BinaryOptions.net Forum

Comprehensive Guide for getting into Home Recording

I'm going to borrow from a few sources and do my best to make this cohesive, but this question comes up a lot. I thought we had a comprehensive guide, but it doesn't appear so. In the absence of this, I feel that a lot of you could use a simple place to go for some basics on recording. There are a couple of great resources online already on some drumming forums, but I don't think they will be around forever.
Some background on myself - I have been drumming a long time. During that time, home recording has gone from using a cassette deck to having a full blown studio at your finger tips. The technology in the last 15 years has gotten so good it really is incredible. When I was trying to decide what I wanted to do with my life, I decided to go to school for audio engineering in a world-class studio. During this time I had access to the studio and was able to assist with engineering on several projects. This was awesome, and I came out with a working knowledge of SIGNAL CHAIN, how audio works in the digital realm, how microphones work, studio design, etc. Can I answer your questions? Yes.

First up: Signal Chain! This is the basic building block of recording. Ever seen a "I have this plugged in but am getting no sound!" thread? Yeah, signal chain.

A "Signal Chain" is the path your audio follows, from sound source, to the recording device, and back out of your monitors (speakers to you normies).
A typical complete signal chain might go something like this:
1] instrument/sound source 2] Microphone/TransducePickup 3] Cable 4] Mic Preamp/DI Box 5] Analog-to-Digital Converter 6] Digital transmission medium[digital data get recoded for usb or FW transfer] 7] Digital recording Device 8] DSP and Digital summing/playback engine 9] Digital-to-Analog Converter 10] Analog output stage[line outputs and output gain/volume control] 11] Monitors/Playback device[headphones/other transducers]
Important Terms, Definitions, and explanations (this will be where the "core" information is):
1] AD Conversion: the process by which the electrical signal is "converted" to a stream of digital code[binary, 1 and 0]. This is accomplished, basically, by taking digital pictures of the audio...and this is known as the "sampling rate/frequency" The number of "pictures" determines the frequency. So the CD standard of 44.1k is 44,100 "pictures" per second of digital code that represents the electrical "wave" of audio. It should be noted that in order to reproduce a frequency accuratly, the sampling rate must be TWICE that of the desired frequency (See: Nyquist-Shannon Theorem). So, a 44.1 digital audio device can, in fact, only record frequencies as high as 22.05khz, and in the real world, the actual upper frequency limit is lower, because the AD device employs a LOW-PASS filter to protect the circuitry from distortion and digital errors called "ALIASING." Confused yet? Don't worry, there's more... We haven't even talked about Bit depth! There are 2 settings for recording digitally: Sample Rate and Bit Depth. Sample rate, as stated above, determines the frequencies captured, however bit depth is used to get a better picture of the sample. Higher bit depth = more accurate sound wave representation. More on this here. Generally speaking, I record at 92KHz/24 bit depth. This makes huge files, but gets really accurate audio. Why does it make huge files? Well, if you are sampling 92,000 times per second, you are taking each sample and applying 24 bits to that, multiply it out and you get 92,000*24 = 2,208,000 bits per second or roughly 0.26MB per second for ONE TRACK. If that track is 5 minutes long, that is a file that is 78.96MB in size. Now lets say you used 8 inputs on an interface, that is, in total, 631.7MB of data. Wow, that escalates quick, right? There is something else to note as well here: Your CPU has to calculate this. So the amount of calculations it needs to perform for this same scenario is ~17.7 million calculations PER SECOND. This is why CPU speed and RAM is super important when recording digitally.
2] DA conversion: the process by which the digital code (the computer representation of a sound wave) is transformed back into electrcal energy in the proper shape. In a oversimplified explanation, the code is measured and the output of the convertor reflects the value of the code by changing voltage. Think of a sound wave on a grid: Frequency would represent the X axis (the horizontal axis)... but there is a vertical axis too. This is called AMPLITUDE or how much energy the wave is generating. People refer to this as how 'loud' a sound is, but that's not entirely correct. You can have a high amplitude wave that is played at a quiet volume. It's important to distinguish the two. How loud a sound is can be controlled by the volume on a speaker or transducer. But that has no impact on how much amplitude the sound wave has in the digital space or "in the wire" on its way to the transducer. So don't get hung up on how "loud" a waveform is, it is how much amplitude it has when talking about it "in the box" or before it gets to the speakeheadphone/whatever.
3] Cables: An often overlooked expense and tool, cables can in fact, make or break your recording. The multitudes of types of cable are determined by the connector, the gauge(thickness), shielding, type of conductor, etc... Just some bullet points on cables:
- Always get the highest quality cabling you can afford. Low quality cables often employ shielding that doesnt efectively protect against AC hums(60 cycle hum), RF interference (causing your cable to act as a gigantic AM/CB radio antenna), or grounding noise introduced by other components in your system. - The way cables are coiled and treated can determine their lifespan and effectiveness. A kinked cable can mean a broken shield, again, causing noise problems. - The standard in the USA for wiring an XLR(standard microphone) cable is: PIN 1= Cold/-, PIN 2= Hot/+, PIN 3=Ground/shield. Pin 3 carries phantom power, so it is important that the shield of your cables be intact and in good condition if you want to use your mic cables without any problems. - Cables for LINE LEVEL and HI-Z(instrument level) gear are not the same! - Line Level Gear, weather professional or consumer, should generally be used with balanced cables (on a 1/4" connector, it will have 3 sections and is commonly known as TRS -or- TipRingSleeve). A balanced 1/4" is essentially the same as a microphone cable, and in fact, most Professional gear with balanced line inputs and outputs will have XLR connectors instead of 1/4" connectors. - Hi-Z cable for instruments (guitars, basses, keyboards, or anything with a pickup) is UNBALANCED, and should be so. The introduction of a balanced cable can cause electricity to be sent backwards into a guitar and shock the guitar player. You may want this to happen, but your gear doesn't. There is some danger here as well, especially on stage, where the voltage CAN BE LETHAL. When running a guitabass/keyboard "Direct" into your interface, soundcard, or recording device, you should ALWAYS use a "DIRECT BOX", which uses a transformer to isolate and balance the the signal or you can use any input on the interface designated as a "Instrument" or "Hi-Z" input. It also changes some electrical properties, resulting in a LINE LEVEL output (it amplifies it from instrument level to line level).
4] Digital Data Transmissions: This includes S/PDIF, AES/EBU, ADAT, MADI. I'm gonna give a brief overview of this stuff, since its unlikely that alot of you will ever really have to think about it: - SDPIF= Sony Phillips Digital Interface Format. using RCA or TOSLINK connectors, this is a digital protocol that carries 3 streams of information. Digital audio Left, Digital Audio Right, and CLOCK. SPDIF generally supports 48khz/20bit information, though some modern devices can support up to 24bits, and up to 88.2khz. SPDIF is the consumer format of AES/EBU - AES/EBU= Audio Engineering Society/European Breadcasters Union Digital protocol uses a special type of cable often terminated with XLR connectors to transmit 2 channels of Digital Audio. AES/EBU is found mostly on expensive professional digital gear. - ADAT= the Alesis Digital Audio Tape was introduced in 1991, and was the first casette based system capable of recording 8 channels of digital audio onto a single cartridge(a SUPER-VHS tape, same one used by high quality VCR's). Enough of the history, its not so important because we are talking about ADAT-LIGHTPIPE Protocol, which is a digital transmission protocol that uses fiberoptic cable and devices to send up to 8 channels of digital audio simultaneously and in sync. ADAT-Lightpipe supports up to 48khz sample rates. This is how people expand the number of inputs by chaining interfaces. - MADI is something you will almost never encounter. It is a protocol that allows up to 64 channels of digital audio to be transmitted over a single cable that is terminated by BNC connectors. Im just telling you it exists so in case you ever encounter a digital snake that doesnt use Gigabit Ethernet, you will know whats going on.
digital transmission specs: SPDIF -> clock->2Ch->RCA cable(consumer) ADAT-Lightpipe->clock->8Ch->Toslink(semi-pro) SPDIF-OPTICAL->clock->2Ch->Toslink(consumer) AES/EBU->clock->2Ch->XLR(Pro) TDIF->clock->8Ch->DSub(Semi-Pro) ______________ MADI->no clock->64Ch->BNC{rare except in large scale pofessional apps} SDIF-II->no clock->24Ch->DSub{rare!} AES/EBU-13->no clock->24Ch->DSub
