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  • #16
    Originally posted by Mark L View Post
    I drive a bloody car delivering dental lab work, for God's sake! I'm not intelligent enough to know how to operate a computer-based digital audio workstation
    These days, some DAWs are easier to operate than a car. Did you ever try to disable the "feature" that unlocks all the doors when you shift into Park? On a Toyota, it involves a combination of turning the ignition switch on and off a specific number of times while holding the door lock button. I have a PDF copy of that page in the owner's manual saved on my phone in the event that my rental car doesn't have an owner's manual in the glove box. And I spent half an hour in the hotel parking lot with a Nissan and its owner's manual trying to make it stop locking the doors automatically. It's not possible, at least not without cutting some wires (which would disable all the electric door locking/unlocking entirely - so I lived with it and know not to buy a Nissan. And without knowing the lingo, it's clumsy to set up a Bluetooth phone to talk to the car radio.

    DAWs are similar in that not every program calls the same function or feature by the same name. If you use just one or two programs, eventually you'll learn the vocabulary, and that makes understanding instructions and menus easier (or possible).



    --
    "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
    Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

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    • #17
      Originally posted by MikeRivers View Post

      It probably is easier than it sounds BUT FIRST YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND THE FUNDAMENTALS. Today's DAW users don't, and that's why manufacturers try to make something that lets you record without knowing anything. That's the part that doesn't really work very well.

      Absolutely agree that you need to understand the fundamentals. But I'll quibble about whether you have to learn them first or not.

      It's like the difference between learning an instrument as a student, following a time-test curriculum, or learning as most amateurs learn, bit by bit accruing on a sort of random path.

      I'm 99% self-taught, and I certainly spend a lot of time back-filling the gaps in my understanding as a musician, a songwriter, and a home studio type. But learning the "proper" way from the ground up, curriculum-style, can be a stifling, dreary process that leads to a lot of lost interest and wasted money on lessons.

      I think there's something to the idea of just getting down to making music - getting it down as a recording as job one - good or bad doesn't matter for any particular newbie project. That's what we did as kids with reel-to-reel and cassette records. Plugged in a mic, got after it, had something to show off (or erase.) Then we'd upgrade to a better mic, or something with four tracks like a Portastudio. Step by step, making actual music all the way. It's not a bad trade-off I think, getting some sounds down right now, getting more proficient with the technicalities later. At some point, yes, the technicalities absolutely matter if you want to move on towards a professional sounding result. But not even McCartney had the patience for lessons and tedious technicality - and who can argue with his sort of success?

      nat



      Last edited by nat whilk II; 06-08-2017, 03:35 PM.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by Anderton View Post
        I've yet to see any DAW where the comments in reviews were "This program is really easy to use, I was up and recording music within a few minutes of booting up." Most everyone talks about how difficult DAWs are to learn, how user-hostile they are, etc. etc.

        So...what do you think would make a DAW easier to learn? Here are some of my thoughts...
        • Companies that make the interface and software have a unique opportunity to have the program open to a "hard-wired" setup that the user could later change if desired...but when you opened the project, it would have tracks ready to go, already assigned to inputs, etc.
        • If you select a track, an LED would illuminate on the interface input.
        • The auto-gain features in the Roland and Zoom interfaces are fantastic, there should be a button on every track that allows initiating it to set levels.
        Probably these would help, and certainly would not hurt. I really don't know. I feel the same way about video editors. I'm a reasonably intelligent guy, but there's few things that make me feel more stupid than installing and learning a new DAW system. Which is why I don't do it very much. Same with video editors.

        I don't know how realistic this would be, but it would be nice for a program to have additional help features that could be disabled upon learning the program. So for instance, if I initiate record on a track, but there is no signal coming in, I could, say, hit a button with a question mark that asked, "I am trying to record on this track, so why can't I hear anything?" or "Why can't I no longer hear this DAW mix?" and there would be trouble-shooting suggestions. This is especially valuable in light of the fact that DAWs rarely provide written owner's manuals any more, and one would need to scroll through a PDF version of the manual. Or if the DAW were no longer working, there might be a dialogue box that popped up and said, "There is a driver conflict. You will need to....". instead of doing absolutely nothing or showing "Error -6042."

