Letters to Mix - Mixonline

Letters to Mix

NATIVE PROCESSING, HERE I COME! Thank you for a fine article (Pushing the Limits of Native Processing, by Tony Nunes, July 2007), educating us on the
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NATIVE PROCESSING, HERE I COME!

Thank you for a fine article (“Pushing the Limits of Native Processing,” by Tony Nunes, July 2007), educating us on the ever-increasing capabilities of software-based DAWs. Multicore, multi-CPU systems, faster disks, gobs of RAM, etc., are all good things to understand for folks who are tracking and mixing music. The costs of these commoditized computing elements is far less than a dedicated hardware-based solution.

A couple of questions: Did you ever take a look at the RAM usage during your tests? I'm assuming it was maxed out all the time, but what results might more RAM have made on latency and “snatting”? A GB more of RAM is a cheap way to upgrade a system. Also, I got confused when you switched from 88.1 to 96 kHz; the transition wasn't clear. Was there much of a difference in system load between them?

My take-away from your article is that it's a good time to begin to build a total solution around a software-based computer system that has the power to handle a decent number of inputs and software plug-ins. Hardware-based systems don't require as much fiddling around to tune a performance, but once you get a solid configuration, a software-based solution can handle a reasonably sized session. This has a dramatic affect on where limited funds are spent. Now we choose to put more into better preamps, clocks, converter and monitors, to name just some areas that always seem to cry out for upgrades.
Francesco Bonifazi

Francesco, thanks for the interest. To address your RAM question, I recalled one of the original tracking sessions and ran an app called SpeedUpMyPc, which provides real-time RAM-allocation monitoring. Surprisingly, the 88.2kHz recording session was only using 400 MB of RAM, regardless of buffer setting. Remember, I couldn't lower the buffer below 128 samples without experiencing snatting.

The CPU meter was being affected the most during buffer changes. However, as I installed plug-ins, the RAM meter began climbing. For instance, two Altiverb 6s bumped the meter up to 560 MB. In fact, it took three Altiverb 6s, three Waves TrueVerbs, three Waves Renaissance channels, eight SONAR VC64 channels and two instances of SONAR's Session Drummer 2 for the RAM meter to finally hit 1 GB. To compensate, I did have to increase the buffer setting to 384 samples to successfully record without oddities.

RAM is always a good thing, but during a tracking session, a fast CPU and good interface drivers will reduce latency and snatting. If you're planning on using numerous plug-ins during tracking, a RAM-fortified system is essential. As for mixing, increasing the buffer alleviates CPU stress, and the more RAM the better for tons of plug-ins and virtual instruments.

Regarding your question about the 88.2 to 96kHz transition, in the feature you'll notice that I am referring to two different sessions with two different interfaces. As there are many interfaces from which to choose, I thought it would be beneficial to use at least two diverse setups. As for the difference between the two sample rates, in my opinion there isn't much difference both sonically or on taxing a system. Some prefer 88.2 kHz because it's easier math for algorithms when downsampling to 44.1 kHz.
— Tony Nunes

AH, THE GOOD OL' DAYS

I wanted to commend Mix for the “Classic Tracks” article (“The Ventures' “Walk Don't Run”) in the July 2007 issue. I was gratified to see The Ventures getting a much-deserved pat on the back for their many contributions to popular guitar music. There's nary a guitar slinger alive today that didn't get some ideas or techniques from these old pros. I can recall back in 1964 as I sat in my dad's real estate office with a Fender Mustang in my lap, wondering what to do with it. The very first thing I did was put on a Ventures album and pick out the bass line by pressing a finger on the E string and searching around — with the guitar still laying in my lap!

In a few months, I had learned the chord progression of “Walk Don't Run” and “Windy and Warm,” and then started picking out the leads. What a wonderful feeling it was! It was like I was an explorer and had discovered a new country. In later years, I learned that feeling was one of the absolute truths to music: communicating to others with the thoughts and feelings evoked from simply listening to or sharing a good melody. And those guys didn't have “little black boxes” to create excitement for the listener; they did it with style and feeling. Alas, much of that concept is lost on many of today's current crop of players.

It was kind of ironic for me to read this article, as just a week or so ago I dug out all of my Ventures albums — I have 30 of them — and made a “best-of” CD for my car. It was tough picking out 70 minutes of music from that huge list of songs. And it also reminded me that a couple of years ago, I shared my love for instrumental music with an old friend, Stephen St.Croix. He and I both placed “Walk Don't Run” and “Green Onions” at the top of our personal best list. I made him a special instrumental CD and sent it to him. Last year, after his passing, [his widow] Teresa found that CD, still in the player of his favorite car. I hope she doesn't mind my sharing this little tidbit with you and your readers.
Bob Ketchum
Cedar Crest Studio

TALKBACK

As Mix celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, we've asked our readers to tell us about their favorite pro audio moment — in recording, live, post, tradeshow, whatever! — in the past 30 years. Here's one of those moments:

Up until this day, the key experience for me in music listening/engineering was when I was an intern at Mad Hatters Studio in L.A. Bernie Kirsh (longtime house engineer for Chick Corea) was mixing something on his Tannoy Little Golds (I think they were customized), and I was just blown away. I couldn't believe that recorded music could sound this good! That's how it all started for me, and I still remember the chills that moment gave me as if it were yesterday.
Jan Kroeni

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