Posts Tagged ‘Cubase’

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The Top 6 New Features of Cubase 5

April 23, 2009

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The new version of Cubase has landed with some pretty impressive new features that will be interesting to both new and seasoned users alike. Let’s take a look at a few ground-breaking features the new version has to offer and see if these latest additions keep Cubase up there with the other big guns.

Step 1 – Loopmash

There are three new rhythm based devices included with Cubase 5 which hugely expand the application’s potential when it comes to constructing your own beats. Two of these instruments are drum programming tools and another is a loop manipulation plug-in.

First we’ll look at ‘Loopmash’ which is obviously the loop based instrument out of the three. Steinberg claim this is a ‘first of its kind, interactive loop synthesizer’. A quick glance at the interface will certainly confirm that Steinberg are trying to introduce a new element into Cubase.

The GUI style is similar to some of the newer instruments and plug-ins we saw introduced in Cubase 4. On loading Loopmash you are presented with eight ‘tracks’, the slots within these tracks are designed to represent slices of loops you load into them.

Loopmash

You can load loops into Loopmash in a few different ways. The instrument supports drag and drop, so samples can simply be dropped onto its interface from either the media bay, the project window or from your system’s desktop or finder. This appears to work very well and load times are quick.

Once multiple loops are loaded, Loopmash will give you an alternative take on your audio by switching different slices from various parts of each loop. Loopmash looks for slices with similar dynamic signatures and plays them in place of others. The result is a brand new groove with endless variation.

The whole thing syncs with Cubase’s master clock, so everything you do here will be locked with your project. There are a good number of presets, with audio loops included to get you started or you can use your own material if you prefer. This certainly looks promising — but is it a useful addition to Cubase or just a loop toy? You decide.

Step 2 – Groove Agent ONE

Moving on we come to ‘Groove Agent ONE’, a bit more of a traditional instrument that looks to be Steinberg’s answer to Logic’s Ultrabeat or possibly a virtual MPC. This is a drum machine with some nice editing features that loads AIF, WAV and MPC formats. Each sound loaded can be edited independently, using the device’s internal filters and other sound processing tools.

Groove Agent has a couple of really nice little tricks up its sleeve, including the ability to span samples across its pads by simply dropping grooves onto its interface. MIDI can be generated the other way too and dropped onto midi tracks in the project window.

Groove Agent ONE

Step 3 – Beat Designer

Working in conjunction with Groove Agent ONE, the new ‘Beat Designer’ is an advanced step sequencing system, allowing you to program beats in true drum machine style.

It’s pretty straightforward and transparent but definitely adds a new slant to programming your beats in Cubase. It comes with loads of preset patterns and the ability to switch between patterns easily using keys on your MIDI keyboard.

Beat Designer

Step 4 – New pitch correction and vocal tools

Most DAWs only provide pretty basic pitch correction tools as standard, if any at all. Steinberg are set to up the ante here with a couple of really tasty pitch based tools. For many this will be one of the most important updates of the lot.

One of the two pitch based updates is called ‘VariAudio’ and is going to prove extremely useful to Cubase users who work with vocals a lot. It is built right into the sample editor and allows the user to edit monophonic audio performances in a very similar way to MIDI.

Steinberg’s new VariAudio

Timing pitch and length can be easily edited by moving colored blocks. The pitch and timing of each section can be quantized as can the pitch of an entire part. Other elements such as vibrato and glide can also be transformed with a few clicks. And all this takes place with next to no artifacts, so your original audio should be left pretty much intact.

Honestly, the whole thing looks amazingly similar to the successful Melodyne products, so this may not be as ground breaking as you may think — but the fact it is built right into the audio editor is the impressive part, and this could become an essential tool for a lot of users. Now all we need is for the other DAW manufacturers to follow suit.

The second pitch based update is a new VST3 plug-in called ‘PitchCorrect’. This is not miles away from pitch correction plug-ins in other DAWs or some third party products you may already own. Saying that, it is a nice processor with a slick interface and an impressive sound. The algorithm is based on Yamaha’s ‘Pitchfix’ technology.

The new PitchCorrect plug-in

Step 5 – New Reverb Plug-in

Although the algorithm based ‘Roomworks’ plug-in was a breath of fresh air to many users, a lot of people have been in need of a high quality convolution reverb for some time. REVerence could very well be the answer to your prayers if this was on your wish-list.

REVerence boasts 70 fresh convolution impulses and realistic natural space simulation from small rooms to huge outdoor environments. This can all be done in stereo or full surround flavors. As you can see the interface is really impressive and shows a picture of the location the impulse was recorded and also gives you a read out of the waveform data.

The newly added REVerence convolution reverb

Step 6 – Automation handling and enhanced media bay

The way Cubase 5 handles automation has been updated with a new automation control panel. This allows intricate control over every aspect of your automation recordings and allows the user to lock certain parameters from being changed. This should prove to be very useful when dealing with high track counts.

The new automation panel makes it easy to home in specific automated parameters

The MediaBay section of Cubase also gets a boost with improvements to its search filter, write protection system and the way search results are displayed.

