OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s been almost a year since Windows Vista was released to consumers. We know that nearly half of our readers use Windows, so the future of the OS is something we take very seriously — even if many of you, for now, are staying cautious and working (happily, in many cases) on XP. We’ll be examining Vista from various angles over the coming weeks, both measuring the OS and telling you how to make the most of it if for music you are giving it a go.

To start out, we’ve again caught up with Noel Borthwick. Noel CTO of Cakewalk, and one of the most knowledgeable experts on Windows technical details. (He’s also a veteran Linux developer, so his perspective on operating systems goes beyond those from Redmond.)

When we talked to Noel this time last year, a lot of what was new still hadn’t been tested in the real world. Now, Vista has been in the hand of users, and there’s both some good news and bad. A year of Vista has meant a year of improvements, both from Microsoft and third parties. In my own testing, for instance, what began as a disastrous experience running Vista earlier in the year has now become more comparable to XP. (I’m currently on Vista SP1 release candidate on a modest PC desktop.) But there are still areas that could use improvement — and while general Vista improvements were welcome, I think there’s still the real question of whether Vista offers enough that’s unique to compete with its real rival, XP.

We’ll revisit some of those broad issues, but first let’s actually get the technical story, and clear up some misconceptions.

 

Peter: Many users wondered if the improvements to Microsoft’s WDM (Windows Driver Model) in Vista might mean using those drivers in place of Steinberg’s ASIO (as supported in most pro audio apps, including Cakewalk’s). Does Vista mean users can use WDM audio drivers in place of ASIO drivers?

Noel: This equation has not changed drastically in Vista. The same factors apply to the decision on whether to choose one driver model over another. WDM is the primary Microsoft driver model for audio drivers on the Windows platform. As such some hardware devices (most commonly consumer audio or motherboard audio devices) only have WDM available. Some users have reported that with some Vista hotfixes they get better low latency performance with WDM audio drivers than with ASIO. We do not have any hard evidence to support or disprove this specific issue.

Peter: What’s a quick picture of what shipping devices support WaveRT, and generally, what have the performance results been versus just using ASIO, etc.?

Noel: So far the only drivers that support WaveRT have been consumer audio motherboard devices. Adoption of this standard has been very slow from driver vendors – the only pro audio vendor to support WaveRT so far has been Echo Audio, who released WaveRT drivers for their PCI cards. (These drivers are not compatible with SONAR yet)

Note that WaveRT only applies to PCI audio devices so its a relatively smaller set of hardware that can take advantage of this technology. Additionally, current versions of SONAR only support WaveRT drivers that use Notification mode.

Some known WaveRT onboard audio implementations are from Sigmatel, Soundmax and Realtek. One of these implementations can be found in most shipping Vista compatible laptops and PC’s these days. (Note that the native Realtek drivers do not support notification mode which means they will not work in SONAR unless you use the Microsoft HDAudio.sys driver.)

[Ed.: You'll find Realtek audio even in Apple's MacBook and MacBook Pro -- hence the appearance of these drivers when you install Boot Camp. -PK]

Peter: Have you gotten any feedback that indicates your customers are taking advantage of consumer-grade WaveRT support?

Noel: Some customers have had success with consumer audio using WaveRT. Here is an example thread:

http://forum.cakewalk.com/fb.asp?m=1222790

[Ed.: Some very impressive results on that thread, and I'd be curious to know if readers have similar experiences; I know a couple of early-adopter Vista users here did talk about good low-latency results on their machines as early as the end of 2006. There are readers having really low latency (6 ms!) on cards that were glitchy with even high-latency settings using ASIO drivers -- as you might expect from a consumer-grade card. Cheap PCI cards with high-performance audio could be a nice thing to have, indeed. -PK]

And one with ASIO4All and the Echo cards:

http://forum.cakewalk.com/fb.asp?m=1232776

Peter: Last year, we discussed MMCSS, a technology for improving what Microsoft termed “glitch-resistant audio” performance. Now we’ve had a year to play with Vista. In the real world, does it actually do anything? When does it come into play?

Noel: MMCSS (Multimedia Class Scheduler) is basically a mechanism in Vista for registering time critical threads (such as audio processing threads) to get higher priority. For example, you can flag an audio processing thread as “Pro Audio” which gives the threads a priority boost. Essentially MMCSS then manages these threads ensuring that they are run with minimum interruptions preventing glitching due to other background tasks in Windows that compete for the CPU.

In SONAR you have to explicitly enable MMCSS in the audio options for it to be activated. Whether you see a benefit or not really depends on the number of other tasks running on the system. Unfortunately in Vista there is another issue which currently masks the potential performance benefits of MMCSS. I.e., many users have experienced that low latency performance under Vista across the board is lower than XP. We have reported this bug to Microsoft and understand they are working on it.

Peter: I understand that there have been some changes to drivers, moving them to user mode. Does this actually improve stability?

Noel: There are some misconceptions about this issue. WDM Kernel Streaming audio drivers are unaffected by the changes to the Vista audio stack. A host application like SONAR can talk to WDM drivers using the kernel streaming IOCTL’s exactly the same way as it worked in XP. The same applies to ASIO drivers. Where the changes to the Vista audio stack come in are primarily when using MME or the new WASAPI API’s to talk to audio drivers. The result is the new stack MME mode is less efficient in Vista than in XP.

The interrelationship between the core audio API’s and other user mode components in Vista can be seen here:

This since this is Microsoft supplied: http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms679160(VS.85).aspx

The original initiative for MS to move more system code into user mode was primarily for system stability, not performance. A badly behaved kernel mode driver can take down the entire operating system whereas a user mode driver can only crash the current process. So yes, running a user mode driver can improve overall system stability to some extent by preventing fatal crashes.

