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Mac question (No. 1)

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Mac question (No. 1)

Postby tombax » Sun May 19, 2013 9:41 pm

Me droogies:
Kicking and screaming, I'm converting over to a Mac. Or to be more precise, I'm hanging on to a dying PC, but am transitioning to a Mac made available through the proverbial offer I could not refuse. Here's the first of what I expect to be many questions.
Do the Audio Unit instruments, such as the ones which come with Logic, work in the same way as VSTs? That is, would I be able to use them in Notion?

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Re: Mac question (No. 1)

Postby Surfwhammy » Mon May 20, 2013 7:14 am

tombax wrote:Do the Audio Unit instruments, such as the ones which come with Logic, work in the same way as VSTs? That is, would I be able to use them in Notion?


Not directly, but indirectly is possible and practical . . .

DETAILS AND TIPS

The Audio Unit (AU) technology is unique to the Mac, and it is nice and in some instances favored by Mac Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) applications, but it does not work with NOTION 3 or NOTION 4, since NOTION uses the Steinberg VST technology (VSTi for virtual instruments and VST for effects plug-ins) . . .

Most third-party virtual instruments and effects plug-ins support several technologies, including AU, VSTi, and VST, but AU is a Mac-only technology . . .

I do everything on a 2.8-GHz 8-core Mac Pro (early-2008) with 20GB of memory running Mac OS X 10.8.3 (Mountain Lion), and everything in the digital music production universe works . . .

I have Logic Pro 9 (Apple), but I only use it to help Logic Pro 9 folks discover how to get Logic Pro 9 working with NOTION for doing things like ReWire, so while Logic Pro 9 is nice and full-featured, it is not my primary DAW application . . .

Digital Performer 8 (MOTU) is my primary DAW application, and it is very easy to use on the Mac, since the MOTU folks only did Mac stuff for a long time, although there now is a Windows version of Digital Performer 8, which is the first Windows version that MOTU has done. For reference, MOTU hardware has Mac and Windows drivers and so forth, but this is the first version of Digital Performer that has a Windows version . . .

Regarding the apparent "kicking and screaming" aspect of switching to the Mac, until Mac OS X and the original iPod were released I did everything in Windows, so I understand this aspect of switching, although for me it was more a matter of being fascinated by Aqua (the visual interface for Mac OS X) and the iPod, as well as being vastly annoyed by Microsoft when they destroyed Visual Basic and then started doing all the paranoid Windows licensing nonsense . . .

Basically, there will be a few things that will take a bit of acclimation, a few of which will take time (primarily the keyboard differences if you are a touch typist), but most of which are pleasant and happy surprises:

(1) The "delete" and "backspace" keys on an Apple keyboard are the opposite of the keys on an Windows keyboard . . .

(2) Mac keyboards have "control", "option", and "command" keys, where the "command" key is the one you will use for cut, copy, and paste . . .

(3) There are no viruses or any of that nonsense, but it is good to keep current on updates to Mac OS X and Firefox, since the subhuman mutants occasionally find a strange and bizarre portal that might be used for a virus or whatever, but Apple and the Firefox folks discover it and then close it with updates . . .

(4) Everything on the Mac is of the highest quality; everything you need other than an external digital audio interface for XLR microphones, real instruments, and a physical MIDI interface is there; and it "just works" (or in the preferred Mac terminology, "happens automagically"), which is one of the reasons that I recommend the Mac for doing digital music production, where for example Mac OS X Core Audio is designed specifically to work the hardware and operating system, so it "just works" without you needing to mess with it or to know anything about it, and another very nice and helpful aspect of the Mac is that it has built-in "virtual MIDI cables", which make it easy to use NOTION 4 External MIDI staves to control standalone virtual instruments and Reason (Propellerhead Software), where for example you can use music notation in NOTION 4 to control and to play synthesizers in Reason 6.5, and you can do this with virtual instruments that have standalone user interfaces, as well . . .

(5) Installing software designed for the Mac usually involves dragging the application icon and dropping it on the "Applications" folder, followed by accepting the license agreement and pressing a "Install" key and entering the Admin password, which basically as simple as installing software can be, which is a key aspect of the design philosophy of Apple computers, which specifically is that the computer never should bother the human . . .

(6) As a general rule, if you want to do something on the Mac but do not know how to do it, then try to imagine how someone who really wanted to make it as easy as possible would design it. In some respects, this is the most difficult aspect to understand when folks switch from Windows to the Mac, and the reason is that the design philosophy for Windows is based in part on Bill Gates being an obsessive-compulsive geek whose father is an attorney, hence doing even the most trivial activities on a Windows computer involves elaborate procedures, verification steps, negotiating, team meetings, and so forth and so on, while on the Mac it is done in the most simple way possible . . .

