Hands On StudioLive Follow-Up (The Software)
by, 04-22-2011 at 05:52 PM (519 Views)
OK, so here we are about a month later, and I've had a few hours here and there every week to keep pushing this StudioLive 24.4.2 to it's limits. I'll have more on the mixer itself at the end, but I was especially interested in how the PreSonus recording software integrated with the hardware. I have a lot of church clients who would/could benefit from easy recording software - and not just for the obvious reasons. Since so many of them rely on volunteers to run their sound (who have the best of intentions, but often very little experience), I was hoping the Capture software was going to be good. There's absolutely no substitute for hands-on learning. So with the SL and the software my thinking was, 'wouldn't it be nice if they could record their own band at rehearsal and then have the opportunity to come in sometime when the building is empty and just practice the craft of mixing?' Most of them have a computer or two in the sound-booth anyway.
Well I was in no mood to move my G5 tower and there's just no place on (or near) this desk for an SL24 - so let's try one of the laptops. The first laptop I tried [ Windows XP / Core 2 Duo / Dual 1.6GHz / 1GB RAM / 120GB 5400rpm HD / with FW400 card in the expansion slot ] was not up to the challenge. It was not purchased for A/V work so I expected it to be borderline at best, but as it turns out it was completely unusable. It never completely locked up, but it was slow glitchy jerky hell. Probably a faster drive, more RAM and everything else streamlined might get it up to passable. My son uses that laptop for school so the full JackAttack isn't practical.
The other laptop, an old-faithful Mac Powerbook Titanium, won't run a new enough version of OSX. The PreSonus Capture and StudioOne software require OSX 10.5 and up, the trusty old Powerbook can't go beyond OSX 10.4.11 due to chip limitations.
So, it was time for a new(er) MacBook Pro with an Intel chip so I could catch up with the times. [ OSX 10.6 / Core 2 Duo / Dual 2.2 GHz / 4GB RAM / 200GB 7200rpm drive. ] Well with a proper computer from this decade, and a FW400 cable the Capture software works like a charm. Seriously, it couldn't be faster or easier. It worked exactly like they say, 'two clicks" is all it takes to engage 24 tracks and start recording. And I was pleased to find that the Capture session opens seamlessly in the StudioOne software - no conversion or any extra importing necessary.
I'm still on the fence with the StudioOne software. No big surprises in the way the DAW part of it works. Some features don't behave like what I'm used to, and others are definitely an improvement over those old methods. I still have trouble navigating the timeline. As a longtime Pro Tools LE user, I'm trying to give myself enough time to relearn a new set of tools and shortcuts. At this point navigation and precision cursor alignment seems harder than it needs to be. Again, I'm willing to write a certain amount of that off to the inversely proportional age of the dog and the trick. But performance-wise tracking / mixing a full 24 tracks barely taxes the computer beyond 10%-15% according to the DAW's performance meter.
The plug-ins were a pleasant surprise (especially compared to the almost useless stock Digi plugs that used to come with PT LE). I don't think I've used all of them yet, but so far they've been sonically good, visually easy to interpret, and logically laid out.
Now to revisit the mixer..... like Bigtree - I'm still thoroughly impressed! The one thing I'd be curious to know if Chris has noticed any accumulated self-noise. I've noticed that if I use more than a few dB of make-up gain in the compressors, there is measurable noise introduced when you start stacking them up. As stellar as the channel pre-amps and main outs are, they (and the insanely sensitive meters) are good enough to shine a spotlight on what I'm guessing are more common amps in the DSP compressor. So if I need much make-up gain, I've found it's better to get it from the channel pre-amp and readjust the gain-structure as necessary. Don't get me wrong the noise is VERY minimal. When the tracks are playing (either by analog input or Firewire input) the noise is completely drowned out by the slightest signal. It's not a noise generator by any means, but when you get a enough channels using make-up gain you'll see the (super sensitive) output meters flickering when there's no track playing. Re-tool the compressors / gains and the very, very slight hiss goes away and the meters quit jumping.
Still loving the mixer, just wondering if Bigtree or others have noticed this phenomenon.
Next step, take some of these Avalon, Sebatron, Focusrite Green-range pre's and try them in the inserts.