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#955199 - 01/19/02 04:38 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
coolhouse Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 03/18/01
Posts: 250
Loc: Lafayette,TN,UNITED STATES
Well,well,well,it seems some folks are a 'mite testy when it comes to Roland manuals. Hmmm...wonder why?

My very first piece of MIDI gear was a Roland A-80 controller.
My first experience with digital audio came the day I opened the box my VS1680 came in. I always manage to get in over my head and Roland manuals IMHO make excellent weight belts. I realized I was in deep trouble when I began to understand them.(I actually had a thought in Rolandspeak!) It was no time for half-measures. I immediately dropped what I was doing and tuned in to an Andy Griffith marathon.

However.....
Quote:
Originally posted by Curve Dominant:
Props to the Roland tech-support folks in Cali...

I gotta go with Curve on this one. They're a joy to deal with.

later,

Mike

[ 01-19-2002: Message edited by: coolhouse ]

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#955200 - 01/19/02 04:44 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
not coaster MODERATOR Offline
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Registered: 03/27/01
Posts: 5306
Loc: Nowhere Special

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#955201 - 01/19/02 10:20 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Bubbajazz Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/30/00
Posts: 275
Loc: CT,UNITED STATES
Craig - I'm curious - I believe you have written a couple of after-market manuals, and if I remember the NAMM thread correctly, you have some more about to release. How do you approach the books? Manuals in real English? User's guides? I'd read your books, but don't have the instruments covered, and choose to use my feeble mind on what I own.

Any other thoughts on after-market books?

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#955202 - 01/20/02 07:55 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Skip_dup1 Offline
Member

Registered: 03/21/01
Posts: 0
Loc: Griffin,GA,UNITED STATES
As I type this, I have sitting behind me a new Boss ME-33 guitar processor. I have to wait a WEEK and pay extra for the English manual. It`s compact and on sale, but I hope I don`t end up regretting it...

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#955203 - 01/21/02 02:02 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
philbo_Tangent Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 10/08/00
Posts: 1175
Loc: Iowa
Quote:
Originally posted by Anderton:
It's a common saying that musicians don't read manuals. So what's your relationship with manuals? Do you read 'em? Toss 'em? Prefer PDF files over printed? Printed over PDF? Do you care about having applications notes with your manuals? Any manuals you thought were really good or really bad? Sound off!!


I read manuals before buying, whenever possible. The 600 page Cubase manual convinced me they had made a simple task immensely complex, and so I steered clear of the product.

On the other hand, there are shining examples of excellence that I read cover-to-cover, which steered me toward products: Waves Native Gold plugins and Cooledit Pro are a couple that spring to mind.

I feel that the manual is a direct indication of the ability of the company to conceive and design good products. If they can't even communicate clearly how to use their product, how can they possibly have the clarity and presence of mind to design and build it properly? There is no excuse for poor documentation - - it is at least half of what I pay for when I buy something.

The same can be said for Help files. There are 3 kinds -
1)Completely worthless in every respect.
2)Marginally worthless - Explanations for the windows-impaired about how to use the menus (such as "Edit Audio: Click on the Edit menu then select Audio from the drop down menu", with no clues as to what the command does, why it is there, or how it is used).
3)The good kind - actually contains information. Typically, you get links to click that get into what the command does, similar commands, where and why you should use it, what each control of the command actually does, well, you get the idea.

Philbo
Tangent Studios
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Tangent Studios
http://artists.iuma.com/IUMA/Bands/Tangent2/

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#955204 - 01/21/02 02:12 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Chip McDonald Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 01/19/00
Posts: 4792
Loc: Augusta, Ga. USA
Sorry, I haven't browsed through the newer VS recorder manuals, but the VS880's SUCKED in a primordial way. The most obfuscated explanations of things I've ever seen.
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#955205 - 01/21/02 02:15 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Dak Lander Offline
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Registered: 01/10/02
Posts: 7729
Loc: Temecula, LoCal, USA
Read 'em religiously. I copy the one's that come with the unit or download the copy if it's available. PDF is great!
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#955206 - 01/22/02 01:01 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
deanmass Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 12/27/01
Posts: 2347
I prefer printer manuals, and HATE the digital stuff. PDF files are hard to read on the can.....And I get tired of tellign teh wife why I am in the john with my laptop and a wireless network card... \:\)

I always read the manual EVENTUALLY, but usually start out without until I get really stuck. Most of them are so bad, I usually don't regret it...

I am an old Ensoniq guy, and tend to think they had some of the best, probably because they were written ( I think) in english to start.

