A random look at the life and times of Jim Rising recovering radio addict and newspaper columnist.

Monday, January 26, 2009

For Audio Geeks Only!

So I have longed to upgrade to Pro Tools at Huntsville Sound for a while now. At LCCC I teach Basic Music Recording which does not include Pro Tools (have to leave something for Advanced Music Recording!) but I want to be able to answer questions about it and gosh darn it I want to learn it just…just because. So I began looking for a Digi Design 001 on EBAY a while ago. My goal was to get one that:

A: Had all the parts, cards, interface, cable, doc’s and software for a PC install.
B: Was around $100.

It took a while but I finally landed one for $120 plus $17 shipping that met all the criteria. Plus e-mail’s back and forth prior to the sale convinced me that the seller was a good guy.
I have been using a Layla 3g for about a year now. Before that a Layla 24 for about a century. The 24 shit the bed but had worked flawlessly for a long long time. Used Cool Edit Pro then Adobe Audition and made hours and hours of music, voice overs and other projects. Very happy with this arrangement.
But now I am going to rock the boat. Is this wise?
The unit came as we had the worst ice storm in years. Studio is second floor, outside stairs. Not worth visit to the ER to play with the new toy.
Read the manual and got real confused. I am the sort of person who needs to read and do, not read so I put it aside.
When the WX improved I put the Sound card in and ran into my first snag. The cable to the interface is about four feet long. I need about 6’ to get to my rack. Bummer! So as you can see the interface is laying next to the monitors until I get a longer cable or figure out something else.
Powered it up and went thru the install. Password wouldn’t work for anything.
Tried other numbers the seller had written in the docs, no joy.
Took it back out and tried again and for whatever reason it installed and the password took. Whew!
Learned enough to start a session ( see Pro-tools for dummies in front of the console? Amazon for $4.) and recorded a portion of a CD through the Mackie.
It works!
I pulled up a new session with 8 tracks and fed all 8 from the CD. It worked fine. Played around with the effects and got them to work but with some lag.
I know the more ram the better. The Layla had worked fine on my bottom of the line E-machine with 512mb but I knew I could go up to 2gb. Or I thought I could.
Found a deal on EBAY for 19$ a GB-shipping $5 so went for it. Bought 2 GB.
Meanwhile I played with the rig and learned a little about editing. It is to me a very clunky way to do it but then again I have been using Adobe Audition for a very long time.
Memory came in and was installed.
Worked fine for five minutes and then the machine shut down and rebooted.
Uh Oh. Did this about five times. Hmmm…
Put the old 512mb back in everything ok.
Put one of the 1GB sticks in worked ok. Swapped and put the other in worked ok.
Hmmm. Both sticks work.
Put the 512MB in with a 1GB works ok. So I guess it’s meant to run 1512MB or 1.5GB. The seller will take the other stick back.
Ran a CD and recorded on eight tracks for almost 45 minutes. Played back great. Saved session and opened it up several times no problem.
Put the Layla card back in with the Digi and Adobe locked up real fast. So I guess I run one or the other.
Here is the bottom line. I can hear the difference in the Pro Tools. It sounds…quiet. Not that the Layla was noisy but the Pro Tools is like a needle running through velvet.
The learning curve on Pro Tools is very steep. It works nothing like Adobe in most functions and there seems to be about a hundred different ways to do anything. I will need lots of practice. Since I start teaching again this week I really don’t know when that will occur.
Pro tools lacks the ability to rip a CD. Bummer.
Pro tools (at least this version, LE) has no MP3 capability but you can buy it for who knows how much. If they even support it in this version.
My seller recommends Switch Sound File Converter but brings us to next problem. I have never had this machine on the web. So to download I will have to make a connection. I have in the past put stuff on a thumb drive and sneaker networked it but I wanted to see if my Linksys upstairs in the house would bounce a usable signal to the studio, maybe 100 yards away.
I have a wireless 2.4 GHZ on my Tivo so I got the driver on my thumb drive and installed and got a surprise. My home laptop has been configured for so long that it doesn’t look for other connections but I found two neighbors with unsecured connections! Wonder if they know I am here too? Wonder if I should secure mine? Bear in mind I live in the woods. These neighbors are along ways off, out of line of sight. WIFI has long legs!
I haven’t dl’d the mp3 converter yet. And to be honest if I get any session work I will for now put the Layla back in as I don’t want to experiment with a paid gig.
Just by the way I bought a LINKSYS WIRELESS-B NETWORK ADAPTER 2.4 GHZ USB 802.11b for the studio. It was cheap, just $9 plus $5 shipping (EBAY, where else?) It works fine but did it stink of cigarette smoke. I wrote the seller back and nicely suggested that he be aware that some people are sensitive to this. He took it well. It’s in the studio now and will probably air out after a while.

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