Okay. So explain this to me like I'm six years old...

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Okay. So explain this to me like I'm six years old...

Post by Chris_Meck » Thu Mar 12, 2009 4:47 pm

Not really, but:

As someone diving into a DAW based rig after working primarily with tape machines, consoles, and outboard gear...

I've got a Mac. I've narrowed my software choice down to Logic 8. I'll be purchasing a MOTU 24 i/o and PCI-424 for an interface soon.

What's with plug-ins? What is VST-based, TDM, etc.

I get that some are Digidesign Protools only, and some are Windows/PC only.

Some run off of a separate card. Some run off of your harddrive. Which is which? What's what?

What/which can I use with a Logic/Mac system? Which will be less taxing on my CPU?
greetings from Flyover Country...

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Post by kingtoad » Thu Mar 12, 2009 5:41 pm

With Logic you'll be restricted to AU plugins - basically you'll be missing out on Pro Tools only stuff and Windows only stuff as there don't seem to be many companies making plugins for mac who don't offer an AU option these days.

In terms of stuff that runs from external cards/units the main players are UAD, Focusrite Liquidmix, Duende and TC Electronic Powercore. Some are PCI/PCI express cards and some are firewire, and all take some of the burden away from your computer's CPU.

What are the specs of your mac? If you've bought new I expect you should have enough power to cope with most mixes. If you've got an older machine then you might struggle as the plugin count rises.

Logic has a lot of useful plugins already included - certainly enough to accomplish anything to a decent enough standard, so my advice would be to do a few mixes with the stock plugins and see what you think you need. A couple of companies to check out would be Stillwell (who offer free unlimited trials of all their awesome plugins) and Sonalksis (great EQ, cool compressor too).

Good luck! You'll learn to love and hate Logic in equal measures I'm sure, just like me.

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Post by Gentleman Jim » Thu Mar 12, 2009 5:59 pm

Think of the different plug in platforms like different kinds of screwdrivers. Think of the different DAWs as each having one kind of screw they have to use.

You need a slotted screwdriver for Cubase, Sonar, Traction, and Reaper. -that's VST

You need a Phillips Head screwdriver for Logic and Digital Performer. -that's Audio Units

You need a 6 pointed Torx screwdriver for ProTools LE and ProTools M-Powered. -that's RTAS

And you need a completely fucked up screwdriver for ProTools HD or ProTools Mix. It's a Triple Square XZN, or a Spline Drive, or some such specialized foreign car master mechanic shit. Yeah, it's super pro, and it will make everyone take note that you've got the biggest balls of them all, but at the end of the day it's really just a way to spend a ton of cash on proprietary tools to get the same job done. -that's TDM :lol:

(Ok, ok, have a sense of humor, pro studio guys. Geez, you all get so touchy and defensive whenever someone pokes a little fun!)


So if you're using Logic you want Audio Units compatible plug ins. But you really don't need to rush right out and buy any yet. Logic comes with a bunch of decent plug ins; for audio processing/FX, synth/virtual instrument, and sampling. You can really do pretty well with just the stuff that comes with Logic.

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Post by Professor » Thu Mar 12, 2009 8:41 pm

Well I don't typically explain this stuff to 6 year olds, but I have explained it to some university professors with PhDs and DMAs, so I'm at least familiar with the necessary process.

First up, consider that there are many different ways to use a DAW. If you still have your tape machines, console, and/or outboard gear, then that may change how you choose to use the system.

Recording:
- In its simplest form, the DAW can be run in place of your old tape machine. You have a number of inputs that represent the number of tracks you can record simultaneously, and a number of outputs that can be sent to your mixer. There are transport controls and record/solo/mute switches that allow you to arm tracks, record and playback exactly the way you are used to doing it. Most DAWs allow you to record more tracks than you have available inputs and outputs, which is very nice for overdubbing, compositing, etc. and the lack of outputs is covered by an internal mixer which will allow you to route more than one channel to any of your physical output connections. We will get to that mixer thing more later.

