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Starship Krupa

My new DAW (Part 1:The Sword Reforged)

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As indicated in my signature, I recently leveled up a touch in terms of computer hardware.

Although a veteran of much Frankenclone assembly/upgrade in the 90's (my first XT was parts from a BBS' donations pile), I hadn't built a PC from parts in 20 years due to a series of nice Gateway and Dell hand-me-downs. But I just did one and it went really well.

I had a computer case containing a friend's bricked system sitting around for about a year. He gave it to me because it would only stay on for about 15 minutes before crashing. i5 system, Intel motherboard, 4G of RAM, I found out that it was waaaaay behind on BIOS updating. Got the newest BIOS and it bricked it. Hard. No recovery, not with jumpers, nothing. Gone.

Cheapo case it is, the sides are about the same gauge as a soup can. But it came with a built-in card reader and an optical drive. Thinking I would extract the Ivy Bridge i5 from it and stick it in a new motherboard as an upgrade to my #2 (shop) computer, I started looking on CL and eBay, and as it turns out, Ivy Bridge motherboards without CPU run in the $50+ range, which I thought was too much to spend to end up with a computer with the technology of a decade ago.

But every once in a while, there seemed to be a pretty good deal on a later motherboard, usually with processor, sometimes RAM sometimes not. These I guess would be gamers upgrading. So I started to research how many generations further I'd have to go to get some features I wanted, like an NVMe M.2 slot, while still having a PCI slot for my Firewire card.

Eventually, a guy listed an ASUS motherboard with i7 6700 and 32G of RAM for $200. Hey-ya, that would be a nice upgrade from my Dell Optiplex with its i7 3770 and 16G of RAM. I had had to get a PCIe-to-NVMe adaptor to be able to use an NVMe SSD with the Dell, and then had to install a bootloader on a USB stick to allow booting from it. This was eventually cured with a BIOS hack I found on the web (yeah, I'm a tough guy, I hacked my BIOS with a hex editor to add a feature Dell had left out).

A 3-generation jump in Intel technology, and a move from Dell's notoriously locked-down BIOS to an ASUS extreme gaming platform seemed worth the effort and relatively nominal cost. About that, I sent the seller email and he didn't respond for a week. When he did, he offered to knock $20 off the price. Sold! When I got down to the Starbuck's in Sunnyvale to meet him, he threw in what he said was a 250G NVMe SSD with Windows Pro already installed. Nice! I asked him whether he was selling any other old components, and he offered up a 1TB SanDisk Ultra II for $40.

When I got the board home, I inspected the NVMe SSD and found that he had instead installed a 500G one! Oboy, this made things a lot easier. I could just build an entirely new system using this board and the case, plus an extra power supply I had around. With no downtime of getting plug-in licenses off of the Dell, etc. Cool.

Speaking of cool, one goal of this build was to get it as quiet as possible using better fans (if necessary) and sound-deadening treatment in the case. I had some roofing tar tape left over from giving my car the silent treatment, so why not apply it to this flimsy case?

Here are some of the components prior to assembly/installation:

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I put the roofing tape on the sides, top, and bottom, basically anywhere I could fit it.

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This was a cheap case, but it was small in height and the panels slid off and on securely, and balky covers is usually the most annoying thing about cheap PC cases. The fans turned out to be of surprisingly decent quality and pedigree. Not a bad build. I think the brand was SuperMicro's house brand. Too bad it died of something as silly as getting too far behind on BIOS updates.

Everything went in just fine, I attached all the wires to the fans, card reader, case wiring harness, got it all snug. Figured I could just use the onboard HDMI output for first boot and checking the OS installation. Contrary to my superstition, I firmly attached both case sides before the first boot. I just had a hunch and went with it, and lo and behold, I plugged it in and turned it on and:

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Well whaddaya know. This is the first time this has ever happened. A clone build booting on the first try, no weird beeps or anything.

It enumerated all the hardware and went straight into the Windows welcome. Turns out it was a not-yet-licensed installation of Win 10 Pro, and the guy had gone through and removed all installed Microsoft software, including Microsoft Store, making it impossible to download and install store apps. Not everything Microsoft installs is cruft like crappy games, for heaven's sake.

