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Ever need to build a 20-30 year old retro studio?
#3047221 06/03/20 03:15 PM
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As many of you know, I bought a Fairlight MFX3 a few years back. For my type of workflow of the old days, that also means that I need MIDI and MTC or SMPTE sync. This required some MIDI sync boxes which only run on Win98 or WinNT4. I ended up with the MidiMan BIPORT . It is quite a project rounding up all of the necessary hardware. NT and 98 won't run on just any computer. I had to get an old P5VP-a+ tower and motherboard from the garage and then a AGP compatible video card out of my briefcase....etc. etc. This seems to run adequately with 192 megs but I know that I can bump it up to 512-768 megs. I was going to use the Amiga for midi, but I'm having trouble getting the sync box working in stand alone mode, so I may be using Cakewalk 8 pro again instead......but Cakewalk doen't like NT ......??

I will also need to do some work on the Mackie 32/8 mixer. I bought this used and was hoping that at least 24 channels worked, but only 8 work properly with the tape IN/OUT buttons

I know that it seems like a lot of extra work, but the sound of the Fairlight is SO THICK and smooth.

Dan

Sound, Studio, and Stage Island
Re: Ever need to build a 20-30 year old retro studio?
techristian #3047299 06/03/20 09:20 PM
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I revived a 16-year-old iBook G4 laptop with a PowerPC G4 processor and a whole whopping 1.25GB memory. It was running Mac OS X 10.4.11 Tiger, but I was able to find a new-old-stock Leopard 10.5 retail disk on Ebay and got it installed yesterday on a second partition (because I wanted to keep the Classic/OS9 functionality that's eliminated with Leopard). I had an old unused Cubase AI5 disk sitting around, so I installed that (Leopard was the minimum to run it). The difficulty is that it seems that class-compliant audio interfaces like my Yamaha MG10XU mixer don't work with PowerPC processors, only Intel. There are no drivers for PowerPC either. So it looks like I'm going to need to find an old FireWire audio interface (the laptop has a single FW400 port). Of course, the hard drive in this old laptop is a measly 55.6GB, and that's partitioned into two sections. So I have about 14GB free space on the Leopard partition after installing the OS and software. So I'm going to need an external drive of some kind. Problem is, it sounds like USB volumes didn't work that well with PowerPC, so I either have to replace the computer's hard drive itself, which is a nightmare involving taking the entire computer apart (and it's old brittle plastic - replacing the DC-In board was enough already), or trying to find a FireWire external drive. Since FireWire is pretty much obsolete, there's virtually nothing available. Plus since I need a FireWire audio interface AND a FireWire external drive, I need to figure out how to daisy-chain FW devices, and that tech went obsolete before I was using computers much, so I have to make sure things will work before I buy old gear that may or may not even work.

So not quite a 20-year-old studio, but a 16-year old one it seems is what I need to put together. Not totally sure if it's even worth the investment.


Yamaha: Motif XF8/YS200/CVP-305/CLP-130/YPG-235/PSR-295/PSS-470
Korg: Krome 61
Kurzweil: PC3
Roland: JV-1000
Casio: CT-370
Kimball Valencia/Broadway/Conn 465/WCOC Reed Organ/Allen ADC-220/Accordions
Re: Ever need to build a 20-30 year old retro studio?
techristian #3047310 06/03/20 10:17 PM
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I never left my 20 year old studio. Surprisingly little has been added to it since about 1990 except for the Mackie hard disk recorder and the obligatory computer to run a DAW when I gotta.

I did have a good reason to dig up an obsolete computer for my shop. I was given an Audio Precision Series 2 test set (a really expensive piece of test equipment). It uses a computer as a display, and came with a card that plugs into an ISA bus slot. Fortunately, it came with a PC (HUGE!) that had a motherboard to accommodate it, along with DOS 6.1 to run the software. There was a Windows version of the software available but it needed Windows 98 and connected through a 25-pin parallel (usually printer) port.

Shopping around on the Internet, I found someone refurbishing the cutest little computers, a Wyse, with a motherboard motherboard that had all the right ports, and had a 2 GB SSD with Windows 98SE installed - for $50. Works great, takes up very little room. Turns out this is a class of computer known as a "thin client" that's just smart enough to talk to more exciting software in the cloud. Apparently it's popular with gamers.

My other computer is a Pentium 4 running Windows XT.

Re: Ever need to build a 20-30 year old retro studio?
techristian #3047337 06/04/20 01:42 AM
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So I've just added a Presonus Firebox FireWire interface in hopes of actually being able to do something of value with the iBook. Presuming it doesn't get stolen in shipping it should be here in the next two weeks.


Yamaha: Motif XF8/YS200/CVP-305/CLP-130/YPG-235/PSR-295/PSS-470
Korg: Krome 61
Kurzweil: PC3
Roland: JV-1000
Casio: CT-370
Kimball Valencia/Broadway/Conn 465/WCOC Reed Organ/Allen ADC-220/Accordions
Re: Ever need to build a 20-30 year old retro studio?
techristian #3047463 06/04/20 08:22 PM
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Wyse specialized in thin client hardware. VERY popular some time ago for call centers and similar businesses that used the thin client for all agents, connected to Windows Terminal Server software (which was a way before more recent multi-user setups). Supervisors had a full computer instead of the thin client.
The primary reason for this is that the company did not want the agents surfing the web, playing games, adding or subtracting anything from the software installed for each tier. Plus, even after paying for the regular CALs (user licenses) and the Terminal Server CALs; at the time the thin clients plus server cost less in a larger environment than individual full function computers.