Peter: Having tested Vista with NVIDIA and ATI graphics as drivers evolved over the past year, I’d say things are much better — what once would actually drag the system down with early drivers for Vista (even with Aero turned off in some cases) now seems about the same as XP. But Microsoft initially claimed GPU-based graphics would perform better, not worse. Any further revelations here?

Noel: We haven’t really profiled video performance much in Vista as compared to XP. Our impressions have been that it is roughly equivalent with the exception of the earlier driver issues you indicated.

Peter: Some users have reported MIDI performance issues — specifically, jitter — under Vista. How much of an issue is this? What are the factors that cause it?

Noel: Both Cakewalk and Digidesign and Cakewalk logged this issue with Microsoft. The root cause of this problem was found to be in the WinMM.DLL and was due to an inefficient check being done on every WinMM API call.  It has been addressed in Vista SP1.

The issue itself was pretty severe and impacted MIDI timing on playback and recording. As compared to XP, in Vista we observed timing discrepancies as far out as 150 ticks. You could also run into cases where MIDI events were lost while playing.

Peter: Has Cakewalk tested the SP1 fix for MIDI jitter?

Noel: Yes we have tested the  MIDI jitter fix and performance is much better in this area.

Peter: How do new driver signing requirements under 64-bit Vista impact users. I understand, for instance, MIDI Yoke is not compatible with 64-bit Vista?

Noel: MIDI Yoke is a 32 bit driver and as such will not work in X64. It has nothing to do with driver signing. Under X64 it is somewhat painful to run with unsigned drivers since you have to explicitly allow this on each bootup!

Peter: UAC (User Account Control) seems to me to be more than a distraction — it actually breaks a lot of software. Do you think there’s any chance we’ll see Microsoft fix this in SP1 or a future release?

Noel: From MS’s perspective there is nothing to fix. The fact that many applications don’t work with UAC is because they were not coded to be UAC compliant. This is one of the biggest areas that require change to work properly under Vista.

UAC is here to stay and in fact MS has advised that the file and registry virtualization support for application compatibility will be removed in future versions of Windows. I know of one UAC annoyance that has been addressed in Vista SP1. In Vista you can get multiple confirmation prompts while copying or modifying files in explorer. In SP1 you just get one prompt as expected.

Peter: A lot of the anti-Vista hype leading up to its release centered on DRM (Digital Rights Management) in the audio path. I haven’t personally seen any impact of this in Vista. Are there any actual impacts of DRM on pro audio work in Vista?

Noel: The DRM protection typically only applies to when you are playing back files through your soundcard in Windows itself and for consumer audio hardware. If you are using ASIO or your device is not set as the default audio device in Windows this is a non issue.

Peter: What’s the impact on performance of indexing and search services?

Noel: This is really not Vista specific. Any repetitive background operation like indexing can be potentially detrimental to real-time audio streaming and should be disabled on a DAW for critical applications. The same applies to Windows XP as well.

Ed.: I had originally advised users turn off indexing. I’m now suspicious that some specific bug was causing it to continue to run, because indexing is only supposed to start in a system-idle state. I now have indexing on on two Vista test machines, and haven’t seen any impact on performance whatsoever. -PK

Peter: Backwards compatibility was a big concern for a lot of users. It seems like perhaps this is more related to hardware than software. How would you describe the present compatibility picture?

Noel: I wouldn’t say that Vista is compatible with software in general without any software changes. Vista is very finicky about registry and file access permissions – much more so than XP. The UAC requirements alone can make legacy Windows applications fail while performing certain operations. Vista’s registry and file system virtualization attempts to alleviate this problem somewhat but its not a panacea for all legacy application problems, since this applies only to 32 bit applications not 64 bit applications.  We primarily released the SONAR 6.2 update as a Vista compatibility update to address problems like this. Additionally, many application installers need to be updated to install properly on Vista.

Peter: What about the perception among some users that Vista is slower than XP? (I even saw this repeated, without explanation, but John Dvorak at PC Magazine — not that Dvorak isn’t known for hyperbolae.) We’ve heard some users who are very positive, and I can’t personally detect a difference (outside gaming compatibility issues). Is Vista close to XP in terms of performance?

Noel: On a 2GB system Vista would largely perform on par with XP provided you have drivers that play well with Vista. With lower memory, the larger footprint takes its toll and you might see slower performance overall than with XP.  The low latency performance issue however, is still an issue irrespective of memory and CPU capabilities.

Peter: Okay, the key question: what’s better in Vista?

Noel: Until some of the critical bugs in Vista that mask the performance improvements are addressed, it is hard to assess realistically. My hope would be for at least equivalent performance with WDM and ASIO drivers in Vista under both X86 and X64. Of course, there are many users who prefer the UI and other enhancements in Vista over XP.

Thanks, Noel. There’s more to cover in Vista and Windows in general — and I’ll be meeting with folks from Cakewalk and Microsoft at NAMM — so stay tuned.

  • http://www.myspace.com/pax lost

    Not to sound like a dick, but as mac user, who was once a windows user, this is why i decided to change. Far more things can go wrong when you have so many options and variables. Core audio is simple, fast, and easy. The only reason i would ever mess around with windows is because P.C.'s are cheap and there's a bunch of great software thats P.C. only(and lots of freeware too!). But then again, I can just bootcamp it right? Too many protocols, not enough consistency, and jesus is vista slow. I really wish Microsoft would figure its shit out, cause with that kind of market share it has so many more software options, in audio and elsewhere.

