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#955169 - 03/21/01 01:41 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
earfatigue Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/03/00
Posts: 53
Loc: Chicago,IL
>>The Logic Audio manual is one of the most cryptic I've ever come across.

HERE HERE! this manual has got to take the cake, even over any roland manual. (sometimes reading the japanese section of the roland manuals is just as helpful as the english). but logic? ohhhh, man. it's horrible, ask anyone who's had to consult it.

and therein lies the problem with that sequencer, once you've got it configured for the way you want to work and have come to grips with its albeit strange methodology, it's amazing, and (without opening up a my mother can beat up your mother diatribe) blows the doors off any other package out there. but you've got to be some sort of psychic to just buy the thing, take it home, install it, and be taking advantage of what it can do right out of the gate.

so when you go to the manual(s) for the first time, confronted with a 3 ring binder of the most condescending badly translated german this side of 'mein kampf', the migraines are lurking. gotta hand it to any manual that has to send you on three wild goose chases to figure out how to configure the hot key for opening up the notation window. you're greeted with something along the lines of "of course you want to be able read to notation. important it is and we will explain you to it manual somewhere else in. guten tag!"

i had to paraphrase that because my manual has been thrown out.

oh, wait, while i'm on the phone.... side note to the kind folk at emagic:

the apple macintosh hasn't been equipped with an adb port for over two years, might be a good idea to make some different dongles now.

2nd place for bad manuals to roland.

3rd to mackie, just because i feel like they're written so hokey they should have scratch n sniff parts and pop up fuzzy pictures.

judson / earfatigue
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slang music group
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#955170 - 03/21/01 01:57 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
earfatigue Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/03/00
Posts: 53
Loc: Chicago,IL
sorry to double post, but this is a really good point:

"Trouble shooting guides tend to deal with brain dead, comman sense issues that only complete beginners would wonder about. "

these crack me up.

problem: unit is hot to touch and only makes intermittent noise and no sound
solution: your house is on fire

problem: screen is blank
solution: unit is not on

problem: unit is replaced with blank rack space
solution: unit has been stolen, go to bank and then your local _____ dealer and buy a replacement.
_________________________
judson snell
slang music group
chicago, il

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#955171 - 03/21/01 02:08 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Anonymous
Unregistered


Quote:
Originally posted by earfatigue:

these crack me up.


The one I like best is:

Problem: The power button doesn't work.
Solution: Is the electrical cord plugged in.


------------------
--Smedis,--

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#955172 - 03/21/01 04:53 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
KenElevenShadows Offline
10k Club

Registered: 12/20/00
Posts: 13225
Loc: Los Angeles, CA, UNITED STATES
I sometimes read manuals. If it's something like a DAT machine, then I keep the manual for reference. If it's something like a board or a software program, then I'll tend to read at least part of the manual. It depends on the complexity and how fast I can figure it out. For something like the original Quadraverb, there's never really a need to read the manual. For something like the Aphex Expressor 651, there's also not really a need to, but it's a well-written manual, and has some interesting tips and suggestions. For Korg or Roland synthesizer manuals, I'll use them as bird liner!

Strongly prefer manuals over pdf files.

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#955173 - 03/21/01 04:59 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
rawpop Offline
Member

Registered: 03/08/01
Posts: 24
Loc: ,,UNITED STATES
Yep, I read 'em. How the heck else are you supposed to know how they work?

The best? HANDS-DOWN Mackie. Coolest of the cool. Highly informatve with great application notes (even mods!)

I don't think my Roland VS manual is all that bad... (it's at least pretty thorough)

I have a Yamaha manual that is way worse...

