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Tag: nuendo

Asking for help with Nuendo 6

As many of you may know, although I’m a die-hard Pro Tools fan, at least weekly I have to also use Steinberg’s Nuendo. No problem, I’d been using Nuendo for years back at version 2 I think, then left out a few years.

The problem is I’m far from being an expert when it comes to problem solving around the Nuendo machines. We’re suffering from a pretty serious bug, and it seems no one can point us into the right direction.

The problem

We need to record multitrack almost daily. Channel count goes from 32 to at least 128. Now in Nuendo 6 (we had the very same bug in version 5 too) if we record more than let’s say 48 channels, sometimes we loose parts of the recording.

Recording starts, everything seems to be fine, then suddenly Nuendo stops displaying waveforms during the recording, and when you hit stop, after a long unresponsive state it looses all the audio where there isn’t any waveform on the screen.

Here’s a screenshot about the problem:

N6fail

The real headache

We use Steinberg approved HP workstations, RME sound cards, dedicated recording drives, optimised Windows os. No plugins used during the recording, in fact, no one even touch the workstation during recording. Everything goes by the book, and still we experience this nasty bug in every two or three days.
I’ve tried to search through the net for possible solutions but didn’t find anything really relevant.

Although I use Pro Tools, so I’m only partially affected by this problem, I just can’t sit and watch how these very expensive rigs cannot even perform well on a basic stuff like recording multitrack.

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Tiny discoveries

I want to share with you two tiny things which I discovered this week. Both can be interesting to those who might be in the same situation, that is anyone who is experienced the same or affected by it.

Pro Tools

To be honest, this is rather an observation I first noticed weeks ago than a discovery, but still an interesting one. I still have no idea if this is a bug or just a system issue which is happening here on my system only. This behaviour is tied to Pro Tools 11, I didn’t notice the same with any of the previous versions of Pro Tools.

When I create a new session or load an older one, many times I notice extreme cpu load which is not reflected in Pro Tools’ system usage meter. Mainly this is noticeable on my MacBook Pro as the fans tend to get louder in every case. The strange thing though is if I close the session, quit Pro Tools and reload the software, re-open the very same session, cpu load becomes absolutely normal.

For example today I created a session that contained 84 tracks. That’s it, no aux, no plugins, nothing, only the tracks. Imported audio on the tracks. After a minute I noticed that fans were spinning up, my cpu temp has gone up to 90 degrees celsius. Closed the session, hit cmd+q to quit PT, reopened everything and edited 3 full hours in the very same session with virtually no cpu load, cpu temp was at 55 degrees celsius.

Usually the same happens with almost every session. It seems to me that for some reason PT11 allocates the resources badly or inefficiently for the first time. But it remains a secret to me why on earth it can be so efficient on every second occasion. I have no idea if this is an OSX issue or a Pro Tools one, but surely I would like to see bugfix for that, which is quite unlikely to happen as I cannot even reproduce the issue reliably. If any of you dear readers noticing some sort of the same behaviour, please let me know so we can inform Avid, and might some day have a bugfix for it.

Nuendo

Some of you know that these days I have to deal with Nuendo almost daily, and frankly my second favourite DAW seems to be quite unreliable lately. Which is very surprising for me as I’ve used Nuendo for long years back at version 2. I loved it. Ok, to be fair I still like it, but sadly less and less as days go by. To make the long story short, if I ever had so much problem with Pro Tools like nowadays I have with Nuendo, I would’ve switched DAW long time ago…
So this week’s little discovery is that it turned out that the little system usage window in Nuendo is completely useless. We record many many shows with high track counts so just to be sure about the current state of the system, I religiously display the system usage info in every DAW I use. Did the same with Nuendo obviously, but during the last testing and preparing for a big recording session, we discovered that it tells you nothing about the current state of the system.

Case study: set up a session with 120 tracks, initiate record ready state, start recording. In Nuendo 5.5 the disk usage meter will show you that the current usage in percentage is 5% max. Which, obviously, is a huge lie. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that if you record so many tracks, one disk cannot be at 5% usage, this track count can easily put huge burden onto even the fastest drives (maybe excluding SSDs). Now if you are on Windows, open task manager (do not stop recording), and then open the resource monitor, on Mac, open the activity monitor to check the system. What you will see here is that your disk is struggling, fighting for its life, hardly manage to deal with data, while if you take a look at Nuendo’s disk meter, it will still tells you that the load is no more than 5–6%.
From experience, we almost always span the tracks onto multiple drives, however it is still a very bad thing that the indicator won’t tell us what’s going on in our system.

So lesson learned, never trust this built-in meter. If I’ll have the chance to check this feature in other DAWs, I will. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not relying on these meters completely, but still would like to see a fair indication of the system usage, which I think is not a big thing to ask in 2013.

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DAW opinions

Since I wrote a little personal rant about Nuendo, I’ve received a considerable amount of e-mails, fortunately most understood my intentions and didn’t try to start a “DAW war”. Originally I didn’t plan to write a follow up to that article, but because it seems that it is a topic which might need a little more attention, I give it another go here, trying to update and build upon the previous blog post.

