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Issue 147

Topics     News     User Reviews    Forums     Articles     Videos     Classifieds

Dear Musician

DV016\_Jpg\_Large\_H70847.jpgI have a love/hate relationship with iLok. I swore never to use iLok after one horrible incident around 10 years ago where I didn’t have the latest drivers installed, and after installing software my C: drive was hosed so badly I had to reformat it and start over. The person who integrated my computer said “Installing PACE is like willfully installing a virus,” and would install cracks of PACE-protected plug-ins on your computer if you could prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that you had purchased the legit plug-ins. That way you not only did the right thing morally, but had a valid serial number and could register to get support—as well as have plug-ins that didn’t need to talk to an iLok every time you woke them up.

What got me thinking about this was a recent trip to Cakewalk’s forums, where they had just announced a Softube plug-in package that consists of VST plug-ins as well as versions compatible with Sonar’s modular Pro Channel channel strip. Sounds like a good deal, but Softube uses iLok, and I was taken aback by how many people expressed the opinion that they would never buy anything that required an iLok. Part of this was not wanting to pay for something intended to protect a manufacturer’s product and otherwise offering no tangible benefit to the consumer, but also, concerns about having all your software investment sitting on a USB stick.

After my initial experience with iLok, I resisted using any programs that were protected with the iLok dongle. I didn’t like SyncroSoft either because it had a tendency to be unpredictable, and I ripped their system apart in a review of software I wrote for Keyboard magazine that used their type of protection. Interestingly, after that article appeared one of the people from SyncroSoft “wanted to talk to me” at Frankfurt Musikmesse. I figured he'd rant but instead he took out a notepad, asked me to describe every problem I had with their dongle and everything I didn’t like about it. The next gen solved every single problem I mentioned. I was impressed.

Meanwhile, I eventually had to get an iLok in order to review or use particular programs, like Pro Tools. I grudgingly gave up the USB slot and hoped for the best. I had occasional problems with their website and updates, culminating in a one-on-one session with a Digidesign tech support guy. At one point I was told by the iLok website to click on a particular button and the tech guy said “NO!! Don't click on that!! You'll kill your authorizations!” . . . not that the iLok site said anything about that.

Anyway, so now I'm up to iLok 2. It’s way better than the original and I haven't experienced difficulties dealing with their website. While I don't particularly like the concept, when a computer crashes or you update your system, the great thing about iLok is you just reinstall the software, plug in the iLok, and you’re back to work—no going online, no “this computer is not authorized,” and no looking for serial numbers.

I’ve now gotten to the point where I trust hard disks less than iLok. If I’m offered the opportunity to install a program using either iLok or hard disk authorization (e.g., iZotope’s programs), these days I always go for the iLok . . . and given a recent hard drive failure, haven’t regretted it.

Copy protection is an unfortunate fact of life: users and manufacturers hate it. Whether iLok is the best approach or not is a matter of debate, but I can’t resent a company wanting to protect their hard work from theft. As someone who has to use iLok, they've cleaned up their act significantly in the past year or two, and I no longer get a twinge of fear every time I enter www.ilok.com into my browser. First impressions last a long time in this industry, but I think it’s finally safe to say “don’t fear the iLok.”

— Craig Anderton

This Week on HC

Attack of the Spambots!

HCC\_ThisWeek.jpgHave you noticed that the site has been a bit slower lately? So have we, and we’re working on a solution. A huge part of the problem is that we are being hammered by spambots, which unfortunately, can be part of the price of having a successful and highly visible site.

You don’t see most of these posts, because they go into a moderation queue based on information from anti-spam services, and won’t appear unless we “unmoderate” them. Some spambots are posting literally hundreds of posts within the space of a few minutes; others create “sleeper” IDs months in advance that “fly under our radar” because they don’t post any spam, but then suddenly come to life and start spraying posts all over the place.

Of course, some spam posts do make it through the moderation process. Fortunately, our moderators are on top of things and delete spam posts as soon as they’re found. The community is good about reporting these too, which helps us locate and remove spam that much faster.

But deleting spam also slows down the site—when you have multiple moderators attempting to delete hundreds of posts at a time from dozens of forums, it takes its toll. But, we’ve hired some IT specialists to look into this and hopefully we can come up with a way to head off these problems before they become more serious.

Meanwhile, we apologize to those looking for counterfeit Ugg boots, coach bags, and rental homes in places we’ve never heard of . . . because we’re removing those messages as fast as we can find them.

Featured Articles




Maintaining a Healthy Humidity Balance

By Jon Chappell

Follow these steps to protect your wooden instruments from the low-humidity conditions that prevail during the winter months

Product Review


WindTech PopGard Model 2000 Windscreen

By Phil O'Keefe

Solid protection from wind blasts and plosives for your side-address microphones

Hot Tip!