These are just some of the key elements that have been updated and there are a huge number of other improvements in Cubase 5. Some other interesting things to mention are the upcoming 64 bit version of the application for OS X, and support for Vista’s new WASAPI super low-latency audio driver technology. All of these things should certainly make Cubase 5 a contender for one of the best DAWs of 2009.

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Cubase 5 Features Workshop with Steinberg Part 1

April 8, 2009
Visual Cubase 5

Cubase 5 – Advanced Music Production System

Dolphin Music recently had the opportunity of hosting the Cubase 5 tour. This evening offered  a one off workshop demonstrating the new advanced features of Cubase. Held in the sumptuous surroundings of the Leaf Cafe, Liverpool, we were one of the first to hear of all the exciting new additions to the worlds already most renowned sequencer.

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Cubase 5 comes with fully integrated new tools for working with loops, beats and vocals, such as LoopMash and VariAudio, combining with new composition features and the first VST3 convolution reverb to take musical creativity to new heights. With stunning innovations and additional enhancements that boost productivity and performance, Cubase 5 represents the absolute cutting edge in digital audio workstations.

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New Features in Cubase 5

Cubase 5 adds even more creative possibilities and new technologies to the world’s premier music production software developed by Steinberg — providing the finest tools to producers, composers and musicians in any musical genre. VariAudio and PitchCorrect provide integrated intonation editing for monophonic vocal recordings. Groove Agent ONE and Beat Designer change the game for beat creation, while the revolutionary LoopMash seamlessly blends loops, creating unimaginable variations. VST Expression tools for composers combine with the first VST3 convolution reverb and improved automation for more dynamic mixes. And an array of additional enhancements and 64-bit technologies boost performance — all designed to inspire further musical creativity and productivity.

Beat Creation and Loop Mangling

Cubase 5 features outstanding new tools for creating beats, generating exciting new rhythms and working with loops.

Vocal Editing and Pitch Correction

Cubase 5 comes with an amazing new toolset for perhaps the most important element in any song: the vocals.

New Dimensions for Your Mix

Cubase 5 has numerous new features that will help you bring new depth to your mix — in more ways than one.

Express Creative Visions

With Cubase 5, Steinberg has innovated even further to offer even more creative compositional tools.

Next-Generation Performance and Faster Workflow

Cubase 5 also includes an array of additional new ways of working faster, with added performance that takes advantage of new technologies.

Further Improvements and Added Value

Cubase 5 comes with redesigned and enhanced features plus many new handy tools and functions, making Cubase even more intuitive to use than ever before.

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So you wanna carrer as a record producer ??

January 23, 2009

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Often glamorised,  seldon understood. The modern day music producer can be a man/woman wearing  many hats, most of which usually not music! The great Quincy Jones was a said to be on the phone more than on the console!

In the music industry, a record producer has many roles, among them controlling the recording sessions, coaching and guiding the musicians, organizing and scheduling production budget and resources, and supervising the recording, mixing and mastering processes. This has been a major function of producers since the inception of sound recording, but in the later half of the 20th century producers also took on a wider entrepreneurial role.

The music producer could, in some cases, be compared to the film director in that the producer’s job is to create, shape and mold a piece of music in accordance with their vision for the album. Unlike in film, the music producer is seldom responsible for raising the funds to create the record – more like the film director, the record producer is hired by those who have already obtained funding (typically record or publishing companies, though occasionally the artists themselves).

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Producers now typically carried out most or all of these various tasks themselves, including selecting and arranging songs, overseeing sessions (and often engineering the recordings) and even writing the material. Independent music production companies rapidly gained a significant foothold in popular music and soon became the main intermediary between artist and record label, signing new artists to production contracts, producing the recordings and then licensing the finished product to record labels for pressing, promotion and sale. (This was a novel innovation in the popular music field, although a broadly similar system had long been in place in many countries for the production of content for broadcast radio.) The classic example of this transition is renowned British producer George Martin, who worked as a staff producer and A&R manager at EMI for many years, before branching out on his own and becoming a highly successful independent producer.

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As a result of these changes, record producers began to exert a strong influence, not only on individual careers, but on the course of popular music. A key example of this is of Phil Spector who defined the gap between Elvis and the Beatles (1958–1964) with such acts as The Ronettes, The Crystals, Darlene Love, The Righteous Brothers and The Paris Sisters. Spector’s Wall of Sound production technique also persisted after that time with his select recordings of The Beatles, The Ramones, Leonard Cohen, George Harrison, Dion and Ike and Tina Turner.

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Modern Day Production

In modern digital music, it is possible for the producer to be the only person involved in the creation of a musical recording. The said producer is entirely responsible for writing, performing, recording and arranging the material. The existence of such producers is, in some ways, challenging the role of the traditional recording studio in that feasibly, an entire album can be created and recorded from the producers home studio. .This change has been partially due to the increase of inexpensive yet powerful music production software (such as Ableton Live, ProTools, Digital Performer, Logic, Cubase and Sonar), which allows for entire tracks to be composed, arranged and recorded on a single computer, allowing the roles traditionally carried out by a team of people to be performed by one individual. With the advent of portable recording equipment, live album production has become much more cost-effective than in the past. Also with the new innovation with MIDI technology the world isn’t so bland after all. This has resulted in countless live music recordings.

