Re: What now, tech?

Subject: Re: What now, tech?
From: Jean Piché (pichej@mistral.ERE.UMontreal.CA)
Date: Fri Dec 13 1996 - 20:48:02 EST

At 21:21 -0000 12/13/96, Larry Austin wrote:
>Dear colleagues and friends:
>I need your help, advice, and experience, to wit:
>1. I am in acquisition mode; i.e., I have been researching what hardware
>system(s) to purchase to succeed my trusty NeXTstation (which I will keep)
>with its digital sound i/o and its software synthesis apps (Csound, cmix,
>sound editors, etc.). I will want to continue making tape pieces and
>tape-plus pieces and, system permitting, real-time pieces. Music
>notation software would be welcome but not requisite.
>2. I have thought that the Silicon Graphics Indy and, now, O2 computers
>would be logical (sic) successors to my NeXT. True?

We have 3 Indy's in our studios and I am expecting my O2 next week. We have
been very happy with them. A few caveats:


- They are *very* fast machines.
- Superior (best?) integrated audio subsystems.
- Runs all the (unix) software sound processing and synthesis tools you can
think of.
- Most audio software is free.
- Solid unix implementation with fine GUIs.
- Fine compiling and development environment, specialy for audio work.
- Web-aware OS (!).
- For audio processing, it probably runs circles around anything else,
including hardware-based systems.
- Direct 8-channel digital i/o through low-cost ADAT link PCI card.
- All considered, quite affordable. Academic pricing on an O2 r5kSC
64Mg/4gB will run under $7000US.

- Un-reliability of public domain software is sometimes a pain.
- There are few (none... until Cubase somes out) commercial music packages
for them.
- These are audio machines. Midi (while supported) is not handily usable.
- There are few "normal" applications (word processing, home accounting
etc.) running on them. (But there is full PC compatibility via
- Professional software (graphics mostly) is *very* expensive.
- Support and developement tools are expensive.
- No games (that is a plus actually...)

In other words, I would not recommend an O2 for "shy" computer users. You
sometimes have to get your hands dirty. A well-tuned SGI with good software
tools is like a F1 race car. For pros only. An academic environement is
also a must; support in that context is affordable and developement tools
are *much* cheaper.

Just an aside on "hardware-based" audio machines: they are, imho, doomed.
Hardware development is now too rapid to justify micro-coding specialized
hardware. But, then gain.... SHARC Csound may prove this wrong...


Jean Piché
Faculté de musique - Université de Montréal

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