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Which All-In-One Recording System Beats PC/Mac? Audio Interfaces
Old 15th August 2007
  #1
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ScottTunes's Avatar
 

Which All-In-One Recording System Beats PC/Mac?

I've had it with PC crashes. I was sailing along fine 'til today. Nothing seems to work with the PC today.

I use Cubase (LE and SX) on a custom made desktop and a potent Dell Latitude laptop, Presonus Firestation, and assorted outboard gear (preamps and comp/limiters). I think it's the Presonus' fault this time... The only thing new to this setup are the BNC connectors from the Focusrite ISA428 to the Firestation. The 428 is setup with External clock.

I get signal but can only activate (arm) 2 tracks in Cubase... I should have 8 analog from the Firestation, and another 8 ADAT tracks from the 428 through the Firestation. What gives?

I've recording with a PC for 7 years, and absolutely hate having to rebuild/replace upgrade/update device drivers and programs just to get going again...

I'm looking for a do-it-all digital recorder, if it can compare to a PC quality-wise. Any recommendations?

If nothing is as good, I'm ready to tackle the maintenance of tape again. At least then I could follow a wire (or another electro-mechanical logical path) and get it working again.

Frustrated!!!
Old 15th August 2007
  #2
you do sound quite frustrated. rather than scrap the entire idea of working with computer based DAW, as a last chance type of thing, i'd recommend checking out a Mac Pro with either an M-Audio ProFire Lightbridge or Project Mix (depending on your existing equipment) so you can use CuBase OR PTLE, or if you knew that you would be happy, just go completely over to the dark side and get an 003 or 003 Rack. with anything, including tape machines, there must be some maintenance, but this setup will likely be more stable than your existing rig(s) - hopefully a joy to use.
Old 15th August 2007
  #3
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Unfortunately going to a hardware DAW doesn't eliminate the problems of software updates and operating system bugs and crashes ... it's all bloody software in a box these days.

At least with Windows XP you can find somebody who can rebuild your box, if you don't want to do it yourself. Hardware DAWs would be return to vendor.

I feel your pain.

I'm really hoping there will be some advances in solid state memory, and somebody will make a silent, portable, battery powered multitracker with converter specs comparable with Apogee. I would still want to mix with a PC, but for hassle free tracking, in any location, such a device would be fantastic.

I don't believe it exists yet.
Old 15th August 2007
  #4
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Ryuben's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tifftunes View Post
I've had it with PC crashes. I was sailing along fine 'til today. Nothing seems to work with the PC today.

I use Cubase (LE and SX) on a custom made desktop and a potent Dell Latitude laptop, Presonus Firestation, and assorted outboard gear (preamps and comp/limiters). I think it's the Presonus' fault this time... The only thing new to this setup are the BNC connectors from the Focusrite ISA428 to the Firestation. The 428 is setup with External clock.

I get signal but can only activate (arm) 2 tracks in Cubase... I should have 8 analog from the Firestation, and another 8 ADAT tracks from the 428 through the Firestation. What gives?

I've recording with a PC for 7 years, and absolutely hate having to rebuild/replace upgrade/update device drivers and programs just to get going again...

I'm looking for a do-it-all digital recorder, if it can compare to a PC quality-wise. Any recommendations?

If nothing is as good, I'm ready to tackle the maintenance of tape again. At least then I could follow a wire (or another electro-mechanical logical path) and get it working again.

Frustrated!!!
I can totally understand where you are coming from.

You know, maybe not the answer you are looking for here...but I'm gonna throw out my 2 cents anyway.

(as you probably know) If you really think about it a "do-it-yourself digital recorder" is really just a computer, with an OS and all the ins & outs all wrapped up in one box. It's not used for anything else. It has it's operating system, that allows it to turn on and tick, talking to the hard drive, the CD/DVD drive, the DAC, ADC all those things. Then, whatever recording software sits on top of that. Basically, it's a system that works together and you just don't mess with it. You are also locked-in to whatever ins/outs came with that box.

The same thing could be had with your set-up.
If you were to dedicate a computer platform, a software package, no internet, no movies, no external jump drives, you don't put anything in there save audio - you would essentially have the same thing.
Find a recipe that works and don't touch it.
Don't upgrade the software.
Don't upgrade to the new latest and greatest OS.
Don't plug in a new firewire drive.
Don't get new digital this or that.

