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Windows 7's Midi OUT jitter disaster
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TS-12
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28th January 2012
Old 28th January 2012
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Windows 7's Midi OUT jitter disaster

I know there are some people that claim they have perfect (or near perfect, non-audible), multi channel/multi note, no jitter, midi output from Windows 7 based DAW.

But I only heard that from few people on internet, never met anyone in real-life that has perfect or near-perfect midi out timing in windows 7. one or two people thought they did, but they either had very few notes or channels coming out, or the sounds were with slow attack on their ext. midi devices. But after we added more notes, especially drum layering, than it became clear to them.


I and some of the other people went quite far to test if this is actually windows 7's fault:

We tried Multiple audio card and interfaces (serial-PCI, USB and Firewire based)

tested on multiple computers (desktops/laptops with different motherboards, chipsets and cpus

we even installed OSX on 'windows-based' hardware (hackintosh), we were suspicious that it might be hardware.

The results: that no matter which hardware was used, OSX and XP had good midi out timing (jitter wasn't audible), but Windows 7 had always very bad midi out jitter.


I know that most people (maybe even all except me) that still use MIDI hardware (keyboards, sound modules, samplers, drum machines etc) either use OSX, or stayed on XP or went back to XP.


Are there any of you that use windows 7 and use external midi hardware, how do you cope with this issue?

Anyone know if Microsoft is working on fixing this?
#2
28th January 2012
Old 28th January 2012
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I have near perfect midi timing and I use Windows 7. I use a Mia MIDI PCI card. The only problem with midi timing that I had was with my Boss DR-55 MKII and that is known to have bad midi timing.
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28th January 2012
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28th January 2012
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28th January 2012
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28th January 2012
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Sounds interesting.
But, in videos they show the computer with OSX, osx already has good enough midi out.

I'll put this device on my list to try it out. Even thou I bought devices that claimed they have tightest midi and solution to bad timing, but they didnt do any difference on win7. And im a bit suspicious that out of sync clocks can cause such big jitters in win7.
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28th January 2012
Old 28th January 2012
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Any evidence to back-up this bold statement?
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28th January 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jauqq View Post
That's for syncing external sequencers and drum machines which rely on midi clock or din sync as their clock sources. The IC devices outputs a jitter free midi or din sync clock pulse.

The OP is asking about jitter free midi note on note off etc data for sequencing external synths.

Two different things.
True, my bad. The synclock is in deed for clocking external sequencers only.
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28th January 2012
Old 28th January 2012
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my impression from my research a while back is that good PCI interfaces have MIDI jitter around 0.5ms but that's still enough to sometimes cause inconsistent phasing issues (high end smear, low end cancellation) that mess a groove up when layering

the jitter on your external gear is part of this, even very good hardware tends to have jitter up to a millisecond. However not all hardware is created equal - there is a post somewhere here on gearslutz where a gentleman says he measured the jitter of an Akai sampler at 2 samples (!)

current approaches for 'jitter-free' MIDI generally involve locking the MIDI to your DAW audio by sending it out (or into) digital audio connections on your interface and using software (typically VSTs) to decode the data stream inside the DAW

only 'jitter free' MIDI input device I am aware of (seemingly marketed towards ekit drummers) - Advanced Pro Gear - 'MIDI Bridge 120' MIDI Interface

only 'jitter free' MIDI output device I am aware of (although that's certainly not its primary intended function) - Expert Sleepers - ES-4 SPDIF/CV Interface

all that being said I wouldn't put it past win7 to have some extra problems in this regard
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28th January 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by defenestration View Post
my impression from my research a while back is that good PCI interfaces have MIDI jitter around 0.5ms but that's still enough to sometimes cause inconsistent phasing issues (high end smear, low end cancellation) that mess a groove up when layering

the jitter on your external gear is part of this, even very good hardware tends to have jitter up to a millisecond. However not all hardware is created equal - there is a post somewhere here on gearslutz where a gentleman says he measured the jitter of an Akai sampler at 2 samples (!)

