Posts Tagged ‘Sonar’

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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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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.

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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