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Not a criticism, just a question ...

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Not a criticism, just a question ...

Postby Eddy Deegan » Wed May 06, 2020 3:58 am

In the May 2020 edition of the magazine there is a great review of the ASM Hydrasynth as well as other hardware in the form of the MPC One, API The Box 2 and the usual rich array of hardware and software products besides.

The cover features the latest Mac Pro. Of course, this is relevant to the musician in the sense that it represents a massively powerful platform to run DAWs on but I thought it was rather incongruous when compared to the main subject matter in Sound On Sound, especially given that probably less than 3% of the readership (I made that statistic up for dramatic effect) will ever own one.

Personally, I'd much rather have seen a sexy shot of the Hydrasynth or any of the other hardware reviewed in the magazine. After all, SOS is more about music than computing, although I heartily concur there is a huge overlap.

I was just curious as to the rationale for putting a computer on the front cover, as opposed to something less generic and more obviously musical?
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Re: Not a criticism, just a question ...

Postby zenguitar » Wed May 06, 2020 4:27 am

Good points, well made. As always mate.

I don't speak for SOS, but I think I can make a good argument for the new Mac Pro being worthy of a front cover. It has nothing to do with the looks or performance of the new Mac Pro, as good as they are. It's all about the narrative. How its predecessor was widely regarded as unprofessional, under specified, under performing, and over priced. It's a redemption story. Phoenix from the ashes, and all that.

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Re: Not a criticism, just a question ...

Postby ef37a » Wed May 06, 2020 6:43 am

Did not think of that Eddy but yes, you have a point.

But, never want a picture of any kind of synth on the cover, get FAR too many of those inside!

I jest but in the interest of balance, when was the last time the page was graced by a pic of a top line Windows machine? One of Pete's superb offerings say?

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Re: Not a criticism, just a question ...

Postby Arpangel » Wed May 06, 2020 6:55 am

Eddy Deegan wrote:After all, SOS is more about music than computing, although I heartily concur there is a huge overlap.

This comment is interesting, and I’m going to quote my experience only, I’m not making a statement about SOS from a personal standpoint.
When computers first started to make their presence felt very strongly in music production, a few people I know that used to read SOS avidly, stopped doing so, they always used to say "I’m fed up with it, it’s just reviews of software and computers now" it’s just not interesting to me anymore"
I heard that a lot a few years ago, but now it’s all become assimilated into the big soup, and I think interest in hardware if anything, has increased because of the proliferation of computers, and SOS reflects that.
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Re: Not a criticism, just a question ...

Postby BJG145 » Wed May 06, 2020 7:33 am

...I dunno, SOS puts a lot of different stuff on its covers; people, mics, synths, all kinds of gear. The editors make a decision about something that looks sexy and striking and will encourage someone in a shop to pick up a copy of the magazine, and I think that Mac is as good as anything. (I'd be more interested in seeing synths than computers too, but I'm a subscriber, they don't care what I think.) ;)
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Re: Not a criticism, just a question ...

Postby Arpangel » Wed May 06, 2020 8:04 am

The magazines that make me pick them up have pictures of old studios on the cover, big desks, interesting synths, tape machines, interviews with musicians I like, SOS sometimes ticks these boxes. Great interviews I remember, Michael Brook, David Sylvian, Daniel Lanois, Brian Eno.
Computers, no. And the first thing I say when I see a new computer is, that’ll be in a boot sale in two years time.
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Re: Not a criticism, just a question ...

Postby Sam Inglis » Wed May 06, 2020 8:53 am

It's a very good question, and it was a decision that was only reached after lots of discussion. Any of the products you've mentioned would have made a good cover and all of them were considered!

In the end, what swung it Mac-wards was a combination of factors:

(1) There had been a keyboard on the cover of the previous (April) issue.

(2) It became clear that Apple weren't going to make the Mac available to press at all, so our review is likely to be the only serious evaluation of the Mac Pro for music -- whereas, of course, you can find any number of synth demos on YouTube and so on.

(3) Unlike most computers, this one is likely to have a long shelf-life -- the Mac Pro design is likely to be the basis of Apple's pro line for many years to come.
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Re: Not a criticism, just a question ...

Postby blinddrew » Wed May 06, 2020 9:10 am

It's good to mix things up. And let's face it, for a lot of people the computer is possibly the only bit of hardware they have in their studio these days.
Well, maybe a controller keyboard as well, but you get my point. :)
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Re: Not a criticism, just a question ...

