Project Studio Tea Break

It’s the Cold, Flu, and Holidaze® Season. That time of year when everything goes BatS#*! Crazy

Here in APITEland, EduCorp® goes clinically insane trying to squeeze everything in before the end of the year, Holiday Decor in every store months before you want to think about it, Holiday Music everywhere months before the actual season, Black Friday/Cyber Flargsday sales on anything and everything (yeah, I gave in too – more in a second), and the ritual coordinating family and friends for holiday plans whilst trying to keep at least one one eyebrow above water. And December has just started…

One of the things I’ve been doing to keep myself sane over the season is indulging in Audiocasts. I did a bit of pruning over the summer, trying to whittle down what I really enjoyed verses what I was growing tired of, which of course leaves me more ‘room’ for new ones. (like somehow I magically have more time after doing that…)

Saint Ian and Jon Tidey over at The Mastering Show did an episode of their favorite shows, and one of the ones they mentioned that I hadn’t heard of was Project Studio Tea Break (title tie-in!). It’s become a highlight of my listening regimen. 🙂

PSTB, as it’s colloquially called, is Mike Senior and Jon Whitten. Mike should be well-known from Sound On Sound fame (you do read SOS, right?) and as an Audio Engineer, Author, and all-round Font of Knowledge in the Audio Kingdom. Jon is a composer firmly rooted in the theatre and dance community, and brings his unique perspective to the ‘Professional Audio Chitty-Chat Internwebz® Delivery System’ norm. For a ‘Professional Audio Audiocast’ PSTB is light on technical prowess and snobbery, aiming for (ahem) a good poke in the ear towards recording technology, techniques, and the interpersonal relationships everyone in the industry has dealt with.

The odd tip or trick sneaks in every once in a while, but this is not what you’re looking for here. PSTB is as the name implies – a time to take a break and have a cuppa and talk about dumb stuff before the clock starts ticking again. It’s an hour of clearing the fuzz out of your mind – not worrying about why you can’t figure out how to make the snare drum ring disappear or why the backing vocals sound strangely out of tune even though you’ve triple-checked them on every piece of technology you can get your hands on and they all tell you they’re fine. It’s the couple of pints at the pub after a long day nursemaiding a computer, recording, mixing, and hoping the session backs up so you can fix all the mistakes with fresh ears tomorrow. It’s reading about the latest shiny Company X announced that everyone is talking about but you know is complete and utter bullshit and won’t change games or move anything forward except the company’s bank account. It’s the relief of stepping outside after applying a bunch of studio foam with that spray adhesive, or the glorious smell of brand-new silicone-jacketed cabling. It’s a peek inside what your engineer, producer, or musical director is really thinking.

So you can see how this is right in the wheelhouse. But don’t just trust me –  click the link above and get caught up (there’s only eight episodes as of this writing) or subscribe in your favorite player. If you’ve spent any time in the musical landscape (and if you’re reading this you have) then you’ll enjoy every moment and look forward to the next monthly fix.

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In other news I bought one of the new iPad Pros – the 11” model this time. I know, I know… I kinda trash-talked them a few posts back, but after getting my hands on one I decided it was time to move my 1st-gen on to my brother (who’d better not be reading this since it’s his Christmas present) and get something smaller and…well, better.

Why?

USB-C.

From the moment I connected a USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adaptor (stupidly long name here kids) to it and connected the HDMI port to a monitor I could see the future. Having the iPad display big and crisp on an external display is an absolute joy, but instinctively reaching for a mouse or trackpad instead of the screen is just antediluvian IMO. I’m also betting this has to drive the Mothership® Engineers bananas as well, so there’s some Skunkworks iOS version update allowing this just waiting for Phil Schiller to give the okay. And since Apple is still gung-ho about the ‘It’s a computer! It’s a dessert topping!, It’s a floor wax!” moniker (Hat tip to Charles over at Space Javelin for reminding me of this) they have to be looking into this – just having an external display for the GraphicsHeads doesn’t make sense for having this usable by the entire ‘Pro’ market. I guess we’ll see if I’m correct next spring.