So a Windows 10 DVD was made, and, oh, did I mention that the old case had a product sticker for Vista Pro? Indeed it did, and when I gave the Windows 10 installer the product key, it accepted it, and now I'm running Windows 10 Pro. Another goodie salvaged from the old system. Make note of that: the current Windows 10 installer will accept product keys from earlier versions of Windows, even though this was originally an OEM build and I used a newer motherboard. Whatever, I'm certainly fine with that. I know how to enable several Windows features that are by default disabled in Home, but there are others, like Remote Access, which turned out to be very handy indeed, as we shall see in Part 2 (The Winnowing of the plug-ins) of this tale, which is really the part that should be interesting to DAW users. That will be the tale of how things went (and are going) with moving my main production from one system to another. It's the software side of the story.

Edited by Starship Krupa
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Part 2: The Sword Reforged Cuts Pretty Well

Okay, so the build was a success. I swapped my GTX 550 Ti and a new EVGA 500W (with allegedly quiet speed controlled fan) in and proceeded to start loading my music and video creation software. The BIOS setup is crazy, after getting used to the "party like it's 1994" Windows 3.1 look of the Dells, the ASUS Extreme BIOS, with all of its settings is like playing MYST or something. I have no idea what most of it does and there's page after page of options. Someday I'll read the manual and tune it all up, but for now it had a button for "tune system" so I went with that, and was also delighted to see that it has a fan control program.

Total outlay for all of the new (used) components came to $260, which I think is okay for a quietized i7 6700 with 32G of RAM, and GTX 550 Ti, 500G NVMe and 1TB SATA. The graphics card will be updated as soon as the graphics card boom goes bust and the gamerz start dumping their old stuff in greater quantities. As soon as 1030's get below $50, I pull the trigger. I don't do much gaming, no FPS, only explorer games like Obduction and MYST Online Uru Live. Those are from when the specs on my system were beyond top of the line, and I can run them in ultra graphics quality with no problem, even with the aging graphics card. Even though it's old, it does still have GDDR5 and ample CUDA cores. And regarding having a swoopy graphics card on a system that is mostly doing DAW and NLE work, I find that it does make a difference. I could notice it even between the Radeon and the GTX, and the Radeon isn't that much lower spec than the GTX. You don't need a super duper gamer card, but it still does some time to draw stuff on a second monitor, as well as plug-in UI's that use OpenGL (how I wish ALL of them did). My fantasy card at this point is a fanless 1030.

The system is quiet, not that I hadn't gotten the Optiplex pretty quiet, replacing the power supply fan with a Noctua and putting in some of that roofing tape. If I hold my iPhone next to it running the NIOSH sound meter app, it's running at about 32dB, and if I pull back to my monitoring position, ambient sound is about the same, so by my standards, I think I've achieved Quiet PC. As good as it's going to get without a silencing enclosure and/or fancy case. Not bad for a budget build in a flimsy-a55 cheapo case.

My strategy as far as disk configuration is to use the lightning-fast NVMe for programs, plug-ins and sample libraries (anything I want to load FAST) and the not exactly slow either 1TB SATA SSD for project files.

Software wise, it's been over a week since I built the system, and I'm still installing programs and plug-ins. My workhorses are Cakewalk and Vegas Pro Edit 15. I also dabble with Studio One Artist 4 and Ableton Live! Lite 11, and occasionally fire up the DAW I used prior to Cakewalk, Mixcraft Pro Studio 9. Cakewalk at the moment counts off 484 plug-ins, and that is after thinning them out considerably. More about that later.

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Part 3: The Winnowing

Okay, so I needed another part before I got to what I think is the most interesting part, which is: how is the software installation going and what am I learning from it.

There are some pains in the neck (and other areas) regarding moving presets over. Basically, I need to figure out where they are on the Optiplex and copy them to a similar location on the new system. One plug-in so far is a failure in this regard: Sitala. It won't let me save custom kits on the new system (yes, I tried running CbB as Administrator, checked permissions on the folder, yada yada), and since it links to sample locations rather than copying them, I needed to rebuild some custom kits. No go with their preset system, so I kludged it together using Cakewalk's internal preset system and will be creating all new kits with Speedrum Lite. What this means is that any existing projects that use Sitala for drums are going to need to be somewhat retooled in that department. Pain.

