TNSS: Checkmate

This Episode is a short one – busy as always here in APITEland…

All is working smoothly on Edsel and Josephine for my day-to-day tasks. There are a few odd issues here and there – mostly with Plugins that haven’t been ‘Big Sur’d’ yet. Some d16 Group ones that can’t be registered along with a couple from Full Bucket Music that refuse to show any on-screen knob, slider, or button movements are the main ones that come to mind. Nothing that can’t wait for fixes as they don’t interfere with what I need to do.

So the worthiness of this post (and a quick giggle) is that EduCorp® got me a new computer after about five years.

I now have another Clara Jane.

I didn’t have the heart to tell IT that my M1’s will eat this thing’s lunch so it will look as brand new when they come to collect it in another five years or so. I’m also betting by that time I will get a second-gen Apple Silicon model from them while I’ve been doing actual work on a third- or fourth-gen machine personally purchased.

I’ve named it Grumpy after the sticker I slapped on it to prevent accidental usage. (Main pic above)

I really like our IT Team, but honestly this is just a waste of money and resources and will be near-obsolete in a few years’ time. They really need to think ahead on these things…

Until next time!

 

TNSS: Dance of the Dead

The Banner Pic for this Episode comes from Remko van Dokkum under the CC Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

Clara Jane has been sent off to pasture. Okay, she’s actually been sent off to a new owner who will certainly appreciate her more than I. As the M1’s are performing so well here at APITE Headquarters, it was either move it along or let it languish in a box in the closet. I’m tempted to say good riddance to the Intel-based Macs, but I still have my old 2012 Mac mini hiding in said closet in case of dire emergency. That old adage of ‘If you have one, you have none’ I just can’t shake. 

I’ve also debated on whether to replace my Synology home server with the old Mini – both have their strengths and weaknesses, but it really boils down to usability and interface (I use about a hundredth of what the Synology can do, and the Mini can also work as a functioning computer) and that the Mac uses about 6 times the energy. For something that mostly streams videos to an Apple TV for the youngest I’m not sure if it’s worth the hassle of setting up, migrating the data, and replacing one thing in said closet for another. We shall see.

So the big news is I got my Universal Audio Apollo Twin working on Edsel. I was a bit hesitant about booting into Reduced Security mode but after keeping an eye on their forums of people who have done this already with minimal issues, I decided it was time. The process was smooth and painless – essentially what installing UA software is like anyway, which is a bit more convoluted that just running a typical Installer. If you want to try it, the directions are here. My Apollo is an older Thunderbolt 2 model, but works perfectly with Apple’s Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adaptor. I bought one of these for about $50 to use the UA hardware and software on Clara Jane.

The Audient EVO I talked about in the last installment is working well enough, but I did have to fiddle about with DAW/Mic balance during student project grading. It’s simple enough to do either on the interface itself or with their App, and it works as you’d expect it to. However, UA’s Console makes this automatic every time the Apollo is connected and a DAW is launched making it easier for my ‘set it up so you can forget it’ work style. I also like the added headphone gain that the UA’s have that others can’t do Bus-powered. So the EVO is now working as my iPad Pro audio interface and as a traveller for Josephine when needed. I’ll wait for the ‘official’ Installer from UA that does not require any fudging about in Recovery Mode before I install it on the Air.

I’ll pass along a neat trick from the UA installation directions – if Logic Pro has trouble Validating Plugins you can force Logic into using Rosetta in its Get Info window (go to the Applications Folder, select Logic Pro, and choose ‘Get Info’ from the File header in the Menu Bar. Click the box in the picture below to enable it). Then close the Get Info window and launch Logic. Once Logic is running under translation, you can launch Logic’s Plug-in Manager (in the Menu Bar go to Logic Pro > Preferences > Plug-in Manager…) and select one of the errant Plugins (look under the ‘Compatibility’ column for anything not ’Successfully Validated’) and click the ‘Reset & Rescan Selection’ button at the bottom left of the window. Repeat this procedure for any remaining Plugins.

This came in silly handy not just for the Universal Audio stragglers, but also for a few IK Multimedia refusals and even a Waldorf Edition 2 update that just wouldn’t pass AU Validation. Once you get them all up and running, quit Logic and then uncheck the ‘Open using Rosetta’ box in its Get Info window. The next time you launch any AU-capable DAW the Plugins will work as they should. Nice.

LPX Rosetta

Another bonkers thing that popped up was iLok License Manager missing something that disables it (did not get a screenshot of this, but you’ll get a Dialog Box about some Extension or whatever missing that causes it not to be recognized.) This happened after both the 11.3 and 11.3.1 updates. A quick reinstallation of the iLok License Manager software solved the issue each time, and I’m not sure if this is The Mothership’s fault or iLok’s. This also puts that nagging particle in the back of your brain of ‘what else got broken that I haven’t discovered yet?’ So far I haven’t encountered anything else weird, so fingers crossed it’s just an iLok software bug.