    P.S. How about that Macbook air!! Trackpad multi touch controller anyone??

  • Adrian Anders

    Hmmmm, it's sounding like Windows might get WORSE for legacy and pro-audio applications by Windows 7. I don't think Microsoft is even trying to court power-users (including media-pros) anymore. I'm afraid that in the future Windows may be whittled down to "Microsoft Bob" with a Media Center/XBox interface. I know already that I'm sticking with XP for the entirety of this OS cycle. With the exception of possibly a couple dickish companies (cough…Korg, Roland) all Win-supporting audio software groups will continue to support XP because of the better performance, stability, and user experience over Vista. I believe it will continue to be the choice for PC audio professionals well into the future. If Windows 7 fixes the performance issues, and/or gives pro-media users features worth sacrificing legacy software for I will then jump at it when it's time to upgrade again.

    However, if they continue to go down this road to mediocrity I will have to re-evaluate my OS platform options the next time around. My sincere hope is that by the time Windows 7 ships (which knowing MS will be around 2011) WINE will have matured to the point where commercial synths like Absynth, z3ta+, FlStudio, etc. will run almost entirely bug free ala XP in something like Ubuntu. If that happens, and Win7 is another flea-bitten dog of an OS I'll make the jump over to Linux for sure. On the other hand, if all of my major programs like FLStudio (version hell freezes over) finally get ported natively to the Mac or Parallels gets mature to the point where it doesn't choke and die trying to run complex WinXP audio programs then I might jump to OSX (XI?) by then instead.

    In short, whichever group can deliver all of my legacy WinXP software and irreplaceable hardware (VariOS FTW!) to a modern computer with the latest OS features, isn't a pig, and is compatible with the very latest software running side-by-side with legacy programs/plugs gets my undying love and affection (+cash money….except for Linux….poor Linux).

    To that end, all three major OSs fall short of this for the moment so they get the big fat raspberry from me.

  • GaryG

    Personally, I'm a little surprised that less than half of CDM readers use Windows…

  • Steve

    I installed Vista on my year-old Dell laptop last xmas and that OS experience lasted about 6 hours. I had heard bad things about it but I decided to give it a try and "benchmark" it according to my specific needs. Conclusion, it does indeed suck. It's slower than XP even though the UI is supposed to be hardware accelerated (the machine has a respectable 3D card) and although driver problems certainly weren't worse than linux they were worse than I expected. Aero I don't really care about, I use the machine for programming and music so I'd only leave Aero on if I could get some perceivable performance benefit in those two areas. And heaps of legacy apps didn't work. So I am left with the thought that the only possible advantage of getting Vista is DirectX10 for games. Well, I wouldn't be reading this site if I was running my machine mostly for games would I? I don't really get what is wrong with Microsoft because after working on a new OS for i-don't-care-how-many-years you get: a) some broken backwards compatibility without the benefits (benefits being e.g. that drivers need to be rewritten because of a new more efficient driver framework, article suggests WaveRT is somewhat promising but not really working in a proper way)

    b) a whole lot of stuff no one really cares about (shiny shiny aero, super security, drm)

    c) nothing else that comes to mind.

    Next I tried osx86 which after some tweaking (getting the sound & wireless to work etc, to be fair some stuff I never got working) actually worked better than Vista.

    On. A. Dell laptop.

    Colour me unimpressed. In my opinion Microsoft either has to seriously reorganize their whole OS development or accept that their OS's future lies only in:

    a) gaming

    b) office & business work

    c) media playback and browsing

    I'd even venture so far as to say that Vista is the first nail in the coffin for Windows when it comes to creative types. And really not only creative types, since after Vista I've seen a herd migration at work (dev company) to Macs. Guess I'll start saving for that Mac Pro myself…

  • http://www.milezero.org Thomas

    I've been running Vista on my Thinkpad for about 5 months now. I actually like it a lot. If nothing else, there are some very nice UI tricks in there–when I use my XP machine at work, I really miss the ability to whack the Windows key and type the first few letters of a program.

    No problems running Sonar on Vista either, although the crappy built-in sound chip on the Thinkpad doesn't like running at anything other than 48KHz. Thanks, Soundblaster legacy!

  • Richard Lawler

    I was an early adopter of Vista. I used the beta six months, and it's been on my main machine (two different laptops) for the last year.

    I've posted many comments here on Vista in the past 18 months. Many of the comments were supportive of the system or offering workarounds to many of the problems of a new system. Some were just attempts to filter through the hype.

    But at this point I've given up on Vista. I've just recently switched back to XP. And I'm happy as a clam. (I feel like the PC guy in the Apple commercials.)

    It seems Vista became an albatross at Microsoft. They made a valiant push to get the thing into shape for shipping. But since the release we've seen very little improvement or additional polish. (Just look at the "Ultimate Extras" joke.) And it doesn't look like the forthcoming service pack is going to improve anything.

    I don't think Vista is terrible. There are many parts of it that are very nicely implemented and taken separately are significant improvements over XP.

    But Vista had and still has serious compatibility problems that are inexcusable. (For example, Vista shipped with compatibility problems with iTunes and Acrobat. How did that happen? What kind of arrogance is that?)

    Sure there have been significant improvements in Vista driver availability from many (but not all) vendors. And many of the application compatibility problems have been addressed with new software versions. But in many cases there was no good reason to break these applications.

    But my experience with Vista in 18 months of continuous use is that things break and the system degenerates. (For example Windows Mobile syncing recently stopped working for me for the second time.) I've seen the same annoying bugs show up on different systems. I think the system degeneration is fundamentally caused by the changes in the security model. (My guess is that permissions in the registry get accidentally elevated at fairly high levels. Then everything up the tree stops working. While this keeps the system more secure functionality degenerates.)

