DAW Testing – Ableton & ProTools – Mackie d8b setup

mackied8bI have a friend who runs an excellent independent rural recording studio at The Gordon Arms based on a Mackie d8b/HDR setup who is considering a modern, computer based digital audio workstation (DAW) setup. The Mackie has 24 ADAT in/outs and a nice big desk.

hdsp9652A while ago I bought an RME HDSP9652 to interface to the Mackie, but have never really got it going. Over the weekend I set up my old Intel Q6600 machine with the RME installed and decided to try out some demo music tech.

Firstly, rather than mess around with an existing system, I set up a virtual hard disk boot with a clean copy of Windows7 (Ultimate). This is a great technique to boot native hardware (ie not a virtual machine, which would stink for music performance). I have an onboard soundcard on the Gigabyte EP45 UD3P board and an m-audio FastTrack USB interface (for guitar/vox)

See this MSDN blog at http://blogs.msdn.com/b/knom/archive/2009/04/07/windows-7-vhd-boot-setup-guideline.aspx for help on the setup. I created a 60Gb vhd, ok for Windows7 64 bit (I have 10gb of memory and want to use this for lots of sample space).

After a clean install and activation, I also copied the 60gb vhd and zipped it up (9gb) for a backup in case things all went badly wrong.

Whenever I install Windows there are a few great tools that I always install

  • Treesize Free
  • imgburn
  • MagicDisc
  • winrar
  • Adobe Acrobat (ok, not so great, but a necessary evil)

If you don’t know these, get them, all worth having

Making Noise – Sound Devices

The RME has up to date drivers at http://www.rme-audio.de/en_downloads.php?page=content/downloads/en_downloads_driver&subpage=content/downloads/en_downloads_driver_hdspe. This has ASIO drivers and presents the Hammerfall as a windows device. See http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul03/articles/rmehammerfall.asp for a Sound On Sound review of the 9652.

The RME features 3 ADAT (8ch) ins and outs, for 24 channel IO, plus an SPDIF digital i/o. It also features a break out cable with 2 midi in/outs.

ImageThe FastTrack is a nice 2 in 2 out USB interface with mic (48V power) and an instrument input, with a monitor bypass.

Drivers at http://www.m-audio.com/index.php?do=support.drivers&f=1126

I’ll be using the FastTrack for testing the DAWs recording until I visit The Gordon Arms studio to test the ADAT i/o.

My monitors are Behringer MS40s, sound and simple, cost effective, which have a digital in and 2 analogue i/o’s (jack and phono). The digital in is nice, as I can use the quality digital out of the RME for a decent output.

For audio/midi sources, I have an m-audio Oxygen8 v2 and a Samson CO1 mic for vox. Some spare guitars are at The Gordon Arms, but key gtrs for recording are my Fender Mex ’72 Tele and Yamaha APX700 for acoustic.

The Apps

I am going to try out Pro Tools 10, Ableton Live 9, with some Komplete 7 instruments in each. If I can track down a demo copy of Cubase I may look at this later. In order to support the Hammerfall I am running on PC (now that PT supports non Digidesign hardware, hurray!) I won’t be testing Logic on my Macs.

That’s all for now, work to do, but I will next be writing some notes about the basics, how to get the apps to make some noise, not as easy as you think with multiple interfaces…

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