Anyway - like I said, not really the answer you are looking for, but thought I'd share that perspective with you. Take it for what it is.
Sounds like you have some decent gear on your hands to make some quality recordings. Would hate to see any GS lose an investment.

In my opinion, you'd be taking a step backwards. I think there's other options out there for you than getting rid of your gear to go for a one-stop-shop.

I am not opening the Mac/PC debate here, not doing it. I just want to share that I've had a really rock solid setup with a PPC (non-intel) Dual 2Ghz Mac G5 (OS 10.4.8) and Digital Performer 5. The sh!t just works.
You could probably find a good Dual Processor PowerPC Mac G5 on ebay and pick up a copy of DP for about the same price as a new one-stop-shop. Keep all your other decent gear and have a setup that would smoke any of those "do-it-all digital recorders" then keep both your PCs for everything else you do.

Sounds like you are a PC guy - so if you went the Mac route - once you get it stable & steady, you probably won't be tempted to screw with it...same idea as an all-in-one DAW.
Seriously - I'm not pushing it on ya, just another option than scrapping it all for one box, that if it went down...*everything* goes down.
Good luck.
Old 15th August 2007
  #5
8070
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tifftunes View Post
I've had it with PC crashes. I was sailing along fine 'til today. Nothing seems to work with the PC today.

I use Cubase (LE and SX) on a custom made desktop and a potent Dell Latitude laptop, Presonus Firestation, and assorted outboard gear (preamps and comp/limiters). I think it's the Presonus' fault this time... The only thing new to this setup are the BNC connectors from the Focusrite ISA428 to the Firestation. The 428 is setup with External clock.

I get signal but can only activate (arm) 2 tracks in Cubase... I should have 8 analog from the Firestation, and another 8 ADAT tracks from the 428 through the Firestation. What gives?

I've recording with a PC for 7 years, and absolutely hate having to rebuild/replace upgrade/update device drivers and programs just to get going again...

I'm looking for a do-it-all digital recorder, if it can compare to a PC quality-wise. Any recommendations?

If nothing is as good, I'm ready to tackle the maintenance of tape again. At least then I could follow a wire (or another electro-mechanical logical path) and get it working again.

Frustrated!!!


Yep. Your right. Computers do SUCK for recording music.

Why?

Well, because like you said, they tend to crash at the worst times, their not road worthy, it seems harder to get something to sound good produced on them, and their software seems to change every five minutes, or you have some ridiculous compatibility issue. But what i dislike even more about them...is that nowadays...people are staring at a f*cking computer screen, at waveforms, looking at music trying to "figure it out"...by looking at it?

This is stupid behaviour..IMO. No offense to anyone.

In my situation...i want something mobile...that i can move from this big live room to that small dead room...and i don't want to be lugging around a stupid monitor/lcd....and i don't care to LOOK at the music...i just want to hear it.


Radar 16 or 24.

D.
Old 15th August 2007
  #6
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swisha31's Avatar
<S>dell laptops</S> dell sucks
Old 15th August 2007
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tifftunes View Post

I'm looking for a do-it-all digital recorder
I use a Roland VS-2400. No complaints. Never crashes. I use outboard preamps and a/d converter. I hear wonderful things about the Akai DPS 24. Users of that system say it's on par with pro tools with no crashing and no bugs.
Old 15th August 2007
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by tifftunes View Post
I've had it with PC crashes. I was sailing along fine 'til today. Nothing seems to work with the PC today.

I use Cubase (LE and SX) on a custom made desktop and a potent Dell Latitude laptop, Presonus Firestation, and assorted outboard gear (preamps and comp/limiters). I think it's the Presonus' fault this time... The only thing new to this setup are the BNC connectors from the Focusrite ISA428 to the Firestation. The 428 is setup with External clock.

I get signal but can only activate (arm) 2 tracks in Cubase... I should have 8 analog from the Firestation, and another 8 ADAT tracks from the 428 through the Firestation. What gives?

I've recording with a PC for 7 years, and absolutely hate having to rebuild/replace upgrade/update device drivers and programs just to get going again...

I'm looking for a do-it-all digital recorder, if it can compare to a PC quality-wise. Any recommendations?

If nothing is as good, I'm ready to tackle the maintenance of tape again. At least then I could follow a wire (or another electro-mechanical logical path) and get it working again.