As recently Nuendo 6 hit the market, I searched the web for videos, user experiences and downloaded the manual so I can research and understand the changes and new features beyond the usual and seemingly necessary marketing “fog”.

Features that we need (or not)

First I think I need to clarify a few things in order to avoid the misunderstandings and baseless DAW bashing.

I completely understand that many users don’t need those “pro” extra features in any DAW what the professionals want, request and actually use daily. But I ask one thing in return. Please understand that although you may not need the mentioned extras in a workstation, we still need and use them. I really want to avoid any futile and endless rant about this. We have different needs, workflows, but please appreciate that in post production, we really need those extras. I’m dare to state that those extra functions are vital to our daily jobs.

So this whole post is rather a thought provoking mini article and not a de facto list of what feature should be in a DAW.

Also be aware of the fact that I’m a heavy Pro Tools user who (now) daily encounters with Nuendo too, this is why I wanted to research the theme a bit more.

Anything you read here is merely my opinion and with all that said, I personally consider two DAWs to be adequate for serious post production:
* Pro Tools
* Nuendo
* (I didn’t forget Fairlight and other options, but it’s not in this price range)

Nuendo 6

As I saw it was coming I read many posts about it on different forums and I actually totally understood the excitement about the new release. We, Pro Toolers are equally if not more exited when we are about to receive a brand new iteration of our favourite. Of course it’s never so one sided. Around new version launch the tension tends to build up, and not only the cheerful voices emerge but the critic ones also, and I must say with a good reason.

Many time companies spend more time with marketing than with their product, which leads to premature release full of nasty bugs, long-forgotten bugs remained from previous releases, etc. I absolutely understand the frustration but also we have to understand that sadly today, you cannot sell a product with “features” like:

  • fully optimised
  • we made it rock-solid
  • ironed out 6000 bugs
  • spent time to listen to you and tweaked the options
  • tested on a million systems to ensure smooth operation

Let’s be honest, this is not going to happen anytime soon.


n6box

So let’s see the brand new shinny features of Nuendo 6.

  • New UI. Frankly I don’t really like it, but it is a matter of personal preference, so I won’t make any further judgement on this
  • Dedicated full screen mode. That’s right, we need it in Pro Tools too!
  • Voxengo curve eq. Great, but it’s not Steinberg’s own idea or development
  • Anymix Pro. Just as above, I don’t consider this a huge feature. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fantastic tool, but it’s not Steinberg’s, it’s a question of money not vision. Still, I would be very-very happy to see something like this in the next Pro Tools version (hint: Maggot Spanner would be a fantastic candidate)
  • Fully integrated loudness metering. I applause this, very good idea. However still think that in this saturated market we may find better options like Nugen Audio’s one, but I won’t be negative here, it’s great that they included this feature.
  • ADR taker system. Although I’ve never used it and I’m not an ADR guy, this seems simply genius.
  • Channel visibility/zone tabs. Great, although a bit late, but don’t be so negative, at least from now on, it’s there.
  • Channel eq with spectrum analyser. A nice touch. I would say most of the time I don’t need a feature like this, but when we need it, it is very handy to have the option built-in.
  • Sound fx library. Frankly I really don’t understand this. Nuendo is marketed toward serious post production circles. While it could be a nice addition, I have yet to met anyone in this industry who don’t have huge sound libraries. If you’re a freelancer, you may already have it, if you work at any reasonable post facility, then they have it. This is what I feel a needless marketing trick. I’m not bashing the quality of it, I’m sure it’s great. The whole idea bothers me though.
  • Zoom mem/zap. Great feature, long time Pro Toolers surely recognise the equivalent…
  • Channel linking with options. Oh, thank you for it! Seriously! This is what made me crazy so many times, or better said the lack of it. I love and use the equivalent feature in PT daily. If I understand it fully, there’s still room for improvement here though.

So this short list highlights some of the new features in the brand new Nuendo 6. What is my honest opinion? Well, mixed. Some of the new features are great, but I can see many “new” things in there which seems to me only a simple “let’s catch up with the competition” thing.

Just a short reminder what I miss from Nuendo:

  • destructive record
  • automation overlay on waveforms
  • 16bit waveforms
  • VCA groups
  • Import session data function
  • Bus interrogation
  • Clip gain implementation seriously lacks

Couple of days ago I read Pro Tools Expert’s article about the upcoming PT11 that simply catching up is not enough. Now, this how I feel about Nuendo 6. Some nice additions, but mainly long requested features and still many things missing (see my previous rant).

All in all I still think that this is a very nice package, although I don’t feel that Steinberg really put itself into it, and certainly I don’t feel that this release is threatening Pro Tools in any way. Of course as usual, I can be dead wrong about this, but this iteration won’t shake the post world.

