Saturday, July 20, 2013


I spent much of yesterday sorting out electronic stuff for the so-called recording studio. Some of the equipment hadn’t been out of the box in the seven years since I moved here, what with so many things having been put on hold. Any recording I’ve done in that period has been through simple USB interfaces or into stand-alone recorders. Or simply plugging into the Sound Blaster card in my twelve year old XP-based machine, which now sits in ‘Studio B’ — a corner of my art studio room.

But it was the firewire equipment that I was attempting to get up and running now. FW is certainly ‘better’ in many ways than USB (even USB2). As is, at least on paper, Thunderbolt compared to USB 3. It is, however, more prone to incompatibility and other issues.

At any rate, I tried to get my Presonus Fire Pod (later renamed the FP10 when Apple bullied them out of using the word ‘pod’) working first. It’s a nice-enough interface with 8 decent built-in preamps that I used a few times back in Steinhatchee. Unfortunately, its firewire connection was dead when I powered it up. Almost certainly (it’s a common problem and not worth fixing on an old unit), the internal FW chip is defunct — I tried it out on both of my firewire-equipped recording computers. Otherwise, it works.

It would work a whole lot better, though, if it were able to communicate with the computer and update its drivers/firmware. For one thing, the preamps would be able to operate in stand-alone mode, with individual outputs. Even if it were never hooked up to a computer again, that would be fairly useful. As it is, all eight inputs are mixed to a single mono signal. Not entirely useless — I prefer to run PA in mono, usually, so I could certainly use it as an expansion unit there. Also, two of the pres DO have direct outs so at least they can be used for something.

So, disappointed there. Then I hooked up my M-Audio Profire Lightbridge (what a clunky name), updated its firmware to work with a newer PC, and had no problems at all. Which is great, in that it is much more ‘professional’ and powerful a piece of equipment anyway. Lots and lots of connectivity — probably way more than I’ll ever need!

M-Audio, at the time I purchased the unit, was a part of Avid (the Pro Tools company) but has since been sold to the folks who make Alesis and Akai and some other stuff. Fortunately, the new owners are keeping the drivers updated and available, for now. As an aside, it does seem that the big problem with compatibility on older equipment is not so much the operating systems — XP, Vista, W7, W8 — as it is the architecture — 32 bit versus 64. With everyone moving to 64 bit now, some of my older USB units are definitely on their last tour of duty.

I am slowly, as usual, getting things going on all fronts. Lots of plans, again, as usual. It is rather hot right now to close myself off and attempt anything very professional in the way of recording but I hope to work on some demo-quality things. I do have a sort of built in recording booth here in my Peanut Road house in the form of a five foot by nine foot central hallway with high ceilings. Unfortunately, it’s a bit distant from both the computers so I can’t perform and engineer at the same time! I may set up a stand-alone recorder in there, however.

All those plans will get my attention. I do still hope to start up another online literary magazine, as well as expanding the publishing thing. I will write more. I’m actually painting some for the first time in years but I also need to work on illustrations. And maybe I’ll even find time to get out-and-about some day.

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