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#955174 - 03/21/01 05:43 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Botch. Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 08/17/00
Posts: 8149
Loc: Ogden, Utard
I have over $16,000 worth of equipment used in my studio and on stage, and not one piece is a Roland, simply on my past experiences with their manuals. I'm surprised at so many people saying the Yamaha manuals are just as bad, while dry they do have proper JapLish translations and are accurate (although I admit the EX-5 manual was a little fuzzy). Mackie does have the best manuals that I've seen, just enough humor to keep you awake.
I do read the manuals cover to cover, at the price of this gear I want to get everything out of it that I can. I won't knowingly buy a piece of gear that only has .pdf manuals, dammit I gave your company $2,000 so print a damn manual for me! On the other hand, .pdf manuals available over the web are great for checking out a new piece or buying a piece of used gear sans manual.
I'm sorry to read that Logic's manuals are so bad. I upgraded my Atari MIDI recording system two years ago with a new Mac, and all new Opcode hardware and software. This was two weeks before Gibson bought 'em out and dissolved the company (that's why I'm called "Botch"). I was wondering which sequencer/recorder software to get eventually, Cubase doesn't give you printed manuals and now Logic doesn't give you decent manuals... Maybe I'll just keep using Opcode Vision, and never upgrade (this is how I got 12 good years out of my Notator/Atari combo).
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#955175 - 03/21/01 08:44 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
dansouth Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 09/01/00
Posts: 3915
Loc: Metuchen,NJ,UNITED STATES
There are different types of manuals. The "reference" type tells you about the gear and its features but doesn't may any pretenses about training you to use the gear. The "tutorial" type gets you started step by step but leaves out a lot of detail. In the middle is the "user guide" type, which offers more detail than the tutorial and is more readable than the reference, but doesn't attempt to explain every last detail. Reading a good tutorial is like spending an afternoon with someone who knows the gear inside and out.

Mackie manuals are very good, I agree, but I think that even they could be enhanced with additional examples and tutorials. Also TC Electronic manuals are very clear. TC's user interfaces are so good that the manual doesn't have to be very extensive.

Roland manuals are more like references. All of the information is there, but it's left to you put it together. You can do lots of creative things with Roland gear that aren't hinted at in the manuals. Ditto Korg and Yamaha. But that doesn't mean that their manuals are bad. It just means that you have to invest some time going through the book and then some more time thinking about how to apply features in creative ways.

All manuals would be better with more tutorials, examples, and illustrations. If it's too expensive to print these, put them on the web site. This would be the single biggest improvement in this area.

Kurzweil manuals are pretty decent - I've heard that the K2600 manual is an improvement. And I don't know why every gripes about the Logic manuals. The binder is an excellent reference, and you get several tutorials on CD-ROM in PDF format - environment, score, etc. Emagic gives you more material than anyone, but you have to spend some time with this stuff in order to get the most out of the software.

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#955176 - 03/21/01 10:40 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Anonymous
Unregistered


I read if need to. Pro Tools manual is well done, must have read 75% of it. Prefer paper over PDF. Acutally PDFs would be great if they could stay on top of the application as you're using it, instead of switching back and forth with the views. Another great manual I've read is my old drum machine DR-660 by Boss (Roland!). Surprisingly even my french version was well written. I wen thru the whole thing back then.

One thing I wish for is that indexes be context sensitive. For exemple:

You want info on bouncing, you'd look in "B" right? Wrong. You have to look in "U" for "Using the bounce function"

THAT pisses me off about manuals.

Emile

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#955177 - 03/22/01 09:27 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Anonymous
Unregistered


I always read the manuals and I prefer printed versions. I don't like PDF files. I cannot recall which manual I found easier to read and best but one thing's for sure that Cubase manuals are pain in the a**.

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#955178 - 03/25/01 04:25 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
mastermind Offline
Member

Registered: 05/01/01
Posts: 0
Loc: CLaremont,CA,UNITED STATES
In general I do not read manuals unless there is a problem or question. Sometimes I'll page through them when I'm bored.

I however, always thought the SSL 4000 G Series manuals were funny... a lot of good English humour in there.

