Friday, 15 January 2016

The GTK Studio

My little studio.

My little piece of heaven.

My sanctuary.

My retreat.

It's true to say that over the last four-five years it's seen a number of changes. From next to nothing, to being filled to the brim with synths and tech, back to virtually nothing again. It's really been a whole lot of fun seeing the equipment come and go, doing the deals, plumbing it all and moving it all around only having to plumb it all in again, selling it, doing more deals and then going VERY virtual.

18 months later, I don't miss the hardware at all, in fact, it was probably the best thing to do for me as an individual. I really do prefer the immediacy and flexibility of software-based synthesis and music creation, but it's not for all. And personally speaking, I don't care one little bit if the Arturia Modular V 2 doesn't sound like a real Moog Modular system - never played with a real one and probably never will, so it makes any kind of comment or remark totally invalid and a basic waste of time doesn't it. Anyway, it's software all the way now with a few cool (and aged like me) MIDI controllers to keep it in check.

2016 saw a much-needed update to the GTK Studio music computer. It's nearly five years old now and whilst working on the "Interpretations" album, I've been experiencing it's limitations. However, the positive side of this is that there was no need for me to buy a whole new system (and really, this is where a lot of people go wrong and the computer shops rub their grubby hands with glee), because DIY upgrading is as simple as it comes. Here was the plan:

1. Renew the processor (the most important upgrade)
2. Replace existing HDD with a Solid State Drive (SSD)

I had a budget to work to and so I decided that I would go for a newer and significantly more powerful processor, but, because of the budget limitations, it would not be the very latest one. On the RAM front, I had already upgraded the system's memory from 8GB to 16GB last year, so that was one less thing to consider.

The GTK Studio computer came with an Intel Pentium G840 2.8ghz dual core processor, and it has been brilliant to work with on the music and photography. However, my increased use of high end processing and synthesizer plugins pushed the G840 well past it's capabilities, plus 2016 will see more photography and also more video work linked to the music. I opted to stay with Intel, and the processor I chose to upgrade to was the Intel i5 3570 3.4GHz quad core, which is proving to be an absolute diamond of a thing.

For the SSD, I chose the Kingston SSDNow 120GB V300. It's bloody amazing. The speed at which Windows 10 boots is phenomenal, as is how fast programs such as Photoshop, Cubase and VideoStudio fire up - I certainly wish I'd invested in SSD long ago. However, I made something of an error regarding the choice of SSD size - 120GB has proven to be too small and I am still having to use the original hard drive for the music software, so I have somewhat held the speed back thereby slightly defeating the object of getting an SSD. That said, the 120GB configuration is actually working fine at the moment, but I plan to get a much larger SSD later this year which will mean another re-install session, but I'm okay with that as it will be worth the time investment.

The sale of the hardware back in August 2014, provided me with the funds to really go to town on the software, and one of my first purchases was the incredible Omnisphere synthesizer from Spectrasonics. It's a beast of biblical proportions and can create the most amazing layered sounds and textures. Coupled with the equally fantastic Nexus² from reFX, and you have a real behemoth of a sound palette.

Another favoured company of mine is Waves. Highly regarded and with good reason, their  products are basically excellent. Over the last year, I have taken full advantage of their regular sales and stocked with some pretty stonking bits and pieces, such as the indispensable C4 multi-band compressor or the fabulous V-EQ3 and V-EQ4 equalisers. I have a new and very loving relationship with their dbx-160 compressor/limiter as well as their linear phase multi-band compressor and linear phase EQ.

So, the GTK Studio computer is now beefed ready to tackle the demands of the "Interpretations" album and I have to say that it is like having a brand new computer, such is the speed provided by both the processor and the SSD.

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