I'm going to need to figure out how to export/import Cakewalk's native presets. Fortunately, existing projects store the plug-in settings, so I can get back up and running immediately with those.

Installing all the software, especially of course plug-ins, is an ongoing CHORE, and I'm still not done. A lot of the time I don't realize something isn't installed until I need it and don't find it.

With the wisdom from past reinstalls, I have all of my iLok licenses on an iLok dongle and all of my Waves licenses on an SD card. No issues at all there. Some plug-ins, notably ones from W.A. Production, had reached their install limit, and when that happens, it's necessary to contact their support to get more activations added. I don't like that, but they make some really cool sound design plug-ins like Venom that I'm not going to eschew just because of the licensing system. Fingers crossed that they're still around when I want to do this in the future. Although iZotope have a similar system, apparently I hadn't reached my limits, so no issues there.

Other licensing systems with installation limits such as MAGIX and Plugin Alliance allowed me to decommission the older system I was retiring right from their websites. Nice.

A big thing about this build is that when installing plug-ins, I wanted to restrict it to the favorite individual plug-ins and manufacturers I've finally settled on. I no longer have any need for any iZotope Elements except for RX7, so none of those. The zillion free compressors that I tucked away because "I might want to poke around with them someday?" Not in this dojo. Same for the myriad EQ's. For mixing plug-ins, keeping everything from Meldaproduction, Kilohearts, IK Multimedia, Exponential Audio, and most things from Plugin Alliance, and going forward, I'll be doing what I do using those.

I realized that at this point, I don't need to explore mixing FX any more. I've learned which ones I like and want to get better at using those.

That doesn't include the sound design-y FX, I'm still a 'ho for those, although plenty of them haven't make the cut either. One telling criterion is if I don't recognize the name. 🤣 Kinda means it ain't a go-to. The hardest ones to dump are the ones from "big time" manufacturers with really nice GUI's. How can I dump a Pluginboutique freebie from company X that normally sells for $75? Well, simply, if I'm not using it it's just in the way, and this isn't a museum.

Big issue with this strategy: existing projects. A compelling reason for getting rid of those freebie and cheapie plug-ins as soon as you realize that you already have a dozen compressors/delays/EQ's/channel strips/limiters/reverbs/gates/etc. is that you might, while fooling around with them, put them in some project or other. They sit there, then one day "oh, what's that, let me throw it on this one instrument to see how it works," and you have one single project that needs this one plug-in that you tried and forgot about because it wasn't compelling, then deleted from your system weeks or months later. Try them if you must, but get rid of them quickly.

Same goes for ones that came in a bundle with other plug-ins I do use, like ReaPlugs. I don't need ReEq or ReaComp sitting in my plug-in list. Most of the ToneBoosters legacy BusTools freebie pack are redundant to other FX I already use. I'm not going to try to get into them just because Jeroen Briebaart is a genius, bla bla. Keep the unique psychoacoustic ones, the rest: poof. I'll never miss 'em. Same with the Blue Labs freebie pack. Plenty of unique ones, but also some redundant ones.

My aging, medicated head doesn't easily remember things as well as it used to, so of course when reinstalling my plug-ins, I have forgotten a few. As I call up old projects, they tell me which ones are missing and I either install them or replace them in the project. Tedious, perhaps, and I wind up with more cruft on the hard drive but it beats just installing every shiny toy in my plugin downloads folder. At least Cakewalk will allow me to hide it from the Browser while still using it in existing projects.

So whereas CbB counts off over 700 plug-ins on the Optiplex, on the new system it's under 500. Just looking at that number seems astonishing, but I do electronic music and have a LOT of sound design-y instruments and FX. Browser shows 73 instruments and (gulp) 320 FX. The extra ones when scanning are DXi ones I've excluded. Vegas ships with a lot of those and I disable them in Cakewalk. I kept the Sonitus collection active but disable the other tiny GUI Cakewalk FX because they are just in the way.

There are interesting ramifications to all this.

It's already had the effect (no pun) of helping me focus on mixing and not getting distracted by a list of never-used plug-ins, pondering whether I should try them this one time, because maybe they'll really help the mix shine. No, no, for heaven's sake if I can't make a mix "shine" with 80 Meldaproduction FX, a pile of Plugin Alliance compressors and EQ's, a dozen of IK Multimedia's finest, kHs Slice and Carve, and Exponential Nimbus and R4, then I need to acquire skills rather than toys!

