18 Nov

Avid customer experience

Just wanted to share my recent experience with the Avid online store which is not that satisfactory as I think it should be. Before I begin, I’m a person who very often purchase things online, so although I’m not an expert, I definitely am a experienced customer so if there’s any minor issue, usually I can solve it myself. During the years I very rarely needed to contact any support.

From demo to purchase

I still demo each and every new plugin which seems to be good for me or for the company I work for. This morning I just had a good coffee while booted up the system in our main studio, and suddenly Pro Tools told me that my demo license just expired today. No problem, as I’m really satisfied with this new Avid ProMultiband, I decided to purchase it.

Usually it takes only a few minutes and of course your credit card. Logged into my account, searched for the Pro Multiband in the Avid store, chose the download option, checked my data, and hit purchase. So far so good.

I’ve received the usual email. As usual, I clicked on the link in the email, but this time my account says:

noproduct

Tried it multiple times, tried to log-out and log-in again, tried with different browsers to no avail. Now I’m stuck as I can’t finish my project, payed for the plugin, but haven’t received anything. I already contacted the support and tried to message them on Twitter. Still waiting for the answer…

As Avid is in the big transmission to subscription service and unlimited support I don’t think these hiccups are good signs. They need a much more simple and more importantly properly working system, and frankly a much more rapid online support. All the big online stores have 24/7 support so it doesn’t really matter where you are in the World, they can help you immediately. I know it cost money, but frankly this is what we – the customers – are accustomed to. It would be really nice to see that Avid is trying to make me want to spend my money at them.

Update: Avid support has solved my case in a bit less than 7 hours, which, in my book is good. I still think that this should be more rapid, but on the positive side, the support team was very responsive and helpful. Thank you.

13 Nov

Notes from a mix session #1

As lately I barely have any time, I decided to share some tiny tips and small experiences which I gathered during my marathon mix sessions. Some of these little posts will be really short ones, a few might look like a normal blog post.

Time management

Use a reminder. This is as simple as it sounds. As during a mix we often face incredibly short deadlines, it might be a good idea to work out a kind of planned schedule and sometimes remind yourself to keep it. For example if you spend way too much time fixing dialogue issues, maybe it’s time to re-record the dialogue (ADR). At the end of the day you might end up with the very same decision but you already lost about half a day. This means you’re behind your own schedule, therefore have less time for the other gazillion things.

To be honest this is the part where I feel I really need some conscious self education. I tend to spend too much time fixing problems which eventually leads to rush later, or overtime for me to find time to do all the necessary things.

omnifocus

I’m still in the research and experiment phase. So far I use 3 different things:

  • first day in the morning I make a list with approximate time schedule, set reminders in my phone to “wake” me up at the end of the planned time
  • make detailed notes in Evernote, set reminders on the phone or on the Mac to keep me on track
  • make a project with tasks in Omnifocus so I have my notes/tasks and reminders in one application

evernote

I don’t know what will be the right solution, every method has its merits and drawbacks.

Testing

Lots and long mix sessions are great for plugin tests. Right now I’m testing the two new Avid Pro plugins, the ProMultiband and the ProSubHarmonic.

avid prosubharmonic

So far I’m quite impressed with both of it, so much so I plan to buy them. I know there are other alternatives, but again, somehow the developers found the right mixture of features, ease of use and a GUI that really helps you set up the processors fast. Other than these I really love that both have true surround capability and they sound absolutely fabulous.

promultiband

On the other hand I’ve been trying to implement some stereo enhancers into my template, but so far each and every failed to deliver the result I need. Somehow I don’t feel the true stereo enhancement in them, not to mention the fact that most of them is completely disastrous once you hit the mono button…

Now, back to mixing.

06 Nov

App nap might be bad for us

I mean as a technology, for the average or home user it is a good thing. What it promise is that it save you power or in other words it doesn’t let your system waste power on things that is unnecessary.

If you’re a geeky kind of reader, you can delve into it more here to read about the sophisticated algorithms which is able to decide when a particular application is just sitting in the background doing nothing but eating up resources. This clever thing is here to change this bad behaviour, but maybe it can cause some issues in the audio world.

In theory this is a fantastic thing which is very beneficial to us, users. In practice though, several forums are filled with threads discussing the detrimental effect of App nap in OSX. As usual, some argue that this is root of the problem, other say that this can’t be a problem, but after you finished reading a few threads like this, it may be a good idea to take some basic steps in order to avoid any problem.

As far as I know, every software developer has the option to code its own app so that it doesn’t allow OSX to put it into the “nap” mode, though most of the times we don’t have the information about this, so it is safer to act, and disable the whole thing at once.

While there are small tricks to switch of App nap in the get info window, I recommend to simply switch it off system wide.

One way is to use some smart app like Coctail which can do much more than this, I highly recommend to purchase this smart little utility to keep your Mac in a good shape.

coctail

In the app you can find at the System/Misc tab the option to turn App nap off.

coctail options

The other method is to use the terminal app and a command to turn App nap off completely. Pay very close attention to use the command properly, even one letter difference can render it useless:


defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSAppSleepDisabled -bool YES


It doesn’t really matter which method you use, the point is you won’t have to worry about a smart background algorithm which may interfere with your audio work. Remember that these technologies are created with a general user in mind, and with all the good intentions from the developer, they can still ruin our DAW’s stability.

