Monday, March 11, 2013

Road Tests

I've been installing software and plug-ins on the new MacBook Pro (dual i7): enough where I can actually document which aps appear to run properly under Mountain Lion.  At the moment I am mostly confirming basic functionality; as I work more with them I may annotate this post with my findings.

(Apple makes one concession to the world of software outside of the Apple-blessed Ap Store; an application that when run will tell you if another ap on the same machine is Mountain Lion Compatible.  Probably useful if you have all updated software and are NOT running on Mountain Lion.  Completely useless if you are looking at whether a certain upgrade or even a different software package is a good purchase!)

Long list below the fold:

Audacity 2.0.3:  Practically without issue.  Runs zippy fast.  Imported an mp3 file, selected export as mp3 following running a few VST plug-ins across it, the pop-up looking for the lame library opened, navigation to download and install the library was fast and painless, Audacity instantly recognized the library and continued with the file export in the desired format.  The only quibble I have with it is it recognizes so many plug-ins (from both my Reaper install and GarageBand) I now need a way of organizing them into folders.

QLab 1.3.1:  flagged the MIDI cues of my registered version as non-working without update. Attempt to update apparently ended in a dead link.  MIDI trigger worked but none of the extended cues were available.  Fortunately, a good download link was easy to find at Figure 53.

QLab 1.3.5:  Appears to work normally.  MIDI in, MSC out (not tested on actual gear), video cue.   Fortunate indeed that Figure 53 reversed themselves and are making version 1 available again (just, no longer free).

MidiPipe:  Works normally.  Yippee!  This is a core tool for my MIDI electronics projects.

MIDI Monitor:  appears to work normally, haven't tried with external hardware yet.

SoundFlowerBed:  Appears to be working normally (I don't have any audio to route at the moment).

Stopwatch:  Appears to be working normally.  Tested it against my cell and it was still dead-on at three minutes zero seconds.  Unlike, say, Apple's own desktop widget stopwatch, which was off by almost twenty seconds by the end of the first act of Nutcracker.

SoundSoapSE:  Unable to tell; since BIAS went out of business, the software can neither be authorized nor even used in evaluation mode.  I'm going to miss it; as clumsy as the interface was, there really isn't anything else in that range for broadband noise removal.

Ugly VSTi Host:  Runs fine, but has no ability to recognize if a plug is Intel compatible.  The result is a loud screech and a failure to load.  Otherwise works normally.   Since I've vetted most of the non-compatible VSTi from my collection, it is now quite safe and usable as a host.

Reaper:  Works great.  Gestural control is captured in several places; not just two-finger scroll (which works on the majority of controls), but swipe zoom on the main track window.  Makes negotiating the overall sequence view VERY nice (and zippy).  I'm actually dreading going back to Cubase for anything now just on that basis!  The next acid test is going to be seeing if it will recognize -- and better yet, use in full multitrack mode -- the inputs and outputs of my Firewire interface. 

Reaper has a wonderful set of plug-ins -- including the nicest-looking parametric EQ I've used yet -- but of course I want to add more (especially virtual instruments);

KontaktPlayer: I decided against going through the hassle of NI registration once again and deleted it.

Kontakt 5: Works fine, recognized only one of my two Garritan libraries (Jazz and Big Band), locked up once but otherwise seems okay.  Navigation is rather peculiar but managed to load an outside patch eventually.  It also "pretends" to load SoundFonts but they show up as gray and silent ghost instruments.  However, after a bit of tinkering, was able to import a SoundFont and create a unique Kontakt patch.  I think this just may replace my much-loved VSamp Pro.

ARIA Player: consistently smooth operation, both hosted and stand-alone.  GPO (Garritan Personal Orchestra) seems to be working correctly as well.

SonicSynth2:  Won't install from disk. Downloaded a fresh installer but haven't bothered to unzip it yet -- never liked the software that much to begin with.

SampleTank2:  My old installer didn't work, but a fresh download did.  So did the IK authorization toolchain (which can sometimes be a chore).  The display is still so squinty small I changed my laptop's screen resolution just so I could see it properly.  The libraries are no longer located where the instructions say they are, and it appears that Mountain Lion's built-in search tools are USELESS for finding a file by the file extension.  Heck -- they don't even seem to use wildcards.  I finally found out where to manually install the files the auto-installer didn't touch by using the file commands in SampleTank and noting where the search started.  Otherwise, it appears to play normally and all libraries are recognized.  Have not tried to edit or save patches yet.

Bismark BS-0:  Loads fine and recognizes and loads a soundfont, which appears to play normally.

 4Front: Tried two of their free VSTi's (Electric Piano, Bass) and both worked just fine.

VSamp VST:  Not recognized.

The Grand SE:  Not recognized.

DMI Flute, DMI Hammer:  Not recognized.  (Presumably none of these are Intel compatible).

TripleCheese:  Played normally but couldn't see its own patch library.  Attempted to load library from within Reaper and Reaper crashed.

Combo Model V: works fine.

Delay Lama:  .sit distribution, when uncompressed files were transferred from a different machine, wouldn't recognize.  Ugly VSTi recognized, but screeched on loading and wouldn't play.  Appears to not be Intel compatible.

CheezeMachine:  runs fine.

DaHornet:  Intel version is a $9 donation. (The completely free version doesn't run.)  Paid, installed; patches don't show up on the GUI but do in the Reaper control panel, and those glorious and unmistakable Hornet sounds are back!

Ticky Clav: runs fine.  (Installed VST plugin only, not AU).

Frohmage-160 Free:  Installation failed, no detailed error message.

SpiceyGuitar:  Works great and sounds marvelous.  This might be my go-to guitar in the future.