I had a dozen amp sim plug-ins. Now I have bx_rockrack, MTurboAmp, and the TH3 that comes with Cakewalk (and is actually really great). 

Although I really liked the Analog Delay, the Presonus-to-VST3 wrappered ones had to go just because of the years they would take off my life at every plug-in scan. Cakewalk starts in a second or two, especially on the new system, but the Presonus loader sits there picking its nose for about 5 seconds. Gone. I have other analog delay emulations, like McDSP's excellent one.

Buying a license for Plugin Doctor last time it was on sale has really helped with being able to let go of compressors and EQ's, because it reveals the similarities and differences (which usually ain't all that). It's kind of Shiva the Destroyer of Illusions of compressors and EQ's.

I'm down to 10 compressors, and that includes both bus/mastering ones and track ones. More EQ's than that, because I kind of rediscovered Carve and Slice and want to give them a trial. If they don't make my motor run, out, out. Sure, Slice and Carve are highly respected precision EQ's, but do they do anything that T-Racks Equal can't do? (Maybe they do). Carve's sidechain analysis is nice, but MAutoDynamic EQ has that covered. If the functionality is duplicated, then they're just underfoot.

iZotope DDLY, your head finally rolled after all these years. Waves SuperTap, you had your chance. TrueVerb, you were the best I could do until Phoenix went on sale for $10, rendering all of my existing reverbs superfluous. MTurboReverble might have done that, but Phoenix got there first.

The (way underrated) sound design stuff from W.A. stays, the (nice for hyped quick results that I don't need) mixing stuff I got in $10 bundles with the sound design stuff, nuh-uh. So I paid $5 for something or other. I don't keep every unfinished $5 order of fries around thinking I might eat it someday. It was $5 to satisfy curiosity. Curiosity satisfied, no need to keep it forever.

"Enhancers" in general were overrepresented, due to the "maybe it will really make a certain track sparkle" factor. My experience with enhancers in general is "if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is."

As far as virtual instruments, there has also been some attrition. Synths that I always thought I should be able to get good sounds from because so many people love them, like the free UVI Digital Synsations bundle of 90's synth sounds that I realized I never liked in their original form. Also Surge and Synth1. I have Hybrid 3, Vacuum Pro, Iris 2 (watch your butt, Iris 2) and Vital. I have numerous Sampletank and KONTAKT retro synth sounds. I have 2 versions of Arturia Analog Lab Lite and 20-some A|A|S soundpacks. I have XPand!2 with its over 2000 patches. That is a LOT of instrument power. If I can't find or create a sound with those....I dunno.

It really feels like a load off my back to thin these out. I can get better with the ones I'm keeping rather than putzing around with ones that might have some promise.

Venus Theory has a great video about this.

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Thanks for sharing your computer update.

 Although the i7 6700 is circa 2015 it should still be a viable chip for lower load DAW work. You managed to update your older system very reasonably. 

I have kicked around some similar ideas. I still have an old 4 core in a pro box i decommissioned when I did my last build and I could probably put a MOBO and cpu in it.  I found a seller who wanted 200.00 for a an Intel i7 12700K. That's a fairly new and fast chip. He lived almost 3 hours away though and I didn't have the time to go get it. He didn't want to ship it out. It was till in the box as he had received it as a gift and never opened it. If he had been a lot closer I would have snapped it up.

Lots of used computer parts out there, but they are often older and low end. Would be fine for a web surfer but terrible for a DAW. If one looks though, gems can be had.

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Oof, good price on that i7-12700K. 3 hours in the car and the fuel would kinda nullify it.

My Dell i7-3770 with 16G is still able to handle anything I throw at it. I've never felt held back by it in any way. One of the Cakewalk bakers' main DAW system is an i7-3770. There was really no compelling reason for building the new system other than that it could be done cheaply and make use of good parts I had sitting around. I'm not expecting to see any practical benefit other than that the system will feel perkier, load things more quickly, and be quieter. My secondary desktop system, which was my primary one 2 weeks ago, can now handle any level of project.

The i7-6700 doesn't meet Microsoft's requirements for Windows 11. That's unfortunate, but I wouldn't have gotten the deal I did otherwise. Windows 10 will be around and well-supported for a long time.

