Yosemite / mac mini

Posted: October 22, 2014 in Apple
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OSX Yosemite performance on a mid-2010 mac mini (NVidia 320M) reminds first 10.0 version : text rendering is 3 times slower (slow redraw when resizing windows), OpenGL is 2 times slower, and user interface test is 10 times slower ! Also opening windows (files listing) is slower, while the new UI theme shouldn’t require more power (it should be faster as it is simplistic – Googlish / Windowish -, without all previous refinements that ultimately landed into Mavericks, not mentioning still non fixed firewire disks sleep issue and trim issue).

Then Apple may use some new OpenGL 4 only APIs for Quartz, while older macs only support OpenGL 3.3.

The new mac mini have half the CPU cores than previous ones, do not allow adding RAM, and only provide an Iris graphics chipset (Iris Pro would have been at least required). Also new imac’s Nvidia 750M graphics card is old.

We now then have to either buy a retina imac ($2500) or mac pro ($2999), or wait for upcoming Broadwell based hackintosh (that will offer same performance for half power requirements, and then will allow smaller enclosure). Also Intel will release an updated Iris Pro.

We then want Scott Forstall (OS features and design), Jon Rubinstein (hardware leading edge with custom processors – should come with A8x) and Bertrand Serlet (Snow Leopard) back, as new team really isn’t talented (except iPad/iPhone hardware engineering).

Apple may unveil ARM based mac mini running an ARM version of Yosemite this month, as it didn’t release Haswell refresh based mac mini nor would wait next year’s Broadwell processors. The new mac mini may include (many) new PowerVR GX6650 GPU, that is 82x faster than first PowerVR chip in iPhone 3G. It includes 192 FP32 ALU cores with up to 384 FLOPs per cycle, that means up to 250 GFLOPs (384 x 650 000 000) at 650MHz (with 32 bits precision). It is able to process 12 pixels per clock and 12 texels per clock, that is about 8 Gpixels/s and 8 Gtexels/s.

Intel Iris Pro 5200 chipset reachs 832 GFLOPS, 10.4 Gpixels/s and 20.8 Gtexels/s. That is a mac mini fitted with 3 PowerVR GX6650 chips may run as fast, for less than 10W power consumption (about 2-3W per PowerVR GX6650 chip at that frequency), while the Iris Pro requires 47W.

Apple A7 performance reached 75 Gflops at 1.3 Ghz (that is 4W power consumption). The new A8 (also 2 cores hower at 1.4 Ghz) is 25 percent faster and 50 percent more power efficient. As an A7 processor at the same frequency would require 4.3W, the A8 power consumption may be about 2.2W (and that is including a PowerVR GX6450), then an A8 fitted with a PowerVR GX6650 may require 4 to 5W, and reach 94 Gflops.

The new mac mini (or iMac) may finally include 4 A8 chips (that is 8 CPU cores) with a PowerVR GX6650 each, and then reach 376 Gflops for CPU and 1000 Gflops for GPU. It would then be close to a common x86 Intel Corei5 (fitted with HD4400 GPU chipset), that reaches 430 Gflops for CPU (however at 35W power consumption compared to about 18W for a quad A8) and far more less score (about half performance) for GPU. Also the extra GPU resources available on the quad A8 may be used through OpenCL and compensate for the lower base CPU performance.

The new mac enclosure may be a smaller version of new mac pro’s one. It may be priced $500.

Roland FA EXP-07 / EXP-08

Posted: September 29, 2014 in Audio
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Roland provides through axial site EXP-07 Brass Collection (samples from SRX-11) and EXP-08 Strings Collection (samples from SRX-04). We are then expecting an Orchestra Collection, that will include samples from SRX-06. Next, Roland may sell new collections, that will bring new samples.

UVI Vintage Vault review

Posted: August 20, 2014 in Audio
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UVI now provides Vintage Vault, that includes most of their vintage synths samples libraries at reduced price ($499). I wasn’t convinced by Digital Synsations demo, however I thought the full version may provide interesting sounds, as well as other libraries, as the demo tracks were great.

After two days digging through the presets of most of them (Digital Synsations, The Beast, DarlightIIx, Emulation one and 2, Vector synths, DX part from Vintage Legends, vintage drumbeats, string machines), I didn’t found more than a dozen of convincing sounds, a few from Digital Synsations (except those created with M1,  the least intersting) and The Beast.

As sampling of factory presets isn’t allowed, UVI had to create custom sounds and a few that remind popular presets (providing clue in the naming) – among useful ones we can find patches derived from D-50 factory presets (as did Bitley in his Kontakt Project library), some created using SY77, and some from Synclavier.

Besides not being inspiring, the provided instruments sound harsh (not pleasant) and the number of multi-samples seems limited, leading to aliasing (expected for Farilight and Emu ones as they weren’t multisamples, however not from D-50 – combination of single samples and oscillators – and SY77 – combination of multi-samples and FM), and low definition. Samples from Bitley Kontakt Project (D50 and also Fairlight) sounded really greater.

The settings interface tries to fool use reminding the corresponding synths, however besides reusing same colors and some panels/screens details, the provided settings don’t match (can’t as these are sampled instruments – no access to partials/oscillators nor synthesis specific parameters). As expected, the global enveloppes (amplitude and filter), effects and some sound “color” settings don’t bring anything useful. We are stuck with low quality-sampled quickly created/uninspiring patches.

For a lower price, we may better get Bitley Kontakt Project (for D-50, other modern synths, Fairlight/vintage samplers, vintage synths – also it is an evolving project), Zero-G Nostalgia (notably for strings machines and Emu samples), NI Retro Maschines (high quality sampled vintage synths and string machines) and NI FM8 (provides access to FM parameters).

For the same price we can add NI Massive, GForce impOscar (the most powerful sounding software based synth), Synthmaster (not as powerful sounding however providing fine grained sounds, many parameters – including samples import – and great arpeggiated patches) and some plugins from Arturia.

Also NI Komplete is far more useful, despite not being the best package.

As with most samples libraries, UVI doesn’t not allow selling/transfering the license to another ilok user/account, you may then download Digital Synsations demo. UVI Vintage Vault isn’t really more useful than the bad sounding IK Sampletank whole library.

 

Roland added new samples collections for FA synths at axial site. The EXP04 Concert Piano Collection brings samples from SRX02 card, EXP05 Electric piano collection contains samples from SRX12, and EXP06 Studio collection includes those from SRX03.

Linear D2 samples library update adds new sounds (4x larger size) and a new demo (mp4 format, also ogg version).

These long looped Kontakt instruments were sampled from Roland D-20’s custom patches, based on its unique  resonant filter (finer grain than D-50’s one, that can’t reproduce these).

YFM : exclusive FM library for Kontakt

Posted: February 24, 2014 in Audio
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Linear Samples released YFM samples library for Kontakt 4 (full version required). It provides exclusive SFX and ambiant sounds (38 instruments) created on latest 4 operators FM synths (YS series). These cannot be reproduced by software FM plugins as they rely on fast LFO and sample and hold mode.

It is available through emotuned music platform (priced $29) and we can listen to audio demo songs.