It’s time for the monthly site update post.


SHILL - I have been quite impressed with apUnmask since it came out. You can do some disgusting (fun) things with it, but with moderate settings it does a great job of bringing out detail in almost any signal.

I’ve known the author for a long time, but I don’t make any money if you buy it. I truly think it’s one of the most innovative VST effect plugins released this century (though the idea isn’t purely novel!). I won’t be reviewing it since I don’t believe I can be particularly objective about it, but I will shill here in this update post.

End shill.


Changes will be listed here as I’ve started doing, however I’d suggest clicking through for more. The last DAW v DAW was interesting! I made some mistakes on a few levels, but still managed to come to a (not the!) correct conclusion.

I expected to have the next part in the series done today, but there’s more work to do…

Site updates and more DAW v DAW info if you click on through.

Contents

Here’s the the site updates:

  • Font
    • Revert previous font update. It was a good experiment, but I have no proof or response that this has aided readers. It has made it more difficult for me to read my website, so I’m reverting it.
  • Design
    • Adjusting for font changes, I’ve made attempts to make the site a bit easier to read.
  • DAW Chart
    • BUG
      • Fixed a bug where totals were being calculated incorrectly.
    • Mixing
      • NEW CATEGORY: Mixer Snapshots
    • Studio One 5.0!: Net Gain of about 43 points *since I changed other DAWs. I was surprised that I saw it’s now 1 point behind REAPER! Great work Presonus! Studio One is far easier to use than REAPER for non-basic workflows that the product supports. That’s a big win.
      • General Workflow
        • Stability -2: 5.0 has been unstable for me this release. Will be updated over time, since .0 releases often aren’t great. See the post header. This might be macOS only, but the behaviours are consistent across 3 machines.
        • Monitor Section +6: New Listen Bus.
      • Ease of Use
        • OOTB GUI +4: This was a poor choice by me. Studio One’s UI is so easy to re-adjust that giving it a lower rating for 3 clicks is unreasonable.
      • Sample and File Browsing
        • Tagging +5: This was an error (that no body objected to since the incept of the chart!)
        • Sample Search +2: I believe this rating is unfair given the incorrect tag rating.
      • Mixing
        • Hardware Inserts +1, Reaper -1: New Aux tracks and external instruments in browser take this to another level.
      • Included Content
        • Included Effects Plugins +0: All other products except Logic, Reason and Bitwig lost a point.
      • Automation
        • Item-Based Automation +3: Clip Gain Envelopes!
      • MIDI
        • Note Entry Flexibility +1: Score Editor.
        • Articulations +5: New keyswitch features. Not perfect considering that it relies solely on keyswitching, but a great start. Not as nice as Logic, but more compatible with market options.
      • Scoring
        • General +5: Score Editor
      • Live Performance
        • Clip Launching +6: Show Page.
        • Controller Mapping + 4: Incorrect rating. Studio One’s Controller mapping is not particularly immediate, and it is confusing to browse, but it exists.
        • Project Switching +9: In the context of live performance, the new “Setlist” feature in shows is a fantastic addition.
      • Collaboration
        • Remote Collaboration ==: Presonus Sphere exists! But it’s a paid separate service. I’m adding this note so readers know that I’m aware of it. I would update this if there was an included free tier of Sphere.
        • Local Collaboration +4: Better Sync options + “Shows”.
      • Looks
        • Responsiveness +2: I don’t know if I missed a change here, but S1 5.0 is much snappier on my system.
      • Meta
        • Changelogs -1: 5.0 release notes lists just features, but I’ve spotted some fixed bugs between latest v4 and v5. This reads like a marketing copy. V4 release notes were fine recently though.
      • Bias: Negative ratings are “good”, they subtract bias from the rest of the chart.
        • Preference -5: Besides some new bugs, (and some old ones), I’m enjoying Studio One 5 a lot more than before.
        • Fustration -15: Some much needed features have been added that previously irritated me. I still find S1 frustrating to use for general production, but that may continue to change with V5.
        • Community Interactions +5: My recent community interaction on my main account (where I discussed the last article) has been frustrating. Productive, but frustrating. The intractable association of a bug’s impact and its existence drives me batty.

          My interactions on my private account (where I ask ‘normal’ questions) have also been frustrating. Incorrect answers, no answers and strangely combative responses.

          Please keep in mind that this is not a rating of the forum. This affects the chart to compensate for my own potential biases. I accept that these encounters may be possibly influenced by my own methods of communicating, but they are frustrating regardless.