I'm a music (and video) hobbyist, not a pro, and I'm usually toward the rear middle of the pack when it comes to PC hardware. Whatever version of Windows I've run, I've always learned how to tune the software and hardware to wring the last drop of performance from them. I also tend to hold the attitude that if there's some plug-in or other that bogs my system down, it's the plug-in that needs to be replaced, not the computer. 😄

As can be seen from my last post, I have a deep bench when it comes to mixing plug-ins. 🙄 One of the reasons that I'm so fond of Meldaproduction processors is that despite having so many features that they frighten people, they run very efficiently.

Audio software has matured to the point where plug-ins that sounded fantastic half a dozen years ago (when my new system would have been top of the line spec) still sound fantastic. The Plugin Alliance (elysia, brainworks, SPL, Lindell, Shadow Hills) mixing FX I have usually date back half a dozen years and remain some of the most highly-regarded in their categories.

The system that's going out, a Core 2 Quad Q6600 with 8G, can cruise right along running Cakewalk. I did the Windows "refresh" on it and loaded up every bit of good freeware music software I know of and am giving it to a musician friend who wants to get started with recording and mixing low track count stuff. He doesn't own enough mics to tax it! It was my main DAW (and video) rig 6 years ago and it worked fine then. I know he'll love the ProChannel FX, and those were coded back when a system of that spec was a powerhouse.

The things that bog Cakewalk down are plug-ins and extremely large numbers of audio takes. Cakewalk reads every audio file in a project that's referenced by a clip, whether that clip (or track) is muted or active. The exception is if the file is only referenced by a clip in an archived track. Good hygiene with this, that is, deleting or archiving unused ones as soon as I decide on the good ones, takes care of it.

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On 7/19/2022 at 7:00 AM, Starship Krupa said:

yeah, I'm a tough guy, I hacked my BIOS with a hex editor to add a feature Dell had left out

 

You, sir, are my hero.  Respect! 

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13 minutes ago, husker said:

You, sir, are my hero.  Respect! 

This guy is the real steely-eyed computer man. He was the one who figured it out and then posted it for the Dell world to enjoy:

I found out that Dell Optiplexes are kind of a cult item. There are so many of them out there that, like mine, were given early retirement from a corporate environment when the guy in the next cubicle got a newer system.  Hey, why would you go to all this trouble just to get a decade-old tower to boot from an NVMe if you weren't expecting to keep it for a while?

The Optiplex 7010 was a top of the line office box in 2012, and I was given mine in 2016. It's been a flawless workhorse DAW and NLE rig for 6 years.

You can get them very cheaply, as low as $100 with the i7-3770 and maybe a little more with 4G and a spinner. Toss in a hand-me-down graphics card, an SSD, a 500W power supply, and voila, it'll run any game prior to about 2016, and later ones if you drop resolution. Depends on the GPU. Total build price would be in the range of $200 depending on how much RAM you want. If your friend's parents won't buy them a swoopy gaming rig, they can save their lawn mowing money for a month or two and they're ready to go.

The cases are solid, good metalwork, they have front panel USB3, they'll take generic power supplies, what's not to love? Mine is still a fine DAW/NLE rig. Runs Obduction (2016) lickety-split in high resolution. The Radeon 5770 is getting to be kind of a hound (I so much prefer nVidia), but it will get the GTX 550 Ti when that gets upgraded on the ASUS. I may even buy one of those retired Pro licenses you can get for $25, because I'm really getting used to Remote Desktop. Remote Desktop has been GREAT for checking what plug-ins I've been using on the laptop (which runs Pro).

Maybe I'll start a thread for my fellow "low end hardware" users.

I built the newer box kind of out of fun. I hadn't partsed up a PC in 20 years. Turns out I still have it. 😎😄

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46 minutes ago, Starship Krupa said:

This guy is the real steely-eyed computer man.

OK, you just +1000 for this quip.   Because I actually get the reference.

My wife designs T Shirts and sells them on line.   I had her make this shirt for me last year referencing that event.

 

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That is one awesome fscking shirt. John Aaron's immortal command that saved Apollo 12.

