March 12th, 2010


I've noticed that there's a lot of tendency out there to misread the motivations of other people, especially people that you don't know. I'm certainly guilty of it myself from time to time, although I try not to be. But let's talk about it for a minute.
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But Basketball Is A Peaceful Planet!

Yes, that quote, familiar to some of you, means that it's time for another thrilling installment of Hardware Wars.

As you may recall from our last episode, Our Hero (that would be me) was desperately trying to figure out how to get his M-Audio ProjectMix I/O to actually record in 64-bit Cubase 5 under Windows 7 on the new Toshiba Qosmio Intel i7-based laptop that he'd bought for the purpose. Having tested the system at home, he took it to Capricon where it failed ignominiously. Fortunately, not so ignominiously as to stop passing sound to the house system, but badly enough that the recording was a failure. Subsequent investigation revealed:

  • If you don't turn off autosave in Cubase, a bad thing will happen at the autosave point. You'll appear to be recording, but you won't be after the autosave occurs.
  • Giving priority to background processes -- such as recording -- is highly recommended. This didn't produce any immediate improvement, but it seemed wise to leave it that way.
  • Turning off most of the fancy display doodads is also recommended, so I tried that too, but it didn't really make a difference.
  • It turns out that recent Intel multi-core CPUs can automatically overclock one or two cores if there are a couple of cores that aren't being used right now. When this happens, you start getting the most amazing bursts of static on the channels that actually have mics plugged into them. This seems to be due to the word clock settings between the interface and Cubase becoming fatally confused by the overclocking. Fortunately, you can turn this off in the BIOS. I did.
  • Not all Firewire chipsets are created equal. Apparently, many audio devices will only work reliably with a Texas Instruments Firewire chipset. I bought a Digidesign-approved Firewire card, stuck it in the Express Card slot, and appear to have recorded over an hour of audio with no random clicks and pops.
  • I say "appear to have", because before I was able to perform my final detailed inspection of the tracks, Katie climbed up on the chair in front of the laptop and held down the power button until the laptop shut down.
  • Nothing will help you when that happens.

    I'm running the test again now. *sigh*

    Update: I ran the test again for an hour and forty-five minutes. No clicks, no pops, no runs, no hits, no errors. :)

    I think I can use this thing now.