Part 1 Link-
In Part 1, I discussed Hardware considerations along with the general reasons for switching to a 64 Bit DAW. In a nutshell itís all about the ability to utilize large amounts of RAM for todayís intensive sample libraries and software synths.
Obviously this new system required the switch over to a 64 bit O/S.
This is the key here; a critical aspect for the new standard DAW.
After some consideration I decided to go with Vista. A move I dreaded.
Whilst XP 32 is a superior platform for those whose requirements donít exceed the 4 Gig RAM limit, XP is done. Even the 64 bit version.
Developers are focusing on Vista and hence the support for XP is already fading.
Vista is indeed the standard O/S for Windows so for now, Vista it is.
I should mention that my fears and concerns were largely unwarranted.
I like many though look forward to seeing how Windows 7 matures.
Every DAW user should now look towards utilizing 64 bit technology, unless as I said before they have no need to exceed the 4 Gig RAM limit.
BUT the time will come soon.
Youíll be unable to ignore the fact that developers are releasing far more RAM intensive libraries; soft synth developers too.
But thereís an irony here. The composer wants more realism yet at the same time is demanding higher track counts along with the ability to sequence everything on a single computer.
We donít want much do we?
AND let us not forget polyphony. All the RAM in the world is not going to help you much if your sampler/Player or synth is only capable of supporting limited voices of polyphony. The majority of quality software today shouldnít be a concern though.
If you already own XP 64 fine but donít buy it, you probably wonít find it anyway as itís no longer supported. Itís pointless starting with a dead horse. Sooner or later you will have to move over to Vista or Windows 7. However the move to a 64 bit OS can prove problematical.
64 bit is not the standard yet and whilst it will be soon many popular programs and plugins are not yet optimized or supported by 64 bit.
But this will change.
Obviously there are other considerations too; perhaps your software or Audio Interface is not supported by a 64 bit O/S. If itís an older product thereís a strong possibility that 64 Bit drivers and support will never happen.
So, if you NEED 8 Gigs or more of RAM you have a couple of options-
1. Using two computers-
Currently my Waves bundle is not supported inside Cubase 64 along with Vista 64. Thereís a couple of other Plug-ins too. It will work if I use Cubase 32 but I donít want that. So, I use MIDIoverLAN CP (see heading below) which allows me to use additional computers and send information back and forth over my home network.
I simply have Waves and other 32 bit apps installed on my XP32 computer.
2. New interface and or new Software-
May not be too practical but itís an option. As I said before the time WILL come and as Interfaces become more affordable while offering up greater features and quality the temptation to upgrade will be difficult to resist.
The not too distant future will offer us amazing synths and sample libraries and irrespective of what format, style, GUI or anything else the simple fact will be that theyíll be optimized for a 64 Bit technology. Because of RAM.
If EWQL and VSL are an example then the future is already here.
I for one share their sentiments.
For the Midi orchestrator and even the general sample library user there are two primary additional software applications you need to focus on. First is the all important sequencer and secondly the sampler.
There are 2 main choices for the PC; Cubase and Sonar.
Both offer 64 bit versions.
They are excellent products and choosing one over the other should be based on features, workflow, compatibility and what you wish to record. Your decision may also be based on what a friend or associate uses.
Simply trying to say one is better than the other is absurd because there is no such thing. However, one MAY be a better choice if for example your sequencing is mostly orchestral or classical mockups.
If that is your goal then Cubase 5 is certainly better suited.
The majority of professional orchestrators and composers use Logic or Digital Performer on the Mac, coupled with the notation programs Finale or Sibelius. There are however many who use Cubase on the Mac.
Few in the orchestration field use Sonar.
Many of todayís professional libraries such as EWQL, Garritan, Symphobia and Vienna Instruments comes with itís own Sampler/player so an additional one is not required.
When selecting a sample library that does not include its own playler you will probably have two choices for a format.
Itís important to think about other libraries as well and make sure that you select a format that is both common and supports the feature set you require.
There are a few samplers out there for the PC but for the past few years I have primarily used Gigastudio and Kontakt. I didnít like the other choices. As my focus has always been based on orchestral samples Giga WAS the best thing since sliced bread even though it was problematic.
I decided when Tascam ceased development and support for Gigastudio to search for an alternative. I didnít know how Giga would hold up with future changes in regards to operating systems and so forth. Also, most of my sounds came from EWQL and Vienna so the whole Giga issue wasnít all that important.
Kontakt has been adopted by many of the Giga users but it doesnít always convert 100%. Some have just stuck with Gigastudio. Others have purchased GVI which is great but offers little editing capabilities.
Garritan has now purchased the Gigastudio technology from Tascam so it will no doubt return in some form or another. I for one look forward to seeing how this is played out.
It is worth mentioning that many libraries come with a customized version of Kontakt 2 specifically for that release. The only problem with this is K2 does not currently support 64 Bits. If you require this for additional RAM you will need to purchase K3.
Kontakt 3 http://www.nativeinstruments.com/#/en/products/producer/kontakt-3/
This is the standard in the sampler roundup.
Itís an impressive product that offers support and conversion for a variety of formats. Giga included. A recent 3.5 version upgrade now offers 64 bit.
Every major sample library bar the ones that use their own engine is released with Kontakt support. K2 is the norm but soon developers will support K3. There is a huge following for Kontakt and tremendous support from end users which is invaluable.
I like standards when it comes to software.
