The Most Out of Windows 7: Choosing and Optimizing Windows for Music

From our call for CDM reader studios, Eric Beam’s studio. In his setup: Windows 7 64-bit, Cakewalk’s SONAR 8.5 DAW (with native 64-bit support), and the excellent modular patching environment Plogue Bidule. Click through to Flickr for a closer look. Photo (CC-BY) Eric Beam. This week, while we poll readers to find out what platforms they really use and care about for music, we’re launching a new series to help you get the most out of whichever OS you choose. We’ve been covering the complexities of Windows for a while, from the bumpy Vista transition to the smoother advent of …

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Tips: Fix Windows Explorer, Be Happy

I’m a big believer in open platforms, computer platforms, and the power to customize stuff. Unfortunately, there’s a simple reality: developers’ work is sometimes a bit like the proverbial bull in the china shop. (Code SMASH!) In short: a lot of times when Windows’ file managemer Explorer is hanging, it’s not Microsoft’s fault. Misbehaved shell extensions – often installed without your permission by other tools you’ve installed – are often responsible. If you’re like me, you’re willing to put in a little bit of effort if it saves you time down the road. For me, a few tweaks to Explorer …

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Rain Diablo Audio Quad Laptop: Powerful Enough to Be Kind of Ridiculous

Rain Recording make audio-ready notebooks – that is, they’re pre-tested to function well with audio software, with Windows tweaks, driver selection, and configuration all chosen and tested for music and visual production, and no crapware installed. They’re one of a handful of music-friendly vendors that does that (see also: PCAudioLabs, etc.). Given that the PC music making experience can range from awesome to awful depending on which hardware and (particularly) drivers you’re on, that’s no small matter. Rain has always styled themselves a premium brand. But the latest Diablo really does go to extremes spec-wise. It’ll cost you – base …

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ExpressCard FireWire that Actually Works for Audio?

ExpressCard slots on new Mac and PC notebooks look tantalizing, but buyer beware: adding FireWire audio can be perilous. Multichannel FireWire interfaces work beautifully with the proper drivers and controller, but get some element of that equation wrong, and you may find your high-end interface is rendered unusable (think glitches and dropouts). The chipset in the controller and in the laptop can have an impact, but having a TI (Texas Instruments) controller in your ExpressCard seems to be a good start. Speaking of Rain Recording, Rain is about the only vendor I’ve found that offers a 2-port FireWire ExpressCard known …

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Laptop Choices: Rain’s New LiveBooks

A LiveBook on the test bench at Rain Headquarters, photographed for CDM. One of the things that attracts me to computers: choice. So it’s worth noting that you do have choices when looking to laptops, PCs included. (This sounds like those lame “We know you have a choice in your travel plans” announcements you get on airplanes. Unlike those choices, though, these are genuinely different – thankfully.) So let’s cut straight to the chase: there is a choice between Mac and PC, and there are choices on PC that keep it competitive (to say nothing of Linux). If you’re looking …

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