Such a Shame…

Earlier this year I posted ‘Life’s What You Make It’ as a bit of inspiration for 2019.

Yesterday (although I did everything I could to not believe it) we found out that the composer of that song, Mark Hollis, had died.

Such a Shame.

Although it’s hard to bid farewell to those that have influenced and enlightened us, it’s worth remembering that it’s been over 20 years since he graced us with his music.

Mark lived pretty much by his own rules, and after his solo release in 1998 perhaps he was tired of the chaos and uncertainty of our Industry.

Or he just wanted to spend his time with family and friends.

Maybe he had said all he wanted to say.

Honestly we will never know, and that’s okay. 

Because his legacy lives on through the art he produced, and will continue to influence those still with us and countless more yet to come.

We should all strive to have this as a part of our Curriculum Vitae.

Thank you Mr. Hollis.

The 2018 Macintosh Audio Kerfuffle

So I’ve caught little bits and bobs of this over The Interwebz® for the past few months, but Peter Kirn over at CDM brought it to the forefront earlier this week.

Some additional info I hadn’t seen, but unfortunately certainly full of questionable advice IMO.

As usual, the Commentariat is jam-packed with FUD, so tread cautiously if you decide to peruse them…

So I read this with a healthy dose of ‘yeah, probably an issue for a few people but this can’t be worth all the garbage people are saying here’ as is usual with most of these reports of chaos, gloom, doom, and throngs of Internetizens sharpening pitchforks and lighting torches. Never content to just follow the herd, I decided to find out as best I could for myself.

As a reminder, I work at EduCorp® and we send thousands of MacBook Pros out every year.  An issue like this would certainly show up by now, since these models were released in Fall of last year. Since I teach in an audio program and am also one of the resident Neighborhood Mac Gurus®, I would certainly be one of the first to know. So far – nothing. I will also mention that we just tested a room full of audio gear returns from students, and there were quite a few defective products (although it’s a small fraction of what what is sent out) and a surprisingly large number that still functioned properly. Which is a gentle reminder that just because you can’t figure out why it’s not working doesn’t mean it’s defective. But they are students, and still novices, so we can overlook such things. For people who consider themselves ‘Professionals’ the bar is much higher. Just repeating the echo in the chamber doesn’t cut it.

So it it BS? Actually, no. But there are caveats as usual with stories like these.

Is it worth looking into and reporting about? Most certainly, but within reason and sanity and freakin’ common sense please.

Is it worth all the vitriol being hurled at Apple? If you want Web Traffic, yes.

It is panic time? Are you serious?

With that, on to the testing.

Since my computers are several years old and aren’t affected by this issue (I tested them with the procedure below) and no one in my office has the latest MBP, we contacted our Tech Department to get one. They were super helpful as always, and big thanks to everyone involved.

I grabbed every USB audio interface I could find laying around – a Focusrite 2i4 (2nd Gen model), a Yamaha AG-06, and my cheapo-backup Behringer UCA222. All are Class Compliant USB 2 audio interfaces in line with the ones causing issues in the reports. Thunderbolt audio interfaces seem to be working fine according to reports, so it wasn’t tested here. USB-C connected interfaces were also not mentioned as a culprit in my research, but I don’t have one to test anyway so it was also skipped.

We found one of the USB-C hubs that our students get. I brought my Apple USB-C to USB adapter and an Anker USB-C to USB cable I recently purchased to cover multiple cable and connection types. With all that assembled, we headed over to Techland to run everything through its paces.

The MacBook Pro was a 15” 2018 model (Macintosh 15,1) with 16 GB of RAM and a 512 GB SSD. It had the latest T2  chip that many thing might be the crux of the issue. It was a ‘clean install’ with the latest officially released OS (10.14.3) and had Logic Pro and Pro Tools installed. Opening Logic confirmed it has never been launched before, and the Apple Loop library had yet to be indexed (yet another sign of a fresh installation). It was pretty much one you would walk out of an Apple Store with or have shipped from The Mothership®. Excellent. 🙂

We tested all three USB audio interfaces using the USB hub (a Belkin USB-C 4-port), the Apple USB-C to USB adapter, and the Anker USB-C cable. The only exception was the Behringer. Since it has a non-removable USB cable attached, we could only test it with the Belkin hub and Apple adaptor. All three interfaces are Bus-powered, so no external power supply was needed.