With the advent of the computer web applications like Facebook, YouTube and MySpace, record producers can now serve in very non-traditional roles, using “social networking.” They can produce music via the internet by having their clients email .mp3 or .wav files to them. In this way the producer can be located in a different geographic location and still accomplish their goal.

Producer  can be classed into  several catogories:

• MUSICIAN PRODUCER
As long as you can communicate effectively and have a basic awareness of what the studio equipment can do, you don’t actually need any technical knowledge at all to produce a record. This point is more easily understood if you think of the director of a TV commercial. He will be very visually aware, and will know what can be achieved with telecine and digital video effects. He cannot be expected to be a technical expert, but as long as he can communicate clearly with the telecine operator and digital artists, the result can be visually amazing. So, the musician producer needs to know what can be achieved in the studio, but someone else will be pushing the faders. A musician is obviously in a much better position than an engineer to know how to put together a piece of music for a recording from scratch, but the one thing that successful producers from either field have in common is that they have a clear image in their mind of the importance of the final product.

• EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
As well as the engineer producer and musician producer there is a third type, which I shall call the executive producer. The executive producer doesn’t know anything about engineering or about music, but knows the right people with the necessary technical and musical skills to handle all the elements of production, and most importantly, knows when something sounds right. Executive producers don’t need to be present all the time in the studio, they just need to hear work in progress occasionally. Their instinct will tell them whether the product is marketable or not. DJ’s often find their way into production along this route as they are in an ideal position to know what will, or will not please an audience. The difference between something that sells and something that ends up on a cut price market stall may be incredibly small, but the DJ will usually be able to tell.

• FREELANCE PRODUCER
Any type of producer may work as a freelance producer. In this situation, a record company might have signed a band or act and be scouting round for someone to co-ordinate them in the studio. Obviously, all the producers know the record company A&R people, and the A&R people know who the key producers are. Matching an act with a producer is an important A&R skill. Sometimes the decision will be made on a ‘flavour of the month’ basis. If a producer has had a series of successful records, then he may be seen as being on a roll and the next production will be a big seller too. The act and the producer must also be compatible in some way, though. Perhaps they will share the same musical vision and have a deep understanding of the style of music in which they work. They may get along well together because they are musically in tune, or the band could be wilful and potentially difficult to work with. The producer must be capable of exercising a degree of control to shape the band into something that will work on CD as well as it does on stage. Maybe an older and more experienced producer will have more respect in the band’s eyes, or maybe they need someone who is able to share their vision and will simply smooth over the rough edges. The freelance producer will be paid by the record company (who will get that money back from the band’s share of the eventual profits), and he is then free to go on to work for another record company.

• ENTREPRENEUR PRODUCER
‘Entrepreneur producer’ is a title I have invented to cover the type of producer who initiates a project and then sells it to a record company in the form of an act with writing, recording and management already in place, or as a partly developed idea working towards the same end. Either way, the producer will be at the top of the food chain and will receive the lion’s share of the rewards. The project could be a band in which the producer takes the roles of songwriter and musician, with a front man or woman to handle the vocals and provide a focus for the marketing machine to work on. Alternatively, the producer might be an engineer or musician who takes on the role of A&R scout and looks for a band or singer to work with. There will probably be a certain amount of investment involved, since the band will need studio time and promotional material. The entrepreneur producer will need to be able to promise the band or singer the earth, and give the impression that he is capable of delivering it. A track record of success will of course help! One of the advantages of working in this way is in the payoff. Not only is the entrepreneur producer entitled to a larger slice of the financial cake, he is also in control of an ongoing project, rather than staggering from one to another.

Source:

http://www.audiomasterclass.com/arc.cfm?a=what-is-a-record-producer-do-you-really-want-to-become-one

http://www.soundonsound.com

ref:

Hewitt, Michael. Music Theory for Computer Musicians.
Moorefield, Virgil (2005). The Producer as Composer .Shaping the Sounds of Popular Music

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Artist Profile: Deadmau5

January 9, 2009

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If you are Joel Zimmerman, aka Deadmau5, your very own giant-eyes-strobing Mau5head is just one sign of your increasing popularity and power. The 28-year-old Toronto native wields the Mau5head like some Daft Punk genetic mutation, but his music is anything but derivative. Deadmau5′s second artist release, Random Album Title (Ultra, 2008), confirms Zimmerman’s growing rep (as if his numerous Top-10 singles and globe-hopping club schedule didn’t) as a shape-shifter of enormous melodic progressive trance skill.

Mystery Achievments

“I am big fan of mystery pedals,” Zimmerman says from a San Francisco hotel at the start his latest world tour. “I like those gray tin boxes with knobs, and you don’t know who made it or where it came from. I find them in these shops in Toronto where they sell these strange pedals. You just feed something in, and it comes out sounding a lot different.”

