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#955139 - 03/15/01 02:00 PM Do You Read Manuals?
Anderton Offline
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Registered: 01/28/00
Posts: 7377
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!!
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Craig Anderton
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#955140 - 03/15/01 02:09 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Calfee Jones Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/25/00
Posts: 395
Loc: Memphis USA
Yes, I read the manuals - most of the time. Of course, not all the way through, and not at one sitting. But usually you can learn something from manuals that you can't learn from just hacking.

PDF's are OK, but I would rather have a booklet in my hand when I am facing a new piece fo gear.
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#955141 - 03/15/01 02:11 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
BP3 Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 07/31/00
Posts: 6524
I prefer printed manuals. PDFs are a pain to read on the computer and costly to print. PDFs would be fine for short updates and the like.

The biggest problem with manuals is when they are originally written in a foriegn language, the transmangled into what we receive. An old Korg manual I have states "Insert disc verily quedgewise into the drive", later in the same manual the section about naming sequences was titled "Maming proceedure". Good for a laugh, but not helpful when you need info.

I bought the MX2424 a while ago and there was no manual for the ViewNet software for months. This caused an overload of questions about VN on their forum, and I would bet the same increased traffic for their phone support. This would be avoided if the manual shipped with the product. All this said - Jim and the support staff at Tascam are as good as any I've been with.

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#955142 - 03/15/01 02:22 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Nika Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 03/22/01
Posts: 2938
Loc: Ft Wayne,IN,UNITED STATES
Craig,

Great question. I can tell you that I don't READ manuals, but I keep them handy and reference them if I run into a problem.

Nika.
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#955143 - 03/15/01 02:28 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Lee Flier Offline
10k Club

Registered: 09/13/00
Posts: 15398
Loc: Atlanta,GA,UNITED STATES
I ALWAYS read manuals. In fact, I try to read them cover to cover, and even if something doesn't apply to me I skim it just to get an overall idea what it will do, so that in case I ever need to do that thing I'll know where to look.

I have almost a photographic memory for research, so that helps. Even if I don't remember the exact details of something I read, I almost always can remember the fact that I once read it, and where to find it again. So it really pays for me to read manuals because I will then know everything my gear is capable of. Lots of times on user groups, for example, somebody will say "Why can't this piece of gear do [whatever]?" And the fact is that it can, and that the guy obviously hasn't read the manual. Especially with really complex gear, features can be buried deep in a menu or something, and if you don't read the manual you'll just miss out on the fact that it's even there.

And I vastly prefer printed manuals over PDF's or other online format. My photographic memory goes all to hell if the documentation web site changes.

That said, a lot of manuals SUCK. I think I've complained before about the Yamaha AW4416's manuals. They spell out the machine's individual functionals clearly enough, but do not make much attempt to relate those functions to anything. I'd really pity a beginning engineer who bought one. I'd think it would be much easier to get people excited about a machine like this one if an applications manual were included that gave examples of using the various features.

Still, even reading a sucky manual to me is better than not reading it, and it's worth the extra time. I do wish the manufacturers would hire some real writers - like Craig maybe! - to write their manuals, they'd probably save a lot on tech support calls. Maybe the reason so few people read manuals is because most of them are so boring when they don't have to be?

--Lee
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#955144 - 03/15/01 02:31 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
rumpelstiltskin. Offline
spinning gold from straw
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Registered: 06/10/00
Posts: 5010
Loc: detroit, MI, united states
i try to read manuals before i even buy, but that rarely happens. i most definitely read the manuals before i use the machines, though.

i bought a boss PH-3 phase shifter and by reading the manual i discovered that it has a tap tempo feature, something that the sales guys at the store didn't even know about.

in earning a degree in electrical engineering, i've learned that reading the manual is a very good idea, and that if you have any questions about how to do something, the engineer who designed the feature made sure to explain it to the best of his/her ability in the manual.
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#955145 - 03/15/01 02:34 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Chip McDonald Offline
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Registered: 01/19/00
Posts: 4792
Loc: Augusta, Ga. USA
Quote:
Originally posted by Anderton:
. So what's your relationship with manuals? Do you read 'em? Toss 'em? Prefer PDF files over printed?


I never read them, unless there is a feature that is non-intuitively designed.

OR

A device has to much stuff crammed into it with a minimal display. FOR INSTANCE...


The Roland VS-880.

The WORST manual I've ever come across in my life. Roland isn't exactly known for good manuals, but the VS-880's is so obfuscated it's unreal. Then again, we're talking about a device that has a "snatch mode"....