Don’t let this hold you back from installing the latest updates – 11.3 and 11.3.1 fix some serious Security Issues, so even if you’re running the Intel version of Big Sur just follow the System Update recommendations. There are even fixes up for Catalina and Mojave, so that should let you know how important these are.

That’s about it for this edition of TNSS. In somewhat-related news, I did get a 4-pack of Airtags even though I rarely lose my keys or other items. They are impressive technology if you have an iDevice with one of the U-series chips (iPhone 11 and above I believe) for really accurate location fixing. AppleInsider’s William Gallagher has been doing great reporting on them if you want more info. Now I’m just waiting on delivery of some cheap silicone cases that don’t cost as much (or more!) as one of the Airtags…

Until next time!

What I Did Over My ‘Summer Vacation’

(This Episode’s Banner Photo “Thinker thinks about how to take sun burst shot” by davidyuweb is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0, and can he found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/55514420@N00/4446734924)

So it’s not really Summer yet, but in The Sunburn State® it certainly feels like it. Hopefully your corner of the world is a tad cooler.

I decided to put a ‘Secret Experiment’ into effect over my April Break. 

This idea has been in the back of my head for a while – get some ideas out of my head, record them, and then post them online to a public-facing music site with no publicity, fanfare, or anyone else knowing about this. The plan is to see whether or not any of these can find some kind of audience and if they can, how long it might take – if ever.

My aim here is to fill up the ‘free’ amount of space allotted with the ’non-paying’ tier and then stop. After that I might do this again with another musical iteration if I feel it’s gaining any traction (or if I’m still full of weirdness I need to get out….) The idea is to see if they can get some kind of attention naturally – by pure discovery – so when I decide to ‘spill the beans’ on all of it is unknown as of this point. I will do on update on this in the future though just to let you know how things are progressing, if at all.

Yes, I understand that I have ‘beans all over the floor’ at this point by putting this here, but you don’t know all of the details – and I’m not divulging anything that will help you out just yet. There’s an ocean of music out there, so finding my droplets is going to be very difficult and incredibly time-consuming. I used the ‘Login with Apple’ service to keep things more anonymous, and although there are tiny giveaways planted here and there on the actual page, it should not trackback to me directly. Good luck if you feel like pursuing this, and with that said remember that I’m not asking anyone even try. This is an experiment in listenership, not in hacking. 🙂

These ideas are far, far off the beaten track. I like a good melody, so there is always going to be that element in whatever I do, but all of these tracks are pure childish playtime – tinkering with toys I haven’t played with (or played with enough) mixed with the usual oddities and sounds I have always loved. I don’t even know if anyone would consider this listenable except myself, so let’s find out. 🙂

In the meantime, some of the takeaways on the sorry state of affairs of Online Music Self-Publishing as I see it, with a actual high spot or two as the capper:

Within 30 seconds of creating my account (with nothing actually uploaded yet) I had my first follower – pr0n spam. Five minutes later I had my first offer for guaranteed followers (for a price, obvs.) Both were expedited to the Trash Bin and reported as Spam. I would like to again point out that nothing had actually been uploaded to the site at this point – just the account created. Insanity.

I checked the next day to see if magically anyone had found it. I actually got a like from someone who also wanted me to know they could guarantee followers in exchange for my cash. Several more of these popped up about every other day for the first week, so the Bots are omnipresent to fulfill their creators need of being a Middleman in return for doing absolutely nothing. Ignore them all, even if you are being serious about doing this.

Surprisingly after a few days I got an actual play by someone halfway across the globe, so there is life out there and a brave few are still actively searching for something new. This is welcoming news, but the big questions are will they come back? Will they spread the word? All delicious unknowns…

Over the next few weeks I uploaded a few more tracks (five total as of this writing) and three have received four total ‘likes’ (one of them has even gotten two!) but other than the one lone seeker, the rest are Repost Accounts and Botniks. 

So I’m in early days here (letting this run through at least the remainder of the year), but in the flooded backyard of ‘DIY Publicity’ it feels like some pushing of the brand is still a necessity for engagement, although I’m not sure what I would do that isn’t already being beaten to death out there already. I would be interested to hear Michael’s thoughts about this, although I’m sure there’s a bunch already on his Blog I’ve forgotten about. 

There is just so much available out there with everyone scrambling for the brass ring of notoriety that it almost seems futile to try anything – hence this experiment. Yeah, maybe with ‘poppier’ tracks I might have more success, but there’s a lot of that out there too waiting to be unearthed – and it’s really tough to find the rubies in the dust.

Again, I’ll do an update at some point on this. In the meantime, keep doing what you do best and just get it out there for others to find. That might be the best solution to an overcrowded market.