A Smart Metronome That Subdivides


If you own a smartphone or an iPod Touch, you can avail yourself of handy apps that can provide all sorts of audio diagnostic tools and musical reference aids. Among my must-have music apps are guitar tuners (I collect all the free ones and pay for a couple more that have specialty applications), plus a versatile metronome. If you write for film, TV, or dance troupes, you’re constantly aware of tempos, because often the solution to a problem lies in the manipulation of them one or two clicks slower or faster than the ideal. A good metronome can do more than tick off the bpm too. Many provide rhythmic patterns, from a basic back-beat to funky hip-hop, in which to inspire groove creation or just jam along to.

One metronome app called the Subdivide Metronome does as its namesake suggests, and helps you master tricky subdivision rhythms within a straightforward meter. You can dial up, at any volume level, the quarter note (pulse), eighth note, 16th-note, triplet, or clave—the syncopated pattern that forms the backbone of many Latin grooves. In fact, the Subdivision Metronome includes six different clave rhythms, including son, Cuban, and rumba.

You can save presets, allowing for quick recall of common grooves and tempo settings, which can aid in your memorizing and mastering certain bpms. Subdivide Metronome also works over AirPlay, so you can transmit your groove to other similarly configured iOS devices. That's a great way to sync over a long distance—longer than an audio cable can reach.

— Jon Chappell

Featured Industry News

This week's pick hits from our News section

Hal Leonard Publishes Microphones & Mixers

KORG Extends Monomania Sound Contest Through End of 2011

KMI Introduces Next-Generation "3-D Multi-Touch" Portable iPad-Sized Music Controller

Producerloops.com Releases "Supalife Drum & Bass: High Energy Edition" Sample Pack

Wire Rope Adds a Unique Twist to New Shure KSM353 Shock Mount

SKB Expands the Rack/Mixer Case Line

Softube Announces Mix Bundle Available in Cakewalk SONAR X1 Producer Expanded Module Format

Guitar Center, the Nation's Largest Instrument Retailer, Opens Its 223rd Store with New Location in Orange, California

TASCAM Announces DR-100mkII 24-bit/96kHz Linear PCM Recorder

Peavey AmpKit LiNK Wins Best of '11

Forum Watch

A few of this week's top discussions from our Forums

What’s in Your Bag of Tricks?

Everyone knows to carry a spare battery and set of strings, but to be truly prepared how about a spare 8-channel mixer or large foam twist ties? See what other tools and indispensable gizmos the experienced road warriors in the Live Forum pack.

Frigid Temperatures and Tube Amps

With the weather turning ever colder, the inevitable question is here: Can you leave a tube amp overnight in a car in freezing temperatures? Get the lowdown here.

Your Teles and Tele Equivalents: Show Them!

This long-running thread is a celebration of all things Telecaster-shaped—including vintage and current production models from Fender and G&L, new custom creations from independent builders and even self-assembled creations from some of our forum members. One of the oldest solidbody guitars is still one of the most popular, as this thread clearly shows.

Obscure and Unique Synths

In an alternate universe, these synthesizers became as common as a DX7 or CZ-101. In our world . . . well, check out the thread.

“Relic-ing” a Bass

So is it cool or is it posing to make a bass look like it’s been through touring hell and back? And how do you do it anyway? The Bass Forum attacks this controversial topic.

How Do Producers Get Their Mixes So Loud?

The Amps forum crosses over into recording territory, and dishes the goods on how to get those loud masters—and the advice goes a lot deeper than just “get a limiter.”

Effect You Parted With and Miss Like Mad

The Effects Forum laments "the ones that got away." Not only are effects that we once had (and still remember fondly) discussed, but being primarily guitarists, it was only a matter of time before instruments and amps became part of the discussion too.

Cowbell Mount?

When people say “more cowbell” . . . you better have it mounted somewhere. But how? The Drum Forum has been there, done that, and knows a bunch of different ways to solve this problem.

Digital Console Piano Suitable for the Front Room

Sure, you’d like to have a Steinway . . . but sometimes it’s not just about a lack of money, but space. Can digital pianos hack it? What about restoring an upright? Get some answers here.

Practicing Scales Without Backing Chords—a Waste of Time Musically?

The premise sounds innocent enough, but this thread has a lot of insights about practicing before it starts to get silly at the end.

EditoriaCraig Anderton, Editor in Chief • Jon Chappell, Senior Editor • Phil O’Keefe, Associate Editor • Chris Loeffler, Reviews Editor

Advertising  adsales@harmonycentral.com

Production Editor Carrie Brown

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