Updated: Working with the top PC developer Cakewalk, we’ve gotten a more complete picture of pro audio and music creation in Vista. See our new story Vista for Music + Pro Audio: Exclusive Under the Hood with Cakewalk’s CTO. All that’s here, of course, remains relevant.

Jim Allchin from Microsoft today posts an excellent description of some of the audio improvements in Windows Vista, singling out those features that will benefit all Vista users:

  1. Per-app mixer levels: A single menu lets you mix actual application levels in one, central location, accessible right from the system tray.
  2. Virtual surround, which Vista calls “speaker fill”, but which nicely enough adapts to different speaker configurations
  3. Headphone virtualization for creating surround-like space in headphones

More on the volume mixer at beta @ amanzi

It’s great to see Allchin, the man in charge of Microsoft’s OS division and a musician himself, so interested in audio features. Of these, the one I think you’ll definitely find useful is per-app mixing, if for no other reason than you’ll be able to easily mute other apps so you don’t interrupt gigs. (Fortunately, Microsoft reversed course and chose to allow you to disable the Windows startup sound planned for Vista, meaning the OS can be configured for completely silent running — minus SONAR, Ableton, FL Studio, Max/MSP and your other music apps!)

Apple, if you’re listening, this is one feature I’d like to see built into Mac OS X, as well. (I think there’s a third-party Mac app that does this, but I can’t remember; on Windows XP, Flashmute will at least stop Myspace pages from blaring in your browser.)

Of course, there are still plenty of Vista questions serious musicians will want answered, like, “will our audio interfaces break and will we still have to reinstall drivers and hack the Registry every time we reconnect some USB gear to a different port?” Microsoft has confirmed the audio stack has been completely rewritten for Vista, but some of the details were still unclear at an Audio Summit held this summer. Now that we’re closer to release, I’m working on getting some of these answers for CDM. I should have some details well before the official Vista release, still — let’s check that Vista counter — 54 days away.

  • The added a new layer between an app and a sound driver. Might be interesting for customers but for musicians this doesn't help.

    I can do exactly the same thing Vista is offering with my RME Hammerfall Multimix, because I have already routed different apps to different channels. But that's a native hardware mixer on the card, so I suspect Vista to add a bit of latency because of this extra added layer.

    In my opinion: Vista doesn't offer anything new for professional audio engineers and musicians.

  • Mark

    I'm fortunate (?) enough to have MSDN access and I've been running with the RTM release of Vista for a few weeks now. I dual boot between a daily use config and a DAW config. I tried to get Vista to perform both of these roles, but trying to get my EMU card's drivers and ASIO working proved impossible. I could get the card to work but only through DirectX/MME, not using ASIO. On top of that, the PatchMix application needs to be started manually each time and without it there's no sound. So for now, my DAW partition is back to XP! Perhaps a few hours of twiddling would have fixed Vista, but I haven't got the time – I'll just go back to what I know works.

    On the other hand, the Vista installation that I'm using for my general purpose stuff is great!

  • Well, that's settled it for me. Next time I'm buying, I'm getting a Mac.

  • henri

    Microsoft did an incredebly lousy job in enticing high-end / pro audio cards manufacturers to write Vista drivers for their stuff, so adoption will be months if not years in the pro audio market.

  • Dan Nigrin

    What MS really needs to do is to integrate something like Jack into the OS… Stephane Letz, who did the Jack port to OS X, is making headway on Windows… http://www.grame.fr/~letz/jackdmp.html

  • I hear your skepticism; I just think we don't have enough information at this point to say "Vista is useless" / "Vista is a must-have upgrade" / "Vista will change the fabric of reality" when it comes to audio stuff. We will have that information very soon, though, so consider this a teaser. To bastardize Fiddler on the Roof, "Microsoft made us wait for Vista all our lives. I suppose we can wait a few weeks more."