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#955207 - 01/22/02 12:57 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
DC Offline
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Registered: 01/17/01
Posts: 2706
Loc: here to eternity...
Quote:
Originally posted by skip:
As I type this, I have sitting behind me a new Boss ME-33 guitar processor. I have to wait a WEEK and pay extra for the English manual. It`s compact and on sale, but I hope I don`t end up regretting it...


If it says 'Boss' on it, you might not even need a manual. I can't believe that they are made by Roland. All Boss is very user friendly.
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http://www.garageband.com/artist/MichaelangelosMuse

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#955208 - 01/22/02 01:33 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Arjay Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/26/01
Posts: 151
Loc: Western Mass, USA
Very good topic.

Yes, I read manuals...all the operational manuals to everything I buy, from signal processors to toasters. The main problem I have with them is not so much the dialogue as it is the plot and character development. Pretty lame, throughout the genre. ;\)

Some posters have mentioned they do not like the online PDF manuals. I do like them, especially when I am considering a new purchase. With the PDF manuals, I can get a good idea of the functionality and usefullness of a product before I go buy it, merely by reading the manual first.

However, I will agree that some of them are awfully cumbersome. I have about a twenty-page limit to my downloading patience threshold...and I have a T1 line. Heaven help the dial-uppers.

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#955209 - 01/22/02 01:34 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Gulliver Offline
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Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 2195
Loc: Tallinn, Estonia
I try to read them. No, I mean it, really! \:o ;\)
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#955210 - 01/22/02 01:39 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Gulliver Offline
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Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 2195
Loc: Tallinn, Estonia
Quote:
Originally posted by Gulliver:
I try to read them. No, I mean it, really! \:o \:D
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#955211 - 01/22/02 01:49 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Gulliver Offline
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Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 2195
Loc: Tallinn, Estonia
Aaarrrrggghh... The "edit" and "quote" buttons should be placed more wide from each other! No, I mean it, seriously...
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#955212 - 01/22/02 02:49 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Dylan Offline
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Registered: 02/28/00
Posts: 3671
Do I read manuals? But, of course! In fact, I always download the PDF manual before I buy a product if it's available. For complex software a printed is a must! Trying to print a 200+ page manual will eat up an entire ink jet cartridge or set you back $50 at Kinkos. Ouch! Otherwise, if it's a simple product or a plug-in then a PDF manual is just fine by me. My advise to everyone is RTFM!

-Dylan

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#955213 - 01/22/02 03:05 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
SFOracle Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 05/04/01
Posts: 1738
Loc: Vancouver BC Canada
What's a manual?
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#955214 - 01/22/02 03:16 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Rog Offline
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Registered: 10/05/01
Posts: 3974
Loc: Hull, Ingerland
I'm still in therapy after trying to read the DX-100's manual at the age of 14. The Roland GR-50 manual made things even worse - I read it at 17 and was confined to a mental institution for a while .... I can still remember it's crazed use of Engrish and that none of the buttons seemed to actually do anything useful, let alone the task of actually trying to play the damn thing \:D
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#955215 - 01/22/02 04:09 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Doctor Frankensteinway Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 08/23/01
Posts: 173
Loc: under your front porch, buildi...
Quote:
Originally posted by Gulliver:
Aaarrrrggghh... The "edit" and "quote" buttons should be placed more wide from each other! No, I mean it, seriously...


If I am not mistaken, there is a downloadable, PDF manual around here to avoid just such a mishap. Ahh . . here it is:

Quote:

1) To Reply to a Message with quotes, please move your mouse cursor slowly towards the [ " " ] icon. Gingerly press your left mouse button once. This will generate your reply with a boat coming left hand wise merrily insertion hello kitty.


In answer to the main topic:

Yes and no.

Normally, for most gear I tend to dive right in with the manual balanced on my knee. I get up to a certain point and set the manual aside and start making music.

On a need-to-know basis I refer to the manual.

But I am always surprised.

I think it wise to always, always always read the sections about a)backing up and b)turning off your computer/DAW/keyboard. Because sometimes it is not always obvious.

And even getting a new guitar, it pays to read the manual.

Quote:
Thankyou for buying your New Guitar! There are two control knobs on your guitar. One is a volume control which will increase or decrease the volume of your guitar. This is only active when plugged into a guitar amplifier (we recommend our own brand) and will have no effect on the volume of the guitar that is not plugged into any amp.

The second control knob is supposed to be for tonal variation from bass to treble. But in reality, this control knob doesn't actually do anything even remotely discernable to the human ear. If you were an ant, you would notice a jump from bass (2k) to treble (35k).