We started by playing back audio from Logic Pro. As an Apple Product it might be the least susceptible to this, so we tried it first. 

In my research, it was recommended to play back audio while toggling the ‘Set date and time automatically’ checkbox (In the Date and Time panel of System Preferences) repeatedly to demonstrate the audio issues. We also ensured that the machine was connected to the Internet, both wired (via an Apple USB-C to Ethernet adapter) and wireless via the company network, so the Network Time Server (time.apple.com) could connect properly.

Once we started playback and toggled the checkbox, there was indeed audio crackling and glitching from all of the audio interfaces every time it was turned on and back off again. It was easily heard by everyone and repeatable regardless of audio interface, connection type, or Thunderbolt port used on the Mac.

The Behringer was (surprisingly) the only one that didn’t glitch as much, or even at all when used with the Apple adapter when I listened to it. Odd.

We stopped there. I debated actually recording something into the Mac for a long period of time, but I didn’t bring a mic, XLR cable, or any interconnects to record from another source. Besides, we had proved it was happening and my boss said he had an upcoming meeting with Focusrite – they have the resources to check even more thoroughly than we did and move this up the food chain with better data if they find what we did.

Everyone that did the test yesterday is an audio engineer and educator – not a programmer or a systems engineer. We discussed our opinions on what it might be, but don’t have a definitive answer why or a solution to offer to resolve the problem(s). All we can tell you is that in our professional opinions is that it exists, it’s reproducible, it’s been reported as an issue, and will also be brought up to a manufacturer with much more experience with this than we have. We also agreed that it will get fixed.

And that’s about it – which is why I find CDM’s ‘advice’ in their article rather unnerving, because I was not aware they are computer programmers or systems engineers – I just thought they were musicians and bloggers…

Their take:

 

 

 

1. Mac users on older machines should postpone upgrading.
2. Mac users in the market purchasing a new machine right now should consider a comparable Windows machine.
3. Users stuck with these models should use a Thunderbolt 3 audio interface, adapter, or hub, or attempt to return the computer in favor of an older Mac or new PC.

 

 

 

The first is a valid option, and the only one as far as I’m concerned. If you are using a machine that is doing what you need, there is absolutely no reason to upgrade – period. This is why my computers are older models – they still do what I need them to do.

Number two is an overreactive ‘burn everything down and start over’ analogy. Learning a new computing system, new operating system, and quite possibly a new audio paradigm (DAW, plugins, etc.) is probably going to stop your workflow dead in its tracks while you ramp up your skillset. Let’s also not forget that Windows is hardly bug-free, and the hardware it runs on can be a Pandora’s Box of technical issues too. Nothing invented by humans is perfect.

 

The third ‘solution’ is just a mess. What if you dropped all your cash on the computer and don’t have any left for an upgraded interface? Adaptors or hubs might not make any difference – as our little test showed. Buying older computers has its own pitfalls and issues too you know… 

(JPEG of Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard facepalming here please)

And then there’s this: CDM reports that iPad Pros are affected in the article too.

In my tests yesterday I’m pretty damn certain that it is not.

To be absolutely clear, when I first got the iPad Pro late last year, I did have some issues with the USB-C headphone adaptor killing the Wi-Fi signal (although the audio continued to work perfectly). This was fixed in a Software Update around December. I have had zero issues with it ever since – audio or otherwise – and it use it every single day.

 

So yesterday I fired up AUM on the iPad and recorded audio from a AKG condenser mic (so phantom power is used on the interface – extra current draw) though a bus-powered Focusrite 2i4 audio interface for just over 20 minutes with no glitches or audio issues. I then loaded AUM with multiple AUv3 and IAA instruments, MIDI plugins and FX (getting the CPU usage up to around 80%) and let it run for over two hours – again, no glitches or artifacts whatsoever. I recorded more audio from the mic after that just to see if pushing the CPU might affect things. Again, it recorded and played back perfectly. So if there’s an issue with audio on the iPad Pro I’m not hearing it at all.

I might have a ‘good one’, but more likely it got fixed in a Software Update and I just didn’t notice it. 