5] MICROPHONES: There are many types of microphones, and several names for each type. The type of microphone doesn't equate to the polar pattern of the microphone. There are a few common polar patterns in microphones, but there are also several more that are less common. These are the main types- Omni-Directional, Figure 8 (bi-directional), Cardioid, Super Cardioid, Hyper Cardioid, Shotgun. Some light reading.... Now for the types of microphones: - Dynamic Microphones utilize polarized magnets to convert acoustical energy into electrical energy. there are 2 types of dynamic microphones: 1) Moving Coil microphones are the most common type of microphone made. They are also durable, and capable of handling VERY HIGH SPL (sound pressure levels). 2) Ribbon microphones are rare except in professional recording studios. Ribbon microphones are also incredibly fragile. NEVER EVER USE PHANTOM POWER WITH A RIBBON MICROPHONE, IT WILL DIE (unless it specifically requires it, but I've only ever seen this on one Ribbon microphone ever). Sometimes it might even smoke or shoot out a few sparks; applying phantom power to a Ribbon Microphone will literally cause the ribbon, which is normally made from Aluminum, to MELT. Also, windblasts and plosives can rip the ribbon, so these microphones are not suitible for things like horns, woodwinds, vocals, kick drums, or anything that "pushes air." There have been some advances in Ribbon microphones and they are getting to be more common, but they are still super fragile and you have to READ THE MANUAL CAREFULLY to avoid a $1k+ mistake. - CondenseCapacitor Microphones use an electrostatic charge to convert acoustical energy into electrical energy. The movement of the diaphragm(often metal coated mylar) toward a ceramic "backplate" causes a fluctuation in the charge, which is then amplified inside the microphone and output as an electrical signal. Condenser microphones usually use phantom power to charge the capacitors' and backplate in order to maintain the electrostatic charge. There are several types of condenser microphones: 1) Tube Condenser Microphones: historically, this type of microphone has been used in studios since the 1940s, and has been refined and redesigned hundreds, if not thousands of times. Some of the "best sounding" and most desired microphones EVER MADE are Tube Condenser microphones from the 50's and 60's. These vintage microphones, in good condition, with the original TUBES can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Tube mics are known for sounding "full", "warm", and having a particular character, depending on the exact microphone. No 2 tubes mics, even of the same model, will sound the same. Similar, but not the same. Tube mics have their own power supplies, which are not interchangeable to different models. Each tube mic is a different design, and therefore, has different power requirements. 2) FET Condenser microphones: FET stands for "Field Effect Transistor" and the technology allowed condenser microphones to be miniturized. Take for example, the SHURE beta98s/d, which is a minicondenser microphone. FET technology is generally more transparant than tube technology, but can sometimes sound "harsh" or "sterile". 3) Electret Condenser Microphones are a condenser microphone that has a permanent charge, and therefore, does not require phantom power; however, the charge is not truly permanent, and these mics often use AA or 9V batteries, either inside the mic, or on a beltpack. These are less common.
Other important things to know about microphones:
- Pads, Rolloffs, etc: Some mics have switches or rotating collars that notate certain things. Most commonly, high pass filters/lowcut filters, or attenuation pads. 1) A HP/LC Filter does exactly what you might think: Removes low frequency content from the signal at a set frequency and slope. Some microphones allow you to switch the rolloff frequency. Common rolloff frequencies are 75hz, 80hz, 100hz, 120hz, 125hz, and 250hz. 2) A pad in this example is a switch that lowers the output of the microphone directly after the capsule to prevent overloading the input of a microphone preamplifier. You might be asking: How is that possible? Some microphones put out a VERY HIGH SIGNAL LEVEL, sometimes about line level(-10/+4dbu), mic level is generally accepted to start at -75dbu and continues increasing until it becomes line level in voltage. It should be noted that linel level signals are normally of a different impedance than mic level signals, which is determined by the gear. An example for this would be: I mic the top of a snare drum with a large diaphragm condenser mic (solid state mic, not tube) that is capable of handling very high SPLs (sound pressure levels). When the snare drum is played, the input of the mic preamp clips (distorts), even with the gain turned all the way down. To combat this, I would use a pad with enough attenuation to lower the signal into the proper range of input (-60db to -40 db). In general, it is accepted to use a pad with only as much attentuation as you need, plus a small margin of error for extra “headroom”. What this means is that if you use a 20db pad where you only need a 10db pad, you will then have to add an additional 10db of gain to achieve a desireable signal level. This can cause problems, as not all pads sound good, or even transparent, and can color and affect your signal in sometimes unwanted ways that are best left unamplified. - Other mic tips/info: 1) when recording vocals, you should always use a popfilter. A pop filter mounted on a gooseneck is generally more effective than a windscreen made of foam that slips over the microphone. The foam type often kill the highfrequency response, alter the polar pattern, and can introduce non-linear polarity problems(part of the frequency spectrum will be out of phase.) If you don't have a pop filter or don't want to spend on one, buy or obtain a hoop of some kind, buy some cheap panty-hose and stretch it over the hoop to build your own pop filter. 2) Terms Related to mics: - Plosives: “B”, “D”, “F”, “G”, “J”, “P”, “T” hard consonants and other vocal sounds that cause windblasts. These are responsible for a low frequency pop that can severly distort the diaphragm of the microphone, or cause a strange inconsistency of tonality by causing a short term proximity effect.
- Proximity effect: An exponential increase in low frequency response causes by having a microphone excessivly close to a sound. This can be cause by either the force of the air moving actually causes the microphone’s diaphragm to move and sometimes distort, usually on vocalists or buy the buildup of low frequency soundwaves due to off-axis cancellation ports. You cannot get proximity effect on an omnidirectional microphone. With some practice, you can use proximity effect to your advantage, or as an effect. For example, if you are recording someone whispering and it sounds thin or weak and irritating due to the intenese high mid and high frequency content, get the person very close to a cardioid microphone with two popfilters, back to back approx 1/2”-1” away from the mic and set your gain carefully, and you can achieve a very intimite recording of whispering. In a different scenario, you can place a mic inside of a kick drum between 1”-3” away from the inner shell, angled up and at the point of impact, and towards the floor tom. This usually captures a huge low end, and the sympathetic vibration of the floor tom on the kick drum hits, but retains a clarity of attack without being distorted by the SPL of the drum and without capturing unplesant low-mid resonation of the kick drum head and shell that is common directly in the middle of the shell.
6) Wave Envelope: The envelope is the graphical representation of a sound wave commonly found in a DAW. There are 4 parts to this: Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release: 1) Attack is how quickly the sound reaches its peak amplitude; 2) Decay is the time it takes to reach the sustain level; 3) Sustain how long a sound remains at a certain level (think of striking a tom, the initial smack is attack, then it decays to the resonance of the tom, how long it resonates is the sustain); 4) Release is the amount of time before the sustain stops. This is particularly important as these are also the settings on a common piece of gear called a Compressor! Understanding the envelope of a sound is key to learning how to maniuplate it.
7) Phase Cancellation: This is one of the most important concepts in home recording, especially when looking at drums. I'm putting it in this section because it matters so much. Phase Cancellation is what occurs when the same frequencies occur at different times. To put it simply, frequency amplitudes are additive - meaning if you have 2 sound waves of the same frequency, one amplitude is +4 and the other is +2, the way we percieve sound is that the frequency is +6. But a sound wave has a positive and negative amplitude as it travels (like a wave in the ocean with a peak and a swell). If the frequency then has two sources and it is 180 degrees out of phase, that means one wave is at +4 while the other is at -4. This sums to 0, or cancels out the wave. Effectively, you would hear silence. This is why micing techniques are so important, but we'll get into that later. I wanted this term at the top, and will likely mention it again.

