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Halfway?

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Halfway?

Postby Watchmaker » Thu Sep 06, 2018 5:05 pm

Greetings fellow forum members. As I’ve come to respect several of the people who share their views here at SOS, I’d like to ask for perspectives on my particular little conundrum. Over the last few years I've become increasingly disillusioned with computers while simultaneously bewitched by the amazing, exploding world of possibilities the latest generations of interfaces and plugins have to offer.

Without intending to discuss the merits of the changing business models of our two primary computing paradigms, I’m loathe to touch a Windows machine anymore due to the SAAS model, and MACs are trending downward in quality whilst upward in price. (my view, such as it is). Part of my negative reaction to the latest incarnation of computing devices is rooted in the contentious world of built in five eyes backdoors, side channel/predictive computing exploits in CPUs, and the rest of the sloppy coding that comprises the compromised world of inter connected computing devices…I know enough about hardware, software and business management to not trust a single machine ever built, but operating systems have suffered a severe case of scope creep over the years and I really do not want to be part of that particular social experiment if I can avoid it.

Despite all that, I'm no Luddite and, as I'll likely be alive for another 25 years, I will have to buy several more computers that serve my needs less each year, if I want to record music...and I do, then I have to find the intersection of my tolerance and my desire.

My question is: What products are there that: a) combine the now de rigour exceptional quality pre amps available with the high computational capability necessary for algorithmic modelling (plug ins/DSP), and b) avoid the debilitating compromises being required by our betters at Microsoft and Apple world domination headquarters?

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Re: Halfway?

Postby Martin Walker » Thu Sep 06, 2018 7:50 pm

Watchmaker wrote:My question is: What products are there that: a) combine the now de rigour exceptional quality pre amps available with the high computational capability necessary for algorithmic modelling (plug ins/DSP), and b) avoid the debilitating compromises being required by our betters at Microsoft and Apple world domination headquarters?

Hi Watchmaker!

I would say the simplest and most bug-free answer to this question is to approach a specialist music dealer who supplies computers specifically configured for music purposes.

I've always used PCs (and for a long time wrote about them for Sound On Sound magazine), but although I've built plenty of my own machines over the years (and documented some of them in the pages of SOS), nowadays even I would be inclined to look at the web sites of companies such as Scan Pro Audio and Inta Audio among others, to get a PC delivered that's already set up perfectly for audio purposes, which has been soak tested for some hours before shipping to weed out the very occasional duff component that fails early, and which gives you a year or more of free technical support in the unlikely event that you run into any difficulties.


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Re: Halfway?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Thu Sep 06, 2018 8:18 pm

Hmmm, I don’t give computers nearly as much credit as you do. They are simply a means to an end. A disposable tool that enables me to get things done.

If I can switch it on, boot the DAW and begin recording - without any hitches - that’s all I care about.

I had G4 Mac last 10 years and only upgraded because I wanted to upgrade the software - it would probably still work today if I stuck with the software set up.

Alternative would be something like in my avatar.

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Re: Halfway?

Postby James Perrett » Fri Sep 07, 2018 12:37 am

Keep the computer off the internet and most of the issues you mention go away. I steer clear of any software that requires you to be connected to the Internet as, up until recently, I could be out of reach of the net for weeks at a time. There is plenty of decent software that requires little more than a serial number to run and even things that require network authorisation often allow an alternative method too.

My studio computer and mobile recording computer have no internet connection although the laptop that I use for restoration doubles up as a general purpose laptop so is connected.
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Re: Halfway?

Postby audio_jungle » Fri Sep 07, 2018 2:46 am

James Perrett wrote:Keep the computer off the internet and most of the issues you mention go away...

It's my bedtime, but James if 100% correct!!

Will respond more soon...
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Re: Halfway?

Postby CS70 » Fri Sep 07, 2018 7:41 am

Watchmaker wrote:My question is: What products are there that: a) combine the now de rigour exceptional quality pre amps available with the high computational capability necessary for algorithmic modelling (plug ins/DSP), and b) avoid the debilitating compromises being required by our betters at Microsoft and Apple world domination headquarters?

Ha, let me put it like this: if stuff like predictive branching-related attacks will ever be used, there's much more than audio engineering that we shall be worried about. :-)

My $.10 if you want the power of the box you need a box. With all the good and bad that comes with it. If you really get upset by updates and the likes, keep it offline as much as you can and use it exclusively for making music. But actually, there's absolutely no need.

A better alternative is to accept that things are how they are (which you seem to be doing already) and learn to control them rather than be controlled by them. As with much in this world, it is not that hard if one stops using lots of energy in thinking that things should be different and just gets on with learning how to use them as they are. :-)

Right now there simply is no better option than a good performing Windows PC, for making all kinds of music and recording. Macs are good as well but more expensive for pretty much the same results. Pair it with a RME interface and you're set for 25 years. :)

If you want/need less power, then there's the more traditional portastudios etc, but I suspect you know that already. But infinite plugins, DAW-like editing, drawing automation on every parameter, midi processing, stretching, pitch correction, instant availability of incredibly accurate outboard replicas and so on... it's either a pc, or a mac, running a DAW.
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Re: Halfway?