    Marco, the Volume Mixer feature is intended for use with the OS sounds (like those Fripp themes we were hearing), and "consumer" apps (think web browser, Winamp, and such). I'm getting more details, but my current understanding is that you won't even see Reason here. Also, at least respective to XP, the internal audio drivers do have a reduced round-trip latency — though, again, the ones you'd use for something like your RME may still be using the ASIO model.

    Mark, I think what you're seeing isn't something you could fix or something wrong with Vista, per se; I think we'll just need new drivers. I don't want to talk about this too much: it will work, definitely, it probably won't work now because there aren't the third-party drivers out yet, and exactly how it works we'll no soon. You'll also see two ways of running music software, both those that have been updated for Vista and those that haven't. I just don't know what that will mean, so it's too soon to judge, and it's not something you can see just by running the current Vista build.

    Henri, I can't speak for Microsoft's relations with its third-party developers, but a phased-in adoption of months isn't uncommon in the pro audio market. I usually have to wait a couple of months before Apple's incremental updates. Do I *like* to wait? No, of course not, especially with machines pre-installed with the new OS (something of which third parties are no doubt aware). But we still have weeks before you can even buy Vista, and we should have more information on this. At least a couple of developers I've talked to are already running Vista and I know I'll dual-boot it here. Whatever happens, we'll be able to keep tabs on progress.

    I'm also getting more details soon about how drivers will work for our stuff on Vista, what's involved for developers in porting, and how things are coming from third-parties. Until then, I'd say it's just too soon to call one way or the other.

    But Dan, here's a Hallelujah on your comment. There's a misconception that Core Audio on OS X sort of does everything you'd ever want to do with audio at the OS level, and for me, JACK on OS X is proof you can make it even better. I may talk to Stephane directly about this, but I'd love to see JACK running on both XP and Vista, too, because whatever Vista has, it won't be anywhere close to being as sophisticated as JACK.

    Thanks for your comments and keep them coming; I just wanted to clarify these points. As I said, more actual information rather than just speculation soon …

  • Mark

    Peter – I totally agree with your comments on my situation. In fact, the whole reason I'm keeping my DAW on XP is to give the vendors a few months to release updated drivers. At that point, everything should be fixed! It's for that reason that I've not yet switched to 64-bit Vista either. I have a 64-bit capable PC, but waiting for supported drivers and software that can exploit 64-bit Vista will be at least a year away I would think. Hello, Live 7 🙂

  • Oh, yeah … and one thing I should make totally clear, I'm not going to advocate anyone switching until drivers and apps are ready. Worth waiting for that.

  • RichardL

    I've been using Vista on my Core Duo laptop (essentially the same hardware as a MacBook Pro) since summer. I'm currently running the release version of Vista Ultimate. (MSDN RTM build 6000 32-bit).

    Overall I am quite pleased with Vista. It's a worthwhile update that many will find worth the effort to adopt. It's faster than XP, but mostly there are many many refinements that make the environment more efficient to work in.

    Vista also presents new HD audio hardware support. New drivers will probably be required to make use of these HD audio capabilities.

    My experience has been entirely with the 32-bit version of Vista. I've read that 64-bit XP drivers are completely incompatible with 64-bit Vista.

    I've found almost all my audio software runs fine and is quite happy on Vista.

    Hardware drivers are going the be the sticky point. I suspect in many cases 32-bit support won't be too difficult since there is lots of backward compatibility built into the interfaces, but many of the installers don't work.

    Specifically. I have successfully installed the drivers for a Edirol PCR-1. ASIO, DirectX and MIDI all work fine. I had to use the 1.01 XP drivers. (I tried installing a "newer" set of drivers of the Roland.com site and these refused to install.)

    I have had no luck with my M-Audio ProjectMix which uses M-Audio's Firewire Family drivers.

    I have not tried the drivers for the Line 6 PodXT yet nor another Edirol interface I own.