I first heard the phrase in Apollo 13, the bit where they figure out how to adapt the Grumman Lunar Module's CO2 scrubbers for use in the North American-built Command Module. I don't think the character is named, but he has the classic NASA look of the era. I do remember talking with my computer BBS science nerd buddies about how that guy was at least as much of a mission hero as Jim Lovell.

I learned later about "set SCE to AUX" and its sheer awesomeness.

John Aaron did also flash his steely peepers for Apollo 13, Wikipedia says he was the one who devised the soft power-up sequence that we see Gary Sinise's "Ken Mattingly" repeat multiple times in the film. Wearing his short sleeve button down shirt and tie of course.

If there's ever a movie where John Aaron appears as a character (and there really should be), he could be played by geek icon Rami Malek:

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He'd have to lose that laconic Elliot Alderson drawl. "Set....SCE. To....AUX."

One of my favorite geek culture (mid 90's, when it was a culture, before we pwnd the world and it became the culture) artifacts was a Valentine's Day t-shirt that read "Roses are #FF0000, Violets are #0000FF, All My Base Are Belong To You." I thought that was the sweetest thing. Also, if you consider multiple definitions of the word "base," pretty good geek smut.

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On 7/20/2022 at 2:41 AM, Starship Krupa said:

There are some pains in the neck (and other areas) regarding moving presets over. Basically, I need to figure out where they are on the Optiplex and copy them to a similar location on the new system. One plug-in so far is a failure in this regard: Sitala. It won't let me save custom kits on the new system (yes, I tried running CbB as Administrator, checked permissions on the folder, yada yada), and since it links to sample locations rather than copying them, I needed to rebuild some custom kits. No go with their preset system, so I kludged it together using Cakewalk's internal preset system and will be creating all new kits with Speedrum Lite. What this means is that any existing projects that use Sitala for drums are going to need to be somewhat retooled in that department. Pain.

Do you have the same issue with saving with the Sitala standalone?  Sitala kits are self-contained -- i.e. they contain the samples they use -- but the state used inside of a saved Cakewalk project isn't.  We tried embedding the samples into the saved state, but it caused problems with a number of DAWs.

The next update to Sitala (later this year) will include an automagic sample finder that uses the Windows Search functions in the background to find missing samples quickly.  (We store enough info about the files in the stream to know if we've found the same one, even if it's been moved.)

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1 hour ago, Scott Wheeler said:

Do you have the same issue with saving with the Sitala standalone?

Hey, Scott! I've liked using Sitala up to this point and it's good to know you care about us poor sampler-free Cakewalk users.

Well, let's see....hmm, lets me Save As just fine in standalone....let's try it in Cakewalk. Huh, danged if it doesn't work now.

I don't know what changed on my system, it's still new and I find myself having to go and crowbar the folder permissions so that I have Full Control on everything that I need to. It could be that the user that I launched Cakewalk as didn't have permission to write to wherever it needed to write to and I put a stop to that nonsense. That would be my best guess.

If you tell me the file locations that Sitala writes to when saving kits, I might be able to remember if any of them were ones where I had to apply tough love. I know that at one point I had to remind C:\Program Files who is in charge (as in take ownership and give myself full control). Whenever I get one of those UAC messages saying that I need to give administrator privileges for a simple file copy or delete or replace, I just go to the top level folder and wrench on the permissions.

Anyway, it works now. Cool! I do prefer Sitala over other pad samplers out there because it's easy to use. I can't even figure out how to change the note assignments to the pads in Speedrum Lite. 🙄

1 hour ago, Scott Wheeler said:

The next update to Sitala (later this year) will include an automagic sample finder that uses the Windows Search functions in the background to find missing samples quickly.  (We store enough info about the files in the stream to know if we've found the same one, even if it's been moved.)

I hope that will be optional. I usually prefer being prompted to search for them manually when I know where I moved them to. Otherwise the program might snag a file from a temporary location and then we'd do the dance all over again.

I do like it when software that relies on external audio files is smart enough to deduce the new path after I specify the location of the first missing file. 😄

Please please allow for color customization of the UI, or better still, custom skinning? I suspect that your REAPER pals might already have made that request. I'd love to get my theming hands on it, it looks like you're not using that many images to build the UI (compared to Cakewalk, I mean). It's a nice, sleek-looking UI, but the grey looks....kinda dowdy. At least, having a choice of a dark theme would be cool.