Editing:
- You may have edited analog tape with a razor blade and tape before, and the process isn't entirely different at first glance in a DAW. Find the spot you want to cut, make the slice, repeat for the next edit point, and bring them together. One place where it gets fancy is that you haven't really damaged the original recording because the file hasn't really been changed, the software is just registering your decision to stop playing at time x:xx:xx.xx and immediately jump back in at time y:yy:yy.yy. The 'undo' button can take you immediately back to the unedited state, and even after other things have been done and that option escapes, there are other ways to recover the originals.
. But the really big fancy part of editing in a DAW is that you don't have to cut in a straight perpendicular line, or at a 45? angle. That's where you start, but then each track can be pulled to overlap in either direction so the edit can end up looking more like a jigsaw puzzle where each instrument makes the edit at the best possible point for that track. For example, if you use the bass drum track to reference your edit location, but the cymbal crash comes a hair later and the bass guitar hits just a tiny bit earlier, those edits can be shifted a little later or earlier to catch them at the perfect spot.

Mixing:
- You may be planning to mix "outside the box" but most DAWs include some form of basic mixer within the system and it can be handy even if you are mixing outside. There will at least be a basic routing structure where each recording track is assigned an input source and an output destination. On my system I have 72 hard I/O connections (I hate running out of things) so when I setup a track labeled "Kick" it will be assigned an input like "Console A - Channel 1" and an output destination like "Console B - Channel 48". (Please note that some DAWs will allow you to label your I/O connections in ways that are more meaningful to your studio while others will read only stock names like "MOTU 24 input 1" or just "USB interface L/R output") That basic starting point may be a little confusing at first since the track layout is more fluid than a tape machine, but the same basic concept of knowing your "Goesintahs" and "Comesouttas" is just as valid. And in most cases that basic routing is also the first part of the mixing architecture. You can assign multiple record tracks to the same output. So let's say you track 8 backing vocal overdubs but only have two output connections left - well you can route 4 tracks each to those 2 mono outputs, or route all 8 to those outputs as a stereo bus pair, or any combination you might choose.
. Usually the mixing can be a lot more involved, and can even replace a mixer entirely (at least for basic level, pan & bussing). Some people even mix entirely "in the box" and simply send a main stereo output to their monitor speakers. In most cases, the internal mixer is an ever-expanding creature where every new recording channel adds another channel to the mixer. The number of aux & mix busses may remain the same, but the channel count is either limited by your computer's RAM & processing, or by the software designer.

Outboard Effects:
- If you are mixing out of the box, those are just the same as you've always used. But inside the DAW, they can be "Plugged In" to the signal path almost anywhere you like. If you choose to mix across a console, you could still use a simulated LA-2A compressor on your DI-Bass track by 'plugging in' that program on that recording track before it is sent out of the system. There's lots of arguing over how accurate those models are, but the beauty is that where $2000 might buy one channel of real LA-2A, $200 might buy a plug in program that allows you to drop an unlimited number of "90% accurate" LA-2As onto every channel of your mix.
. The range of effects available is pretty vast, but the basic ones you'd expect like EQ, compression, delay, limiting, reverb, phase reverse, etc. are probably all going to be included in the software you purchase. Once you use those a little and see how useful they are or aren't to your style of working, then you can see about adding more options.

Recall & Automation:
- If you are mixing in the box, or at least utilizing some of the mixing features in the DAW, this will just blow you away. You can conceivably close down one song from one project, open another and within the span of about a minute, have completely recalled all of the routing, levels, pan, effects, EQ settings, etc. I mix across a console, but it's a digital console, so I store mixes on the console and automation inside the DAW, and I have literally jumped back and forth through every mix for a 10-song album project in the span of about an hour before committing all of the mixes to the CD.
As for automation, if it's in the DAW you can probably automate it. It might take a long time before you figure it all out, but never mind just level & mute, if you want to automate EQ sweeps, or reverb decays, or compressor ratios, you can do it, and it operate exactly the same every time you open the project.


