I’ve just ordered one of these. It’s a simple little bit of kit, just a USB stereo in/stereo out audio interface. But I feel quite tickled and can’t wait for it to arrive kind of thing.
A couple of days ago I realised I hadn’t played my electric guitar since I moved into this flat (over a year ago). It’s pretty much all that remains of the gear from my younger days when, like so many, I had rather over-enthusiastic visions of being some kind of rock musician. The rest of it- some lovely synthesizers, effects units, stuff like that, all got stolen and it still hurts to think about it. But the Westone Thunder 1A I bought with my first student grant cheque (lawks, those were the days) remains. 25 years old, a little scratched here and there, but still plays great. Even if I don’t. And never have.
So I fired up Native Instruments guitar rig, plugged the Westone into the mixer (I’ve got this nice little Behringer that for a long time now has been used as nothing but a headphone amp from the PC) and then realised how crap the old Soundblaster Live! card in the computer is. Well, it’s fine for everyday stuff, but if you stick a signal from it into guitar rig’s various amplifier simulators which boost the gain, you just hear all the noise it’s picking up from inside the PC. So, I could still play, but accompanied by various very loud noises not dissimilar to a person with a severe bowel condition in an echoey public lav.
I woke up early this morning and had a generally low level gruntled feeling, and Charlotte Gore’s latest blog post didn’t help much. It echoes something I’ve felt a lot, this sense of the hopelessness of us lot banging our heads against the brick wall of statism. I should have spent the morning drawing porn (I am as always severely behind schedule) but couldn’t pull it together through the mental fug. So I started thinking about how it would be nice to buy something, but being generally skint couldn’t afford to buy anything very expensive. I’d thought about the soundcard thing, but to get anything good they’re all rather costly. But I started punting around websites, realising how hopelessly behind I am in what’s on the market, and found this little Behringer box that seemed to be just what I’m looking for- it’s USB, external, shouldn’t pick up the masses of noise the Soundblaster does, and it’s an absolute snip at just 29 quid. Being impecunious, even that seemed a significant cost, but then I thought of the seventy quid the council extorts out of me every month to pay for bin inspectors, and whipped out my debit card and bought the thing.
Now I’m just sitting here trying to figure out what I’ll have to plug into what and route through the mixer, and making my head spin, since it’s years since I really did anything musical. The last significant thing in fact was CD of music for mp3.com, back in the heyday of Internets 1.0 and JESUS CHRIST THAT WAS TEN YEARS AGO. Yes, I feel old. I had less bald then. It’s not the greatest music ever produced, but I feel it was something of an achievement with such limited gear- a guitar, a mic, a midi controller keyboard and the soundblaster doing all the synths and drums. I recorded it in Cubase, and typing that I’ve just realised that my only copy of Cubase 3.7x must be on a hard drive I took out of the PC and will now have to install again somehow, but I don’t think there’s a spare IDE port because I disabled them when I put the SATA RAID card in… oh bollocks. I’ve still got the original Cubase CD, but the bugfixes and updates were downloads I stored on that disk. Sigh.
Will I get the urge to record again? I’ve got a nasty feeling I’m just going to sit here playing along with a drum loop like a sad middle aged man trying to recapture a youth which has fled.
What the hey, that’s fine too.
I’ve just dug out my CD of Cubase VST 3.65 (vintage 1998) and discovered it won’t run under XP anyway. At all. I suspect everything available these days will rather overhwelm the PC (vintage 2002).
I could do some kind of dual boot thing with Win98 but no, I’m too old for that shit, I can’t be arsed, it’s not worth the effort. Kind of annoying, because when this machine was running Win98, I have distinct memories that VST 3.x (which was at the limit of capabilities of my 300MHz PII in 1999 when I did all that recording) ran like grit through a goose.
My enthusiasm has waned, and my gruntlement returned.