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Calling Citizen Ted

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Anonymous
September 25, 2005 5:59:52 PM

Archived from groups: alt.steinberg.cubase,rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Been reading your stuff elsewhere on
Usenet for years now and as a result
I respect your opinion on many things.
As a sound engineer who wants to go
mobile, I'm asking you: whaddya think
of the current crop of portable
interfaces? If you were to recommend
I choose between MOTU's Traveller,
Metric Halo mobile DSP or any other
one you like the look of, which one
would you plump for?

Anyone else who has a strong opinion
on this topic is most welcome. I'm
not going to be able to get my hands
on any of these boxes for months, so
I need to read lots of testimony and
detailed bickering in order to get
some idea ...

Scott
a.t. lurker

No, I'm not Hellpope Huey.

More about : calling citizen ted

Anonymous
September 27, 2005 6:12:26 PM

Archived from groups: alt.steinberg.cubase,rec.audio.pro (More info?)

scott_birch@hotmail.com wrote:
> Been reading your stuff elsewhere on
> Usenet for years now and as a result
> I respect your opinion on many things.
> As a sound engineer who wants to go
> mobile, I'm asking you: whaddya think
> of the current crop of portable
> interfaces? If you were to recommend
> I choose between MOTU's Traveller,
> Metric Halo mobile DSP or any other
> one you like the look of, which one
> would you plump for?
>
> Anyone else who has a strong opinion
> on this topic is most welcome. I'm
> not going to be able to get my hands
> on any of these boxes for months, so
> I need to read lots of testimony and
> detailed bickering in order to get
> some idea ...
>
> Scott
> a.t. lurker
>
> No, I'm not Hellpope Huey.

Am I the Ted you seek? If so, I really can't offer you much on the
subject comparison-wise. I have a MOTU 828MkII and like it, but I
haven't compared it to any other similar products, or for that matter
to the rest of my gear (like Pro Tools HD). The MOTU box had the right
price/feature set for me, and their converters are usually of good
quality for the money. I do feel that the 88.2/96K rates produced
audibly better results though, probably due to its less than high end
filters. I used it with an iBook on a remote session recently and got
good results.

Ted Spencer, NYC
www.tedspencerrecording
Anonymous
September 29, 2005 2:15:35 PM

Archived from groups: alt.steinberg.cubase,rec.audio.pro (More info?)

presto...@aol.com wrote:

>
> Am I the Ted you seek? If so, I really can't offer you much on the
> subject comparison-wise. I have a MOTU 828MkII and like it, but I
> haven't compared it to any other similar products, or for that matter
> to the rest of my gear (like Pro Tools HD). The MOTU box had the right
> price/feature set for me, and their converters are usually of good
> quality for the money. I do feel that the 88.2/96K rates produced
> audibly better results though, probably due to its less than high end
> filters. I used it with an iBook on a remote session recently and got
> good results.
>
> Ted Spencer, NYC
> www.tedspencerrecording

You're a different Ted, but it really doesn't matter.
Thank you for your response.

It's interesting that the sample rates are so easy to
distinguish. This does point to a weakness in filtering.
A good DAC will give you superb results even from
16-bit 44.1kHz. It's down to filtering and wordclocking
and op-amps and such such. People forget that digital
systems are made up of analog components.

It's hard to get objective opinions from forums. Too
many people just want to tell you their chosen box
"roolz" or something similar, or talk about customer
service. I've learned so little from the ones that
I've visited. Perhaps someone can point to an
intelligent and on-topic forum? I need some assistance
because I'm not all that bright myself.

I'm looking at portable boxes primarily, although
RME do sound tempting. The Metric Halo Mobile
and the MotU Traveller have caught my attention.

Any comments, anyone?

Scott
August 15, 2006 1:22:12 PM

This paper describes a system to record multiple tracks of 24 bit audio at up to and including 192 KHz sampling rates using off-the-shelf 802.11G components. This system has been in use for over a year and, compared to systems using audio “snakes,” proven itself to be an enormous set up time saver, provide cleaner more transparent audio, and be down-right fun to use.