There was a great book some while back "Windshield Wipers are the eyes of cars" or somthing. It was all about design and how some engineers totally fail. The reasoning is that if you have to generate a manual for a toaster (for example) you have utterly failed as a designer.

A design like a guitar or a toaster should be obvious.

They cite the confusion that surrounds nearly every stove/oven out there today. How do you know for sure which element is actually the one you want turned on?

And some audio products are like that, especially those with mutliple menus and multi-purpose buttons. It should be intuitive how these all work.

When it is not so intuitive, there is always the manual.
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Oh yeah? That's fine for you, you're an accepted member of the entertainment community. What about me? What about Igor? Marginalized by Hollywood yet again. I want my Mummy . . .

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#955216 - 01/22/02 05:11 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Synthguy Offline
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Registered: 10/28/01
Posts: 1116
Loc: a lovely flop on Baker Street
Sort of off topic, but I was wondering if Craig was still using Sonar, as his primary DAW or something else. Do you still have to peek at the manual from time to time?
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#955217 - 01/22/02 07:02 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Doctor Frankensteinway Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 08/23/01
Posts: 173
Loc: under your front porch, buildi...
I had this book, a long, long time ago. I think it was called "Home Recording for Musicians" or some such, and featured some skraggly, bearded geek on the cover.

Now that was well written, well presented and simply a treat to read.

Why can't more manuals be like that?
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Oh yeah? That's fine for you, you're an accepted member of the entertainment community. What about me? What about Igor? Marginalized by Hollywood yet again. I want my Mummy . . .

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#955218 - 01/22/02 07:35 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Doctor Frankensteinway Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 08/23/01
Posts: 173
Loc: under your front porch, buildi...
Supplemental:

My one big question would be:

For so many digital or computer-based devices built since the 1990's why isn't there a naming conventionthat everyone could use?

I'm talking about even simple things.

Some manuals refer to "Power Button" others refer to "AC Outlet Switch" . . . seems stupid maybe, but if you had a convention, a standard from there, everything else would make sense.

Some manuals say audio input, others say channel. Still others talk about channel when they mean track.

And when you get to computers, (or DAWs and keyboards with touch pads), why isn't there a manual-writers standard?

Like [Ctrl] for the Control Key on a PC keyboard
or [Shift] for the Shift key.

And a convention for when you press buttons togther, and when you press buttons in sequence.

[Ctrl][F9] vs. [Ctrl] + [F9]

How do you know when to hold?
How do you know when to fold?
< Kenny Rogers pricks up his ears . . . >

That to me seems to really be the worst thing about manuals. That you have to develop a new language to understand what they mean each time. Even when two similar products perform basically the same actions.

They have a MIDI standard, but no standard for MIDI keyboard front panels. I know every manufacturer is different, but you know some keyboards talk about Programs and others talk about Voices and still others use another name.

A standard to cover a lot of that basic stuff would sure go a long way.

As an example, nobody needs to look at a manual when they buy a new car. You got yer gas pedal, yer brake, yer headlights and yer turning signals. That is pretty much standard on every type of car.

btw - if anyone is looking for a Product Manual and Documents sort of guy . . .. < ahem >

< cough >

< raises hand >

< wiggles eyebrows >

< cough >

< ackkkk-hem >

< rolls eyes>


[ 01-22-2002: Message edited by: Doctor Frankensteinway ]
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Oh yeah? That's fine for you, you're an accepted member of the entertainment community. What about me? What about Igor? Marginalized by Hollywood yet again. I want my Mummy . . .

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#955219 - 01/22/02 08:21 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
ZA Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/18/01
Posts: 129
Loc: New York,NY,UNITED STATES
Yeah, I know this topic's long enough already, but...

One problem with manuals is that they're trying to answer at least two types of question:

1. What does a given part of the system do?
2. How do I do X?

People coming to the manual for different reasons need very different things. True, one way to answer questions of type 2 is to fully answer type 1, but few people have time for that (although I see some posters are happy with this approach).

On the other hand, type 2 questions are dynamic by nature, so you're going to have to limit the scope of the manual to the basic functions plus the tricky functions. Just what counts as "basic" or "tricky" can only be found out by getting feedback from a large number of users. This step is costly and time-consuming, and usually gets skipped.

Most of my frustration with manuals is not that they don't have what I need, it's that I can't locate the info and waste time browsing when sometimes it isn't even there. I prefer PDF format because you can search.

I guess I haven't really added info, just kind of schematized what others have already said... hope someone finds it useful.
--ZA

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