It might seem like a strange thing to mention, but one of the most welcome improvements in DP 4.6 (for me) is an overhauled metronome. Previously the audio click had always relied on the Mac audio system, and it could be annoyingly inaccurate, especially with high buffer sizes. In 4.6, the click can now be output to any stereo or mono hardware output (or even a buss) and is generated by DP with single-sample timing accuracy. What's more, a range of click sounds is provided for both the accented and normal click levels. This includes hi-hats, cowbells, blips of various kinds, the Akai MPC click and the classic UREI click! Hours of creative time can now be wasted trying to find the ultimate click combination. Seriously, though, this is a great feature. Sometimes the little improvements really can turn out to be the best!
Next up this month we've news of a couple of MOTU-related bugs some of you may have come across. The first is what seems to be a bug associated with DP 4.6's new pitch-correction capabilities. In some cases, although pitch data is detected and displayed, and can be manipulated, the changes are never made on playback, and the audio file plays back in its original form. It looks as though this happens mostly when DP 4.6 opens files that were saved in older versions of the program. The solution seems to be to create a new audio file and drag the 'offending' soundbites into it. You'll also need to copy across any plug-ins or automation data to the new track. Finally, after deleting the old track, the pitch correction should work.
If you're using a MOTU Traveler or 828 MkII interface with a Mac running OS 10.4 you might have run into a problem whereby audio output from some applications (including the Finder, Quicktime Player, Garage Band and stand-alone Native Instruments synths) results in a series of annoying high-pitched whistles. The answer seems to be to reset your interface to its defaults, using this method:
First, if you're using a Traveler, plug it into the mains. Then disconnect the Firewire cable from the rear of the interface.
Press the Setup knob (also marked 'Mix' on the Traveler) and turn it to the right until you get a 'Factory Defaults' screen.
Press the Select knob, then the Value knob.
Now turn off the interface and plug in the Firewire cable once more. Finally, turn the interface back on.
This process should eliminate the whistles, at least for a while. Just watch out for a couple of things as you do this. First, turning off the interface causes a heck of a thump through your monitors, so it's best to turn the monitors off first. Also, the interface default has phones and main output levels at maximum, so be careful to turn these down before resuming your normal monitoring levels.
Spectrasonics Instruments Updated For DP
The highly-regarded Stylus, Atmosphere and Trilogy virtual instruments from Spectrasonics have recently been updated to provide compatibility with both Mac OS 10.4 and DP 4.6. Current versions are as follows:
These are worth downloading even if you're running DP 4.6 under OS 10.3, as they fix some problems associated with bouncing, muting, tuning and AU validation. More information, and update downloads, from www.spectrasonics.net.
MOTU's much-anticipated Symphonic Instrument is now available, priced at $295. It's essentially an 8GB full orchestral sound library, with a few extras such as pianos, organs and choirs, delivered as a plug-in in MAS, AU, VST, RTAS, HTDM and DXi formats. A single plug-in instance can host 16 instruments, each with configurable MIDI channels, level and pan, and all sharing a single high-quality convolution reverb or a more processor-friendly 'fast' reverb. Symphonic Instrument's sound library can also be opened in the Mach Five software sampler, which allows full editing of presets, as well as modification using Mach Five's synth architecture.
First impressions of Symphonic Instrument are very positive indeed — it seems like an eminently usable orchestral library with an emphasis on big, film music-influenced sounds. For a number of rather impressive MP3 demos visit www.motu.com. It'll be interesting to see how Symphonic Instrument fares against a number of its far more expensive rivals.