current approaches for 'jitter-free' MIDI generally involve locking the MIDI to your DAW audio by sending it out (or into) digital audio connections on your interface and using software (typically VSTs) to decode the data stream inside the DAW
Perhaps its something more than jitter, because all midi devices have jitter.
But I tested same hardware midi keyboatds with different operating systems and that same hardware sounded 'jitter free' on osx and xp even without any ext. clocks or anything. But on windows 7 this sloppy timing was hearable
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28th January 2012
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have you run quantitative tests measuring your jitter so you can objectively compare your results when running the same hardware setup across operating systems?

this guy runs OSX and shows a nicely jittery USB-MIDI interface on an oscilloscope, I'd like to see the output of a decent PCI-MIDI interface compared as well - ES-4 vs USB MIDI on Vimeo

edit : you can also use this method to more objectively 'eyeball' your jitter although it is certainly tedious http://www.innerclocksystems.com/New...%20Litmus.html - internal sequencer jitter of the 909 they measured was ~7ms jeez
#12
29th January 2012
Old 29th January 2012
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THERE IS A WINDOWS 7 FIX.

Black Viper’s Windows 7 Service Pack 1 Service Configurations | Black Viper's Website | www.blackviper.com

This is what got me tight midi in windows 7, gotta kill all the stuff running in background, no firewall, no virus detection, nothing running but the daw and most all background services must be turned off.

With pci I get 2 ms of jitter, and i can live with that. Even in cubase 5 and renoise 2.6.

The biggest reasons why midi jitter matters for synth sequencing external gear with midi, when doing say 16 or 3nd notes its not just the timing that it changes, its the note lengths that get messed up as well and make tight arp seqs not sound correct. You can even get note triggering errors and note drops on encore midi kits with a Jupiter 8 like i had it was a ****ing nightmare, i could use the on board arp, and it would sound amazing, then try to sequence it with usb midi and BLAH cropped notes bad note lengths so even if i wanted to fix it with audio edits the legato effects would be wrong. One of my favorite synths that i could not use thanks to midi jitter had to sell it.

Depressing for the style of music i make.

USB MIDI ON THE PC IS A NO GO because usb code on windows is garbage and does not get treated right by the os, on osx usb is treated godly and does not get interrupted like it does on windows. so usb on windows is a no go, you must use pci.

If i could get certain software that is pc only on the mac, i would go back to logic again. I hate being stuck with one midi in and out. BLOWS! Because daisy chaining midi through the thru out on synths can induce jitter and latency. SO LAME!
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4th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Disease Factory View Post
THERE IS A WINDOWS 7 FIX.

Black Viper’s Windows 7 Service Pack 1 Service Configurations | Black Viper's Website | www.blackviper.com

This is what got me tight midi in windows 7, gotta kill all the stuff running in background, no firewall, no virus detection, nothing running but the daw and most all background services must be turned off.

With pci I get 2 ms of jitter, and i can live with that. Even in cubase 5 and renoise 2.6.

The biggest reasons why midi jitter matters for synth sequencing external gear with midi, when doing say 16 or 3nd notes its not just the timing that it changes, its the note lengths that get messed up as well and make tight arp seqs not sound correct. You can even get note triggering errors and note drops on encore midi kits with a Jupiter 8 like i had it was a ****ing nightmare, i could use the on board arp, and it would sound amazing, then try to sequence it with usb midi and BLAH cropped notes bad note lengths so even if i wanted to fix it with audio edits the legato effects would be wrong. One of my favorite synths that i could not use thanks to midi jitter had to sell it.

Depressing for the style of music i make.

USB MIDI ON THE PC IS A NO GO because usb code on windows is garbage and does not get treated right by the os, on osx usb is treated godly and does not get interrupted like it does on windows. so usb on windows is a no go, you must use pci.

If i could get certain software that is pc only on the mac, i would go back to logic again. I hate being stuck with one midi in and out. BLOWS! Because daisy chaining midi through the thru out on synths can induce jitter and latency. SO LAME!
oh, it's a tweak guide, I thought it's some kind of hotfix to download.

which configuration did you use? bare-bones?
what midi interface are you using?

also, what did you mean by "If i could get certain software that is pc only on the mac, i would go back to logic again." ?
#14
5th February 2012
Old 5th February 2012
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I left some things on, plus i noticed a lot of other crap running in the background like apple itunes shit i turned off and steam and gaming services from EA anti cheater stuff so if you install games and other apps you gotta turn all that BG service crap off. I did almost all the bare bones settings but i did leave the net and some other ones alone. I got pci to be kosher with midi, usb on windows will never be ok, never will be tight so just give up any idea of using a usb multiout midi device. PCI is the only way I have found to work.