    Hopefully, the hardware vendors will at least match the effort they did to support the Intel Macs last year. 32-bit support at least shouldn't require anything like to the level of development needed for Intel Mac. However the QA and release cycles are always going to be a strain on a developer's resources.

    Some tips for installing stuff on Vista.

    – Run installers locally not over a LAN.

    – Run installers as an Administrator (right-click menu option).

    – Run installers in XPsp2-compatibility-mode (right-click the exe or a shortcut to the installer, under the compatibility tab choose XP. You can also check Run as Administrator on that tab.)

    – If you have trouble authorizing or registering your software try running the app as Administrator (again under the right-click menu).

    Under Vista even if your account is an Administrator account you now run in an "almost administrator" state. Processes that require administrator permission require specific authorization (much like OS-X). And tasks that are running don't have full Administrator access even though you are an Administrator. I suspect many copy protection schemes and authorizations took advantage of that access to peak at and write serial numbers and keys to secure parts of the OS. Vista seems to sometimes prevent these since they are security violations. So sometimes you must explicitly elevate a task to run as Administrator to allow serialization to work.

    Vista also has a Program Compatibility Wizard to help with this stuff. Try it. I'm not certain if the final OS install puts a shortcut to the Wizard on the destop, but if you search in Vista's Help you will find a link to it.

  • Hi Richard,

    Wow, this is really terrific — and if I do wind up testing Vista soon, this will be much-needed advice.

    I had also heard that 64-bit XP drivers won't work on 64-bit Vista. Then again, there aren't a whole lot of those, and those that are out there came from vendors like Edirol who have a pretty close relationship with Microsoft. I'm hopeful that this time 64-bit will catch on, as there is some real benefit there for audio.

  • RichardL

    I forgot to add the M-Audio MIDI Sport UNO installs and works fine, but the drivers need to be installed in XP-compatibility-mode otherwise the installer refuses.

  • propellerhead software released this statement a few days ago…

    you read right:

    ReWire is broken on vista, and non propellerhead apps that read rex files – can't do so under vista.

    propellerheads are working on fixing this, though – which is what pisses me the most. I'd rather they spend time working on a new version this fixing the stuff that microsoft broke.

  • Thanks for the link! Also good to know!

    Of course, if operating system developers would start building these features into the OS, we wouldn't have to have these issues. Apple routinely breaks this stuff all the time; Microsoft hasn't released a major OS upgrade in five years, which has been comparatively easy on compatibility. So, assuming this really does benefit security (I don't know, honestly), I'm for it.

    As Dan and others have observed, it'd be really great to have a single, universal library for audio, MIDI, and sync between apps. Even OS X doesn't really do this; it does basic, fairly rigid MIDI, and without third-party tools can't even do audio. You'd get broader capabilities, better integration, and — if you get the OS developer to implement it — they have to break/fix it, not someone else.

  • RichardL

    Audio Software I have been running successfully under Vista Ultimate 32-bit:

    Ableton Live 5.2

    Ableton Live 6.01

    – Note Live disables Vista Aero Glass while running.

    NI Reaktor 5.12 and previous version. (New version uses new registration system.)

    Bome's MIDI translator

    Sony ACID Pro 6 (haven't tried Kompakt)

    Sony Vegas Pro 6 (haven't tried DVD Architect)

    – Installer notes that MS SQL MSDE database engine has known compatibility problems with Vista. So I didn't install it. So Sony Media Manager in ACID and Vegas doesn't run.

    QuickTime Pro

    iTunes 7


    Software that doesn't work or install:

    MIDI Yoke – doesn't install

    ASIO 4 All – installs but doesn't see any WDM devices. (Maybe there aren't any.)

  • RichardL

    Rewire seems to work to some degree between Live and ACID, but there might be problems. (I know. Problems with Rewire! What next?)

  • richardl

    Also the Line 6 PODxt Live installs and seems to work fine: MIDI, ASIO, DirectX as well as device control through Line 6 Edit.

    Update on ASIO 4 All: It seems to work but it only sees legacy WDM DirectX devices not new HD Audio devices.

