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January 18, 2005
MUSICBLOGGING: I've been upgrading my studio setup a bit lately, and since people sometimes ask about it, here's what's going on. I've just ordered this little Mackie mixer, replacing this cheap little Behringer which doesn't suck, but which isn't great, either. (The Mackie also has XLR outs, which lets you use it as a sound mixer with a video camera that has XLR ins, which is useful.) I bought a "blem" model from Musician's Friend, which made it cheap (plus Musician's Friend gives you a decent discount if you're an ASCAP member, which I am). I don't care if it has scratches, since nobody but me sees it.
I've upgraded from Cool Edit Pro to its new version, Adobe Audition 1.5, which offers good CD burning and ReWire support -- and Adobe didn't screw up the user interface, which I was sort of worried about. I got a good discount at the UT bookstore, too. I'm still using Sonic Foundry Acid 4.0 as my loop-sequencing software; there's a newer version from Sony (which bought this chunk of Sonic Foundry a while back) but I can't see a reason to upgrade. Tell me if I'm wrong about that, if you've made the move and found it worthwhile.
Of course, what I really need is a gadget that will give me more free time. I'm still looking for that . . . .
UPDATE: Michael Ubaldi emails:
I was introduced to Cool Edit in 1996; I've owned CEP since 1999. It's a good thing the Syntrillium boys are still working for Adobe the last time I checked, since the audio industry's most intuitive, user-friendly PC producing application was made twice as good with an attentive, amicable company behind it.
For mixing, I've moved to Cakewalk's Sonar. The mixing engine gives me better sonic results, and some of Sonar 4's features (which include a lot of good ideas from CEP) are just out of this world. But I still use Audition for heavy-duty splicing and single-wave editing. Better noise/click/pop reduction cannot be found elsewhere.
RME Hammerfall sound card. Mixer is an Allen & Heath. But my nearfields are good old Mackies.
Free time. Eh, it was meant to be found, used and stretched.
I've kept the Alesis Monitor Zeros. Our "real" studio (ADAT-based, with a Studiomaster Trilogy mixer and Alesis Monitor Twos) is in Doug Weinstein's basement, but even Doug does most of his work on the computer now. My copy of Cubase runs on the computer there. I've never used it that much, now that I can host VST instruments elsewhere. It's a very powerful program, but I never liked its user interface.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Sean Neves emails:
Glen, I love the fact that you're looping audio, but Acid? Acid is so 2002. Really, there's an audio looping program to end all audio looping programs. It's name is Ableton Live (v4). It has full MIDI capabilities, but it's focus is definitely audio. You expressed frustration with the user interface of Cubase (I can relate, I use Nuendo for my scoring and multitracking). Live's interface is beatifull
and simple. Its' performance interface resembles an entire screen of tape transports. Hit the play button and you're in bidness. Much of preproduction that you're used to in Acid are now done automaticly by Live. The arrangement side is equally simple, but the strength of Live is it's performance capabilities, and it' quite robust. I've used it in dozens of live situations, with varying instrumentation, and it has never failed me (knock on wood). A few examples can be found on my site www.singerswapp.com (although the compression I've used sucks--to be fixed soon). Also, check my blog INFDL.blogspot.com. There will be plenty of musicblogging in the future, in addition to my usual pontification.
Yeah, that's me -- so 2002! I've thought of Ableton Live, which I hear is good, but I'm used to Acid and spending money for, and then learning, a new program to do more or less the same thing is more than I'm up for. Mark Rushton, apparently, feels the same:
I've been using Acid Pro 4.0 since the upgrade from 3.0 Pro came out a few years ago and found little reason to spend any money to upgrade to 5.0, despite all the extras and loops that were thrown in to the package.
I'm too busy being creative to worry about new bells and whistles.
I wasn't enticed by the Sound Forge Audio Studio 7 "mastering" software either. Maybe it's OK. I'm not a sound engineer with years of experience, so I'd rather send my tracks to a proper studio where professional ears can do the job.
So there you are.
MORE: Ed Driscoll -- who's a happy user of Sonar himself -- has much more on home recording. Here's more on Sonar, which I've never used but which I hear is pretty good. (It has the reputation in my circles of being less professional, somehow, than Cubase but I think that's probably just prejudice without any real basis). And some people wonder why I don't use the Mackie Spike instead of the mixer. Mainly because it's just a computer interface, while the mixer is a standalone mixer than can also do sound on video shoots; the mixer's also cheaper. It (the Spike) got a good review in Electronic Musician this month, though.