21 Jun

Google’s customer service

Some days ago I tweeted some short rant about Google, how they fail to solve a seemingly really simple issue. The thing is, I got a new debit card (happens in every few years) and for some reason their system is unable to use it. Well, first I thought it’s some minor glitch. Than I remembered that this happened to me the last time as well.

Went through all the troubleshooting docs and suggestions before reached out to them, because nothing solved my case. I thought let’s see now how they can solve it. Before that I checked all my things again, a day before that I purchased something from the Apple Store, bought some books on Amazon so the card is surely working fine.

The shock

I choose to contact them via email. Carefully filled all the necessary things, described in detail that on virtually every other place in the world this card is working fine, I have the necessary amount of money on my account. Before I sent the mail, double-checked all the tiny details. Every information was in there.

First answer very politely asked me if my card data was right, and if not, I should update it. Of course it was right at the first place, but thanks for reminding me and not reading any of what I wrote… Next email politely suggested that I should update my card data, or remove and re-add the card. Of course I couldn’t remove the card as it was tied to a current subscription so their system didn’t allow me to remove. Again, I wrote down the whole thing, that I went through the necessary troubleshooting steps, checked everything and it is still not working. After some radio silence I’ve received a mail from them telling me that in this case, I probably need some expert help. Wow Google, after two days someone actually read my mail, congrats!

So what happened next? It could be a nice story about a very decent customer support experience, but actually it is not. Because now they don’t even answer! What a support!

Now, after 3 days I received an email from the expert support, but apparently it seems we’re back to square one, I should attach the original error and describe what happened.

And I received the last email from them, stating that everything is perfect on their side, it must be something with my card. Ignoring all the previous information that my card is working everywhere.

gdrive

Ongoing problems

To be honest, I only kept my Google Drive account because it was cheap. The lack of basic functions almost any other provider offer, the lack of development has been bothering me for some time now. I even accepted the fact that their developers never answer or care about the missing functions. This is my third issue with them that they can’t, or don’t want to solve. I use multiple cloud services, so I know what to expect from such services. It doesn’t matter how small or big, cheap or expensive a service is, this is not really the way we should be treated. I know that I’m not a big loss for Google, they won’t even notice I’m no longer a paying customer, but I like to put my money where my mouth is.

 

13 Jun

Making our own presets

Sometimes it’s all seem like every engineer has his own preset for every favourite plugin. Which is basically true. But the question is, when do they search, modify and save their own presets? The most obvious answer is during mixing of course. But it’s only partly true.

As a mix goes, if I find something that I really like, I save it immediately. Maybe I’ll tweak it further later but this way I’m sure I don’t loose the new discovery. But this is only one method to create your own preset library. It’s great because if it works in the mix then you can be sure about that it’s not some isolated hit or miss setting, but on the other hand, just because it works on one mix doesn’t mean it will work on any other. The same is true with the built-in presets. Although most of time they are good starting points, most likely you need to tweak them further to really use any of it. Not to mention the fact that we have no idea what material they’d used to make that particular setting.

My preferred way

The other method is to designate sessions for making presets. That is my real go to technique. I always flag material when I’m mixing. Meaning making notes and selecting reference material which is great for listening but also great to experiment with. It can be anything really. A great concert recording, a stellar score or even your own composition. The point is you have to know the material intimately because you’re going to dissect that session.

One thing that is very important is that you need ample time to experiment. Without that it’s pointless to start. You need to listen to the same material with different plugins or adjustment over and over again. You must take breaks in order to hear the tiny details. If your ears are tired, it absolutely makes no sense to try to tweak the nuances.

Usually I start with discrete instruments. Like a violin, a snare, a clarinet, a guitar, etc. Just one bar maybe, looped so the same thing plays over and over again having enough space behind the sample to really hear the tail of the effect, and to have a second or two before the start of the sample again. If I find that something works really well in isolation I make notes, save those settings into temp preset folders. When I have let’s say 5 or 6 really well working setting I put them to test in context. Meaning using them not only on spot things, but on complex symphonic material, synths, drums, etc.

Sometimes it’s a nice discovery that what worked great in isolation absolutely doesn’t work in context, and what you thought wouldn’t work might be the best ever. Very enlightening experience. If you have the few that really works great both in isolation and on complex material too, then it’s time to save it as a permanent preset.