Next we can look at the different types of options to actually record your sound!

1) Handheld/All in one/Field Recorders: I don't know if portable cassette tape recorders are still around, but that's an example of one. These are (or used to) be very popular with journalists because they were pretty decent at capturing speech. They do not fare too well with music though. Not too long ago, we saw the emergence of the digital field recorder. These are really nifty little devices. They come in many shapes, sizes and colors, and can be very affordable. They run on batteries, and have built-in microphones, and record digitally onto SD cards or harddiscs. The more simple ones have a pair of built-in condenser microphones, which may or may not be adjustable, and record onto an SD-card. They start around $99 (or less if you don't mind buying refurbished). You turn it on, record, connect the device itself or the SD card to your computer, transfer the file(s) and there is your recording! An entry-level example is the Tascam DR-05. It costs $99. It has two built in omni-directional mics, comes with a 2GB microSD card and runs on two AA batteries. It can record in different formats, the highest being 24-bit 96KHz Broadcast WAV, which is higher than DVD quality! You can also choose to record as an MP3 (32-320kbps) if you need to save space on the SD card or if you're simply going to record a speech/conference or upload it on the web later on. It's got a headphone jack and even small built-in speakers. It can be mounted onto a tripod. And it's about the size of a cell phone. The next step up (although there are of course many options that are price and feature-wise inbetween this one and the last) is a beefier device like the Zoom H4n. It's got all the same features as the Tascam DR-05 and more! It has two adjustable built-in cardioid condenser mics in an XY configuration (you can adjust the angle from a 90-120 degree spread). On the bottom of the device, there are two XLR inputs with preamps. With those, you can expand your recording possibilities with two external microphones. The preamps can send phantom power, so you can even use very nice studio mics. All 4 channels will be recorded independantly, so you can pop them onto your computer later and mix them with software. This device can also act as a USB interface, so instead of just using it as a field recorder, you can connect it directly to your computer or to a DSLR camera for HD filming. My new recommendation for this category is actually the Yamaha EAD10. It really is the best all-in-one solution for anyone that wants to record their kit audio with a great sound. It sports a kick drum trigger (mounts to the rim of the kick) with an x-y pattern set of microphones to pick up the rest of the kit sound. It also has on-board effects, lots of software integration options and smart features through its app. It really is a great solution for anyone who wants to record without reading this guide.
The TL;DR of this guide is - if it seems like too much, buy the Yamaha EAD10 as a simple but effective recording solution for your kit.