    • REAPER
      • General Workflow
        • Stability -3: REAPER has been extremely annoying since 6.0, to the point where I’ve been using it “Vanilla” without any plugins or scripts (not even sws) just so it’ll not crash.
      • Recording
        • Re-Record -8: REAPER does not have native re-record capability. I considered the ability to create a macro or script, I don’t think this is fair as it is somewhat confusing to do correctly for all scenarios.
      • Automation
        • Automation Clips -2: Automation Clips are theoretically more functional, however there are a number of edge cases where weird things happen. This detracts from the absolute functionality of the feature.
      • MIDI
        • Articulations -2: Considering the improvements of other products and how messy REAPER’s system is (picking your own script/plugin of many and relying on third-party development), I’ve knocked this down.
      • Meta
        • Community Support -2: I’ve been asking questions on my anonymous account and continually encounter snarky responses and non-answers. I wish to rate this much lower, but I’m giving myself a couple weeks to cool down after a number of poor experiences.
    • Logic
      • MIDI
        • Articulations +1: On the market currently, it’s clear that Logic has the best Articulation/KS system by far.
    • Cubase
      • MIDI
        • Articulations -3: I’ve learned some things about Logic’s system that puts Cubase’s Expression Maps to shame. These are relative ratings, so that knocks Cubase down.
  • FreeBees
  • Favourites
    • Capo replaced with Anytune - I’ve used anytune for about 2 years now. Capo has better stretching, but I’ve grown to prefer Anytune’s processing capabilities.
    • Metronome Pro replaced with Polynome Pro - Polynome Pro’s UI is awful. AWFUL, but some patience leads to a variety of functionality that can be saved for easy recall later. The recall allows you to avoid the terrifying UI experience.
    • MTD Bass clarification.
    • Removed Nickel Silver Thumbpicks
    • Added Peterson Strobostom HD
    • Added apUnmask - Coolest plugin of the century so far.
    • Pho - I no longer eat it as frequently as it’s been causing me stomach upset. Restaurants and home-made with similar effect.
  • Fixed a couple issues with the comparator, and found more along the way ‘to fix later’™.

Studio One Jitter

I did a terrible job at explaining the jitter situation. I had prior knowledge about how some of these products work and in a fever pitch it totally slipped my mind. This lead to me eliding information that would have made the article and video more clear, but I had a total ‘brain fart’ and went on with it.

Here’s the situation:

  • macOS
    • Most settings cause increasing jitter with increasing buffers.
    • Setting Dropout protection to Maximum with a 2048 buffer, or High with a 1024 buffer and turning off low latency will yield no jitter
  • Windows
    • Consistently has low jitter at all settings.

An argument could be made that either of these behaviours is potentially correct in certain scenarios, however both platforms seem to suffer from inconsistent and undocumented behaviour.

  • Windows - Consistent jitter is predictable behaviour, however it’s possible on macOS to attain no jitter with settings that jitter on Windows.
  • macOS - Terrible jitter except with large extra buffers added and low latency turned off. If documented this could arguably be the correct behaviour if you value latency over timing.

If you want consistent timing then the DAW needs extra time somewhere so that it can know what messages are coming in, and send them offset. This might be implemented as a fixed buffer or scaling buffer etc… The extra buffer increases latency, but offers the opportunity to have correct live MIDI timing.

If you care about latency, then you just spit out MIDI messages as fast as possible.

Then there’s the issue of time APIs, clocks etc… which affect when the MIDI message is received. This is possibly an issue in Windows, which I’ve yet to fully determine.

My view is that any unexpected behaviour that’s undocumented, is a bug. If the behaviour depends on settings that are not documented, it’s a bug. Behaviour that differs between platforms, but that other products manage to handle consistently, is a bug.

On 3 abstract dimensions, I believe Studio One’s behaviour is broken.

However, this is NOT fully what I presented in the video, as I showed it producing a predictable jitter. (if you know the project time, preload behaviour, device buffer size, internal buffer/block/chunk size, sample rate).

An argument can be made that what I showed in the video is a design choice, not a bug.

This is where I decided the behaviour was broken: the program does not reproduce the input that was given by the user. There’s an implicit choice on macOS on whether you’re given the low-latency or no-jitter scenario that isn’t documented. I started investigating based on ‘tips’ from some other DAW users who noticed similar behaviour, and 3 Studio One users that contacted me about bad MIDI jitter in their normal use cases.

I expect you to make up your own mind on what you expect the DAW to do: do it fast, or do it right, or give you the choice. I do not think that a mix of implicit choices, that vary across platforms with no documentation is acceptable.

Meta

These updates took about 6 hours to implement, and 20 hours to research (S1 5.0 update comparisons).

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