This latest ‘kerfuffle’ will get fixed too.

In the mean time, avoid the Dogpile of ‘Apple is Doomed’ nonsense. Don’t think Apple cares about the Music Makers? Open the App Store and check the Top Paid Music Apps:

App store LPX

Logic Pro X, djay Pro, MainStage…

This is a big part of Apple’s Ecosystem, and I can tell you firsthand it means a lot to them

And if you have issues they want to know about them, so they can be remedied.

Document your problems, report them, and keep doing it until they fix them.

Lastly, If you are ‘stuck’ with a 2018 MBP, MBA, or Mini that has this problem, I hope you find a workaround until then. We’ve found workarounds for countless audio problems up to this point, and guarantee we will in the future – regardless of platform. It’s what we do. 🙂

If you decide to jump ship and move to another platform, then I bid you good luck. But remember, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence.

Permission to Play

I’ve been digging through the gadgets and gizmos show at the Winter NAMM Show (or as I usually call it HotNAMM) trying to show all of you some cool new toys that were announced, and came up with a whole bunch of nothing. 

The was nothing really new. I didn’t find anything moving the needle forward. 

It’s honestly been like this for years.

The MIDI 2 Spec (if it takes hold) might push makers and manufacturers to change things, but that could be many years down the road.

It seems the idea well has run dry, and we might as well just pack it up and become Accountants or something, right?

Wrong.

Nobody knows what’s going on right now.

Styles and Genres are Decadal Influences are being rapidly sucked up in a vain attempt to create something that resonates with listeners. Spotify and Apple Music have opened up the entire catalog of recorded music for the kids to explore and plunder.

Gear I lusted over 35 years ago is being rehashed as the panacea for all our musical woes. Nostalgia is winning over futurism.

To that above statement let’s not forget about the return to vinyl and various tape formats…

And anything popular might as well be created by AI, because certainly sounds like it is.

The great ‘powers that be’ in our Industry have recovered from their digital desert and returned to actually profitability.

Are they investing in new talent?

Hell no.

They have no idea what’s going on right now either.

So we have a couple of ways of looking at this:

1) Everything stinks and we should just become Accountants or something.

2) This is a golden opportunity.

(Spoiler: it’s number two.)

Why?

Because when everything sounds the same, or looks the same, or just seems the same, doing something – anything –  off the beaten track perks up our eyes and ears.

And our imaginations.

Do something bizarre. Make something you know isn’t even close to popular. Run in the other direction.

You have Permission to Play – because nobody really knows what’s going on anyway. 🙂

 

MIDI 2.0™?

MIDI, or Musical Instrument Digital Interface, is one of the biggest advances in music technology of the past several decades. It’s approaching 40 years old!

As a standard, it’s held up surprisingly well over those (almost) four decades.

But about a decade ago, the MIDI Manufacturers Association (or MMA as they are called by us nerds) started thinking about how to update the standard for the modern musical and media landscape.

They named the concept ‘HD MIDI’. Yes, the ‘HD’ is exactly what you think it is, and yes, it’s a stupid name.

I railed against the idea at the time, and was even surprised to find its creator Dave Smith (of Sequential) was also not so thrilled about it. 

His reasoning was the same as mine – if it still works, why fix it?

Today, just in time for HotNAMM®, the MMA has announced MIDI 2.0™. Yes, it’s now a Trademark too.

You can read the preliminary here.

So do I feel the same way about it 10 years later?

No.

MIDI needs updating.

DAW’s as well as Music Hardware and Software have exploded in functionality and power along with computational technology, and I’m not sure that continuing to put ‘Band-Aids®’ on the original spec is going to cut it anymore. Some of the new tech like MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression) needs more than just an 8-bit Data stream, and faster communication and new control capabilities will most certainly lead to more innovation – which we sorely need in the Industry.

And the MIDI 2.0™ spec calls for total backwards compatibility, which ‘HD MIDI’ was not really certain about…

So hopefully these ‘tests’ go well and we’ll be incorporating the results into better bloops and bleeps very soon.

Now, what I do find very interesting is that Roland (who worked with Dave Smith to create MIDI) is on this upcoming ‘Prototyping Team’.

Sequential is not.