Software is far more complex and problematical than hardware. It just makes sense to use something thatís popular because the majority of technical issues Iíve encountered have always been resolved through the use of forums.
This is why standards make sense.
Another advantage of Kontakt3 is its massive sound library. It ships with a 33 GB library that not only covers all the basic sounds but almost everything one would want to complete any genre of music. The overall sound quality is excellent.
Have I made my point? Just get onboard if you need a sampler.
As a rule I donít use soft synths. Except Spectrasonics Atmosphere.
Which in reality is a Virtual Instrument. I primarily use sample libraries. However, I do plan on buying the Spectrasonics Omnisphere which replaces Atmosphere and happens to be the most powerful Synth ever created. One can do anything with this beast. It pretty much covers all styles and if you can think of a sound, it can do it.
Whilst it does not address 64 Bits it will work on Vista 64.
This is a great contender to have installed on a separate DAW, even a used Core 2 Duo for $250. I think they plan on upgrading it at some point. They need to, like most quality VIs itís a system hog but well worth it. http://www.spectrasonics.net/instruments/omnisphere.php
Many said goodbye to hardware years ago for providing those all important effects. Today we are firmly in a software world and the variety and availability of high quality Plug-ins are well represented. Many Plug-ins are of equal quality to their hardware counterparts.
The one piece of hardware I will not part with though is my Avalon VT-747 sp Compressor EQ. This is the only piece of remaining outboard hardware I own. I have found this unit to be extraordinary for both Acoustic Guitars and as a general tool for mastering or polishing as I like to call it.
I should point out here I am NOT a mastering engineer and never would I present myself as being one. Mastering is the ONE area where 99% of us do not belong. Sure you can polish things up a bit but donít fool yourself in thinking that you can buy a mastering plug-in, hit that process button on the GUI and bingo! It doesnít work.
But I digress.
The big problem with Plug-ins is 64 Bits. Many Plug-ins are not supported. Probably most of them.
There are however alternate solutions to the ever popular Waves and many other standards. BUT this is one area that supports my views on 2 computers. One 32 Bit and the other 64.
My advice to those wishing to start sequencing or looking into Plug-ins-
Use the effects that are included in your sequencer, download free plug-ins or start researching for plug-ins that you can afford. Once you have some experience under your belt and develop a more discriminating ear you may wish to investigate plug-in releases but it is pointless in spending big bucks if you canít tell the difference in quality. Many people canít and depending on your delivery method it may not matter.
However, be prepared for quite an investment if you look at something like Waves.
Your other option, in addition to saving processing power would be to purchase a hardware unit like the good old days such as the affordable TC Electronic M One- XL. It retails for $400 and itís a solid unit offering sufficient quality for many end users.
For the Midi Orchestrator-
Well. There is one plug-in you do need especially if you are using or plan on using Vienna Instruments.
You will need a good convolution Reverb and your best bet is Altiverb.
Do NOT skimp on this as it will have detrimental effects (pun intended) on your final mix. VSL are recorded dry,theyíre dead sounding until you provide them a space. This plug-in costs about $550.
A more affordable alternative that I hear is great is here-http://www.knufinke.de/sir/
Thanks to this software composers can now utilize 2 or more computers simultaneously. It even allows communication between different operating systems AND between a Mac and a PC if need be.
The use of MIDI cables and hardware MIDI interfaces is now unnecessary. We must also thank USB 2 also.
All you need is a network Ethernet 100Mbps/Gigabit/WiFi/AirPort interface.
The obvious advantage in utilizing more than one computer is not to put too much drain on your master DAW. You should have your sample libraries or soft synths running on one and your sequencer on your master system.
Take a look at this must have release. Thereís even a trial download from their wesbite available.
This product is an absolute must for multiple DAW users.
I should point out that there is another similar application that you could try called FX Teleport.http://www.fx-max.com/fxt/
I havenít used it but from what I hear itís a bit finicky and harder to master. Many in the forums say itís not as smooth but you may wish to take a look at it anyway. They too have a trial download.
I should mention that this product cannot communicate between Mac and PC.
What you do not need-
As a DAW, it is important to treat it as so. Either you take your computer seriously or not. Thatís up to you.
Today many people us their computers for everything.
Gaming, Office, Internet, movie playback and so on. Most of you also use some form of internet security as well, such as Anti Virus and or Spyware software.
This does one thing. It places a whole lot of software on your machine other than the O/S. Be it drivers, programs or simply specific updates that are needed to use this additional stuff.
I donít care what people tell you, listen when I tell you that I donít use any form of security on a DAW. Nor should you. Nor do I install any other non music applications.
Iím always surprised when people call or ask me why their system is acting slowly or perhaps their sequencer is giving them errors. I generally start by finding out whatís running in the background and quietly chuckle when I realize thereís about 35 or more processors running.
Most are not critical to the windows O/S.
AND they wonder why.
If you really want to have a solid DAW for making music then either keep it simple or dedicate another computer for the internet and everything else.
You can buy a decent used Core 2 Duo now for about $250.
If you canít afford that you should go look at doing something else.
If you require updates or downloads for various DAW related software or upgrades, do it from another computer, you will be able to transfer data via your network. If you canít possibly use another system and feel it absolutely necessary to go online then use a product like AVG free.
Do not use software like Norton or other large system hogs and remember to shut off automatic running of ALL non essential software.
If thereís one thing that Iíve leant over the years due to trial and error itís keep it simple.
This is so important for a solid working hardware and software solution.