    Also system performance under Vista is significantly worse, and things like boot times degenerate dramatically over extended use.

    Lastly, system robustness hasn't improved relative to XP. I get more random system crashes than XP. And I get many more lock ups (similar to the Mac's Beachball of death syndrome) under Vista than XP especially with media applications.

    Anyway I'm back in XP land, and I've rescinded my general recommendation for Vista even on new systems.

    I don't know what the future holds for Microsoft Windows operating systems, but Vista is not it.

  • http://www.ticketdiscussions.com/ Alex Blo

    Hi,you've got a nice blog,let's exchange links.I've placed yours on http://www.ticketdiscussions.com

  • http://myspace.com/ilovethebeep David

    for a real DAW ill always go for a "bullet proof" system. i have the similar approach to game consoles. i just bought a ps2, because now its cheap, reliable and still awesome.

    so for an OS go for XP SP2 or OSX10.4.9… its always smoother. vista really dropped the performance when i tried it as a DAW. It's just not a "working mens" OS.

    I just upgraded to Leopard and i gotta say: If they fix the M-Audio USB issue its a fantastic choice…

    if you go for vista you probably have to update your DAW software and for most its quite costly.

  • http://www.audiodamage.com Chris Randall

    Aside from some silliness with Nvidia drivers early on, I've had no trouble, and I'm the very definition of a power user. Of course, I don't bother with all those stupid bells and whistles; my Vista install is virtually indistinguishable from my Win98 install, visually, and that's the way I like it. It is most definitely a "working mens" [sic] OS. I spend literally all day every day flipping between 3DS Max, Cubase 4, Visual Studio, and Photoshop (usually with all four open at the same time), with no problems whatsoever, and I have a workstation video card and a proper audio interface (Lynx AES16.) Most of the problems I've heard about, here and elsewhere, are with pro-sumer gear. M-Audio USB issue? Please.

    That said, objectively, one has to admire the fact that they made a large transition with such a diverse hardware platform relatively painless to most people. Apple just prunes a branch of their hardware tree each time they update, and that works for their customer base too. To each his own.

    -CR

  • keno

    I've been Djing with Vista,Traktor and a Laptop for the last 6 months, and from a musical perspective its been quite a trip ( a bad one) there is no such a thing as a consistent response from ASIO Drivers ( am using an echo indigo dj card), there's just so many other services that just run whenever they feel like it and bog the cpu down,and this translates to painful glitches, at the same time a dual core 3.0ghz with 2 gigs of RAM feels worse than a single core @ 2.0ghz under XP with half the RAM, and then there's the issue of not being able to record directly from the soundcard, that's just a step back if you ask me.

    On the plus side, vista crashes far left often and seems to be more secure, but audio is just not there yet and takes a lot of tweaking and maintenance.

    -k

  • Adrian Anders

    I imagine the piracy of XP and Win2000 will continue way into the future if for no other reason that when XP stops selling people who are serious about their craft and don't want to be subject to the Steve Jobs experience will have to get a used or bootleg copy of the older (superior) MS OSs. My personal favorite OS is still 2000. Runs FAST and light (probably not the best security-wise, but c'mon it's a DAW not a web-browsing machine)… I only moved to XP after I was forced by certain music hardware companies starting with "K" and "R" and I managed to prune my systems down to an acceptable level of bloat (stock WinXP is a pig just like Vista). So this love for XP I have is not without caveats.

    ATA

  • poopoo

    So in summary, after a year Vista is almost as good as XP. Not very encouraging.

  • http://briarmonsmetrach.googlepages.com/home runagate

    I've come to a point where I've got to tell people new to computer audio creation, or those looking to get into it, that there's no OS option for what we do… there's *highly customized* options, which is somewhat different. You don't use an OS sa-is out of the box.

    I've recently started helping people out on Mac OS and am absolutely baffled by the ameteur-friendly and expert-imprevious way things work.

    Possibly this is because, having been a tech for both Mac (long ago) and PC (more recently) I automatically set things up in an OS to run according to the actual types of things the user is going to want to do.

    And for computer musicians, those things are largely contrary to how an ameteur-oriented OS works.

    I'm just hoping that all my WinXP VSTs somehow make the leap to a Linux system someday when XP finally passes away! I've made sure to back everything I ever used to make a song on DVDs.

    Because I seriously doubt that Vista is ever going to work as well as XP, and since everyone basically agrees on that now no PC users are going to be pushing the evolution of Vista the way they did XP and they'll continue their parallel development, getting further apart as time goes on. Though I am completely baffled by the fact that according to the posts here Vista doesn't play nicely with high-end video games… isn't that the user base they need to keep happy?

    At least in XP you can correct all the in-built idiocy that arrives in the box and customize it to be stage-ready.

    As a person who will never relinquish XP due to my lovely collection of 2000 or so VST plug-ins now that I've experienced the most recent MacOS my hats are off to you. Exactly how in hell you're configuring your OS, PT, Live or Reason to work as they should is apparently beyond my comprehension :(

    I hear tell there's a really nice "desktop" for Linux now. And the fact that Ardour is about to work for both Mac and Linux, and thus allowing trading of projects between the 2 previously unrelated groups of musicians seems promising to me.

