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  • Rain Computers RainPAK and Steinberg Cubase 7

    Pro Reviews are back! It sure took a while, but we're ready to rock again. And this is a very interesting system to kick off "Pro Reviews - the Next Generation" (sorry, I couldn't resist).

    I’m going to start this pro review with a story. Trust me . . . it relates.

    I had done some consulting to a company that made portable music players and software, among other things. They called me one day and said “Hey, could you write up a quick guide on how to transfer music from our software to our players? It should be easy, like three steps. We just don’t have the bandwidth right now. You can probably do it in an afternoon.”

    I accepted the gig, especially because I’m a fan of brevity—and handed in a document with over 20 steps. They were not pleased.

    “Hey, we told you to keep it short. What’s the deal? This isn’t at all what we wanted.”

    So, I offered to re-do it once they told me which steps I could take out. As you probably guessed, they couldn’t take out any steps. Why? Because a computer operating system was involved. You had to create a place to store your file, navigate to it, deal with clicking OK multiple times, etc. etc. That adds up. To over 20 steps, in fact.

    Yes, computers are wonderful for making music, but sometimes you probably feel like that company did, thinking it should take only three steps to do something—then finding out over 20 steps later that the process was more complex than you thought it would be. And sometimes, computers seem as unpredictable as the weather. Just go to any DAW forum, and you’ll see people who claim that their software is useless and buggy, while other people say “I dunno, works great for me, no problems.”

    Think logically for a second. They’re all using the same software, so what’s the variable?

    That’s right: the hardware.

    There are now 14 music videos posted on my YouTube channel, including four songs by Mark Longworth. Watch the music video playlist, subscribe, and spread the links! Check back often, because there's more to come...

  • #2

    Now, I don’t want to get into a Mac vs. PC debate, but it is instructive to analyze the difference in philosophy between the two systems. Both are valid so please...no fanbois of either persuasion.

    Traditionally, Apple has held tight control over their hardware, which made it a lot easier for software developers to conform to that hardware. The price you paid was living by Apple’s rules, which often meant upgrading expensive hardware with a certain degree of regularity. Meanwhile PCs were less expensive, more tolerant of backward compatibility, and easier to hot rod and customize; but that also meant there are nearly an infinite variety of permutations and combinations for Windows machines, spread over multiple types of hardware and different operating systems. A Windows computer is kind of like a combination lock—get the right combination, and you enjoy both performance and cost-effectiveness. But if one of those tumblers is off . . . you’re hosed.

    As a result, although my first Windows machine (back in 1995) was a Dell, since then I’ve used only computers made by companies that specialize in integrating desktop computers specifically for music. I’ve used a bunch over the years—PC Audio Labs, ADK, Pete Leoni—and never regretted paying a little extra for the privilege of having seamless computer experiences.

    But more to the point of this review, my first Windows laptop was Rain’s LiveBook. Back in 2005, Keyboard magazine asked me to review it; up until then, I’d used mostly Mac laptops. When the review period was over, I was convinced. I bought the LiveBook, and never looked back. In fact, I wrote five articles about how I used it for Rain's web site, which are still posted there and come to think of it, still contain some useful tips. And yes, I used the LiveBook for video, too.

    But there’s more to the story: As I write this, that same LiveBook is off to my left, playing back internet radio. Now, you might think that if it’s still going after almost eight years (!), I probably haven’t used it much. Wrong. The only thing that’s gone wrong with it is I used it so much, I wore out the keyboard which I had to replace a few years back (and yes, Rain gave me great support, walking me through the process step-by-step over the phone). I continued using the LiveBook for live performance and video editing until Sony Vegas and Cakewalk Sonar went 64-bit, and I traded up to a custom 64-bit laptop designed specifically for video. But the LiveBook is like a vintage Volkswagen: It just refuses to die. It apparently hasn’t figured out how to do that yet...it’s sort of like the laptop equivalent of Voyager.

    It’s 2013, though, not 2005—so let’s see what Rain is up to these days. Here's a hint.


    Attached Files
    There are now 14 music videos posted on my YouTube channel, including four songs by Mark Longworth. Watch the music video playlist, subscribe, and spread the links! Check back often, because there's more to come...