Frustrated!!!
Interesting.

I've been recording to computer DAW on a Windows machine since 1996 and, sure, I've had a couple of issues over the decade-plus with regard to computer headaches -- but (at least since Win 98) my machines have rarely crashed (almost never in XP) and then it was, indeed, often because of a hardware device/driver issue (though, happily, almost never or maybe never because of an audio device -- more typically it's been some app waiting on a web component to respond -- and that's a whole different ball of worms).

Anyhow, it's my philosophy -- backed up by practice -- that a healthy system doesn't crash (or only crashes so rarely that there's not enough of an experience base to figure out why, like once every 8 or 10 months or so) and if a system (either XP or OS X) does crash or have any kind of reliability problems there's something definitely messed up that needs to be fixed.

Yes, it's not always easy to track down problems in today's computers, but I simply can't tolerate a machine that crashes. I HATE losing data or work. It drives me NUTS. (It's usually my fault when it happens but that doesn't ease the pain, that much. heh But I DID have a machine, back in Windows 3.x days, that WAS buggy, had a mobo that simply did NOT like Windows and, until I finally got new hardware, my life was hellish -- not a crash or hangup or two a year but a couple crashes a day! NEVER again. I'd get a horse. As they used to say.)


PS... My typical answer is to build or buy from an audio-friendly vendor like ADK or Sonica -- but I do have to say that I, personally, have had great luck with both my refurb Dell Pentium M laptop (now about 3-1/2 years old to me) as well as the very modest P4 2.8HT I use as my primary machine, now. (I only bought it as a utility server but it performed reasonably well and is very quiet. Probably because it's not powerful and doesn't have some crazy gamer vid card.) BUT... that said, I've certainly heard plenty of Dell horror stories. My experience has been good with the two machines I've personally bought from them as well as the two laptops I've helped [non-musician] friends and relatives buy. BUT... YMM VERY DEFINITELY V. heh


PPS
... No question that a dedicated all-in-one recorder may well be the best bet for some folks. Some folks just don't like comuters. Some folks don't need much or any MIDI or extended, sophisticated editing capabilities or the ease of editing that modern computer DAWs can offer. And, of course, all-in-ones are definitely convenient and portable. You can't hardly beat 'em on that front.
Old 15th August 2007
  #9
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Sounds like you might be a candidate for a Radar system. You won't have the editing and automation capabilities of a DAW, but it's super stable and sounds great. Of course, you'll have to get a console and a bunch of outboard for it, but you won't have the hassles of tape.
Old 15th August 2007
  #10
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jeremy.c.'s Avatar
yeah Radar is pretty amazing, i would look into that.
I might have suggested buying a complete machine from one manufacturer and keeping it off the internet and other non-music apps, like I did with my Dell, but there seems to be enough Dell hate around here to keep you off of that... (my Dell hasn't been reformatted in the last 2 1/2 years and still runs amazingly, the only crashes I have ever had were from Gigastudio... of course YMMV)
Old 15th August 2007
  #11
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blue shades's Avatar
 

I switched to Akai DPS24 not long ago. I doubt if I will ever go back to a computer based system for anything other than 'add-ons'. By the way, the Akai is a lot cheaper than Radar. The quality is astonishing.

Good luck [and don't forget to at least try the Akai!!]

JB
Old 15th August 2007
  #12
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SpiderM69's Avatar
 

Another satisfied VS-2400 owner here. I have no desire whatsoever to move to a DAW, I love the dedicated all-in-a-box solution. I can't speak for the Akai, but Akai owners seem to be very happy too, along with Roland VS-2400 and VS-2480 owners. And I'm a software professional, so getting around a PC is nothing to me.

I like the idea of dedicated hardware. It is extremely stable and lean, designed for the specific application. There are DSP engineers I know of who happily own Roland boxes, and those guys know what they're talking about. The only issue is the image they have as prosumer boxes, which I beleive is primarily image and largely unfounded. The only trade-off is that the editing capabilities are more robust in DAW's. VS users don't seem to be hindered by that, however. That and there's less plug-ins to choose from, but the VS8F-3 card runs the important ones from companies such as Antares, UAD, and Massenburg, and on 56 bit dedicated hardware.