Postby blinddrew » Fri Sep 07, 2018 9:09 am

My tuppence-worth is largely covered above. Work out a nice set of plug-ins that cover your needs and don't need to be connected to work. Set yourself up a nice, stable, music only machine, an RME interface, then unplug it from the web and just let it run.
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Re: Halfway?

Postby Watchmaker » Fri Sep 07, 2018 11:30 am

Thanks all.

CS70 wrote:A better alternative is to accept that things are how they are (which you seem to be doing already) and learn to control them rather than be controlled by them. As with much in this world, it is not that hard if one stops using lots of energy in thinking that things should be different and just gets on with learning how to use them as they are. :-)

Quite so. Sometimes my frustration at all the bloatware and poorly written code gets me down, and I appreciate the universal suggestion to keep off the net. In fact this laptop I'm on now...WIN10 I bought as a back up for mobile purpose, is used exclusively for the web and my iMac is used exclusively for the studio and only goes on the web for updates, if I want them.

I get the need for software houses having a permanent cash flow, but it's difficult to manage a stable system with auto updates. My wife's a graphic designer who had to update to High Sierra last week due to an unasked for push from Photoshop. Sure High Sierra's teh awesomest! evah!! but It's not always appropriate to be teh awesomest. I've held off on updating several of my programs to avoid this constant upgrade cycle, but I guess if you want to sing with the angels, you've got to dance with the devils too, eh?
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Re: Halfway?

Postby James Perrett » Fri Sep 07, 2018 2:17 pm

Watchmaker wrote:Quite so. Sometimes my frustration at all the bloatware and poorly written code gets me down,

Use Reaper and say goodbye to bloatware and poorly written code. The whole download is around 10MB for Windows and, once you've registered, you can carry on using that version (and the next major version) forever.
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Re: Halfway?

Postby Watchmaker » Fri Sep 07, 2018 3:58 pm

James Perrett wrote:Use Reaper and say goodbye to bloatware and poorly written code. The whole download is around 10MB for Windows and, once you've registered, you can carry on using that version (and the next major version) forever.

That is an excellent suggestion. Thanks! I have been a bit peeved at my current DAW for acting like a mini Avid. Perhaps it's time to learn another GUI after all.
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Re: Halfway?

Postby craigtumps » Fri Sep 07, 2018 4:25 pm

If you keep a machine only for making music then no need to worry about 5 eyes. They can take all the logs they want, unless you really need to keep your plugin crashes top secret :D

Its hard to keep it completely offline these days because of all the plugin license checking and updates. But the Pro version of Windows (the latest builds) has a lot more flexibility when it comes to updates. You can defer them for up to a year. They also rolled back a fair amount of the data collection and they published what is collected. Its really not that scary compared to what our phones and web browsers are slurping all day.

Win10 used to drive me round the bend but the latest version is pretty nice and the updates are under control.

You could use Linux, Bitwig has good support for it. But you will have more admin looking after that setup compared to a MAC / PC.
Or you could ditch computers and go all hardware! Akai MPC-X ?
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Re: Halfway?

Postby Watchmaker » Fri Sep 07, 2018 8:58 pm

I have Win10 pro and until I edited Group Policy, the auto updater constantly overwrote my firewall settings. In fact, I should check them when I get home. Not that I'm a fan of Windows Defender, but it is extremely toxic for the updater to mess with my config. I mean I don't even have photos on the PC, so why does Microsoft photos use up more network time than all other programs - AFTER I was forced to write custom rules to block the damn thing? There are about seven programs that get overwritten intermittently.

I also meticulously disable unecessary services and had to regedit Cortana into submission - even so, the damn thing still executes searches that eat more resources than they should.

I really do find WIN10 to be an atrociously arrogant piece of work on the whole. :madas:

I guess I'm a semi-willing member of the captive audience though. I can't wait for the US to pass a law forcing me to buy a new computer every year or pay a tax penalty for not being a loyal corporate citizen.
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Re: Halfway?

Postby audio_jungle » Sat Sep 08, 2018 5:01 pm

Watchmaker wrote:I’m loathe to touch a Windows machine anymore due to the SAAS model, and MACs are trending downward in quality whilst upward in price. (my view, such as it is).

Part of my negative reaction to the latest incarnation of computing devices is rooted in the contentious world of built in five eyes backdoors, side channel/predictive computing exploits in CPUs, and the rest of the sloppy coding that comprises the compromised world of inter connected computing devices…I know enough about hardware, software and business management to not trust a single machine ever built, but operating systems have suffered a severe case of scope creep over the years and I really do not want to be part of that particular social experiment if I can avoid it.

Despite all that, I'm no Luddite and, as I'll likely be alive for another 25 years...

The is "possibility" and "probability"...

If you take the necessary steps, you should be able to maintain a reasonable level of privacy and security with your computer and online.

And if the "5 Eyes" are after you, then you are toast anyways!

I think you are confusing being an "upgrade slave" with having privacy and security - not necessarily the same issue.

I know virtually nothing about sound engineering or gear, thus why I am here on SOS. However I make a living in IT and privacy and security, and do know a lot in those realms.

If you would like advice in those areas, look me up.

As far a SAAS, that is definitely the way the world is going, but you probably still have some other options.
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