2) USB Microphones: There are actually mics that you an plug in directly to your computer via USB. The mics themselves are their own audio interfaces. These mics come in many shapes and sizes, and offer affordable solutions for basic home recording. You can record using a DAW or even something simple like the stock windows sound recorder program that's in the acessories folder of my Windows operating system. The Blue Snowflake is very affordable at $59. It can stand alone or you can attach it to your laptop or your flat screen monitor. It can record up to 44.1kHz, 16-bit WAV audio, which is CD quality. It's a condenser mic with a directional cardioid pickup pattern and has a full frequency response - from 35Hz-20kHz. It probably won't blow you away, but it's a big departure from your average built-in laptop, webcam, headset or desktop microphone. The Audio Technica AT2020 USB is a USB version of their popular AT2020 condenser microphone. At $100 it costs a little more than the regular version. The AT2020 is one of the finest mics in its price range. It's got a very clear sound and it can handle loud volumes. Other companies like Shure and Samson also offer USB versions of some of their studio mics. The AT2020 USB also records up to CD-quality audio and comes with a little desktop tripod. The MXL USB.009 mic is an all-out USB microphone. It features a 1 inch large-diaphragm condenser capsule and can record up to 24-bit 96kHz WAV audio. You can plug your headphones right into the mic (remember, it is its own audio interface) so you can monitor your recordings with no latency, as opposed to doing so with your computer. Switches on the mic control the gain and can blend the mic channel with playback audio. Cost: $399. If you already have a mic, or you don't want to be stuck with just a USB mic, you can purcase a USB converter for your existing microphone. Here is a great review of four of them.
3) Audio Recording Interfaces: You've done some reading up on this stuff... now you are lost. Welcome to the wide, wide world of Audio Interfaces. These come in all different shapes and sizes, features, sampling rates, bit depths, inputs, outputs, you name it. Welcome to the ocean, let's try to help you find land.
- An audio interface, as far as your computer is concerned, is an external sound card. It has audio inputs, such as a microphone preamp and outputs which connect to other audio devices or to headphones or speakers. The modern day recording "rig" is based around a computer, and to get the sound onto your computer, an interface is necessary. All computers have a sound card of some sort, but these have very low quality A/D Converters (analog to digital) and were not designed with any kind of sophisticated audio recording in mind, so for us they are useless and a dedicated audio interface must come into play.
- There are hundreds of interfaces out there. Most commonly they connect to a computer via USB or Firewire. There are also PCI and PCI Express-based interfaces for desktop computers. The most simple interfaces can record one channel via USB, while others can record up to 30 via firewire! All of the connection types into the computer have their advantages and drawbacks. The chances are, you are looking at USB, Firewire, or Thunderbolt. As far as speeds, most interfaces are in the same realm as far as speed is concerned but thunderbolt is a faster data transfer rate. There are some differences in terms of CPU load. Conflict handling (when packages collide) is handled differently. USB sends conflict resolution to the CPU, Firewire handles it internally, Thunderbolt, from what I could find, sends it to the CPU as well. For most applications, none of them are going to be superior from a home-recording standpoint. When you get up to 16/24 channels in/out simultaneously, it's going to matter a lot more.
- There are a number of things to consider when choosing an audio interface. First off your budget, number of channels you'd like to be able to record simultaneously, your monitoring system, your computer and operating system and your applications. Regarding budget, you have to get real. $500 is not going to get you a rig with the ability to multi-track a drum set covered in mics. Not even close! You might get an interface with 8 channels for that much, but you have to factor in the cost of everything, including mics, cables, stands, monitors/headphones, software, etc... Considerations: Stereo Recording or Multi-Track Recording? Stereo Recording is recording two tracks: A left and right channel, which reflects most audio playback systems. This doesn't necessarily mean you are simply recording with two mics, it means that what your rig is recording onto your computer is a single stereo track. You could be recording a 5-piece band with 16 mics/channels, but if you're recording in stereo, all you're getting is a summation of those 16 tracks. This means that in your recording software, you won't be able to manipulate any of those channels independantly after you recorded them. If the rack tom mic wasn't turned up loud enough, or you want to mute the guitars, you can't do that, because all you have is a stereo track of everything. It's up to you to get your levels and balance and tone right before you hit record. If you are only using two mics or lines, then you will have individual control over each mic/line after recording. Commonly, you can find 2 input interfaces and use a sub-mixer taking the left/right outputs and pluging those into each channel of the interface. Some mixers will output a stereo pair into a computer as an interface, such as the Allen&Heath ZED16. If you want full control over every single input, you need to multi-track. Each mic or line that you are recording with will get it's own track in your DAW software, which you can edit and process after the fact. This gives you a lot of control over a recording, and opens up many mixing options, and also many more issues. Interfaces that facilitate multitracking include Presonus FireStudio, Focusrite Scarlett interfaces, etc. There are some mixers that are also interfaces, such as the Presonus StudioLive 16, but these are very expensive. There are core-card interfaces as well, these will plug in directly to your motherboard via PCI or PCI-Express slots. Protools HD is a core-card interface and requires more hardware than just the card to work. I would recommend steering clear of these until you have a firm grasp of signal chain and digital audio, as there are more affordable solutions that will yield similar results in a home-environment.