  • ian

    this 'vista-ready' gateway laptop i got in the fall was obviously crapped down with typical best buy bloatware… but even after wiping it and using a vlite'd version of vista, performance was still sketchy. even with aero disabled, why was i idling after boot using 600+ mb of ram? that's just ridiculous, after nlite'd xp was put on it, idles about 220 on boot, 250 after loading a few startup apps. audio-wise, of course onboard audio generally sucks, but i did get better latencies with ASIO in XP than i did in vista, and pretty much every single app ran a bit better (most games gave me a few extra FPS which i was surprised at). of course, several years ago it was pretty much the same arguments between windows 2000 and XP… to me it seems it's half a battle of fixing bugs for each service pack, half getting people to warm up to the OS itself. in a few years we might all be talking about vista is SO much more reliable and faster than the new-fangled windows release.

    if i could digress, what i'd really like to see is an nlite'd/vlite'd version of XP or vista specifically set up for use as a DAW. kind of like ubuntustudio or studio64, but for windows.

  • Richard Lawler

    I was prepared to think the XP to Vista transition was similar to the Win2K to XP transition, but my experience says that is not so.

    I think Vista is broken in some very complex and subtle ways.

    I think one such way is the result of the interaction between changes in the security model and the OS's mechanisms for handling exceptions to its security model. I believe MS has created an OS that "learns" by changing access permissions based on the user's security "mistakes", but what the OS learns is to become more recalcitrant and thus more broken. Unfortunately the only solution seems to be to wipe the system and start over.

  • Scott

    I run Vista on a dual-core notebook and use it to run live softsynths within Sonar on the gig. I am often running several at once at very low latency over a firewire audio interface (built into my CME UF6 keyboard). As drivers and the OS have been updated, I've watched performance improve, and it is a rock-solid setup for me at this point in time. The system has a dual boot and can boot into XP as well… and I see no difference now.

    I think any major OS update is going to have teething pains. OSX certainly did in its first iterations. Its had a lot of time to mature and is very solid right now. I expect no different from Vista.

  • http://www.sacalait.com Pershing Wells

    I recently set up a Quad core box with Vista and Sonar 7. I wouldn't wish that experience on anyone. The bios in the Dell box wouldn't allow an XP installation (I'm no geek). So I sweated it out. I came very close to giving up but I'm finally up and running. There are more crashes than with XP. Vista allows the user to 'look' like the XP OS (the way you turn stuff off). So I'm running very few processes. Overall, I'd say it's not ready for prime time.

    I agree with Scott that every OS will have teething pains. Hopefully MS will release a service pack that solves some of these things. MS has GOT to be getting slammed from all directions on this OS. I know they got a flaming letter from me.

    My experience is XP is a superior OS for audio at this time.

  • Adrian Anders
  • Bill Ruys

    I was an early Vista adopter. I wrestled with Vista for about 8 months and finally went back to XP. Yup, I had the memory, I had the quad cores, I had the thousands of dollars worth of top notch audio hardware and I had the latest version of Sonar.

    My biggest problem was that I just couldn't trust Vista not to glitch and kill a recording session. I know that most of the reported problems with Vista are around it's poor low-latency performance. But even at high latencies, it just seems to divert system resources elesewhere when you need them most.

    Bottom line is that Vista can't be trusted for time critical applications such as recording. It's probably great for typing up a letter or browsing the net.

  • http://createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @runagate: I generally tend to agree, but I'm curious about what on Mac OS X is expert-impervious? My sense is that you could install Logic on a stock Mac laptop and have it work just fine, so while I think Windows does have some other things going for it, the hurdle of having to reconfigure some significant stuff out of the box in both XP and Vista isn't one of its strong suits. That's not a "go use a Mac" argument — just curious what your out-of-box Mac hacks are.

  • Dr Griff

    Help, I am a little confused over the release of SP1 for Vista. According to the Microsoft Download Centre SP1 RC was available from the 11/01/08 as a Beta and no date is currently available for the final version release. Which SP1 is referred to that improves on Midi Jitter? My new PC – 3GB Ram, Quad Core, running Vista Home Premium and Sonar 6 Home, suffers terribly with Midi Jitter and the latency issues make it unusable.

    I have decided to purchase an M-Audio Fast Track Ultra USB audio interface (comes with Vista drivers) in the hope that this will speed things up, but cannot get hold of one at the moment in the UK as there are delays in shipping. However, do I really need Vista SP1 and is it only a beta version?

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Dr Griff — you're right on all points. SP1 is currently in beta. It's just gone public. No word yet on the final release. It does have some fixes in it that are apparently not rolled out as hotfixes. I have to say, at this point I want as many fixes as I can get — and SP1 in fact seems well worth getting.

  • ZippoTragedy

    Vista's implementation of Audio in its native state is horrendous. Anny rookie audiophile can surmize this – try to get your high-end personal audio gear working – like SoundBlaster – you end up using half-baked drivers that, yes, provide sound, but not even remotely comparable to the sound quality achieved using the same hardware running on XP.

    Given this scenario, it's shouldn't come as any surprise that Pro Audio on Vista is FUBAR.

    The real problem is, this situaiton hasn't improved appreciably in 18 months of Vista being released to the world at large.

    XP's lifecycle was about 7 years.

    When it originally released, PC Pro Audio wasn't even remotely as developed as it is today – quatum leap kind of stuff.

    Here's the rub:

    Whose responsibility is it to guarantee backward compatibility, and specialty features based on proprietary hardware and software?

    Yes, Vista is clearly the poor cousin of XP as it relates to Pro Aduio – and it doesn't look like it's maturing quickly enough to keep pace with the industry's demands.

    If the responibility lies with the hardware and software vendors to invest the time and energy into Vista that they did with XP, the question that those companies will be asking themselves is why?> XP is still a viable platform, as it pertians to Pro Audio – there's not a compelling-enough reason to sick tens of millions of dollars each into developing the platform (OS) when a prefectly usable alternative exists today.