        See, it's one thing to say, "Well, in my day, I learned signal flow from an analog mixing board." Yeah. That's a helluva lot simpler than a driver conflict or computer issue, where you can't physically see what's wrong, or there are buffer restrictions or firewire issues or whatever. DAWs are a pain in the ass, and it's compounded by computer issues, driver conflicts, updating stuff, and even audio interface stuff. Analog mixing boards are comparatively easy to figure out, and easy to get going.

        I will say one thing about audio interfaces. I constantly had issues with a PreSonus FireStudio audio interface, with sync issues and other things, and since I've replaced it with an RME unit, all of those issues are out the window. Setup could not be easier, and the syncing is rock solid. Fantastic. This is the way a product should be. Easy to set up, and once you set the parameters, they are rock solid. The PreSonus software kept changing my parameters over and over. You read that right. CHANGING MY SETTINGS.
        Ken Lee on 500px / Ken's Photo Store / Ken Lee Photography Facebook Website / Blueberry Buddha Studios / Ajanta Palace Houseboat - Kashmir / Hotel Green View - Kashmir / Eleven Shadows website / Ken Lee Photography Blog / Akai 12-track tape transfers / MY NEW ALBUM! The Mercury Seven

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        • #19
          Now that I'm thinking about it, Craig, your first suggestion could work really well, having everything "hard wired" and ready to go. That's what we want. For most scenarios, that would be useful, wouldn't it?
          Ken Lee on 500px / Ken's Photo Store / Ken Lee Photography Facebook Website / Blueberry Buddha Studios / Ajanta Palace Houseboat - Kashmir / Hotel Green View - Kashmir / Eleven Shadows website / Ken Lee Photography Blog / Akai 12-track tape transfers / MY NEW ALBUM! The Mercury Seven

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          • #20
            I frequent a web site called 'Recording Revolution' and in his blog post today he talked about DAWs and how switching DAWs is not a smart thing to do. One of the biggest reasons he gives is that you have to learn all over how to do things. He states DAWs are complicated pieces of software and as each DAW does things differently to get to the same end point. His contention is that you should stick with the DAW you have and know, otherwise you are going backwards and will not improve your recordings.

            https://www.recordingrevolution.com/...ur-recordings/

            Which brings me back to this discussion. How much of the issues people have with learning a new DAW are related to them switching software? Is a major issue (problem) the fact that they learned how to do stuff on one DAW and switched, and even though the new DAW does the same thing, the process to get it done is different and thus 'harder'? And if this is indeed the case, is there really anything that can be done to change that?
            The Mandolin Picker

            "Bless your hearts... and all your vital organs" - John Duffy

            "Got time to breath, got time for music!"- Briscoe Darling, Jr.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by Mandolin Picker View Post
              How much of the issues people have with learning a new DAW are related to them switching software? Is a major issue (problem) the fact that they learned how to do stuff on one DAW and switched, and even though the new DAW does the same thing, the process to get it done is different and thus 'harder'? And if this is indeed the case, is there really anything that can be done to change that?
              My problem isn't in switching from one DAW to another, it's in switching from hardware to software, from tactile controls to graphical imitations, and from logical signal flow to seemingly arbitrary signal flow. I know that signal flow it isn't really arbitrary in a DAW, but connecting the pieces to create the desired signal flow isn't always obvious. I get frustrated because what's (to me, anyway) a simple operation in a hardware system often requires more steps in a DAW.

              I realize that DAWs can do amazing things that are darn near impossible with a hardware system, but 99% of the time, all I need to do is hook up some mics, press Record, and manipulate faders to get a good mix.
              --
              "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
              Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

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              • #22
                There's a few things for me. One is, sure, I am used to a DAW, the same one I've been using for 17 years.

                The other is that I am much busier than I used to be, and learning in little starts and fits instead of being able to use it for several hours a day for a couple of weeks and getting that sort of muscle memory and whatnot going is not possible.

                And yeah, switching hardware can sometimes be difficult, but it's mostly the above two for me.
                Ken Lee on 500px / Ken's Photo Store / Ken Lee Photography Facebook Website / Blueberry Buddha Studios / Ajanta Palace Houseboat - Kashmir / Hotel Green View - Kashmir / Eleven Shadows website / Ken Lee Photography Blog / Akai 12-track tape transfers / MY NEW ALBUM! The Mercury Seven

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by UstadKhanAli View Post
                  Now that I'm thinking about it, Craig, your first suggestion could work really well, having everything "hard wired" and ready to go. That's what we want. For most scenarios, that would be useful, wouldn't it?
                  It doesn't help raw beginners as much, but for experienced folks, I highly recommend creating and using templates for your most commonly-used layouts - it can really speed things up in terms of the setup, creating tracks, naming them and assigning routing, etc.
                  **********

                  "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

                  - George Carlin

                  "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

                  - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

                  "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

                  - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Phil O'Keefe View Post

                    It doesn't help raw beginners as much, but for experienced folks, I highly recommend creating and using templates for your most commonly-used layouts - it can really speed things up in terms of the setup, creating tracks, naming them and assigning routing, etc.