DAW - Digital Audio Workstation

I've talked a lot about theory, hardware, signal chain, etc... but we need a way to interpret this data. First off what does a DAW do? Some refer to them as DAE's (Digital Audio Editors). You could call it a virtual mixing board , however that isn't entirely correct. DAWs allow you to record, control, mix and manipulate independant audio signals. You can change their volume, add effects, splice and dice tracks, combine recorded audio with MIDI-generated audio, record MIDI tracks and much much more. In the old days, when studios were based around large consoles, the actual audio needed to be recorded onto some kind of medium - analog tape. The audio signals passed through the boards, and were printed onto the tape, and the tape decks were used to play back the audio, and any cutting, overdubbing etc. had to be done physically on the tape. With a DAW, your audio is converted into 1's and 0's through the converters on your interface when you record, and so computers and their harddiscs have largely taken the place of reel-to-reel machines and analog tape.
Here is a list of commonly used DAWs in alphabetical order: ACID Pro Apple Logic Cakewalk SONAR Digital Performer FL (Fruity Loops) Studio (only versions 8 and higher can actually record Audio I believe) GarageBand PreSonus Studio One Pro Tools REAPER Propellerhead Reason (version 6 has combined Reason and Record into one software, so it now is a full audio DAW. Earlier versions of Reason are MIDI based and don't record audio) Propellerhead Record (see above) Steinberg Cubase Steinberg Nuendo
There are of course many more, but these are the main contenders. [Note that not all DAWs actually have audio recording capabilities (All the ones I listed do, because this thread is about audio recording), because many of them are designed for applications like MIDI composing, looping, etc. Some are relatively new, others have been around for a while, and have undergone many updates and transformations. Most have different versions, that cater to different types of recording communities, such as home recording/consumer or professional.
That's a whole lot of choices. You have to do a lot of research to understand what each one offers, what limitations they may have etc... Logic, Garageband and Digital Performer for instance are Mac-only. ACID Pro, FL Studio and SONAR will only run on Windows machines. Garageband is free and is even pre-installed on every Mac computer. Most other DAWs cost something.
Reaper is a standout. A non-commercial license only costs $60. Other DAWs often come bundled with interfaces, such as ProTools MP with M-Audio interfaces, Steinberg Cubase LE with Lexicon Interfaces, Studio One with Presonus Interfaces etc. Reaper is a full function, professional, affordable DAW with a tremendous community behind it. It's my recommendation for everyone, and comes with a free trial. It is universally compatible and not hardware-bound.
You of course don't have to purchase a bundle. Your research might yield that a particular interface will suit your needs well, but the software that the same company offers or even bundles isn't that hot. As a consumer you have a plethora of software and hardware manufacturers competing for your business and there is no shortage of choice. One thing to think about though is compatability and customer support. With some exceptions, technically you can run most DAWs with most interfaces. But again, don't just assume this, do your research! Also, some DAWs will run smoother on certain interfaces, and might experience problems on others. It's not a bad thing to assume that if you purchase the software and hardware from the same company, they're at least somewhat optimized for eachother. In fact, ProTools, until recently would only run on Digidesign (now AVID) and M-Audio interfaces. While many folks didn't like being limited to their hardware choices to run ProTools, a lot of users didn't mind, because I think that at least in part it made ProTools run smoother for everyone, and if you did have a problem, you only had to call up one company. There are many documented cases where consumers with software and hardware from different companies get the runaround:
Software Company X: "It's a hardware issue, call Hardware Company Z". Hardware Company Z: "It's a software issue, call Software Company X".
Another thing to research is the different versions of softwares. Many of them have different versions at different pricepoints, such as entry-level or student versions all the way up to versions catering to the pros. Cheaper versions come with limitations, whether it be a maximum number of audio tracks you can run simultaneously, plug-ins available or supported Plug-In formats and lack of other features that the upper versions have. Some Pro versions might require you to run certain kinds of hardware. I don't have time nor the will to do research on individual DAW's, so if any of you want to make a comparison of different versions of a specific DAW, be my guest! In the end, like I keep stressing - we each have to do our own research.
A big thing about the DAW that it is important to note is this: Your signal chain is your DAW. It is the digital representation of that chain and it is important to understand it in order to properly use that DAW. It is how you route the signal from one spot to another, how you move it through a sidechain compressor or bus the drums into the main fader. It is a digital representation of a large-format recording console, and if you don't understand how the signal gets from the sound source to your monitor (speaker), you're going to have a bad time.

Playback - Monitors are not just for looking at!

I've mentioned monitors several times and wanted to touch on these quickly: Monitors are whatever you are using to listen to the sound. These can be headphones, powered speakers, unpowered speakers, etc. The key thing here is that they are accurate. You want a good depth of field, you want as wide a frequency response as you can get, and you want NEARFIELD monitors. Unless you are working with a space that can put the monitor 8' away from you, 6" is really the biggest speaker size you need. At that point, nearfield monitors will reproduce the audio frequency range faithfully for you. There are many options here, closed back headphones, open back headphones, studio monitors powered, and unpowered (require a separate poweramp to drive the monitor). For headphones, I recommend AKG K271, K872, Sennheiser HD280 Pro, etc. There are many options, but if mixing on headphones I recommend spending some good money on a set. For Powered Monitors, there's really only one choice I recommend: Kali Audio LP-6 monitors. They are, dollar for dollar, the best monitors you can buy for a home studio, period. These things contend with Genelecs and cost a quarter of the price. Yes, they still cost a bit, but if you're going to invest, invest wisely. I don't recommend unpowered monitors, as if you skimp on the poweramp they lose all the advantages you gain with monitors. Just get the powered monitors if you are opting for not headphones.

Drum Mic'ing Guide, I'm not going to re-create the wheel.


That's all for now, this has taken some time to put together (a couple hourse now). I can answer other questions as they pop up. I used a few sources for the information, most notably some well-put together sections on the Pearl Drummers Forum in the recording section. I know a couple of the users are no longer active there, but if you see this and think "Hey, he ripped me off!", you're right, and thanks for allowing me to rip you off!

A couple other tips that I've come across for home recording:
You need to manage your gain/levels when recording. Digital is NOT analog! What does this mean? You should be PEAKING (the loudest the signal gets) around -12dB to -15dB on your meters. Any hotter than that and you are overdriving your digital signal processors.
What sound level should my master bus be at for Youtube?
Bass Traps 101
Sound Proofing 101
submitted by M3lllvar to drums [link] [comments]

[Megathread] XMG FUSION 15 (with Intel)


On September 6 at IFA, press released their first reports about our collaboration project with Intel: XMG FUSION 15.
Community Links:

Press Links:

Video Links:

The following key facts have already been revealed:
Prices and availability will be announced on September 17. → Countdown to xmg.gg
Teaser Trailer on YouTube: XMG FUSION 15 Laptop | A Design Collaboration with Intel
We look forward to your questions and your feedback!