HAVING SAID THAT,

Having online VS-880 resources has been more informative than the manual.
Being able to do searches for specific topics has revealed more useful info than the manual.

I think some companies (cougholand...., coughamaha...) - would do well to try to put more effort into making their more low-level interfaces user friendly. I think this will get better as capabilities of IC's increase to the point where things don't have to be abbreviated in the interface, and things aren't as "crammed in".

http://www.mp3.com/chipmcdonald
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#955146 - 03/15/01 02:47 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
d gauss Offline
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Registered: 02/15/01
Posts: 3231
Loc: Somewhere in the Swamps of Jer...
c-console for the yamaha dsp factory. while incomplete it is an excellent manual. on the other hand, my new "superwank 5000" blow-up doll didn't even come with a manual...anybody know how to work one of these things....

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#955147 - 03/15/01 02:55 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Graham English Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 02/13/01
Posts: 335
Loc: Somerville, MA USA
I always read the manual- front to back. When I get a piece of gear (which isn't often enough), I learn every feature as deeply as I can. In some cases, I may not even need those features but I still try to learn them. I like to be fully prepared when inspiration strikes.
I can't stand PDFs. I don't mind them as supplementation. In fact, I don't mind having the whole manual on PDF in addition to a printed manual. With the PDFs, I can take them to work and study them when nobody's looking But I can't take the PDF to the back yard while the sun is out. We hardly get enough light as it is!
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#955148 - 03/15/01 03:04 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Yuri T. Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 02/27/01
Posts: 656
Loc: ,,UNITED STATES
When necessary. Sometimes schematics. I was poring over the ground buss in my 16 track yesterday.

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#955149 - 03/15/01 03:16 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
miroslav Offline
Cosmic Cowboy
10k Club

Registered: 05/23/00
Posts: 14215
Loc: NY Hudson Valley, USA
Quote:
Originally posted by Chip McDonald:
The Roland VS-880.

The WORST manual I've ever come across in my life. Roland isn't exactly known for good manuals, but the VS-880's is so obfuscated it's unreal.



Roland manual...that is THE classic oxymoron!!!

But I have the VS-880 "manual" beat...
The Roland D-70 keyboard "manual"(circa early 90s).

That "manual" sucked soooooo baaaaaad, that I telephone Roland in Japan one night to complain and clear up some "manual" gibberish. They actually connected me to one of the higher-ups who proceeded to explain things to me.
However, his English was not much better than what was in the D-70 "manual". So, I thanked him for his time, hung up the phone, and then threw the "manual" across the room.

These days, I usually get a screwdriver and pop the cover on a new *box* first and look inside, then I'll quickly thumb through the manual to see if there is anything that resembles REAL information (some manuals actually provide that). After that, I'll just use the manual as a reference when needed...which brings me to a real piss-off.


INDEXES!!!

To manufacturers/manual printers:
PLEASE include a good cross-referenced index. Nothing I hate more than when you look-up a questionable parameter or button for a *box* in the index, and... IT AIN'T THERE!

Even worse, is when it IS in the index, and you look it up...
THINGAMAJIG - P. 83

So you turn to P.83 and what do you find...
A !%#!*&! picture of the THINGAMAJIG!
I know what it looks like,...I want to know what is it for, how is it used, what about this and that...etc.




This message has been edited by miroslav on 03-15-2001 at 12:22 PM
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#955150 - 03/15/01 03:19 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Anonymous
Unregistered


Craig, you're a master when it comes to popping out questions that is hard to let go.

Manuals, Yes!!
I have a love-hate relationship to them.
I read them before even turning on the thing. Sometimes even twice.
My worst case was when I bought the K2500. Two fat bastards that took me like forever to get trough.
But it pays back after a while!!

I always have them as paper. If it's on PDF I print them.
( I do it at work so I don't pay for it)


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

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#955151 - 03/15/01 03:23 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
BK_dup2 Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 03/19/01
Posts: 113
Quote:
Originally posted by Lee Flier:

That said, a lot of manuals SUCK. I think I've complained before about the Yamaha AW4416's manuals. They spell out the machine's individual functionals clearly enough, but do not make much attempt to relate those functions to anything. I'd really pity a beginning engineer who bought one.
--Lee[/B]



Lee-
I can relate to the Yamaha Manual crap-fest. I bought an EX5 a couple years back. The manual is basically worthless. Given I am no synth programmer -but if can understand the Roland VS1680 manual I figured the EX5 would be no worse -- I was wrong!!

My manual reading really only happens when I am on a long plane Flight, a long sit or need to reference a specific application.