I’m very curious though. Interesting times as Avid has new CEO and Pro Tools 11 is hopefully approaching, as we can see Steinberg is trying to catch up and lead, and hopefully we, the users will benefit from this competition. And as always, use the tool which serves you better and don’t forget that these are just tools, you’re the operator.

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OMF problems and some Nuendo experience

Well, not really problems as I managed to decipher the way Nuendo exports a Pro Tools compatible OMF. I don’t know if it’s Steinberg’s fault or Avid’s, but it took me a few export/import cycle to get what I wanted at the first place. My guess is that it is some problem with Nuendo, because I didn’t have these problems with Pro Tools before. Still it can be either’s fault.

The one and only method

I’ve found one, and only one method which proved to be predictable and stable across many sessions. Any modification in the parameters caused different incompatibility issues or completely faulty OMF.

For these projects I didn’t need the audio files, but obviously I needed the information… At first I hoped for smooth sailing after all it is only a simple “file reference” export which would tell the other software where to place which file, etc.

The only compatible working method is pictured below:

omf export

This way you get everything. Audio file positions, edits, names. Any other test caused incompatible things like only one track transferred instead of 96, other times positions were wrong, names lost, etc.

Personal rant

Don’t take this too seriously, the following only a little list that I really miss from Nuendo. There’s a possibility that I miss something and Nuendo actually knows some of my wishes. If you like, this is my really short list why I couldn’t switch from Pro Tools (amongst many other things).

  1. Marker track. It’s a very good thing that I can have many marker tracks, but sadly they cannot be fixed or locked, so as you scroll through your tracks, your markers always disappears as you cannot see them. In Pro Tools, the marker “track” is above the real tracks so it doesn’t matter if I’m at channel 140 or ch1 I can see my markers.
  2. VCA. I really don’t think that this point needs any further explanation.
  3. Destructive record and destructive punch. After so many years… I need it for very good reasons.
  4. Channel/fader grouping. Now this is really annoying for me. I’m quite used to the Pro Tools method where I’m able to create edit/mix or combined edit-mix groups, switch them on/off with shortcuts. I missed this so much.
  5. Group focus and bus interrogation. Enough said. It’s not rocket science, very convenient features.
  6. Clip gain implementation. Maybe it’s exist but I couldn’t find this. If I want to use clip gain in Nuendo, I have to see the middle of the clip in order to grab it with the mouse. In Pro Tools it doesn’t matter where I am, see only the head or tail of the clip I can freely use the clip gain. I couldn’t find a method for this in Nuendo.

This a simple starter list which is missing/or not really well implemented in Nuendo in my opinion. Of course I am extremely biased as I’ve been working with PT for long-long years now and I only used Nuendo many years ago, but now as sometimes I have to use it again, I’m surprised that there are still many things missing. I don’t want a DAW war here, these are my personal things.

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A few words about backup

You’ve must heard at least a thousand times that if you need at least 3 different copies of your data, and preferably two at physically different places to have a real backup. And to be honest, this is kind of true. Anything can happen, and the worst attitude is if you think it cannot happen to you. It’s not a secret, it can happen to you, even worse, it will.

raid

Better have a good strategy. Here’s how we do it.

Plan A, B and C and D

It may look funny, but this is actually the reality. When I’ve finished a show, I personally back it up onto a raid network drive. This is the first one. That raid drive is automatically backed up to another backup raid, this is the second one. They are in the same building, but in completely different rooms. Let’s say this is our plan A.

Plan B is the next step. Doesn’t matter how ancient it may sound, we backup everything on cd/dvd. We use special HHB media which is guaranteed to live on minimally for 50 years. I don’t really trust this number, but who knows… So after the QC process, we have the physical discs which are stored in a dark, dry and fireproof place. Before we stop here, another disc goes to an offline facility for safety.

Plan C is the good old tape archive, everything (well, almost everything) backed up here, and our Plan D is right another huge raid drive system.

backup system

It may seem a little paranoid, but actually it works, and there was not an occasion when we lost any material. As I see it, we need to revise this process a bit, but change is very hard here as we have about 80–100 TV and Radio shows per year, around 200 classical concerts, 100–160 jazz/pop shows, many-many spots for advertising, huge amount of webcasts and a few film shoots. So any change must be well thought out and tested in real life parallel to the existing one.

File formats

In audio (obviously) the only accepted format is Broadcast Wave file. It doesn’t matter how new, fancy and fantastic formats are available, the archive only accepts this. For the latest stage we use Wavelab, where we fill in every possible detail about the show: dates, mixer’s name, archiver’s name, performers, etc. and export this data in simple text format and as cvs file. It may sound funny that we use these “old” formats, but these are proven. Any old or new machine, be it Windows or Macintosh or Linux or whatever can read and write them.

For various reasons we also make Excel sheets from these little documents, but our archived ones are always the simple text and the cvs files.

That’s all for today, except I have a mini personal rant. Why on earth Steinberg’s Nuendo and Wavelab is not really compatible regarding to markers? I know some nasty workarounds, but it seems quite counterintuitive that a simple marker export/import needs tricky workarounds…

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