PC stuff, trancewave for one, the jp8000 synth that costs like 50 bucks is pc only an i use this a lot, the algorithmix red eq as well, there a few others I don't remember off the top of my head.

One thing is certain, usb midi actually works on the mac much better. Still. I like pcs, video cards, games, stuff like that. Macs are way over priced and under powered, i can build a pc that i can upgrade for half the cost of most macs. Apple is out of their ****ing minds if they think I will pay for out dated tech and premium price that i cannot upgrade. Sure they hold retail value ok, still i'm not spending 2000 bucks to be limited when it comes to anything home computer wise.
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11th February 2012
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I just borrowed my friend's m-audio 1010lt, (which he also uses on win7 computer and has the same midi jitter problem), which is a PCI soundcard.

Same exact problem.

will try Creative sound blaster when it arrives.
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11th February 2012
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i agree with most said about Windows 7, theres nothing bold stating this. it really SUCKS. tho it sucked barely less on XP. MIDI sucks in general tho. its just a question of finding a system or setup with acceptable level of suck-ability


i've partly solved this issue with a combined approach..

+ the optimisations and whole issue about bkg processes etc - ive avoided it by having separate computers: a laptop that is always online and used for everything else that has nothing to do with audio.. youtube, photoshop, tryin out demos, anitvirus etc. my main work machine never sees online connection cept for automatic windows updates, where i connect it briefly every 3 - 4 months. has no installed browser, antivirus or ad blocking software. nada.

+ USB MIDI sucks in Windows thats true. in any windows. for my main midi i/o i use FirefaceUFX that works better than my Steinberg Crapex/Midex3, which i use for some synths that don't get high BPM duties anyway... like pads n atmos from JD990 for example..

+ mono synth CV gear - haven't utilized this yet, but i moved to DC AUDIO system via Silent Way and expert sleepers ES-3. using midi to run fast arpeggio style sequences is a DISASTER. on JP8, i feed it a audio generated clock pulse direct to its EXT ARP IN, and play the notes by hand. then it works perfect. encore+jp8+arp=CRAP CRAP CRAP.

+ finally most solos and chord stuff that ain't very BPM dependable, i just play by hand. and record in audio. blashpemy i know .

- heard a lot about OSX treating MIDI better. then again, heard just as much is the same bag of sht w newer macs - even saw measurements that show just as bad jitter wise in win and OSX. dunno anymore, im not buying any internet legends/bullcrap anymore - guess i'll have to try it out myself. i have macbook with both SL on OSX, and Win7 bootcamp (which btw runs noticeably faster) . so i'll do a test when i catch some time.

however, its hard for me to switch from win7 on my main I7 computer bcs of too many practical reasons to count. and as far as plugins and CPU power, I7/Win7 is working fkin perfect. yet MIDI is on the backburner..
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#17
11th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TS-12 View Post
I know there are some people that claim they have perfect (or near perfect, non-audible), multi channel/multi note, no jitter, midi output from Windows 7 based DAW.
Yeah and believe me if they say they are its totally false and the couldnt possibly have an ear for timing. Or they are simply triggering one synth playing a few notes here and there. The real issue starts when you have multiple bits of external gear all playing at the same time ie synths, synced drum machine, sampler etc.
Macs are no better. All Daw external midi is sloppy. People neglect to mention they edit recorded ext audio to make it fit on the time line which totally defeats the purpose of 'performance' I can never write a tune when things are a bit out here and there. totally ruins the Karma. But I have a great system now that works 100% of the time and I never ever need to edit audio. What I hear when I write is what its like when its finished.
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11th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Synth Buddha View Post
That seems very interesting. Never heard of it before, so thanks for sharing. Do you have any experience with it?
I have one . Its brilliant for securing 100% accurate sample accurate sync. But It has no effect on midi jitter from your Daw. The sync gen is only for syncing external boxes to your Daw. it does that marvellously. Anyone who requires syncing any external drum machines/sequencers should get that box. While it is expensive its actually worth every penny. But people are far more interested in getting noise making boxes and then wonder why they cant write music because everything is all over the place (timing wise). I believe a lot of people dont get or understand how much even the smallest timing issues can totally ruin the vibe when writing tracks.
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11th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Disease Factory View Post
THERE IS A WINDOWS 7 FIX.