    Microsoft continues to try to be a "Market-maker" by retiring OS and forcing the renewal purchase. Some of this makes good sense – technology changes, and Vista offers a broad-based platform that enables future parallel development that keeps pace with the industry.

    Consumers will be held hostage to Microsoft's need to deal with the pace of the market, as well as it's own business needs *income* – and on the other side, held hostage to the hardware and software manufacturer's need to not re-invent the wheel just because their *partner* is trying to drive the market.

    It's between the Brothers, so to speak.

    Choose wisely.

  • http://www.deltasleep.net deltasleep

    I, for one, would like to see an operating system that actually runs BETTER on my machine. It is, after all, just an operating system. The best OS is one you can completely ignore and go about your business.

    The very second that I can get FLstudio into linux and running I am getting the hell out of windows AND mac and installing ubuntu. I'm currently scrapping together a junker to try and run ubuntu on to see how well FLstudio can run in wine.

  • Jim

    I must be weird or lucky, because Vista is performing excellently for me. I built a new DAW with a Core 2 Quad and 4GB of RAM running Sonar 7 PE, and it's rock solid. It's possible you could get slightly better performance from XP, but the stability and convenience of Vista is a major improvement. 95% of the negative comments I've heard about Vista are either rants from Linux/Apple jihadists, people with slow machines, or 3rd party compatibility problems, not problems with the OS. Cakewalk has been on top of the game in getting compatible with Vista, which is important. Going back to XP would be like going back to a 20 year old car for me at this point.

  • Richard Lawler

    > 3rd party compatibility problems

    Aren't the 3rd party products incompatible with the 1st party product? Or maybe it's the other way around?

    Anyway let us know how great you think Vista is after that system is 8 months old.

    Sure there's a lot of hype and misinformation about Vista from various source many with ulterior motivations, and there's also a lot of misinformation and hype coming from Redmond, but there's also lots of information and evidence of many real problems with the system. Look at some of the articles referenced in that list on microsplot.com that Adrian posted above. It's not all jihadis.

  • The Dan

    I bought my new laptop with vista installed as the basis for a home studio. Now I'm waiting, surfing the web in search of a DAW package that works with my $1000 web browser.I've already returned ableton/fasttrack pro and got most of my money back. I'm stuck with a laptop, a basement full of instruments and a cassette recorder that is the recording "studio". Microsoft should be soooo embarrassed.

  • http://www.milezero.org Thomas

    "rookie audiophile can surmize this – try to get your high-end personal audio gear working – like SoundBlaster – you end up using half-baked drivers that, yes, provide sound, but not even remotely comparable to the sound quality achieved using the same hardware running on XP."

    The words "high-end personal audio gear" and "SoundBlaster" do not belong in the same sentence.

    Really, once you install an ASIO driver, who cares about Vista's subsystem, since it's almost all bypassed? The performance has been exactly the same for me, as far as I can tell.

  • Steve Barbee

    I just want o say that I bought into the windows ultimate 64 and am using Sonar 7 producer edition X64. I bought a pcaudiolab ELITE PC very happy with it! Im useing a RME 800 sound card and ASIO DRIVERS. I do run into some problems and they are software related my Session Drummer 2 does not funtion in the 64bit relm still able to use it but in a limited bases. One other problem and I dont know if this is software related If I dont turn off my soft synths after the end of each recording session, when I go to my next session my sound is dithering really bad and Ill go in and turn off synths and turn off Sonar and shut down windows and the rebot and everything is OK. What I dont understand is why should there be any difference in Vista X64 AND Vista X32 and XP pro they are just operating systems with different sound qualities and I do believe that the 64 bit system is by far the most prestine sound that Ive ever heard. And Iam very limited in software plugins which really is a bummer.Why is it that software companies wont write compatible driver software for all OS systems. Your only gaining more of the computer market share if you make you software compatible with 64 bit systems or I can go and by XP Pro and let microsoft Bill Gates one more billion or you music software companies can capitalize on it. All you need to do is make you software run in any OS system and only fill the orders on a need to have bases. And guess what you just captilized on the 64 bit OS systems and believe me so there are alot of Vista ultimate 64BIT operating systems out there.Theres always going to be people that want the leading edge of technology and thier out there. this the part that baffles me INTEL64, AMD 64X2, SONAR X64, VISTA ULTIMATE 64. Why would you want hambuger when they are offering you T-Bone Steak 64 bit is without doudt the most pristine sound offered right now. Come On software companies its all about market share. not what youve got is beter what we can offer all systems is better Its all about drvers working in OS systems simple. just make them work! Like my Session drummer in the vista ultimate x64 it does not function correctly because Session drummer was programed around the 32 bit system. What the heck Ive got Sonar7 producer edition x64 and I cant use the drum synth with the 64 bit software that it came with. Not good biuseness.If you want email me at sgbarbee48@yahoo.com and ILL explain the cliches to you I know its the software cause in the cakewalk Forume found another guy with 64 bit system and he has the very same cliches in session drummer 2 thanks do need help!

  • Pingback: Tim Anderson’s ITWriting - Tech writing blog » Unravelling the reasons for Vista audio glitches

  • Pingback: Vista and pro audio « going to

  • anonymous

    Firstly, it's Microsoft who should be answering all of these issues. Why is someone from Cakewalk speaking on behalf of MS? Also, when has MS delivered "performance" with their OSes? Whenever/whichever field demands performance, MS has always lagged those. Their enterprise-focussed money making dreams kill all their real desktop "innovations".

