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SOS PC Music Users Typical Song Survey

For anything relating to music-making on Windows computers, with lots of FAQs. Moderated by Martin Walker.

Re: SOS PC Music Users Typical Song Survey

Postby Henry-S » Wed Nov 23, 2005 1:16 pm

Thanks James, well that was my point, you get told things long enough you end up believing them.

I was able to record 2 tracks recording on my laptop perfectly, but thought things might get a bit sketchy at 8tracks, but I suppose its a suck it and see kinda thing. I mean i won't exactly be heart broken if i did get skips, cause its only means getting 7200 external drive, or replace one of the drives for a 7200 laptop drive (prolly be easier getting external).

I usually record at 44.1/24 or maybe 48/24 if i think i need to, but still heard crap stuff recorded at 96/24 and amazing stuff at 44.1/16 lol
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Re: SOS PC Music Users Typical Song Survey

Postby adrian_k » Wed Nov 23, 2005 1:52 pm

Good poll..

Just for info I record at 24/44.1, never more than 4 tracks simultaneously (soundcard limitation). I have an old second hand Dell 1.5Ghz with goodness knows what speed disk. I've never had problems with audio recording & playback except when I add CPU hungry plug-ins - a few delays and choruses around the place and I very quickly have horrible CPU spike problems. Freezing tracks fixes this.

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Re: SOS PC Music Users Typical Song Survey

Postby ghr » Wed Nov 23, 2005 7:12 pm

Half o/t, but how about a sort of "basic spec" for each of the requirements, so people know what to expect of their system etc?

Just an idea :)
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Re: SOS PC Music Users Typical Song Survey

Postby Stevedog » Wed Nov 23, 2005 7:43 pm

Interested to know what summing goes on... I use to be a confirmed subgroups person but cos of the hit on resources find myself going straight to main out,... Or, i mix down the tracks that would previously have been subgrouped and set up an alternative mix..
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Re: SOS PC Music Users Typical Song Survey

Postby Guy Johnson » Wed Nov 23, 2005 8:22 pm

Hi, I'll weigh in, though I'm on a Mac. Interesting thread.

Mostly, I use my DAW (Logic) for recording/mixing, from four to 16 tracks, with overdubs and edits and files playing on more than one track for different effects, so it can get up to quite a few more.

Most tracks have EQ and comp/expansion, with one or two convolving 'verbs on some inserts (mono) and one or two on stereo busses.

I record 24/44.1, as I need the HD space! That perennial problem . . . BTW, how many people use DVD rom/ram for storage (let's say for five years) ? I'm wondering about it.

I would never consider mixing with a real desk at the moment, as EQ, comp. and reverb have all got so much better recently. But if I were richer and in a bigger place, I might well do so again. I do miss those knobs. But not the hassle of marking all the settings!


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Re: SOS PC Music Users Typical Song Survey

Postby ZombieSlugs » Wed Nov 23, 2005 9:45 pm

I probably skewed the results a tad (lol), I rarely have more than 8-10 tracks as much more than that results in an aural mush, at least to me... but each usually has 1 synth + 1 or 2 effects, not to mention the effects I throw across the stereo outs...

My Western Digital audio drive copes just fine with frozen tracks, when I do have to freeze, which is actually fairly rarely even with my 3GHz. P4.

It's interesting to see what other folks are doing, good poll! 8-)
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Re: SOS PC Music Users Typical Song Survey

Postby Smithee » Thu Nov 24, 2005 1:23 am

Martin Walker wrote:
Smithee - thanks for your format clarification. Tell me - what audible improvements have you noticed after moving your softsynths to 88.2kHz and 176.4kHz, or are they primarily a choice dictated by the end format?

Well it's a funny thing really. I did some informal tests using my own equipment whe choosing an audio interface (RME Fireface in the end) and on certain material really high sample rates (176.4, 192) did sound better than the equivalent 44.1 recording. I'm with Robin Bigwood and what he said in the MOTU Traveler review in that the difference wasn't quite what I was expecting and the improvements were subtle at best. However the reason I use the high rates isn't dictated by perceived increases in quality, but rather what the end format dictates. I've been messing around with DVD Audio and SACD and as such have been using 176/196 and DSD more than I used to.

Martin Walker wrote:And did that 80-track peak result from lots of foley (FX) tracks on that film project, or were they all music?

The music side, although quite involved only came (!) to about 25 ish tracks. The rest was foley, voice overs etc... There was one part with lots of different voices swirling around (in a sort of sixth sense horror way) and that alone took over half a dozen tracks. I would imagine it was less taxing on my system than 80 tracks of archestral arrangement would have been, but I was pleasantly suprised at how well the system coped.
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Re: SOS PC Music Users Typical Song Survey

Postby Martin Walker » Thu Nov 24, 2005 5:05 pm

This is all very interesting stuff 8-)

Now, with 75 votes cast, 10 to 30 audio tracks seems to be becoming the favourite song size, with under 7% of our voters running more than 30 tracks, and 80% of use are only running 1 or 2 plugins (and occasionally 3 or 4).