Been having fun mining Reverb's collection of free vintage drum machine samples, creating Sitala kits from them. DMX, Linn, CR-78. They're good samples.

P.S. I would have had far less trouble if I had been able to figure out where Sitala stores the resources for each kit. Then I could have just copied them all over and Sitala would have been none the wiser.

Edited by Starship Krupa

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20 hours ago, Starship Krupa said:

If you tell me the file locations that Sitala writes to when saving kits, I might be able to remember if any of them were ones where I had to apply tough love. I know that at one point I had to remind C:\Program Files who is in charge (as in take ownership and give myself full control). Whenever I get one of those UAC messages saying that I need to give administrator privileges for a simple file copy or delete or replace, I just go to the top level folder and wrench on the permissions.

I'm not sure I understand the question:

Sitala doesn't use any extra directories to save info about kits -- everything is either included in the data saved into the Cakewalk project, or is in a .sitala kit (and our kits are just a zip file with a bunch of wav files and an XML description).
 

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I hope that will be optional. I usually prefer being prompted to search for them manually when I know where I moved them to. Otherwise the program might snag a file from a temporary location and then we'd do the dance all over again.

Having a suggested locations probably won't be optional, but you won't be forced to accept our suggestion.  We'll also have some logic in there to try to avoid temporary locations.  And yeah, assuming that all of the other samples (at least checking for them) are in the same place as one specified manually is something we intend to do.  I even have some vague memory of us having already written that code, though my brain's a bit fuzzy on that since we've been working on the iOS version for the last few months.

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Please please allow for color customization of the UI, or better still, custom skinning? I suspect that your REAPER pals might already have made that request. I'd love to get my theming hands on it, it looks like you're not using that many images to build the UI (compared to Cakewalk, I mean). It's a nice, sleek-looking UI, but the grey looks....kinda dowdy. At least, having a choice of a dark theme would be cool.

Full skinability is very unlikely (honestly, both me and the other Sitala developer are huge skinning haters), but there is a dark mode that just made it into our last release of the iOS version that will also make it into our next desktop release.   There's a screenshot of that here:

https://twitter.com/decomposermusic/status/1544777181187932160

 

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1 hour ago, Scott Wheeler said:

both me and the other Sitala developer are huge skinning haters

When the products' look and typography is good (like Sitala's) it doesn't matter. I like the look of your dark mode there.

I do like some color customization. I make electronic music where sometimes people project what's on the laptop screen so the audience can see what's going on. It's fun to be able to adjust the colors of my plug-ins.

On 8/4/2022 at 8:18 PM, Scott Wheeler said:

Sitala kits are self-contained -- i.e. they contain the samples they use

Okay, I retraced my steps in terms of how I got the error message:

image.png.947dd7d60ab16fd08cbad0203e860080.png

I have a number of projects on the older system that use Sitala. When saving drum kits or any other patches, I usually go belt-and-suspenders and save a native DAW patch in addition to using the instrument's own system.

When I called this project up, I was using a kit I made using Oberheim DMX samples. The project loaded, and the name of the Cakewalk patch showed up in the Plug-in Properties UI , but of course Sitala couldn't find my custom kits on the new system. It threw up dialogs saying that it couldn't find the sample, so with each one I painstakingly found each sample and rebuilt the drum kit. This worked, as far as being able to play the song back, and I could save what I had put together using Cakewalk's native patch system, but when I went to save the restored kit using Sitala's preset/kit storing systems, it threw up this error. No amount of saving to a different name or location would pacify it.

That's when I decided that if I were going to have to rebuild all of those kits, I wanted to put them together in a sampler that would allow me to save them in its native patch management system. Hello Speedrum Lite (or possibly TX16, I hadn't completely decided yet).

I see now that this issue only occurs when I'm trying to save kits where I've had to tell Sitala where to find the samples for existing kits. Sitala's fine if I just start from scratch with a new kit. Now I know that Sitala's kit files include all of the samples, that would have made it easier, just copy over the directory where Sitala stores its kits.

Which raises another question: let's say that for whatever reason, I save a couple of new kits in different directories, with a Save Kit As... or whatever. At this point those kits should both show up in Sitala's kit browser, right? I presume so. But then let's say I want to copy all of my Sitala kits over to another system. Sitala will probably show me the last folder I used to save a kit, but where the other(s) will be is a mystery. Is there some way to find out where Sitala thinks the various kits in its browser are?

