Spending the day troubleshooting…. I recently upgraded my primary audio software from Pro Tools 8 to PT 10. Unfortunately, I have long been stuck in this cycle of writing, editing, and mixing music on an archaic setup, which is centered around an old Dell XPS computer running Windows XP. Growing up using both Windows AND Apple computers, I can tell ya that they both work great for simple tasks… but once you get down to business, Windows systems are completely inefficient while Macs take the gold medal.
With Pro Tools, a lot of things are happening at once. You have things moving and scrolling in the mix and edit windows, plugins are doing some processing, and information is being consolidated and sent to the sound and video cards. Windows XP has just never been able to handle those tasks well while running Pro Tools 8. The output emitting from the speakers randomly becomes completely distorted and is only solved by either 1)stopping and restarting the playback 5, 6, 7 times, sometimes more or 2)getting into my settings and changing how much information the computer buffers before it’s translated into an audible signal.
Being a little behind the times here computer-wise, Pro Tools 10 isn’t supported on my old XP system, so I just have it installed on a Macbook Pro… well, the MBP doesn’t have two, big fancy displays to show what’s going on in both the edit and mix windows, so I keep going back to Pro Tools 8 to work with. Well, today I just had enough, as I kept running into that distorted signal roadblock over and over and over again, while mixing a song called “Don’t Look Down.”
I moved the project over the Mac, and the process of setting up an audio interface just isn’t as easy as it seemed it would be. If there is a weakness I have when it comes to all this techno-nerd audio world stuff, it’s dealing with signal routing, bussing, and optimizing auxiliary channels. Mixing boards are complex creatures, and I impressed many-a concert goer when I was standing behind a 40 channel sound board, fresh out of high school nearly about a decade ago. It kind of looks like the cockpit of the space shuttle, but you learn… and then technology changes.
What really trips me up is digital routing. I never had to deal with MIDI addressing, syncing a dozen synthesizers to do different tasks all at once. Only once did I program a light show via DMX addressing, and I just typed in the codes the lighting director relayed to me. And only a handful of times have I had to route a digital audio console. I have a feeling more of that will be coming soon, though, as some plans are in the works.
But as for now, it’s time to play around with PT 10 a little more. I will update if I make any breakthroughs.