Studio Hair Tearout Month!

Discussion in 'Studio & Stage' started by LSchefman, Jan 19, 2014.

  1. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Where to begin this tale of woe turned to triumph...I suppose the middle's a good place.

    I do music for TV. Mostly ads, sometimes documentaries, sometimes other stuff. But almost always it's music for picture. Back in the day, when life was simpler, but also more expensive in this world, that meant a 3/4 inch Sony video machine with SMPTE synchronizer, two analog open-reel tape machines with SMPTE synchronizers (one for tracking, one for mix down), a computer slaved to the tape machines for MIDI instruments, a TV monitor, and the usual recording gear chazerai.

    Gradually, it's moved to picture, audio, and recording gear inside a computer.

    And the recording software has gotten far more capable, but at the same time, requires more and more computer horsepower. This trend seems to be accelerating. So by the end of last year, in order to do my work, most of my soft synth and sampler tracks had to be bounced to audio, which interrupts the workflow, as my very powerful-for-its-day 2008 Mac Pro 8 Core started glitching horribly during sessions.

    So I spent several days researching solutions.

    I was thinking about the new Mac Pro, but they won't be in stores for a couple of months, so I decided "Ah, I shall upgrade my machine and thereby save some dough." I called OWC and bought nearly a grand worth of SSDs, a video card, and some other bits and bobs. After several days of dealing with headaches, and not getting things to work properly, and after much hair loss which I can ill afford, I decided...no. This will not work. OWC took the parts back, less a restocking fee (fair enough, it was not their fault, and because they were so nice I bought a thunderbolt RAID system from them later on in my tale, but I digress).

    Back to the original plan. Replace the computer. Simple, right?

    More time and research.

    It appeared that the more consumer oriented Macs had made gigantic leaps in power and speed, and for many tasks, they beat even the new Mac Pro 4-core. Honestly, I couldn't see buying a Mac Pro 4-core, as it seemed to offer no audio advantages over something like the iMac for audio production (this would be different if I did video production, of course, as the Xeons are powerful at that).

    I decided to try one of the new iMacs, figuring I could exchange it within Apple's 14 day exchange or return period if it wasn't up to the task. I got the one with the most options. While I waited for my thunderbolt stuff, I spent the next several days loading my software (this is no small task, as I decided to do clean installs of everything, and it takes a day just to download the latest system, the latest Apple software, and Logic, let alone all of the plugins, etc.).

    Troubleshooting the system without the audio interface was simple, but time-consuming, as I tried every piece of software, and every plugin before even considering the add-on drives and the audio interface. A few plugins were dropped from my list as being too buggy. I can't afford to crash during a project.

    And the machine is an absolute delight. It screams. The most hungry soft synths use half as much processor power as my old machine. Everything looks good for the Big Audio Hookup.

    Finally, the thunderbolt stuff arrived, and installed it. I plugged in my UA Apollo...and...

    Nothing. No audio. Not even a glitch. Just...silence.

    A call to UA tech support -- "Les, sorry to tell you this but there are reports all over the internet and coming in to us that the new iMacs with the fusion drive will not work with not only our stuff, but anyone else's stuff, either. You need to return that iMac."

    By now I'm ready to amputate my own head with a pocketknife rather than start over with a different machine.

    By this time, I have weeks invested in this process and I'm anxious, crazy and frustrated.

    So I do the only reasonable thing. I google the issue.

    As I read hundreds of posts on various forums complaining about the fusion drive being the problem, or something else, I discover a glimmer of hope. A guy from Apogee posts on Gear Sluts that the new OSX 10.9.2 beta 2 developer seed seems to solve the issue. But you can't get it unless you become an Apple developer. Meantime, I have no audio. I'm in the studio biz, and can't make audio unless it's on the computer speakers. That's not good.

    Neither my Apollo, itself equipped with the latest-greatest software (yes, more time consumption) firmware and hardware, nor the MOTU traveler I use with my laptop, is functioning. I'm plugging and unplugging and checking, and I'm screwed. Screwed, I tell you. And by this time, I've got money into such esoterica as a 30 foot optical Thunderbolt cable made by Corning just to be able to exceed the ten foot Thunderbolt cable limitation at $329 a pop!

    Frantically, I check Software Update to see if 10.9.2 is out of beta and into the general population.

    No dice. Panic ensues.

    There is only one way to stop the madness: return the machine (and go through that entire reinstallation nonsense yet again), or pony up the $99 to become an Apple Developer, and get the OS update beta seed to see if that will save my sanity. I'm just that desperate. I look at the announcement of what they concentrated on in the beta, and it doesn't say a thing about audio. Nonetheless, I hold my nose, pony up the money, and download the beta to my machine -- A warning comes up to the effect of (I'm paraphrasing):

    "This is beta software. It may kill everything on your computer, have sex with your wife, and sell your children into slavery. Better get on your knees and pray that you have backups. Beware. You can't go back to your old system. Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball. Etc."

    Gulp.

    I install this risky proposition on my gorgeous new machine (did I mention that the monitor is beautiful to look at and it freaking screams, and by scream, I mean that it loads an entire Logic session in a couple of seconds?). I am sweating it out as the beta installs. I'm also in need of bed rest and my blood pressure is around 900/200.

    I finish the process very, very late last night.

    Yes, I have audio. Contrary to popular opinion, it was a software issue, not a fusion drive issue. The beta update is indeed the source of salvation. I finally go into the bedroom to report that the operation was a success.

    "You look like someone who was just let out of the looney bin," said my wife.

    "You don't know how close you are to the truth," I replied.
     
    #1 LSchefman, Jan 19, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2014
  2. toothace

    toothace We've got, you know, armadillos in our trousers.

