Letters to Mix

TAKING PROGRESS IN STRIDE I received the December 2004 issue of Mix today and thought I'd drop you a line to express my disappointment in what seems to
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TAKING PROGRESS IN STRIDE
I received the December 2004 issue of Mix today and thought I'd drop you a line to express my disappointment in what seems to be the dumbing down of the magazine.

The picture on the front cover of Rodney Jerkins looks like it belongs on a musician or groupie magazine. Where is the nice studio shot you usually have? To me, the true indicator of a magazine's value is the “Letters to the Editors” section. Where was yours this month? Surely there was somebody who wrote you about something you printed last month. You are not being progressive in your editorial policy if you cannot incite your readers to respond through the mail. The “Power Tools” feature seems more like a review than the advanced user tips you usually have there.

Mix has been the leading force in pro audio journalism for almost 25 years. Please don't let such a valuable resource dissipate.

A Mix reader since 1979,
Christopher D. Gately

MACKIE HDR24/96 DEMYSTIFIED
I was pleased to read Paul Lehrman's “Virtual Stuff” article [“Insider Audio”] in the December issue. He addresses a number of issues that I've been bringing up for several years now. When it comes to media, I like to refer people to the short story Time Shards by Gregory Benford, a tale about a museum scientist who, upon observing a spiral groove on a piece of ancient pottery, speculates that there may be sounds of the potter's shop recorded in that groove. Now that's an archive.

I wanted to clarify a couple of statements that Paul made about the Mackie 24-track hard disk recorders. I worked at Mackie around the time the HDR24/96 was introduced.

Paul suggests that the removable drive, carrier and data format are proprietary to Mackie. This is not entirely true. A Lian Li RH-58 or RH-40 carrier, available from several retail outlets for $20 or less, is fully compatible with the external drive bay on the Mackie recorders and is what Mackie uses in its complete package.

For the first year or so of the HDR24/96's life, some disk drives did not have the throughput to work for real-time recording, but any of today's garden-variety ATA100 (IDE) drives work just fine. While the standard motherboard's BIOS only supports drives up to 32 GB, a replacement BIOS from Mackie extends this to 120 GB. Drives in the 40 to 120GB range are regularly available for $75 or less, and can be easily removed from the carrier for “shelf” storage. No addition to the house needed.

The original release of the software for the Mackie recorder wrote standard .WAV files. The current version writes time-stamped broadcast .WAV files. While, like every workstation, edits are proprietary, the Mackie recorders can render recorded tracks to create one contiguous file per track with all edits and punches, as recommended in the AES document “Recommendation for Delivery of Recorded Music Projects AESTD1002.1.03-10.”

Further, it's not necessary to have a Mackie recorder to play back a disk from one, as Paul implies. It is only necessary to have a computer with a matching hard disk interface and the ability to play .WAV files.

In closing, I'd like to put in a good word about analog tape. While it takes a machinist with a pretty good shop and sophisticated electronics to build a good tape playback deck, once you know what a piece of recording tape is, it takes very little reverse-engineering to build something to get some sound off of it. Can you imagine constructing a CD player 200 years from now, having only a CD to work from?

Mike Rivers

[Eds. note: Mike Rivers has written a book that documents Mackie's HDR24/96 and MDR24/96. The Last Mackie Hard Disk Recorder Manual is available from www.cafepress.com/mikerivers.]

MORE ON MACKIE
While browsing the latest issue of Mix, I came across Paul Lehrman's article, “Virtual Stuff,” and thought I'd drop you a note to enlighten you about a product that works with the Mackie hard disk recorders. It's called The Amazing Firedock (www.firedock.com). This device allows the Mackie Media M-90 drives, Firedock drives (which are 100-percent compatible with all Mackie recorders) or D.I.Y. drive carriers to be connected via FireWire 400, 800 or USB 2 to virtually any computer to transfer the files, which are standard .WAV files, into a DAW for editing, archiving or backup. Inversely, one can also transfer files from a DAW to a Mackie recorder, although for the MDR and SDR, which have no GUI, this can be awkward.

Nick Joyce and Busta Drule
Amazing Firedock and NP Recording Studios

COPY-PROTECTION PUNISHMENT
I just purchased Velvet Revolver's Contraband CD and can't believe the crap the record industry is now releasing to the public. No, I am not talking about the music content or the music production. I'm referring to the MediaMax CD3 copy-protection software created by SunnComm Inc. that is on this disc. At the time I purchased the CD, I had no idea it was any different from any other CD I had in my collection. There were no obvious labels or warnings on the cover.

I put the CD in my car player and it functioned as it should. The next day, I thought I would simply load my new CD onto my iPod as I had done many times in the past. That's when everything changed. As soon as I popped the disc in my laptop, I was greeted by a message saying, “One moment please, valuable music licenses are now being transferred to your computer from the CD. This process will be completed in a few moments.”

Well, I waited and waited and waited for more than an hour and the message never went away. I tried to open the CD in iTunes and the file was garbled due to the copy protection. The more I thought about this, the higher my blood pressure went. I have mastered the most complicated consoles, workstations and actually have a U.S. patent for a mixer design, but I can't get this damned CD (that I paid for!) to copy to my iPod.

How stupid can the record industry get? Not only is it punishing paying customers, but it is loading unknown software onto my computer without my permission and without a warning prompt before doing so. This sounds like class-action material to me.

After doing a little online research on SunnComm and its history, I felt the best solution was to return the CD and get my money back. I hope the record industry gets the message. Sorry Slash, it was a good CD.

Kip Williams, president, Abaya Inc.
Kernersville, N.C.

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