After 20 years of recording to Ampex 351s, AG-440s, MR-70s, MM-1100s, Revox A77s, and the Braun tape recorder (the first transport with full logic controls), I began recording to computer in 1991 using an 8 microphone input Yamaha mixer that output to a Turtle Beach 56K interface. The computer was an IBM 286 with a $2000, 1.5 GB Maxtor SCSI I hard drive (that failed after a year, by the way. Maxtor wouldn’t look at it; said it was junk to begin with). Turtle Beach was bought out by a company interested only in selling to gamers and other consumer interests and their professional product fell by the wayside. One valiant programmer posted drivers for the new Windows 95 operating system but they were buggy and of little use. I shifted to a new shareware program called Sound Forge that proved extremely stable and reliable. Over the next few years I switched to Mackie mixers and Lynx and then M-Audio Delta 1010 interfaces. I was locked into a thought pattern that said you use microphones that output to a snake that input to a manual mixer to a set of headphones or monitors and “that’s the way you do it.”



My engineer son, Peter, in the late 90’s began to ask me if I wouldn’t like to have a system where I didn’t have wire strung everywhere and that allowed me to sit anywhere in the audience instead of outside in a truck or backstage or even another room. I told him that would be great but I couldn’t see how that could work. He suggested I get a copy of PCAnywhere and experiment. There was just no way that would work! But, I did begin to think outside the box! Then in 2005 it suddenly became possible.



By this time Peter was a Senior Scientist for Titan (L3) and had moved to Maryland. He provided the concepts while I made them work. I purchased my first laptop using an Intel M processor (They were too mickey-mouse up to this point) and decided after some experimentation that this thing could be used for serious location recording work. The real break-through came when MOTU introduced the Traveler. This unit had microphone pre-amps, converters, amplifiers in a 1U package. But the important feature was that the microphone pre-amps were VCAs and software controllable! Amazingly MOTU doesn’t even mention this in their advertising but it’s what sets their unit apart from Mackie, M-Audio, Pre-Sonus and others. I found out about it by talking with the guys that design and manufacture the MOTU gear. Aphex does make a mixer with VCAs but it’s only a mixer whereas the MOTU has converters – everything needed for recording. Meanwhile, over in Maryland, Peter was using Windows XP’s Remote Desktop extensively at this point and conceptually put the whole thing together, even suggesting the supporting equipment.



The dirty little secret is that it’s not necessary to record wirelessly. It’s only necessary to control wirelessly! And this is very feasible using Remote Desktop. To give you an idea of what’s involved: I have an 8 space SKB portable rack that I place at the front of a concert hall (or school, church, etc.). It contains, top to bottom, a Furman Line Filter with LED lamps, a 1U chassis with an AES M/S Decoder and Ramsey FM transmitter, two MOTU Travelers, a Marantz PMD 570 (for backup and also has transport controls that are remote controlled), an IBM Netvista computer, and, finally, a 1U power supply chassis (home-brew), that replaces all the wall-warts and contains an Ethernet to serial converter. The rear cover for the SKB rack contains a velcro strap to retain a Linksys WR54TGS 802.11G Router with four way Ethernet switch. Short cable runs from the microphones to the Travelers keep phase shifts and band-pass filtering effects from distorting the audio yielding a sound with greater depth and transparency. The router is placed on top of the rack and connected to the Ethernet connection on the computer and the Ethernet to serial converter that goes to the Marantz PMD-570. This little DHCP network is MAC filtered to allow only the MAC addresses for the converter, IBM computer and my laptop. The IBM goes into hibernation each time it is turned off so no keyboard, mouse, or screen is necessary after the initial setup. I take my laptop, go sit anywhere in the auditorium, and connect wirelessly to my little network.



