Friday, May 23, 2008

Studio Setup

Somehow I wound up with two Digital Audio Workstations setup. I had been careful only to purchase virtual synths that I could use on both mac and PC. At one point I thought I'd do everything on the mac from now on, but in the Studio, there are a few bigger hardware items that just don't fit the mobile scheme that I had.

Several things fell into place in the studio. I downgraded my computer from Vista to XP Professional. I'm really glad I did that. Now several things that didn't quite work in Vista are working properly in XP, like rewire in cakewalk. I could never get cakewalk to open Reason running on Vista, but now that is a possible way to develop songs first in Reason, and then just open them up in a Sonar sequence. Remote Desktop Connection works now using the mac as a client now that I'm using XP again. That helps me in several other ways, in my programming work.

I bought a Korg microKontrol MIDI controller, thinking of it as a portable mini-keys kind of conrol surface. The damn thing weighs a ton, made of thick brushed aluminum. I love it, and have been using it upstairs in the den while I watch TV, noodling around with ideas using the mac notebook as a virtual synth.

The core of my virtual synths are now Minimonsta, the minimoog on steroids, impOScar, Oddity (arp odyssey emulator), Pro-53 Prophet Five emulator, and Absynth 4. These all work on both PC and Mac, so that if I create a new voice or write something that uses them, I can transport that from one DAW to the other.

In the Studio, I've got the Moog Prodigy, Roland Juno 60, Yamaha DX-21, Casio CZ-1000, Korg Polysix, and a full scale M-Audio keystation 49e. I find that the mini-keys on the microKontrol are fine for dreaming up songs, but the full scale keyboard makes for better craftsmanship in playing them to ultimately record. Not always, but in general, my hands have learned their way around a full size keyboard without me thinking about it. I tried using virtual keys where you type on the "typewriter" computer keyboard, but that is really dodgy. It takes forever to practice even the simplest melodies to try and play them that way.

On the mac notebook station I've got Logic Express 7, which matches everything on there, so I have no intention of updating until I retire this notebook and get something newer. That may be a while, I don't know. I like to use my stuff forever until they literally fall to pieces. My Polysix is nearly in that state after the battery spilled acid on the circuit board and wiped out the patch storage. The Juno 6 doesn't have a battery thankfully. (of course it has no memory either)

The PC in the studio has Cakewalk Sonar and an M-Audio Fast Track USB ASIO audio interface. It is an entry level interface, but is plenty sufficient for my needs at the moment. I've got all the same virtual synths on there as the mac, plus a few others. Mainly though, it is a faster machine with a bigger hard drive so is more suitable for the heavy lifting.

I had some problems getting the ASIO drivers to work, but finally sorted that out. The Mac is so much easier to deal with in that respect. Some day I may go to an all mac studio, but for now, I need to work with the gear I've got, and am quite satisfied with it all for my current needs.

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