A friend of mine recently wrote a manual for a DW Fern mic-pre that he sold used. He did not have the original manual so he created one (like you really need a manual for a mic pre!!!). Warning, his manual does contain some strong language... I put a copy of his manual on my web site:

http://www.mastermindproductions.net/shane.htm

best,
trev

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#955179 - 03/25/01 06:13 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Neutron Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 02/23/01
Posts: 49
Loc: Sherman Oaks,CA,UNITED STATES
I always go by the last rule of troubleshooting: RTFM, and I do it before I use the thing but after I turn it on.

Botch is right, the Mackie manuals are fun to read. I wish most of them had some of that Pythonesque humor in them.

cheers

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#955180 - 03/26/01 03:07 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Anderton Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 01/28/00
Posts: 7377
I think E-mu's manuals are very good. They may lack the humor of the Mackie, but they tell you what you need to know.

In fact, I think a lot of people whine about manuals because they expect that the manual will teach them how to use the gear. Most of the time, the only way you can learn something is by using it. At that point, the manual is mostly a reference to explain features you don't understand, or something to read to make sure you don't miss out on anything.

The one thing I really can't stand in manuals is errors, like when someone's giving instructions on installation that seem to have been written from memory, not from actually looking at the screen. Us veterans know some workarounds for when things are obviously screwy, but I shudder to think how complicated the process must be for beginners.
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#955181 - 03/26/01 03:09 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Anderton Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 01/28/00
Posts: 7377
A true manual story...

Back when I started Electronic Musician, there was a company that was notorious for horrible manuals. This fact was always duly noted in the review, and my contact at the company had come to sort of expect it. But whenever I saw her at trade shows, she'd say "Hey come on, our manuals aren't THAT bad..." and we'd agree to disagree.

So one day, they produced a computer-based sound card/software package that she wanted to try for herself. Next time I saw her, she told me that yes, their manuals really did stink, and she never got the card to work right.

My suggestion: All manuals should be tested on marketing people. If they can make sense out of it, release it to the public!!
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#955182 - 03/26/01 04:19 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Anonymous
Unregistered


I USE manuals. Rarely read them from start to finish, more often prefer to use them as a reference.

Thought I might add a bit of a different perspective, as I've written my share of manuals. Although mostly for complex computer networking products, I've done some software manuals and even one for music software in my ancient past.

Anyways, here's a few reasons that manuals turn out the way that they do:

1. The product isn't done when the manual is being written. And, when things change, people don't like to throw out what they've done.

2. It's tough to document bad design/implementation. It helps if you start a sentence with "You simply", as in "You simply press while cycling power four times in 37 seconds".

3. People write about what they know. This is why you get detailed explanations about plugging the unit in, while the complex gets glossed over.

4. Internal buzzwords. All engineering organizations use terminology that they made up. Unfortunately, it ends up in the manual.

5. Software updates begat software manual updates. Often done by someone who hasn't actually completely read the original manual.

6. Humor and colloquial expressions rarely translate. So, if you're writing a manual that will be translated, you have to keep it dry.

7. What's a "typical" user? What level of knowledge do you assume the user has? Unless you put in everything that happened since the earth cooled, you're guaranteed to miss some background that somebody needs.

8. Write 400 pages about a complex technical product (like a sequencer), explaining everything that every user needs to know. Provide both a tutorial and reference view to suit the different preferences. Account for the infinite variations of the target computer system. Guess what -- it's HARD. Not many people do it well.

9. Documentation gets treated as a poor sister to development.

You get the idea.

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#955183 - 01/17/02 11:07 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
techristian Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 11/01/01
Posts: 1253
Loc: Windsor,,CANADA
I just thought that I would rattle you memory! I'm getting some of the most unbelievable questions about the Roland
Studio Pack. I can see that many of the questions are coming from those that didn't read the manual. Yes there does seem to be a problem with the translation and organization though.

Dan
http://musicinit.com/roland.html
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#955184 - 01/18/02 12:00 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
halljams Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2689
I read all the manuals i get for everything.
If i buy a flashlight and it has a manual, i will read it.

2 reasons, i want to get my moneys worth and don't want to miss out on any cool options, and i want to be able to trouble shoot without refering to the manual.