If you're concerned about audio quality, you can always add outboard gear, and most Roland/Akai users do. A high quality (read expensive) preamp will usually outperform the stock VS preamps, and although it's been debated, the better AD/DA converters may improve upon the stock VS converters. I've been satisfied simply focusing on adding high-quality front end gear and monitors, using the stock VS converters. I may add Lavry or Apogee at a later point, but see far better (read noticeable) improvement from adding a more expensive mic.

Visit VS-Planet, and ask the Roland VS users what they think of their boxes.
Old 15th August 2007
  #13
Lives for gear
Well, this week I have had both ProTools and Soundscape go phutt. God knows why and right now I don't care! I shall get both systems fixed tomorrow. PT may be pilot error, but Soundscape had blown its converters by the looks of things.

Fortunately we also have Radar. It's just always there when all others have decided to turn their faces to the wall and hand in their dinner-pails. The only time we have a failure was when both removable harddrives failed after being damaged in transit.
Old 15th August 2007
  #14
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soundawg's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpiderM69 View Post
Another satisfied VS-2400 owner here. I have no desire whatsoever to move to a DAW, I love the dedicated all-in-a-box solution. I can't speak for the Akai, but Akai owners seem to be very happy too, along with Roland VS-2400 and VS-2480 owners. And I'm a software professional, so getting around a PC is nothing to me.

I like the idea of dedicated hardware. It is extremely stable and lean, designed for the specific application. There are DSP engineers I know of who happily own Roland boxes, and those guys know what they're talking about. The only issue is the image they have as prosumer boxes, which I beleive is primarily image and largely unfounded. The only trade-off is that the editing capabilities are more robust in DAW's. VS users don't seem to be hindered by that, however. That and there's less plug-ins to choose from, but the VS8F-3 card runs the important ones from companies such as Antares, UAD, and Massenburg, and on 56 bit dedicated hardware.

If you're concerned about audio quality, you can always add outboard gear, and most Roland/Akai users do. A high quality (read expensive) preamp will usually outperform the stock VS preamps, and although it's been debated, the better AD/DA converters may improve upon the stock VS converters. I've been satisfied simply focusing on adding high-quality front end gear and monitors, using the stock VS converters. I may add Lavry or Apogee at a later point, but see far better (read noticeable) improvement from adding a more expensive mic.

Visit VS-Planet, and ask the Roland VS users what they think of their boxes.
I am an ex-unsatisfied VS-2480 owner. The reasons being - Took a while to get used to the interface - but this became much better with the implementation of the VGA screen... simply no option to record without using the onboard preamps (thus no ability to use outboard for mix unless using the pres again), editing is very cumbersome, automation was easy to use with faders but the editing of the atomation was very difficult. Moving audio back and forth from to PC for other tasks was a pain, and most of all I do a lot of dialogue myself, and the noisy fan made this impossible - the last straw that made me switch.

Oh yeah - I forgot - no video track.

Having said that - I have yet to find an easier to use , more compact, all in one system for live recording aplication... if 16 ins will do ya this is a great machine to capture the audio live, or great as a live supliment to a band for backing tracks etc...

Soundawg
Old 15th August 2007
  #15
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I would lose the laptop in heartbeat and move to a dedicated clone box. I have a core2duo E6600, Intel DP965LT Mobo, Lynx L22, WinXP Pro, Sonar 6P. It's rock solid. FWIW, this box is only used for music. My wife doesn't mess with it and I don't have kids.

I believe if you dedicate a PC to music only you can have a very stable system. Start adding everyday programs (ie Office) and/or users you're in for just the kind of trouble you have.
DaveT
Old 15th August 2007
  #16
Other users... yeah.

With a little caution, I'm generally able to maintain a very stable system, even it's a multi-use machine. (I always used to say I'd separate things but I never made it stick.)

But having un-fudged machines in use by multiple naive users, I have to say that seems to be a real risk factor.
Old 15th August 2007
  #17
Lives for gear
I don't think there's anything that will really work as well as a computer. Alesis and Fostex make hard disk recorders (no mixer, just a recorder). I have the Fostex D2424LV which I use for tracking vocals because I hate mouse-clicking and typing in names on tracks and stuff and I like a regular full-featured remote with meters in my lap. Of course, I only use it for vocals and after they are recorded I dump them into what? A PC of course. Radar would be the same, only nicer Everyone I know with a Roland or Akai or Korg all-in-one box enjoys it but eventually hit a "I hate this limited piece of crap that is only good for demos" point.