  • It's nice to see some audio software will run under Vista, but what about all the older sound cards, software synth editors (PatchPro, FS1R Editor, Triton Controller, etc.) A lot of these will probably never be updated to work under Vista.

    For me, switching to Mac is not an option, as there are no OSX editors available for my hardware synths.

    Paranoia Corner:

    Set your Windows automatic upgrades to warn, but not download or install, as I suspect Microsoft will implement patches that are meant to "motivate" you to upgrade to Vista; after all, who wants to fix what ain't broke (sic)?

  • Concerning jack on Windows, the server is quite usable, but the tools to use it (namely Qjackctl) is still too buggy for the gobal system to be widely announced. The best way is to currently start the server in a console and use Qjackctl later on to handle applications audio connections. The readme file describes that in more details.

  • Richard Fricks

    In addition to the Consumer related Audio Improvements, Windows Vista includes new features of interest to the Pro-Audio community. Hidden under the surface of Windows Vista’s exterior are some lean and mean components that will have a positive impact in the Pro-Audio space. Worthy of mention is the new WaveRT port driver for audio devices. The “RT” stands for “Real-Time” and reflects the efforts of the audio team to provide a low latency audio path by using the new real-time scheduling features that debut in Windows Vista. Latency is reduced further by providing the audio engine with direct access to the memory being used by the audio DMA engine thereby eliminating the need for memory copies. The end result is a low-latency audio stream that requires fewer host-CPU cycles.

    Windows Vista also provides a new set of Core Audio API’s that will be of benefit to Pro-Audio application developers. For example, the Windows Audio Session API’s (WASAPI) will allow an application to open the audio endpoint in exclusive mode bypassing Windows Vista’s audio engine. These are the API’s that serve as the foundation for higher-level API’s such as DirectSound and Media Foundation. By exposing this type of low-level API's, Pro-Audio application developers can access the features necessary to achieve minimum latency.

    Another area that bears mentioning is the huge investment made to clean up the audio subsystem for Windows Vista. The results of removing components such as Kmixer and SysAudio from kernel mode and rewriting their functionality in a more efficient manner in user mode is a cleaner path for the audio stream and a boost for system reliability.

    The challenge with making these types of changes is maintaining a 100% level of compatibility with currently existing applications and drivers. While that is the goal, and many audio drivers will continue to function under Vista as-is, it is also true that in certain cases, it will be necessary to update to a newer version of the driver. If you encounter an issue with audio after migrating from XP, it is worthwhile to check the Website for the OEM or IHV for your audio device and see if a new driver is available. For example, it was mentioned in an earlier post that an ASIO driver was having a problem running under Windows Vista. Windows Vista will work with ASIO and there are ASIO implementations that are running on this platform. Be sure to check with the ASIO vendor to see if an updated version corrects the problem.

    On an unrelated point, but to shed some light on the mystery of why plugging in a USB device can retrigger installation of the drivers. The Windows Operating System uses the serial number string descriptor imbedded in the device as a method for identifying the same device plugged into different ports. If the USB device does not contain this descriptor then the OS is unable to uniquely identify it as being the same device that was plugged into the initial port and therefore retriggers installation. USB Devices that do contain this descriptor will not exhibit that behavior.

    I hope you find this information useful.



  • Hi Richard,

    Thanks for these details!

    Incidentally, I wasn't implying the only benefits were on the consumer side — only that I'm waiting on more official details via Microsoft on the exact specifics of the pro side, which is a story that's a little more technically involved. You, of course, know these details far better than I do!

    I'm still unclear on a couple of things though. I'm familiar with the basic idea behind WaveRT, but is this something where we'll be able to use WaveRT devices alongside ASIO? My understanding was we'd sort of still be looking at all-ASIO drivers for anything beyond casual work.

    WASAPI sounds great; is the reality that we'll be using Vista-updated ASIO drivers to tap into that API?