Or maby i'm just a 1st class geek! \:D
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#955185 - 01/18/02 03:42 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
cerebralborealis Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/14/00
Posts: 130
Yes, I generally read manuals cover to cover eventually, but first spend a few hours trying to intuitively operate most any device just to see how well designed it is. I always feel like I might miss out on some powerful but hidden feature if I don't read the manual cover to cover. Often that is actually the case. Comprehensive indexes are essential.

Paper is mostly preferred to PDF but I LOVE the convenience of having the PDF manuals available on the web at the manufacturer's home page. If clients bring in unfamiliar gear with no manuals and no clue of advanced operation, the PDF download can save me hours of frustration.

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#955186 - 01/18/02 04:26 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
zele Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 01/12/01
Posts: 1136
Loc: carmel,CA,UNITED STATES
Do you know anyone who has actually sat and read a complete Kurzweil K2500 performance guide/manual??( we have three )>> Of course at the moment I am studying Einstein's theory of relativity in German but,.......

C Jo Go
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#955187 - 01/18/02 04:42 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Skip_dup1 Offline
Member

Registered: 03/21/01
Posts: 0
Loc: Griffin,GA,UNITED STATES
I don`t get too much into tinkering with new gear until I`ve at least paged through the manual, and when I have a quiet minute I`ll read the whole thing-a lot of them are so bad that on page 42 you`ll find "...touching the red button BEFORE powering the unit will result in permanent disablement..." I`ve done a bit of technical writing myself, and most of the people who do this have a technical, rather than a writing, background. The pay can be pretty good, but companies arent`t into bringing a competent writer up to speed on their products.
I don`t own any Roland/Boss products, but I do get their Users Group magazine. It seems to have, in interview form, a lot of info on applications of their gear that are not in the manuals. Recommended.

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#955188 - 01/18/02 04:50 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
trick fall Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/18/00
Posts: 414
Loc: Somewhere btwn America & the r...
I try to read through em, but it sure can be tough. I'm finding lately that indexes could be a lot better. That's the part I use the most. There's no use having the info in a manual if I can't quickly locate it. My only other gripe is when hardware manufacturers don't have their manuals on their websites. I had to spend an hour the other day digging out the manual to my drum machine when it would've taken me about two minutes to locate the info in a pdf.

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#955189 - 01/18/02 07:16 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Chip McDonald Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 01/19/00
Posts: 4792
Loc: Augusta, Ga. USA
I was just remarking to a friend how cogently the Mackie MDR24 has been engineered (save the "FTP server continue>quit" menu booboo). The buttons are labeled intelligently, do exactly what you expect them to do, and the menu wording is totally coherent. I haven't had to look in the "manual" yet (they don't really give you one, BTW...), everything works as expected.

ACTUALLY, the things that aren't as expected are hardware related outside of the "Mackie" world: setting the external HD to "master" (not slave as one might expect) and having to turn the damn external drive bay key "on" (what's the point in that?). I figured that out ahead of time, but that may not be so obvious to everyone.

REGARDLESS, one thing that makes it easy is that there are not 2000 nested sub menus. It's not that elaborate from an editing standpoint (again, anyone who buys a standalone recorder in this day and age expecting to edit on it is... well, ahem..), but I LOVE how straight forward it is.

They still should make their own FTP client program, though.

I'd love to have a crack at writing a manual. It seems to me that most all of them (save Mackie) suffer from some sor to cliched idea of "this is the FORM a manual should take", as opposed to an expected flow of operation. Among other things...

Roland... man, I don't know WHAT they're doing there...
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#955190 - 01/18/02 07:56 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Emperator Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/24/01
Posts: 402
First thing I do is try to read the manual when I get a product. I'm a readaholic. Currently I'm going back through the ProTools manual. Trying to discern how to edit properly the midi stuff in detail. MIdi which I only use for drums or PodPro automation. Always make an audio copy as soon as I change midi info I rerecord the drums. Making my decision whether I'm going to switch to Performer, if I can't edit my midi drums easily enough. PDF's are fine and quite often more current after version updates. I'll have the PDF open and just Command Tab back and forth between programs. Keep all the PDF's organized in a Folder on the desktop.

