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!

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…

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… 🙂

TNSS: A. B. And C.

While I’m in Testing Mode I ran across a few things you might like to know. Oh, and I am currently writing this post on Edsel, so the transition to normalcy is off to a flying start – every passing day is another round of Apps with Bur Sur and/or M1 updates, and comparing Clara Jane to Edsel right now shows maybe 4 or 5 Apps (non-musical) I would really like to have. Not bad for about 5 days in!

And with that bright spot, on to the main points of this update:

A. While poking around the Interwebz® for news and updates I ran into this tidbit from Chris over at Audio Damage:

We have begun our port to Apple Silicon, and have already updated some products. We hope to have everything done by the end of November.

Having said that, it should be noted that our testing has shown that native Apple Silicon hosts don’t really seem to care whether the plugin is Intel or ARM. In our testing so far, our own products are indistinguishable in the Apple Silicon native versions of Logic and Mainstage, as are the other plugins we have tried from our friends in the industry.

On the whole, our general opinion is that as a producer you won’t really notice (or even be able to tell) whether a plugin or host is running native ARM or in Rosetta 2. The CPU load should be more or less the same; the ARM version may be slightly lower, but this is difficult to measure consistently.

This is super interesting. The reports I have read about both Apple Silicon and Rosetta 2 performance are showing that The Mothership® is not only going to radically change the whole Macintosh lineup not only moving forward, but that future really is right here, right now. I’m wagering the true ‘Pro’ versions coming in the next year or so are going to push computing to a whole new level, and we may look at Intel-based systems in less than two years like we look at Power PC Macs of Yore – doorstops.

With Chris’ post in mind I decided to do something to test it (and I need some Software Instruments other than the Logic built-in ones), so I popped over to Patrick Kunz’s House of Awesomeness and even though he says they are on the ball with Big Sur, Apple Silicon, and M1 support is coming soon, I grabbed NoiseMaker to see if it would work since I don’t think it’s been updated since the Catalina updates a year or so ago.

Installer called no fouls, and it passed Logic Pro Validation. A quick sequence didn’t break anything, so very impressed. More testing to come…

Validation Passed

Sidebar: TAL’s NoiseMaker is free, and if you like it please support Patrick and Co. by buying a plugin or six. They are worth every penny and you’ll be supporting small developers. I could say this for a lot of Music App Makers, btw… 🙂

Speaking of, the rest of the Audio Software Devs are assumedly busy at work as the news of updates has slowed to a crawl. Again, this is expected and as I live by the Venn diagram I put as the Post Header (and you should too.) I’m fine with it. Take your time and get it right, but if the Rosetta 2/TAL NoiseMaker test is any benchmark I believe the floodgates will open shortly. I’ll test some other small dev plugins as time allows before then.

B. I have had a very odd hardware issue with Edsel – the Apple Magic Mouse I’m using for it randomly loses connection and refuses to reconnect until I hit a key on the accompanying Magic Keyboard. Happens about once or twice a day. I have used the Magic Mouse with other Macs and even iPads with no problems whatsoever.

I personally hate using mice, and really wish there was a way to connect a single Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad to work on multiple Macs. There’s supposedly a trick of turning Bluetooth off on one machine and then on on the other to switch back and forth, but I couldn’t replicate that – Edsel wouldn’t even recognize either of the Bluetooth devices that had already been paired with Clara Jane. So I pulled my old HP Bluetooth mouse out of the ‘computer junk’ drawer and it seems to work as expected. Looks like I’ll have to get another Magic Trackpad, but there really should be a more elegant solution for this other than lining mApple’s pockets a little bit more.

C. The new monitor and arm have arrived and are put into place. Makes a big difference and switching between both computers is easy. Just the constant swapping of Input Devices is a pain in the you-know what, so I’ll just use Clara Jane’s built-in keyboard and trackpad for any two-device testing.

Desk updated

In the pic above Edsel is on the Big Screen, Clara Jane on her own for the Logic comparisons I’ve been doing. The Arturia BeatStep Pro and UA Apollo to the left of it are connected through the CalDigit dock for Clara Jane (you can see it peeking out below the laptop stand). I need to dig out an audio interface and MIDI controller for the Mini so I’m not listening to sounds from its internal speaker while pecking away at Logic’s Musical Typing keyboard. Time for a trip to the Closet of Discarded Wonders to see what’s in there.

That’s all for today, next time we’ll get into Logic – I promise. 🙂

TNSS: The Chimes of Big Ben

When you turn the new Macs on they make the old breathy startup chord sound of Macs of Yore. It even has a reduced sample rate quality that is oh so fashionable every year or so in the Audio Biz. I’m sure there are thousands of videos out there that demonstrate this if you care about such things. In my case I found it slightly…annoying.