I guess I feel like I should be playing not reading (I'm not sure thats a good philosophy). It's the old give and take i suppose.

Best
BK

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#955152 - 03/15/01 06:13 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
David R. Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 09/07/00
Posts: 1213
Loc: San Francisco,CA,UNITED STATES
Before I read the manual, I plug in whatever it is (or install) and try to use it. That usually holds me for the moment, then the tweaker in me emerges and I want to get into editing and need to know how to change this patch to that using this thingy. That's when the manual comes out. My favorite place to read manuals is (no, not the bathroom) a sushi restraunt 5 blocks from my place.

I love printed manuals, and if it is only PDF, I print it out. Manufactures should have a copy online for those that need it. I have bought many pieces of used gear without manuals, and I really wish I could download one when needed.

-David R.
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-David R.

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#955153 - 03/15/01 06:49 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Max Ventura Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 11/13/00
Posts: 511
Loc: Bergamo, Italy
I have a look at manuals sometimes, before I buy, to see whether some functions I need are there at all.
Other than that, since I do not buy equipment that I cannot grasp at a glance, I don' t read them. I keep them just to find out a few hidden features but, in general, I must say that manuals never ever satisfy me. I havent found a manual yet I could say "now this is a really well written one!" Yamaha is one of the worst at it.
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#955154 - 03/15/01 08:57 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Curve Dominant Offline
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Registered: 10/29/00
Posts: 4223
Loc: Philadelphia USA
The following is an exact quote from a guy at Roland tech support (whose name I will refrain from printing): "We wouldn't have jobs if the manuals made sense." How's THAT for being candid. They are always cool, those folks, and immensely helpful.

I write the tech-support phone numbers on the covers of my manuals because they invariably leave something out, or in the case of Roland where they leave entire chapters out. I'm getting more fluent in Japenglish as I get more Roland gear, tho.
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#955155 - 03/15/01 09:04 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Anderton Offline
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Registered: 01/28/00
Posts: 7377
I see more manufacturers starting to bundle videos with their manuals. Do you find these useful at all? Are there alternative approaches to teaching gear that would work better than manuals?
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Craig Anderton
*check out my podcast at www.cyberears.com

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#955156 - 03/15/01 09:14 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
d gauss Offline
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Registered: 02/15/01
Posts: 3231
Loc: Somewhere in the Swamps of Jer...
<>

i think having bob clearmountain come over to your house to show you "hands on" how to work your new SSL would be a dandy way to learn....

would probably be a bit more expensive than a PDF though.

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#955157 - 03/16/01 05:37 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
dansouth Offline
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Registered: 09/01/00
Posts: 3915
Loc: Metuchen,NJ,UNITED STATES
Quote:
Originally posted by Anderton:
I see more manufacturers starting to bundle videos with their manuals. Do you find these useful at all? Are there alternative approaches to teaching gear that would work better than manuals?


The AW4416 video is excellent. It presents the main features of the machine at a very low level that any user can understand. Of course, in typical mind-boggling Yamaha fashion, they don't package the video with the unit. You get one mailed to you when you fill out the warranty card. By that time, you've struggled to learn this stuff from the manual or by trial and error and you need the ADVANCE FEATURES VIDEO - just made that up - instead of the RAW NEWBIE VIDEO.

I have yet to read a manual cover to cover. It just doesn't make sense to me in linear fashion. I like to jump around. I read about one feature and try it, then I get curious as to how to do something else. I research that, and it makes me think about something else. Because of this non-linear approach, a good, thorough index is a manual's most important feature. Even if the prose is clear as mud, as long as I can cross reference things, I'll eventually figure them out. Any manual without a totally kick ass index is a big disappointment, but I try to slog through it anyway, because the tips and insights that you discover along the way are invaluable to your productivity with the unit.

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#955158 - 03/16/01 05:56 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Ang1970 Offline
Member

Registered: 03/12/01
Posts: 6
Loc: Ludlow, MA, USA
I like .pdf's. Searching in them is like having an index with every word printed in the manual.

It depends on the piece of gear whether I skip, skim, or buckle down.

The Logic Audio manual is one of the most cryptic I've ever come across.
Yamaha has some doozies too. SY88... that manual made me forget that I was an experienced synth programmer. Hell, it made me forget I knew the english language!

Ahem...

