Problems with the Maschine HW controller display

After upgrading to the MK2 of the Maschine controller about 2 years ago I soon ran into the issue of one of the displays flickering and ultimately ending up much dimmer than the other.

At that time I didn’t think too much about it but sent it back to the store for a replacement right away.

IMG_2935A couple of weeks ago I noticed that my replacement controller also started acting bad. The same problems with the display was happening on this unit.

Since I bought it in another country I figured I was out of luck and would have to simply use it with one display darker than the other.

Then something interesting happened. As I was drumming out a pattern and I hit the pad in the upper right, the display suddenly came back to full brightness.

Now whenever it drops in brightness I just tap the upper row of the pads a couple of times and it comes back up again. Probably there’s a loose connection in there somewhere so I’m going to open it up someday and poke around when I have the time.

Best Monitor for Audio Production?

I’m using an iMac in target display mode with my new Mac Pro, but the idea is to sell the old iMac and get a new monitor. The open question is, which one?

At first I had my mind set on one of the cheaper 28 inch 4k monitors that Dell, Samsung (U28D590DS) and Asus (PB287Q) have released this year, but the reviews are mixed and its really hard to get a feel for where they cut corners to get the price down.

So I started looking at 27 inch QHD displays like the Dell UltraSharp U2715H and the NEC MultiSync EA274WMI, but they are clearly made more for business users and are often more expensive than the 4k displays mentioned above.

In the end it seems to come down to either a cheaper 4k display with a TN panel, or a more expensive QHD monitor with a better IPS panel. The price difference isn’t that big, and looking at refresh rates and other attributes both options look good enough for audio production work.

What are your thoughts? Which one would you go for? At the moment I’m leaning towards the Asus PB287Q…

Mac Pro

The main computer in my home studie is an iMac that I bought back in mid 2011. It has served me really well and is actually still holding its ground on simple tasks like browsing and emailing.

Screen Shot 2014-12-20 at 23.07.35However, trouble started about a year ago when I decided to upgrade my software catalog (mainly Maschine and Live) and also to try out Cubase and Logic. Turns out that my old iMac was not up to par anymore and could no longer handle much of the new software I tried to run on it.

Since then my productivity has actually been pretty low since Live and Maschine kept crashing due to memory and CPU not keeping up, and Logic kept dying since the disk was not fast enough.

Tired of dealing with this I decided to buy a new Mac, and given that I expect this types of investment to last for a while, I aimed high and pulled the trigger on a pimped out Mac Pro. It’s not top of the line, but I got the 6 core, 16GB, 512Gb version.

Hopefully this will keep up with developments over the next 3-4 years at least.

What are your thoughts on the new Mac Pro? Have you made the jump? Are you thinking about it? Leave a comment and let’s discuss.

Cumulus 2, The Start…

Now that I’ve gotten most of my gear in place I’ve slowly started to work on material for the next Cumulus compilation. The track below is a sketch, not yet complete but I thought I’d share the working versions along the way. Have a listen if  your interested.

The track was made in one take entirely on my modular system. Live 9.1 was used as a recording device only.

Mavericks and the Mackie 1640i

I’ve been holding off updating the OS of my main studio computer (Mid 2011 27″ iMac) for the last 2.5 years. It came with Lion installed and I saw nothing in Mountain Lion that would motivate the hassle of an update. Also, I’ve been burned several times by incompatible or untimely updates to firmware, hardware and OSs so I know better than to jump on the new shiny thing. The golden rule applies in any digital creative environment, ‘If it’s not broken, don’t fix it!’

Photo-2But! I’ve been an Ableton Live person for the past few years but the release of Logic X really got me thinking about a switch. The notorious MIDI timing problems of Ableton, and the fact that it’s not optimized for the type of linear, timeline based workflow that I prefer made Logic seem like a nice alternative.

After much consideration I decided to shell out the cash and buy the software from the app store, only to find out that you need at least OS X 10.8.

No luck for an old timer like me still stuck on 10.7.5…

Still I decided to go forward and see if my gear would be compatible with an upgrade to Mavericks or not. The only two things that set off an alarm was the Mackie 1640i Mixer (see below) and the Access Virus TI2 Virus Control software.

The mixer board was my biggest fear since loss of its Firewire capabilities would negate its most appealing feature. (I could have passed it via a couple of Fireface 800 or similar but still…). To test it out I connected it via a Firewire to Thunderbolt adapter to my MacBook Pro running Mavericks, and lo and behold it worked perfectly! (Yes, the mixer board is from the 003 serial number series, see below).

Photo-1

Encouraged by this I decided to upgrade my main machine as well and it is now happily chugging along on Mavericks.

So far I see no strange or broken behavior. I have tested Maschine 1.8 with the Komplete plug-ins, Arturia’s Analog Factory and Live 9.1. The Mackie 1640i seems to be 100% functional. I noticed some severe lag and dropped notes when I started out, but that was due to the System Drive being re-indexed for the first hour or so.

This is not to say that all is well in Mavericks land, beware that there can be any number of combinations of Firewire controller cards, serial number series, firmware versions, thunderbolt adapters and so on that could break compatibility, but at least for me it was all a very smooth and seamless upgrade.

Did you upgrade to Mavericks yet? Did you run into any problems? Share your experience or let me know if you have any questions.

My setup:
Mid 2011 iMac 27″ (3.4gHz, 12gb), Mackie 1640i (003xx) connected via a FW 400 to 800 adapter to Firewire port on Mac, also tested via Apple’s Firewire to Thunderbolt adapter.

A note on the Mackie 1640i Serial numbers:
There are series of the Mackei 1640i on the market. You can tell them apart from the start of their serial numbers. The older series starts with 003 and the newer with 204. The older series relied on the CoreAudio drivers on the Mac and the newer has its own fancy driver and control panel. According to the Mackie website the 003 series is not compatible with any OS X version above 10.7 which has caused a lot of confusion amongst users considering an upgrade. In my experience the 003 series works just fine in 10.9, both via a firewire port and via Apple’s thunderbolt to firewire adapter.