Until next time…

TNSS: Many Happy Returns

(This Episode’s Banner Image “Lemons” by Tim-Hoggarth can be found here and is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

Holy Cats, it’s April already.

I’m sure everyone feels like it’s been a decade or so since we’ve been enduring the COVIDocracy, but at least there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel that doesn’t look like an approaching train coming at us. In the meantime, continue to stay safe out there – mask up, keep your distance, and stay home if you can.

So over the last few weeks I’ve officially made the move to using Edsel as my permanent computing machine. Pretty much everything is up and running for my needs with the exception of just a few bits and pieces – more on this shortly and the workarounds I’ve had to put in place. 

I’ve grown to really like Big Sur (MacOS 11). The last few iterations are beautifully stable, and has tied in a lot of the janky things that iOS seemed to do better like Messages, Notes, Calendars and Reminders – those little things that are really useful when everything seems to cooperate together in the Apple Ecosystem. I’m hoping The Mothership® doesn’t break it all when they show off the OS updates likely due around June.

My love affair for the M1 Macs has also grown as I’ve been using them more and more. In fact, I have a confession to make – I bought another one to replace the MacBook Pro.

There were two main things that pushed me to send Clara Jane packing off to retirement: first, the fact that everything is speedier, snappier, and just more transparent (work-wise) on the M1 Macs. These machines are noting short of stellar and I’ll give you the main example of this later (at least with what I do at EduCorp®), but the real kicker was the damned fans on the 16” MacBook Pro . 

I’ve been using Macs since around 1985 or so, and computers in general since the very early 80’s. I’m betting that in that time I’ve owned at least fifty of them – and likely I’m undercounting by a dozen or so. I’ve bought them new, refurbished, and used, and in one way, shape, or form I’ve gotten years of use out of all of them. Sometimes they had to be replaced because of hardware or software deficiencies. Others could be upgraded with more memory or hard drive upgrades to keep them going, but I really can’t think of one that I would call a lemon – they just worked. Even with the ones that sounded like decrepit vacuum cleaners when they were put under a heavy workload earned their keep. But I’ve honestly never had any one of them annoy me as much as Clara Jane’s incessant noise. 

Of course, this could just be because I’m old and I’ve learned my lesson from years of hearing abuse. Or that I’ve been working in much more quiet environments since moving to the education realm. Or it could just be that every single simple task turns an 8-core Intel-blessed i9 wunderkind into a screaming jet engine in a matter of nanoseconds. Editing an Excel sheet? Whooooosh….. Have too many Safari tabs open? Whirrrrrrrr…. Wanna play a video? Break out the headphones…

Sure, I could have a dud – they do happen. But a bit of web research tells me I’m not alone in my feelings here. There are plenty of complaints about the heat and the fans on the 16” Macs. There are also many about the (near daily) dropouts of Bluetooth or WiFi like I get on Clara Jane. And again there are just as many gripes about the extremely slow Touch ID sensor. Yeah, It might be a clinker, but like the Butterfly keyboards a generation or so back there are lots of people affected by them even if collectively they are just a few drops in the ocean of products shipped and in use – and when you have one of them it just makes every single chore with it unbearable. By the way, if you take this paragraph in for a second you too will experience the incredible karmic irony at play here. It was in January that I decided I needed to move forward to find a replacement.

So of course I retaliated by buying another MacBook – an Air this time. Say hello to Josephine:

Josephine

(That’s Cherry Audio’s Polymode running on the Reaper ARM Beta)

Again, I’m not going to go into my naming strategy as of late – remember that you and I have access to the same Interwebz® and I discussed this back in Episode 1. The DNA between Edsel and Josephine is near-identical though. Same Processor and Cores, same RAM, same storage. One of them is just more portable.

You may be asking yourself why I chose a smaller ‘entry level’ 13” machine with two less USB-C/Thunderbolt ports after having a Pro model with more connectivity and more screen real estate?

Personal Preference.

Before I got Clara Jane I had a 2015 13” MacBook Pro, and I truly loved the size and portability. Unfortunately, the dual-core i7 was getting really slow for some of the tasks I need on a daily basis. So when I decided to upgrade I figured I would once again take a plunge for that ‘Monster’ computer that would do everything I needed now and for the foreseeable future, and would stay that way for years to come. Although I liked the screen size on the 16″, it was heavier and bulkier to move around after using a smaller model for several years prior. My experiences with the M1 Mac Mini and reading multiple reviews that the latest Air was only slightly slower than its MacBook Pro counterpart I knew I wanted to get back to having something that I could easily move about the house (or out and about when we finally can) for when I don’t feel like standing at my desk where Edsel is anchored.

