I just wanted to share this with everyone. Sometimes I just can’t control my excitement I guess!
I’ve always been into electronic music and production, I’ve always made dance music since the infamous Amiga days. Then, as the limitations of the Amiga began to show towards its end (8-bit and 4 channels) I started to look elsewhere like everyone else. I needed the luxury of better sound quality and more channels. I was a dab hand at Octamed but I knew I couldn’t use that anymore.
So people began suggesting the Akai sampler/ Atari ST combination. I thought about this for a while, but in the end £1000 was just robbery for a sampler as far as I was concerned, no matter how “professional” the sound was. And 16-bit samples loaded in from a floppy or a zip drive? er-no thanks.
Then a friend showed me his 486DX/ AWE32 soundcard setup. At first sight it appeared impressive. Very impressive. It could play 32 16-bit samples at the same time from the hardware. And you used Cubase to sequence it. At last I could be a “professional”. So I opted for it and a week later I was the owner of a similar setup as his.
However, the honeymoon period was over after only a week of owning it. I immediately realised that the AWE32 had a crap signal to noise ratio. All things considered, despite the fact that it was 16-bit, it actually sounded worse than the Amiga! It was quieter, hissier and even managed to sound less analogue and less “dancey”. To make matters worse the software drove me to the point of near insanity. To actually get a sample loaded for use in cubase you had to go through a ritual with “Vienna” and soundbank manager. You then had to set the relevant bank in Cubase and even this was temperamental. All just to load a sample? WTF? And cubase simply couldn’t MIDI time correctly for bread! CRAP…
Music making took a drastic nose dive over the next four years. During those four years I migrated to cubase VST/ ASIO soundcard. A year was spent tinkering with VST in my spare time trying to iron out problems with stability/ timing/ memory, you name it. To no avail.
Then an upgrade to cubase VST 5.1. This helped a little although once I began to get into the nitty-gritty of music making I found the program bloated and over complex. It scattered “audio takes” all over the hard drive and did not have the ability to save the project as one file. Why? I found the EQ controls fiddly and it was still a “ritual” to get a sample into the program. With regards to the latter, Halion was the virtual sampler used. Regardless of what anyone may have to say, I found Halion to be the daftest piece of software ever created. Although it had all the features of an Akai, it was about as intuitive as wearing a pair of underpants on your head. All in all the VST/Halion/ ASIO soundcard set-up was a complete waste of £500 pounds for me.
Another friend demonstrated Logic 5 to me on his PC. I tried it for a week but again I ended up wearing my underpants over my head. It was more stable then Cubase, but it’s audio engine was crap. I know it is apparently the “industry standard” in audio sequencers as far as producers go, but I found it to be again unintuitive bloatware that focused on impressive graphics (both Emagic and Steinberg/Pinnacle seem to justify charging £300 for software because the mixer section looks like a Yamaha 01V). The ESX24 sampler (or whatever it was), was a pile of crap too.
So that idea was binned as well. Another few months went by without really making any music. I fondly remembered the Amiga days. I remembered the ease of getting a sample mapped across the keyboard. The instant music making power. The stability of the software/timing etc. Should I go back to a tracker I thought? A bit of research on the net soon hailed Renoise as the tracker to have. What’s this? A “pro” tracker with built in EQ/compression/reverb etc and with the ability to use both VST fx and VSTi’s? Sounds too good to be true.
But it wasn’t…
It’s a funny world that we live in. I guess marketing sometimes gets the better of you though no fault of your own. What with all the rage and all the mags telling you to get a Mac/Logic setup or Cubase SX or whatever and to then to shell out on complex software samplers. Its easy to find yourself floating into useless technology issues and not concentrate on music. It turned out that renoise was all I ever needed. Does everything with ease. Everything is actually “at your fingertips” as the authors say. Stable too, I’ve gigged numerous times with Renoise loaded on a laptop, and on my computer anyway, there’s no real need for an ASIO soundcard as the direct X driver is quick enough.
Aaaaaaahhhh…thats better. Sorry for the long post, but I just had to get that off my chest!