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All about the tools and techniques involved in capturing sound, in the studio or on location.

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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Re: RTFM

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Jun 17, 2019 3:19 pm

desmond wrote: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:

How true -- and this actually lies at the heart of why I left the BBC in the last century.

We used to teach new recruits 'to fish' -- as in we taught them how stuff worked and why it worked the way it did, and thus, how to use it effectively and efficiently. And by extension, that enabled people to figure out, connect and use unfamiliar equipment and develop new operational techniques to meet unique program demands. That all took time, of course, and initial training was typically 10-13 weeks long.

When I left in 1997, the bean counters had forced that initial training down to just 3 weeks! In that time we could just about teach people where the fish was -- as in which button to press when someone said go! But gawd help them if the button was somewhere different on a new device...

And, inevitably, what 'the suits' discovered a few years later was that the department managers really struggled to find people with sufficient skills and knowledge to be worthy of promotion.

Sorry .. it still irks me... :madas:
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Re: RTFM

Postby Arpangel » Tue Jun 18, 2019 8:47 am

I went on a course at the Beeb in the early2000's, I had to get a copy of Adobe Audition, and learn that, as it was the standard editor there then. As for hardware and recording,I found that it was assumed we knew how to operate certain gear anyway. It wasn't a formal engineering course, just a sort of extended open day (3 months) for people interested in a a broadcasting career. It was a fun way to spend that time, and I met a couple of good people, and turning up at Broadcasting House in Portland Place for work was a very emotional experience, the whole course was worth it just for that!
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Re: RTFM

Postby ef37a » Tue Jun 18, 2019 8:56 am

Way ago I have had bits published in HFNews Radio Constructor and Airgunner(!)

Then some 20 years later I found myself with a little workshop at the network s****s and one of my jobs was developing test beds to interface with a PC for testing the CATx modules.

The quality control manager was very happy with my work and tried to get me to write some Working Instructions* for the devices. "Oh no Phil" I said. "I am not up to writing stuff like that!"
Now, Phil was a very nice chap but I was not doing that for minimum wage! Even 20 yrs ago I got more than that!

*9001 certs.

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Re: RTFM

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Jun 18, 2019 9:29 am

Arpangel wrote:I went on a course at the Beeb in the early2000's, I had to get a copy of Adobe Audition, and learn that, as it was the standard editor there then.

One of the 'standard editors'.... :-)

SADiE has been the primary 'craft' audio editing platform since the mid-90s and has been engineered to integrate nicely with the VCS diraNG playout/scheduling system.

Back in the early 2000s Audition was widely used for basic hack-editing and 'top'n'tailing', and sometimes simple packages that didn't need all the bells, whistles and finesse of SADiE.

But these days that work is generally done using StarTrack which is an integral part of the VCS DiraNG suite.

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Re: RTFM

Postby CS70 » Tue Jun 18, 2019 9:37 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
desmond wrote: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:

How true -- and this actually lies at the heart of why I left the BBC in the last century.

Of course I would expect a BBC technician (or a studio engineer) to be very knowledgeable of the hows and whys. But it's not the same context as the kid that starts to make music at home.

Again, as hard it can be to understand to all of us that are engineering minded, there's lots of people who simply cannot care less of the how. They're interested only in the what. Whatever "how" they have to learn, it's a painful and irritating experience to shorten as much as possible. A necessary evil, which comes in the way of doing what they want to do. Many old studio musicians were like that - they just went there and recorded, blissfully unaware of the uber-complicated apparatus of people and machines that made that possible (some didn't of course, and ended up producing and engineering.. it's all about curiosity). Or take people and phones... most people want to call, or message.. they can't care less of the marvelous ideas of cellular networks, and if the few times that they need to, they find it annoying and a waste of time. They still want to call tough.