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#955191 - 01/18/02 11:41 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
teh dri Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 07/05/01
Posts: 624
Loc: AUSTRALIA
im an oldskool manual geek


picked up block-reading when i was doing my science degree, so i regularly take a manual with me if i travel somewhere, and do the cover-to-cover thing

get some odd looks on a train when you are happily tracing a circuitboard schematic or nodding sagely that the lfo is actually assignable to three voices at a time etc etc


akai manuals bore me, too "simple" and wasted reading space, roland manuals are, well, roland manuals :p nice diagrams these days though. best ive EVER seen are of course any Mackie manual. i dig that style..... and humour

-footnote-
im not so keen on software manuals. i mean, its got a help file so...

:rolleyes:

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#955192 - 01/18/02 12:44 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Brittanylips Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 12/15/01
Posts: 1227
Loc: ,,UNITED STATES
I recommended that a friend of mine buy a roland 1640 or whatever it's called (all-in-one studio) for his singer-songwriter aspirations.

His background includes: Yale (undergrad), Harvard (PhD and PostDoc in Chemistry), Pharmaceutical R&D, Managing oncology trials, etc.

The guy couldn't make heads or tails of the manual, it was so awful. Many features in the poorly-translated manual were apparently based on a prototype, and did not relate to the unit he was using. Roland -- yeesh.

-BLips

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#955193 - 01/18/02 12:56 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
fantasticsound Offline
10k Club

Registered: 04/07/01
Posts: 16867
Loc: Madison,TN, UNITED STATES
Quote:
Originally posted by traingod:
...Thought I might add a bit of a different perspective, as I've written my share of manuals. Although mostly for complex computer networking products, I've done some software manuals and even one for music software in my ancient past.

Anyways, here's a few reasons that manuals turn out the way that they do:...

8. Write 400 pages about a complex technical product (like a sequencer), explaining everything that every user needs to know. Provide both a tutorial and reference view to suit the different preferences. Account for the infinite variations of the target computer system. Guess what -- it's HARD. Not many people do it well.


Very good points, but you lost me here, on number 8. Most of the product manuals that have been described in this thread pertain to hardware products, even if they have updatable, proprietary software. I.E.: A Roland VS recorder. The compatablility issues that make for difficulty in writing a comprehensive manual are a relatively new thing, yet Roland and Yami and others have written piss poor manuals for the past 25 years. What does that say about present and future manuals for computer based products, when the manufacturers can't handle a useful manual for a stand alone product?
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#955194 - 01/18/02 01:21 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
fantasticsound Offline
10k Club

Registered: 04/07/01
Posts: 16867
Loc: Madison,TN, UNITED STATES
Quote:
Originally posted by cerebralborealis:
Yes, I generally read manuals cover to cover eventually, but first spend a few hours trying to intuitively operate most any device just to see how well designed it is. I always feel like I might miss out on some powerful but hidden feature if I don't read the manual cover to cover. Often that is actually the case. Comprehensive indexes are essential.

Paper is mostly preferred to PDF but I LOVE the convenience of having the PDF manuals available on the web at the manufacturer's home page. If clients bring in unfamiliar gear with no manuals and no clue of advanced operation, the PDF download can save me hours of frustration.


Took the words right out of my mouth! \:D

A specific situation drew my attention to the fact that software, while it may be intuitive in many ways, demands at least a light read of the manual and indexes.

I received a demo copy of my first computer-based, multi-track, recording software on the recommendation of my friend, Johnny.

