Posts Tagged ‘Steinberg’

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Soundcard Buying Guide

October 21, 2009

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We understand that the Soundcard market can be a little daunting if you don’t know exactly what you are looking for. With various connection methods such as USB, Firewire, and PCI it is difficult to find the one for you.

This guide should give you an overview of the world of soundcards and hopefully help you someway in choosing the right one for you. Please remember that you can always call us if you ever need help or advice on 0844 815 0888.

The difference you find with soundcards to mixers is that where as a mixer will just take an analogue signal and keep it as analogue. A soundcard converts the analogue to digital. The price of soundcards can sometimes be determined by the quality of the AD converters and mic pre amps. For example the quality of the RME AD converters is better then the ones found on the M Audio soundcard range, although how much better is negotiable.

Tascam US122 M

Will the soundcard on my computer not suffice?

Whenever a customer questions this at Dolphin our response is always to let them try it out first with the onboard soundcard. There is no better way of learning how much of a difference good AD converters can be then to use really bad ones. The onboard soundcard (or internal soundcard) is installed for alert sounds, games and MP3s but when it comes to recording audio and transferring to digital you really do need a better soundcard. Interference from the transformer, hard drive and so on will always inhibit the quality

On board soundcards don’t offer multiple inputs which rules out any larger scale recording of bands or primarily drums. They also suffer from large amounts of latency (glitches in the audio recording) which you will need to overcome via getting a better soundcard. This latency is caused by the onboard drivers not being capable of fast transfer speeds. You really need something with ASIO 2 drivers, which most external soundcards support

 Saffire Pro 24

Focusrite Saffire Pro 24

How Many Inputs and Outputs do I need?

In today’s market there is a soundcard for everybody. We always ask customers to think into the future. Will there ever be a time that you will want to record more than two inputs simultaneously. This might be drums, a live recording, a band or the fact that they will have many instruments and don’t want to keep plugging and unplugging cables. If the answer is yes then we recommend 8 inputs. Unless you have a specific reason we would recommend that you have all 8 inputs via XLR and mic pre amps. You may not want this if you are using your own Pre Amps or you specifically need jacks.

 ProFire 2626 High-Definition FireWire Audio Interface

M-Audio ProFire 2626 High-Definition FireWire Audio Interface

If your music work will mainly be you and overdubbing other parts later, you can work happily with one or two inputs which is how a large amount of souncards are designed. Many people realise that they only need two inputs and if that is the case there are many options for you. Solutions range from just a small box that you connect to your computer, MIDI keyboards with soundcards built in (for the musician on the move) to guitar FX modeling solutions that you can connect straight to your computer. More and more manufacturers are seeing the need for combining an audio recording solution with their products.

 POD Studio UX2 Pro Tone Recording & Modelling Interface

Do I need a special Soundcard to use Pro Tools?

In a nutshell “Yes”. DigiDesign software will only work with Digi Design hardware. They obviously do very expensive HD systems for the medium to large studios, but they also have a more budget range of audio recording solutions. They have the Digi 002 and rack version for someone who wants 8 simultaneous inputs into ProTools. Anyone just wanting 2 inputs they have the ever popular MBOX and new MBOX Pro.

Digi Design MBox 2

Digi Design has recently bought M Audio, a smaller company that specialises in soundcards. Since doing this they have allowed users to run Pro Tools on M Audio soundcards. To do this you must purchase software called M Powered and have a soundcard that is compatible and you have a Pro Tools system.

Digi Design 002 Rack

Soundcard Connectivity with Computers

The ever popular question about what connection you should go for is asked by customers every day at Dolphin Music. Firewire is probably the most popular type as of today due to its fast data transfer speed, you will find that M Audio firewire interfaces as well as Presonus are very good. USB 2.0 which is actually slightly faster is also popular with the Mbox 2 Micro , Steinberg CI2 and Apogee ONE using it.

Back in the last century when we started all this USB and Firewire were but a twinkle in some technician’s eye. It was all about PCI cards which are going as string today as they have done. PCI (or PCIX – new versions) can offer faster data transfer but are also more processor dependent. Famous PCI soundcards are the likes of the M Audio Delta range and the older MOTU range of soundcards.