I would definitely look into the "audio production only" computer. No internet, no photos, no MS Word/Excell, no e-mail, no nothing. Other than drivers it's as solid as an all-in-one box provided you don't upgrade things. Upgrades is where things often go wrong - if it ain't broke don't upgrade it! LOL.

There is a lot of Dell hate, but I have had good luck with three of them running perfectly. There are a lot of Dell failures because there are a lot of Dell computers out there! But I will say the following in terms of going with a Dell: My friend is a contractor service tech for them. He spends his days driving around doing on-site service to the billions of Dell computers in the SF Bay Area. He said that the Dell service plans are EXCELLENT and is really the big advantage of getting a Dell. For an extra $150 or so you can get a three year on-site plan and if anything goes wrong you call 'em up. If they don't solve it on the phone with you they will have a tech out there the NEXT DAY to fix your computer. Even if it needs a new motherboard, whatever, they'll fix it. My friend isn't a Dell employee, he works for lots of computer companies, but he said that if you really need your machine to always work with minimal downtime, Dell with the service plan is your best bet.
Old 16th August 2007
  #18
Gear Head
 

As a man who spends a lot of his "real" life working with computers I'd have to agree that a hardware recorder can be just as unstable as a computer ... its got an OS (made by a 3rd party vendor) and a DAW (like) piece of software under the hood.

The best thing you can do if you want stability is unplug your laptop from the internet (and never plug it in again), reinstall it all fresh from CD's. Only put the bare minimum software you need on it i.e. your DAW! Then never update ANYTHING once you get it working. No software updates = no changes = stability (if it starts stable).

The point someone made at the start of this thread about how they dont 'fiddle' so much with a Mac I think is a very valid one. Ive got both PC's and Mac's and there both as bad as one another, that said I always use my Mac now as I (for some unknown reason) dont fiddle with it so much. Thus it changes less and is more stable.

Computers are complicated things and the dangers of the internet just make change a part of life ... remove that internet link and you dont need all that change (you do of cause have less features - you wont be able to post here anymore

Rich
Old 16th August 2007
  #19
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ScottTunes's Avatar
 

Quick Time (iPod) and Presonus Firestation are the culprits in my recent durge. They don't get along well yet...

Win XP Home, MS Word and Excel (from Office '97!), Cubase SX and Wavelab, and various plugs (including the first issue of the UAD1 card in the desktop) have worked fine on both a Dell Inspiron 9300 (Pent M) and a custom built (by me) desktop for several years.

The desktop performs all the heavy hitting (mixing, mastering too, when not farming that out), and is a dedicated system. Has never been "connected" to anything else (and is having the same problem as the laptop). The laptop performs the portable stuff, including internet.

I've recently upgraded the laptop to a Dell Latitude D630 w/ Core 2 Duo. It is set up with two profiles; one for the net, email (here too), research, writing, whatever. The other boots Win XP ONLY! Nothing else. No wireless, no web, nothing. Just as I had done with my two previous Dell laptops.

Funny, the 9300 had all the best protection, and frequent "tune-ups" to keep it bug free... Ha! I had more problems WITH Norton's full suite of "protection" than without! There's a clue! Same with Internet Explorer... The Latitude I had prior to the 9300 had no protection whatsoever and went for 3 years without a problem! Dumb luck, probably...

I also recently switched from 2 Presonus Firepods to a Firestation when I got this new laptop. I was installing the Firestation and adding Cubase SX (and LE) to the laptop, and connecting it up, and couldn't get past opening Cubase. It'd freeze... Still not sure what's up... I think it's Quick Time, and the Firestation firmware fighting... After the fourth installation, they are finally working.

Tonight (Wednesday) I recorded 10 channels of dynamic drum mics into Cubase SX and it sounds great too! Still not sure which program, device, or driver was at fault (just guessing). But at least its working now.

In my brief search for the answer to this thread, I found that every digital system is plagued with the same thing as my PCs, to varying degrees.

I like the ease of PCs, and Cubase. I like synch'ing to video and/or mastering with WaveLab... Way more versatile than the all-in-one boxes, I agree. And my little Latitude D630 is really small and light for all its muscle. And, as mentioned, great warranty!

With all I have invested in my current system, it would be better to stick with it. Shorter learning curve and all. I doubt I've finished with the gremlins. But I'll get there!

