Welcome to No Limit Sound Productions

Company Founded
2005
Overview

Our services include Sound Engineering, Audio Post-Production, System Upgrades and Equipment Consulting.
Mission
Our mission is to provide excellent quality and service to our customers. We do customized service.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Q. What does the 'virtualization' PC BIOS setting do?

Hugh Robjohns




I was recently adjusting the BIOS settings on my PC, hoping to improve performance, and noticed the following option: 'Virtualization Technology — VMM can utilize hardware capabilities provided by Vanderpool Technology'.



What does this mean and, as a musician, should I be concerned with it?



Mark Cranfield, via email



SOS contributor Martin Walker replies: When Microsoft released Windows Vista, it was largely compatible with applications originally written for Windows XP, although some refused to run, and some of the earlier ones wouldn't even install. Since Windows 7 was built on the same code as Vista, it could have suffered from the same incompatibilities with older software, except that, this time around, Microsoft incorporated 'Windows XP Mode'.



This downloadable add‑on (www.microsoft.com/windows/virtual‑pc) runs in a separate window on the Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate or Enterprise desktop, much like another application, but, while in Windows XP Mode, you can access your CD/DVD drive, install applications and save files as if you were using Windows XP. This is because the add‑on is exactly that: a disk image of a pre‑installed and activated copy of Windows XP with SP3, along with 'virtualization' software. So, in effect, you are running the older operating system in a virtual environment inside Windows 7.



Once you've installed an application via Windows XP Mode, it will appear in both the Windows XP Mode list and the Windows 7 list, so in future you can open it directly from Windows 7. This can be a godsend to those who need to run some older applications, such as the PC version od Logic Audio 5.51, last updated in 2002.Here's an example of Microsoft's Virtual PC software helping the musician. Rain Recording's Solstice PC (reviewed in SOS October 2009) incorporates the 'RainZone', which is a virtual desktop environment incorporating web browser, email, chat and anti‑virus protection. As soon as you close down your Internet session, that instance of the computer disappears, along with any virus or other malware nasties, leaving your audio PC unaffected.



To run Windows XP Mode, you'll need at least 15GB of spare hard‑drive space, at least 2GB of system RAM and (until recently) a PC that featured HAV (Hardware‑assisted Virtualization) support. You'll also need Intel VT or AMD‑V functions in your processor, and an associated setting in your BIOS to complete the process by enabling these special functions. This is where your Virtualization Technology setting comes in.



Unfortunately, while most modern AMD processors include AMD‑V support, Intel's processor ranges are rather hit and miss, with some including VT support and some not. Thankfully, Tom's Hardware has a handy list (www.tomshardware.co.uk/windows‑xp‑mode‑virtualization‑intel,​news‑31047.html) for you to check. So, if a Virtualization Technology option appears in your BIOS and you think Windows XP Mode would be useful to you, leave it enabled: it won't make any difference to normal performance.



In March 2010, Microsoft relented and issued a Windows 7 update that removed the HAV requirement, so even if your PC doesn't have this hardware‑assisted support you can still run Windows XP Mode. Only install this update, therefore, if you can't currently run Windows XP Mode, since 'hardware‑assisted' is always the better‑performing option.    

Korg tinyPIANO - It's Time to Play and Have Fun!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Q. If speakers have to be 'anchored', why don't mics?

Hugh Robjohns




As I understand it, loudspeakers create sound and momentum, which needs to be absorbed in order for the sound quality to be accurate, so we ensure they are braced or fixed to their stands and not wobbling about too much. So surely a mic diaphragm, which is moved by incoming sound, will less accurately represent the sound if the mic casing is not sufficiently anchored. Given that we hang these things from cables, or put them in elastic shockmounts, can you explain to me why this principle doesn't apply?



Is it just to do with acceptable tolerances or is it a trade‑off between picking up vibrations from the stand and capturing the intended sound?



Paul Hammond, via email



SOS Technical Editor Hugh Robjohns replies: In a perfect world, both the loudspeaker and the microphone would be held rigidly in space to deliver optimal performance. However, we don't live in a perfect world. Sometimes a shelf is the most appropriate position for a speaker, but the inevitable down side, then, is that the vibrations inherently generated by the speaker's drive units wobbling back and forth will set up sympathetic resonances and rattles in the shelf, adding unwanted acoustic contributions to the direct sound from the speaker, and thus messing up the sound.We 'decouple' speakers with foam to prevent annoying low‑end frequencies leaving the speakers from reaching the surface they sit on. In the case of mics, we want to stop problem frequencies from reaching them, so we support them in shockmounts.



The obvious solution is, therefore, to 'decouple' the speaker from the shelf with some kind of damped mass‑spring arrangement optimised to prevent the most troubling and annoying frequencies (generally the bottom end) from reaching the shelf. This is often achieved, in practice, using a foam pad or similar.



With microphones, we are trying to control energy going the other way. We want to stop mechanical vibrations from reaching the mic, whereas we were trying to stop mechanical vibrations leaving the speaker.