I’m also aware that new M-Series Macs are due soon and a 14” Pro model might be in the cards. But I don’t want several months for that to become available. Also remember that we’re in a Supply Chain crunch as far as computer chips and other electronics go. Josephine was an affordable, powerful computer that was in stock and ready to ship. What comes in the future might be more difficult to get, more expensive to purchase, and may not even happen at all. The Air just fit the bill for what I needed now – and I’m silly happy (and happily productive) with my decision.

The Reaper ARM port is working well enough in its Beta form that I can use it for my grading purposes. Again, a sizable chunk of my Plugins are working on the M1 as Native or under Rosetta and perform as I expect them to. But there are rubies hidden in the dust too! Render speed (Bouncing audio files out) within Reaper is 30% faster on Edsel and Josephine that is was on Clara Jane. Workflow is smoother and doesn’t get in my way. Again, everything just works… These M1’s just absolutely crush while staying quiet, cool, and focused. I have also had none of the other nonsense with wireless disconnects or TouchID lag. Clara Jane can happily rock away on the porch (well, actually shutdown in a backpack) until it might come of need or get moved along to the next owner.

The two minor problems I had to deal with are Soundtoys (still no love for M1 Macs, but they are Big Sur on Intel approved) and Slo Tools, and I expect these to be fixed very soon – Pro Tools just announced Big Sur capability, but again only for Intel processors as of now.

The real issue is (still) Universal Audio. Although they have a ‘workaround’ for getting their software and hardware drivers to work on M1 Macs, it requires putting the Mac into a Reduced Security mode, which I’m not going to tinker with and would rather wait for an ‘official’ release before I can put it back to use. I swear by my Apollo Twin audio interface for its impeccable sound quality and rich feature set, but I still have stuff to do while they make sure everything works as they want it to. So I need a Plan B.

My venerable Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (I think it’s a second generation) just works with all the Macs around the homestead and it even happily connects to the iPads if required – with no drivers needed. I’ve been enamored with Focusrite’s sound and quality for years, but I’m spoiled by that big beautiful volume control knob that also shows the current level right on top of the Apollo Twin and the dinky knob on the Focusrite just was driving me batty. So I took chance on one of these:

Evo4

(Oooohhh – lens flare…)

I’ve used Audient’s interfaces before and have been impressed, but when you have an Universal Audio one they just seemed a bit similar and yet no comparison when you factor in UA’s impressive software. But Audient’s EVO series seemed to press all the right buttons for what I needed: USB C connectivity, Bus Power, available with 2 or 4 inputs, Hi-Z (guitar) input, intuitive design, and all for just over a hundred bucks for the 2-input model. And it has a big beautiful volume control knob that also shows the current level. 🙂 Every function is easily set from the top panel, the sound quality is superb, and there’s more than enough gain on the headphone volume to drive every set I have in the studio (about at dozen at this point…) The build is solid, but it is plastic (corners have to be cut for this kind of pricetag), so although it’s portable I’d be take some precautions when transporting it – don’t just toss it into a bag or backpack willy-nilly.

That big green button on the bottom left is an auto-gain feature for the inputs. I’ll set my own thanks, but it works fine for those who just want to get a good level and start recording. It also has an loopback feature that actually works pretty well. Many interface manufacturers have added this feature for the Audio- and Videocast Set, but the EVO’s have a well-designed software panel that makes this quite usable. Certainly worth a look if you’re in the market.

That’s the state of The New Shiny-Shiny for now. Plenty more to come so pop by every so often to see what the latest hubbub is.

Oh, one more thing (had enough with the Apple cliches yet?) – I put Josephine on to charge last night and have spent today (since around 5 30 am) finishing up a bunch of installs and setting audio program prefs as well as messaging and web browsing and editing pics and writing this in between. At this time (4:30 pm) I have 52% battery left. Welcome to the future – don’t be jealous. 🙂

Be seeing you – until next time…

Happy Dynamic Range Day 2021!

Been listening to the livestream, and as usual there’s some great tips, tricks, and mostly a lot of positivity. You can catch the info and check out a replay by going here:

https://dynamicrangeday.com/dynamic-range-day-2021-live/

I must say that after several years of jamming Loudness Units and True Peaks and just not slamming everything into the Bus Processing as hot as possible, they *are* getting it.

And I still agree that you can be more creative dynamically rather than just making things loud.

Anyway, all good things – go check out the site above.

Before I go disappear into the eternal void of work and self-distancing I will say that I have the next installment of The New Shiny-Shiny coming up very soon. Progress is being made!

Hope all of you are staying safe, and have a fun and informative Dynamic Range Day!

Music Predilections for the Coming Year

Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sheilascarborough/10782271033/

These are my own (overly optimistic) thoughts on what I think will happen in the musical sphere for the new year.  I culminated these ideas over the last week or so of 2020 and did a bit of tidying up on January 1st, Reading this back on January 3rd, I find it very ‘wishful thinking’ and honestly I want to label it ‘Fan Fiction’ in the Tagline, but I’ll keep it as it was created. The Header Image was surprisingly prescient.