Chip32: Worked -- using the Reaper Bridge, which apparently loads automatically in the background when you open a 32-bit plugin.

DX10 (mda): opened a blank console image but the full generic controls are right there in the Reaper window.  Works fine.  I still miss my old DX-21!

VOPM:  Runs fine.

mda free plugIns:  Seem to work normally.  Ran them across an old mp3 of mine and they seem to do what they had done for me before.  Make sure you are getting the -64 versions.  One minor issue is Reaper doesn't appear to use folders; although the mda plugins were in a unique folder, in the Reaper menu they appear together with everything else.  There may be an option somewhere in Reaper's copious collection.

FreeVerb:  Not recognized.

AnalogDelay:  Not recognized.

UpStereo:  Appears to be working normally.  Is very cool.  Not sure why I never got much use out of it before.

C3 Multi-Band Compressor: works normally.

Limiter No6: Appears to be working normally.

Molot:  Appears fully functional.  I haven't used this one before -- so far I can say it is certainly pretty!

MonstaChorus: shows up in bridge mode.  Scroll mouse doesn't work but otherwise looks and sounds the way I'm used to.

FishFillets:  Not recognized.  I'm gonna miss that limiter -- that was my go-to for cleaning up voice-over sessions.

TAL-reverb:  not recognized on install.  All the AU plug-ins recognized following restart of the ap.  Very spacious 'verb and from first listen I think I might be going to this one a lot in the future.  Assuming I can't get my favorite Ambience to install.

R47: runs, sounds cool.

EricSound FreeEQ:  Runs fine -- knobs are a little too sensitive for swipe, though.   And once again I'm sold on Reaper; instead of having to navigate to the output of the VSTi to add effects, Reaper simply puts them inline in the same channel display/library selector.

PoorPlate: Clicked loudly when added.  Fortunately Reaper has a setting to fix this.  Sounds normal otherwise.

Vacuumsound ADT:  Seems to work normally; I haven't experimented with this plug-in before.

Hexagon 2:  Does not run.

Carrara (Pro 7.2):  Runs with some problems.  To register, you must go into Terminal and invoke super-user status with the sudo command.  The default font is small and jagged and hard to read, but attempting to change fonts will cause all menus and messages to vanish.  I was able to get them back by opening Carrara on a second machine and counting how many spaces I needed to open each drop-down menu in order to reach "reset all preferences."

I haven't driven it enough on this track to confirm if the old bugs are still there; flawed UV mapping, unexplained lock-ups, nil pointer error, memory leak, etc.  These also aren't documented yet as being fixed in version 8.0 -- but two of the bugs I submitted 14 months ago just made it to "assigning a programmer as soon as available" status.

PhotoShop Elements 3:  Not a chance.

Blender:  Works wonderfully so far.  For me, camera navigation is key.  And the look of the main window is not a minor consideration; if it is dark, murky, has poor redraw, inadequate lighting or other depth cues, I find it too frustrating to work in.

Camera navigation interacts generally well with the MacBook's built-in trackpad, with the only real stumbling block that orientation is backwards from everything else I am used to; scrolling up rotates the camera upwards in the scene, meaning the object you are interested in moves down.  This is going to take some getting used to!  But otherwise, two-finger gestures, zoom-pinch, and even rotate are all captured usefully from the trackpad (unlike Carrara, where the zoom-pinch does work but in such a jerky manner as to be useless).

Poser 6:  Does not run.

UVX:  Does not run.

 DAZStudio 4.5 Pro:  Installed without trouble.  Confusing start; lots of pop-up windows, several which fell outside of the monitor space (fortunately they could be resized or dismissed).  Without spending a week in the manual and forums trying to figure out what was actually being asked or set or installed, just clicked through to the main workspace.

Camera nav is non-intuitive and uncomfortable; shift-click to orbit camera (which means, on a laptop, holding in a click with one finger whilst dragging with another, but zoom is two-finger swipe without shift or click.  There doesn't seem to be any strafe possible; no combination of control keys, tablet, and clicking made that work, meaning that to translate you either have to change cameras, work your way around crab-wise, or manually play with the thrice bedamned Kai Kruse camera widget.  This is, however, still better than camera navigation in Poser!

Next step will be trying out imports, and then I can hunt to see if the rigging tools I've heard rumors about are actually effective, stand-alone (as in, you don't need Poser to fully rig a cross-compatible figure), free or at least cheap, AND available on Mac Intel.

The only other data I have at this time is according to DAZ forums, DAZStudio is "Flakey" on Mountain Lion.  Fortunately I have a well-ingrained habit of saving more often than I start "new paragraph."

VLC Player:  Works normally, played back an mpeg-encoded movie in full-screen mode flawlessly (Quicktime borked on the first file).

Scrivener:  Runs fine (did a fresh download of the latest version).

Fritzing 0.7.11:  Runs almost without issue.  Had one crash, haven't duplicated it.

Processing 2.0b7:  No problems at all.  Not all libraries are quite compatible, either with Processing 2+ or Mountain Lion (fonts, for instance, are pretty thoroughly broken).  But at this point we are talking writing programs, not running them!

NeoOffice 3.3:  Was just re-written in Cocoa and for OS 10.8 and should work fine.  But my last donation wasn't recent enough so that's another ten bucks I don't have at the moment.

BBEdit Lite 6.1:  Doesn't run.  Was about time for me to move on to its successor, anyhow.

 Burn 2.5.1:  Window looks normal, probably runs.

MacSpice 2.10.30:  Probably.  According to the site.  Downloaded but not installed or tested.

So I now have over 70% of my previous suite of sound design tools working on the new machine, with a cost to me that so far has been quite small.  The addition of Reaper alone makes the move worthwhile, even if it did take weeks of work to get this far.  The 3d tools may take a little longer!

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