Last night was the Software Update to the last Big Sur release. On Clara Jane, a comparable update (3.83 GB in this case) would take about 10 minutes to download and about 40ish minutes to complete. Edsel chewed through everything in about 15 minutes. There is some speed in here, yes.

The App Store updates were surprising – nothing needed to be updated. I did have to ‘authorize’ Pages, Numbers, and a few core apps to work on this machine with a button click, but a recheck for updates produced nothing. Nice.

Next was Logic Pro. A quick download followed by 40 minutes of ‘Additional Sounds’ (yes, I did the full 80GB lot). A box in the bottom left corner displayed downloading times and installing progress while I puttered off to have dinner. I’m not sure if I’ll put Final Cut or Motion on Edsel yet. I use them occasionally but not that often and they can be installed later if need be.

The first ‘3rd Party’ App I put on any new system is 1Password. They had released a Big Sur-compatible version (7.7) just that day so it was off to Agilebits to get the latest installer. Did have a glitch where Edsel refused to install on the first try, but I launched the Installer again and it went off without a hitch. This is foreshadowing or things to come, I’ll bet…

And so ends my first day with The New Shiny-Shiny.

The next morning I ordered a new monitor from scAmazon®. Desk Real Estate is limited and having multiple monitors is not an option. Told you to be prepared to spend more money than you expected. 🙂

Desk3

(Yeah – this ain’t gonna work…)

The rest of the early morning before EduCorp® duties commence is spent scouring the trade sites for info on what issues other users have found with Apple Silicon or Big Sur and hopefully glean a bit of info on Apps I use that have been updated for MacOS 11. 

For the Music Software side G has a running Thread over at MacOS Audio that is updated constantly. A lot of his info is from email dispatches from the Devs so you might have to do a bunch of clicking through to get the latest info. He does this for almost every System Update, btw…

This is one of the main reasons Pros will always tell you you to wait before updating your system. It’s a long game of waiting for everyone to catch up with the newness and work out the bugs and oddities. If you just check your fave websites and cat videos with your computer then you’ll probably be fine with the latest and greatest. For those who rely on Third-Party Developers to get a lot of their work or play done you have to wait until they have everything ready a few months after the tidal wave has crested. 

Strangely, the November 12th updates showed up for GarageBand, Keynote, Numbers, Pages, and iMovie at lunchtime – 6 days after they were released. Go mApple!

Found that a lot of my needed Utilities, Bartender, Hazel, CleanShot X, and Yoink! have Big Sur versions. Keyboard Maestro looks like it works too… Good news. There were some Upgrade fees involved with a few of these apps, but I expected this – about once a year they begin to creep in, and all worth the price of readmission to me.

Downloaded Office 365 before heading back into the fray and frenzy of work. Will test it later. Spoiler Alert: it works.

After dinner were a couple of things I wasn’t sure about. I downloaded the latest version of REAPER. Spoiler Alert: it seems to work – shakedown testing later.

Then to Valhalla DSP, makers of my favorite time-based effect plugins, based on a Tweet that everything was go for Big Sur.

Sean Costello is Awesome

This makes me sooooo happy, and what a perfect place to stop for the evening. Surprisingly, nothing else I installed had issues after the 1Password hiccup. There are lots of trips to System Prefs to make various Utilities work, but if you’re coming from Catalina you are more that used to this. Most of the apps walk you through the steps on first launch.

In the next thrilling episode we’ll start digging into Logic (and maybe REAPER too)  – and I’ll have a new monitor to make things a bit easier (fingers crossed).

TNSS: Arrival

About this time of the year I’m researching Stupid Music Holidaze® Gifts for an end of the year giggle (and we need as many of those as we can get this year) – but nooooooo. I decide to buy a new untested bit of computer hardware and software and walk everyone through the non-parted Rea Sea of lunacy we call ‘planned obsolescence’. Is it too late to end this and post goofy pictures of Vanilla Ice-themed oven mitts or something? Please?????

(Sip of coffee, 30 seconds of breathing exercises, and one last gulp of coffee)

So yes, it arrived as the Delivery App foretold. Head to the Tube of Yous for gazillions of drool-worthy Unboxing videos if you desire. We are proudly a slow media zone here.

Sidebyside

On the left is my 2012 Mac mini. Quad-core i7 with 16 Gig of RAM and 1.5 TB of SSD’s. It’s been a faithful steed for over 8 years, but it can’t upgrade to MacOS 11 which is why I got the MacBook Pro earlier this year. For those tallying stats it’s the 8-core i9 with 16 GB Ram, 1TB SSD model. On the right is Edsel (the Apple M1-chipped, Big Sur’d The New Shiny-Shiny). Yep, I’ve decided Cupertino can smell the glove – I’m calling it Edsel. The MacBook Pro still needs a name – like Clara Jane (you do know we have access to the same Interwebz® right? So do your research.)

