Mojave

Alexander remembers the first computer that he ever owned: the Apple II. What a fascinating machine that was back in the day. Fast forward to 2018 where technology is at its pinnacle. We are at the point where even a slim fan-less 12” MacBook can run Logic Pro X and Final Cut Pro X. Looking at the history, Apple has always made the best products in the industry and that remains true today. 

macOS Mojave has been shaping up to be one of the greatest releases of macOS from Apple. After using the beta for quite sometime, Alexander Lindo is thoroughly impressed. Featuring a polished interface, along with some welcome refinements to “Internet Accounts” in System Preferences and the “Share Menu” under Extensions. The clean up is much appreciated. We have improved privacy settings, allowing us to have better control over the data that applications have access to. The new “App Store” looks brilliant with large screenshots, live previews, enhanced editorial and an overall more structured modern appearance. The “News” app, ported over from iOS provides you with the ability to follow topics and sources of your choice thus enabling you to stay up-to-date with the content most relevant to you.

Mojave has quite a few features that will appeal to creative professionals starting with Dark mode. “Dark Mode” converts all windows and menus to a space grey appearance, embracing influence from professional applications such as Logic Pro X and Final Cut Pro X. While Alexander much prefers using “Light” mode (most of the time), he has found “Dark” mode to be quite useful at night or when in a dark area. The new “Gallery” view in Finder is very handy when looking through multiple photos before importing them to your “Photos” library. Within this new view, we have the ability to peruse extensive file metadata without having to use the “Get Info” function. This is a huge time saver. We can rotate the photo, export one or multiple photos as a PDF among other quick actions configurable under “System Preferences > Extensions > Finder”.

With Mojave, Apple has fixed FileVault disk encryption. After enabling it, it took less than a few hours for a full disk encryption to complete, just like it did in macOS Sierra and previous versions of macOS. In High Sierra it took two full days to complete. It must be noted however that initially when enabling FileVault for Mojave, Alexander did encounter a bug which resulted in the spinning beachball, at which point he was forced to reboot the machine. After that, the process completed without an issue.

Logic Pro X works well (like it did on macOS Sierra). The interface feels snappy and CPU usage has improved significantly. While Alexander Lindo tries to limit his dependency on third party plugins, (especially those with unnecessarily hefty requirements), from what he has tested, plugins from the likes of: FabFilter, Focusrite, Blue Cat Audio and Audio Damage among other third party AU plugins work well in Logic Pro X on macOS Mojave. Alexander has also noticed an improvement in the audio quality of his Focusrite audio interface since upgrading to Mojave.

After using the final release of Mojave along with all its welcomed updates for a week now, it can be concluded that Mojave is one of the best macOS releases since Mac OS X Snow Leopard. The OS feels more responsive and more stable than its predecessor: High Sierra. The new cosmetic and performance enhancements along with its new features place Mojave even further into the realm of excellence.

Out of the Clouds

AL - OOTC2

“I’ve got my mind set on ahead and nothing can deter me”

Those are the first lines of the song entitled “Out of the Clouds”

This is a song about strength, self empowerment and the journey…

We must be strong and always fight for what we believe in.

Believe in yourself, embrace and love yourself.

Never allow the voice or actions others to tarnish or sabotage your life, your journey.

Always prevail! – Alexander Lindo

“Out of the Clouds” is available on “Progression”, the EP by Alexander Lindo

Latency

When Alexander Lindo first started his career in audio production and engineering he always kept the philosophy that less is more. Alexander has always done his best to stay away from processor intensive plugins and software that depends on dongles for protection. Alexander has done very well. Within the last 5 years, Alexander has noticed a consistent increase in processor use with many of the plugins being made now. New algorithms, new hardware modeling etc. It has gotten to the point where, on a modern production machine with only a few instances of a plugin, CPU fans have to shift into overdrive. 

In addition to increased CPU use, many of these plugins have high amounts of latency, thus rendering them useless for tracking. This must stop. Many people misinterpret the limitations of a Native system vs a DSP-based platform. It is often assumed that the only way to have a stable setup for tracking is to use a DSP-based system. This is simply not true. In fact many Native-based platforms are superior to DSP-based platforms. Alexander is not here to argue about whether you should purchase DSP or if you should go Native, that choice is yours.

Alexander is here to discuss the current state of the actual plugins themselves and what you can do to ensure a completely stable NATIVE system for recording / tracking (not just mixing). For those that are wondering, NATIVE means host-based as in all processing is conducted by the computer’s CPU. DSP-based means that processing is conducted by a processor other than the one provided by your computer.

When running a Native-based system the first thing to consider before making any purchase is LATENCY. How much latency does the plugin produce by itself? This question will determine whether the plugin is useful for tracking / recording on a native platform. If the plugin produces more than 64 samples of latency then it is not optimized for tracking / recording. Always check the manual or support page of the manufacturer before your purchase. Some may list latency in samples, some may list it in milliseconds. Some may not even list it. At this point it is up to you to demo the plugin and see for yourself. To do this in Logic Pro: hover your mouse cursor over the plugin slot on the channel strip at which point it will display the plugin’s latency in both ms and samples. To setup “Low Latency Monitoring”, open Preferences > General > Audio > Plugin Latency and enable “Low Latency Monitoring”.