After executing Remote Desktop, the desktop on the IBM comes up on my laptop and I execute the MOTU CueMix virtual mixer. This gives me full control of the microphone levels, pan, pads, etc in 1 dB steps. I actually have more and better control over my setups than ever before. I know exactly where each mike is set and it’s all there on the screen in front of me. (These setups can be memorized and saved, by the way.) Then I execute the recording program and set it up for the job. Finally, I bring up the transport controls to the PMD-570 backup recorder. It uses one of the four mixes from the MOTU virtual mixer and is capable of only two tracks. One of the other mixes feeds the Ramsey FM transmitter which allows me to monitor anything and everything using a Sony Walkman radio with headphones. While Remote Desktop does have an audio return it is not of sufficient quality to do serious work. This will require 64 bit Windows and the new 802.11n draft systems. (They’re called draft systems because a standard has not been determined at the time this was written.) Other outputs from the mixer allow playback in a recording session or other applications such as a sound system feed or feed to a videographer.



The entire rack, with everything running, consumes about 150 watts. With my Galaxy Far Outlet 300 supply + 100 Amp deep discharge battery I can record for about 3.75 hours. The Far Outlet enables operation from 11-15 VDC or 85 to 260 VAC, 50 or 60 cycle, which is very handy for recording outside the US. Some have asked if I use a UPS. No, I don't because I've found the UPS to be less reliable than the AC mains in the US. However, the Furman filter is extremely valuable. I can think of a church in Little Rock that shut me down twice when the AC came on. The Furman takes out that huge spike and eliminates the problem.



It all works wonderfully and reliably giving me more versatility than I ever dreamed of. I can even check microphones now without having someone tap the stand. I can record using only the IBM. I can still connect using a snake. I can still record from the truck. I can record using the laptop with a 6 foot Firewire cable connecting me to the rack so the recording is actually to the laptop drive. I can record using a length of Ethernet patch cable to connect the laptop and the rack system. Or, I can record wirelessly. The options are many and allow me great freedom in the over 200 location recordings I do in a year. I save hours of setup time or worrying about where to place cables so concert-goers won’t trip over them.



Conceptually, it’s simple enough. The devil is in the details. Even the recording software enters the picture. For example: I love the Sonic Foundry/SONY software and use it for all my work. However, it has a fatal flaw in that the transport controls are not correctly written. If you know anything about RF you know that it is impossible to maintain a 100% reliable path, especially when you’re dealing with digital devices. The digital boys know little about RF and it shows. This means that 802.11x transmissions dropout often just as does a cell phone. When this happens the SONY software also drops out of record and, bingo, you’ve lost the job. I tested many other recording packages before settling on Cubase SE. It’s inexpensive, incredibly reliable and when you put it in record mode it stays there until you take it out. I can start recording, shut down the laptop, go to the restroom, come back, execute Remote Desktop, and re-connect to Cubase which is still recording. Further, when you stop recording in Cubase it stops immediately and can be put into record again instantly. The SONY software and all others tested took extensive time to save each track and then “re-draw” the wave forms. So, I use Cubase to record, then pull the tracks into Vegas and Sound Forge for editing and mastering (to include CD-Text) and CD-Architect for the final product. (SONY indicates no interest in fixing the functional flaw in their software even though I brought it to their attention.)



Hopefully this will whet your appetite and excite your imagination in other ways to think “outside the box.” Pursue it! Recall the doctor that discovered ulcers were usually caused by simple bacteria. The multi-million dollar labs and researchers missed it.



Just so in our business! You don’t need Cobra networks and Cobra enabled equipment. It’s really much simpler than all that!
October 31, 2007 12:47:20 AM

Well, I've ae been using a MOTU 828 (not the MKII) in Windows for a few years now. It has been reliable and worked like a charm. I am looking for a new interface now, though, as I am looking to convert my DAW to Linux, and MOTU outright refuses to support it. I am also looking at RME. They don't support Linux, but there are reports that the FreeBOB/ffado.org drivers will work. If your looking at Linux support for a outboard Firewire device at all, check out the ffado.org site.
!