                    And something like Pro Tools already has templates, which it prompts you with upon start-up. But if someone is facing a new DAW, it might be good if it popped up with a simple template instead of being completely blank. I know this is all hard to do when you're facing different hardware (audio interfaces). And I gotta say, RME is as easy of an installation as I've ever had. Utterly painless. And a really rock-solid connection. The PreSonus Firestudio was never rock solid, always fell out of sync with the computer, and was a pain in the rear to install. Well, okay, it was easy to install....it was more challenging to actually get it to work. And then the settings would keep changing each time I booted up the computer! What a piece of garbage.
                    Ken Lee on 500px / Ken's Photo Store / Ken Lee Photography Facebook Website / Blueberry Buddha Studios / Ajanta Palace Houseboat - Kashmir / Hotel Green View - Kashmir / Eleven Shadows website / Ken Lee Photography Blog / Akai 12-track tape transfers / MY NEW ALBUM! The Mercury Seven

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                    • #25
                      Perhaps the question really is: why weren't DAWs designed with ease of use in mind in the first place? Is there such a thing as craftsmanship in the digital realm? We accept time-consuming software glitches as just part of the product. Years ago I was told by a programmer that newer faster hardware was not needed just cleaner more efficient code. Is this true or myth today? I’m beginning to think major software programs , like DAWs, are becoming more bloat ware than anything else.


                      My contention is that DAWs are not designed to truly inspire, although the developer may think or honestly intend so. DAWs have become collection centers for endless plugins and feature saturation. It would be one thing if each plugin and feature was simple and intuitive enough to master over a short period of time, but many have enough depth that it can take years to do so which probably rarely happens.

                      Since the main focus is to sell product , the music software industry ends up overwhelming the customer. The assumption is that we won't buy or upgrade unless new bells and whistles are added to the product. Just how many new creative "possibilities" do we need from our DAW? The magnitude of possibilities in one respect is a bit of a joke. Should I explore routing possibilities, or maybe search my library of a multitude of FXs to come up with the perfect combination for a particular track or try some track layering for a thicker sound? Change this sound for another? And on and on. How many of us really desire transparency over possibilities? Anyone who is going to make music ends up restricting themselves anyway, yet at the same time it’s easy to get sucked into new possibilities

                      And then there's the manual which is a thousand plus page PDF. Great for a quick lookup but a crappy way to read from cover to cover IMHO. But who reads manuals anyway I guess? My point is we aren’t really indicating to the industry that we want solid, intuitive simplicity in DAWs or any digital music software for that matter. The matter is compounded when you feel you have to deal with continual “maintenance” upgrades, hardware driver glitches etc. let alone dealing with the computer OS “upgrades” which are no longer in the user’s control (at least on the PC side – in general terms).

                      I had been using Cubase since the Atari days. Since last September I stopped using it. I felt bogged down, creative inspiration lost in distractions of all the things I could do with Cubase, when all I really wanted was a stable system and more hands on control. I thought about going the all hardware route but found it to be too costly for me. I needed to narrow my focus. I ended up using Native Instruments Maschine (which I had bought for a sound design project), ignoring the whole beat based focus, as I saw it as much more than what it is marketed to be. I treat the Maschine environment as if it were a DAW – its limitations as ways of narrowing focus. This year I've felt more productive and inspired in a long time. Simply by adapting the less is more adage.
                      Had there not been integrated controllers I wouldn't have made the switch. The fact that there are integrated physical controllers is key to me. It really begs the question as to why the major DAWs don't supply affordable dedicated controllers. The easy answer is economics.

                      Still, how many musicians prefer turning a knob or moving a slider with a mouse? And then there's the size of the GUI and the limited ability to adjust the size, if not the DAW, many plug-ins seem designed with a "one size fits all" approach. In the last version of Reason I tried the mixer was so dense looking I felt it needed a 60" minimum screen. Ergonomics is really important for me. A mouse driven DAW just kills it for me. We tend to forget that, as obvious as it is – and it is worth repeating - selling product comes first. Ease of use is secondary.


