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RTFM

Postby Arpangel » Sun Jun 16, 2019 9:38 pm

I've noticed since I've been contributing to this forum lately, that a lot of questions could be avoided if the posters had just read the manual. And those with little or no experience of music/recording expect the gear to pop out of the box and almost do the job for them, and if it doesn't then it's everyone else's fault, but definitely not theirs.
All I can say is that things have changed a lot in the last few years, I'm not an elderly reactionary, or a grumpy old man, I'm a realist, and the most amazing music of the past, and possibly the future, will come out of a passion for what you do, and a desire to experiment, without someone holding your hand.
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Re: RTFM

Postby CS70 » Sun Jun 16, 2019 10:07 pm

Well yes and no.

When you first approach something which you have zero clue about, the manual is seldom useful. You cant't fill the dots if you don't have dots. A manual explains what a device do, but seldom the context in which it does it.

For example, I do remember very well having no idea of what "phantom power" was - not in technical terms, but in the idea certain microphones need power to function. The manual may say that pushing that button switches on the phantom power, but if you dont have a clue of what is or why it exists, it helps little if you don't realize that it's aimed at a microphone.
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Re: RTFM

Postby Dave B » Sun Jun 16, 2019 10:18 pm

It depends on the manual and your experience level. If you're a pro and you read something like a Roland user guide, it's almost patronising so you tend to ignore it and file it somewhere. If you're a novice and you get a less helpful manual (that expects a certain experience level), then it's now natural to ask online. And that's if you get a manual. Or even a pdf link. With some software, it's a case of 'our forum is our support' so it's now a default position.

Whatever the reason, round here we do try and be as helpful as possible and not get upset by it. That's kind of the whole point of this forum - Mr G would like it to be a quiet little corner of help and sanity in the vast coldness of the interweb, and we do our best to follow his lead on this...
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Re: RTFM

Postby Mike Stranks » Sun Jun 16, 2019 11:33 pm

Arpangel wrote:....I'm not an elderly reactionary, or a grumpy old man...

.... really?

The aim of these forums is to be as helpful as possible to all comers whatever their experience and however clued-up (or not) they are.

For some, manuals are overwhelming or simply incomprehensible. People come here hoping for answers - and generally they get them without being patronised or sneered at. You clearly know what's what and have been involved in audio for some time. Welcome the opportunity to share some of that with others rather than complain that they could have found out the answers for themselves.
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Re: RTFM

Postby Bob Bickerton » Mon Jun 17, 2019 1:41 am

Manuals tend to be fine if you already have a working knowledge of processes involved and of course some are more user friendly than others.

I still remember reading the biblically-large Logic (Emagic) manual cover to cover in 1996 prior to installing the software - to say I still had a few questions unanswered after that would be a gross understatement!!!!!!

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Re: RTFM

Postby Folderol » Mon Jun 17, 2019 6:43 am

A really good manual is an extremely rare beast. I have a little experience of writing them and t is incredibly difficult to write one that is useful and readable across the wide range of users likely to be needing it.
To paraphrase, "One size does not fit all."
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Re: RTFM

Postby Arpangel » Mon Jun 17, 2019 6:44 am

I realise that some manuals are pretty poor, but I think they've gone down hill badly.
I can remember the manual for my Tascam 32 real to reel, it had a picture of a piano keyboard with the ranges of instruments on it, I thought that was cool.
I used to go to bed and read manuals, OK, I probably am a grumpy old man, I admit that, but reading manuals in bed? I guess you can ad sad old man to that list.

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Re: RTFM

Postby ConcertinaChap » Mon Jun 17, 2019 7:30 am

I try when I can to be helpful not least because an awful lot of what I've learned I've learned here, and that mostly from responses to other people's questions. I was a bit of a clot, quite frankly, when I first joined the forum - you're welcome to say I still am, of course, but at least I know about phantom power nowadays :)

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Re: RTFM

Postby Music Wolf » Mon Jun 17, 2019 7:35 am

Manuals are great once you've mastered the basics and you need to go a little deeper - they're not always a good place to start.