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Cakewalk isn't speaking on behalf of MS. They're speaking as a Windows developer with specific experiences with music customers.

    Beyond that, I don't know how to respond. I think an operating system — any OS — is too complex to characterize quite that simply.

  • Mark

    I'm shopping right now, and I'm not going into the Mac vs Vists vs Linux, vs XP war..

    That makes decisions difficult enough.

    Ive read every post in this thread for a reason.

    When I finish my research and begin to spend the dollars that I work for on my DAW studio, I want it to WORK.

    I dont care who's fault it is. I dont care how "complex" OS's are. I dont give a hoot about your profit margins or stock holders, or project budget over runs.

    I am going to buy from companies who produce quality, and have the integrity to fix problems rather than luring buyers in with marketing/advertising strategies, and then hiding behind "inter-corporate technical complexities" on the back end.

    That does not do me or any other consumer any good, and in most industries would be a legally questionable tactic which could easily wind up in court. Not sure how software gets away with it. Ahhh yes.. "lisencing".

    Anyway,

    Session drummer should work in X64, (per above post) and I wont be purchasing Cake Walk unless it does, because at this point thats the OS I've chosen to create in.

    Doesnt it strike anyone as odd that this product claims to be built especially in native 64 bit code, and even recommends using 64 bit OS for better audio quality? .. then includes a crucial module in the Producer release that wont even function in 64?

    Cmon.

    Time to visit Steinberg and read their blog.

    Thanks

  • http://createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Mark, you've lost me. Cakewalk, a third-party developer, is talking about issues with Windows. The issues they're describing are going to happen with ANY software running on Windows Vista — Steinberg included. You won't find a Steinberg blog, because they don't have one. Steinberg also works on this stuff, and PC music developers cooperate with each other to some extent when it comes to communicating with Microsoft and getting things fixed. But Cakewalk happens to be unusually outspoken and knowledgeable on these issues, so we publish that.

    If you want 64-bit audio quality, you can get it with Cakewalk SONAR on 32-bit Windows. It's the performance and memory gains you miss out on in 32-bit — audio quality is a separate issue.

    Cakewalk was well ahead of Steinberg with 64-bit support, period. That's not to say Steinberg doesn't also have mature, high-quality products, but I can't imagine anyone choosing them over Cakewalk for 64-bit support.

    And none of this has anything to do with Vista, which is the topic at hand.

  • Kris

    It's not Vista that sucks… It's the fact that it's been over a year since it's release and still major players haven't developed drivers for it. Driver development especially lagging on the 64-bit side…M-Audio!!! I just built my DAW using Vista Ultimate 64-bit and that's the only problem I'm having. But even then, there's only three pieces of gear I can't use yet (through no fault of Microsoft's): Korg Zero 4 firewire mixer (i can still use it as a MIDI mixer through padKontrol), NI Kore 2 Controller (All software works though), and the M-Audio Midisport 4×4 (USB won't work, which is extra pathetic). Other than that, everything else (Edirol M-16DX, Novation XioSynth, even Numark's iCDX functions cause they were smart enough to have plug-n-play HID USB drivers. Yes, you have to tweak a few things like turning UAC off, but that's pretty minor. All in all, looks great and I can use more than 4 GB of RAM. Also, there is something to be said about these Pro Audio companies that have serious lack of developing when it comes to the most updated technology.. M-Audio, Waves, Digidesign, and most DSP card devices… companies that can't even figure out how to get their software to run on 64-bit Vista. Very sad. Oddly enough, less expensive developers, Cakewalk, Ableton, even Izotope (Aren't you run by M-Audio?), do actually fully support Vista 64-bit. Extremely well I might add, using every bit of new technology that Vista has thrown at them. Don't blame MS for the shortcomings of almost all of the "Pro Audio" computer hardware and software developers. It's almost like those companies have a hard-on for Mac and are falling behind on the PC side intentionally to try to get people to switch over. And for the moron up there that took back Ableton because his M-Audio interface didn't work on the vista laptop… they have your drivers now, you can go back to the store to get your stuff back! I doubt the intelligence of M-Audio anyway… on one product of theirs it states the minimum PC requirements as… well here, look for yourself.. http://www.m-audio.com/index.php?do=products.main

  • el paolo

    I'm having a hard time understanding how Vista can be so much more stable and reliable than XP. It's not like we're comparing Win Me to XP, which really *was* a colossal leap in reliability. SP2 never crashes on me, so I can't imagine moving to Vista for BSODs (or is it BSsOD?).

    I just built a Core 2 Duo 3.0 Ghz with the new E8400 chip and never even considered Vista, opting instead to slipstream my own version of XP SP2 (XP "El Paolo", of course). I run Reason, FL Studio, and Ableton, and aside from wanting a better audio interface than what my X-Station provides, I can't imagine a more stable system (maybe other than an Apple-based machine, which would've cost me 3x as much…my machine was around $700).

  • el paolo

    …that should've read *less* BSODs…

  • walter brewer

    BTW Vista is a great operating system. DONT BELIEVE THE APPLE MARKETING SCAM…

    The problem is with the people writing the drivers.

  • karin

    ive completely given up with vista and re installed xp..after 1 year so you can say I didnt give it my best…nothing works..its ok if you just want to use vista for looking at..but as soon as you put any music software on it like dimension or sonic foundry or props reason then forget it. behringer have never brought out the promised drivers for the fca202..their natty little Firewire sound box..so I had to go out and buy Roland…which too be honest and all my gear is Roland has too many conflicts with it..the behringer is faster and simpler and I dont end up with feed back..sorry roland…anyway…just thought id say…Karin

  • G Slim

    I have Pro Tools M-Powered 7.4 and it works great with Vista! Also I have an M AUDIO interface and it also works great with my Vista system. Please guys stop crying and do your research. See what works for you. Some these companies have updated the drivers you seek. Don't like Vista go ahead get a Mac. P-E-A-C-E!