After intuitively checking out many of the basic features, I found myself back in Chicago at Johnny's studio. With me, were some live-to-2-track recordings I'd made on gigs, and had edited and burned to a CD using the software. I apologized for the lack of decent EQ on the final mix, as the software required EQ plug-ins, and my computer was hopelessly underpowered. Johnny corrected me, pointing out the hidden channel controls, with 3 fixed band EQ's on each channel. (Which wouldn't eat comp. power!) I should've read the manual! :rolleyes:

But it gets better. A week after returning home, I had the pleasure of informing Johnny that the 3 bands were completely modifiable. I'd double clicked on one of the virtual potentiometers, in an attempt to find an easier way to change the level, and it opened a window complete with bandwidth, level, freq. center, and a graph of the points and their effect on the signal. Johnny, after over 6 months of use, was unaware of this feature.

The moral of the story. Even those of us familiar with the complexities of software will miss out on many shortcuts and features by using the old - learn by use method, exclusively.

Read yer' manuals! ;\)

Lee Flier's correct; It can pay huge dividends to read the manual first, even when you pay little attention to esoteric functions. You'll remember enough to know you HAVE features when you need 'em, and where to find info on them.
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#955195 - 01/18/02 01:46 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Mr Darling Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 04/15/01
Posts: 1313
Loc: The Blue Planet,BELGIUM
Great thread - don't know how come I missed it the first time it poped...
I love mannuals, mainly mannuals about software.
I prefer to read a mannual befor buying anything, but I prefer playing with my new toys before reading the mannual... Confusing - here it goes :
You can learn alot about a new studio toy by it's mannual - the ad's might claim alot of stuff, but in the mannual you can see what you can really do with it.
As for when I finnaly get it - I prefer to wet my hands with it before I read the mannual. Maybe I can do stuff with it in a more clever way that the writer (of the mannual) thought of...
Software mannuals (Just got into Logic a month ago, and almost read the mannual as a normal book - just browsing through it to see what more can it do) and I'll always look in the mannual before asking for advice.
I find it funny, when I see "help, I'm stuck...etc etc" when their is usally a simple answear to that in the mannual.
Logic forum you'll see a lot of the replys "check the mannual" some times even with page referance...

That's said, I just upgraded my JV 1080 to a XV 5080 and didn't even looked at the mannual yet... Seems so simple. \:D

Danny
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#955196 - 01/18/02 03:14 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
XNU8D+ Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/27/01
Posts: 115
Loc: SE-NC-US
Never read the manuals, except to setup new gear, then see how intuitive the new hardware/software is. If there's a sticking point, I pull out the manual again, if it is not intuitive at all, then it's useless to me. Been around enough gear to know what it should do. Print is mucho better than pdf's, not going to read all that junk on a monitor, even printed out pdf's.
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#955197 - 01/18/02 03:16 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
velvetoceansound_dup1 Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/21/01
Posts: 311
Loc: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
I agree with darling. I havn't yet bought a piece of equipment without first reading the entire manual; that's were PDF's on the net are great. But if I buy a piece of equipment, you better give me a friggin' hard copy; I paid for it. Who ever writes Mackie's manuals should be the busiest manual author in the industry.

About Yamaha's manuals, I thought the "Yamaha Sound Reinforcement Handbook" (which, I might say, is an excellent resource) was supposed to be a catch-all for all of the background info that one should know if he is going to opperate item X. But then again, I guess they should give recording equipment the same treatment. My .02

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#955198 - 01/19/02 02:26 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Synthguy Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 10/28/01
Posts: 1116
Loc: a lovely flop on Baker Street
These days, the stuff has so many functions you have to crack a manual at least a few times, because the feature set of everything from effects units to watches have a load of goodies crammed in them. Sure I read the manuals, tho if it's for something like a synth I usually rip the thing out of the box like a kid at Christmas and start plugging away. I listen to the demos too. DAW packages aren't quite so forgiving. If you dive in you usually bump your head somewhere. I tried with Cubase but I had to use the manual a number of times. Still it was probly the easiest to hop into.

I guess I'm a hopeless geek, because I plunged right into the Roland W-30 and sequenced my second song on one.

I guess I'm turning Japanese, I really think so. \:\( \:D

[ 01-18-2002: Message edited by: synthguy ]
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This keyboard solo has obviously been tampered with!

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