I guess I could search my entire C: drive for *.sitala files, but that seems so brute force.

I believe the above illustrates Lao Tsu's famous warning that "no software survives contact with the user base."

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2 hours ago, Starship Krupa said:

When I called this project up, I was using a kit I made using Oberheim DMX samples. The project loaded, and the name of the Cakewalk patch showed up in the Plug-in Properties UI , but of course Sitala couldn't find my custom kits on the new system. It threw up dialogs saying that it couldn't find the sample, so with each one I painstakingly found each sample and rebuilt the drum kit. This worked, as far as being able to play the song back, and I could save what I had put together using Cakewalk's native patch system, but when I went to save the restored kit using Sitala's preset/kit storing systems, it threw up this error. No amount of saving to a different name or location would pacify it.

So the error message is dumb there.  I just pulled up the code for that and it shows that message any time the kit saving fails, but there's another case where it can fail that isn't obvious from the error message:  it can't find some of the samples referenced in the kit.  I assume that's what you're hitting:  there are still some samples in that kit that can't be found (I'm still too much in just-woke-up-on-Saturday-morning mode to try to reproduce it by creating a project and moving things around myself, but I added a to-do list item for our next release).  Can you go through and see if every pad can currently play its sample?  If there are any that can't, even if you're not using that pad in your project, saving will fail.  Just clearing said pad should get it to work.

2 hours ago, Starship Krupa said:

Which raises another question: let's say that for whatever reason, I save a couple of new kits in different directories, with a Save Kit As... or whatever. At this point those kits should both show up in Sitala's kit browser, right? I presume so. But then let's say I want to copy all of my Sitala kits over to another system. Sitala will probably show me the last folder I used to save a kit, but where the other(s) will be is a mystery. Is there some way to find out where Sitala thinks the various kits in its browser are?

There are two different lists of kits there:  one just recently used, and the second is "User Kits".  If you have things in your user kits, Sitala does look in your user kits directory if it can't find something referenced.  You can find the actual folder for that by clicking on the little icon next to "User Kits" in Sitala:870959381_ScreenShot2022-08-06at09_37_52.png.732043afd6da5c8ff676e7c64c97da9e.png

There if something was in the user kits on the old machine, and is still in the user kits on the new machine, Sitala should find it there.  But again, that only works for whole kits, not individual samples.

Does that make any sense?

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Sort of off subject.  The ref to Apollo 13.  I never watched the movie since I was involved with it.  I was a PCM Telemetry processor programmer working at Goddard Space Flight Center.  I generated a lot of Telemetry processor "erratas" for Houston so certain parameters could be displayed on the tracking station Telemetry processors, and reported to Houston,  but really have no memory of what all they were.   Back in those days, the "high speed" data links to Houston (and Goddard) from the tracking stations was 4800bps.  Telemetry data came down from the spacecraft at 51.2Kb/sec so it all couldn't be sent in realtime.

 

 

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A month and a half in, The Sword That Was Reforged is cruising right along.

I got a good enough deal on a passively cooled nVidia GT 1030, and I'm pleased to say that it will run all of my (not cutting edge) games at ultra quality. As a bonus, the GPUAudio Fir Convolver is compatible with it. Not wanting a political discussion on GPUAudio, but I think it has promise for computation-intensive tasks like convolution. Anything else....I dunno. Maybe physical modeling. It appeals to my frugal nature; having all of that power just sitting there picking its nose seems wasteful, and the engine isn't doing that much with DAW work.

The biggest generator of fan noise is now the power supply, an EVGA White 500W. It was touted as having a quiet temp-controlled fan, so I dunno what's up with that. It's 10 bucks to throw a Noctua or Be Quiet in it, but I'm kinda wondering what's up with the stock fan and whether an aftermarket one would even help. Silence is addictive; as I get things quieter in here, it's tempting to go further.

One of the oddest annoyances is with spellcheck. I participate in multiple online forums, and use company names and tech terms a lot. The Sword's spellchecker dictionary doesn't have the terms entered into it that I had spent years entering. I had no idea that I had such an extensive personal dictionary....

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