                      What would it be like to have a developer who was focused on an inspiring DAW? And strived to put out a solid bug free DAW with well integrated “components” – soft and hard, in-depth manuals, intuitive use – would that be the workings of craftsmanship?

                      I wonder…

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by electrow View Post
                        Perhaps the question really is: why weren't DAWs designed with ease of use in mind in the first place?
                        The simple reason is that they were initially designed by programmers, not recording engineers. That's how it started. Also, the software design process has evolved.

                        Yesterday:
                        • The users developed the functional design specification - this defined what the product has to do, how fast, and how the user would interface with the software. This went through a design review process to be sure the final product would actually do what was intended
                        • The system engineers figured out how functions would be allocated between software and hardware.
                        • The software engineers defined how the functional blocks code would be implemented in order to meet the design requirements. This usually went through several stages of design review before the final software design is reached
                        • The programmers implemented the software design with code
                        • The test department tried to break it and sent it back to the programmers to fix the bugs
                        • The marketing department went to work selling it

                        Today:
                        • The marketing department tells the programmers what they thing the users want
                        • The marketing deaprtment asks a few studio engineers what cool features they would like to see
                        • The programmers try to make it
                        • The marketing department throws it out to the world.

                        My contention is that DAWs are not designed to truly inspire, although the developer may think or honestly intend so. DAWs have become collection centers for endless plugins and feature saturation.
                        Isn't that what a dream studio is? The difference is that engineers used to work with what they could afford, or build themselves, or what was available in the market. But they had to balance space and dollar budget with utility. You didn't have a box taking up space if you didn't use it. But software doesn't take up space (other than disk and memory space) and you only need to buy one virtual box to have as many as you need at your disposal.

                        Since the main focus is to sell product , the music software industry ends up overwhelming the customer. The assumption is that we won't buy or upgrade unless new bells and whistles are added to the product. Just how many new creative "possibilities" do we need from our DAW?
                        The thing is that the evolution of the DAW has changed the customer base. A studio had one console (one in each room if it was a multi-room studio), the console's EQ, a couple of outboard compressors and equalizers, a recorder, and that was it - and it cost a quarter of a million bucks when you added a useful collection of microphones. Today, most DAW software is sold to musicians who have no space or budget, or even engineering knowledge and skills. They have a functional box that allows them to play around with the same sort of tools that they'd find in the recording studio that they could never afford. Some figure it out, some don't.

                        The professional studio, because it's their business, learns to use the new tools in efficient ways.

                        Also, the way we make music has evolved, as a result of the DAW. Today you don't need a microphone to record instrumental music (fortunately, you still need one to record vocals). Some musicians are completely happy working like that. Pro studios learn to use these DAW tools to enhance, rather than enable, the work of creative artists.

                        And then there's the manual which is a thousand plus page PDF. Great for a quick lookup but a crappy way to read from cover to cover IMHO. But who reads manuals anyway
                        I agree about manuals, but it's not practical for one manual to be a tutorial on creating music (or whatever) with the DAW. A whole lot of DAW programs are sold to people who have little or no knowledge of the recording process and workflow, so they don't what to look for in the manual. They don't start out as studio interns and learn the basic process and where they can branch off. And that isn't something that you can learn from a book.

                        The matter is compounded when you feel you have to deal with continual “maintenance” upgrades, hardware driver glitches etc. let alone dealing with the computer OS “upgrades” which are no longer in the user’s control (at least on the PC side – in general terms).
                        That's a real problem. When your 8 track recorder was no longer adequate for your projects, you bought a 16 track recorder and it worked just like your 8 track recorder. Even the transition from analog to digital recording (a TASCAM 80-8 to an Alesis ADAT) wasn't all that difficult. The ADAT, right from the start, had the same kind of input/sync monitor switching as an analog multitrack recorder. But that important function went out the window with the first software DAW that depended on a computer sound card for the audio input and output.