Soft synths be damned, Zimmer-man uses a combination of Minimoog Voyager, Moog Little Phatty, Minimoog, Roland Juno-106 (“the chorus is crazy”), Sequential Circuits Prophet T8 and “a cool German one called ‘MSB synth.’”

“I am hard-pressed to listen to any piece of music and know exactly what they are using unless it is obvious presets, which does happen a lot in electronic music,” Zimmerman muses. “But the whole thing with analog versus soft synth sounds: You can totally synthesize everything and have it sound different depending on how you process it. I’ve spent money getting a sound that was probably very achievable by doing something else, but I like a knob in my hand. Not so much the mouse and drawing. The filter sweeps and the crazy synth rises in my music — it’s all handcrafted. I turn the knob. You can hear the mistakes. They’re not mistakes, but you will hear it dip and rise accidentally if I wiggle my hand.”

Those wiggles can be heard in “Sometimes Things Get, Whatever.” After a breakdown, an ugly Moog Voyager line rises like a grinning, ghoulish monster. “You can’t get that by drawing a line from zero to 127 in Ableton,” Zimmerman declares. “It’ll just be perfect. I like using hardware and mystery pedals and crazy LFOs that aren’t bang-on synced with the application. A lot of my LFOs I guessed at or got it as close as I could and cut it later.”
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The Maus and the Moogfooger
Moogerfoogers — all of them — figure prominently in the Deadmau5 aesthetic. As with his Moogs, Mau5head and Monome 256, Deadmau5 refuses to leave anything alone, befitting his early years as a programmer.

“I have three MF-107 FreqBoxes and doubles of other Moogerfoogers for stereo,” Zimmerman says. “The 107 is an FM modulator that takes in a carrier or outputs an oscillator. It’s really neat. The idea with the Moogerfoogers was to build a modular system, so you could spend two hours wiring to get one sound, but you can never get it back. The only way to save a preset is take a photo. But it is nice to make one feature sound for the whole track. The sound in ‘Hi Friend’ is that, a chirp, or noise on every upbeat. That was the result of me mucking around with the Moogerfooger and running an oscillator through another synth through it. It’s a great sound.”

Deadmau5 uses multiple sequencers, including Ableton Live, Propellerhead Reason, Steinberg Cubase and FL Studio. D.I.Y. seems to be the Mau5-mantra, using whatever works to make his music unique. “I use Fruity Loops ’cause it’s really quick for some things,” he explains. “The piano roll is so fast, and drawing in notes in Ableton or Cubase seems like such a chore by comparison to FL Studio. I use Reason for its effects and embedded instruments because they don’t support VST, but I ReWire it if I want to use the Thor or Subtractor synths. They’re just extra toys to throw in the mix and make little clips that you can add to your production.”
DEADMAU5 LIVE

Speaking of toys, the Mau5head is yet another element in the Deadmau5 arsenal; it lets the naturally shy Zimmerman hide out incognito. Of course, the Mau5head’s strobing eyes are the result of tinkering.

“There is a guy named Bert Schiettecatte who founded Percussa ( article coming soon on these), a music hardware and software company whose first product is AudioCubes,” he explains. “The cubes by themselves interact with each other and trigger different clips or patterns via proximity or color, and there are a couple of LEDs inside. I had the wiseass idea to buy a couple cubes, rip them apart and use the LEDs in the chipset and put them in the eyes of the Mau5head. My head is USB powered, which is perfect. I do light sequences that are in time with the music. They are controllable through MIDI, so I just chose different sequences from the [JazzMutant] Lemur to tell Live to send MIDI to the AudioCubes that light up in my head. They match the music; I write little clips that match the song.”

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In similar deconstruction fashion, Deadmau5 uses a Monome 256 as a controller to do everything from creating beats to executing manic melodies. The Monome 256 ships sans manual, diagram or instructions of any sort — all the better for the enterprising Mau5 among us.

“You have to make it work for you,” Zimmerman says. “You can’t just take it out of the box and go to town on presets. But you treat it like any other device that triggers another application. Basically, you freestyle and hammer away at any of the 256 buttons to trigger a sound like a drum kit into Ableton Live. But for the techno, you will want to have that sequence in a way that things get quantized and maybe have an LED row scroll back and forth and do a certain sequence of sounds, perhaps over a bar in a loop, and you want to be able to use other keys to modify that loop to have it play in reverse order or random order or whatever. It all comes with the development of custom VST software that communicates to the device before the device communicates to Ableton Live to trigger these sounds. So my partner in crime, Steve Duda, has come up with Molar; it’s a VST port of a Max/MSP replacement for the Monome 256 for Ableton Live. It lets you re-chop, re-sequence, re-slice a wave loop or trigger one-shots or send MIDI notes. You would never rig it up the same way twice, which is fun.”

The Mau5 Muses
Where does a successful Mau5 go from here? Zimmerman has plans to further alter his live DJ experience, and his ongoing collaborations with WTF? and BSOD (with Steve Duda) keep his head spinning. Otherwise, Zimmerman’s diet of Coke Classic (one case per track) should keep him energized enough to do battle with any DJ foe or Energizer Bunny.

