SIX DEGREES OF (TECHNO-POLITICAL) SEPARATION
You guys really ought to consider retiring [Paul Lehrman]. If his juvenile political rantings (the '60s are over) were not bad enough to make me hurl, now I read how he would rather be using OMS than Core Audio and MIDI! Is he joking? Seriously. He must be kidding. Was this one of those April Fool's things?
My system has not crashed a single time since I've been using OS X — about two-and-a-half years now. I know many, many people using OS X for audio work. Apparently, this guy who's been using Apple for 25 years hasn't learned much yet. OS X has been a dream OS for doing audio work. Maybe you should just switch to Digital Performer or something, Paul.
THE DIGITAL DOCTORS DIAGNOSE DAW PROBLEMS
I am a New York City — area songwriter, producer and engineer. I currently run a business called Digital Doctors and have been helping studio owners and home-based recording facilities take the mystery out of everything — from new software and difficult tech support issues to complex synchronization problems — for 20 years.
I recently read the “Feedback” article from Toby Gad (March 2005) and the response from Digidesign (April 2005) and just had to write about the experiences I have run into with both my clients and myself since Apple has taken Emagic from the Logic users community.
There are far too many similarities between what Toby describes in his yearlong nightmare and the clients I service. In the first months of Logic Pro 7's release, I had a huge demand for help with Logic and the endless amount of crashes it produced. [The users were] seasoned vets to the platform, many of them onboard since the Atari days, myself included. A majority of them used Pro Tools|HD hardware.
It was brought to my attention that AudioUnits was the culprit. It seemed that Apple rewrote the code on how Logic incorporates and handles AudioUnits under its hood and with no warning to the public. There are still a few mysteries and crashes that I can't explain, like if we take a break during a session and return an hour later, there's no audio out — we need to restart to re-acquire the hardware to continue.
My Autoload has been rebuilt so many times that I can easily say I have lost years of my life. I realize that even the slightest change in a system can be the cause of a thorn in your side, but the fact that Toby spoke to someone at Apple tech support and got a response like, “Who said Logic would work with Digidesign HD?” is a joke, but it's not very funny.
Apple does ship a bunch of new manuals with Logic, one of them explaining how to use TDM with Logic, but even for the common user, this is very confusing. It's very easy for someone in tech support over the phone who has never seen a particular studio setup to give advice. Most tech support help reads from fact sheets, [saying], “Trash these preferences, run the validation test, rebuild Autoload.” And when it doesn't fix the problem, “Re-install the OS.” They want you to remove all third-party everything until you have no studio left to operate.
Having a broad understanding of all components involved usually helps me reveal several problems in a user setup, but this is definitely a very different scenario: All the calls I get (MOTU hardware excluded) always involve Digi hardware with LP7 [Logic Pro 7]. I always seem to rectify the problem while I'm on-site. Once I'm gone, the client always calls back [to tell me] how, during a very simple operation, the program unexpectedly quits and continues to do so. This either results in me giving free phone support to my client that already paid me or some sort of refund. Either way, it costs me to the point where I'm ready to drop the claim that these products work seamlessly together. Ironically, using either of these applications separately works perfectly: Digi with its own hardware and Logic native under Core Audio. Coincidence?
I would hope that all my clients, myself and everyone else experiencing problems with LP7 and Digi hardware, are just experiencing some issues that have not been worked out yet by these two companies.
I still have clients running OS 9 versions of Logic with Digi hardware who refuse to upgrade because of the fear that things won't work properly. That's no way to live. Maybe we should just hope and pray. [Editor's note: According to Apple, most of the Logic issues mentioned here are addressed in the recently released Logic 7.1 upgrade.]
TRACKING PROG ROCK'S PROGRESS
I've been a Mix magazine reader for the past year-and-a-half or so. Even though I am not a mixer or producer, I love the engineering part of music. The reason I am writing is because I am a progressive rock listener. And, as always, prog rock has been forgotten in Mix magazine.
Recently, Yes toured for their 35th anniversary with Dream Theater. Rush also toured for their anniversary. Marillion toured in the U.S. for the first time in several years. Progressive rock bands have been touring the U.S. extensively during the past two years or so, and I have not seen any articles on them — not even when they enter the studio. Progressive rock has always been underrated and excluded from the radio, even though most prog rockers are amazing musicians and a lot of them do their own engineering. (Henning Pauly from ProgRock Records has recorded four albums during the past year or so with Sebastian Bach [of Skid Row] and James LaBrie from Dream Theater.) They use a lot of equipment, and it would be really interesting to see how they record their music.
Doug Oberkircher is an excellent engineer and has been in the business a long time. Kevin Shirley is a great mixer (Journey, Aerosmith, Iron Maiden, Dream Theater, Led Zeppelin). Steven Wilson from Porcupine Tree, besides being a musician and lead man for his band, has a great talent for mixing and producing. I could go on and on. ProgRock Records president Shawn Gordon recently launched Mindawn (an online music store specializing in progressive rock at www.mindawn.com). There is a lot of stuff going on in this side of the business and it is still neglected. It would really be a shame if prog rock was also excluded from the music engineering side.
(For the record, Oscar, we ran a profile of Kevin Shirley in March 2002, Rush in September 2002, Porcupine Tree in April 2003 and Alan Parsons — who's borderline prog — in December 2004. — Blair Jackson, senior editor)
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