Tuesday, June 30, 2009

MP3 Mix Progress: Ship Voyage

I am mid-way through a techno mix so far called "Ship Voyage." I thought I'd share it with you guys. It still needs some work, and maybe some quantising.

Ship Voyage (mp3) Unfinished Mix 2009.

More drums will be added, the mix will be tightened up, and I'll repost it. Finished version coming soon.

Equipment Used:
Roland V-synth
Roland JX8p
Yamaha QY100
Logic Effects.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tapco Link.Firewire 4x6 Review

 Media Tapco.Tapcolinkfirewire4X6

Tapco is kind of a weird brand to review. At the moment, I own a basic mixer by Tapco and this Firewire 4x10 interface and use them in conjunction with eachother. I bought this after the failure of two USB device. So firewire was the logical choice.

The first and sometimes only thing that matters is how stable an audio interface is. Drivers can complicate things and disconnect periodically if they aren't a good fit or if the designers/programmers, just weren't doing a good job. The Tapco Link.Firewire is extremely stable, surviving multiple application boots, system audio streams, restarts, and anything else. I keep it powered up 24/7 and it hasn't failed yet.

The sound quality is what you would expect. There isn't a harsh digital bite or character. It feels warm, or at least everything coming in/out seems unharmed. There seems to be enough headroom and volume for line level instruments. The preamps are also less noisy than the ones on my mixer. I haven't tested them extensively. The S-PDIF connector also works well, although when connected to a device it overrides channels 1 & 2. Monitoring is a little different. When the firewire is engaged by the computer, you can only monitor whats coming back from the computer. Depending on your setup this might not be an issue. There is a little app called Line-In which can monitor for you, in Mac OSX when your computer is on and will give you a good pass thru. You can also just put the compute to sleep or unplug the firewire port and the unit switches to sending whatever is coming in 1 & 2 back out to your monitors.

The construction is great!
This is not cheap feeling at all. The metal rack bars in front slightly defend knobs from some impacts. The case is plastic, but the hard bumpy rubber is a nice touch. The headphone amp could have been a little smoother volume wise at lower levels, but it is acceptable. Connectors and buttons are very good. It is very easy to monitor clipping on this unit. The LEDS change bright red when your signal is too hot, and its easy to back down to get the maximum level. Its nice to have and works better than some full spectrum volume displays. With the Firewire only plugged in, there was a bit of an external noise (probably from the chip its powered), but it is nonexistent when you plug in the wall adaptor. I chose the wall adaptor. Its nice to know this unit will work with a laptop. Chances are if you are taking it somewhere this little noise won't bug you much. Just use the wall adaptor the rest of the time.

Also keep in mind that this isn't a true 4x6 interface out of the box. Its 2x2. You can probably bug Tapco for the firm ware which converts to this, but hey never updated before shipping I guess. For $99 new I didn't care. This is a great, basic firewire interface, and its currently on clearance if you look in the right spot. This also comes with Mackie Tracktion 2 DAW for mac / pc!!! Mackie Tracktion is very simple to use, compared to apples Logic, and does the job. It can be upgraded to Tracktion 3 for $69 from Mackie. Definitely pick this one up if you need a cheap, stable, firewire interface.

Stability so far: 10
Audio Quality: 9
Features: 8
Total: 8.5

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Music Videos

U96 - Das Boot

The Shamen - Move Any Mountain

and Kanikuly.

New Juno: DI

An updated D, but colored to look more like its brother synths.
Thx matrixsynth!

Least Reliable Firewire Brands + Bad Drivers - What Interface To Buy?

 Images Firewire

Ever needed to know which hardware interfaces are actually reliable and work well? Here is reliability/ customer satisfaction data for those searching for the best firewire audio interface.

Fire Wire Interface RANKING according to Gearslutz Forum

Ranking position calculated on number of satisfied customers (score of 1) minus number of dissatisfied customers (score of 2 or 3)
From best to worst:

  1. RME(18-0) = 18
  2. Echo(19,1) = 18
  3. Motu(20,5) = 15
  4. Mackie(11,2) = 9
  5. Tascam(7,0) = 7
  6. Alesis(3,2) = 1
  7. Presonus(10,11) = -1
  8. Focusrite(4,9) = -5
  9. M-Audio(8,26) = -18
Alternative ranking position calculated on number of satisfied customers divided by total number of customers

RME 100%
Tascam 100%
Echo 95%
Mackie 85%
Motu 80%
Alesis 60%
Presonus 48%
Focusrite 31%
M-Audio 24%

The worst: M-Audio. Looks like your better staying away from M-Audio's firewire offerings.
The Best: RME with a 100% score.