31 Oct

Screwing on

This pretty much sums up my last few days. It’s never easy to rebuild something, integrate new technology in a way so older things and workflows remains the same as before.

Planning, screwing, moving up and down, checking the ventilation, re-examining patches, installing software and updating firmware.

Almost ready, but still has lot to do. Next week I’m going to have a busy week mixing, so only a few days left to finish everything. Exciting times.

While we build and test everything, I think I’ve found a bug in the Avid S6. This is our second S6 install, and the metering simply doesn’t work at all. It’s almost identical to the first install, the only difference is this is an HDX2, the other is HD Native. Otherwise both has the very same type of Mac, softwares, etc.

So far I’ve tried to:

  • Trash prefs & databases
  • Switch Eucon on & off
  • Quit and restart the WS control app
  • Restart both the Mac and the S6
  • Re-update the S6 modules
  • Changing the playback engine

If I’m going to have time, I might try to reinstall Pro Tools. Right now I don’t know what can cause this. All things are supported, only approved software has been installed.

rackroom

28 Oct

The first S6 live test

Just as I planned, this weekend was a big one in our studio. We have an ongoing acoustic concert show series which is always a bit complicated as we do the broadcast mix and the multitrack recording, while the National TV records the picture with 10–12 cameras. As every performer try to make something special, one thing is common in these nights, you’re going to encounter some strange instruments, and many times, many microphones in a small space. A bit like a strange mixture of MTV unplugged and MTV Icon.

Perfect opportunity

As these shows tend to be quite complex, I thought it’s a good idea to test the Avid S6 with Pro Tools HD on an occasion like this.

The system was:

  • 24-fader M10
  • Pro Tools HD Native with Madi I/O
  • RME Adi8qs (for conversion)
  • Avid Xmon
  • Apple MacPro
  • Lacie 2bigdisk thunderbolt 2 drive

At the end I didn’t have to use all 64 inputs, the whole show ended up being around 56 channels. This number includes all the instrument mics and the audience and atmo mics.

S6 close

Pro Tools session

So as brave as it sounds, it was all mixed and recorded into a single Pro Tools session. A separate JoeCo Madi recorder had been used for safety backup.

So, in the session I had:

  • 56 mono inputs
  • 1 stereo studio PGM
  • 4 effects (this time it was room, chamber, plate and hall all from Exponential audio reverbs)
  • 3 prefader stereo feeds (for stereo PGM rerecord, for backup, and for the TV)
  • The main paths for studio monitors and the solo bus through the Xmon
  • 9 VCAs for controlling the whole mix

All input channels had a trim plugin and an Avid Channel Strip inserted by default. Then all the channels and buses routed to a Master bus (stereo aux) which fed the different stereo feeds for the TV, backup and PGM rerecord (all must be r128 compliant).

prolimiter r128

On the Master bus I’ve used the following plugin chain:

  • Fabfilter ProQ2
  • Sonnox Oxford dynamics (compressor and warmth)
  • Avid ProMultiband (have been testing this for a while)
  • Avid ProLimiter
  • Izotope Insight (loudness metering)

Additionally to the recording I recorded the automation into the session. By default this option is switched off in the preferences, you have to enable it. It is very important to us to be able to record.

 


A word of caution: carefully choose your type of automation, otherwise you can run into trouble! For example, if you switch everything into latch mode, once you’ve touched a channel (hence initiating latch automation on it) you won’t be able to control that channel with its parent VCA.


 

So, as you can see, the session is very straightforward, I try to eschew any unnecessary over-complication as it can only make your day harder. This was the basic test session on which we plan to build a more sophisticated one, while still try to maintain the overall simplicity as much as possible.

avid promultiband

The show

The main thing is, the show went very well, both the S6 and Pro Tools HD performed flawlessly. This was the first time I’ve used the layout mode which I find very powerful. After a bit of planning I made some custom layouts which helped me to “escape” if necessary. With this I mean I had one layout with all the VCAs and all the announcers, had another with the main VCAs and the guest performers, had a third one which gave me the ALL VCA and the audience mics plus the announcers and made a few more just for fun. At the end I used my 3 main layouts more often than I though I would use. What I’ve found if you have a nice channel order and switch from that to layout mode and back, it’s very easy to navigate even much bigger sessions.

reverb

The other very positive thing is that you can assign any parameter to the process module’s touch knob, which made the soundcheck a fast and smooth experience. At first I had all channel gains up there, then hi-pass and low-pass filter frequency and after that I switched it back to pan control. The nice thing is, while you assign there something, you can still constantly have different parameters on the big knob module which really helps you fly through your session and soundcheck.

This was the very first more serious live test I’ve made. I plan to do a few more with fairly more complicated things and then I’ll write a follow up on my initial impressions on working on the Avid S6.

sonnoxwarmth