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Tamas Dragon Posts

Common ground

In our studios it is a daily operation that you might record something in studio 1, but continue with the editing process in studio 2, while doing the mix in studio 3 just to return to final mix in studio 4, or back to studio 1. So in essence I always try to keep everything on the very same version. Meaning we have identical MacPros, with identical OS, Pro Tools and plugins. Everything is the same except the audio hardware.

With this session exchange and studio change never cause any problem. Some would say I might be overly cautious but in my experience this is the easiest and most convenient way to avoid any hiccup in the studio life.

While this is the theory, when we are prepared to upgrade, I always make that gradually so if anything happens we’d still have perfectly working rigs. The process goes like this:

  • upgrade on my MacBook Pro (only if I have no ongoing job)
  • upgrade the HDX system I mostly work on
  • only if everything is rock solid I dare to upgrade all other rigs

Basically I serve as a test person. But we have to record/edit/mix more than 200 events (concerts/tv/radio shows/film score, etc.) a year so downtime is not an option.

Mac Os Sierra and Pro Tools 12.6.1

Of course everyone wants to have the latest and greatest with rock solid stability, unfortunately that rarely, if ever happen to be the case. New bugs, plugin incompatibility, not Avid approved OS, you name it how many different thing can hold you back from upgrading. One simple advice though. Although user forums can be very helpful to gauge how stable a certain version is approximately, please never completely trust what you read there. Plethora of different configurations can have vastly different results, you can’t filter our user related errors, corrupted installations and any other unknown issue. Always test all versions on your systems. There’s really no substitute for this. I know it’s tempting to skip the tedious process of testing, but believe me, it’s not worth the headache later. One final advice which is so basic I shouldn’t even mention it: BACKUP before you install any new version.

From the first minute even on the test rigs Mac OS Sierra with Pro Tools HD 12.6.1 with S6 software 3.5 has been so fast, stable and error free that today I upgraded the remaining workstations to these versions.

Which, of course, means that again, all our studios are on the very same versions down to the last plugin you can find. This is the most peaceful state I can imagine. For now as we don’t need cloud collaboration yet, I uninstalled that feature as well as I immediately uninstalled the Avid application manager which is a fantastic idea but a very shoddy execution.

pt 12.6.1

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New old friend

Only had a few deep breaths at the start of the new year I took a little time to test some new plugins, revisit some old ones testing against the newcomers. Since virtually every company offering at least 14 days demos anyone can really try if the plugin is up to the hype around it or not.

Proven methods

Of course the testing process goes as usual, going through many genres of music, loading up sessions from small to big, from jazz through pop to film scores. I don’t really like one-trick ponies. I like plugins and hardware that can be used in a variety of ways and able to perform in more than one demanding situation.

The other things is, in this regard I’m quite stubborn. I don’t care about user or even very famous user reviews, blogs or forums, I have to try and it must work for me before I purchase. I recommend the same to everyone. Don’t take anyone word for it, because it might work for one and not the other. Forums and blogs and reviews are good for a compass, but never ever trust them for the final decision.

For the first few days I tested dynamic processors, bus compressors. First I read some blogs and forums to sort get an updated picture of the latest and greatest, then decided myself what to try. Downloaded a few demos from Plugin Alliance, Fabfilter and Waves and started with a moderate session to hear which ones I like in the first round.

Using different genres really helps to eliminate the ones you could only use for one purpose. It is really amazing how easy to reveal any shortcomings with this method.

The new old friend

Fortunately I had the chance to use the original hardware, the API 2500 compressor. When we first met, it was an instant match. I’m sure every engineer has these eureka moments, when you instantly feel like if that piece of gear or software was made for you. This compressor is surely for me. Without any prior experience with it I found many good settings, within seconds I could use it for many things.

api2500 meter

This sparked the idea to try it plugin format. I won’t go into any debate whether it’s a dead on emulation or not, the fact is, it is damn close which is enough in my opinion. I think it’s so good that if you can’t get the sound from the plugin, you won’t have the sound with the hardware either.