M Audio Delta 1010

It would be rude to talk about connectivity and not mention PCMCIA. This is a method of connecting directly to laptops. Just think PCI for laptops. Due to USB and Firewire it is becoming less popular but some still believe it to be the only true way of getting true recordings onto laptops. This is debatable and we just don’t have the time!

Free Software

All soundcards will come with software that will allow you to control the routing of audio within your soundcard. You will need this software to interface with your recording software. It basically allows you to interface with your soundcard as if it were a mixing console.

Presonus Inspire

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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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Cubase 5 Product Tour in association with Dolphin Music

March 10, 2009
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Dolphin Music and Steinberg are presenting the new advanced music production system Cubase 5 exclusively at Leaf Tea Shop & Bar in Liverpool.

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.

The exciting new features and the revolutionary workflow with Steinberg’s Advanced Integration hardware, the MR816 CSX/X FireWire interfaces and CC121 USB controller for Cubase, will be presented by the Steinberg product specialists.

Cubase 5 Product Tour in association with Dolphin Music
Wed 25th March 09
7pm – 10pm
After party DJ by Dolphin Music

Venue:
Leaf Tea Shop & Bar  (http://www.thisisleaf.co.uk/)
Elevator Buildings
27 Parliament Street
Liverpool
L8 5RN

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Steinberg Cubase RC application for the Apple iPod Touch / iPhone!!!

February 6, 2009

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Available as a free iPod application from the iTunes store (starting sometime during the second-quarter, 2009) Steinberg Cubase RC, or Remote Control, will provide wireless control over many basic functions of the new Cubase 5.

The most obviously useful of these is the comprehensive transport controls. You’ll be able to use your iPhone / iPod Touch’s touch screen to remotely record, stop and playback your track — very useful if you’re recording yourself in the live room and your studio intern has called in sick again (a call you fielded with your iPhone; neat!). There are even controls for marker placement, metronome settings and toggling cycle mode on/off.

For live performance, Cubase RC provides complete access over the Cubase Arranger function in Cubase 5. Trigger playback stems, assemble playlists, jump between sections of a project and text all at the same time!

Cubase RC is compatible with both Mac OS X and Windows initialized iPods and iPhones, giving you remote control over Cubase 5 regardless of what operating system it’s running on.

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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.

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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

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Christmas Gift Suggestion: E-mu USB Audio Interface

December 2, 2008

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The E-MU 0404 USB 2.0 Audio/MIDI Interface delivers an unparalleled level of audio performance to your PC with premium 24-bit/192kHz A/D and D/A converters, pristine XTC mic/line/hi-Z preamps, ultra-low jitter clock and rock-solid stability.

From its plug-and-play functionality and hands-on ergonomic design to professional features and signal-to-noise specs that are simply unmatched by any other USB interface on the market, the E-MU 0404 USB will forever change your expectations of USB audio. The E-MU 0404 USB also ships with the E-MU Production Tools Software Bundle that includes E-MU’s Proteus VX, as well as software by Cakewalk, Steinberg, Ableton, IK Multimedia, and many more – everything you need to create, record, edit and master your music.



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e-mu_0404_usb_inputs_and-06:

  • Premium 24-bit/192kHz A/D and D/A converters (A/D: 113dB SNR, D/A: 117dB SNR) deliver unmatched USB audio fidelity
  • E-MU XTC Class-A ultra-low noise Mic/Line/Hi-Z preamplifiers (-127dB EIN) with 48V phantom power and ground lift switches enable you to plug microphones, keyboards and guitars straight into your computer with professional results, while the built-in analog soft limiting circuit lets you record a hotter signal without fear of clipping
  • Comprehensive digital I/O with optical and coaxial S/PDIF (switchable to AES/EBU) and MIDI In/Out to easily connect all of your digital studio gear and instruments
  • Ultra-low latency Windows XP and x64 USB 2.0 drivers offer accurate timing and playback of your recorded audio and software instruments
  • Hardware zero-latency direct monitoring (mono/stereo) allows you to record and overdub with no annoying delay
  • Plug-and-play operation with hands-on control of all major functions like master level, direct monitoring, preamplifier controls and more
  • Compatibility with most popular audio/sequencer applications (ASIO2, WDM, MME – AC3 and DTS Passthru supported)
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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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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

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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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