I'm still surprised that so few softsampler instruments are being run, but perhaps as a Gigastudio user I'm skewed on that one. Softsynths are still the biggest variable, and as I said earlier I suspect this has something to do with the amount of CPU wehavve available - I know I'd probably run more if I had a more powerful PC.

all_on_black - it's difficult for me to come up with a 'basic spec' for the various choices, since as we've seen, a single hard drive can run as many audio tracks as most of us want, and softsynths are the biggest variable. For instance, I've just reviewed Korg's 'Legacy Collection - Digital Edition' for SOS, and managed about 64 voices of its M1 softsynth for just 25% of my own Pentium 4 2.8GHz processor. However, I also love the AAS String Studio, and its physically modelled engine typically took 30% of the same processor for just four voices. See the problem?

Guy - I didn't deliberately exclude Mac users by posting my poll in the PC Music forum, but was particularly interested in PC ones as research for future PC Musician features, to get a handle on what most of them were trying to achieve.

TheWoolyLoach- don't worry about skewing the results. Just be honest ;) I often have less than ten tracks in total for the same reasons, but remember that some people may have half a dozen devoted just to individual drums (so they can apply different plugin effects to each one).

Smithee - I rather suspected that your high sample rate choice was more dictated by the final format than by audio quality, but it's ironic that some of us are starting to 'fit the format' rather than choosing sample rates by highest audio quality. I can often hear subtle audio improvements at 88.2kHz and above, but haven't yet heard any sufficiently large over 44.1kHz to persuade me to halve the number of plugins and softsynths I can run.

As for your huge track count, I also suspected that foley work was to blame. perhaps we haven't got any large-scale orchestral composers in this survey yet, but again I suspect that some may layer three or four similar instruments of a particular genre for added richness or realism, rather than having a huge number of individual lines of music. And again, orchestral drums and percussion may account for a lot of separate tracks that may not contain a lot of 'notes'.

Keep up the good work everyone, and thanks for the feedback :bouncy:


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Re: SOS PC Music Users Typical Song Survey

Postby Power of Nip » Thu Nov 24, 2005 5:31 pm

Yeah, proteusX can be cpu heavy so I tend to bounce some of the midi parts when it gets a bit jittery thus up goes the track count.

I wonder if there is an equation for that?

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Re: SOS PC Music Users Typical Song Survey

Postby Martin Walker » Fri Nov 25, 2005 3:39 pm

Yes, the simplest equation is:

Slow CPU :frown: + Several Softsynths 8-) = 1 Frustrated Musician :protest:


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Re: SOS PC Music Users Typical Song Survey

Postby Power of Nip » Fri Nov 25, 2005 3:45 pm

:bouncy:
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Re: SOS PC Music Users Typical Song Survey

Postby JSB » Fri Nov 25, 2005 9:14 pm

so ,believe it or not, most musicians here could probably get away with a typical 5400rpm laptop drive

I still use a 4200rpm drive!!! But I'd be lying if I said it was without it's problems :D I get around the softsynth issue by doing all the sequencing in FL Studio Producer and then converting everything to .wavs which I then mix in Acid 4 where I also add the vox and guitars. Obviously this gives me quite a few tracks as I'm doing Latino-like stuff with loads of shakers and guiros and other percussion and I often have to do sub-mixes and then mix them together. My hard disc IS a pain on that score. But the point I would like to make is this... the finished result is very good indeed and I have had professional music people ( a composer/producer for the BBC and another TV music bod!) comment on the finished result. They both said the same thing actually... they said they COULD get it slightly better but considering how it was done with the equipment available I should be proud of myself. The way I see it the quality is good enough for a publisher or a record company to get a good idea of everything. And I think I could play it on the radio as well - although I haven't done that yet!!!

I've made a pact with myself never to upgrade from what I have now unless it all blows up. I have a:

1.5Ghz Acer Centrino, 512Meg Ram, W2K
Edirol PCR 30
UA25
FL Studio Producer
Acid 4
Se2200a mic
FM7 softsynth
Moog Softsynth
And some other softsynths that I never use!
Loads of percussion, drum, bass samples.

I am really thinking of getting an external 7200 drive but I don't want the hassle of carrying it around. But I think I might admit defeat on that one as the benefits would be manifold. But I'm sure you will agree that it's a pretty minimalistic set-up. I don't read spec sheets anymore - I just listen to what comes out of the speakers ;)
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Re: SOS PC Music Users Typical Song Survey

Postby John Willett » Mon Nov 28, 2005 11:49 am

Interesting but not the correct answer options.

For me:-

Q1 = 2
Q2 = 0
Q3 = 0
Q4 = 0

;)
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Re: SOS PC Music Users Typical Song Survey

Postby Martin Walker » Mon Nov 28, 2005 1:35 pm

Ah, good point John - I didn't cater for those exclusively recording real instruments or vocals on audio tracks.

But you're not running ANY plugins at all?

Not even a little corrective EQ?


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Re: SOS PC Music Users Typical Song Survey

Postby John Willett » Mon Nov 28, 2005 2:05 pm

Martin Walker wrote:But you're not running ANY plugins at all?

Not even a little corrective EQ?

No EQ at all - it's all done by mic. placement.
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