I'm always happy to help someone less experienced than myself and, having received good advice from those further up the recording food chain, it's nice to be able to give something back, however..........

I agree with the OP that there are one or two posters who do expect it all to be laid out on a plate, who have unrealistic expectations as to the effort required to learn and who, worst of all, seem determined to ignore any advice that is given even when there is consensus among those with considerably greater experience. In these cases reading the manual would be of little benefit (although a good whack around the ear with a rolled up Yamaha manual wouldn't go amiss). :headbang:
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Re: RTFM

Postby Arpangel » Mon Jun 17, 2019 8:15 am

Music Wolf wrote:Manuals are great once you've mastered the basics and you need to go a little deeper - they're not always a good place to start.

I'm always happy to help someone less experienced than myself and, having received good advice from those further up the recording food chain, it's nice to be able to give something back, however..........

I agree with the OP that there are one or two posters who do expect it all to be laid out on a plate, who have unrealistic expectations as to the effort required to learn and who, worst of all, seem determined to ignore any advice that is given even when there is consensus among those with considerably greater experience. In these cases reading the manual would be of little benefit (although a good whack around the ear with a rolled up Yamaha manual wouldn't go amiss). :headbang:

Yes, I'm happy to give advice too, if I can. But I've been in situations where I've spent a lot of time helping others with music related issues, and some people start to get angry with me if things don't go quite right, hang on! I'm giving my knowledge free of charge, I'm not guaranteeing anything, my knowledge is very much geared to what I want to do, I'm not a working commercial engineer, or someone like Hugh Robjohns for instance who has a very wide range of experience, I'm a keyboard player with a home studio! I've only learnt certain aspects of recording simply because I had to, no one else was going to do it for me.
Bottom line is that in recording music, our equipment isn't any different from any other "instrument" and just like an instrument, it takes many years to learn it properly, its something you can't master in a couple of weeks. We seem to live in a time of instant gratification.
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Re: RTFM

Postby Brian M Rose » Mon Jun 17, 2019 10:58 am

I've written manuals in the past (albeit for camera equipment and lenses).
The Manual is equipment-specific, it's not there as general training material to be, say, an Audio Engineer or Musician.
Some of course do so and very good they are. But for technical equipment, some kind of previous knowledge will be presumed. And it's no easy task! We all want to get on with it as soon as we open the box. Our question may be as simple as 'how do I plug it into the mains?' to 'How do I select specific inputs or sample rates?'
As a Technical Manager I was expected to hold a wide range of Manuals in my head, waiting for that 4:00am phone call about changing the frame rate on a VTR. Oh fun days!
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Re: RTFM

Postby Moroccomoose » Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:38 am

I agree with the OP, this is about minimum effort and instant gratification, though I'd say this is less about the manuals and a debate on their quality/depth/detail specifically, and more about when asking questions of willing, helpful and most importantly knowledgeable people, to at least demonstrate that even a little bit of effort has been put in to try and work it out for one's self before hand.

If you are really that keen and eager to learn, it doesn't take too much enthusiasm to run a few searches on t'interweb where you can find out just about anything, pitched at just about every level!

Fair enough, if you have tried and found yourself tied in knots, then folks are willing to help. If there is little evidence of prior effort, then folks will be less sympathetic. Knowledge is valuable and hard earned, so we shouldn't expect those with it to give it away if we are not prepared to do some leg work ourselves.

That said, I have taken from this forum far more than could ever give - all with thanks to the contributors! But I would like to think I fall into the category of just needing the knots untangled, rather than asking how to keep shoes on my feet!

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Re: RTFM

Postby Brian M Rose » Mon Jun 17, 2019 12:12 pm

And sometimes the blindingly obvious!
Last night I bought in my Zoom H6n so that another volunteer at Radio Harrow could check out if his mics (or his mixer) we noisy. Four XLR leads later, and two mics. still no signal at all...... Time to ask the SOS forum?
Ah, just a minute - the mics are condensers. :headbang: Select 48v Phantom on two inputs and there you go - perfect! And I have to admit, the Menu system on the Zoom is far from perfect...
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Re: RTFM

Postby ef37a » Mon Jun 17, 2019 12:19 pm

I am in a rather odd position re noobs and manuals. I was a service tech for much of my working life and for the last ten years of that a good half of my time was taken up installing and then demonstrating TVs and VCRs to customers. I have therefore developed infinite patience!