I also like the smaller size – it’s easier to hold in my sausage paws and doesn’t feel like I’m doing a workout after 10 minutes. The True Tone display is gorgeous, and it can do true ‘split screen’ apps (unlike the previous smaller versions of the iPads Pro).  I’m spoiled by Face ID on the iPhone, so having it here is great (although my sausage thumb always seems to be covering the sensors which it smugly tells me), and the new Pencil is just stupid clever and I like the fact that it rides on the top instead of being lost in the bottom of my bag somewhere.

Oh, and the new NanoStudio 2 has been piquing my interest and looks pretty impressive, so I’m looking forward to trying a true DAW-like experience with in on a mobile device (bleeding edge, yada yada, what about Auria? I get it…) 

Lastly, I’ve been compiling the ideas for the ‘Musical Gifts for the 2018 Holidaze® Season’ post (last year’s post here) and that should be out within the next week or so, hopefully leaving me some actual time to spend with the fam over the (actual) Holiday Season. 

Until then, stay sane out there!

VOTE! and Pizza to the Polls!

As it approaches Dinnertime here on the East Coast there will probably be folks stuck in lines with grumbling stomachs…

If that sounds like you or someone you know, go here:

Pizza to the Polls

They coordinate with local shops and have pizza delivered to long voting lines to help bring some good will and local pie.

I voted early, but donated a pizza. Maybe you should too. 🙂

Now get out and Vote!

 

New Mothership® Shiny-Shiny (the Update)

So Charles and Mike over at Space Javelin did a nice little addendum Audiocast talking about all the Apple products from yesterday. They (mostly) echo my impressions and it’s a great little listen if you want some more info.

In the flurry of news, banter, and vitriol post-presentation I found out that the new Mac Mini’s SSD cannot be replaced. It’s still a great update, so if you’re thinking of grabbing one, I would recommend getting the fastest processor and biggest SSD you can afford and go the 3rd Party route for memory. Other World Computing (MacSales) and Crucial have both announced memory upgrades for the Mini much cheaper that what Apple charges.

And there’s one more thing I wanted to mention about the new iPad Pro. Apple showed external display capability over USB-C, but there is (still) no capability for any kind of external input device other than a keyboard or the Pencil. They continually touted this as a ‘computer’ (which it obviously is, and they tried enforcing this naming convention a few years back as well), but having external display functionality with no external input other than a keyboard, finger, or Pencil is a bit odd to me. 

It could still be coming in the next iteration of iOS or just another hotly contested possible feature bandied about Jonny Ives’ lab, but if you can use an on-screen Spacebar as a Trackpad (of sorts) it’s not heresy to ask for a physical one too.

This is yet another reason that I’ll wait a bit before upgrading…

 

New Mothership® Shiny-Shiny

As predicted by the Punditry, Apple bowed a bevy of new toys today. (and when did I suddenly start writing like Pro Sound News?)

I won’t dazzle you with pictures or descriptions – head right on over to Apple Insider for the all the goodies.

But I will talk about the Great, the Good, and the Meh.

Great: new Mac Mini. My 2012 Quad-core has been juiced up to it’s max of 16 gig of RAM and has one and a half Terabytes of SSD’s internally. And after 6 long years, it’s still an awesome little machine. Runs just about everything I need and rarely breaks a sweat doing it. The new one isn’t going to replace it any time soon, but it’s nice to know I will be able to add RAM as I need to. My only question is can the SSD be replaced as well, because Apple’s site isn’t very clear about it.

Am I getting one? No, but if you love the form factor this is a great update.

Good: the new iPad Pro. My original 12.9 from about 3 years ago is still an amazing machine and I was looking forward to updating to the new one. More RAM, crazy-blazing fast A12X chipset, Face ID, Liquid Retina display, new Apple Pencil, and USB-C makes for a compelling upgrade, but I’m going to wait.

Why you ask? Because I need to see what is going to be made for this new ‘Desktop-Class’ processor.

As a Musician and an Engineer, I need someone to step up and make a Pro-class DAW for the iPad Pro.

If Apple steps up soon and drops Logic Pro for it, I’m buying one 10 seconds after they do.

If Avid makes a version of Pro Tools that works on it then I might wait a minute or so, but I’ll take the plunge.

Adobe has promised Photoshop for the Graphic Designers – I (and many others like me) want a ‘Desktop-Class’ Digital Audio Workstation for the Audio Pros. Auria is nice. BeatMaker3 is damned cool, and Steinberg’s Cubasis is the one that comes the closest, but there are three big DAW’s out there – Pro Tools, Logic Pro, and Ableton Live. I have to have pretty seamless interoperability with those – easy File Import and Export, same available Plugins, and a familiar Feature Set and workflow.