“I’ve got the world’s only MIDI-controllable mouse head, so that’s cool,” he says with a laugh. “I want to start including more cool gear that interacts with the sound and the audience. But as far as defining my sound or popularity, maybe it’s the head. I don’t know what it is. I don’t want to look a gift mouse in the mouth.”

‘Random’ album equipment
Computers, DAW/recording software

Ableton Live software

(2) Apple MacBook Pro

Custom PC: Quad Core 3.2 gig Intel CPU, Alesis motherboard, 5 TB hard drive

FL Studio software

Steinberg Cubase software
Synths, software, plug-ins

Moog Little Phatty, Minimoog and Minimoog Voyager synths

Native Instruments Reaktor, Kontakt, Battery and Traktor software

Propellerhead Reason Thor and Subtractor soft synths

Roland Juno-106 synth

Sequential Circuits Prophet T8 synth
Effects

Moog Moogerfoogers: MF-101 Low Pass Filter, MF-102 Ring Modulator, MF-103 12-Stage Phaser, MF-104Z Analog Delay, MF-105 MuRF, MF-107 FreqBox, CP-251 Control Processor
Controllers, DJ mixer

Allen & Heath Xone: 4D DJ Mixer and Controller

JazzMutant Lemur

Monome 256

Percussa AudioCubes

Pioneer DJM-800 DJ mixer

Monitors
Genelec 8050As

Source: Remix

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Multi core PC’s for musicians. Do we need them?

December 23, 2008

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Some music applications will completely fail to take advantage of the multiple cores of a modern CPU – but which ones, and why? We find out, and advise on how you can make best use of however many cores your PC has.

Over the last couple of years, the PC musician has been offered first dual-core processors, then quad-core models, and octo-core machines (currently featuring two quad-core processors) are now available for those with deep enough pockets. Competitive pricing has already ensured a healthy take-up of DAWs based around a quad-core CPU, yet many users haven’t cottoned onto the fact that not all software benefits from all these cores. Some existing software may only be able to use two of them, reducing potential performance by a huge 50 percent, while older software may only be able to utilise a single core, reducing potential performance to just 25 percent of the total available. This month PC Musician investigates which audio software works with dual-core, quad-core PCs and beyond, what benefits you’re likely to get in practice over a single-core machine, and which software may for ever languish in the doldrums.

A Brief History

In the days when most musicians ran Windows 95, 98 or ME, the question of running multiple processors didn’t arise, because none of these operating systems supported more than a single CPU. It was Windows NT and then Windows 2000 that introduced us to the benefits of being able to share the processing load between multiple CPUs: Windows 2000 Professional supported one or two processor chips, while the more expensive Server version supported up to four, and the Advanced Server up to eight. However, at this early stage each processor was a physically separate device, so to be able to (for instance) use twin processors, you needed a specially designed motherboard with two CPU sockets. Many audio developers and interface manufacturers didn’t actively support Windows 2000, so most musicians stuck with Windows 98.

In 2001, Microsoft released Windows XP in Home and Professional versions, and once again most consumers who opted for the Home version were limited to a single physical processor, although the Professional version supported two. By this stage many musicians were straining at the leash, wanting to run more and more plug-ins and software instruments, and this Professional version let them do exactly that, using dual-processor motherboards and twin Xeon or Pentium 4 processors.
When you’re running stereo audio editors (such as Wavelab 6, shown here) and stand-alone soft synths or samplers, and even in most multitrack sequencers when you’re only running a single track, only one core of a multi-core CPU will be heavily used, although any others available may help with disk access, the user interface and other applications that are running simultaneously.

Multi-processing options really opened up the following year, when Intel introduced first Xeon and then Pentium 4C processor ranges with Hyperthreading technology, which let these CPUs appear to both Windows XP Home and Professional (or Linux 2.4x) as two ‘virtual’ processors instead of one physical one. They each shared the various internal ‘sub-units’, including the all-important FPU (Floating Point Unit), but could run two separate processing ‘threads’ simultaneously.

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Intel claimed up to a 30 percent improvement with specially written applications over a standard processor, but as many musicians soon found, having a Hyperthreaded processor didn’t necessarily benefit them at all unless they were running several applications simultaneously, since applications like MIDI + Audio sequencers had to be rewritten to take advantage of Hyperthreading. Steinberg’s Nuendo 2 was one of the few music apps to support it, but although various others followed, a few (such as Tascam’s Gigastudio) needed a major rewrite before they would even run with HT enabled. Nevertheless, my own tests (published in PC Notes June 2004) showed that with optimised audio applications such as Cubase SX2 you could expect a significant drop in CPU overheads where it really mattered, at low latencies of 3ms or under.

The biggest change came in late 2004, when both AMD and Intel seemed to agree that processor clock speeds had reached a ceiling. Intel abandoned plans to release a 4GHz model in their Prescott CPU range, and in 2005 both companies largely switched to releasing dual-core models. Unlike the twin virtual processors of Intel’s Hyperthreading range, these featured two separate processing chips mounted inside one physical package. By placing two processor cores into a single piece of silicon, manufacturers could provide significantly faster performance than a single processor, even when under-clocking them and running them at lower voltages, so that they didn’t run hotter than the single-core variety.