    The serial number string explanation is interesting; that certainly would make sense to me. I'm going to dig in and look at my devices now to see which have that.

    The separate, if related, issue is the capped wave and MIDI device entries in the Registry. I've seen devices routinely take up four spaces, by installing multiple driver models for compatibility or for individual ports (like an external MIDI port on a USB keyboard). Once those slots are gone, drivers cease working, and there's little notification the user that anything is wrong (other than their device mysteriously fails to work). This is hugely frustrating for even fairly savvy users. (And for me, if it winds up happening when I'm at a gig!) I also just had an experience this week where a webcam installation wiped out an audio driver, again seeming to be related to having to use these static Windows NT-style Registry entries. Now, of course, maybe this is partly the fault of the third-party driver implementation — but it's very, very common, so if the developers are doing it wrong (which they may be), a lot of them are doing this wrong. Maybe that will be something that's fixed in Vista?

    I do see other general improvements that I'm excited about performance-wise, like the hybrid drive support, etc. To me, some incremental compatibility hurdles are far from deal-breakers if there's a payoff; I'm just trying to understand more of the exact specifics on what the payoff is, and for us, it's the subtle stuff that matters.

    Thanks for sharing your expertise, Richard; I hope you stick around. Consider this post a teaser; I do plan to talk a lot more about Vista.

  • Damon

    What is up with MS?

    Computer arts are exploding the world over, and you would think MS would seek to snag a few Mac users by beefing up the media technology. Did Bill Gates make some sort of security sensitive deal with Steven Jobs (wink) not to cross over into each others technological territory?

    Yes, Windows needs some serious security enhancements, but I think they have missed the boat with these flimsy media improvements. I think it might actually be profitable for MS to have a "home," "professional" and "media (as in pro features)" version of Windows.

    Would computer arts people be willing to spend another 20 or 40 clams for beefed up MIDI and sound card implementations? I would say, "yes", as folks who use computers for music or video or graphics would probably consider this a wise investment.

    They would not want to pay a few extra bucks, but they surely would anyway, especially if their computers are they bread and butter.

    Makes me wonder how heavily MS profits by all the non MS products that are coded for Windows.

    MS – "We will continue to produce a sub standard OS, so that you, our beloved developers, can keep producing products that should other wise be features built into Windows."

    You've heard of "built in obsolescence?"

    This is "built in unfinished operating system."

  • Damon,

    For creative technology on the visual side, look no further than DirectX 10. It's a huge leap forward; there's some real potential there with things like geometry shaders. And for standards-based 3D, OpenGL is actually going to coexist a better under Vista (despite some initial scares in the OpenGL community). Also, for those of us hacking code on XP, there are some great development tools, not only on the Microsoft side but also from Java and even things like C compilers for use with physical computing. (Doesn't make a market, to speak of — but makes some interesting art!) This is XP, mind you, but certainly good enough that I know some Mac artists who will happily boot into Windows for it on their Intel machines. Not to say the Mac isn't also a strong platform — it's an incredibly strong platform — but while there's plenty to criticize from Microsoft, I know lots of people doing amazing work on the Windows platform, too, and that's a good thing.

    The audio side in Vista is just, for now, a little less clear. I'll know more soon and will share all I know. There are some improvements that look like they could yield at least incremental performance improvements that will benefit audio. I think Microsoft should take a hard look at the ease of inter-app MIDI and audio on Mac and Linux, audio performance on Linux, and the ease of connecting and configuring audio and MIDI hardware on Mac (just to cite some best-practices), and I definitely have some concerns. And you can bet I'll be critical of Microsoft where I think they deserve it. But I can say clearly that developers benefit from improvements in these area, period. There's absolutely nothing developers have to gain from any weak spots in the OS, because it's the foundation they're running on. (Ask Cakewalk, Ableton, NI, Digidesign, ImageLine, Propellerheads, Cycling '74, etc., etc., and they'll certainly agree.)