Now as for the gear you happen to be looking at, as mentioned above, what you can do will really depend on the specs of your computer and which hardware & software you decide to buy.
Logic is a "native" system which means that all of the audio routing and processing is handled by the computer's CPU - the same CPU that is also responsible for drawing the pretty pictures on your screen, managing the data storage on the drives, and running all of the basic higher & lower functions that your computer will be running (moving the mouse, running the clock, counting time to turn on the screen saver, displaying twitter tweets, etc.)
And that's not just a symptom of Logic, pretty much every other piece of software out there runs native. The only ones that don't will run something called TDM (or similar) where the audio routing and processing is handled by extra PCI cards loaded with DSP engines. Those are systems like ProTools HD, Pyramix, and a few others. Quite different from those are the strap-on processors like the UAD, Focusrite, TC Powercore, etc. which do not change a native system into a TDM system, but simply distribute some of the processing to lighten the load on the CPU. (Note that you don't get to choose what processing is handled by the CPU and the extra processors, they can handle what they can handle and that's all.)

But this really gets into a much longer discussion. The big thing you need to understand is that Logic is a native system, so the CPU power & speed in your system, and the amount of RAM installed will determine the limits you will face for track count and plug-in capability. The more power you have, the more goodies you can use.

As far as the specific choice you've made, I personally always encourage people to use as much material from the same manufacturer as you possibly can. Not for brand loyalty, but because when the stuff doesn't work, it's far too easy for Apple to blame your MOTU interface and for MOTU to blame your Apple software, etc. Remember that these are two companies who build a directly competing product. You might want to consider either using Logic with the Apogee Symphony (they have a very tight licensing agreement) or using the MOTU interface with Digital Performer. I'm not saying you have to, or that either one will be better, just that some children don't play well with others.

Hope that helps to get you started.

-Jeremy

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Post by Gentleman Jim » Thu Mar 12, 2009 9:45 pm

With all due respect, Professor, the combination of a Mac, Logic, and a MOTU converter or interface is pretty universally accepted as a stable basis for a rig. While your point about compatibility is valid generally, it may be introducing some unnecessary concern into this particular scenario.

And it's not like the difference in cost between the MOTU 24i/o and an Apple/Apogee 24 channel setup is insignificant. The MOTU costs $1,420. Three Rosetta 800's, the X-Symphony cards for them, a Symphony 64 PCI Express card, and cables runs about $9,700. Oh, will you be wanting an external clock with that? :roll:

One thing that I would bring up to the OP about possibly looking at Digital Performer is this: Will you be looking to mix outside the box? Because while it's certainly doable with Logic, you should be aware that one annoying little 'feature' with Logic is that the outputs are only stereo, i.e.: Output 1-2, Output 3-4, Output 5-6, and so on. It's kind of like the subgroups of a mixing board. As far as I know, this bit of goofiness is unique to Logic; most (or all) other DAW's allow for mono outputs, which is nice and simple if you're going to route the audio to your current mixer then bus it back in via the stereo outs or groups or whatever. If you're committed to ditching your board and going ITB this is a non-issue.

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Post by Professor » Thu Mar 12, 2009 10:44 pm

I agree that there are probably plenty of folks successfully running Logic with MOTU interfaces, but it still doesn't hurt to mate hardware and software of the same brand, especially when building a system from the ground up. It's not a requirement, but it can certainly make things easier - more so for someone new to the entire DAW world.

I also agree that it's cheaper to buy MOTU interfaces, but as for the pricing, the only person that matters to is the guy buying the gear. Not everyone is looking for the cheapest way out all the time. Maybe the Mac he will be using is some six thousand dollar 8-core Mac Pro monster and he'll be mixing out of the box through a Neve console. Of course, if that were the case I'd be a little surprised that he's asking us to help explain the wonderful world of DAWs, but that's another story altogether.

