We'll certainly keep our ears to the ground for all future JAMES-related news!