10 Free Non-Musical Windows Software Every Musician Should Use

  Process Explorer is the essential portal to seeing what’s going on with CPU and memory activity on Windows. It was good enough that Microsoft bought the tool. Any computer – Mac, Windows, and Linux – can experience degraded audio experience pretty fast if a background task starts stealing CPU or a driver is misbehaving. In contrast, a fully-tweaked Windows machine, equipped with a set of tools to diagnose potential problems, can be rock-solid for audio performance. That’s an especially big deal for those of us using computers for live music. I think a lot of people’s Windows experience is …

READ MORE →

Pro Tools 7.4.2 Officially Leopard Compatible, But Check Your Plug-ins; Leopard FireWire Fix

Pro Tools 7.4.2 is now fully tuned, qualified, and tested for Mac OS X Leopard. It’s a free download for users of Pro Tools 7.4 HD, LE, and M-Powered. (If you’re not yet on 7.4, you will need to purchase an upgrade to 7.4 first.) According to Digidesign, the update results from collaboration with Apple to acheive the expected levels of performance and stability under Apple’s newest operating system. 7.4.2 Announcement – download is right there [Digidesign] That’s the good news. The bad news is, your plug-ins may not yet be along for the ride. Digidesign reports some current instruments …

READ MORE →

Apple Unveils Snow Leopard, But What Does it Mean?

Apple’s airtight secrecy has allowed it to do some wonderful things. But what happens when it’s difficult to tell the path of future operating systems? That’s the situation I’m trying to tackle with Mac OS X Leopard and now the upcoming Mac OS X “Snow Leopard.” The good news is, Apple says they’re focused on improving the "quality" of the OS. The bad news is, it’s not clear what the plan is for the existing 10.5 OS — or what it will take for OS changes to sync up with what we need as musicians and audio producers.

READ MORE →

Mac OS X 10.5.3 Released; Addresses USB Audio Issues

Apple has made its Mac OS X 10.5.3 update available. Among the bug fixes: “Addresses an issue with stuttering video and audio playback in certain USB devices.” Also interesting, given that some issues may have been related to wireless issues: “Improves 802.1X behavior and reliability.” About the Mac OS X 10.5.3 Update [Knowledge Base HT1141 at Apple Support] Thanks to John for the tip. (I hear shouts of joy from various people as that Software Update dialog pops up…) This would appear to address at least some of the audio performance complaints with 10.5.2. Those of you who have been …

READ MORE →

Blame Apple, Not Your Driver Maker, But Leopard Fix May Be Close

Sometimes the kernel pops, sometimes it doesn’t. We’re waiting for a Leopard fix, and have reason to believe we may not have to wait much longer. Photo CC EastBayAnt. Updated: As expected, the Mac OS X 10.5.3 update has been released, and it promises to address USB audio playback issues. That may or may not fully resolve issues users have been encountering; I expect we’ll know more soon. Let’s get one thing straight: if you’re having audio problems under Mac OS X 10.5.2 and you’re looking for someone to blame, it’s reasonably safe to blame Apple, in case that wasn’t …

READ MORE →

Leopard Audio Woes and Digidesign; 10.5.2 is a Lemon for Music?

The more we learn about Leopard, specifically 10.5.2, the worse it gets. I don’t think there are any larger lessons to be drawn here, or meaningful platform discussions to be had. I think you should find a workaround and keep making music. Hey, I’ve been running Mac, Windows, and other operating systems (cough, yes, DOS) for a long time. Some releases are beloved keepers, rock-solid models of compatibility and stability. Others, you move on, and try to erase the version number from your mind. Both seem to come in cycles. Digidesign has joined its M-Audio unit in responding to our …

READ MORE →

Digidesign Talks Latest Windows, Mac Releases, Compatibility, Drivers

Having already heard from M-Audio, we now have a response from Digidesign regarding concerns about driver support and Pro Tools software compatibility for the latest Windows and Mac operating systems. Bob Langlie, VP of Customer Support and Service, and via Digi’s forums, Digidesign’s product marketing and general operations representatives all weigh in with some clarification and answers. There’s even a response to me complaining about the lack of explicit Vista Home Premium support. (The short answer on that is, if you’ve got Home Premium, give it a shot and see what happens; a lack of explicit support doesn’t mean that …

READ MORE →

M-Audio Responds: Update on Driver Situation, New Drivers

M-Audio has actually gotten in touch in response to frustrations about incompatibilities with OS updates — updates which, admittedly, have recently been frequent and sometimes troublesome on both the Windows and Mac sides. Niels Larsen, General Manger at M-Audio, responds in comments with some specifics on where drivers are, some new drivers that were released literally today, and some comments on the OS situation in general.  (I’ve copied it here just in case you missed it in comments.) I’ve also heard from Digidesign/M-Audio public relations; I hope to have additional updates soon. This is well worth reading whether or not …

READ MORE →

PreSonus Goes to Open Beta for Drivers

Speaking of drivers, PreSonus announced today that they’re allowing users to register for open beta drivers. They’re hardly the first to do this — M-Audio has done the same historically, even if I’m not thrilled with their pace at the moment. But this raises an interesting question: could opening a beta help improve driver quality and get updates in users’ hands faster? Do audio users really want to "beta-test" drivers in the first place? (I guess that depends on how mature the "beta" release is.) We’ll have to see how PreSonus fares. How is PreSonus doing with released drivers? Reasonably …

READ MORE →

Digidesign and M-Audio Drivers Fail to Keep Pace with Vista, Leopard, and XP SP3

There aren’t many positive ways to spin this: if you’re a user of Digidesign and M-Audio products and looking to use current operating systems, very often you’re out of luck. In some cases, this isn’t so surprising — given issues with Leopard, I actually suggest running Mac OS X Tiger if you can until some issues are resolved. And while I have one machine here running Vista happily, suffice to say Windows XP remains the choice for many, as drivers from a variety of vendors mature. Still, I think it’s bad to see drivers missing altogether this late in the …

READ MORE →