Letters to Mix

TRIBUTE TO CHICAGO INTERNS I would like to thank Mix magazine for the article entitled CRAS Interns, Remembered [ July 2005]. Your compassion was greatly

I would like to thank Mix magazine for the article entitled “CRAS Interns, Remembered” [“Current,” July 2005]. Your compassion was greatly appreciated. Justin [McDonald] was a close friend during school. We met again in Chicago, and he introduced me to Chris [Ross] and Tanner [Osborn]. I had been teaching Chris electronics; he was a bright mind, dedicated and eager to learn. Tanner taught me the ropes of hip hop production.

These are the type of people that grace the pages of your magazine. They all had bright futures ahead of them, and their loss was an unimaginable tragedy.
Kevin Hooper
CRAS graduate/former RaxTrax intern

Your contributors to the May issue may not agree on what quality is, but they seem to agree wholeheartedly that the rise of the home studio is one of “so many problems today.” The issue is rife with disparaging comments on the subject and collectively serves to paint a picture of the home studio as a roomful of boneheads with an Mbox thinking that they are Steve Albini whilst plotting the demise of the commercial recording industry.

One article even goes so far as to blame home studios for the demise in pro audio sales — absurd given the rapid growth in “prosumer” market-share! Bill Schnee makes an important distinction between professional audio capture and professional audio engineering, but the simple fact is that quality has never been better or more available to budding recording enthusiasts and independent artists. After a year of recording in Pro Tools LE, I do not consider myself a professional by any stretch of the imagination, but recordings I have done in my bedroom far surpass material I recorded in a professional studio six years ago.
Chris Grigsby

Chris, you raise an excellent point. Ever since the first affordable digital recorders came out (even before the ADAT, going back to Sony's then-revolutionary PCM-F1 in 1982), price was no longer an issue in terms of quality. In fact, many pro projects were mixed to DAT — a consumer format. Perhaps aside from access to some wonderful acoustic spaces that many pro studios offer, in many cases, the quality of the gear is on an even par.

I have always promoted the concept that great recordings come from a great performance and great material, rather than a hugely expensive console. In fact, with the right artist/material, someone with a Rhodes piano and a couple of mics could make a more emotional, awesome recording than somebody with 10,000 tracks.
— George Petersen

Thanks for the great articles in the March 2005 of Mix [“Elephant Symphony Now Open,” “Current”] and “Two Questions, One Answer” [“The Fast Lane”] “The Fast Lane” article clearly laid out, for the first time that I have seen, where we are headed with music and recording technology.

My 13-year-old son, Jamison, has been a musician since age six and is an accomplished guitarist. Both son and daughter [Amanda] have recorded at Elephant Symphony Studios in North Hollywood and have created some beautiful music there. Jamison finished a studio piece about six months ago and mentioned that he had another song to do but needed an orchestra. I poked around on my computer and found Cakewalk Music Creator and set him up on that. He cranked out several pieces using the scoring program and finally hit the wall on the quality of the sounds. After searching the Net, and talking with friends, musicians and composers, I bought him Garritan Personal Orchestra. He recently finished a seven-minute orchestral piece and has started another one. Where else could a [young] composer command a full orchestra?

We love the sounds the program makes and will be looking at Finale 2006 when it is released. Right now, Jamison is making fantastic music — with some technical limits — using a program that was inexpensive. It has given him a strong start and has put him on a fantastic learning curve in dealing with an orchestra.
Jorj Baker
IT tech support specialist

This is in response to “An Open Letter to the Head Apple?” article by Paul D. Lehrman [“Insider Audio,” April 2005]. I find it hilarious to find that musician/engineer/producers who utilize computers, irregardless of platform, on a daily basis spend hours upon hours learning their craft and learning their software, yet spend very little time actually learning about the operating system behind the program.

It is one thing to complain about music software that doesn't do what the company says it will, and God knows every single DAW application is guilty of that, but not taking the time to understand your operating system properly is simply a recipe for disaster.

I cannot understand people who complain about losing files when they don't understand the term “backup.” Simply having a single copy of “all your files for the last 20 years” on a hard drive that you didn't even bother testing before you erased your main drive is stupid. If you can't afford to lose your data, then learn how to manage it or buy yourself an analog tape machine and some hardware samplers and don't ever use your computer for music again.

Invest the time to learn about the operating system you use: how it works, what to do when things go wrong and how to safely backup, transfer and restore data. Operating systems are very complex these days, and they will continue to evolve and become more complex. It is no longer excusable for people to blame someone else because they set up their machine to auto-update the OS, only to find half of their applications don't work anymore.

Please set up a test box that you can play with before deploying any major upgrades into your daily work machines! We all spend thousands of dollars on outboard gear; spend a few more dollars to assist in limiting studio downtime due to installations gone wrong.

As a technical manager, I support more than 50 Mac machines and a number of servers running on OS X. I have, over the years, supported many Windows boxes and I can safely say that — without wanting to start an OS war here — the Mac OS is streets ahead of Windows in power, flexibility and management.

That said, no OS is perfect and Paul does make some useful suggestions to Apple. But as no OS will ever be perfect, take the time to learn how to use your computer, not just your music program.
Cameron Mitchell

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