  • Cory Broersma

    I am running sonar 6 on a Dell quad core with raid sata drives and Vista home premium and it has been a recording dream. No problems at all, its funny cause when xp came out everyone said how bad it is the same way they do with Vista. Anyhow I am not going to spend twice the money on an Apple Computer that does the same thing.

  • Dilshad

    Iam using compaq presario f700 vista version, and iam not able to play my software.its been installed succesfully and also the projects loads easily but cannot play or record.Please Help me,Ive even tried to install some audio drivers but not able to play.Can anyone help me please??

  • guitardude

    Walter: no, the problem is with Micro$haft trying to drive the market to put $$ in their pockets by changing stuff too often, trying to be the supplier of ALL software to ALL people and NOT providing REAL quality to their customers by focusing on what they do best (writing applications and games) and stick with it. I suspect if they don't get their act together with Windows and stop being so restrictive, they will continue to lose market share to competitive OSes. I would personally relish the day when I could see them having to port Office to Linux or other platforms besides Windows and OSX because it was essential for business survival.

    Just my .02

  • bentedgz

    Vista is fine, particularly after SP1. It has been tested against XP and is as fast or faster if configured correctly. I'm a longtime IT guy and from what I've seen, learning how to configure Vista is a major issue for most users.

    The "broken" application syndrome is actually due to increased security in Vista. Quite a few software and driver providers have been reluctant to rewrite their product to function well without elevated rights such as administrator or power user. Drivers in particular want access to the kernel and that compromises system security and stability.

    I upgraded from Producer 6 to Producer 7 and noticed that Cakewalk has a new warning message for XP 64 users – no support. I'm now using Vista ultimate 64 and dual booting it with XP 32, this gives me the best of both worlds.

    If you are having trouble with Vista you might want to try the following configuration changes;

    Disable system restore.

    Kill UAC.

    Disable the indexing service.

    Disable super-fetch.

    Disable automatic updates.

    Run from an administrator account.

    Disable the sidebar.

    Turn off Aero Glass.

    Only allow NECESSARY programs in start up.

    Only run your security software manually.

    Make sure DMA is enabled.

    Disable hibernation.

    Disable screen savers.

    Remove any unnecessary programs.

    Run CCleaner periodically (include reg repair).

    Never let the power setting turn things off or put the system to sleep.

    Defrag frequently.

    Disable on-board sound.

    Use a video card if at all possible.

    Disable unused on-board peripherals in bios (serial port, printer port etc.)

    Set swap file to a fixed size.

    Try to use separate drives for OS and apps, Plug-ins FX and samples, and audio projects.

    Make sure your power supply is large enough.

    Most of these changes (that are applicable) speed up XP also.

    This configuration is for a dedicated audio PC.

    If you plan to leave it connected to the net, some of these changes shouldn't be done.

    My studio PC is configured this way and my audio programs including Sonar work beautifully and with 4 to 6 ms latency using ASiO.

  • peter hughes

    Im hoping to up grade from WinXP to Vista-I use Cakewalk 9–Will there be a problem?

  • Pingback: Create Digital Music » Adieu, XP; How Vista SP1 is Doing, and Why This OS Generation Has Been So Tough

  • http://paulcoddington.info Paul Coddington

    One should not be quick to put the blame on Vista: for example, the Sonar 6.0 audio dialog is completely broken and has never been fixed, even though reported on forums and to technical support (not just me, but others).

    It cannot save settings, and once that Save button has been clicked once, it never works again – ever. WDM default settings, no tweaks, no ASIO.

    However, if one "writes off" the supposedly "Vista-compatible" 6.n purchase and buys Sonar 7.0, viola, one has a working audio dialog and can access ASIO at last. Better late than never, I suppose.

    Frankly, I think one should not have to purchase another upgrade to gain advertised functionality that was supposed to be present already, but it illustrates the point: most problems with Windows are not Microsoft's fault.

  • Pingback: Create Digital Music » Optimizing for Vista: Inside the Mechanics of SONAR 8 with Cakewalk Engineering

  • Lance

    I have a New Intel Q9300 computer with Firewire and RAID technology .. There are many

    Interfaces available for the 64 Bit OS, ..

    64 Bit will be the setup of Dreams in a Year or less . I started playing piano at 5 and have seen many advances in both recording and Live Playing as well as artists approaching the same end with different operations

    The ability to Record Multiple tracks at once Live and do Live Video 3D streaming at the same Time will win out in the end

    Nothing will stop it.. The ability to record at 192 KHZ for supreme Clarity and many other reasons

    WE will All end up RE Tooling I have done it many times I am now 55 and still can make a Guitar Scream or sound like rainpellets still can twinkle those keys in a hopefully pleasing way to the Ear,

    I have seen many Inovations come and go but that which has more and better sound and video will stay and will sell regardless of resistance because of what anyone is used to using

    After all Innovation is the Name of the Game

  • Lance

    I profread that and corrected it and it still mispelled some of the words

  • Khalid

    I bought a Fujitsu Siemens Esprimo Laptop and have installed my Cakewalk Home Studio 9. I get error 150, when I installed and it asked me to restart but as soon as I clicked ok hoping to restart, the program carried on installing and seemed to do so ok until when trying to start the programit gets stuck some where. My PC has XP and it worked perfectly on that but the laptop has Vista Home Basic.

    Please advise