Black Viper’s Windows 7 Service Pack 1 Service Configurations | Black Viper's Website | www.blackviper.com

This is what got me tight midi in windows 7, gotta kill all the stuff running in background, no firewall, no virus detection, nothing running but the daw and most all background services must be turned off.

With pci I get 2 ms of jitter, and i can live with that. Even in cubase 5 and renoise 2.6.

The biggest reasons why midi jitter matters for synth sequencing external gear with midi, when doing say 16 or 3nd notes its not just the timing that it changes, its the note lengths that get messed up as well and make tight arp seqs not sound correct. You can even get note triggering errors and note drops on encore midi kits with a Jupiter 8 like i had it was a ****ing nightmare, i could use the on board arp, and it would sound amazing, then try to sequence it with usb midi and BLAH cropped notes bad note lengths so even if i wanted to fix it with audio edits the legato effects would be wrong. One of my favorite synths that i could not use thanks to midi jitter had to sell it.

Depressing for the style of music i make.

USB MIDI ON THE PC IS A NO GO because usb code on windows is garbage and does not get treated right by the os, on osx usb is treated godly and does not get interrupted like it does on windows. so usb on windows is a no go, you must use pci.

If i could get certain software that is pc only on the mac, i would go back to logic again. I hate being stuck with one midi in and out. BLOWS! Because daisy chaining midi through the thru out on synths can induce jitter and latency. SO LAME!
You speak with wisdom and experience.

This I found very interesting and had suspected as much. I used to try and make 16th bass lines on my Daw sending the midi out to a synth and could never ever get it to sound like I could when I used an Atari.

Quote:
The biggest reasons why midi jitter matters for synth sequencing external gear with midi, when doing say 16 or 3nd notes its not just the timing that it changes, its the note lengths that get messed up as well
#20
11th February 2012
Old 11th February 2012
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re

its not just win7. I havent seen a modern computer without midi jitter.
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11th February 2012
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midi period is crap. it's an interface that's so beyond outdated and yet still used today.

the usb stack in windows gets no priority because you're not supposed to really have anything requiring that level of priority on it. manufacturers jumped on the usb interface because it was simpler to attach a device using that than open up the case and install a card. doesn't mean that usb should be any better than it is just that manufacturers went with the lazier way for end users to achieve greater sales.


here's why the problem exists...

on the mac apple can do whatever they want because they are in a smaller contained platform environment and can place emphasis on whatever they want. with their efi system firmware they can assign priority to specific usb devices recognized instead of internal card based or onboard devices or vice versa. they can do this because they are a smaller platform with far less peripherals than windows/p.c. and can build that level of recognition into the efi firmware.

on the p.c. platform you have an older bios scheme in 99% of machines out there. this means that usb devices are all treated equally, and as the vast majority are things like external storage or wi-fi dongles or mice etc... the smart thing for microsoft to do was treat them as low priority and assign higher priority to internal devices on the mainboard and in the slots. imagine if you gave usb priority over pci/pci-e slots... you hard drive transfers would have to wait every time you twitched the mouse or when a packet came in over your usb wi-fi adapter, or worse your video would chug every time you moved the mouse etc...


the problem isn't that microsoft can't or wouldn't write ebtter midi support it's that they can't prioritize usb over other devices so you get a latency penalty for anything attached to a usb port. it's a problem that's created thanks to bios based systems that are device stupid and just offer generic support for anything plugged in to them.
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11th February 2012
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Midi isnt crap. My MPC4k is seriously tight. Its crap when its used from a Daws midi out.
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11th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HazeBros View Post
its not just win7. I havent seen a modern computer without midi jitter.
I haven't seen either, but atleast midi coming out of mac's osx was atleast musical and listenable.
ATARI is even better some say, I didn't test it myself, but I believe it's true.