Maybe Dave still feels the same after all these years… 🙂

Life’s What You Make It

A long time ago I read a quote on the Talk Talk song Life’s What You Make It. I’m paraphrasing here, but it went something like ‘I love a song that makes me feel invincible

I had always adored the song (and it’s still one of my all-time favorites), but after reading that line I appreciated it even more.

So here we are at the daybreak of a brand new year. You may have already broken a good portion of your New Year’s Resolutions. You might be filled with the relief of purging a bad 2018, hoping for the best but expecting the worst (another song lyric) that 2019 will not be as bad. You might not really have any feelings except remembering to put ‘2019’ instead of ‘2018’ after any date for the next few weeks until it’s committed to memory.

But while I was perusing the Tweet Machine this morning I was struck with just how many are glad to see the past 365 days done and dusted.

I’m not.

I’m very proud of what I accomplished last year.

And I will do more and better this annum.

—–

Want to change the world?

Make every year, month, day, hour, and second count for yourself and those around you.

Because Life’s What You Make It.

Simply the most bestest Holidaze® gifts for the Musically Inclined (2018 Edition)

In what’s looking like a yearly thang, and with the Holidaze® squarely on top of us, APITE has again scoured the pages of Amazon looking for the oddities and just plain wackiness of the Musical Gift Genre to provide you with a bit of end of the year humor and perhaps even an idea or three for that person or persons who are impossible to shop for – the Star Wars fan.

Wait – Star Wars fans are easy to shop for. Musicians are not. Hopefully you’re not shopping for a Star Wars Music fan…

So are you ready for the madness? Are you sure about that answer? 😀

51 V25s+1mL

Last year we started off with a frog so why not lead off with other frog of sorts this year?

Probably Carcinogenic Smokey Juice. And not just any bog-standard fog machine fluid but Oil Based Haze Fluid, whatever the $#@! that is. And not just a teensy-tiny gallon mind you, but 55 flipping gallons of gear-destroying, stage-soaking, crowd-saturating, respiratory system-choking ‘haze fluid’ that is most likely banned in reasonably civilized countries for violating reams of UN Sanctions. But hey, if you really, really need a metric fuckton of stage smoke to obscure the fact that the band is incompetent, even-more-than-usual fugly, or still using backing tracks and just miming, then rest assured that at least you’ll get free shipping for that $1300 you’re dropping on this (ahem) mess. I can only imagine the residue left on everything in the vicinity of the venue after churning through this petroleum infestation, and the repair costs incurred on even the smallest of tours. Since it has zero reviews and no rating whatsoever, you know this stuff is just amazing. Now if only I could figure out why I feel like I need a shower after writing this…

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Mmmmmkay… That’s a pretty vague statement there kids. Let’s think about all the things that bacon is:

– Salty.

– Greasy.

– Fried.

– Cholesterol inflating.

– Potentially heart-attack inducing.

– Offensive to certain religions and/or vegetarians.

– Best dried out on paper towels.

– Makes an ungodly mess that takes ages to clean up.

– Delicious.

 None of these points are addressed in the description or comments. 

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Of course all of you know exactly what this is – it’s the Leelvis Portable Mini Wireless Bluetooth Speaker Nut Shape with Super Bass Stereo Sound 8 Hours Music Playing Time for iPhone Android Smartphone.

And we all know that since Bluetooth speakers come in every possible size, shape, color, wattage, battery life, brand, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species, the modern music listener needs something that not only stands out from the hoi polloi, but also shows off their passions and interests as well. And if it also  doubles as a self-defense weapon, well that’s just a bonus. This one is made from wood-grain plastic, and not actual dead tree carcass, so we’ll forget about that last feature, okay?

And since there are several others exactly like this in the Compare with similar items section I can only assume that somewhere in our diverse world, Nut-shaped Bluetooth speakers are the must-have gift this Season. So you can rest assured that that certain special someone in your life who needs an acorn-shaped mini-boombox will just be tickled faux wood-grain that they are on the cutting edge.

Personally, I  want to buy one of these as well as an adult squirrel costume (you can get that too), hang out at the local playground continuously blaring S.I.M.P. (Squirrels In My Pants) from the Phineas and Ferb Soundtrack. Official video of that song here. Official video of me doing it will never be seen by human eyes.

