System Upgrade

The long-awaited studio workstation upgrade is finally complete, and we’re happy to announce that with major upgrades in all components of our system, everything is streamlined, fast, and fully functional! Here are a few of the highlights of our new setup (hopefully satisfying everyone’s inner gear  nerd):

New WorkstationQuad-Core Mac Pro Computer w/ 32GB RAM

Our trusty old Windows 7 machine served us well for many years but we have taken a giant leap forward and now have an incredibly powerful and stable Mac Pro “trash can” as the heart of our digital recording system. Our new Mac is equipped with a 3.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon E5 processor, Dual AMD FirePro D300 graphics processors with 2GB of GDDR5 VRAM each, 32GB memory, and a SSD system drive.We’re also pretty excited about our new display setup which gives us more visual space to control the session in ProTools: we also added a 29″ LG Ultrawide display for our mix window and an Apple Cinema Display for our edit window.

ProTools HD 12.5 software and HDX accelerator card

We also invested in a major upgrade of ProTools, moving up in the world from ProTools 8.3 HD2 to ProTools 12.5 HD. The benefits are numerous – lots of new software features (“clip gain” being the our current favorite), the HDX card provides hardware acceleration for 64-bit AAX DSP plugins and 0.7ms latency allows us to do our headphone cue mixes in the box, making them instantly recallable.

The HDX card is housed in a Sonnet Echo Express III-D PCIe to Thunderbolt 2 expansion chassis for a lightning fast connection between the computer, the HDX card and our pair of Lynx Aurora 16 AD/DA converters. In fact, all of our components are now connected via Thunderbolt, which greatly increases the bandwidth and speed – tasks that used to eat up a lot of our time, like transferring files, are now a breeze… like before you finish reading this post we’ve moved 50 gigs of music to a new drive, and then moved it back, just because we can. ProTools audio files are written to a dedicated LaCie 7200rpm Thunderbolt drive and we also have a OWC Thunderbolt drive bay, for easy transfer and copying of data. Copying files is fun and novel again!

Universal Audio Satellite OCTO DSP acceleratordsc_0308

Why the Octo? We LOVE our extensive selection of UAD plugins and with the power of eight SHARC processors we can now use an outrageous number of them simultaneously. For example – with our previous system, two instances of the Fairchild Limiter plug-in would be about all the system could bear. We opened a mix and enabled over thirty instances of the same limiter and barely cracked 50% on the DSP usage meter! Between the OCTO and the HDX card, virtually ALL our plug-in processing is now handled via DSP acceleration, freeing up the CPU simply for running ProTools. Our system usage meter barely moves even during the most demanding mixes – now that’s some serious horsepower!

Avantone Mix Cubes, additional monitoring capacity

These little mix cubes have long been an industry standard, and we’re happy to have another option for monitoring during mixes. Paired with our Dangerous ST monitor controller, we can easily navigate between the Avantones and our Adam Audio A7X monitors and really hear the mix from more perspectives.

So what does that mean all y’all coming into the studio? We’re looking forward to a faster, more streamlined experience both in tracking and mixing sessions. This infrastructure is at the heart of how we operate digitally, and we are so happy that now it won’t be the thing slowing down our creative process!