In the spirit of of the ‘Mordant’ part of APITE (ie: Music. Media. Mordant.) I’m publishing it, and hopefully you’ll find a few tidbits of wisdom lodged in the chunks of insipidness. Regardless, let’s come back in year and see how dreadfully this pans out. 🙂

1) As we get ourselves slowly out of the Pandemic and can safely hang out with each other again (I expect this by late Spring/early Summer), the entire Music and Media Industry will explode. People will head out to the big shows first (because short memories on how ‘celebrities’ have acted during it), but will give way to local and Regional acts as the year passes the Three-Quarters mark. I say this because pent-up lack of musical expression will likely cause the rise of ‘scenes’ in local markets. I keep feeling the mid-70’s ‘Punk’ rebellion as the boilerplate here, with kids (and non-kids!) just doing it themselves as a reaction to the times, the freedom, and as a retort to ‘Big Artists’. Yes, the last decade has never been a better time to DIY, but we also have been through the kinds of changes that necessitate serious rethinking of well, pretty much everything. It’s high time for music (and just art in general) to be the Vox Populi again. Local bars and venues will reap the benefits and I can even see a ‘comeback’ in practice spaces and even recording facilities. As anyone can make a record on a cheap laptop or even a tablet these days, this may be very wishful thinking on my part. As this is an inclusionary process I’m thinking of here – not the ‘bedroom producer’ vibe – I don’t think I’m too far off the mark. However, it also depends on whether a lot of smaller bars and venues make it that long or can recover when it’s done. This may also lead to adventurous souls venturing into this space as the ’scene’ flourishes. 

(Sidebar: In order for this to truly work though, it has to stay ‘under the radar’ for as long as possible, which will be very difficult in the ‘Interwebz® Age’. Said Online Sharing may be needed to ‘copy/paste’ ideas from place to place, but it might be better to let areas develop in their own styles – look to any musical scene from around the mid-1990’s and earlier to see how this naturally happened. Manager/agents (and (I can’t believe I’m using this term, but it’s true) ‘Influencers’ looking for trends to latch onto) will eventually ruin this, since they will always worship money over substance. Remember though, that such people (minus Hated ‘Influencers’) are needed in the biz, so keep that in mind too. 

This may also coincide with a ‘Back to Local/Neighborhood’ movement as Conglomerates continue to Hoover up all the carcasses of failed businesses and services and the adventurous (as noted above) grab the leftovers. The giants are only in it for the Rentier Capitalism (warning – search this term and you will wind up saddened and eventually incredibly angry). Stay local!

2) Although Formulaic Pop and Sonic Wallpaper® will never truly disappear from the landscape, Gen Z has been slowly ploughing through their parents’ streaming services (or –gasp- record collections) and has come to the realization that music that has dynamics and key/chord/structure changes sounds much better then what they hear in the mainstream. This can lead to all kinds of great and crazy things, but the general gist I’m feeling is ‘early demo-tape Devo and/or Metal Box-era PiL’. This is undoubtedly a long shot, but raiding the past to find the future is an age-old artistic endeavor and we’ve seen it many times before. I see this happening already and have no doubt it will continue to gather steam as an ‘anticulture’ even if it remains just that – underground.

3) Speaking of Formulaic Pop, their songs will get shorter, more insipid, and ever more Formulaic (I believe to the point of no-one will honestly know who made what they will sound that similar) as the established artists grab the remaining slices of dwindling money cakes. This is the snake eating its own tail and happens with everything eventually – and is a slow motion train wreck to watch (maybe paint drying is a better term?) Gazing far off into the void, this will probably be blamed on AI by future historians. I really want to show my age here and use ‘BlipVerts’ as a tag for this – complete with people’s heads exploding… Oh, and this will not be limited to Pop – almost every other music genre becomes a lumbering dinosaur as it gets old and fattened. The coming generation will pick the usable parts from them and leave the carcasses to rot. However, expect plays-on-familiar Genre names until the music press catches up.

4) I predict no change in the technology of music-making. Companies will continue to mine the past for content or implement ‘AI’ goodies to shave milliseconds off routine tasks with no new breakthroughs that will be worthwhile. This has been the trend for decades now and honestly it’s getting pretty sad. New Tech does push New Ideas, but think of this is blessing in disguise. To quote one of my favorite phrases: ‘Use it up, wear it out, make due, or do without’ – so don’t believe the hype that some bit of hardware, software, or vaporware will make you the next Big Thing®. 

