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Bring in the Noise
by Thad Brown
Houston, We Have a Problem
Hang about any group of musicians who don't know each other real well, and eventually the conversation will stray to the worst/weirdest/most fun/most intoxicated/most dangerous gig of each respective players' life. Previously, Biker Rally in Suburban Vienna Where Gear Was Stolen But Bier Was Free had held more than one of those titles in my books for a few years now. Well, this weekend we have a new contender. I'm flying to Houston to be a machine operator/computer tech for classical performances for flute and various digital toys. The real trick is that one of the pieces was written for an ancient digital delay box with knobs and lots of interactive pedals and switches. I somehow have to convince a new fangled digital box to do all of this same stuff.
I mention this for two reasons. First, one piece uses Opcode's Max as a way to trigger MIDI, Sysex, and sample data from a Mac. It's a fascinating way to get around the problem of trying to duplicate sound data for a performance of this kind if multiple venues and with multiple players. These pieces were written a few years ago, so now it would be even easier, the samples could be loaded into a sequencer/recorder, and the effects could be plug-ins, and all be causing much less stress in my little head. In the near future, there won't even need to be any triggering of events by the performer (now she has to step on pedals), and audio to MIDI converter could do that and the sequencer could "follow along."
The second reason I mention this is that I'm terrified that something is going to go horribly wrong, and I want to know if anybody who reads this column lives in Houston. If so, please contact me, just a phone number where I can call and ask where to buy a MIDI cable or a patch cord on a Friday afternoon would be a nice security blanket. Contact me at the address below.
The Future of Audio Cards
I just got my snazzy new (or rather used but new to me) Korg 1212 card for my UMAX. I went through the usual Mac installation procedure of
As opposed to the usual NT card install
Anyway, you get the idea. The card works great and I am now once again a very happy camper. The converters on the card are really fantastic, just routing the digital output of a DAT through the converters on the card was an improvement in sound. The ASIO panel in Cubase also looks real very tough now, all these ins and outs that I can't use because I don't like ADATs are at least visually impressive.
The reason I got the Korg, though, is that I am holding out for a mixing/DSP card, and this one was reasonably priced enough that I could pick it up and still have some cash early next year for a big purchase. The cards to look at on the Mac are the Lexicon Studio, the Yamaha DSP Factory, and the SCOPE/Pulsar platform from Creamware. I had pretty much assumed I would buy a DSP Factory, hard to argue with an O2R on a PCI card, but the Pulsar is looking mighty interesting as well.
I am trying to do a little special report on these mixing/DSP cards because I think that they are the future for the next couple of years for computer audio, native processing (especially with 24 bit files, ouch!) just isn't quite there. In my search for information, a Creamware marketing rep gave me the name of a person at Creamware who I was told might be able to answer a few questions about the Mac version of their upcoming cards. Creamware is a Euro company with a well established reputation for good hardware and good service, and the SCOPE/Pulsar platform is their first step into the Mac pro audio arena. So I wrote to info@creamware .com to ask some questions and ask to be put in touch with this person.
Now I know what you are all saying, "Hey Thad, how can you claim to be such a smart computer guy when you are so stupid you will mail to a generic address at an audio company? That's like asking the rain to go up or the sky to turn plaid, silly an pointless. Might as well mail to info@a_pigs_ear.com, ya bozo" Well, you caught me there, sort of. I emailed Creamware so I could wait a week and them pester the marketing guy to get my contact to email ME with some info. And I'll be damned if I didn't get a response withing three hours, not only from something other than an auto responder, but FROM THE PARTY WHOM I WAS TRYING TO CONTACT. I pinched myself a few times and checked around my desk to see that everything looked right and nobody had slipping anything in my iced coffee, checked my Eudora In box and sure enough it was still there.
So, kids, I'm still going to do that report, but I invite you to all head on over to the Creamware site and have a look for yourself. If they plan to continue this kind of service, I think that the Mac world should be ready to meet a new player on the block.
That's All Folks
It's been long week and I'm catching a cold and going to Houston, so not much else here. I'm doing an article next week about optimizing your Mac for audio work, and ware stories from the classical gig. Around the corner are some more app reviews, and the mixing card report. So keep those emails coming.
And let me know if you live in Houston.
Send Thad Feedback or new links at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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