    I do plan to dual-boot for a while, so I would be wary as others are of compatibility.

  • Damon

    Point taken…

    Though, I am aware that you can do much and do it well on Windows. It is not what Windows can't do, but how it does what it can. The process is unnecessarily convoluted and complex when it should be as simple as activating 1 dedicated utility.

    Windows needs better audio and midi implementation like mac needs an actual application uninstaller. Both are absolutely absurd oversights.

    And, yes, you gotta walk the platform debate with surgical precision, for buyers remorse sews a jealous and fearful wrath.

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  • Tim

    "Apple, if you’re listening, this is one feature I’d like to see built into Mac OS X, as well."

    The app that does this for OS X is free – Detour by Rogue Amoeba; though it's not a Universal App, only PowerPC.


    I use it all the time for podcasting, lowering Skype calls, so I mute the person on the other end when I want to talk 😉 That being said, it's cool that it's built into Windows, Apple needs to include something like this into OS X.

  • Court Kizer

    Everything you mentioned "Apple if you are listening…!" Apple already has… Maybe you haven't used OS X as a pro musician?

  • res ipsa loquitur

    Is Vista capable of bit-perfect pass-through of lossless sources out of the box, or will it again be necessary to resort to ASIO and so forth?

  • Damon, I hear you.

    Tim, thanks for the reminder! I think Detour is broken under 10.4, but I could be wrong; the lack of Intel support is a very big deal. And this only proves my point: these features need to be built into the OS, not supplied by a third-party utility that may fail to keep up with changes to the OS.

    Court, believe me, I have spent PLENTY of hours using OS X. The Mac is unquestionably the best system out of the box for audio, hands down. But it doesn't deliver on some of the initial promise of Core Audio and Core MIDI.

    Core Audio does not include a built-in facility for routing audio between applications, period. It's possible to add something like this using a third-party utility. The up-to-date free utility is Cycling '74 Soundflower, which creates a virtual audio driver. We've also seen utilities like Audio Hijack that can capture audio streams from other apps. But that's not the same as being able to freely route audio between applications. For that, you'll need the open source JACK server. And the point is, to the end user, nothing here is built into the operating system (and thus must be updated to keep in line with new releases).

    The Mac also lacks per-app mixing function, as is available in Vista. It's just not there. Again, you'd need some third-party utility to, for instance, mute or reduce the volume level of audio out of your web browser. I think Microsoft had the right idea with this feature, and given the presence of Core Audio it should be far easier to implement on the Mac should Apple ever want to do the same thing (a la Detour, as mentioned).

    And, yes, the Mac has Core MIDI and the Inter-Application Communications bus (IAC) for inter-app MIDI. It's a big edge of the platform for MIDI, and I miss it a lot when I'm on Windows. But the IAC is turned off by default; you have to dig into Audio MIDI Setup to find it. And to me, the universal MIDI configuration of Audio MIDI Setup never delivered on its original promise to become a kind of universal patch bay (not entirely Apple's fault, partly due to the way MIDI devices in general have evolved).

    Things the Mac does have which evidently Microsoft hasn't even tried to do: audio interface aggregation for combining the use of multiple interfaces, network streaming for MIDI, true plug-and-play of USB MIDI and audio devices, better class-compliant support, etc.

    So yes, these are really comparatively minor issues. But I think it isn't fair to say that Core Audio and Core MIDI do everything you would ever want. There's always room for further improvement. And that's a good thing.

    In the meantime, I do agree with others here; I want to see day-to-day driver reliability improved on Vista more than anything else.

  • Oh, and suggestion … imagine Mac OS X's audio system if Apple took a page from Safari, and built new features on the open source core of JACK the way Safari was built on Konquerer. Not sure exactly what the implications would be, but I can dream.

    In the meantime, yes, the Mac still has the edge over Windows in terms of audio function, but we live in a cross-platform world and I'll be doing what I always do: keeping tabs on both.