Either way, it's good to know that Logic has that quirk about output configuration. Do they at least allow the user to relabel the outputs so they have a more personal meaning to them or does it just the default?

-Jeremy

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Post by Gentleman Jim » Thu Mar 12, 2009 11:27 pm

Where I'm from there's a lot of real estate between "... looking for the cheapest way out all the time" and $8,300 difference.

I'll just leave it at that.

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Post by Chris_Meck » Thu Mar 12, 2009 11:51 pm

Oh. What the hell, really? You can only send outs in pairs?!

Seriously!?

Well screw that. You just saved me $500.

I do intend to use my console for mixing; I just wanted a DAW for basic editing and automation mostly; plug-ins for maybe basic effects. I'll use my own outboard compressors, etc.

It's not an 8 core monster, it's a G5 powermac, and it's not new, but I'm getting more RAM and another big hard drive.

If that's really true about Logic then I'll just go with Digital Performer, I guess. That really sucks.
greetings from Flyover Country...

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Post by ctmsound » Fri Mar 13, 2009 1:26 am

Pick up a used 24 I/O and have it modified by Black Lion Audio. What a world of a difference it made, and it comes out to roughly the same price as buying a stock new one.

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Post by kingtoad » Fri Mar 13, 2009 5:03 am

cmez wrote:Oh. What the hell, really? You can only send outs in pairs?!

Seriously!?

Well screw that. You just saved me $500.

I do intend to use my console for mixing; I just wanted a DAW for basic editing and automation mostly; plug-ins for maybe basic effects. I'll use my own outboard compressors, etc.

It's not an 8 core monster, it's a G5 powermac, and it's not new, but I'm getting more RAM and another big hard drive.

If that's really true about Logic then I'll just go with Digital Performer, I guess. That really sucks.
Well, it's true that there are only stereo outputs, but all you have to do to get a "mono" output is pan the channel all one way in the DAW.

For example, you have kick and snare, both assigned to outputs 1-2. Kick is panned hard left and snare panned hard right and you'll get the kick and snare coming in wherever 1-2 are patched in on your console.

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Post by Gentleman Jim » Fri Mar 13, 2009 5:51 am

cmez wrote:
I just wanted a DAW for basic editing and automation mostly; plug-ins for maybe basic effects. I'll use my own outboard compressors, etc.
If that's the case keep in mind that the 24 i/o comes with MOTU's AudioDesk software, free. So you don't have to rush right out and get software at the same time.

Of course, remember my earlier post about the screwdrivers? Well, AudioDesk uses yet another kind, Robertson. The plug in format for AudioDesk is an old proprietary format called MAS. While there are some third party plug ins that are MAS compatible, it's basically on its way out. What this means is that if you use AudioDesk for a while and then feel like you've grown out of it, if you want to revisit/remix stuff you did on AudioDesk with another DAW you'll have to start over from scratch. (How often do you go back to old mixes long after the fact? I suspect most people don't do it very often.)

Since I've raised the grinning specter of an idea that is switching or using different DAW's, let me also point out to you now that a big deal is made of 'portability' of a project. While it is true that some percentage of people do send hard drives to each other for collaboration or remixing, I suspect again that most people don't do it very often. (This is the part where everybody who does this, has done this, or daydreams about doing this sometime in the vague future hops in to 'prove me wrong' with anecdotal evidence that's no stronger than my own baseless conjecture. There, I beat them to the punch on that, too!)

What you should know is that the actual audio file formats, (WAV and AIFF), are compatible across DAW's. That's like saying that whatever tape you use, 1", 1/2", 2", you can take it from one machine to another with no hassles. What isn't compatible is what your software does with those files, e.g.: automation, edits, plug ins. If you send the project you've been working on in AudioDesk to me, I'm going to have to import the raw audio files and start over, because I use Logic. We don't use the same plug ins, and the meta information doesn't translate.