Again, in a perfect world the mic would be held rigidly in space, using some kind of tripod, much like the ones photographers use for their cameras. However, in practice, we tend to place mics at the ends of long, undamped boom arms on relatively floppy mic stands which are, themselves, placed on objects that pick up mechanical vibrations (foot tapping, perhaps) and then pass them along the metalwork straight to the mic.



The obvious result is that the mic body moves in space, and in so doing forces the diaphragm back and forth through the air. This results in a varying air pressure impinging on the diaphragm that the mic can't differentiate from the wanted sound waves coming through the air, and so the mic indirectly captures the 'sound' of its physical movement as well as the wanted music.



The solution is to support the mic in a well‑designed shockmount so that the troublesome (low end, again) vibrations that travel up through the mic stand are trapped by another damped mass‑spring arrangement and thus are prevented from reaching the mic. If the shockmount works well, the mic stays still while the stand wobbles about around it, much like the interior of a car moving smoothly while the wheels below are crashing in and out of potholes!



The only potential problem with the microphone shockmount is that it can easily be bypassed by the microphone cable. If the cable is relatively stiff and is wrapped around the mic stand, the vibrations can travel along the mic cable and reach the mic that way, neatly circumventing the shockmount. The solution is to use a very lightweight cable from the mic to the stand, properly secured at the stand to trap unwanted vibrations.    

Korg RK-100S : Reborn to achieve 100% perfection

Q. How can I edit my Tascam DP004 recordings on a PC?

Tom Flint

I currently use a Tascam DP004 to record electro/acoustic guitars, but the Tascam doesn't allow me to copy and paste or shift parts around so that I can build a song. So, I need a simple, quick system to transfer WAVs in order to do this. Once I have the song built I can go to a friend's studio to mix and master. I need tracks for at least three guitars and three vocals. I don't need effects, loops or a drum machine, but I would like to be able to use a bit of reverb. I've been looking at the free programs such as Audacity and Tracktion 3, but I'm confused. I have a PC but I am a medium‑to‑light user and bit of a recording novice.



It should be fairly straightforward to chop up and edit your DP004 recordings on your PC, so long as you've gotten the hang of how the Tascam systems generally handle audio data. The key point to remember is that your files have to be transferred to the FAT partition in order to be seen by your computer.
John Bentley via email



SOS contributor Tom Flint replies: Setting up a system to manage WAV data — using your DP004 and a PC with a suitable software audio editor — should be fairly easy, once you get to grips with the way Tascam's products deal with audio data. The most important thing to understand is that all recordings saved on the 004 can be made readily available to your computer if they are copied into the right partition on the DP004's memory card. By default, recordings are saved to what Tascam call the 'MTR' partition, but there is also something called the 'FAT32' partition and, in order for data to be seen by a computer, WAVs first have to be copied into it from the MTR section.It should be fairly straightforward to chop up and edit your DP004 recordings on your PC, so long as you've gotten the hang of how the Tascam systems generally handle audio data. The key point to remember is that your files have to be transferred to the FAT partition in order to be seen by your computer.It should be fairly straightforward to chop up and edit your DP004 recordings on your PC, so long as you've gotten the hang of how the Tascam systems generally handle audio data. The key point to remember is that your files have to be transferred to the FAT partition in order to be seen by your computer.



Copying data to the FAT partition might seem a bit of a pain at first, but at least it means that what is on the MTR partition can't accidentally be deleted by a careless swipe of the PC's mouse. The FAT partition, on the other hand, is treated by a computer like any peripheral device, be it a mobile phone, camera or memory stick, enabling the user to save stuff onto it (such as sampled loops) as well as grab whatever is already there and drag it onto the PC's hard drive.



One drawback of the system is that, even when SDHC cards of 32GB are used, a FAT partition is restricted to 4GB, but that should still be plenty big enough to cope with even the longest compositions.



To get data into the FAT partition, stop the recorder and press the Menu key. From the list that appears on screen, select 'Wave' and press the F4 key to open the folder's menu. Here the individual WAVs of each vocal or guitar part will be displayed. Each WAV can be selected for export by turning the data wheel, at which point another press of F4 will put a tick by whichever track is highlighted. As long as there is enough free space on the FAT partition, all of the WAVs recorded as part of the song composition can be exported as a batch.



While we're on the subject, there will also come a time when you need to back up song data to a computer to free up space on the card. This is almost the same procedure as exporting the basic WAVs, the difference being that the user selects Data Backup instead of Wave from the menu.



The DP004 can be connected to a PC using a USB cable, at which point it should be automatically recognised as a connected device, and the folder structure and contents of its FAT partition will appear on screen. However, my preference is to do away with the USB lead and simply pop the data card out, put it into a USB card reader and connect that to the PC. This is much more convenient if the DP004 is across the room from the computer and hooked up to a mass of guitar leads and effects.