By late 2006 we had been introduced to quad-core processors, which have now dropped in price and can even be run with Windows XP Home (which is licensed to run a single physical processor, however many cores it has inside). However, if running XP Professional (and the x64 64-bit version), Vista Home Premium, Business, Enterprise or Vista Ultimate you also gain the option of installing two quad-core processors on a suitable motherboard, to provide a total of eight processing cores. Unfortunately, as with so many new hardware advancements, much software has had a long way to catch up before it could take advantage of so many cores.

When you’re using a PC with multiple processors of whatever type, to gain any significant performance benefit the software you run has to be specially written or adapted with multiple processors in mind.(hense the importance of updates and so forth) The way multi-processing works is that applications are divided into ‘threads’ (semi-independent processes that can be run in parallel). Even with a single processor there are huge advantages in this programming approach. Many applications use multiple threads to enable multi-tasking, so that one task can carry on while another is started; and when multiple processors are available, different threads can be allocated to each CPU.

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Reaper’s Justin Frankel told me that he routinely does a lot of his development on a dual quad-core Xeon PC, so it’s hardly surprising that the default Reaper settings work well with up to eight-core machines, typically offering over 95 percent utilisation of all eight cores. Reaper mostly uses ‘Anticipatory FX processing’ that runs at irregular intervals, often out of order, and slightly ahead of time. Apparently, there are very few times when the cores need to synchronise with each other, and using this scheme he can let them all crank away using nearly all of the available CPU power. Exceptions include record input monitoring, and apparently when running UAD1 DSP cards, which both prefer a more classic  ‘Synchronous FX multi-processing’ scheme.
Steinberg’s Cubase SX, Cubase 4 and Nuendo all work decently on quad-core systems, scaling up well from single to dual-core and quad-core PCs. However, Cubase 4 and Nuendo 4 don’t currently provide all the benefits they could at low latency with a dual quad-core system. Compared with the potential doubling of plug-in numbers from dual to quad, when you move to ‘octo’ you may only be able to run about 40 percent more plug-ins down to buffer sizes of 128 samples, while below this you may even get worse performance than a quad-core system.

Steinberg developers have already acknowledged the problem, which is apparently due to “a serialisation of the ASIO driver, which eats up to 40 percent of the processing time. Together with the other synchronisation delays, only 25 to 30 percent of the 1.5-millisecond time-slice can be used for processing. This is not very efficient.” Steinberg have promised to address the issue in a Nuendo 4 maintenance update, and have hinted that it may also result in changes to the ASIO specification.

Cakewalk’s Sonar does seem to scale well, sometimes giving a better percentage improvement when moving from a quad-core to an octo-core PC than the current version of Nuendo/Cubase 4, but the jury still seems to be out on whether choosing ASIO or WDM/KS drivers gives better results; with some systems ASIO is a clear winner, while in others WDM/KS drivers move significantly ahead.

Digidesign have a reputation for being slow but thorough when testing out new hardware to add to their ‘approved list’, and as I write this in early November 2007 their web site states that Intel Core 2 Quad processors and Intel Xeon quad-core have not been tested by Digidesign on Windows for any Pro Tools system.

dualmonitors

Nevertheless, Pro Tools HD/TDM users started posting recommendations for rock-solid systems featuring twin dual-core Opteron processors (four CPU cores in all) in mid-2006, and there are now loads of Pro Tools LE users successfully running both quad-core and even a few octo-core PCs in advance of any official pronouncements (there’s lots of specific recommendations on both quad-core and octo-core PC components in a vast 126-page thread on the Digi User Conference at http://duc.digidesign.com/showflat.php?Cat=&Number=988224). Despite the lack of official ‘qualification’, all Pro Tools systems seem to scale well on quad-cores, happily running all four cores up to 100 percent utilisation, and many users are very pleased with their quad-core ‘native’ CPU performance.

Like various other audio applications, even the latest Mac version of Logic Audio doesn’t yet fully benefit from having eight processor cores at its disposal, but for die-hard PC users of Logic the situation is rather more serious: Apple discontinued development and support for those using Logic on the PC back in 2002, so most recent version (5.5.1) is now some five years old. Although it’s a multi-threaded application, Logic 5.5.1 for Windows is not really optimised for multiple processors, so only one of the cores is likely to get much of a workout. However, there’s a partial workaround, using the I/O Helper plug-in available from Logic version 5.2 onwards, which can force any plug-ins on a track with it inserted to run on a second core, so that you can use lots more plug-ins/instruments overall (there’s a more detailed description on Universal Audio’s web site at http://www.uaudio.com/webzine/2003/may/index5.html). Logic Audio 5.5.1 also has a problem if more than 1GB of system RAM is installed (see http://community.sonikmatter.com/forums/lofiversion/index.php/t8032.html for some suggestions on this one), and also has problems running some VST plug-ins. It’s unlikely to benefit from a quad-core processor at all, and I wouldn’t recommend running it on a new quad-core PC, so its shelf-life is looking increasingly limited.