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Post by Jay Reynolds » Fri Mar 13, 2009 9:26 am

kingtoad wrote:
cmez wrote:Oh. What the hell, really? You can only send outs in pairs?!

Seriously!?

Well screw that. You just saved me $500.

I do intend to use my console for mixing; I just wanted a DAW for basic editing and automation mostly; plug-ins for maybe basic effects. I'll use my own outboard compressors, etc.

It's not an 8 core monster, it's a G5 powermac, and it's not new, but I'm getting more RAM and another big hard drive.

If that's really true about Logic then I'll just go with Digital Performer, I guess. That really sucks.
Well, it's true that there are only stereo outputs, but all you have to do to get a "mono" output is pan the channel all one way in the DAW.

For example, you have kick and snare, both assigned to outputs 1-2. Kick is panned hard left and snare panned hard right and you'll get the kick and snare coming in wherever 1-2 are patched in on your console.
I believe you can insert an I/O plug on a channel strip and assign it to the mono out you'd like to use.
Prog out with your cog out.

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Post by Chris_Meck » Fri Mar 13, 2009 10:39 am

Oh, ok. I get it then. It's not really a big deal with the stereo outs. I thought you meant somehow that they were summed in pairs and you couldn't separate them. Which wouldn't make any sense at all.


I might stick with Logic then, it seems that's the cat's pajamas. At least that's what a lot of people I know swear by.
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Post by pskjr » Sat Mar 14, 2009 7:44 pm

superaction80 wrote:
kingtoad wrote:
cmez wrote:Oh. What the hell, really? You can only send outs in pairs?!

Seriously!?

Well screw that. You just saved me $500.

I do intend to use my console for mixing; I just wanted a DAW for basic editing and automation mostly; plug-ins for maybe basic effects. I'll use my own outboard compressors, etc.

It's not an 8 core monster, it's a G5 powermac, and it's not new, but I'm getting more RAM and another big hard drive.

If that's really true about Logic then I'll just go with Digital Performer, I guess. That really sucks.
Well, it's true that there are only stereo outputs, but all you have to do to get a "mono" output is pan the channel all one way in the DAW.

For example, you have kick and snare, both assigned to outputs 1-2. Kick is panned hard left and snare panned hard right and you'll get the kick and snare coming in wherever 1-2 are patched in on your console.
I believe you can insert an I/O plug on a channel strip and assign it to the mono out you'd like to use.

this is true. just pan it in the daw, if it's set for out 1-2, i believe all the way left is 1, opposite is 2. I am a Logic user and it took me a while to figure that out, but it works. as for plug ins, i reccomend the duende if you wanna spend some money, but it runs 16 channels at once off of its own. processors, and the EQ and compressors are amazing. Waves plug ins are also an option. the ones labeled Native are run off of the cpu, but they do have pci bundles. as for getting Logic, i would try out DP6 and Cubase 5 before you make any purchases. Logic is great to track in, and the stock plug ins are great, but sometimes it can be a bear to mix in. i love tracking in Logic, but mixing can really get annoying, especially crossfades, as im sure everyone in here knows about Logics inability to do multiple cross fades at once across a number of tracks, meaning one fade at a time, extremely time consuming. but if you plan on mixing out of the box, logic would be great. but i still reccomend trying out DP6 and Cubase 5. Cubase is great, i love it, i usually track in Logic and mix in Cubase. The stock plug ins that come with Cubase are awesome, especially the compressors, EQ, and the DeEsser. the amp simulator is extremely good as well.

as far as your cpu being able to handle it, i have an iMac, 2.66 ghz, 4gb RAM, and i have no problems whatsoever. as long as i dont track with plug ins (not sure why anyone would?) and dont have 5 plug ins each on 25+ tracks (bussing, duh). Logic is great, teamed up with Cubase is the best, i wouldnt change my set up one bit

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