Postby Trevor Johnson » Wed May 06, 2020 9:22 am

I think it was chosen as the front cover because it's a great way to sell the magazine to non-subscribers (even though we won't be wandering into a newsagent at present).

Plus it was an excellent, in depth review. Why, for example, would your base machine, costing aroung £5K , only have a 256GB NVME boot drive? And why does it have so few ports on the rear of the machine? Good reasons why we can justify not buying one!

Incidentally, the new MacBook Pro 13inch is just out, rather more affordable, you can now install up to 32GB of RAM, and would make a good review, but not I think, the front cover.
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Re: Not a criticism, just a question ...

Postby Arpangel » Wed May 06, 2020 9:48 am

Trevor Johnson wrote:I think it was chosen as the front cover because it's a great way to sell the magazine to non-subscribers (even though we won't be wandering into a newsagent at present).

Plus it was an excellent, in depth review. Why, for example, would your base machine, costing aroung £5K , only have a 256GB NVME boot drive? And why does it have so few ports on the rear of the machine? Good reasons why we can justify not buying one!

Incidentally, the new MacBook Pro 13inch is just out, rather more affordable, you can now install up to 32GB of RAM, and would make a good review, but not I think, the front cover.

I have an iMac and I’m always having to feel my way behind it to insert cards or USB stuff, it’s really a bad design, much better to have these on the side of a slightly thicker case, or better, on the front, I’d rather have convenience over aesthetics.
Paying all that money for a Pro and having to dive behind would cheese me off a bit.
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Re: Not a criticism, just a question ...

Postby ore_terra » Wed May 06, 2020 10:00 am

Sam Inglis wrote:It's a very good question, and it was a decision that was only reached after lots of discussion. Any of the products you've mentioned would have made a good cover and all of them were considered!

In the end, what swung it Mac-wards was a combination of factors:

(1) There had been a keyboard on the cover of the previous (April) issue.

(2) It became clear that Apple weren't going to make the Mac available to press at all, so our review is likely to be the only serious evaluation of the Mac Pro for music -- whereas, of course, you can find any number of synth demos on YouTube and so on.

(3) Unlike most computers, this one is likely to have a long shelf-life -- the Mac Pro design is likely to be the basis of Apple's pro line for many years to come.

sound like 3 quite good factors to me.
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Re: Not a criticism, just a question ...

Postby Eddy Deegan » Wed May 06, 2020 1:40 pm

Thanks Sam (and everyone else for their thoughts). It makes sense, and my question was certainly answered!
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Re: Not a criticism, just a question ...

Postby ef37a » Wed May 06, 2020 2:18 pm

Regarding the 'puterization' of the magazine Arp'?
I can recall my first copy, the April 2005 issue brought to me in hospital by my GLW after my second HA (mild one, more a scare really).

As you say, full of digital stuff and WTF was a "DAW"?! But, since I had nothing else to do while I waited for a slot at a Oxford for an angiagram I got stuck in*. Son had been recording with a Teac HS 4 track and was pretty slick but frustrated because he was limited in 'layers' by noise. What ensued was a few years trying to get a decent system on a modest PC and various sound cards, cash was very scares so much of it was DIY'ed.

Without doubt the biggest and best move was a big (for us) spend on some Tannoy 5As.

I don't REALLY mind the mac on the cover and if some computer nerd drops in their trolley by mistake? Good oh! Might be another convert! (BTW Trev? Very long rack of magazines to browse at my Sainsburys. Been today, wrinkles 8-9am Mo, Wed & Friday!)

*It is possible therefore that our wonderful NHS is to blame for me being here, causing bother!

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Re: Not a criticism, just a question ...

Postby ManFromGlass » Wed May 06, 2020 2:19 pm

If I was more of a cruder person I would state how aroused that cover made me! And the review - well done + informative, so many of my questions answered.
My career depends on in-the-box solutions and my ancient Mac Pros could go tits up anytime. I don’t know how much research time has been shaved off my life by that review.
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Re: Not a criticism, just a question ...

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed May 06, 2020 2:41 pm

Eddy Deegan wrote:After all, SOS is more about music than computing, although I heartily concur there is a huge overlap

As it has said on the cover under the title for as long as I can remember: ...the world's premier audio recording technology magazine.

It's always been about the technology generally, rather than the music or the computing :D

But computers -- and Macs probably more than any other format -- provide a great deal of that technology for the majority of modern musicians and recording technicians.
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