5) I talked about this a bit above, but the procedure for recording everything will go from ‘squeaky-clean and precise’ to ‘insanely simple and efficient’. The only way to counter the clockwork perfection is a complete 180 degree turn from it – stay off the grid, embrace Human foibles, and use the tech to capture reality and not to render it into something artificial. The ‘three chords and the truth merchants’ will welcome this first, with the true genii emerging from the fray. Collaboration, not computerization will be the key, with ‘practice makes (im)perfect’ the way forward. I’m probably about 10% right on this, but it’s worth tossing out there…

There is a lot of wishful thinking here, but we’ve all been through (and will continue to live with) major disruptions to our lives. Art reflects life and thinking that everything will magically go back to ‘normal’ is a fool’s errand. Of course, it could also just be “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” Je ne sais pas…

Lastly, I leave you with the ‘Hot/Not’ Buzzwords of 2021. Feel free to put the ‘Hot’ ones out in the Memezone for everyone’s attention and misusage. 😀

-Hot: Screech, Cubist, Sector, Trank, and Manx.

-Not: Silo, Zoom, Influencer, Wellness, and Schaden-anything.

Farewell (and Good Riddance) 2020

Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tydence/42324205195/

Just a quick one to wish everyone a Happy New Year and to let you know that more posts of The New Shiny Shiny are on the way – I just needed a break after the end of last year. Besides, not much has happened since the last post anyways…

I’ve also been fomenting a ‘Musical Psychic Predictions for 2021’ post that I started on New Year’s Eve. Might be fun to see if any of these come to light over the year. Pop by in a day or so and see if it materializes. 🙂

Anyway, I hope all of you had a few bright sparks over the Holidaze® to make you happy. I also hope there are many, many more of them for all of you in 2021.

Cheers!

TNSS: The General

The above Image is not what you expect to see for a Software Synth these days.

I’ve been using Logic for over 20 years now. I’ve used a lot of Sequencers and DAW’s in the 35 years I’ve been creating and producing music and audio. To me, none of them have the bang for the buck that Logic has. Although my old studio partner and I were gabbing about Opcode’s Studio Vision Pro recently. I did love that program and will never forgive Gibson for killing it off. Ah, the glow of nostalgia…

REAPER comes really damn close.

You can get a basic license for $60 that lasts for years and there are updates for it about every time you launch the App. It’s been a solid mixing DAW for me and I use to grade assignments at EduCorp® too. I could go on and on about how clever it is, but check Kenny’s video tutorials on the REAPER website and Jon Tidey has great stuff on the Tube of Yous as well. If you give it a shot you will be impressed.

REAPER is stable and deep, and allows for a lot of customization too, but I still use Logic for creation. Just how I roll.

So I wish I could give a glowing review of the M1 Beta for REAPER, but I can’t as of this writing. Things started off great – Oblivion Sound Lab’s new Hex Drum loaded and worked like a champ. Even Audiomodern’s latest Riffer version happily controlled Audio Damage’s Quanta. But when I tried to load up some Arturia plugins, that’s when everything went pear-shaped. I mentioned that they initially installed just fine, but when loading into REAPER I could get MIDI info to the Plugin, but absolutely no sound out. Even a quick relaunch of REAPER didn’t help. Trying another Arturia Plugin (Mini V this time) caused it to appear not with the instrument GUI, but with the ‘old skool’ slider controls of decades ago. After this nothing would produce sound – even the tracks that had been recorded. A check of Arturia’s Software Center turned up nothing except I noticed their V Collection 8 is out (Emulator II – finally!)

This is a Beta version so oddities are bound to come up, but this is a pretty serious one IMO. I’m going to wait for the next version and try again, so it’s back to Logic in the meantime for Edsel music testing.

Oh, and reminder to myself to not try and predict what the next installment here will be – Edsel is just too unpredictable.

I am a bit surprised there have been no Big Sur updates from The Mothership®. Usually there are quite a few after an initial release to fix bugs and other strangeness that crops up, but since the second seed of MacOS 11.1 was just released to the Devs about a week ago it looks like Apple are taking their time with this. It might be because the time of year or a Pandemic in general, but I’m fine with taking the time to get it right.

Have gotten some word that the Bluetooth issue I was having with the original Magic Mouse is quite common with not only the M1 Macs, but Big Sur in general. I Twaddled about Teleport being Open-Sourced a while back, but it’s not really usable to use a single mouse and keyboard for two different computers in my day of shaking it down. It also won’t wake a Mac from Sleep, so it’s only really usable when both are logged in.

The good news is the Bluetooth issue is likely software-based, so hoping 11.1 might have the fix. In the mean time I’m back to Input Device swapping, and my trusty old HP Bluetooth mouse is performing swimmingly. 

