June 15, 2014

I Downloaded This Amazing Free Plug-in, And You Won't Believe What Happens Next...

by Chris Randall

I'm experimenting with clickbait-style post titles. Other audio blogs appear to be testing the waters with this information abortion, so I figure "hey, why not join the crowd?" How am I doing?

Anyhow, this is just a general info-dump of goings-on in my little corner of the world.

1. Unless you live under a rock, you know about the Eventide freebie, UltraChannel. I actually wouldn't normally bring it up here at all, as even though the Eventide guys are BFFs of ours and make stupifyingly good plug-ins (and even better hardware), their plugs are iLok only. However, as a result of a UI contract I'm currently doing, I had to install and tame an iLok. (And, god forbid, PT11.) Since I have one now, I was all "fuck it" and furthermore "whatevs." And got myself an UltraChannel. (And all the other Eventide native plugs while I was at it.) I'll say this much: UltraChannel is almost worth sucking it up for iLok. A fantastic, creative channel plug that is light on the CPU, yet extremely capable. If you have an iLok, or are thinking about buying one of those little buttplugs, here's where you get the Ultrachannel; use coupon code 0F736710. It'll be like $249 or something in a month or two, so if you're gonna do it, do it now.

2. Just in case you think I might have changed my mind or am in any way endorsing it, fuck PACE and fuck iLok.

3. I'm pleased to report that my schedule, which was a bit hairy there for a while, is returning, slowly and surely, to its normal lazy, meandering ways, which means I'll be able to finish off the Audio Damage DRM Removal Event, and also bring the next Audio Damage plug-in to the finish line while Adam flails about in his Code Hole whipping Sequencer 1 in to shape. It was a little ridiculous there for a while, but I've cleared a majority of the nonsense now, and am back to being my usual self.

4. And finally, a question: what constitutes an "album" these days? Throughout my (first) career, I was all 10 SONGS OR BUST but the idea of a complete record seems to be slipping through the cracks in favor of a burst mode kind of release system. I tried this out a couple years ago, by pooping out 4 of what our oldsters call "EPs" in a row, and it was somehow... uh... unsatisfying? Even without physical media, there's just something about a cohesive chunk of music that is more visceral, at least to the maker. So my general takeaway: it is far easier to come up with 5 cohesive songs than 10, and the consumer seems to be indifferent. My forthcoming release that I'm just finishing up now is 10 tracks, but I'm left with the lingering impression that I should strip it to a pair of 5-track releases. Thoughts?


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Jun.16.2014 @ 1:10 AM
Album plZ.
I, rather embarrassingly, only listen to music in the car, on my daily hour long commute. An album is perfect for this, an ep leaves me fumbling with Spotify on the motorway

Jun.16.2014 @ 3:02 AM
Come to think of it. When someone with the amount of albums that Crandall has under his belt, asks for input on how to release an album.

That is comment/click bait!

Jun.16.2014 @ 5:30 AM
There's been a couple, "nothing will ever convince me to use PACE" comments.

As someone with the power to influence things at Eventide, I'm genuinely curious if these comments are based on actual previous negative experiences, or if it's more about perception and trying to avoid future pain?

From my perspective, I've dealt with them from the vendor side for about 10 years, and while they've royally screwed the pooch a couple times during that tenure, they worked hard and fast to fix it, and I can't promise we'd have done better if we'd handled this ourselves. We've also never had a customer that I've known about who's had to re-install there operating system or anything, and I'd probably know.

I guess I'm curious if there's part of the story, from a users perspective, that I'm missing.

As an aside, this is Chris' house, and we don't have to have this conversation here. So feel free to shut it down Chris. Y'all can also email me at my moniker at eventide.com and talk about it offline if you want. I'm genuinely curious.


Jun.16.2014 @ 7:12 AM
For me, it's definitely past negative experience. I installed the Soundtoys demo, 3 days later a perfectly fine working system, with nothing else installed in the interim, completely corrupted on boot. Technically I can't prove it was the Pace drivers, but it was the only thing out of the ordinary, and the only time that has ever happened to me. I prefer to err on the conservative side on this one, wasn't an enjoyable experience.

Jun.16.2014 @ 8:18 AM
Chris Randall
I remember having a _severe_ problem with PACE (not iLok but rather the older PACE stuff that Max/MSP used to use), one that required reformatting, but I can't for the life of me remember the circumstances that led to the problem.

As for my recent experiences, it should be noted that I'm fairly savvy with this sort of thing, and the iLok system has puzzled me intensely, and caused me not a few hours of lost time (and this is lost contract time at $XXX/hr of real live money, not lost "me" time) trying to sort it out. I needed to use PT for part of this contract, as the product I was doing a design for was an AudioSuite plug-in; I initially installed the 30 day demo of PT, then the company gave me a PT11 license. There was a conflict between the temporary key provided by Avid and the one provided by the company that resulted in phone calls, for the love of Christ. Now, I can't remove the demo key at all, but the NFR key works, so whatevs.

