ICT in music dept
Were having a few problems with the ICT in our music dept and I wanted to ask how does everyone support/provide ICT equipment for your music department?
I've seen a couple of schools in our area that have dedicated ICT equipment for the music department. I think that we are having some issues because:
1) the computers in our music dept are dual use (networked for powerpoint, internet use etc) and also have music software/equipment connected.
2) we don't have a lot of money so cannot afford high end PC/apple computers but have bought the best we could with the money we had available.
3) our music teacher isn't an IT expert and none of us IT techs are gifted musically. We do have a TA but he covers music, art and drama and I think it's fair to say that while he is a brilliant artist, he isn't very musical either.
Dedicated local storage but shared (nas box) ideally on same switch with a script on the startup of each machine that maps that drive specifiacally on those machines and all music work is stored on thay nas and everything else goes on the main lan 0 therfore music can only be done on those machines, they can access everything else and you can remotely back up the musci stuff!
In a similar situation to you:
we have a dedicated suite of PC's (these are 4 years old iirc with an upgrade in RAM) these have a local partition exposed to the user which contains sample files and is also used if they are re-encoding files.
The main application they use is Cubase SE3 and Sibelius 4 with some USB MIDI devices and input devices, the nice thing about SE3 is you can save hardware templates which the user can preload and it means they dont have to worry about setting it up each time.
which is a bonus if the staff arent comfortable with configuring the program.
none of us here are "music" software experts we can confirm if the hardware is working and can get sound in and out of the application, thats as far as we can take it.
We have worked with the Music staff to create the templates based around they are doing it hasnt been without its problems but on the whole works well.
Biggest problem we did face was damage to midi leads from the keyboard to the dedicated midi sound card(a big must as the onboard sound cards on most PC's is too high a latency to be useable) so we ditched the leads and invested in some Alesis USB keyboards which have worked really well as they work so much easier than having to troubleshoot iffy leads.
If the music staff just expect it to work then they are going to need to spend some time working with you building templates or tweaking the computers,this was the biggest hurdle we faced as they didnt get that at first.
We've got a suite of iMacs that only boot OSX. They run Sibelius 7, Logic and Garage Band with USB soundcards/midi keyboards permanently connected. All users login using windows username/password (all macs are setup bound to AD/OD) and get their windows home directory and a separate apple directory mapped. The apple home directories (and some shared folders) are hosted on a dedicated storage system using a 10gb network connection.
We do the same.
Originally Posted by Soulfish
What problems are you having? The main 2 will normally be;
Latency/drivers/ASIO: On mac its pretty much a non-issue as they will pretty much set themselves up, but on windows you need to have an idea of what you are doing. WDM is almost useless when it comes to latency on pro audio apps so ASIO drivers are essential, be that the asio drivers which come with pro audio soundcards or ASIO4ALL which will deliver acceptable performance for consumer grade soundcard (onboard or not). You want to install ASIO4ALL, go into your audio app and configure it will the lowest latency you can without causing glitches and dropouts. The value will depend mostly on your CPU but also many other factors which delay the processing of your audio. A good program to see if you have dodgy NIC/etc drivers which are affecting real time handling of data streams is DPC Latency Checker. If you are seeing nasty spikes at the same time as you are getting dropouts you know something is wrong; use device manager to disable one hardware device at a time until you find what it is. Personally I'be never had much problems apart from a dodgy BIOS update on my Gigabyte motherboard, but nothing which affected performance too badly.
Samples/tracks on network storage: As said you want as fast connection to your data store as possible. When handling sample banks this is relatively easy as you just store them on the computer itself, but if your users have custom samples and audio tracks this will make things a bit trick as they obviously can't just be stored on the computer they are using at that time. IME as long as you have a 1gb connection to a decent server you should be fine so long as your users have a bit of patience.
At home I store all of my well used samples and tracks on my computer and sync them up to my server for safe storage. You could do the same with a script run at logon and logoff.
Thanks everyone. I had a meeting with our music teacher and I think we got to the bottom of our problems. Everything is set up OK until the kids start disconnecting USB cables, which is a common theme happening around the school lately.
It seems that disconnecting a USB cable from one port and plugging it into another requires admin access to a computer otherwise the device will not work. I never used to have this problem. The only thing to change is we have newer computers.