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Accelerate Your Mac!
Bring in the Noise
Mac Audio Column
by Thad Brown


When Bad Things Happen To Good Computers

What all of us fear the most in our computing lives happened to me-my main Mac died. The venerable and hard working UMAX S900 decided that it had seen one to many plug-ins and went to computing heaven. I had NO idea how much I had come to rely on that machine in my music making. Basically, I'm paralyzed without it. I had assumed that I could scrape along for a little while with stuff on the PC, but it's not the case. I could switch over to a 100% PC studio, but not without major work and leaning on my part. Having just bought a car (see below for some information gathered on that trip), there is NO money in the budget for a new Mac any time soon. What I was forced to do is cobble together a functioning Mac out of pieces of a few dead or dying models, so that I can at least run Cubase and Reaktor and koblo synths. It will get my by the next few months until I can afford a nice new G4. So, stop for a second and consider making music without your Mac. Scary thought . . !

[OT #1] Power Balladeers Lonestar and Amazed

You know this song. Twangy vocal, ballad, "Don't know how you do what you do/I'm so in love with you/For the rest of my life" is the chorus. Got it? Well, it's a former smash country ballad that was remixed for the rock market by a top Nashville producer/engineer. I don't know who did the original country version, I only know about the rock remix. He happens to use PARIS, so those of us on the PARIS newsgroup have been on the lookout for the tune since it was released. Here's the problem. They play it at my gym, ALL THE TIME. I'm happy that he's making money, and it's kinda fun to hear it on the radio and tell myself, "I met the guy who mixed this." However, my special request is that somebody, somehow make health clubs in New Haven quit playing that damn song! Every time I'm on the Stairmaster, 30 or 40 minutes into my hour long cardio workout, there's a short pause on the stereo, and the slightly twangy vocal comes on, and it's all over. The first verse is quiet, then the chorus kicks in with that big vocal and the piano lick, and I start to wonder if the piano is gigasampled or a real piano, and then remember that somebody said there's a TC Electronic reverb on the vocal. By the time the second chorus comes around ("Don't know how you do what you do, I'm so in love . . ."), I'm totally messed up and not paying attention to what I'm doing, it's one of those choruses like "Don't Want To Miss A Thing" by Aerosmith that sticks in your memory like a week in Sao Paulo with Heidi Klum. I know the whole point of a ballad like that is to write a melody that's hard to forget, but it's a HORRIBLE Stairmaster song. Finally the song ends, but that chorus keeps going around in a loop in my head, and I start to get emotional. Instead of wanting to work out harder, I want to go call my ex-girlfriend, or call one of the girls who might become my next girlfriend girlfriend, or buy a copy of gigasampler, or I don't know what. By that time, I'm down two or three dots on the Stairmaster because I'm so confused and conflicted about software and girls and reverb boxes and I've got the sub 100 bpm melody stuck in my head. It happens EVERY TIME! Please, somebody help!

A Few Pieces Of News

I've been so out of it I haven't been following a lot of audio news of late, but that's partially because there hasn't been a ton of new stuff out there. But a few things of note have happened.

Bitheadz is in the process of refreshing their entire product line. Unity DS-1 version 2.0 for the Mac is already available. Version 2.0 of Retro is ready, and they are pushing a VST 2.0 version of Retro as well. The updates are changing almost daily, so head over to their web site to see what is up. Interestingly, they have decided to fork their products into VST 2.0 versions and non VST versions. This just means those working in the wonderful world of sample accurate VST instruments have to pay a few more bucks for an extra upgrade. Not a bad trade considering what you get in return.

Be has released version 5.0 of BeOS for both PPC and X86 processors. Be has stated for some time that they were not promising a version past this one for PPC processors, and it doesn't work on G3 or G4 machines, so the utility and future of it as a music OS on the Mac is pretty grim. Worse yet, Steinberg and Emagic have stated publicly what we have all been hearing privately, that they are suspending development of BeOS products. I'll still toss version 5.0 on my PC one of these days, but it looks more and more like Be is the OS that could have made Intel hardware into a massive audio platform, but just didn't. The jury has yet to return a verdict, but it may well be another reason to look forward to OS X.

I'm getting tons of questions about USB MIDI interfaces, far more than I can answer, since I don't have a USB Mac. Someone needs to start www.usbmidi.com and collect information together to let USB MIDI users get work done.

Off To Frankfurt

I'll be attending the Frankfurt Musikmesse starting the 11th of April. I don't know what my network access will be like, but I'll try to find some way to send in an update or two. When I return, thing should be stable enough in my personal studio to get back to the important tasks of writing articles and making music. See you then.

Have an Audio question? Check the Audio FAQ first, then the General FAQ Audio topic area.

Send Thad Feedback or new links at: tcb@caliban.grendelnet.com

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