I understand all about fish and rod of course, I've made a good living of learning things deep and quick and putting them to use. But - as much as I like a nice garden, I'm not interested in gardening. Gardening is not hard, or impossible to learn.. but and god forbid should I ever need to do some in order to keep the garden, I'd probably ditch the garden. :-) Or simply hire someone to know the "how" on my behalf. The same, incidentally, goes for fishing: never really cared for it, and while I love eating fish, I cannot be interested in learning the first thing about fishing.

Of course the cheap digital revolution has promised to lots of people that the "how" is so simple that they can do it themselves. And while it's far simpler than it's ever been, thanks goodness is not entirely true, and skill still matters.

But it's good to remember that most people in the world are not engineers, and more importantly are not engineering minded. They all have some field where they love to learn, but technical ones, often, not so much.

So when we help them while wondering why they don't care to learn to help themselves, it pays off to remember that really that's the norm, and we are the exception.

Lots of these exceptions, I suspect, were finding places like the old BBC fascinating and great to work with..
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Re: RTFM

Postby Moroccomoose » Tue Jun 18, 2019 10:31 am

All of what you say is true and perfectly acceptable because you are prepared to buy your fish and hire your gardener. Your green fingered neighbour might well give you some tips and help you get started, but they are not going to look after the garden indefinitely.

Sorry for extending the analogy - I guess I started it with knots and shoes !! :headbang:

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Re: RTFM

Postby ConcertinaChap » Tue Jun 18, 2019 10:59 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:SADiE has been the primary 'craft' audio editing platform since the mid-90s and has been engineered to integrate nicely with the VCS diraNG playout/scheduling system.

Completely off-topic and probably only of interest to Hugh is that the company that owns VCS, Scysis (for whom I worked for 19 years) is itself now in the process of being sold to a very, very large Canadian company called CGI.

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Re: RTFM

Postby ef37a » Tue Jun 18, 2019 11:35 am

I am afraid I have to slightly disagree with the general view here that we should not expect/be surprised that people are not prepared to learn even the most basic of electrical or audio facts. My stance is that all reasoanbly intelligent adults should have basic knowledge of "the way the universe works".

Maybe it is a cultural British thing? I well recall that eight graduates on University Challenge one year did not get the starter that had the answer for UK mains suppy "50Hz alternating current" . Would the German equivalent quiz show fail that one? Some otherwise very talented people seem to take pride in professing no technical knowledge at all. Personally I would feel a bit of a tit!

The people are coming to us! All I ask is that they take a reasonably systematic aproach to their problem and when asked, look stuff up! I will be the first to admit that computer audio can be ultra, ULTRA non-intuitive but turning a knob is not solving partial differential equations (whatever they are!) .

Fishing? Went with dad once. Most boring exercise and I got bitten by a Pike! End of!

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Re: RTFM

Postby Mike Stranks » Tue Jun 18, 2019 12:00 pm

Let's be honest... many of the regular posters here are of a certain age - a high percentage retired - and within that 'certain age' profile is a large subset that know audio techy stuff either because it was their job or because they've been interested in how audio is captured and stored since they were comparatively young.

So far... I'm guilty on all counts! :D

Back in our day if you were a muso and wanted to record music you went to a studio or spoke to someone who was serious hobbyist. You told them what you wanted and they did it.

With the democratisation of audio capture in the mid/late 70s and early 80s driven by TEAC and Fostex, musos discovered they could do it for themselves. As CS70 rightly says, many of the people buying kit are not that bothered about how anything works... they just want it to work. Thus we see the oft-repeated comments about instant recording of musical ideas and not being able to wait for computers to boot and DAWs to load...

Whatever we think about it.... they're not all like us! :lol:
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Re: RTFM

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Jun 18, 2019 12:13 pm

ConcertinaChap wrote:Completely off-topic and probably only of interest to Hugh is that the company that owns VCS, Scysis (for whom I worked for 19 years) is itself now in the process of being sold to a very, very large Canadian company called CGI.

I had read about that, but I don't really have anything to do with VCS as I'm not involved in training the people that use it anymore. It's a phenomenal system though.
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