See Plus Plus
Okay, so, the situation isn’t absolutely dire, but it is far from ideal nevertheless …
There’s not enough room and the acoustics just don’t bear thinking about — they’re actually a lot worse than you’d guess even from that photo … and a lot of time had to be spent with a measurement mic, SPL meter and analysis software to determine the EQ adjustments necessary to generate a house curve to counteract them.
You see those frequencies below 38Hz … they shouldn’t be there — they’re the result of reflection and resonance. And look at the double-dip trough between 38Hz and 76Hz and the second one around the 100Hz-to-110Hz mark. That’s some nasty phase cancellation, that is.
Equally, there’s really no call for the rapid decline from 5kHz on — if it isn’t also the result of phase cancellation then I don’t know what’s trapping things above that, but it’s hungry for high-end frequencies, whatever it is.
Furthermore, what isn’t displayed there (because the scale is so great) are the extra peaks from around 10Hz down to around 2Hz — the situation is just out of control, I’m telling you.
It’s supposed to be this
(Hence the need for a compensatory EQ curve across the master out in the DAW)
But this is how things are for now and the foreseeable, whilst we wait to see what the long term outcome of both the pandemic and Brexit are, so I might as well make the best of them that I can.
I really need another two computers on which to run FX plugin hosts and free up some processing power on the laptop. As you’ll no doubt be entirely unsurprised to learn, I don’t send submixes to busses but use inserts to sculpt each sound individually … which rapidly results in my CPU maxing out and just about everything I’m not immediately tweaking being frozen, in order to prevent everything from stuttering. But that’s no good for workflow: when I need to readjust something to compensate for changes to something else, unfreezing and then re-freezing is time spent twiddling my thumbs … which kills the spontaneity.
So, offloading as much as possible to dedicated FX hosts via a DDMF Metaplugin latency compensated Reastream over the network is definitely the mid-to-long term plan and I’ve got a couple of headless micro-ITX boxes in mind for that purpose in the Future, but it’s not financially viable right now — I can’t really justify splashing out on them just because I’m feeling first world finicky about my creative flow, you know.
However, another matter is the severe dearth of desktop real estate.
I don’t worry overly about the mixer: gain-staging and volume setting aside, I don’t really need to go near it for most of the time (everything else is handled by inserts and automation in the track/channel view), so it can sit on the laptop’s display at the back until I need to drag it onto a closer monitor for the purpose of tweaking the channel volumes a bit.
The track/channel view takes up the monitor on the left.
Metering/analysis takes up the display on the right.
Which means I’m out of space for instrument/FX plugins. Sure, I can place them on top of the other views, but that means I end up covering my view of the material and the metering/analysis plugins — and that’s just no good when I’m trying to see where something happens in time, what it is and what needs doing about it, what I’m actually doing with the plugin that is making it happen/resolving the matter … and I’ve only room to see 50% of what I need to see.
I’ve got some spare monitors I could press into service, but I’ve run out of ports: the HDMI feeds the left-hand display, the right-hand monitor is fed by a USB-to-VGA converter, the audio interface takes up a USB port, a seven-port USB hub takes care of a lot of duties but I still need a free USB port for those things that just won’t play nicely through it.
Enter the StarTech VGA/Cat5/UTP Extender.
If it’ll let me extend my desktop and not just mirror it, then I’ll be laughing: an HDMI-to-VGA cable, four VGA-to-HDMI cables, a length of CAT5 and that’d be five external monitors instead of two; enough for one dedicated to monitoring/analysis, one for the track view and three for instruments/FX.
It still wouldn’t really be enough for my purposes (really I need a display per instrument and a display, or three, for each channel’s FX plugins ¹), but it’d be a not insignificant improvement over the current situation and I’m not even sure how I’d fit another three monitors into the equation right now anyway — even without my decks, mixer, games consoles, Blu-Ray player, etc. there just isn’t the room.
A friend had the clever idea to use a KVM switch to route the inputs to a single monitor though — so, although I’d only be able to work on one channel’s instruments and/or FX at a time, I could flip between three screens’ worth … which would be preeeeeeeetty sweet, all things considered, I think you’ll agree 😀
So, here’s hoping StarTech can come through for me — fingers crossed.
¹ You see the ‘featured image’ for this post … imagine it’s a large room and each of those small images is itself a large, widescreen sized display. Each block of 3x9 monitors is approximately 7m wide by 10m high. And those speakers are big (about 1 metre in diametre).
That’s how many desktop real estate I really need — a room full … in a dirty, great, big room!