  • Mike-2

    I don't know if anyone but me cares about this, but the one Vista feature that really matters to me for making music is metadata search. I generate a crap-ton of samples and loops for easy remixing, and organizing them in folders is ridiculous. I want the ability to tag my loops with keywords, get instant search results and be able to preview and drag and drop them into Live. Search folders, akin to iTunes smart playlists, also seems like a great idea that I'm looking foward to.

  • Mike, my understanding was that tags and metadata have been dramatically scaled-back in Vista. Tags appear to be in only images (and not all file formats even there) and Office documents. This is of course a big disappointment to me. I know for a fact the search folders are severely limited, largely by the elimination of WinFS but in part due to cutbacks since then. I'm hopeful these will resurface in a future release — Mac OS X's search folders didn't require a radical makeover of the file system on the order of WinFS — but from what I know, you won't really get this from Vista. I could be wrong, though; I'll know more once I get an OS to test!

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  • Wow! What a feature!

    Wait, BeOS had that for years…

    I guess they found a BeBox in their basement, that would explain all their "innovations" like winfs (finally using existing NTFS stuff that BeOS used in BFS for years ( http://www.birdhouse.org/beos/byte/24-scripting_t… )… oh wait, they dropped that), contacts-as-files (0-byte files with attributes called People-files: http://eiman.tv/imkit/use.html ), software mixing ( http://revolf.free.fr/beos/shots/shot_esdsink_med… )… and the so intelligent "taskbar groupping" while BeOS always had 1-button-per app there.

  • RichardL

    > the one Vista feature that really matters to me for making music is metadata search

    Mike-2, I actually use ACID Pro for this. I can search on tags and other parameters in the ACID Media Manager, preview the results and then actually drag the loops into Live.

    [Unfortunately, ACID's Media Manager isn't working for me under Vista just yet, but I haven't researched any solutions yet.]

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  • Its all seems very complex and confusing.

    A Mac has two keys on the keyboard to adjust the volume.

    Volume down and Volume up. Simple

  • Chris, the master volume controls on Windows still work the way they always did. Even on Mac, those keyboard volume controls don't always work (they usually don't with most of my "pro" interfaces).

    But, mmu_man, I agree — viva BeOS. 🙂

  • Its no suprise that keyboard volume controls don't work on "pro" interfaces – what on earth would such a control do with an RME HDSP?

    Peter, I suspect that the reason Apple have not implemented/stolen/borrowed/built-upon JACK is that inter-application audio threatens their content provider business arrangements. Until (and perhaps not even) they provide a h/w-secured data path (which they have shown no interest in doing yet, unlike MS), such systems make it trivial to rip audio content from anything. My sense is that Apple are content to leave providing this functionality to 3rd parties (e.g. Stephane, or the Audio Hijack folks), for now at least.

  • Dan Nigrin

    Peter, I'll chime in about Apple's reluctance to integrating things like Jack into the OS – guys like Paul Davis and Stephane Letz have been pushing this concept for quite some time with the Core Audio developers, but to no avail. Paul's probably got it right, in that it does throw a wrinkle into some of their DRM-based business models…

  • I was just dreaming for a second re: Apple incorporating JACK; I certainly understand why it would be unlikely. Hey, look, if that ideal-world scenario is unlikely, what I will say is, I'm happy if it's working at all — and very happy that JACK remains open source. I'm equally pleased to have it running in one form or another on Mac, Windows, and Linux. Inter-app audio is a tool I think is important to musicians, and whatever the state of the corporate or community entities controlling the OS, the more platforms on which it's enabled, the merrier.

    And I greatly appreciate your work, Dan, Paul, and Stephane.

