January 30, 2005

This is a modern world

While I disagree with just about every single aspect of this country's Iraq policy over the last three years, it's impossible to not be touched by the site of Iraqi citizens voting in their first free election in 50 years. Dan Rather just said that they expect at least 60% of the population to have voted. Makes us look pretty sad.

Another major world event is upon us a week from today: the Super Bowl. It will not only be a great game full of (hopefully) great commercials, but will be a significant showcase for the progress of HDTV. Recent purchasers of HD sets will be hosting parties in an attempt to show off their newest toy and the future of television. Sadly, the general public will probably be disappointed. If FOX's playoff performance is any indicator, the game will look like shit with blurry shots, twinkling grass, and lines full of jaggies. FOX has had the lowest HD football quality, hands down. Short of a miracle, viewers will wonder why the fuss over HD. I'll be watching, you couldn't tear me away, but you can be sure i'll be grumbling through the entire game.

I've been doing a lot more recording lately and have a couple of songs that are close to getting online. I've been using a M-Audio MobilePre for about a year now, spurred to purchase by the release of GarageBand last January. Can you believe it's only been a year since Apple opened up home recording to the rest of us? It feels like ten. Anyway, I'm ready for an upgrade. I'm looking for a Firewire Analog->Digital interface with 24-bit resolution and either 96 or 192KHz. I'm also looking for a control surface to make mixing easier. Using the mouse is a pain in the ass sometimes -- ok, most of the time. The question is to get an interface with a control surface built in (Digi-002, Tascam 1884) or a separate interface and control surface.

I was originally leaning towards a combined solution. I'm a fan of simple, even though I'm a techie. I like things to just work. However, the combo units I found had issues themselves. The Digi002 only fully works with ProTools. I'd rather be able to choose the DAW app I want, so that's right out despite being a really nice unit. The Tascam 1884 is also a nice unit with a nicer price point but it has one serious limitaion: no digital scribble strip, meaning that you can't tell by looking at the surface what track is what. You have to look back at the computer to see that track 1 is lead guitar, track 2 is bass, etc. Maybe it's not that bad, but for $1k I want something that's present in other surfaces.

The benefit of separates is you can upgrade one or the other separately (duh) but the downside is more cabling and more complexity. Most standalone control surfaces (that have no a/d interface) communicate over MIDI, not Firewire. That means a MIDI/USB hub or an interface with MIDI built-in. I've been looking at the MOTU Traveler and the Mackie Control Universal. The latter is basically made for Logic, but works will everything. The Traveller also has one MIDI in/out jack which is carried over Firewire. Pretty slick, simplifies cabling a bit, and does take a USB port. What's the downside? These two together cost about 50% more than the Tascam 1884. Sigh.

Regarding the reason you're reading this blog, Camino is shaping up nicely. I continue to get glowing feedback on 0.8 and on the nightly builds that will become 0.9. We're still a few months away, but 0.9 is on the right track. The one major thing that's missing from the roadmap is autoFill support. We have to have it, it's our #1 requested feature, but I just can't seem to get started.

Posted by pinkerton at January 30, 2005 6:09 PM