(7) Some of the user interface stuff will be a bit different, but it makes sense after a while, where in some respects as noted (see above) what happens is that you expect there to be a complex and annoying way to do something, so you look for it but never find it. Then after a while you discover the easy and simple way to do it, where the good aspect is that this soon becomes intuitive, at which time you realize that Apple computers are designed specifically not to bother and to annoy humans, which in the grand scheme of everything maps to your entering what one might call a "normal" universe and exiting a "neurotic" universe, where as another example Windows constantly wants to tell you what it is doing, often in excruciatingly abstruse detail, and it wants you to acknowledge that you understand and agree. In contrast, Apple computers mostly just do it without bothering and annoying you . . .

THOUGHTS

The following video demonstrates a 64-bit ReWire 2 session where Digital Performer 8 is the ReWire 2 host controller and both NOTION 4 and Reason 6.5 are ReWire 2 slaves, with NOTION 4 also controlling and playing Reason 6.5 via music notation on NOTION 4 External MIDI staves, which is pretty much everything one can do, other than also recording real instruments and singing in Digital Performer 8, Logic Pro 9, or Reason 6.5, where for reference NOTION 4 also can control and play real MIDI instruments like a KORG Triton Music Workstation (88-Keys), and you can use external signal processors with Digital Performer 8 via a MOTU 828mk3 Hybrid external digital audio interface like the one here in the sound isolation studio, where the MOTU 828mk3 Hybrid is used to connect microphones and real instruments and to digitize their analog signals so that the Mac Pro and its digital music production software can use the audio . . .

Digital Performer 8, NOTION 4, Reason 6.5, External MIDI, ReWire 2 on the Mac -- QuickTime Movie -- MOV (63.7MB, approximately 14 minutes and 45 seconds)

In theory, it should be possible to do this on a Windows machine, but I have no way to prove it here in the sound isolation studio, so all I can state as fact and prove is that it works very nicely on the Mac, where once you get your Mac, I can provide a bit of expert help in getting everything configured and so forth, which is another outstanding aspect of the Mac, since the user interface and other things are not constantly moving targets, in the sense of needing to do things a bit differently depending on the version of Windows, sound card, specific hardware drivers, account and security privileges, and so forth and so on . . .

And regarding the Audio Units (AU) in Logic Pro 9, while you cannot use them in NOTION, you can export MIDI from NOTION and import it to Logic Pro 9 to play the AU virtual instruments, and I think you can send MIDI directly to Logic Pro 9 via NOTION 4 External MID staves, although I have not tried this specifically with Logic Pro 9. I did it with the standalone Aria player, and it works nicely, so based on that experiment, I think there should be a way to do it with Logic Pro 9, so there is a way to use AU virtual instruments with NOTION 4 . . .

On a related note, Propellerhead Software just released Reason 7, so I need to do the upgrade, and they released a new technology called "Rack Extensions" a while ago, where Rack Extensions are a lot of FUN and extend and enhance the virtual instruments and effects that come with Reason, which is important since Rack Extensions include components designed and programmed by third-party developers but, of course, verified and approved by Propellerhead Software . . .

In the complete system I use, NOTION 4 is the foundation; Digital Performer 8 and Logic Pro 9 are the DAW applications; and Reason 6.5 (soon to be Reason 7) enhanced and extended with Rack Extensions is the combination DAW application and sequence-based synthesizer, all of which work very nicely on the Mac, as does using and recording real instruments and singing, including MIDI keyboards and synthesizers, in the DAW applications, where the external digital audio and MIDI interface is the MOTU 828mk3 Hybrid, which when combined with a nice set of virtual instruments and effects plug-ins maps to being able to do everything, which I have verified here in the sound isolation studio on the Mac Pro, which is important, because instead of being something you should in theory be able to do, (a) it is something that you can do on the Mac and (b) I can prove it, hence there is no uncertainty or doubt, which is fabulous . . .

Fabulous! :)
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Re: Mac question (No. 1)

Postby tombax » Tue May 21, 2013 9:19 am

Thanks for the information. Disappointed to hear about AUs, but that's life.
Here's another question. I've been using a Roland PC-300 midi keyboard controller for years. I downloaded the Mac driver off the Roland site and installed it, but my MacBook Pro (OSX v. 10.8.3) doesn't recognize it at all. I can't locate the original installation cd, but last night I found the manual, and it refers to an OMS driver. Would this still apply? (The manual was written in 2000). Do I have to install two drivers?
Related question. When I plug the controller's usb connection directly into the Mac Book, the power flashes on briefly and quits. When I plug into a usb hub, the controller powers up, but the Mac doesn't see it. What's up with that?

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Re: Mac question (No. 1)

Postby thorrild » Tue May 21, 2013 9:32 am

Hi tombax,

I used a Roland PC300 until a couple of years ago. Roland stopped updating drivers for it, so you'll have to get a new one. I spent $79 and got an equivalent keyboard from Amazon.