And one more bit of weirdness that I guess I should mention: having been busy with EduCorp® post-Turkey Day, Edsel was quietly sitting in the background doing a whole lot of nothing for about a week. When I tried to fire it up today I could get nothing on the screen when I switched the monitor over – just black. The Mini’s front light was on, so it didn’t just power down on its own, and no amount of keyboard or trackpad clicking would wake it up. I held the back panel power button down for a few seconds until the light went off and then clicked it again to restart it. Everything was fine after that, but I haven’t seen a Mac do anything like this in about two decades. I’m hoping it was a fluke (like something I’ve installed) and not a harbinger of things to come…

That’s it for now – more to come (and I won’t say what about, k?) 🙂

TNSS: The Schizoid Man

PostPic: This just may be the cooling system inside Intel Macs… (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Avro-jet.jpg)

The fan noise from Clara Jane had never really bothered me before – mostly because I’ve been reduced to headphones while working from home. But after using Edsel I notice them spinning up every single time.

I loaded the Billie Eilish Demo Logic Session on the 16” MPB that I figured would make sure it would need to turn them on. This is what it sounds like recorded into my Zoom H5:

CJ Fan Sample.wav

And here is the Mac mini running the same Session:

Edsel Fan Sample.wav

Both were recorded using the internal stereo mics on the Zoom about an inch from where the fan noise was loudest (above the keyboard on Clara Jane and directly at the rear fan for Edsel). I then Normalized the files to -3 dBTP and applied some Fab Filter Q3 to cut frequencies around 5kHz where the fan noise was most prominent (see below pic). No other processing or volume normalization was applied after the EQ.

FF Q3 Fan Filter

Edsel is dead quiet – even after the processing.

I spent the Holiday Weekend doing a bunch of nothing – I needed it. But I did go through and start installing a raft of Plugins on the Mini.

And that’s when the chinks in the armor started showing up. Novation’s V-Station refused to work (I’m assuming) because I have run through my 4 authorizations and I have no way to change them through the website – in 2020… I don’t use V-Station very much, but some of the sounds I’ve created on it can’t be replicated on other software synths. Waldorf’s very picky Waldorf Collection 2 installed and passed Validation except for the D-Pole filter. Argh. XLN’s Addidtive Drums 2 and RetroColor refuse to pass Logic’s Plugin Manager. I use these a lot. TB-Pro Software’s latest dpMeter 5 says it’s ready, but Logic doesn’t agree. I pretty much stopped at this point with installing Plugins…

I also did some checking to see if any Apps had been updated in the interim, and other than everyone having Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales there was really nothing I use. I however, did catch this interesting tidbit over at Daring Fireball while rooting around:

 Rosetta is translation, not emulation, and technically that’s a big deal.

It is a big deal, and click Gruber’s link above for the full transcript with all the info. But it still doesn’t solve my problems at this point…

So we’re five Posts in and Edsel is beginning to living up to his name, but I’m okay with that. This shows what major transitions are like with any technology and why the smart users wait until the dust settles.

The M1 machines are powerful, quiet, and the honestly the transition has not been nearly as grueling as they have in the past. But even though I said to go ahead and spend the money if you want, you will be waiting for a lot of Developers to get caught up here. And with a Pandemic and the Holidaze® Season happening concurrently, it’s going to take more time than it usually would. 

The simple truth at this stage is that Logic Pro and Garage Band and the other Apple Pro Apps are doing what they need to do for the Creatives. If that’s all you need then you are golden – run out and buy six. But if your workflow requires a lot of Third-Party Gizmos to make that happen then wait it out until the things you need work as you need them to. 

I have not given the REAPER beta its due (had to install everything with Logic to get Validation out of the way anyway), so I will focus on testing that in the next installment. Unless something major pops up with Logic Pro Im going to call it Approved and keep moving forward. I’m also hoping Ableton gets Live 11 in the pipeline soon…

One last thing:

I’ve read a lot about how problematic Big Sur was before I acquired Edsel. I will be honest that I have had minimal issues with it as a near ’daily driver’ (other than some duties that Clara Jane has the software that works). Mac OS 11’s issues have been mostly the ‘graphic’ oddities I mentioned with certain Plugins – I can even see this on the loading crawl after restarts on the Mini, so it’s not just Plugins. And there have been a few Bluetooth issues with the Apple Watch (but strangely my Magic Trackpad and mouse have been rock solid since the ‘Magic Mouse’ fiasco)

In Big Sur’s favor, it’s improved a lot of ‘legacy’ issues with Messages, Safari, and Mail, as well as the Continuity weirdness with my iOS devices. And once you tone down the color palette with other Background Images it feels like any other Macintosh. Even the Translucency seems like an an improvement over past OSes (hated it on past Systems…) I have yet to ‘dig in’ to a lot of the other features, but will post about them if they seem noteworthy.