Simply - a thin client is a more modern GUI version of the old style text only terminal connected to a mini computer or mainframe.
They can be custom loaded to function as a rather low power general purpose computer.


Howard Grand|Hamm SK1-73|Kurz PC2|PC2X|PC3|PC3X|PC361; QSC K10's
HP DAW|Epi Les Paul & LP 5-str bass|iPad mini2
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
Jim
Re: Ever need to build a 20-30 year old retro studio?
techristian #3047592 06/05/20 02:03 PM
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I was late to the Mac game, perhaps 10.3 or 10.4 was out before I bought a PowerBook to use for live performance stuff. I picked up one of the original MOTU Midi Timepiece units around the same time and discovered it had some really fascinating and deep features, however, I needed an older OS9 computer to run that software. So, I bought an old Lombard (I believe it was) laptop and had to find some retro interface serial cables and such. I was really into it but it quickly became apparent that most of the features the MTP unit provided for had never really been used by most people and the software itself had a fair amount of annoying bugs with obviously no updates ever to come. Eventually I realized it was a losing battle and went about updating and modernizing my systems.

These days I wouldn't be able to justify the time it would take to attempt reviving any old tech nor do I feel any current need to. I'm still clinging on to some dated devices that should continue to work as long as the computer they're attached to doesn't get any further updating.

The other day I discovered that the right speaker on my main MBP from 2013 is shot and I'm now trying to come to terms with the fact that I should dedicate it to our performance duo and go ahead and buy myself a new one for home.

Re: Ever need to build a 20-30 year old retro studio?
techristian #3047608 06/05/20 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Greg Mein
These days I wouldn't be able to justify the time it would take to attempt reviving any old tech nor do I feel any current need to. I'm still clinging on to some dated devices that should continue to work as long as the computer they're attached to doesn't get any further updating.
.

As to "updating", the NT4 retro computer is not connected to the internet !!!! I installed ServPak 6 on it before beginning this journey. I do realize though that the old hardware could "give up the ghost" at any time.



Unlike you, Greg, I wasn't "late" to the Cakewalk MTC MIDI game. It was my system of the mid 90's. However , when I was migrating over to it, it was only for the purpose of having audio tracks ALONG SIDE of MIDI tracks. I already had a background of syncing up my Amiga to my Tascam 38 and was familiar with MTC. At that time, I felt that doing everything inside of the computer was THE NEXT GREAT THING. I quickly learned , however, that having every midi track, audio track and plugin generated by a single computer was beyond even the fastest of computers that I owned.

The only thing novel about my new approach is now I'm using SMPTE to sync up MIDI TRACKS on CW8 rather than on Amiga "Bars & Pipes" and the Tascam 38 has been replaced by the Fairlight MFX3.


ANYWAY.............an update

So finding that Cakewalk 8 Pro (my favorite before Sonar 2.0) , would not install on the NT4 machine, I decided to look elsewhere and found a copy of Cakewalk 8 Express (a free version) . This was made to work with NT4. It installed with a few warnings about sound fonts (which I could care less about since I'm using all MIDI outboard devices) Unfortunately, CW8 Express had no MTC support. However, after installing this, I WAS ABLE to get my registered version of CW8 Pro running, and lo and behold, after an hour or so of experimenting was able to get CW8 Pro to CHASE/SYNC to my Fairlight!!!!! I will leave the express version in because there may be a driver or something like that enabling the PRO version.

https://archive.org/details/Cakewalk_Express_Gold_8.0_Creative_Edition_1713310391-1_Creative_1998

Next stop....figuring out the Mackie

HAS ANYONE EVER FIGURED A WAY TO INSTALL VIDEO CARDS IN A TOWER SO THAT THEY NEVER SLIP OUT ?? Every tower I built and every MB change I have ever made has had this same problem. Every 6 months or so, the video card must be RE-SEATED.

Dan

Last edited by techristian; 06/05/20 04:23 PM.
Re: Ever need to build a 20-30 year old retro studio?
techristian #3047636 06/05/20 06:33 PM
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Still have the same studio from 20 years ago, only upgraded the MIDI computer to a iMac.

Re: Ever need to build a 20-30 year old retro studio?
techristian #3048964 06/15/20 10:23 AM
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Hmmm...20 or 30 years ago? Whippersnapers!

My studio is just over 100 years old. But needs a few bits to get it up and running again.

Need new belts, blank wax cylinders and a new cutting head. Dont mind if its the 2 minute cylinders. Hee hee short songs though. But the 4 minute cylinders would get me long enough for a rock song. Hee hee. Just make sure you get it right the first take because hese cylinders are not common.

Made after 1910 an Edison Amberola 1A with the rococo grille (for those in the know) hee hee.


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