41GWnp KnDL

I guarantee that someone in your life has been pestering you about wanting a guitar. They won’t stop yammering that they want to be just like St. Vincent or Slash or Lil Wayne. This exchange occurs so you’ll be so annoyed that you will ultimately succumb to their whim, even though you both know they will spend 20 minutes with it, realize that it takes time and practice, and give up because they will only be Lil Wayne – not even remotely close to St. Vincent or Slash.

And guitars and accessories and alarmingly expensive, so the question always arises on how do you appease them and yet still retain your sanity (and bank account)?

Easy-peasy. Simply affix the slightly overpriced decal shown above to their wall and then happily them that you got them a guitar and matching amplifier. When they ask where it is, tell them to look in their room. They will then race to said room only to look around eagerly seeing nothing but the mere illusion of a Strat and mini-Crate taunting them. At this point they will sobbingly return to you saying how cruel and mean you are. Return to the room muttering to yourself (that last part is important) about how you really got them a guitar and amp and you have no idea what they’re talking about. Walk in, look around, and stare at the picture on the wall for a few minutes before declaring that the instruments must have self-immolated rather than be used by your friend or relative, leaving only the cold, dead, shadowy remains. Then hand them the Leelvis Portable Mini Wireless Bluetooth Speaker Nut Shape with Super Bass Stereo Sound 8 Hours Music Playing Time for iPhone Android Smartphone shown above as a consolation present.

Is it mean? Unbelievably.

Will you lose a family member or friend? Pretty much guaranteed.

Is it worth it to get rid of the Leelvis Portable Mini Wireless Bluetooth Speaker Nut Shape with Super Bass Stereo Sound 8 Hours Music Playing Time for iPhone Android Smartphone you bought because you saw it here? Hells yes.

Screen Shot 2018 12 17 at 11 16 13 AM

There are some great drummer jokes out there, and this is a pretty good one too. I like the attention to detail such as ‘1000% talent’, ‘300% Creativity’, and lack of being Off-Key. For the record I know exactly four drummers who can accurately pitch a softball, let alone anything musical.

I was a drummer before I became a Programmer, so I understand deeply the plight of the modern percussionist in this confusing, heavily-quantized digital age, but I would change a few things for accuracy here. I would suggest the ‘Caffeine’ part be replaced with ‘Wild Turkey’ or ‘Heineken’ or “Cat Tranquilizers’. The ‘Not a Significant Source of Quiet’’ is cute, but I’m deeply saddened the fine print includes absolutely zero mention of ‘100% Chance of being Time-aligned in Pro Tools by an ex-drummer Programmer’.

While we’re on coffee cups:

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Yep, the obvious Music Teacher trope blended with a dash of Social Media snobbery. So I’ll just call it an Octothorpe. Don’t you feel all smug and self-satisfied now?

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Imagine walking into the bathroom at a friends’ abode and confronting this.

Much like the Tuba shirt listed above, one wonders the message trying to be expressed here, but my guess is somewhere between ‘indeed, my intestinal fortitude has the same tone and resonance of a bass clarinet’ and ‘yeah, I used to play one but I found out it works better as a plunger.’

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For when you like your Cosplay mixed with a dash of sub-par audio. I know I’m old, but man you kids are just fucked up these days… I get Cosplay. I get Fandom. I even get that 99.9% of everyone on the freakin’ planet doesn’t really care what their audio quality sounds like as long as they can sing along with the latest Ariana Grande pop fodder. But combining these elements together is just heresy.

All I can say is that I hope they’re noise cancelling so you won’t hear the groans and snickering of passerby.

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This is the Simple Music Player.

In truth this is a potentially smart idea – a music playback device for anyone with Alzheimer’s or other cognitive issues. Good idea, right?

Unfortunately all is not happiness and sunshine in Simple Music Playerland. Do you see the bar on top that says ‘Lift to play music’? One could safely assumes that lifting that tab or bar would start playing music.

Uh, no. Once you lift the bar there is a black, recessed button underneath that you have to push as well. This button is not labelled or marked in any way, so I could easily see someone who just wants to listen to some Iron Butterfly or Frank Sinatra (or that sweet Iron Butterfly/Frank Sinatra mashup floating around the Tube of Yous) to brighten up their day continually fumbling and futzing with this thing more that any other music player that’s already out there just to play a song.