The manuals for VCRs were really very good but it has to be said that most people never got to grips with Timer Recording. Advances such as bar codes in the papers and OSD menus helped a lot but even so it was always hard to convince a customer that it was THEY that had cocked up and missed the footy final and no fault with the machine!

I shall always endeavour to help folks and be polite but I do have limits! I simply refuse to believe that an adult that can read and write, use a PC (by definition) keep a house and themselves in some sort of order, probably drive a car or if not navigate public transport, cannot grasp the rudiments of operating a microphone, AI and cans!

Over in "another place" a seasoned contributor, mild mannered always was very miffed. A noob had had several people trying to help him and dlding manuals and such and eventually he came back and said "Fixed it" Did not have the gain control tuned up enough and the Direct Monitoring knob was in the wrong position" !! If peeps cannot be ***sed to try twiddling just TWO controls? Begger me!

I do however blame the "meeja" to some degree and the nanny state we are coddled by? Safety is of course paramount. "I" am not going to tell you how to fix your Plexi! But really? A bus powered AI can do nobody any harm at all no matter what you do to it (well, you COULD kill someone with my KA6 if you brained them with it!) Have a bloody go! Okay, you might fry it (unlikely) but tis only money and you learn Mr Fawltey!

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Re: RTFM

Postby desmond » Mon Jun 17, 2019 12:27 pm

I can't speak for everyone, but I generally only ask for help* when I've more or less exhausted my own efforts and ability to solve the problem.

We've never had more resources available to us, in an easier than ever form to discover. Being a problem solver is a great life skill - expecting others to instantly solve our problems for us, without us having to bother putting in any effort thinking about it may get the initial problem solved, but you don't learn anything, or gain much of an understanding from it.

It's always maddeningly frustrating when people come to me with a problem, and I troubleshoot it, then show them what the problem is and how to fix it (so that next time the problem occurs, they have the knowledge to fix it themselves and it won't hold them up) only to find they have no interest in knowing what it is, or how to fix it, they just want me to fix it for them, now. And it will be the same the next time it happens, and so on - they'll just come running to someone else (me probably) to fix it again.

But at the end of the day, most of us are happy to help, if we can, with genuine questions, at whatever level. Fixing someone's problems or doing work for them because they can't be bothered to do it themselves, when they are perfectly capable, is not fun, and over time just fritters away goodwill from folks who do help, who eventually drift away and the help dries up.

* Also - probably about half of the questions I ask online generally makes the universe point out the answer to me before anyone comes along with any response - it's as if the very act of *finally* having to ask someone else helps me find a solution (which is just rather embarrasing ;) )
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Re: RTFM

Postby blinddrew » Mon Jun 17, 2019 1:11 pm

I think it's worth bearing in mind as well how much technology has changed over the last few decades as well.
When VCRs first came out, they had an extensive manual and you needed it! By the time that they were becoming redundant they had become so much easier to use. I had a late model Panasonic that you plugged in, switched on, said "yes" to the set up prompt and five minutes later it was ready to use.
Similarly, if you're not a heavy PC user and your digital world is accessed via your ipad, it can be a very simple experience. Simple apps and well-designed GUIs have taught a lot of people that technology is easy to use and no manual or reference is required. A youtube video at most perhaps.
So inevitably, when someone takes the step from a recording app to a fully-fledged DAW, or from using the built-in phone mic to setting up an interface with a condenser mic, they suddenly hit a learning curve that may well be far steeper than anything they've encountered previously (or recently).
In the old days, at this point you'd phone the shop (who would remind you that you needed to actually connect the platter to the motor spindle with the drive belt :) ), but in a world of downloads and Amazon that support isn't available. So you go back to manufacturer (and wait a month for an email response perhaps - Steinberg I'm looking at you) or you go online.
And some lucky folks end up here. :)
As Mr Robjohns is apt to mention on occasions, the thing about audio engineering is that it does involve engineering. And for many people this will really be their first brush with engineering in any form.