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    Holy Moly…What a story!!! Glad it all worked out!:top:
     
  3. andy474x

    andy474x Knows the Drill

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    Hmm... aside from the computer, I don't know what any of that stuff is, but I do know software compatibility issues can be a freakin NIGHTMARE. Glad you got it figured out!
     
  4. Rider1260

    Rider1260 New Member

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    Hey Les
    I feel your pain my Mac Book Pro is down for the count ( Don't upgrade to Maverick without backups :( ) I am coping 300 gig as I type and then my backup drive crashed also
    I think I will go play my 35 year old tube amp ( that always works ) with a nice PRSi or a 20 year old Lester
    Glad you got things sorted
     
  5. rugerpc

    rugerpc A♥ hoards guitars ♥A
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    I'm on the cusp if completely updating my practice management software and computers for the office. I'm anticipating a journey similar to the one you just took, Les.

    The only sanity-saving grace is that I intend to entirely rebuild my patient database from scratch to eliminate legacy data errors input over the years. It will be a monumental task. But my data will be the cleanest and most accurate that it has been in years. That also means that the current hardware and software will not be altered and can serve as backup during the transition.

    I'm glad you got it all sorted out Les.

    I had developer status a while back. Don't forget to take advantage of the developer discounts.
     
  6. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Wait...there are developer discounts?? On what?
     
  7. cyclops

    cyclops New Member

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    Interesting about the beta. I know Avid is not supporting 10.9.1. I wonder what Apple broke?
     
  8. toothace

    toothace We've got, you know, armadillos in our trousers.

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    Ruger…keep us posted on how that goes…a similar software/hardware upgrade is in the future at my practice also...:evil:
     
  9. sergiodeblanc

    sergiodeblanc Get in, loser, we’re going shopping.

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    Hate the upgrade game... I usually go the planned obsolescence route with most of my Macs, but then again I rarely have visitors to my "studio" and entertain clients at commercial places.

    Good luck, Les!
     
  10. andy474x

    andy474x Knows the Drill

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    I see what you did there.
     
  11. JustRob

    JustRob Just a member

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    I used to enjoy the challenges computers gave me. Now I would just prefer that they work. Glad your perseverance paid off.
     
  12. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Nah, it's all good. Everything works. But you're right, it's why I upgrade my machine only when necessary!
     
  13. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    The thing that was most freaky wasn't the long upgrade process, of course -- after all, I could have simply transferred all of my files with Migration Assistant, and instead chose clean installs of everything. So I was prepared for that.

    What caused me such stress was first, spending a decent amount on hardware upgrades, finding them not the solution, buying a new machine, and freaking out when I discovered that after all that effort, the OS had a problem!

    Fortunately...yeah. It's ok now. I can calm down and get back to business.

    Thanks for the comments, guys! Ruger and Toothace, best of luck, my sympathy goes out to you! ;)
     
  14. rugerpc

    rugerpc A♥ hoards guitars ♥A
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    When I was a developer, there were substantial discounts on Apple software and hardware, including entire Mac systems.

    I'm seriously considering dumping Softdent for a Mac based program called MacPractice...


    Cheeky, wasn't it?
     
  15. toothace

    toothace We've got, you know, armadillos in our trousers.

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  16. rugerpc

    rugerpc A♥ hoards guitars ♥A
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    #16 rugerpc, Jan 19, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2014
  17. Boogie

    Boogie SuperD

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    Les, despite how the software developers claim how their products will work on run-of-the-mill, off the shelf commercial Macs/PCs, I assure you - if you value your sanity and profit margin - that's not the case. You have to use an engineering workstation-class machine with the latest certified stable OS as recommended by the softwares' support group. You can't do enough due diligence...seriously. I support numerous graphic engineers, design engineers, audio engineers and CAD/CAM engineers and have for decades, so we've tried it all. My only recommendation involves something you already know...don't push the envelope. Something as seemingly insignificant as a RAID controller driver firmware version can mean the difference between rock-solid performance and stuffing a .44 mag in your mouth. Your pain is all too familiar. Sorry for the wast of those life hours.

    If you ever need to bounce ideas off of someone, feel free to contact me offline. I solve problems in real life and no one ever calls me when they're happy. Nature of the beast.

    FYI, this message was gleefully composed on a Mac. :top:
     
  18. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Thanks, Boogie! Next time I have to migrate to another machine, I'm gonna give you a call.

    This is the first time I've run into a problem with the Mac not being compatible with audio hardware! Since 1987, in fact, I was an early user of Performer and Sound Designer before it became Pro Tools, so it's weird to have this happen.

    The good news is that everything is stable, working well, and hunk-dory now. I've spent the past few days testing every bit of software and doing the things I do in the studio as part of the test, and everything's good.

    I've also spent a frickin' small fortune on the things you need to connect everything - special cables, a RAID drive, new software (Filemaker discontinued Bento, a little database program I used for the past few years to catalog my software, hardware, keep track of studio time, etc., and fleeced me to buy Filemaker Pro which admittedly is great), but I also decided to add some UAD plugins and blah blah blah just to get the most out of the Apollo.

    Also bought some long cables to get noisy spinning hard drives with fans away from my mix position, etc. One great thing about the new iMac is that it is so quiet! I'm used to that big Mac Pro chugging away.

    One reason I went with the iMac is that I can see that I'm going to be changing machines more often than I had to in the past. Since I'm in the box now, and I like the new features they keep coming out with, it doesn't make as much sense to stick 5-8 grand into a machine like the Mac Pro that I'm going to have to replace a couple of years down the road.
     
  19. andy474x

    andy474x Knows the Drill

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  20. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Do not be fooled. The world is not real.
     

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