This week I had some interesting conversations that made me wonder if those building the new Macs and PCs had been paying attention to the issues we’ve been discussing here for months. Sad to say, I was left underwhelmed at the feedback I was getting. Since QLSO is PLAY scheduled to ship on July 15, I thought it a good idea to give you a list of issues to review with your system integrator.
1. Has the system integrator know that PLAY libraries should use Soundflower? This question is going to “tweak” some system integrators in the center of their ego. So, one more time, here’s what you (they!) need to know. Both Logic and Digital Performer are 32bit and don’t operate above 2GB of RAM. On Logic, the EXS24 sampler has been designed to access 4GB of RAM. With QLSO PLAY libraries, to not max out Logic resources, you need to run any PLAY library outside Logic and route the audio into Logic via Soundflower. That’s because PLAY is designed to access the higher amounts of RAM.
2. Does the system integrator know that on the Mac, both PLAY and Vienna Instruments are 32bit? I refer you back to my article on April 25, 2008 where this was discussed.
3. Does the system integrator know that on the Mac, Vienna Instruments should NOT use Soundflower? I got this directly from Vienna’s Paul Steinbauer. The Vienna Ensemble is sufficient.
4. Has the system integrator spent their own out-of-pocket money to order in any copy of a PLAY library and Vienna’s Special Edition and Vienna Ensemble 3 to pre-test them on their systems before selling them to you? This includes authorized Mac resellers, too, including the Mac Store. Unfortunately, I keep hearing from some of the main system integrators that they’re not getting review copies of the software to properly develop (e.g., R&D) effective systems.
If a developer doesn’t want to give out an NFR to system integrators, they can make them available at a special non-resale system integrator’s price. The two to work with are StormDrum 2 and the Vienna Special Edition. Since a custom system is going for $3000 up (on a PC with 8GB of RAM, $4900 and up on a PC with 16GB RAM, and more on a decked out Mac), I’m sorry, but there’s NO excuse (read my lips – NO excuse) for a system integrator not spending a little R&D money (which is tax deductible in the US) to insure they know what they’re doing on your system.
But here’s the other issue with systems being built, by musicians for musicians, who, in not getting either an NFR copy or a reduced rate, didn’t spend their own money to effectively test: passivity. [REF – see my pre-4th of July Barbecue Chicken article for further insight].
You see, it’s just so much easier to blame Vienna or EastWest then it is to take personal responsibility and pride in what the company is doing to buy the materials to do the proper testing.
So I encourage you to ask the question.
5. Does the system integrator know that PLAY and GigaStudio 4 stream, but that the Vienna Instruments load into RAM? This is an important observation because as Jeff Laity from Tascam pointed out in the April 25th article, once you’ve hit the polyphony peak, it doesn’t matter how much RAM you have in the system, you’ve maxed out the polyphony. This is solid reason why for the sake of computing efficiency, you should have a system with a number of hard drives, I think 4-5, so that you have the C Drive, then one drive for each orchestral section, or however you want to segment it.
6. Do you know how many slots there are on the motherboard for RAM, how the RAM is configured, and the best way to order RAM so that when you upgrade, the old RAM doesn’t go into a shoe box? For example, one motherboard has 4 memory slots. You order an 8GB system that has four 2GB RAM modules. Then you decide to upgrade to 16GB of RAM. Now you have to replace the 2GB RAM modules with four 4GB RAM modules (4×4 = 16). So what happens to the four 2GB RAM modules you originally bought? If you don’t have another comparable system to put them in, guess what, you got 8GB of RAM you can use. On the PC, the standard today is a motherboard (aka mobo by all the in “geeks”) with 8GB of RAM. When you move up to a PC motherboard with 16GB to 36GB capability, or better, you’re now using a server board that takes the dual Xeon. Check the various ways RAM is configured so that when you upgrade tomorrow, you won’t have wasted, unused RAM.
7. On a farm system with PCs, is a motherboard with or without video being used? My personal choice, and it is a personal choice, is that I prefer motherboards for farm systems with onboard video. This way, if there’s every a problem, the repair is quick – just replace the motherboard. Not everyone shares that opinion. Some prefer a motherboard where you add the video card. Unfortunately, one issue when working with developers is getting them to tell you the specs of the computers they used for beta testing so you know whether there was a pro or con between the two options.
8. How many hard drives does the case contain? This is a very big question. The Mac Pros have a maximum of four (4) drive bays. If you need to extend beyond that on the Mac, you then need eSATA connections or other options. Skulking around, I found for the PC an Antec tower case that has 10 drive bays and comes with a 650 watt power supply.
9. What audio cards are now 64-bit/Vista compatible and Leopard compatible? I published a pre-NAMM list. But that was six months ago. An eternity has since passed.
Well, that’s my 9-point list.
So what do you think? Are there more points to check on? Less? Give us your feedback.