At the computer end, the options are vast, as every audio editor worth mentioning will provide more record tracks than you've specified and will enable you to cut, copy, move and manipulate audio files in ways you didn't know you wanted to until you found out you could! Programs like Audacity and Tracktion 3 should serve all your current requirements and more besides, and there is nothing to lose from trying them and other similar options out, particularly if the software is freeware or available on a free time‑limited trial basis. The one thing to bear in mind, though, given that the plan is to mix on a friend's DAW, is that mix data, such as fades, EQ changes and mutes, will all be lost unless you either both work with the same DAW, or you 'bounce' that data so that it becomes permanently written into the audio files you give your friend. Most DAWs offer a 'bounce' function allowing you to export individual tracks in this way, but a more flexible option would be to use the same software owned by your friend — affordable, cut-down 'LE' versions of most packages are available which would do the job fine. You can then freely transfer projects between your machine and his.



In terms of importing the WAVs into the audio software, most programs support 'drag and drop', where the WAVs are literally dragged, using the mouse, into the appropriate track window, and dropped in place, just as if they were sections of text in a word processor. Alternatively, there will be an 'Import' option in a menu, from where the relevant WAVs can be selected.    


Thursday, October 23, 2014

KORG Gadget Mobile Synthesizer Studio for iPad

Q. Where should I place my monitors in a small room?

Paul White




I recently built my own home studio by converting an old garage into a well‑isolated music room of 410 x 215 x 275cm. The isolation is great, but I'm now moving on to phase two — acoustics — and bass is a problem, especially on the notes of A, B‑flat and B, which are kind of booming.



So I am wondering how to position my Dynaudio BM6As? At first I put them along the short wall, but a lot of bass was built up, probably because of the proximity of the corners. I've already tried to put the speakers backwards, but noticed no change.

In a small room such as this, which is about twice as long as it is wide, it's usually best to position monitors of this size along the shortest wall. Working the other way — across the room — would create a bass cancellation in the centre of the room, where you'll most likely be sitting. Moving around even slightly would create variable results, as the space is so small. Positioning them as shown in the bottom image will give more consistent results, though you will still need to treat the room accordingly.

I've now got them along the long wall, which I think sounds more balanced, even though there's still some resonance on certain notes. Also, this tends to differ a lot depending on whether I sit in the exact 'sweet spot' or not. The further forward I go with my head, the more bass I get; the further back I go, the less bass I get.



In your books and in Sound On Sound, I've seen you advocate placing speakers on both the shortest wall, and the longest wall, depending on the room. So, what would you recommend for a room of my size and dimensions? Also, are the BM6As too much for my room?



Paul Stanhope via email



SOS Editor In Chief Paul White replies: In large studio rooms, which includes many commercial studios, putting the speakers along the longest wall is quite common and has the benefit of getting those reflective side walls further away. However, in the smaller rooms many of us have to deal with, it is invariably best to have the speakers facing down the longest axis of the room. If you work across the room, the reflective wall behind you is too close and the physical size of the desk means you're almost certainly sitting mid‑way between the wall in front and the wall behind, which causes a big bass cancellation in the exact centre and, as you've noticed, causes the bass end to change if you move your position even slightly. In a room the size of yours, working lengthways will give the most consistent results. Your room is a slightly unfortunate size for bass response as the length is almost twice the width, so any resonant modes will tend to congregate at the same frequencies.In a small room such as this, which is about twice as long as it is wide, it's usually best to position monitors of this size along the shortest wall. Working the other way — across the room — would create a bass cancellation in the centre of the room, where you'll most likely be sitting. Moving around even slightly would create variable results, as the space is so small. Positioning them as shown in the bottom image will give more consistent results, though you will still need to treat the room accordingly.In a small room such as this, which is about twice as long as it is wide, it's usually best to position monitors of this size along the shortest wall. Working the other way — across the room — would create a bass cancellation in the centre of the room, where you'll most likely be sitting. Moving around even slightly would create variable results, as the space is so small. Positioning them as shown in the bottom image will give more consistent results, though you will still need to treat the room accordingly.



You can often change the bass behaviour by moving the speakers forward or backwards slightly, but try to keep them out of the corners, as that just adds more unevenness to the bass end. Corner bass traps of the type you're making may help, but if they don't do enough, you could try one of the automatic EQ systems designed for improving monitoring. I don't normally like to EQ monitors but, in difficult situations, using EQ to cut only the boomy frequencies can really help.



As for your monitors, the BM6As should be fine in that room. Just make sure they're perched on something solid, as standing them directly on a desk or shelf can also cause bass resonances. Either solid metal stands or foam speaker pads with something solid on top work best and can really tighten up the bass end. You can buy the Primacoustic or Silent Peaks pads, which have steel plate on top, use Auralex MoPads or similar with a heavy floor tile stuck on top, or make your own from furniture foam with ceramic floor tiles or granite table mats stuck on top. A layer of non‑slip matting under the speakers will keep them in place.



For the mid‑range, foam or mineral wool absorbers placed at the mirror points in the usual way should be adequate, but try to put something on the rear wall that will help to scatter the sound, such as shelving or unused gear.