Further reading:

XP Tweaks For Music (www.soundonsound.com/sos/sep06/articles/pcmusician_0906.htm)
Advanced PC Silencing (www.soundonsound.com/sos/apr06/articles/pcmusician_0406.htm)
Partitioning Your Music PC Hard Drive (www.soundonsound.com/sos/may05/articles/pcmusician.htm)
Updating PC Hard Drives: The SOS Guide (www.soundonsound.com/sos/feb05/articles/pcmusician.htm)
PC Silencing & Cooling (www.soundonsound.com/sos/dec04/articles/pcmusician.htm)
Estimating PSU wattage: PC Notes May 2004 (www.soundonsound.com/sos/may04/articles/pcnotes.htm)
Installing A New PC Motherboard: The SOS Guide (www.soundonsound.com/sos/dec03/articles/pcmusician.htm)

Source:
Martin Walker

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jan08/articles/pcmusician_0108.htm

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Music Recording Software – Sequencers, 5 of the Best

November 12, 2008

A music sequencer (also MIDI sequencer or just sequencer) is software or hardware designed to create and manage computer-generated music. In other words its plays back a musical ‘Sequence’ that you the user has defined.

Although the term ‘sequencer’ is today used primarily for software, some hardware synthesizers and almost all music workstations include a built-in MIDI sequencer. Drum machines generally have a step sequencer built in. There are still also standalone hardware MIDI sequencers, though the market demand for those has diminished greatly in the last ten years.

This article is focusing on the software side of the fence, here is is our 5 best and most popular software sequencers.

ab-7

Ableton LIVE 7 

A very powerful program ideal for live applications and ‘real time’ manipulation.- One of the fastest growing programs we have.

Ableton Live 7 is your companion during every stage of the musical process, from creation to production to performance.
The Live Concept

Live offers two main views—the Session View and the Arrangement View—that interact in a powerful and unique way, allowing you to create, produce and perform your music all in a single application. Here is the principle behind each view:

Session View

Live’s unique Session View acts as a powerful musical sketch and launch pad, allowing you to try out new ideas easily and improvise freely. Each cell in the Session View grid can hold a recording, MIDI file, or any other musical idea. These ideas can be recorded on the fly or dragged in from the Browser and played in any order and at any time you wish.

 

Arrangement View

The Arrangement View offers a timeline-based approach for traditional multitrack recording, MIDI sequencing and other music production tasks. You can even improvise in the Session View, and all of your actions will be recorded into the Arrangement View, where they can be edited whenever you like.

sequel-screen-shot2

Steinberg Sequel 2

Steinberg’s entry level sequencer arms you with alot of tools to make music very fast.- A rethink of a classic format

Sequel turns you into a producer, and gives you your own fully-loaded music studio. You need HipHop beats for your latest track? Or want to surprise your friends at your next party with your own electro live-set? Sequel gives you everything you need to produce pro-quality tracks at home, on a plane, in the rehearsal room or even live at a club.

And best of all, Sequel is so easy to use that you can get creating your own music straight away.

Want to get them bangin’ their heads to NuMetal or chill out to Ambient? Produce your own tracks in any ‘now’ musical style with over 5000 outstanding loops and over 600 instruments. Just a few minutes will see you creating your own songs, even if you can’t play an instrument or don’t have any musical knowledge at all. Because Sequel stays in the right key automatically, and never gets thrown out of rhythm, leaving you to get creative with your own music.

More than 5000 Loops (2000 instrument loops, 3000 audio loops)
More than 600 instrument presets
More than 50 audio track presets
More than 150 effects presets

Recording format: Stereo WAV16-bit or 24-bit with 44.1 kHz sampling rate (CD quality)
Supported file formats (import, drag & drop): WAV, AIFF, MP3, WMA, WMA Pro, OggVorbis, Standard MIDI file (SMF)
Export: WAV, AIFC, AIFF, WAV64, OggVorbis
Export project to iTunes: one-step mixdown/export function opens iTunes with new track in destination format (iTunes converter, including MP3, AAC, and Apple Lossless)

acid-studio-7

Sony Media ACID Music Studio 7 

ACID Music Studio is by far one of the easiest sequencers to get used to, ideal for beatmatching and remix’s as well as traditional multtracking, it also is one of our most affordable entry level sequencers. – Highly underrated program capable of things programs 10 times the price can do!!

 If you’re serious about making your own music, ACID Music Studio software is the perfect tool for original song creation, multitrack audio and MIDI recording, and studio-quality mixing, and effects processing. Share your songs any way you want — burn your own CDs, upload to the web, prepare audio for podcasts, or export to your MP3 player. With built-in tutorials to guide you, you’ll be composing, mixing, and mastering like a pro in no time.

