PreSonus Blog

Bug Hunting

October 20,2011

You know you’ve just done a major release when you spend the entire day doing nothing but answer emails and you still have more in your Inbox than you had when you started. That was my entire day yesterday – I think I got to what I laughingly call “home” at about 11pm, and then I was so pumped up I ended up catching up on old episodes of Dexter until the wee hours of the morning just to relax.

Today I’m having a look through the forums to see how we’re doing as well as passing on some bug reports. Although this thing has been in beta for months (we really did a long beta test), it’s inevitable that in software this complex there are going to be bugs that everyone misses. You might think that’s ridiculous, but you’d be surprised.

Let’s take the most simple thing I can imagine – say we are in the business of releasing a new, improved coin flipper. It’s a coin that you toss up and it comes down heads or tails. That’s about as simple a product as I can imagine – there are only two variable states that you can have: heads or tails. What could possibly go wrong? But let’s assume that thousands of people buy Coin Flipper and start tossing it up. Sooner or later, if enough people toss it enough times, by some bizarre turn of events, it’s going to end up on its edge instead of landing heads or tails. That’s a bug. OK let’s solve that! Easy solution: we mill the edge so it is really thin to make it harder for the coin to land on its edge and stay upright. Everyone is happy with the new, improved Coin Flipper 2.0. But then some newbie with no experience tries catching it and the new improved thin (and now very sharp) edge cuts them. Ouch! So by fixing the little tiny bug for pro users we have created a really major bug for new people entering the fine sport of coin flipping. The forums go crazy with users screaming at the Coin Flipper developers for missing such a huge bug. And so it goes…

Now that’s the simplest example I can think of. Multiply that by the (literally) millions of permutations of things that people want to do with a modern Digital Audio Workstation and you’ll get some idea of what bug fixing is like. And we’re pretty lucky compared to some companies out there, since the internal Studio One code is really modern, modular and efficient. It’s a lot easier and faster for us to fix bugs than it is for some of the other guys. That’s why if you look in your PreSonus User Account you’ll find that the installer for Studio One 2 in there is already 2.0.1 build 16909 even though we only officially released version 2.0 on Tuesday morning. And I’m writing this one Thursday afternoon…

Actually the biggest problem I find with bug fixing is people frequently don’t report them. When I’m out doing shows I get people coming up to me all the time saying things like “Well I guess you know about this bug already, so why didn’t you fix it yet?” and then mention something that I’ve never heard of. When I ask if they reported it, the answer is usually “I just assumed you guys would know already.” No, we don’t – unless you tell us. Pretty much everyone at PreSonus is a musician and a Studio One user in our “spare time” so we do actually find stuff all the time – that’s how we come up with our ideas, we scratch our own itch as they say. But we can’t possibly cover all the millions of things our thousands of users come up with, so please please please do tell us when we screw something up. That’s how we make this stuff better.

We’re not going to be happy until we’ve created the greatest piece of music software the world has ever seen. So beta testers and bug hunters: thanks for helping us with that. We really do appreciate it.  :-)

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Posted by rodney



… and breathe

October 18,2011

It’s 18.30 in Germany and the news on 2.0 has pretty much hit round the world now. We just finished the first of three live webcasts, I’ve been fielding excited questions from stores and magazines all day, and I finally feel like I can breathe again. There’s another webcast at 21.00 German time, and I’ve (stupidly) agreed to hang out in the office until then and join in on that one too – I really don’t want to miss anything (well, I’ll miss dinner, but whatever…).

Responses by mail and on the forum has been extremely positive so far, which doesn’t really surprise me to be honest, I’ve been using this thing since June already, and I know just how awesome it is, but it’s still very gratifying to see that other people love it too. Unfortunately our servers are getting hammered with people wanting to upgrade or download the demo. No matter how much we increase our server capacity, we still get taken by surprise :-)

So now to relax a little and sit back before the next show…

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Posted by rodney



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Today is the day…

October 18,2011

After more than two years of work, we finally show everyone Studio One version 2. It didn’t really hit me fully until I looked on Twitter and saw that Celemony already put up a video showing the integration of Melodyne and S1. Although I’ve been secretly showing lots of journalists myself how it works over the past weeks, it’s the first time I’ve seen someone else actually using it – and wow… it’s amazing to see it from another perspective. It really is unbelievably that good!