With Low Latency Monitoring engaged, Record enable an audio track with your new plugin instantiated. Once this feature is enabled, all latency inducing plugins will be disabled (indicated in the mixer with orange text). Set the plugin latency slider to 1 ms (millisecond) in order to allow plugins with latencies under 1ms. The formula for calculating Latency in Milliseconds = Samples / Sample Rate. So if the plugin has 25 samples of latency that is 25 / 44.1 = 0.6 ms. This plugin will remain active during tracking and will not add any audible latency.

The formula for calculating latency created by buffer = (I/O Buffer Size / Sample Rate) x 2

So 128 samples / 44.1 x 2 = 5.8ms of latency

In addition to latency, another factor to consider is efficiency. In other words: How efficient is the plugin in regards to CPU and RAM usage. If a plugin is using up all your CPU or RAM resources, look elsewhere.  If you are looking for efficient plugins with little to no latency be sure to check out some of the following:

  • The stock plugins that came with your DAW. Many people seem to believe that they cannot sculpt great quality audio from the plugins that came with their DAW. This is simply not true. The majority of professional DAWs come with great plugins out of the box. If you cannot get great sound out of your DAW without buying third party plugins then…the problem is you.
  • Power Pack from Waves – All plugins in this bundle are light on CPU and most have zero latency. Ren Axx  and L1 both impose 64 samples of latency at 44.1kHz.
  • CLA Classic Compressors – All of these plugins have zero latency making them perfect for tracking / recording.
  • SSL 4000 Collection from Waves – Most processors impose 0-1 samples of latency. The Master Buss Compressor imposes 3 samples of latency which is negligible.
  • H-Delay by Waves – an excellent vintage inspired delay plugin that is light on CPU and induces no latency.
  • Focusrite Red 2 & 3 Pair – These plugins come bundled with Focusrite equipment and are available for purchase from the manufacturer. Both impose no latency.

These items serve as just general guidelines. There are many other efficient plugins available from Waves and other great plugin manufacturers. You are also free to experiment with plugins that induce latency higher than 64 samples as long as they are within your level of tolerance whilst recording / tracking.

The next thing to consider when running a native system is your choice of OS and DAW. The efficiency of your OS and DAW will play a major role in what you can achieve with your current hardware.

Logic Pro

AL LPX 10.4

Logic Pro has been instrumental in the audio production process for Alexander Lindo. The application has seen many significant updates throughout the years with the most noticeable one occurring at version 10. In Logic Pro 10, we saw a release with a complete redesign. Apple has continued to add new features and refinements though incremental updates. Some were significant, while others where simply bug fixes and refinements. The release of 10.4 is a significant one.

In Logic Pro X 10.4 we see the addition of some great vintage plugins as well as facelifts to other studio essentials. Alexander is most fond of the inclusion of the new Neve and Pultec EQ emulations. As mentioned before in a previous article, the 1073 is one the most sought after Preamps / EQs in the music industry and are present on countless international hits. In Alexander Lindo’s own words “Running vocals through a 1073 is a wonderful experience” and this is no different with LPX’s new “Vintage Console EQ” plugin.

LPX 10.4 - Neve

In the “Vintage Tube EQ” we see the EQP-1A and MEQ-5 in all their glory. The EQP-1A is a Tube-styled EQ containing a low shelf boost/cut, high bell boost and a high shelf attenuator. This eq is famously known for its ability to boost and cut at the same frequency and due to their slight imperfections you can achieve some unique sounds. The MEQ-5 accompanies the EQP-1A for some midrange functionality. Both EQs manage to achieve significant adjustments while maintaining a audible bliss, it is this very reason why many top mastering engineers use them when mastering. The drive knob adjusts the intensity of the “color” introduced to the audio passing through the plugin. A word of note: All three new EQs introduce a latency of 261 samples (5.9 ms) and are therefore more suited for the mixing/ mastering stage.

LPX 10.4 - Pultec

The wonderful Space Designer (Logic Pro’s convolution reverb) has received a facelift…

LPX 10.4 - Space Designer

…and Apple has added an algorithmic reverb by the name of “ChromaVerb”.

LPX 10.4 - ChromaVerb

Both plugins sound great!

If there is any feature that Alexander had wished Apple included in this release it is the ability to hide loops from the loop browser and drummers from the Library that have not been downloaded. Logic Pro X currently allows you to hide library presets that have not been downloaded but the same does not apply to loops or drummers. Alexander Lindo is not a heavy preset, “drummer” or loop user as he prefers to build his sounds from scratch. Having the option to hide “drummers”, and loops that have not been downloaded would be a welcome addition. Other than that he is quite happy with this release and look forward to the future. Rock on Apple!

There are a lot of new features present within this release and more details can be found in the release notes here: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT203718