So in summary, yes always start RTFM, but also this place provides awesome support for those who have read the manual but still can't figure it out. I have been on the receiving end many, many times. :)

Long may it continue. :thumbup:
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Re: RTFM

Postby Dave B » Mon Jun 17, 2019 1:30 pm

It’s worth remembering that even searching the web can be fraught. A mate of mine is constantly shocked that I can get meaningful results with just the right words, when can waste ages just trying to find the right keywords to get a sensible response..

Another thing to consider is that this is a forum which is read far more than posted to. It’s a valuable source of info for all skill levels - which is why people like Hugh often give detailed, in depth answers to quite simple questions.

Yes, some people do seem to be a little dogmatic (why doesn’t it just work the way I want it to? rather than understanding how to get the best out of gear), but I see that more as a niggle as they learn.
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Re: RTFM

Postby CS70 » Mon Jun 17, 2019 1:52 pm

desmond wrote:It's always maddeningly frustrating when people come to me with a problem, and I troubleshoot it ... only to find they have no interest in knowing what it is, or how to fix it, they just want me to fix it for them, now.

As astonishing it may be, lots of - perhaps most - people simply want the result, with minimum effort :)

There are certainly areas where I do as well. Yes, I love all kinds of technical stuff and find learning it great fun. However, I also love the nice garden outside my house, or nice clothes, or long wool scarf.. but I have had zero interest in gardening, tailoring or knitting and don't see that changing anytime soon.

Many people who want to make music, want to make music. I'd say it's not a bad attitude. Tinkering with DAWs may be fun, but most often leads to nothing - other than infinite tinkering. While focusing on getting down you track with the shortest path between idea and result usually in something. For these people having to learn stuff to get to the objective is a frustration.

And while to get technically better you can find information, getting better creatively is all about creating, creating, creating... lots of crap for the first hundred times, until one bright day hopefully you make something that's not crap. :-)

Using our creative muscles is the only way to improve them. Anything that gets in a way is accidental, and can be fairly frustrating. Honestly if would be very glad if I could do that without having to focus on anything else. I love picking up my acoustic guitar and just play. Already when I have to use an electric, the amount of required set up (turn the amp on, find cable, plug cable, set the sound, not to mention pedals) is annoying - it slows me down creatively.

So when you help people in trouble who want the minimal info to get up and running (or just get up and running), you're simply help them exercise their creative muscles. It's at your discretion whether or not to do it of course, but to me it's all just good karma. :)
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Re: RTFM

Postby desmond » Mon Jun 17, 2019 2:26 pm

Sure, I understand that.

But "I'm stuck, tell me which button to press" doesn't actually help in the long run, because the person has no understanding of why they were stuck, or how to get out of it, and the next time they get stuck, again they will have to call for rescue with "now tell me what button to press".

If you can help, but have the person understand what happened, and what the solution is, then the next time they encounter the problem - they no longer get stuck. Learning *reduces* the barriers to creativity, whereas giving quick solutions just gets them over that one barrier at the time.

It's the old give a man a fish vs teach a man to fish, thing...

Some people just want that fish, now, and being hungry later is a problem for future them... (hopefully someone else will give them another fish) :headbang:
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Re: RTFM

Postby ConcertinaChap » Mon Jun 17, 2019 2:54 pm

One thing I do regret is the disappearance of the printed manual. My first mixer was a Yamaha MG10/2. The printed manual that came with that was superb for a total beginner. It explained about preamps and line inputs and phono inputs and effects sends and phantom power(!) and just about everything you'd need as a newby to get started*. I've never seen such a comprehensive and well written manual since and I've always been grateful for it. If more kit came with well-written printed manuals rather than hurriedly put-together PDFs that you have to download and a quick start guide that says only download the manual then I reckon we'd have taken an important step to saving the human race from itself.

Now, where did I put that quick start guide for the planet?

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* And a review in a rival mag criticised it for having a manual for newbies!
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