I will say at this point I really want to install MacOS 11 on Clara Jane to see if it improves anything on the Intel side – but that will have to wait a bit. 🙂

TNSS: Free for All

So before we start our adventure into Logic, a nice little surprise showed up yesterday:

Reaper M1

Our friends at Cockos dropped an update to REAPER with Big Sur capability as well as a Beta for M1 (Apple Silicon) Macs. Of course I downloaded the Beta… It looks really nice (buttons and other items have been rendered to a higher resolution to my eyes), but I haven’t dug deep into it yet. That will come later.

REAPER AS Beta

TAL’s NoiseMaker running as an AU Instrument in REAPER, and again seems to be working fine. 🙂

Let’s start installing Plugins in Logic. I had already installed TAL’s NoiseMaker and Valhalla DSP’s suite of effects in the last post, so today was all about seeing what would work and how resilient Rosetta 2 is. Logic has to Validate Audio Units before they can be used by other programs (like REAPER), so we have to start there anyway.

Magnus and Frederik over at Sonic Charge have had a great reputation for not really needing updates to their plugs once a new OS comes out. I have always been happily surprised that they ‘just work’ when I do an update, and this is no exception. The downloader worked without a hitch, and their online Authorization System didn’t even blink, and Logic happily loaded them. As MicroTonic is my ‘go-to’ plugin for drum synthesis, it’s nice to have it installed. Excellent.

FabFilter updated a post saying that their plugins work fine on Big Sur. I Downloadedtheir combined Installer, and they are correct that they work fine. Its Validation crawl is the pic for this post. I use FF Plugins in pretty much every session, so doing The Happy Dance here.

IK Multimedia dropped a really nice set of effects called MixBox earlier this year. I really like it so even though they say they are still testing I had to try it. TLDR: it works. Below is MixBox treating a MicroTonic drum track.

MixBox

But not everything was a resounding success. I decided to try Dexed – a really smart Yamaha DX emulator (it will even work as a Librarian for the actual hardware…) but the old Logic Bug of refusing to show new Plugins until you Log Out or Restart your computer reared its ugly head – again. How many years has this been going on now…?

After a (very) quick Restart, it loaded and passed Validation properly. Dexed happily loaded all my presets and receives and plays MIDI data as it should. But if you try to edit any parameters on screen, it ‘glitches’ the GUI briefly before updating. This only happens on playback, but is a bit annoying…

In all I installed multiple Plugins from nine different Developers and only Dexed had any kind of issue. I’m going for broke and installing everything I own.

I’m seriously impressed here. I truly believe I could do a lot of my production on Edsel and notice little difference from my current workflow. A few more OS updates will help things along, and obviously native M1 versions of Apps and Plugins will certainly make things better, but at this point I’d say if you’re interested in Apple Silicon I’m not going to dissuade you. These are very powerful machines. Big Sur runs quite smoothly for such early days, and Rosetta 2 is a masterwork of emulation. Chef’s Kiss, Apple. 🙂

But before we go let’s take a walk into Crazytown, shall we?

One of the things the M1 Macs will do is load iOS Apps – so let’s see if we can download one and make it work.

(Cue ominous music…)

When you go to the App Store on Apple Silicon, you will see a new choice on your Purchases page:

AppStore1

Choose that and you can see all of the Apps you’ve acquired on iOS. Most will say ‘Designed for iPhone (or iPad). Not verified for macOS.’ But you can still download them. I have no idea what to do with them, but you never know until you try…

I decided to try Kai Aras’ ShockWave:

AppStore2

It downloaded with no quibbles. I also figured I should grab something else just in case… I went for the Spectrum Synthesizer Bundle, a nice little synth based on Mutable Instruments Eurorack hardware:

AppStore 3

I was pretty limited in what I could choose from, even though I have a lot of iOS Music Junk. Apparently Developers can choose to not allow their Apps to be used ‘cross-platform’ (iOS and Apple Silicon) – a lot of what I have purchased was nowhere to be found. I have a feeling this might change in the future, but I’m betting a lot of issues (both coding- and money-wise) need to be sussed out first. All good – I’m patient. 🙂

Not really sure what I needed to do next, so I just launched Logic on a hunch. AU Validation window pops up on launch…

IOS AUv3 Validation

Surprise! Logic Validates them just like any other AU Plugin…

ShockWave wouldn’t pass the checks (even after trying ‘Reset and Rescan Selection’), but two of the ‘modules’ in the Spectrum Bundle did. Let’s try to load one up:

Modal

It’s available in the AU Instruments menu. Knobs twist and controls move, but no sound, and no MIDI control whatsoever.

(Cue ‘sad trombone’ sound here)

But still – this may be the foreshadowing of some good things to come. I’ll put this on the list of things to check occasionally as we move forward with the Saga.

We’ll end here on another (quasi) high note for this round. There is more to come, but Logic is doing what Logic does, and it seems AU Plugins do too. Stunned at how seamless this has been.

I guarantee it can’t be this easy though… 🙂