For all intents and purposes they are identical (if you ignore the carbon scoring on the 2012.)

2012back

But from the back you can tell the difference. The 2012 has Ethernet, FireWire 800 (wow – memories!), HDMI, Thunderbolt (v2), four USB 3 ports, SD card slot, and separate mic and headphone jacks.

2020back

Edsel has Ethernet, two Thunderbolt (v3)/USB 4 ports (rather sneaky wording you did on this kids), HDMI (2.0), two USB 3 ports, and the headphone out jack. That’s a lot of empty back panel space compared to the 2012, and at the very least an SD slot would have been a nice addition. Hoping a MacFixit teardown will provide clues as to why so much extra space…

So the drill with any card-carrying AppleGeek® acquiring new hardware is thus: plug it in, turn it on, sign in with your Apple ID, then head straight for the Software Update pane to check for System Updates. After about an hour of waiting on these you can now go check for App Store updates. Wait about 20 minutes or so for that to finish, then open every single freakin’ App you downloaded to download the crud they need to work properly (this is mostly for ProApps like Logic and Final Cut, but you’d be amazed at what else wants additional content). By the next day you should be ready to start working, uhhh, I mean testing.

BTW: with new Mothership® Goodies this process will be incessant for the next month or so. You awaken every day to another Nagbox telling you there’s an update to one of the Tetris pieces inside that got broken since the last time you used it. Get used to it and remind yourself this is why you never buy Version 1 of anything from anyone. I am only mildly joking here, of course.

Oh, and if you’ve never set up a new Mac before you have a wonderfully rewarding few days ahead of you. I’d never spoil the fun, so we’ll just skip over this part, mmmkay…

I encountered the first major hurdle during the ‘turn it on’ phase – it doesn’t like my video cable. I had the old Mini connected via HDMI-to-DVI to my old NEC monitor and figured that since there’s also HDMI on Edsel it should ‘just work’. Nope. Edsel is starting to live up to its name.

My NEC also has a DV port, but that is connected to the MacBook Pro (Clara Jane from here onwards). I grabbed the Thunderbolt 3 cable connecting Clara Jane to my CalDigit TB3 dock and inserted it into one of the Mini’s Thunderbolt ports and Edsel garishly came to life on the screen. (Seriously – the default Big Sur color scheme is blinding…) So it works, but apparently not with my cable or DVI or whatever voodoo is baked into the M1 chipset. So now it’s off to do some Interwebz® research and probably to scAmazon® for the needed wiring. Hey – did I mention that you will spend lots of extra $$$$ in addition to what you shelled out for The New Shiny-Shiny? Yes. Yes you will.

In a flash of ‘Holy Cats – did I just outsmart myself?’ I remembered that I bought one of those portable monitors on sale from said scAmazon® just after I got Clara Jane. Dug the box out of a closet and was pleasantly surprised that not only does it have USB-C – it comes with the cables too. Plugged it into one of the Thunderbolt ports on the Mini and was rewarded with a blazing barrage of colors as Edsel’s interior workings could now be seen. 

Settingup

Told you it was garish! (And sorry for the poor quality – quickly snapped from my phone on the old NEC monitor)

In the next Episode we’ll actually do something with this thing and see if Edsel actually does live up to its name. Wish me luck.

The New Shiny-Shiny

Well hello there everyone! Yes, I know it’s been a while – what else is new…? 😀

So anyway, I bought one of the new Mac mini’s with (cue Angelic Choir) Apple Silicon. It will look just like the pic I attached to the top of this post and I will etch ‘New guts. More glory.’ into my desktop when it arrives as to have the full Mothership® experience. Delivery App tells me it will arrive very day as I write this. w00t!

So the new adventure here for a bit is to document this machine from setup to (likely painful) transition into a working member of the APITE family. Since most of what I do is the day-to-day rote of EduCorp® as well as a lot of musical work from creating to finished product, I’m hoping to give you a sense of the difficulties of major studio upgrades like this.

I’ve mentioned before that you should never upgrade a workhorse machine to the latest Shiny-Shiny and with that in mind my trusty Intel-based MacBook Pro will still be running Catalina (MacOS 10.5) and my ever-expanding array of plugins and apps alongside this testbed Apple Silicon wonder running Big Sur (MacOS 11). I’ve been here many times before with not only the PowerPC to Intel transition, but a raft of other Operating System upgrades and Software changes.

Based on my experience with those I’m very tempted to name the new Mini ‘Edsel’, but I dare not jinx the Cupertino Gurus at this time. This will likely change.

So there’s the setup – at least for the next several posts here. Since pretty much nothing (at least pro audio-wise) is working on Big Sur at the moment I’ll be running on the Apple Pro Apps with a smattering of Plugins that say they are cleared for duty on OS 11. I will keep you up to date with what is and how it’s going. Shenanigans will ensue.

Stay tuned!