[thechat] MIDI music

Seb Potter seb at poked.org
Wed Jan 14 23:23:30 CST 2004

Well, if you're doing music professionally, here are a few tips I've 
picked up:

0. Expect to spend quite a bit of money. Hardware ain't cheap. Software is 
just expensive.

1. Latency is an issue in midi. You might not think that 20 milliseconds 
makes much of a difference, but it does. So you want a system that will 
minimise input/output latency. I can't stress this enough:

Avoid Creative Products at all costs.

The SB Live/Audigy range are gaming products. They are totally unsuited to 
professional music needs. The same goes for most USB devices, though there 
are a few that are apparently increasing in quality.

Check out Turtle Beach sound cards, they come very highly recommended. 
Their MIDI in/out support is unparalleled at their particular price point.

2. Latency in software is an issue as well.

Avoid Windows XP. Try to avoid Windows altogether. BeOS is the best 
multimedia OS, and QNX is pretty good as well, but software and driver 
support is problematic. Linux with the 2.6 kernel and the new 1(0) 
scheduler is an increasingly attractive option, as there are a number of 
increasingly profession sequencing and sampling tools.

If you do go the Windows route, Windows 2000 seems to be the preferred 
option. Disable as many services as possible whilst your machine is still 
capable of running. It's often a good idea to go with an entirely separate 
installation on a clean partition and only use it for music production 

3. Use software you're comfortable with. Most professional sequencers do 
the same things, so it's up to you which one you use. Download trials, 
experiment until you're happy.

Reason is a fantastic piece of software, as it emulates all of the 
rackmount sampling/processing hardware you could ever need. However, I 
know at least one person who can almost always tell when a piece of music 
has been produced with Reason. It just adds a certain je ne sais quoi. 
Whether this is a good or bad thing is entirely a matter of choice.

Cakewalk Pro is the midi sequencing software that most of my musician 
friends use. It's just part of the standard audio toolkit.

Soundforge is great for editing samples. Don't be without it.

As far as getting finished audio out of your system, you've got a few 
choices, but generally you'll want to work with *at least* 48KHz sample 
rate. 96KHz sample rate is better, if you can. Do not work at CD quality. 
Work at studio quality and downsample when you're done.

1. Get a soundcard that supports 48KHz 24bit digital out, and master to 
DAT, or Minidisc.
2. Just write a WAV file and record a CD.
3. DVD Audio, is beginning to catch on. Of course, you need a decent home 
cinema system to appreciate it.
4. Analog audio out to tape, and a time machine to find someone that will 
want to listen to it. ;)

Hope this gives you a few pointers.

- seb

New Year, New Journal.

More information about the thechat mailing list