XMG FUSION 15 - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)

This FAQ represents Q&A's over the last few days here. Fellow redditor u/iterateandgit was so kind to help me putting this document together. Big shout out to him please! The FAQ will be further extended over the coming days and weeks. Please keep the questions coming!

Sales, Shipping, Warranty


Q: Are you going to sell this on Amazon in the EU?
A: We are working on getting the product up and running on Amazon. But our own BTO shop at www.bestware.com will always be our primary sales channel and will be the only one where you can customize and configure memory, storage, OS, extend your warranty and pick other options.

Q: Do you offer student discounts or other sales compaigns like black friday?
A: In general, we don't offer student discounts. Sales campaigns are planned just in time, depending on stock level and cannot be announced early. If you want to keep up to date about sales campaigns, please subscribe to our newsletter.

Q: Do you ship to the UK? Can I pay in GBP?
A: We ship to the UK - the pricing will be in EUR, so your bank will do the conversion. Warranty services will be available from UK, shipping to Germany. Currently, in the single markets, these resturn shipments are free for the end-user. In the worst case there might be additional customs fees for shipping.

Q: What warranty options do you offer?
A: All our laptops come with 2 year warranty. Warranty repairs in the first 6 months are promised to be done within 48 hours (+shipping). Both the "instant repair" service and the warranty itself can be extended to up to 3 years.

Q: Do you sell outside of Europe?
A: We are able to ship anywhere, but warranty for customers outside the region would always involve additional customs cost and paperwork for sending the laptop back to Germany in the rare event of an RMA. There is currently no agreement to let other Local OEMs (like Eluktronics in the US) carry the warranty for XMG customers and vice-versa. Some parts are customized (in our case the LCD lid and the keyboard) and it won't be easy to agree on how to share handling fees etc. - so I wouldn't expect a global warranty anytime soon.


Hardware, Specs, Thermals


Q: What is the difference between XMG FUSION 15 and other laptops based on Intel's reference design?
A: The hardware of the barebone will be identical. Other Local OEMs might use different parts for RAM and SSDs. Our branding and service/warranty options might be different. We apply our own set of performance profiles in the Control Center. This will rebalance the differentiation between Silent, Balanced and Enthusiast modes.

Q: What is the TGP of the NVIDIA RTX 2070 Max-Q?
A: Officially, it is 80W in Balanced profile and 90W in Enthusiast profile. You can toggle between these modes in real-time with a dedicated mode switch button. Inofficially, the TGP can go up to 115W in Enthusiast profile thanks to the Overboost mechanic, working in the background. However, those 115W may only be sustained until the system has reached thermal saturation, i.e. when the GPU is approaching the GPU Temperature Target of 75°C.

Q: Can I upgrade the storage and memory after I buy?
A: On storage: The laptop has two m.2 PCI-Express SSD slots. This will give you currently up to 4 TB of SSD storage. There is no 2.5" HDD slot available. Instead, the battery is enlarged to 93.48Wh. You can see pictures of the interior layouts here, here and here.
On memory: the laptop has two SO-DIMM DDR4 memory sockets. You can chose during BTO configuration, if you want to occupy both of them when you order the product. We recommend running the laptop in Dual Channel for high-performance usage.

Q: How easy is to upgrade and repair this laptop?
A: Here are the key facts:
We would give this a solid 8 out of 10 which is pretty high for such a thin&light design. The 2 remaining points are substracted for BGA CPU and GPU, which is unfortunately unavoidable in such a thin design.

Q: Does it support Windows Hello?
A: A Fingerprint-Reader is not available, but the HD webcam comes with Infrared and supports Windows Hello.

Q: Can I get a smaller, lighter charger for this laptop?
A: XMG FUSION 15 requires a 230W power adaptor to provide full performance. If you max out CPU and GPU with furmark and prime, the 230W adapter will be fully utilized.
There are currently two compatible 230W adapters. They have different dimensions but similar weight. Please refer to this comparison table:
XMG FUSION 15 Power Supply Comparsion Table (Google Drive)
Includes shop links. Will be updated with precise weight numbers in the next few days. I also included 120W, 150W and 180W in this table. They all share the same plug (5.5/2.5,, diameter, 12.5mm length). But 120W and 150W are only rated for 19V but the laptop expect 19.5V. Usually this will be compensated by tolerance but we haven't tested how a system would behave under long-term usage with such an adaptor.
In theory, 120W to 180W are enough for charing the laptop and for browsing/web/media. Even a full CPU stress test could easily be handled. But as soon as you use CPU and GPU together, you'll run into the bottleneck and your performance will be reduced.
Comparison pictures:
These 5 pictures show only the relevant 230W chargers.
Again, the weight is about the same.

Q: Is it possible to boot and run the laptop while the lid is kept closed?
A: Closing the lid under load is not recommended because it will limit the airflow and have a bad effect on keyboard and screen. The laptop likes to take air in from the keycaps. With lid closed, the performance might be limited due to reaching temp targets earlier.

Q: Can I get the laptop without the XMG logo? I will be using it in public presentations and I would not like any brand names visible.
A: We cannot ship without XMG logo, but you can use a dbrand skins to cover our logo. We have not yet decided if we want to invest into integrating XMG FUSION 15 into the dbrand shop. But you can already buy 100% compatible skins by using the page of the Eluktronics MAG-15 at dbrand. The chassis dimensions are exactly the same. Please be aware: you have to manually select the option "No Logo Cutout" if you want to buy these skins for your XMG FUSION 15. According to dbrand, there will be most likely no import fees when ordering from the EU as long as the order is below 100€. Check this thread for details.