                        But computer manufacturers gotta stay in business, as do operating system designers. So computers and operating systems, which weren't designed with a recording studio in mind, continue to make themselves obsolete. On the other hand, while my Mackie hard disk recorder/editor was designed in 1998-1999 and uses an Intel motherboard, it used a proprietary operating system and the software and hardware were designed in the same shop so they worked well together. It still works. One of these days, the motherboard will die and I won't be able to buy a modern one off the shelf to replace it, but there were only 4 software updates over its product life, and none of them broke anything. But products like this are too expensive for the home musician DAW crowd.


                        What would it be like to have a developer who was focused on an inspiring DAW? And strived to put out a solid bug free DAW with well integrated “components” – soft and hard, in-depth manuals, intuitive use – would that be the workings of craftsmanship?…
                        They'd probably sell a few. I've often thought that this stuff is just too inexpensive. When it cost a quarter of a milliion dollars to equip a studio, there were a handful of studios in most major cities. Now there are thousands of studios in every city, TASCAM and Akai, and let's not forget Fairlight, have designed very well integrated software/hardware solutions, but the majority of today's DAW users are having fun with the computer they already own and a few hundred bucks worth of software. A few of them are pretty successfu and are happy working with what they can afford. I suspect that this is the case with most of the people who visit this forum.

                        I'm an exception. I still have gear that I was using 40 years ago, and I'm still recording the kind of music I was recording 40 years ago, so it still works for me. I have no need for soft synths, drum editors, bass enhancers, and such, just some good microphones. But individuals are all different, and I can completly understand how easy it is to get frustrated with a DAW - becuase I get that way, too when I try to use one. Fortunately I don't need to use a software DAW very often.

                        --
                        "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
                        Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

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                        • #27
                          Mike is right in that software has changed. At least the big expertise systems that are mass-marketed. Spreadsheets, word processors, bookkeeping programs, graphics suites, video production suites, they all have manuals with page counts that run to four figures. Systems used to be written to save time, to streamline tasks. Now they are written to provide features and flexibility.

                          I sympathize with newbies and in many ways, I'm still struggling, too - but on the other hand, the complaints about too-much-complexity seemed a tad tainted with laziness. Get a random sampling of 20 newbies totally fresh to DAWs, hand them all something like Sonar, come back in a year or two, and see who's done what. Like with anything else, most will have tinkered their way into a little actual production of middling amateur quality. A few will have given up. And a few will have run with it, obsessed over it, delved and cussed and studied and experimented and kept at it, and have some truly impressive results to show.

                          Too many choices - sure there are. So what to do? Dumb down the choices? Or become a more focused and persistent chooser?

                          I'm all for the DAWs to improve themselves for users at all levels, don't get me wrong. But I'm not going to wait for it - I'll work it out for myself and move on.

                          nat

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                          • #28
                            Oh, and another thing - it's about the music. Much of today's music can't be performed, and can only be created with the tools that a DAW provides. Me, I record fiddlers, banjo players, guitarists, and singers. Occasonally an accordion, flute, or piano. It's all real stuff and doesn't need to be time stretched, distorted, re-clocked to a tempo grid, or to have every element of the mix sound HUGE.
                            And sometimes people dance to it, but get airplay? Not unless you consider your Facebook page a radio station. But for many, EDM and other software based music composition is the only form of music that they know.
                            Last edited by MikeRivers; 06-21-2017, 12:41 PM. Reason: How come once I change a font size and go back to the standard font, the line spacing doesn't return to what goes with that font size?
                            --
                            "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
                            Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              I agree with Craig's initial thoughts about the "Lens" function in SONAR. To get more people using a DAW, I think that the Portastudio is a really good model. If Cakewalk built a DAW with a Portastudio record functionality and ProChannel mixing capability 'wrapped' by a lens it would be a huge addition, particularly if they could get it bundled with the likes of a Focusrite Scarlett aor a MOTU MicroBook, or....

                              I still see some talented young musicians recording multitrack with portastudios (at least not the tape kind) because its all-in-one. If their laptop plus a box was as simple as turning on a Portastudio AND they got 8-track or 16-track mixdown it would be a knockout.

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Mark L View Post
                                It took me years to suss out how to record stuff on a DAW. I still probably don't use about 90% of the features on mine. There's too much information. I like things kept simple

                                I drive a bloody car delivering dental lab work, for God's sake! I'm not intelligent enough to know how to operate a computer-based digital audio workstation

                                This is so funny!

                                Oh man, you should try Stand-up.
                                If you stand for nothing your life becomes meaningless. The world and everything you have today exist because people before you stood up, worked hard and died to provide us all the opportunity. Get involved!

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