One interface I'd like to know more about is the Tapco Firewire.Link, which now looks abandoned, which is on clearance in many places. I emailed tapco, to see if its features actually work on the mac (since they posted no drivers), and will hear back.
Another point to make, after research and user stories, is that firewire interfaces with the DICE II chip are notoriously unreliable. Beware of those!

Keep in mind this is just a small data sample, but it looks indicative of the reality of firewire interfaces. I hope this data helps regardless!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Edirol M-16DX Quick Review

 Content Wp-Content Uploads 2007 03 Edirol-Digital-Mixer-18Ch

Daw Controller, Audio Interface, Digital FX Mixer, and Room Control unit w/ internal mic.

The Edirol M-16dx is a 16ch digital mixer from Roland's lesser known brand. It is packed full of features only seen on products $800 and up, when it only retails for $250 new (if your looking in the right place). Initially I purchased this mixer to fill the need for DAW control & audio interface. The fact that it was a standalone mixer just sweetened the deal. The feature set, including automatic Room Control, was too much to pass up. Lets see how it stacks up.

Audio Quality: 8
I was impressed with its preamps under phantom power. There was alot of gain and only a little bit of noise, most which was coming from the mic. It is perfectly acceptable for the price point. This mixer has 22+ decibels of headroom, so you can get a very high dynamic range, beyond line level, into your computer (although line-level instruments need to be boosted to match). The full 22+ decibels are sent to the computer. Thats a little weird but understandable.

The 22+dbl gain could really come in handy if your using it live somewhere and don't have enough gain at least. It also virtually elimates clipping and need for a limiter.

Drivers: 5 I tested this one under Windows & Mac OS X. It faired better in Mac OS X. Under windows, there is no outgoing volume control, making it easy to damage your monitors speakers if you don't have the return bus fader all the way down. In Mac OS X you can set it to line levels at least. I found this control really weird and annoying. i wouldn't recommend this as an audio interface for windows, especially for casual use. Your audio will just clip internally, because it uses the 22+dbl gain for no reason I could find. Under mac os X it did seem to drop out and freeze the computer, but its probably just my iMac's first gen USB bus. I found it to be useable to some degree, but not entirely stable. This one seems to have the same drivers or chip as the blue Edirol 10/10 USB interface, which also had drop out problems on extended use.

Another issue is that when you connect something onto the digital bus, and your using USB audio, the bus is disrupted and the audio goes all crackly. This also happened when I went into scene mode.

This thing is a little buggy, but useable. Its fine in live mode and not being used with your computer.
My thoughts are mixed on it.

DAW Control worked OK in Logic Audio

Features: 8
It has literally all of them. Room correction works amazingly. You could buy it just for that. I know some people are against eq, but this thing will EQ each speaker individually, and in under a minute you have a flat response. You can also connect an external measurement mic if you own one. The FX routing on it is amazing, including its internal reverbs. The DX Bus is really awesome which lets you seperate the mixer from the audio box. This feature was seen in 1999 on Roland's expensive digital mixers with R-Bus technology, which would let you stream 96 channels of audio. Now you have a mini version with this unit!

Build Quality: 6
I found the build to be fine, even though its plastic. I had an issue with this unit where it was disconnecting USB and going crackly every time I touched it. Finding this static issue was annoying, since it doesn't happen with my other gear. Since I bought it used I took it apart, and put it back together. I don't believe I moved anything differently, but now I don't have the problem!!! HUH!? Yes, I think this unit is put together crappily. But if you have a good one, you should be somewhat happy with it. Mine was built by a chinese child right before lunchtime when they were starting to get tired.

The Edirol M-16DX is really interesting. Its buggy. It sort of worked, but hard to recommend to everyone. I recommend it as a standalone mixer. If you are connecting alot of stuff digitally or using windows, there are probably better alternatives that you'll want to pay more for. Ideally I would use this standalone or as a front end for a better interface, or just to have around. Its working for me right now, but I will never buy Edirol again after having two seperate USB interfaces have the same short term instability with Mac OS X, and seeing how they programmed no software control program for it with windows. Its no wonder you can get this one for half price. The M-16DX is really cool, has all the features you could ever want, some which don't work very well, and has a neat design. But it seems Edirol/Roland has totally abandoned this unit.

Its fun, its cheap, and a good replacement for an analog mixer at this price.

Total Score: 7/10