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Bring in the Noise
Mac Audio Column
by Thad Brown
Very Quickly Now
Faithful readers. Not a lot of time this week to work on this article or much else for that matter. The clock seems to read midnight within five minutes of me getting out of bed. However, a few things to note.
Look Before You Leap
Reader reports have led me to believe that that Midimand card might have, er, a little way to go in the driver department. A few folks reported major problems, and also some less than Guru-like Mac knowledge at phone support. That said, I keep the faith, and not without reason. The Mac really needs this card, and Midiman has been posting newer drivers pretty regularly. I'm going to contact them again when I get three free minutes and see what's up.
The Apple Roadmap
Spent a day this week at a conference for Apple support professionals. Suprise, suprise, the report was rosy in the extreme. "We're making money!" "We're gaining ground!" "The PII is a snail!" "The new Java VM really will work this time!" "We're not telling you one damn thing more!" They played just as close to the vest with actual future plans as the current Apple rumor mills would have you believe. It was reiterated that the reason the Mach kernel based OS X won't run on non-Apple hardware was that it's being written for the G3 processor. Funny how that Mach kernel MkLinux and that monolithic kernel LinuxPPC boots so fine on my 603e and G3 upgraded machines. But I am griping, the presentations were excellent, and Apple seems to be headed in a focused and sensible direction. Even the PC diehards who I work with were impressed, Apple seems to have quit making really stupid decisions and made some good ones.
What does this have to do with audio? Just one thing, and I'll sound like a whiner complaining about it. I am constantly amazed that presenters and multimedia types are so incredibly unaware of sound. There were HOURS of slide shows with Powerpoint, and every single one had exactly the same sound, NONE. In case you didn't know, Powerpoint can include sound files, and in fact it's not a bad way to break up the monotony of 25 slides in a row with the same font in each one. If music and sound didn't make the user experience more interesting, and if it were not so incredibly good at producing emotional states without the listener even noticing it, all those movie post sound houses in Hollywood couldn't afford those million dollar digital mixers. The presentations were done on a 292 G3 Powerbook and a G3 server with dual UW SCSI drives, truly head snapping fast Apple iron, capable of audio feats that will take your breath away, and the only sound was to show the "Twister" DVD, and it was coming from a set of plug-in-the-wall-single-driver-makes-DJfood-sound-like-a-fly-buzzing "multimedia" speakers. Maybe that "multimedia" word actually means "really lousy sound." It's not hard folks, hire a nerd musician to do some sound design, spend $300 on some decent powered monitors and rattle the Windows. I PROMISE people will notice, or rather they won't notice, they'll just like your presentation a lot more.
I'm working on a few interesting things right now. First, Arboretum recently sent me a copy of the Metasynth for review, along with the new Meta-like MIDI tool. The even tossed in a copy of Ray Gun, their noise removal software specifically tweaked for removing record hiss and pops. Ray Gun review will be up soon, Meta and Xx will take some more time, they are VERY different apps. I'm trying to get a reader to do a joint article with me about how to structure a recording environment from whatever room you have. We have both revamped the physical layout of our setups recently, and we both do a lot of computer work. Unfortuntately, as soon as he realized I was serious, he quit answering my email, so I gotta little work to do on him . . .
Finally, there is that little thing I mentioned last week, the big time sequencer recorder. Still nothing in the mail box. I REALLY want to try this one out, but I won't say what it is until I have the box in my dirty little paw. Til then, go buy "Buena Vista Social Club" by Ry Cooder and get some sleep for me.
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