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AV and Multimedia Related Thread, Music Classrooms and Equipment in Technical; Hi all, I've looked around on the forum and found some useful things but the information is a little old ...
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    Music Classrooms and Equipment

    Hi all,

    I've looked around on the forum and found some useful things but the information is a little old and I was hoping for some more up-to-date info.

    I've been asked to fix the Music Classrooms issue of latency and poor use of the programmes so let me spec what we have.

    We use:

    Avid Keystudio Keyboards with the Protools SE software which comes with the hardware.
    We're running some older non-branded machines which run Windows 7 and 2GB of RAM on a workgroup due to SE not able to save to a network share.
    We also use Sibellius 7.


    The teacher has been complaining about latency issues. I'm absolutely useless when it comes to the technology in music. I'm pretty sure if I was to tell the school a set up which would work, they'd go for it and spend the money.

    My questions are:

    Is SE any good or should I really be upgrading to Protools 11?
    Does Protools 11 allow students to save their work to network shares?
    What can I do to stop the latency or do I just add a soundcard because sound is all onaboard at the moment? If that's what I need to do, what sort of spec?

    If someone could answer those questions to start with, i'd be forever grateful.

    Many thanks,

    Jack

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    3s-gtech's Avatar
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    Soundcards - current best for classroom Music PCs seems to be to go USB. We bought a stack of Roland units which have fared well - there are also decent Avid units like the M-Box and Fast Track. None of these sequencers like saving over the network - while some'll allow it, the file sizes seem to cause no end of problems (we found the same on Macs).

    On board sound is not really up to the job with any heavy work IME.

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    ICTDirect_Dave's Avatar
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    More Ram will help (for more complex projects that is: it wont have too much bearing on latency)! And external sound interfaces!

    Drop me a Pm if you want to discuss some ways to help make things better!

    Oh and check out my blog on the matter if you want to get some tips!
    Last edited by ICTDirect_Dave; 7th May 2014 at 12:20 PM.

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    synaesthesia's Avatar
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    I urge people to rethink their stance on the onboard sound devices. The majority I know of (that's what's built onto most boards these days, the Realtek chipset examples) are more than capable and only downside I could fine on Pentium/Core level processors was the lack of inputs/interfaces. 7 or 8 years ago that argument would have stood up well but not any more. ASIO4ALL drivers will help. (We use Tascam devices, not particularly good on modern computers but they do their job)

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    ICTDirect_Dave's Avatar
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    They might be okay for the very basic stuff, but they're not up to scratch if you start throwing a lot at it, a good audio interface is the one thing you should have from the off!

    Especially if you're using Protools, it seems a shame to put such a superb program at the mercy of an onboard sound device!

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    Quote Originally Posted by synaesthesia View Post
    I urge people to rethink their stance on the onboard sound devices. The majority I know of (that's what's built onto most boards these days, the Realtek chipset examples) are more than capable and only downside I could fine on Pentium/Core level processors was the lack of inputs/interfaces. 7 or 8 years ago that argument would have stood up well but not any more. ASIO4ALL drivers will help. (We use Tascam devices, not particularly good on modern computers but they do their job)
    This ^. Really simple logic: if onboard is no good why does it work just fine on Macs?

    Surprised no one has asked the most important question re latency; what CPUs do you have?

    Install ASIO4ALL. Set ASIO4ALL as the audio device with the latency/sound settings to 512 samples. If it glitches or starts bogging down as you load more instruments increase the samples. Repeat until you find the best compromise between latency and number of instruments you can load - this will be mostly down to your CPU.

    RAM wise, yes it's better to double up to 4gb but baring in mind a lot of pro audio software has only recently gone 64bit it's not a huge deal and certainly isn't the main factor in your latency issues.

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    Might be a bit late to the thread but from what I remember Pro-Tools SE is the older, very basic bundled version of Pro-Tools, not sure if you can upgrade from this. Pro-Tools 11 is the all singing all, dancing version and is a great piece of software but may not be the cheapest depending on the number of licenses. I guess it all depends on what the students are looking to produce (basic midi sequencing or multiple audio tracks etc)? In my experience ASIO4ALL is good at making on board audio usable to but does have its limitations once you start adding multiple audio tracks, virtual instruments and effects, hence the eventual need for external audio on both PC and Macs.

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    AButters's Avatar
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    *subscribed*

    I need to revamp our music department suite in he next month. Currently quuoting for two options 1) Low'ish spec PCs with on nboard sound and Sibelius 7. 2) Mac minis with Sibelius 7 and Garageband. Will see what the price difference is.

    Does anyone have any advice on external audio for PCs? We can't go spending £300 on USB sound cards. What can you get that does the job better than on board but doesn't cost the earth?

    Cheers

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    ICTDirect_Dave's Avatar
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    You can get Focusrite USB interfaces for less than a hundred quid. They're lovely

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