Thanks for all the responses! Glad to know I'm not alone - not that I wish anyone anything negative!

Almost back to being happy now... Cheers!
Old 16th August 2007
  #20
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drummin4christ's Avatar
 

The Firestation was never a great interface. That was in the time that Presonus had Yamaha make the drivers and the mLan was not where it need to be. Big Disappointment. I am using the Presonus Firestudio with Cubase SX3 on a custom built PC and absolutely love it. There is a great DSP mixer included that will allow you to have no-latency monitoring and it has ADAT inputs. All the mic inputs double as line inputs as well so you could plug-in outboard pres for more flavor.
Old 16th August 2007
  #21
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Sugarnutz's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by tifftunes View Post
I had more problems WITH Norton's full suite of "protection" than without! There's a clue! Same with Internet Explorer... The Latitude I had prior to the 9300 had no protection whatsoever and went for 3 years without a problem! Dumb luck, probably...
I have seen a lot of issues with protection packages from Norton and McAffee, seems like a tremendous amount of unneeded bagage with these solutions. The last couple of years, the 7 PCs (4 desktops & 3 laptops) on my network have been using Avast Home Edition, SpyBot Search & Destroy and Spyware Blaster, all of them are free programs and I have had "Zero" issues concerning viruses, spyware and system performance. Avast updates everything automatically, with just a little popup to tell what's happened and it goes away in a couple of seconds without any user action required, maybe 3 or 4 reboots a year for main program updates.
Old 16th August 2007
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mountainstorm View Post
As a man who spends a lot of his "real" life working with computers I'd have to agree that a hardware recorder can be just as unstable as a computer ... its got an OS (made by a 3rd party vendor) and a DAW (like) piece of software under the hood.

Then never update ANYTHING once you get it working. No software updates = no changes = stability (if it starts stable).
As a man who has fixed nearly a thousand computers on a bench for a top notch OEM...and who has also used various computers and hardware recorders ALOT over the last ten years, I would have to say that I highly disagree.

Yes, there is an OS running various hardware recorders. And in ALL cases...it's a VERY stripped down version of a rock solid, 'STABLE', UNIX kernel. This a far cry from the comparison you make to a Windows OS or whatever. The UNIX kernel has very little to do...but ensure the stable operation of the recorder....unlike a 'Personal Computer' operating system which has about 6 billion other processes going on...that are 'native' to the OS...not added by the user. The hardware recorder and the customized UNIX kernel...are designed...from scratch...to work as one. A big difference.

Also, over half of the problems that i've encountered 'computer recording wise'...had little to do with any added software. It was quite the opposite. The problems usually stemmed from the software provided by the vendor(drivers, necessary updates, etc ), other audio type software labelled to be supposedly compatible or hardware design incompatibilities having to do with certain chipset/motherboard configurations.

I'm f*cking amazed that a personal computer can even record music...considering how much actual 'different' vendor **** is going on underneath the hood.

That's always been the nice thing about Mac's, they are(were) designed and built by Apple, that had higher standards over their QC processes...unlike a PC that is a looser mishmash of chipsets, controllers, power supplies, software... etc, etc, etc

D.
Old 17th August 2007
  #23
Gear Head
 

I have to agree that antivirus packages are almost universally worse than virus's. They slow down your computer, crash it and generally ruin any stability you had.

As for embedded OS's ... I've designed and developed systems on Windows, OS X and embedded OS's (QNX). Whilst there's a lot of stuff talked about how UNIX is stable and windows isn't, its all talk. The truth is that they all have VERY similar design and can all be as stable (and unstable) as each other (they can all hit 5, 9's reliabilty if needed).

As you said a dedicated system built by a single manufacturer will be more stable out the box. This is not primarily due to the OS choice but the fact that the system was built (and far more importantly tested) by a single manufacturer in the same config as delivered to you.

Once you get your PC based system stable (you can disable all but 2 processes on a Windows machine and it will still work - see the "Windows Internals" book) it will be just as stable as an embedded one. Updates to the OS, drivers and highly embedded 3rd party tools (virus checkers etc) are they the things likley to break stuff.

They fact you change your system once its stable is normally the reason you have problems ... that said I would never advise using a machine on the internet if your not updating.

As always, your mileage may vary

Rich
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