Around New Year 2007, I suped up a new Mac Pro and configured it for dual-boot. Although my primary DAW platform, Steinberg Nuendo with RME hardware (Tape Op #63), is both Windows and Mac OS X-compatible, I find it's more efficient on WinXP, and host-controlled, near-zero- latency monitoring with RME hardware is unavailable in OS X. Well, with mounting frustration over Boot Camp-related driver problems (especially in regards to co-existing video and audio hardware) and a form factor that is unreceptive to expansion (not enough slots, high cost of bootable RAID, limited hard- drive configurations, etc.), I bought myself a new Windows PC. Before the Mac Pro, I built up my previous two desktops (including a rackmount "Franken-Mac") from components that I spec'ed and purchased myself. I planned on doing the same for my new PC, but then I happened upon the custom DAW page on (who also operate as, a vendor from whom I'd purchased low- noise parts in the past. I gave them a call, and sales rep Luke Goughnour answered all my initial questions. A couple hours and some emails later, with Luke's ultra-responsive help, I had my dream machine completely designed: ASUS P5E3 Deluxe, Intel Core 2 Quad, 4 GB DDR3, fanless NVIDIA GeForce 9600 GT, hardware RAID, iStar D-400 rack case. Two weeks later (with a few more emails to clarify some issues with the build), the computer arrived in the most well-protected, double-boxed packaging I've ever seen. Even the innards of the computer had antistatic bubble-wrap to keep things from shaking. Not that anything could shake, as all the wiring was neatly tie-wrapped, and all the components were screwed down tight. I'm a geek who takes prides in assembling things, but I think I've found my match; whoever built this computer did a bang-up job. So how quiet is this PC? With five low- speed case fans, a Zalman CPU cooler, a high-efficiency power supply, AcoustiPack case lining, and copper Smart Drive enclosures for the three Western Digital quiet drives, none of my SPL-reading devices would even register a level at more than a few inches from the power supply fan (the loudest component). Yeah, it's quiet-much quieter than the IsoBox that houses my Mac Pro. And the hard drives are inaudible. It's a safe bet that my next PC will also be from ••• Speaking of upgrading computers and dealing with the Mac's low slot-count, JB had this to say about finally moving beyond year 2002: "I realized that I needed to upgrade my computer on my Pro Tools HD3 system; my 867 MHz Dual G4 wasn't really cutting it anymore with current plug-ins that run native-especially virtual instruments. But, my HD cards are PCI, not PCIe, so I couldn't buy a new Mac Pro unless I paid the exorbitant upgrade costs for PCIe PT hardware. Plus, I needed four slots for my HD3 and UAD-1 (Tape Op #41) cards, and no G5's or better had four slots. Then I had a fluke two- day booking with Kanye West and his engineer Mike Dean, and they brought in their own HD rig with a Magma PCI Expansion Chassis ( I was always a bit skeptical about these, but Kanye and Mike said that their system worked great (and indeed it did for the whole session). So for less than $2000, I was able to buy a 7-slot Magma chassis, a 2.5 GHz Dual G5, and one more PT card. This should hold me until Digidesign announce whatever's next- hopefully native so I don't need a bunch of their cards-and I can buy a new ultra fast machine then. On a side note, the Magma worked perfectly, but the website warns against calling for tech support if you bought a unit on eBay, which is exactly what I did. However, I did call them for a power- supply part, and they were actually very helpful without ever asking me how I acquired the unit" •••Discussions about iPhone interference and how to quell it are all over the audio blogosphere. Even LC started a thread on the Tape Op Message Board ( entitled "iPhone RFI in the Studio Problems". I thought I'd seen it all until contributing writer Allen Farmelo sent this bit of warning in: "I recently wrote a review of the Frontier Design AlphaTrack control surface (Tape Op #64) and just learned that my iPhone, if too close, will move the fader when transmitting data! Embarrassingly, I recently sent out a print of a mix without a kick drum, and I had no idea why it disappeared. About a week later, I caught the AlphaTrack and the iPhone up to their little tricks and solved the mystery of the disappearing kick drum. (For me, kick is always channel one, and the AlphaTrack defaults to channel one.) Seems the iPhone likes to pull the fader down-in this case, an unhappy accident. For those who use iPhone and other similar devices, there may be more than the interference with the speakers to think about." ••• Contributing writer Joseph Lemmer's excellent review of two Dynatran camera tripods (Tape Op #65) inspired my filmmaker wife to buy a carbon-fiber Dynatran tripod and a separate fluid head for her Panasonic camera. In his review, Joseph explained how a relatively inexpensive camera tripod can take the place of a much more expensive heavy-duty mic stand. Sure enough, I tried out my wife's new tripod as a mic stand, and it worked great! Unfortunately, there's a caveat to this story, as Joseph explained in a followup email: "Today, ironically, on the same day my Tape Op arrived with the tripod review in it, I learned the hard way that I should've clarified one thing. The euro adapter only works with tripod legs that take separate head attachments, not with all-in-one tripods with built-in swivel heads. Cameras have a smaller, standard thread. I saw some tripods with swivel heads on special at for $10, so I bought four to augment my mic stand collection, not thinking of this difference. Dang."

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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