There are some people that do meaningless midi jitter tests which mostly don't reflect the actual situation. the results are of 1ch jitter not multiple notes and channel and controllers at the same time.
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11th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by W-W-Int View Post
midi period is crap. it's an interface that's so beyond outdated and yet still used today.
than what is an alternative way to midi? to send the notes, controllers, etc, (basically midi data) from a DAW to external midi synths, modules, keyboards etc, besides recording everything in audio ???
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11th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spaceacademy View Post
Midi isnt crap. My MPC4k is seriously tight. Its crap when its used from a Daws midi out.
yes it better on some standalone sequencers. to an extent.

bcs midi is still crap - by design. because its a serial interface. in other words, if you're on the same midi channel, and play a 4 note chord. these four notes CANNOT arrive at the destination simultaneously, but in succesion. almost "strummed". even worse if you have any other data like sustain pedal, controllers, AT etc.. there is no simultaneous operation in midi period.

a compromise workarround, that proves ppl were aware of this even in the 80s and 90s, was to start making machines with more MIDI ports, operating in parallel. so each of them has to endure less strain, and you would minimize the effects of serial protocol. but each of your ports in itself is still a serial stream, so its still far from ideal.

this is why when you play a punchy sound chord in fast sucession , it always sounds nicer and tighter from the synths own keyboard then via controller thru MIDI. it just cant do better even if there were no issues with DAWs latency and USB. that just makes things go from bad to worse.


so it boils down to how much youre asking from midi. some things can slide with HW sequnecers or ATARI with multiple ports. some cant even with that.




another thing with midi is laughable 127 values resolution for continous controllers. that is so 1983. phuk n crap n sht n @#$W$^Q%^%EW& that these idiots from MI couldnt figure out anything better for last 30 years. they were too busy quarelling over whos gonna start the new standard and make most money out of it.

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11th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spaceacademy View Post
Yeah and believe me if they say they are its totally false and the couldnt possibly have an ear for timing. Or they are simply triggering one synth playing a few notes here and there. The real issue starts when you have multiple bits of external gear all playing at the same time ie synths, synced drum machine, sampler etc.
Macs are no better. All Daw external midi is sloppy. People neglect to mention they edit recorded ext audio to make it fit on the time line which totally defeats the purpose of 'performance' I can never write a tune when things are a bit out here and there. totally ruins the Karma. But I have a great system now that works 100% of the time and I never ever need to edit audio. What I hear when I write is what its like when its finished.
You are correct. but what do you mean with the last sentence "But I have a great system now that works 100%"? you got tight ext.midi ?
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11th February 2012
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Sucks about atari is clocking it up to a daw will ruin the timing, so forget it.

Midi is out dated and the music techs are idiots to not come up with some new and better and stable. **** midi but we have no ****ing choice.
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11th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clusterchord View Post

another thing with midi is laughable 127 values resolution for continous controllers. that is so 1983. phuk n crap n sht n @#$W$^Q%^%EW& that these idiots from MI couldnt figure out anything better for last 30 years.

fkem
people 20 years ago were probably thinking "in year 2012 there will be fast computers that can output unlimited number of midi channels without any jitter, midi will be extremely accurate and with much more resolution".

but the opposite happened.
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11th February 2012
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11th February 2012
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Good old Black Viper Black Viper is to Windows what Jesus is to Christianity! They guy is bloody God send. I've used his tweaks for years in XP to tune up & strip down all the crap that MS lumps in there. Good stuff Of course the Apple crowd are probably standing on the sidelines laughing their arses off at all this stuff. Okay, you got us. We know Mac is thought to be better at this stuff. But we just like getting under the hood I think. Like having a car & being able to work on it yourself. Very rewarding. Apple users have to take theirs into the Apple service centre if they get any problems (I should stress I in NO WAY intend to start a Mac V PC debate. IMO these are always utterly, utterly pointless. Black & white. Chalk & cheese. Different but both have equal merrit).
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