Best wishes,
Thorrild
27" iMac 2013; OS 10.9.3
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Re: Mac question (No. 1)

Postby tombax » Tue May 21, 2013 10:18 am

What's the equivalent keyboard called?
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Re: Mac question (No. 1)

Postby thorrild » Tue May 21, 2013 10:33 am

M-Audio Keystudio 49-key USB keyboard. I just checked Amazon, and their price is now $99, but if you google it and look at your shopping options, you may find a better price.

Best wishes,
Thorrild
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Re: Mac question (No. 1)

Postby Surfwhammy » Tue May 21, 2013 9:07 pm

You might want to get some information on the various Behringer MIDI keyboards, which work nicely on the Mac . . .

As part of my ongoing effort to make sense of MIDI, I got a Behringer UMA25S U-Control 25-Key USB Midi Controller Keyboard last year (about nine months ago) and a totally fabulous deskstand for a notebook computer, which I use for the Behringer MIDI keyboard and is nice because it rotates so that I can move the Behringer MIDI keyboard out of the way, as well as set the height and angle, but being a bit lazy I did not do anything with it until just a few minutes ago, at which time I connected it to the Mac Pro via a USB cable, and it was recognized immediately by Mac OS X 10.8.3 (Mountain Lion), which is nice . . .

[NOTE: The power comes from the USB connector when it is used, and on the Mac Pro it needs to be one of the USB ports on the Mac Pro as contrasted to a USB port on the Apple keyboard or Apple Cinema Display, but the unit also runs on three AA batteries, and there is a port for an external power supply, but the external power supply does not come with the unit, so I ordered a Dunlop ECB003US AC Adapter, which I verified is the correct polarity, voltage, and milliamperage. Not including the external power supply is a bit on the cheap side, but I found one, and it is fine with me . . . ]

Image
Behringer UMA25S U-Control 25-Key USB Midi Controller Keyboard

Image

I had to do a bit of reading to discover how to switch the keys from being velocity sensitive to being "fixed", which works better for what I need to do, but the user manual is available online at the Behringer website, and it was easy to do, since the instructions in the Behringer user manual are presented in detailed steps and are accurate . . .

[NOTE: When set to velocity mode, the key are touch-sensitive, so the velocity stuff works nicely, but I prefer to have "fixed" keys, which is a configuration option. If the keys are not configured to be "fixed", then you have to press the key all the way down to get the full volume, which is a bit much when the unit is on the desktop swivel stand. With the keys set to "fixed" it only takes a soft touch to play a note at full volume. For reference there are three velocity modes with differing velocity curves (soft, medium, and hard), while "fixed" sends a constant volume level when pressed and does no velocity stuff, and the constant volume level can be adjusted with one of the knobs . . . ]

I selected this particular model, because (a) it has an LED display; (b) it has USB and MIDI Out ports; (c) it has side mount connectors for use with a guitar strap; (d) it has a virtual festival of controls for doing advanced MIDI stuff, nearly none of which makes any sense to me at the moment; and (e) I have a KORG Triton Music Workstation (88-Keys) and Alesis ION Analog Synthesizer, both of which do MIDI, hence I just needed a small MIDI keyboard to have next to the computer display and keyboard, which works nicely with the aforementioned desktop notebook swivel stand, since if I am in the mood for a bit of dancing, I can swivel the Behringer keyboard out of the way and put my Christina Aguilera, Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, and Carrie Underwood bobbleheads on the desktop and then its DISCO Dance Party Time! here in the sound isolation studio, really . . .

Really! :P

And I verified that the Behringer UMA255 keyboard works with the 64-bit version of NOTION 4, where the NOTION 4 Preferences MIDI tab is set as follows . . .

Image
NOTION 4 (64-bit) Preferences ~ MIDI tab

[NOTE: Having the standard MIDI Out port was a key factor, since I can use it to connect the Behringer keyboard to the MOTU 828mk3 Hybrid, which accepts standard MIDI cables like the ones shown in the photograph (see above) rather than USB cables. For reference, the "Hybrid" aspect refers to connecting to the computer via FireWire or USB2, but connecting to MIDI devices is done via the pair of MIDI In and MIDI Out ports using standard MIDI cables . . . ]

Image

Behringer makes several MIDI keyboards, including one that has 49 keys and both USB and MIDI OUT ports but no LED display, and it also has a port for an optional external power supply, but it is different (2 mm DC jack, negative center 9V, 100 mA DC, regulated) from the external power supply for the UMA255 . . .

Image
Behringer UMX490 U-Control 49-Key USB/MIDI Controller Keyboard with Separate USB/Audio Interface

And of course, on the Mac these Behringer MIDI keyboards are recognized automagically, which is fabulous . . .

Fabulous! :ugeek:
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