Am so excited to see what people think now…

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Posted by rodney



Am in the Hamburg office at the moment, helping to get the last things done before we release Studio One 2. Last week was stupidly busy, and I think this week will be no different.

Was in Berlin last few days – my first stop there was the studio of musotalk.de, which is a great German website specialising in in-depth gear reviews. I’ve known the main guy behind it, Non Eric, for many years but I was still very surprised at what a great webcasting setup he has there. He’s a real one-man band, running a highly professional operation using state-of-the-art gear, pretty much on his own, with just some camera guys when needed. All the audio editing is done on Studio One as well, which is pretty awesome.

On the downside, he insisted on me using his five year old Macintosh to demo Studio One on, and some of my demo material uses ridiculous amount of processing (my demo laptop is a PC Audio Labs machine with a quad-core i7 inside). So I had to do some serious fiddling to get everything working – but much to my surprise, it did! Quite remarkable that our super modern kick-ass software will still run well on relatively ancient technology. So if you’re running an old machine, guess what, it’s still going to be pretty awesome. The new Transform Track feature helps a lot here, because you can easily transform MIDI Instrument tracks with tons of plugins into Audio tracks that use very little power, including all the inserts on those tracks. What even more remarkable is you can edit the transformed track as much as you like, and still transform it back to MIDI while preserving your edits! It’s a killer feature, and totally saved my life during this demo!

We did a great show in the end – Musotalk wanted to shoot the whole thing live, which was a hell of a challenge given what we were doing, but we shot for about an hour and it worked out great. The video will be online from Tuesday 18th, so if you are a German speaker, do check it out. (But please forgive my less-than-perfect German!)

 

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Posted by rodney



Audio Random Access, or ARA, is an extension to existing plug-in models like VST 3, VST 2, and Audio Units.

When we planned the PreSonus Studio One 2 release cycle, one of the features that we discussed was pitch editing, a function that many users need to fix errors in a performance. Some competing applications have pitch editing built in, but in a limited way, lacking access to details like vibrato. We considered building a solution using technology supplied by zPlane, who make the timestretch engine built into Studio One, but it would have been a very labor-intensive project.

Celemony’s Melodyne
seemed to be the best solution for graphical pitch editing, so we looked at the reasons a user would want an integrated solution instead of using the Melodyne VST plug-in. It turned out that a number of workflow issues made the VST plug-in inconvenient to use, but these issues could be solved by a collaboration between Celemony and PreSonus. We proposed to Celemony an extension of existing audio plug-in APIs that would give them the required additional access to the host audio data.

The major workflow issues we identified were these:

  1. The Melodyne VST plug-in uses a recording process to transfer the audio that is to be edited in Melodyne. But with ARA technology, Melodyne now has direct access to the audio data via the ARA interface, so that the user does not have to record manually.
  2. Once the audio was transferred to the Melodyne VST plug-in, there was no way to arrange the material, as Melodyne did not have any notion of what an audio event in the application was. Now, with, ARA Melodyne “knows” that an audio event is being edited, and because the Melodyne editing data travels with the audio event, the user can still freely edit the data.
  3. To free the processing power that a plug-in like Melodyne needs to do its tricks, the user had to “freeze” the material. At that point, the editing data was lost, and the user could not go back to make changes. Now, in Studio One, you can just freeze an event-based effect such as Melodyne to free the processing power. This freeze is reversible, so you can simply go back to the real-time processing and continue editing.

Our solution fixes all of these issues and gives us options to use additional capabilities of Melodyne and similar plug-ins in the future. For instance, Melodyne has the ability to extract a tempo curve from the audio material, which could be used.

If you want to see ARA in action, click here.

ARA will be licensed to other interested plug-in vendors in the future, free of charge. Companies interested in using the API should contact Celemony.

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Posted by Wolfgang Kundrus