Q: Will you offer thermal paste upgrades like Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut or Liquid Metal?
A: Our ODMs are using silicon-based, high-performance thermal compund from international manufacturers like Shin-Etsu (Japan) and M.G. (USA). Intel is using MG-860 in this reference design.
These products are used in the industrial sector, so they have no publicly known brand name. Nevertheless, their high thermal conductivity and guaranteed durability provide optimal and long-lasting cooling of your high-performance laptop. The thermal compounds are applied and sealed automatically by the vendor of the thermal components. They are applied in a highly controlled, standardized manner and provide the best balance of thermal performance, production tolerance and product lifetime.
We are considering offering an upgrade to Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut due to popular demand. Will keep you posted on that.

Q: Could you please provide an estimate for how much regular usage (~10 browser tabs + some IDE) battery backup would this have? Will there be any way to trade-off battery backup with performance?
A: Battery life vs. peak performance can be traded off by using the "Silent" performance profile. You can switch between profiles using a dedicated button on the machine. Your scenario (10 tabs + some IDE) sounds like mostly reading and writing. I would estimate to get at least 7 hours of solid battery life in such a scenario, maybe more. We have achieved 8 hours in 1080p Youtube streaming on WiFi with 50% screen brightness. Adblock and NoScript helps to keep your idle browser tabs in check.


I/O Ports, Peripherals


Q: Why are there not more USB-A 3.1 Gen2 or even USB 3.2 Gen2x2 ports?
A: USB-A 3.1 Gen1 is basically the same as USB 3.0. There aren't a lot of USB-A devices that support more than USB 3.0 speed. Faster devices typically use USB-C connectors and can be used on Thunderbolt 3, which is down-compatible to USB-C 3.1 Gen2. One of the USB-A ports actually supports Gen2 speed.
For the following remarks, please keep in mind that I am not an Intel rep, so everything is based on our own experience.
The mainboard design and the I/O port decisions have been made by Intel. Feedback and requests from LOEM customers have been taken into consideration. We would assume that USB 3.2. Gen2x2 (20 Gbit/s) was not considered to be important enough to safe space for 3rd party IC (integrated circuits) on the motherboard. Right now, all the USB ports and Thunderbolts are supplied by Intel's own IC, so they have full control over the hardware, firmware and driver stack and over power saving and performance control. The more IC you add, the higher your Idle power consumption will be, plus adding potential compatibility or speed issues as it often happens with 1st generation 3rd party USB implementations. I very well remember from my own experience the support stories during the first years of USB 3.0, before it was supported in the Intel chipset. On the one hand, Intel is aiming high in terms of performance and convenience, on the other hand: support and reliability still seem to be Intel's goal #1. Thus they seem to play it safe where they deem it to be reasonable.
Intel is gearing up for USB 4.0 and next-gen Thunderbolt. USB 3.2 2x2 is probably treated as little more than a roadmap accident. Peripheral vendors might see it the same way.

Q: Do you support charging over USB-C/Thunderbolt? Does it support docking stations?
A: The Thunderbolt 3 port in Intel's reference design does not support charging. As you probably know, the 100W limit would not be enough to power the whole system and it would make the mainboard more complex to combine two different ways of charging. Intel consciously opted against it and will probably do so again on future high-end gaming/studio models.
The USB-C/Thunderbolt port supports Dual-Link DisplayPort signals, directly connected to the NVIDIA Graphics. This makes proper docking station usage very convenient. The user still needs to connect the external power adaptor. Both ports (Thunderbolt and DC-in) are in the back of the laptop, making the whole setup appear very neat on the desk.

Q: How many PCIe lanes does the Thunderbolt 3 provide? Are they connected to CPU or Chipset?
A: XMG FUSION 15 supports Thunderbolt 3 with 4 lanes of PCIe 3.0. The lanes come from the chipset because all of the CPU lanes (x16) are fully occupied by the dedicated NVIDIA graphics. We are not aware of any side-effects of running Thunderbolt from the chipset. It is common practice for high-end laptops with high-end graphics. The Thunderbolt solution is of course fully validated and certified by Intel's Thunderbolt labs.

Q: Does it have a standby USB to power USB devices without turning on the laptop?
A: Yes, the USB-A port on the left side supports this feature.


LCD Screen


Q: Which LCD panel is being used? Are there plans for 1440p or 4K panels in the laptop? How about PWM flickering?
A: The panel is BOE NV156FHM-N4G. It is currently not known if the panel will change in later batches. This depends on logistics and stock. At any rate, the panel key specs will remain the same. There are currently no plans to offer resolutions above FHD in the current generation of this laptop.
There are very wide ranges on reports of Backlight Brightness PWM control on this panel in different laptops. Ranging from 200Hz to 1000Hz to no PWM at all - all on the same panel model number. Intel informs us that there are many factors (e.g. freq., display driver, BIOS settings implementation, type of dimmers & compatibility with the driver etc.) that impacts the quality of panel dimming performance. To Intel's knowledge, no kind of flickering has been reported during the validation process. Furthermore, first hands-on data from Notebookcheck indicates that no PWM occurs on this panel. With a DSLR test (multiple burst shots at 1/4000s exposure time) I can confirm that there is not a single frame of brightness dipping or black screen, not even at minimum LCD brightness. Hence, we can confirm: BOE NV156FHM-N4G in XMG FUSION 15 (with Intel) does not use PWM for backlight control.

Q: Some BTO shops, for an additional fee, manually pick out display panels with the least back-light bleed. Do you offer that? Even better, do you do that without the extra fee?
A: Intel has validated this design to avoid backlight bleed as much as possible. Currently no plans to do further binning. All dozens of MP samples we have seen so far have been exceptionally good.

Q: I'm coming from a 13" MacBook with Retina display. How am I going to fare with this 15.6" FHD screen in content creation?
A: If you got used to editing high-res visual content (photography, artwork) on your 13inch retina, things will change. On the one hand, your canvas will be larger and more convenient and ergonomic to work with. On the other hand, you will find yourself zooming in more often in order to make out fine-detail. Assuming that you have sharp 20:20 vision.
As it is, the screen resolution and specs are not planned to change within the lifetime of this product. The first realistic time-window for a refresh would be whenever Intel is releasing the next "H" series CPU generation. But even then, an upgrade on resolution will not be guaranteed.
Comparison:
Laptop Resolution Pixel per inch dot pitch
13.3" MacBook Pro Retina (late 2013) 2560x1600 226.98 PPI 0.1119mm
15.6" XMG FUSION 15 (late 2019) 1920x1080 141.21 PPI 0.1799mm
To compare: 141.21 is ~62% from 226.98. This represents the the metric difference in pixel density and peak sharpness between these two models.
If you know the diagonal size and resolution of your screen, you can make this comparison yourself with the DPI/PPI calculator.