Yeah, I know that GarageBand is technically Logic Pro, but navigating it is a different animal altogether. And Auria again is nice, but I just don’t have time to learn another workflow. Cubasis is probably the most DAW-like of the litter, but I haven’t used Cubase on a desktop for about two decades…

To be honest I’d go so far as to totally make the switch to Reaper if they made a version for iOS that worked like the desktop version, but c’mon Apple or Avid – I know you can do this…

Okay with rant over let’s move to the Meh: the new MacBook Air. Yeah, the ‘Executive Class’ will love it. Bloggers and current ‘MacBook Adorable’ owners will happily fork over their life savings to be the first ones to plop one down on a coffeeshop table to show their cred to the rest of the Bourgeoisie, but it’s expensive and too underpowered for ‘pro’ work. Cough up a few shekels more and get a proper MacBook Pro.

As usual, your mileage may vary here. Remember that I’m coming at this from the Audio Professional side, so your needs are very likely completely different.

Apple as usual delights and amazes us with great design and forward-thinking (if sometimes a bit late on the delivery), and today’s announcements are certainly worth perusing if you’re looking for (or desperately need to replace) a computer or tablet. Just take a moment to consider what you truly need as well as what that need is worth before you go bonkers and spend a bunch of cash because it’s the new Shiny-Shiny.

Until next time…

All Your Base Belongs to TC Electronic…

A few posts back I talked about the TC Electronics DVR250-DT Software reverb with a hardware controller. Again it’s an interesting concept, although one I find a bit pointless in today’s desktop production workflow.

Apparently TC Electronics wants to take up all your precious desktop real estate because they’ve released two more hybrid devices – the TC1210-DT Spacial Expander and the TC8210-DT ‘Classic Mixing Reverb’

TC1210 DT P0DE6 Right XL

TC8210 DT P0DCS Right XL

 

Look pretty similar, don’t they?

The DVR250-DT had a bit of character in that it at least tried to model the original hardware somewhat, and I guess these do resemble the old TC hardware, but I’m still wondering why they think that having a bunch of different controllers scattered on your workspace is a good idea. Wouldn’t it be better to make a ‘generic’ effects controller that would operate many TC plugins both current and future? Maybe come up with a clever way to use an iPad as the control surface? Maybe just concentrate on the software?

(And to repeat part of my last post on this, what these control are not things that you automate very often and when you do they are very easy to work with in a DAW.)

I’m not knocking TC here. I have a couple of their older firewire audio interfaces and I think they work and sound great. I have a few of their plugins that I will happily say the same thing about. But this kind of thinking is just idiotic. Not all of us have consoles. Most of us have small setups to do our production and tracking and mixing. 

The era of the ‘big studio with lots of twinkly lights and twisty knobs’ has been replaced by systems we can fit in a backpack and work just about anywhere for over a decade now, so these are not marketed at the big studios – they are being pushed to the masses. I don’t have (or want) a bunch of controllers at my desk. Your mileage may vary, but this concept is cool and forward-thinking in a twisted way and apparently with no end…

C’mon TC – give me a great DAW controller that will handle channels and effects in an ‘all-in-one’ small package. And since you’re now owned by Behringer, aim it around their X-Touch One – I have one and it’s about the perfect size for a small setup – and doesn’t need a 50-port USB hub.

Moog One

Moog going Apple?

Just think about that for a minute…

The new Moog One looks amazing, and has the specs to back it up. For a $6000 starting price, it had better!

This is a high-end machine for players who can afford it.

It’s the 512 Gigabyte iPhone XS Max or the iMac Pro for the hardcore analog synthesis set.

It’s the updated Memorymoog – hopefully without all the hardware issues.

Nothing wrong with that.

But the rest of us will make due with our virtual analog VST’s or our Euroracks or our Behringer Model D’s.

And maybe perhaps one day we’ll be able to pick one of these up on the used market for a decent price.

Only to realize that it didn’t make our music any better or the hit come any quicker.

And there’s nothing wrong with that either.

I’d love to have one, but I can buy a lot of things with six grand.

Gearnews has the skinny here.