Last thing to remember about presets. They can speed up your workflow, but never ever forget that they’re merely starting points. If you too heavily rely on them, there’s a real danger of loosing creativity and originality in a mix.

Next time I’ll describe how I save, organise and backup my presets to never loose them.

05 Jun

RAM upgrade

For some reason when we bought the MacPros they arrived with 16GB of RAM. First I thought it would be impossible to work with that amount, but it turned out that these small but powerful machines can do wonders even with this seemingly small amount of RAM.

However, as sessions grows and newer plugins released, we just hit the wall when it comes to RAM. Well, that’s not entirely true, because quite amazingly everything is working fine, but I always keep my eyes on the System Resource Window and it is obvious that it’s high time to upgrade.

16GB RAM

The main rigs all received 64GB of RAM so I think we won’t have any RAM related issues for awhile. And to be honest on bigger score mixes I always felt that Disk Cache would be so cool with let’s say 32GB.

64GB RAM

By the way replacing RAM in these new Mac Pros are so easy you wouldn’t believe it. Really. The whole thing is a beautiful and clever piece of engineering and art.

Somewhere I read that Disk Cache should not be used during recording. I can imagine that it can be an issue, although I think in 2016 it shouldn’t be. Hence I plan to make some tests if this statement is still true or not.

20 May

Plugin purchase #5

The fifth plugin is something special for me as this is, in my opinion, the par excellence bus compressor. So be warned I’m really biased. I love the plugin as much as the original hardware.

Meet the Millenia TCL-2

millenia tcl 2

If you are looking for that vibey, coloured compressor than stop reading, this is a very clean one with subtle character. It’s a twin topology opto compressor/limiter which can be the intangible sheen on the master bus that you don’t even recognise it’s in the chain until you bypass it.

The original hardware is already an excellent unit, but Brainworx managed to made it even more clever.

tcl2 ms option

In the plugin version we have MS option which is my favourite thing to have. If you deal with many stereo material you must try it!

tcl2 wetdry

The other very useful and clever thing is the Dry-Wet capability. Parallel compression built-in. With these extra features the already spectacular plugin becomes an incredibly powerful tool.

I suggest to try out the presets as they are really good starting points and you can build your very own favourite settings from these easily. Well, everyone has a fetish bus compressor, this is mine.

As it is almost natural from Plugin Alliance, the TCL-2 is AAX DSP which is a big advantage in my book.

11 May

We need to know who are the good examples

In this industry probably everyone has one or two horror stories about different customer services, but many of us have very positive experiences with some companies. In my opinion the good ones deserve the praise and it is important from time to time to broadcast our positive events to let everyone know who are these good guys in the business.

Plugin Alliance

plugin alliance

This is not the first time I contacted them. I use a lot of their products so sometimes I discover small bugs or have a question or feature request. Each and every time they react rapidly and the answer is never some marketing speech, they always focus on answering, solving my problem.

Apart from their excellent customer service they make great plugins.

Exponential Audio

exponential audio

Michael is always very responsive and he is a guy who really, I mean really cares about his products and the customers. I really hope one day we’ll meet and have a nice chat. I can’t praise him enough. It really doesn’t matter if you are only interested in something, have a problem or would like to pick his brain regarding reverbs for example, he’s there, helping, sharing his knowledge and serve his customers.

In my opinion he makes probably the best reverbs available today.

Avid

avid logo

I know, I know. But believe me, any time we needed something we got fast and expert help. Additionally the S6 developers are such great guys, they’re always open to new ideas and workflows. If you have some problem with your control surface most of the time you don’t even have to file a ticket, just write into the S6 forum and they’ll answer and help you out.

We might hate how Avid behaves as a company, we might not like what the business people at the top are doing, but believe me the talent in there is enormous and very helpful.

McDSP

mcdsp

What can I say? Fast, correct and helpful. Doesn’t matter what your problem is, they can and will help as soon as possible. I only mailed them maybe twice since I use their plugins, and within 24 hours I had the answer which was really a solution. With all the AAX DSP quality plugins they make, I can’t recommend them enough.