------------------
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#955159 - 03/16/01 06:02 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Curve Dominant Offline
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Registered: 10/29/00
Posts: 4223
Loc: Philadelphia USA
Roland bundles a demo video with the VS - I would get on Yamaha to do the same. The VS video was a good antectdote to the sometimes baffling printed manual - it contained illustrations of key functions that were not explained in print. I must admit, though, the Roland manuals do function well as references. I have a compartment in my console for them, and once I got past the basic roadblocks, they are actually very well organized and highly detailed as "on-the-job" references. I suspect it might be asking too much to expect flawless instruction books on machines that are at once highly complicated and relatively new. Props to the Roland tech-support folks in Cali - when I'm on the phone with them, I can practically hear the machines humming in the background as they are being trouble-shot. They really got their gear figured out inside and out, from quirks in various software versions to the right choices for peripherals, and they always - yes, 100% always - guide me easily through ANY problems. I was on the phone with those folks several times a week for the first few weeks I had the VS about a year ago, and I just spoke with them the other day concerning data storage media options. Give those folks a case of beer on me any day.
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#955160 - 03/16/01 06:37 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Uh Clem Offline
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Registered: 03/13/00
Posts: 3443
Loc: Atlanta, GA USA
I like manuals to read when I first get a new piece, but after that, for reference, I prefer the PDFs and download them if I can - much faster to search thru than paper manuals - enter the term and find it - much faster.
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#955161 - 03/16/01 08:41 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
aeon Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 01/14/01
Posts: 1772
Loc: Lothlorien
Quote:
originally posted by Craig Anderton:
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?


I read 'em. I love 'em. A well-written manual is a pleasure. In fact, when a manufacturer provides .pdf manuals on their website I download them and read them thoroughly, and they have a large influence on my purchasing decisions.

A full printed manual that ships with the product is a must. The recent trend for some manufacturers to only provide a starter guide and CD-ROM is a real scam and I feel it will come back to hurt the companies in the long run.

I generally don't need application notes because of my ability to grok technodweeb things. Having said that, app notes are are always welcome, especially when they show off something really tight that wouldn't necessarily be immediately obvious. Also, I don't like it when a manual is broken into "tutorial" and "reference" books. A well-written manual integrates both aspects into a single reference such that each aspect illuminates the other and leads to greater understanding for the reader.

My usual procedure when I get a new piece of gear (for which I have not read the manual) is to read the "dangerous voltages and setup notes" chapter in a frenzy and then plug my toy in and go to town. A piece of equipment that is well-designed and engineered should be operable with 90% functionality without the use of a manual. When I feel I have explored the gear to its fullest, I read the manual cover-to-cover, making note of the things I did not discover and things that I assumed incorrectly.

Worst manual I have ever seen? Oh. My. God. Roland DJ-70 to be sure...translated from Italian to Japanese to English. The Lexicon MPX 500 manual was fairly lame.

Best manuals I have seen? All of t.c. electronic's manuals are quite good; in particular, the FireworX manual is very well-done. The Clavia Nord Modular manual is excellent. The Lexicon PCM-81 manual is meaty and a good read. The ProTools TDM v4 manuals get good marks from me. The manuals for the Sony DPS-V77 are peach.
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#955162 - 03/16/01 10:46 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
soapbox Offline
Original Forumite
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Registered: 01/05/01
Posts: 3690
A few things:

1) I’d love to have manuals in Paper, PDF, and DVD. Cubase had (still has?) QuickTime tutorial movies on their install CD-ROM, very cool!

2) I started with Logic Audio at version 2.0. At that time, their owner’s manual was a patchwork of addendums written in English English (as opposed to American English). It took me a minute to figure out why a "drop out" was a desirable thing.

3) Roland manuals in the late 80s/early 90s used the word "Repert" a lot. (I think they meant "Repeat.")

4) I just went through more than three hundred and fifty pages and an ink cartridge on my LaserJet printing up Unity DS-1 and Osmosis manuals. Then, it cost me $10 to bind them at Kinko’s. Aaarrrggg!!!
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#955163 - 03/16/01 11:44 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
DC Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 01/17/01
Posts: 2706
Loc: here to eternity...
I like pdf's on websites just to check new gear before purchase. I want a printed manual included with new gear. I tend to skim manuals before trying a new piece, but a lot of my impression of a device comes from 'hands on' and how little I need the manual, so I'll dive in and pull out the manual when I get stuck. Here is where a good index is really helpful. Unless they are terribly written, I eventually read all manuals cover to cover.

Pet peeves:

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

There is always info omitted, such as hold these two buttons and power on to re-init...

Multi-language manuals where I've gotta carry around all this extra paper I can't read.