Your Music Studio

Easy Live Recording – Record vocals, guitars, keyboards, and other instruments with ACID Music Studio software. It’s easy – simply plug your microphone or instrument into your PC sound card and click Record to capture audio and MIDI.
Powerful Mixing – 3,000 ACIDized music loops, 1,000 MIDI files, built-in effects, and other tools. You can also import your own songs and MP3 files for beat-matching and mixing.
Share Anywhere – Burn your own music CDs, save the songs you create to popular formats for uploading to websites such as ACIDplanet.com, prepare audio for podcasts, or convert songs to MP3 format for playback on your portable music player.
Easy to Use and Learn – Even if you’ve never written a song or played an instrument, you can use ACID® Music Studio software to create original music, produce DJ-style remixes, add soundtracks to videos, and burn professional-quality CDs.

cubase-4

Steinberg Cubase Studio 4  

If you ask anyone what a sequencer is they usually mention ‘Cubase’ first.  Cubase Sudio 4 is a scaled down version giving you all the same features of the full version of Cubase without the studio based  ‘bussing’ architechture. If that statement means nothing to you, you will not be needing them!

Cubase Studio 4 is the perfect music creation and production system for composers and producers. It comes with a brand-new VST3 plug-in set, integrated virtual instruments providing more than 600 sounds, and professional notation. The unique SoundFrame™ Universal Sound Manager organizes all your sounds from every instrument in your studio.

Top-10 New Features

SoundFrame™ – Universal Sound Manager 
21 All-New VST3 Audio Effects Plug-ins 
Built-in synth engine with hundreds of sounds 
Professional score editing, layout and printing 
Extended VST mixer 
MediaBay 
Instrument Tracks 
Track Presets 
User Interface Redesign 
Drag & Drop for Insert FX

reason-4

Propellerhead Reason 4

Reason is the exception to these 5 sequencers, ie this is not for audio recording. This ONLY records (MIDI) information and is played back through one of the most impressive sampled sound banks on the planet. You want excellent pianos? Reason has them. You want vintage synthesizers?…Check!  You want loops? Reason has it all.

Making music should be as easy as powering up a computer, loading up a powerful piece of music software, and getting down to business. And it is. Reason version 4 is a virtual studio rack with all the tools and instruments you need to turn your ideas into music. And it’s more than just a set of excellent synths and effects. It’s a complete music system. Step into the age of Reason.

Synthesizers, samplers, drum machine, REX file loop player, professional mastering tools, mixer, vocoder, world class effects, pattern sequencer and more. As many of each as your computer can handle. Reason is an infinitely expandable all-in-one music production environment, complete with its own realtime sequencer.

Use Reason the way you want to:

As a self-contained synth studio system – Everything you need is there, including a fast and flexible sequencer with powerful, dedicated event editors for each type of device.
As a sub-system synchronized to your audio sequencer – Process Reason’s audio output with plug-in effects and mix it with your hard disk tracks. With Reason in ReWire mode, its instruments are automatically patched into the mixer in any other ReWire compatible application. Seamless integration.
As a Workstation synth – Easily load up complex performance patches – instruments pre-routed through effects – in one single click. Perfect for live gigs and performances.
System requirements

 

Other commercial sequencers

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Steinberg CC121 Controller & MR816 Interfaces

October 28, 2008

Dolphin Music has now in stock the new Steinberg CC121 Advanced Integration Controller and the MR816 CSX and MR816 X Advanced Integration DSP Studio FireWire Audio Interfaces. Outstanding products for great prices, available NOW!

CC121

Engineered specifically for the thousands of production environments using Cubase worldwide, CC121
interfaces the creativity of musicians and producers with the functional complexity of the world’s most popular music production system.

Built to an extremely high manufacturing and component standard, CC121 provides totally integrated tactile control of all parameters within Cubase, with a unique design architecture that keeps you 100% focused on your Cubase project.

For more details, visit the CC121 product page.

 


 

MR816 CSX

The Steinberg MR816 CSX Advanced Integration DSP Studio is a fully-featured FireWire interface with inbuilt DSP FX power with next-generation integrative technologies

Developed by Steinberg and Yamaha, the Steinberg MR816 CSX Advanced Integration DSP Studio is the hardware centerpiece of a latency-free recording and monitoring environment that fully exploits the flexibility and power of Steinberg’s renowned Cubase Music Production System.

Running with Cubase, the MR816 CSX removes any need for additional mixing software between DAW and I/O – all aspects of I/O handling, DSP management and independent performer mixes are handled directly from within Cubase itself. 

For more details, visit the MR816 CSX product page. 



 

MR816 X

The Steinberg MR816 X Advanced Integration DSP Studio fuses a fully-featured FireWire interface and inbuilt DSP reverb with next-generation integrative technologies into one breathtakingly powerful production environment.

Developed by Steinberg and Yamaha, the Steinberg MR816 X Advanced Integration DSP Studio is the hardware centerpiece of a latency-free recording and monitoring environment that fully exploits the flexibility and power of Steinberg’s renowned Cubase Music Production System.

Running with Cubase, MR816 X removes any need for additional mixing software between DAW and I/O – all aspects of I/O handling, DSP management and independent performer mixes are handled directly from within Cubase itself. With the unique True Integrated Monitoring technology, Cubase manages all audio streams with perfect sync.

For more info, visit the MR816 X product page.

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