Gear updates in 2017

The year 2017 was a good year regarding gear updates. I finally decided to get a newer Mac after using the good old iMac (late 2009 Core 2 Duo) for several years. I never had any problems with it but after time I just wanted to get more processing power. I would’ve probably gotten a few years more usage of it by upgrading the hard drive to an SSD drive, but as I found out the Nvidia MCP79 sata controller was not compatible with all of the SSD drives available in the market, I decided not to start trying different drives to find out which would work with full speed and ended up keeping things simple and selling the iMac. I got 300 euros for a nearly eight years old baseline 21,5″ iMac! Not bad I think.

What to buy?

I was having a hard time deciding on what to buy because with Apple’s offering there are no easy answers if you are price conscious like I am. I was also balancing between going mobile with a MacBook Pro or sticking with a desktop computer and I for the sake of money and processing power I decided to stay with desktop models. Mac minis were out of the question as they were available only with dual core processors so I took the iMac route. Of course I’d like to buy top-of-the line gear but with Apple I just can’t justify myself spending a 2-3 k€ into a new computer so I decided to be realistic and look for something thats good enough. I ended up buying a new Late 2015 21,5″ iMac. The Intel Core i5 2,8 GHz quad-core processor has a lot of power for my needs (Geekbench 4 single core results around 4188 and multi core results around 12875). The 8 gigs of RAM which is not upgradeable is fine for my needs.

The SSD update

One thing that is really strange with Apple’s offering is that they keep these old 5400 rpm hard drives available on iMacs and the upgrade to a fusion or an SSD drive is ridiculously expensive. The 5400 rpm drive is ridiculously slow so after using it for half a year I bought a USB SSD drive (Samsung T5 500GB) and installed MacOS there. I was a little worried about the missing TRIM on USB connected drives but I still haven’t noticed any slowing down with the drive. I have to report back on that later. However, I’m really satisfied with the drive and Blackmagic Disk Speed test gives write speeds around 418 MB/s and read speeds around 427 MB/s which, as far as I know, are quite good results for a USB 3.0 connected SSD drive.

The conclusion

That’s about all i updated in my home studio gear during the 2017. As far as it feels now, I think I’m going to stick with this computer setup for at least a few years. I now have enough power to create everything I want to.  The upcoming ‘Nordic Melancholy’ release is now 95 instrument tracks and 30 minutes of stuff in a single Logic Pro X project which takes about 7,4 gigs of RAM at the moment and I still haven’t had any performance problems.

How has the challenge been this far?

As you might have noticed, i challenged myself to compose two tracks every month during the year 2015. I have now released a total of eight tracks and so far i haven’t felt that the challenge would’ve been too demanding for me. Actually it’s been quite easy to start working with something new right after you’ve completed the previous one!

The biggest change has probably been that i’ve streamlined my workflow in many ways. One great example would be mastering the final product before uploading it online. I now have a template project where i import the bounced project as a stereo file and have some “basic” settings which i have now found working quite well. Then the final mastering phase needs just a few tweaks (EQ, gain limiting etc..) here and there and the track is ready to be published.

In the old days i would’ve used the original project file with all the separate tracks while mastering my track and i could have used weeks for the mastering phase. It was a mess because i couldn’t resist the temptation of tweaking the track specific settings while mastering. However, now i clearly have two distinctively different phases in creating a track: 1) Composition and general mixing phase 2) Mastering phase.

My challenge can be followed in Soundcloud:

 

My first album “Evening Calm” is released!

westis_-_evening_calm_cover-500pxToday i finally released my new album called “Evening Calm”. It’s a mixup of different electronic genres focusing in ambient and chillstep. It took a little bit over a year to complete and i can say i’m relieved by the fact that it’s now ready and no changes can be made anymore. 🙂

The release should shortly become online into your favourite online music shop including streaming services such as Spotify and Rdio. I’ll post updates as soon as i see the album coming online.