Then, I had repeated problems where OS X couldn't see the physical iLok. Trial and error eventually showed that it works on the left-side USB port, but not the right-side one. *shrug*

For what it's worth, the process on my PC has been entirely transparent, and it works like a charm. On that platform, it is one of the more transparent copy protection methods I've dealt with.

I know Adam has a _very_ bad experience; perhaps he'll relate it here. I could obviously rattle off dozens of anecdotes I've heard, but they'll all be second hand. I mean, we've had problems where customers' computers simply wouldn't authorize our plugs, no matter what I tried, so I suppose any copy protection is susceptible to the same sorts of problems. To the best of my knowledge, none of them has ever required reformatting your system drive, though. That would be easier these days, but in the early '00s, that would have been a bonecrushing blow.


Jun.16.2014 @ 11:12 AM
iLok, NI, and Artuira - I've had varying issues/headaches/fuckups with all three software licensing manager programs. Granted, I do music as a semi-serious hobby, so the impact and my opinion should be taken at that. In the spirit of attempting to have fun while doing music, I avoid stuff that is from or deals with those particular vendors*.

In fact, the only licensing managing software I've ever used that's been completely hassle free, for what feels like forever now, is Expert Sleepers. It always, always works.

*I am dipping my toe back in with Maschine. The bourbon in the kitchen is only a short walk from the home office/music making space.

Jun.16.2014 @ 12:21 PM
Adam Schabtach
Yeah, I've had bad experiences with PACE. I posted a lengthy rant on my blog some years ago. The short summary is that I'd had bad experiences in the past, including it rendering my HD unusable for the product I was at that time being paid to develop (namely Max/MSP) until I reformatted it. Then one day, on a totally different machine with a totally different OS, it screwed up again, preventing the installation of a package of plug-ins I'd purchased. The vendor of said plug-ins couldn't help me and asked if reformatting my drive was an option. While technically this was an option, it was a ludicrous one. So instead I stopped using that vendor's plug-ins and went about finding non-PACE-laden substitutes. (At the time I couldn't find a good multi-tap delay; thus Audio Damage's Ricochet was born.) I suggested in that post that end-users should seriously consider how much leverage they felt comfortable leaving in PACE's hands, considering that it meant that the vendors of the PACE-protected products can't necessarily help the customer if they encounter problems. Given the total meltdown of the PACE system which happened a year or so ago, I think my point was made.

Eventually I succumbed to temptation and started using PACE-protected software again. (For the record, it was SoundToys which pushed me over the edge, although I think maybe I'd already been using some cleanly disguised PACE-equipped software before that.) I started on a new system, so there wasn't much to lose if PACE screwed my pooch. I can honestly say that I've had next to no trouble with it so far. Hence I pulled that blog post because leaving it in place seemed somewhat hypocritical. If you'd like to read a sensationalized account of that post, including quotes pulled from its context to suit the reporter's desire to place hype ahead of accurate representation, you can find them on another music blog which I stopped reading upon the publication of that "article".

I have long been, and shall remain, a total Eventide fanboy, and have every intention of taking advantage of their generous recent gift of the channel strip, once I find some spare time.


Jun.16.2014 @ 12:37 PM
Adam Schabtach
Forgot to mention: like CR, my positive experiences with PACE are restricted to use under Windows. I have nothing to say about it, good or bad, with respect to OS X.


Jun.16.2014 @ 12:53 PM
"...which I stopped reading upon the publication of that article."

Don't worry, you haven't missed much in the ~7 years since.

Jun.16.2014 @ 7:23 PM
iLok ZDT is a joke. period. redundant period.

dongles are as annoying as it gets. broken, lost, stolen etc. remember.. ZDT is a joke.

i should be able to install a plug in on more than one computer.. laptop/desktop. it shouldn't take 2 forevers for a plug in to load in a host because it is shaking hands w/some pace ilok bullshit. the pace user license auth software is even worse than their older version that was online only. it's a horrible interface that is unclear as to plug in status.

license transfer fees are ridiculous w/pace. it's basically an incentive not to sell a license. cash to pace, cash to the dev.. i pretty much gave away some plug ins when i sold my ilok plugs a couple years ago.

some of these things have improved.. some devs allow 2 installs and dongle free authorization. great.

but why on earth would i wade into that mess again? there's no reason for me. as said.. i can live w/o the ilok stuff just fine. i'd love the H3000 plug in.. i'd love to buy the sound toys bundle again but no thanks. not gonna go down that road again. especially w/how fickle pace is. who knows what stupid policy they'll come up with 6 months from now.

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