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  • for the record.. i have been using vista for months and now run vista RTM (6000)…

    the low latency audio performance is incredible. it is obviously better than osx or xp. you have to try it to see what i mean. i get 5-10% lower cpu scores in the live 5 performance test than osx or xp. my echo mona pcmcia drivers work perfectly with ASIO for 64 samples of latency (2 ms)… and the per application mixer is the cats meow.

    the kernel has been improved in vista and i think the "multimedia class scheduler" service gives extra priority to audio threads. this results in incredible performance at low latency even when running many apps in the background…

    i hope this becomes common knowledge soon cause its getting old reading all these "visa sucks" threads by people who havent even tried it yet…

    to the guy with the emu card.. did you try to install as administrator or in compatiblity mode? i contacted emu some time ago as I wanted to get a 1616m for the road.. they said they had no plans to release vista drivers until it was actually out.. so i am waiting on the 1616m… soon it will come, that is an amazing sounding card. I got one for a friend and it sounds nicer than any sub $2,000 card out there.

  • NormC

    Thanks for this. I've been trying to find out more about the new audio enhancements myself today, from a musicians perspective, and you're right; there's not much out there atm.

    There's also a good overview at http://www.thewhippinpost.co.uk/news/vista-review… which explains a bit more.

    We're a minority market so i guess M$ are leaving it to others to explain. If everything i've read is true though, i'm actually quite excited.

  • Hi Norm,

    Make sure you see our updated article.

    The Whippinpost story is interesting, but it's important to recognize that some of those features are intended for "consumer" audio — i.e., audio listening and general-use applications (even a lot of the surround, mic config, and "high def" audio specs included). These functions are still likely to be managed by your music apps separately, because the needs for musicians are a little different than the average consumer. Of course, if you then want to go watch Star Trek II or run audio in Skype, you may wind up benefiting from both.

    Also, I would take issue with the claim in that article that there's "nothing more you can do with MIDI." (That's the author's opinion, not Microsoft's; I think Microsoft just made a pragmatic decision to focus mainly on general-purpose improvements.) MIDI is still an enormous part of almost everyone's music production workflow, and I find Vista — like XP — to be deficient in some key areas. There's no integrated MIDI setup, no unified mechanism for managing patch names, and no built-in means for routing MIDI between applications (which is a more common need than many people think, sometimes just to run a MIDI utility and a MIDI app at the same time).

    There are still lots of good things about Vista, but they primarily include the improvements listed in the other article with Cakewalk. You'll benefit from these other features when listening to music, but production is all about the new audio driver (WaveRT), the new means of handling kernel access (no longer "kernel exclusive"; I think that's now been renamed to the MMCSS described in the other story), and more protection from drivers. This general package was called "glitch-free", then renamed "glitch resistant", and now has all these ugly acronyms (MMCSS doesn't quite roll off the tongue), but that tells you that this got out of the hands of the marketers and into the hands of the engineers. That's a good thing; you shouldn't have to know about this stuff — you should just have everything work!

    These are all major improvements. There's still room for improvement in all three major OSes, however — Linux, Windows, and even Mac OS X. But I can cautiously say many if not most users will want to upgrade; we'll be testing Vista and the other gear to give readers advice on which systems will make sense to upgrade and when.

  • So what version on Vista does anyone recommend for pro audio…home basic, premium or ultimate? What is vista rtm(6000)

  • RTM = release to manufacturing. It's the build released for distribution a couple of months ago, though technically, since Vista updates itself when you install, it's not exactly what you get when you install what's now in stores.

    I don't currently know of anything *specific* to pro audio in any of the different Vista flavors. What we're describing is in all of them. So you'll make your decision based on other factors and how you use the OS, probably jumping for either Home Premium or Ultimate. I like Ultimate for the Windows Remote Desktop inclusion and backup features alone. (Also in Business, but then you lose some of the consumer stuff.)

  • Goran

    My capture card is Winfast xp2000.My sound card is Realtek hd and windows vista driver.I have problem with sound in capture card.My problem is in control volume.I can`t increase or decrease sound when I waching TV program on capture card sofware in control panel.I don`t have such problem before under Win XP.Can you help me with advice?

    Best regards,

    Goran Ilic

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