What is exceptional in my opinion is that it’s not only good for dynamic material, but equally nice on more mellow things, even on symphonic material with the right settings. Can be coloured but also able to subtly massaging the master bus. The famous thrust switches and the option to use it as old (f.back) or new (f.forw) type compressor also adds another dimension to it. The link section even further make this beast useful. Not only the shape, but the L/R link option can be fun to play with and believe me when you hit the right amount, it can be pure sonic magic. Although it only has 3 options when it comes to knee settings, but during usage you can find just the perfect option in seconds.

thrust api

In hardware format it is still a pricey piece, but I think in plugin format it is not that unreachable thing today. At least I fall in love with it, again, but now in the digital domain.

api2500 full

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S6 software update

Avid promised that the new 3.5 software was going to be mainly a performance update. This means load times will be reduced, certain functions reacts faster, and the whole surface feels snappier. As I happen to update one of our surfaces to test the new software I thought I check these claims if they are true.

One change has been made to the upgrade path, from now on, if you have a valid perpetual plan, you no longer have to re-authorise all the updates again and again. Once you go through the validation process you won’t have to do it again, which considerably speeds up the update process.

But back to the improvements. Empirically I really felt the speed change and the fact that the new software is indeed react faster, almost all functions, including the bulk commands like do to all and do to selected no matter what you choose to do. As usual though, humans are biased so I couldn’t decide if the new version is really that much better or I just imagine it.

Fortunately I made a session load video with my phone when we had been using the old software and now had the chance to make a new video with the new software version. Here’s the comparison:

Avid S6 session load times from Tamas Dragon on Vimeo.

As you can see, the new one is vastly superior when it comes to session load times. In my experience it is a better version all around, very stable, immensely fast in every situation. So I highly recommend it to every S6 owner/user.

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The end of the year

As we expected, it’s nearly the end of this year which is a great opportunity for celebrating, reflecting and madly rushing the remaining mixes to be ready for the insane deadline.

Of course all my previous planning and swearing has gone out of the window, I couldn’t post more as I wanted, and I could hardly manage my schedule to remain sane during certain periods.

So, this year I won’t make any promises. Although now I have more than 50 article idea and draft that I consider interesting even to you. These are sitting there besides the many more spark ideas and shorter posts. The only thing I promise is that I’ll really try hard to post more, even if sometimes this means shorter length articles. Sometimes maybe even a photo with some explanation. Originally I planned to keep a post per week pace. I’ll try to make this happen, but no promise.

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed the articles posted here, there will be much more and even more interesting ones coming soon. Till then, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!

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Customer support with Gobbler

I really don’t like to write any negative things about any company. Generally I think it’s not constructive, and probably won’t solve anything. But as I write positive review about plugins and gear and companies, I think I have to share my rare negative experiences too.

Few weeks before…

Many of you already read and actually agreed with my latest ramblings about Softube taking the Gobbler path. It might be a good idea to join to such a service for a company, but I still think that it’s a bad idea to force users into one direction without offering the old way of doing things, at least for some time. The other problem is future consideration. Although I don’t know the deal between Gobbler and Softube, I’m pretty sure that it is a good one for the Softube guys. But maybe not so good for the users. And in my opinion they should’ve considered this too. For some reason they thought this is a fine way to make a change like this.

The present

Now, out of necessity I registered a Gobbler account to have access to our Softube arsenal. It’s not a complicated task, can be done in a minute or two. The last step is to get an email from Gobbler to validate your new account. This last step was unsuccessful. No problem I thought and tried the resend button, and then retried again and again, and again. No worries. I’ve sent an email to Gobbler’s customer support and they reacted in a few hours. Their question was which site I’ve registered on. The shop.gobbler or the app.gobbler. I replied…

And the rest is silence. This was a week ago. Still nothing happened. Frankly I don’t know if they simply don’t care or cannot solve this issue. What I care about is honest communication and the willingness to solve the issue. Both seems to lack.

I can only hope that we won’t have any issues with our licenses because if an email error is more than they can solve, then we might loose our trust completely. One thing is for sure, I won’t purchase anything through the Gobbler service. So all in all I still think, even more so, that Softube made a mistake to use Gobbler as their only back platform.

If Gobbler will get back to me, I’ll report it.

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