Good manual writers; Emu, Mesa, Mackie, Boss (very different from Roland), Cake 9 is not bad for software.
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#955164 - 03/16/01 04:17 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Master Zap Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 12/22/00
Posts: 698
Loc: -,,SWEDEN
Read Manuals? OF COURSE. You mean there is other kind of reading?

I sometimes whip out manuals and read for pleasure. E.g. the Ensoniq TS-12 manual was read front-to-back back in the day. Same for the K2500 manual at the time. I even looked at the video but that sucked due to the bad hair guy playing horried 70's keyboard solo's all the time instead of anything remotely 90's

Funny is that I hardly read the Nord Modular manual - didn't need to, it was all obvious. I used it as a reference once in a while but that was about it.

In general, though, i dispise people who dont read the manual and I watch them use 4% of the potential of their gear coz they are to stupid/lazy/stubborn whatever to learn the gear. Morons. You havn't used a piece of equipment until you have used 249% of its features plus at least three ways of using it the manifacturers never anticipated.

/Z


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#955165 - 03/16/01 04:37 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Mats Olsson. Offline
10k Club

Registered: 07/12/00
Posts: 14459
Loc: Eskilstuna,,SWEDEN
I always (well, almost always) read manuals. In my experience, Roland manuals are often lousy and complicated. I also hate when there is only a manual as a PDF on a CD, or worse - as download. But if a printed manual is included in the package it is always nice when there is a download version available, I often download and print a manual before trying out or purchasing a new product. I also often do that if I'm about to rent gear I have not used earlier. Download is a blessing when buying used stuff and the manual is missing.

When reading gear rewievs in magazines, I really like if the quality of the manual is being given a good workout. An inspiring and well written manual can give a lot of creative input on how to use the thing. I have also often wondered why there is not an instructional video included in the package.

It is also too rare with manuals translated to languages other than English/German/French/Spanish/Japanese. When buying expensive non-music equipment there is often a manual available in my own language (Swedish), but almost never for music gear no matter how much they cost. A download or PDF for the non-major languages would be acceptable, I realize that printing is expensive.
In a few odd cases there has been Swedish manuals included (Tascam 244 Portastudio, Korg M1 comes to mind) but they have been condensed - to really get to now all functions you still have to open the English manual. The worst rip-off is when there is a Swedish manual but you have to pay extra for it! So why should I buy products in Sweden when I can get them cheaper elsewhere? I can still order the Swedish fucking manual at an additional cost, can't I ?


/Mats
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#955166 - 03/21/01 08:36 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
fasttraxx Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 08/23/00
Posts: 204
Loc: ,CA,UNITED STATES
I seem to start with the idea I will read this manual and get all this abundance of information, and I will know everthing about this thing. Then about halfway or less through the manual, I will get this bored feeling, like watching a boring movie. I will totally get tired of trying to retain all this informaton. I will just keep it by my side when it's needed. For me, when I can have the luxury of being in front of what ever it is I am trying learn and I am reading the manual, I can act it out at the same time, then I seem learn much easier(faster).
On another note. I read a good portion of Logic Audio's Platnum 4.0 manual. That was like reading Chinese. I read it over and over. i finally got a Cool Breeze CD-Rom which helped me get going in the right direction ten times faster. I wish all programs (audio) came with a video or CD-Rom tutorial.

------------------
Thanks and God Bless!
Y.B.I.C.
Bill
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Y.B.I.C.
Bill

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#955167 - 03/21/01 10:34 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Anonymous
Unregistered


Quote:
Originally posted by mats.olsson@rockfile.se:
I can still order the Swedish fucking manual at an additional cost, can't I ?


/Mats


Is there a manual for this??
And a Swedish one also!
Didn't you learn in school how to do it?




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

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#955168 - 03/21/01 12:53 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
ha ha faa_Q Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 03/18/01
Posts: 117
Loc: Barcelona, España
I work for Coca-Cola as a technical writer. Most of my time at work is spent designing and writing software documents. I have yet to see a clearly written task-oriented manual that clearly and concisely explains how to perform complex procedures. Almost all manuals are cluttered with conceptual crap that masks more important information. Chances are the manuals were written by the coders in a language that only the coders will understand.

-- Jimmy

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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
_________________________
judson snell
slang music group
chicago, il

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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: 13231
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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http://www.SisProductions.com
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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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http://fp2k.redshift.com/cjogo/recording_studio.htm

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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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#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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#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
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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
_________________________
Phil
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
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Registered: 01/19/00
Posts: 4792
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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
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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
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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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#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
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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
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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
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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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#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 ]
_________________________
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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