What’s even more confusing is that there are no volume controls on the thing other than two up/down buttons on the bottom that require a stylus or other pointed object to adjust. Yes, I can understand this as a ‘safety’ feature (and just how safe is a pointed stylus?), but what you have here is not only potentially confusing for the person you give it to (remember – this was designed for people with disabilities) but now you have to have the instructions handy to not only remind you how it works, but for any caregivers as well.

The reviews also talk about difficulty loading songs from a computer (no USB connection, uses a proprietary cable) and general quality issues, so I would venture to guess that even the most inexpensive of mp3 payers might be a better choice.

So instead, think of this is the perfect gift for someone you know who likes music but has such eclectic taste that you just want to mess with them. Load it up with a bunch of Chopped and Screwed tracks, turn the volume all the way up, throw away the special cable and manual, and gift away. 🙂

Oh, if you gift it put it in one of these:

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It’s The Little Guy (big love, Minneapolis!) as a rubber duck. Nothing more to see here…

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Shure SM-58’s (and SM57’s) have a reputation for excellent sound and military-grade construction. I have personally driven a nail into a stage with a 58 in a pinch, and I can attest for their robustness – the mic was unscathed except for a few minor scratches and it worked perfectly for years afterwards. This $76 pack of 16 replacement wind grills for your aging, spit-rattled SM58 is probably meant for retail or for updating a bunch of well-used road or studio mics, but there’s a better reason to buy these.

During your next recording (or live) session use an SM58 as the vocal mic. Keep telling the talent that their tone isn’t quite right and walk out to the booth or stage, unscrew the grill, and replace it with a new one from this box. Do this at least 8-9 times until you exclaim ‘that’s perfect!’

Now the vocalist will be forever scarred believing that these screens will make it ’sound better’, and will ask for them to be replaced in the future when something ‘isn’t right’.

Hilarity ensues.

(Warning – may ruin your career as well)

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And the piece de resistance:

Remember the Acoustic Revive CD Demagnetizer from last year?

This year, I invite you to behold the amazing Furutech LP, Disc, and Cable Demagnetizer

For the measly sum of $3000 (and only $4.50 for shipping), you can free your precious vinyl from the bonds of magnetic infestation causing the space-time continuum to rip to shreds, forever ruining the never-played magnificence of your beloved obsolete musique art d’object…

Yes, it will happily Demagnetize Compact Discs (and probably those old 2” Master reels of Ampex 456) as well.

But most importantly, it has the mind-bending capability to remove any traces of magnetic residue from your cabling!

(Whatever you say there Furutech. Did someone unload 55 gallons of Froggy’s in here? Its getting a bit thick…)

Just imagine the thrill of your ‘Audiophile’ Uncle Vince opening this on Christmas morning, scrambling to the interwebz® to tell all of his two buddies on The ‘Gram that his sound system is now way better than theirs because he’s going to methodically go through the house and demagnetize every single cable, interconnect, and AC power cord in the joint. He might even get up in the attic tomorrow and rip out all of the Romex so it can be demagnetized too. Top that you jackwagons!

Meanwhile your Aunt Martha is talking to your mother in the kitchen about how it was really expensive but that’s what he wanted, and Uncle Vinny is like Ralphie in A Christmas Story, dreaming on about all of the things this miracle of modern technology will make all better again.

Internet’s down again? Put the coax cable on the Furutech! 

Toaster Oven on the fritz? Demagnetize the wall socket!

The dog has heart worm? No need to go to the vet – he’s probably just magnetized!

The power bill went up 100 bucks after we got the thing? Well that’s cheap for all the things we’ve been fixing around here…

I want to thank everyone for popping by A Poke In The Ear in 2018 – you’ve made our transition over to WordPress a great one, and I hope we gave you a chortle or two, gave you some some insight into the current musical culture, and hopefully ignited a critical thought or two to take with you.

Thanks again for stopping by and you know there’s plenty of great things and even more insanity coming in 2019. The Happiest of Holidaze® to all of you and we’ll see you in the New Year!

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.

—–

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!