Keyboard, Backlight, Switches, Layout


Q: What can you tell us about the mechanical keyboard of XMG FUSION 15?
A: The keyboard has already been reviewed in our XMG NEO series as being more crisp than typical membrane keyboards. Most reviewers attested it a very good score, both for gaming and for writing long texts.
The keyboard backlight can be configured per-key. Default mode is all white.
Keyboard Switch Specs:
Having no frame around the keycaps actually helps the thermals. The fans can pull in additional air from the top. This improves airflow and helps to keep the keyboard temperature at low levels during gaming. It also prevents long-term RMA issues on the keyboard. This specific keyboard switch is already in its 3rd generation and very mature by now.

Q: Is it possible to dampen the mechanical keyboard with o-rings?
A: The switch design does not lend itself to further dampening. The switch mechanic is too complex and has more moving parts than cherry. The 2mm travel distance also plays a role in not allowing more dampening.
For reference, please use this video (Youtube). We compared XMG NEO with another membrane-type keyboard. XMG NEO and FUSION share the same keyboard mechanics with the silent tactile switch and the same sound profile.

Q: Do you have LED keyboard backlight on the secondary key function, like Fn key icons?
A: Please have a look at this picture.
Btw, my working sample has blank keycaps. I took the 3 printed keycaps (F8, F9, F10) from a different sample just to demonstrate the Fn lighting for this picture.
Facts:
In my assesment, the Fn function symbols are clearly visible from the backlight in a dark room. A user should have no difficulty to recognize the icon and reach its function.

Q: Which keyboard layouts do you offer in the EU?
A: The following layouts are available, in alphabetic order: Belgium, Czech, Danish, Dvorak German, Dvorak US, Estonia, French, German, Greek, Italian, Norwegian, Polish for Typists, Portuguese, Russia Latin, Slovakish, Spanish, Swedish / Finnish, Swiss, Turkish, UK, US International (ISO)All these layouts are based on the ISO matrix. See differences between ANSI vs. ISO here.


Operating System


Q: Do you support Linux and dual-boot on XMG FUSION 15?
A: We are in discussion to sell XMG FUSION 15 over Tuxedo with official Linux support. It might take 1 or 2 months to get this running.

Q: Which LAN, Audio and WiFi card vendors will be used? Asking for a friend.
A: From our HWiNFO64 report. (Google Drive link)
LAN: RealTek Semiconductor RTL8168/8111 [PCI\VEN_10EC&DEV_8168&SUBSYS_20868086&REV_15]Audio: Intel(R) Smart Sound Technology (Intel(R) SST) Audio Controller [PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_A348&SUBSYS_20868086&REV_10]WiFi: Intel(R) Wi-Fi 6 AX200 [PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_2723&SUBSYS_00848086&REV_1A], can be replaced.
For more information, please check the linked report file.


Other questions


Q: What would you say are the advantages and differences with other laptops due to the fact the laptop was designed in collaboration with Intel?
A: Disclaimer: I am \not* an Intel rep. The following remarks are based on my personal experience and opinion.*
Advantages:
  1. Very strict quality control on all levels. I can't quote numbers due to NDA, but Intel NUC has extremely low RMA rates, compared to average PC mainboards and systems. Intel is driven by strict internal regulation that strifes for perfection - this applies to the whole chassis, assembly and firmware, not only the mainboard. There are also certain regulations in place, for example in terms of electro-magnetic regulation and skin temperatures. The rating label is littered with regulatory seals from every region of the world, making this laptop especially safe to use.
  2. Access to high-quality material: we have not seen any Gaming Laptops based on Magnesium alloy yet, especially not in the ODM/LOEM ecosystem. The battery cells are also much more dense than what we usually see. Intel has the buying power and the vision to not settle for mediocre parts.
  3. Down-to-earth design: Intel has made this reference design for the ODM/LOEM eco-system. The design does not try to follow any specific corporate identity, thus it does not have any unneccessary "bling bling" like all the others have. Even the Razer Blade with it's sleek shape is quite obnoxious (iny my oppinion) with it's big backlit green snake logo. With XMG FUSION however, we can continue our typical style of "Undercover Gaming".
  4. Security: you can expect stellar support in terms of BIOS and Firmware (TPM, Management Engine) updates whenever any security issues are found. This might also apply to global brands, but ODM/LOEM systems have not always been so quick to react. This is due to the huge fragmentation/customizations in ODM/LOEM systems. Intel however does now allow any fragmentation: every LOEM partner is getting the same firmware. There are many hooks for configurations in this firmware, but the source code / binaries are always the same. This makes support much easier down the line.
Disadvantages:
  1. I can't name many, of course. But I would say the strict validation also makes the partnership less flexible from a product management perspective. There is no plan currently to phase-in any 4K or 300Hz screen (FHD/144Hz ought to be enough for everyone this year) or any Core i9 in this system. Other ODMs might be more open for costly modifications based on low quantities. Intel however has streamlined their production and logistics in a way that gives us (the LOEM) very short lead times and competitive pricing, but will not allow any short-notice upgrades or customizations.

Q: Will there be a 17 inch version?
A: We can neither confirm nor deny plans for a 17 inch version at this point.


[to be continued]
submitted by XMG_gg to XMG_gg [link] [comments]

Part 2: Tools & Info for Sysadmins - Mega List of Tips, Tools, Books, Blogs & More

(continued from part 1)
Unlocker is a tool to help delete those irritating locked files that give you an error message like "cannot delete file" or "access is denied." It helps with killing processes, unloading DLLs, deleting index.dat files, as well as unlocking, deleting, renaming, and moving locked files—typically without requiring a reboot.
IIS Crypto's newest version adds advanced settings; registry backup; new, simpler templates; support for Windows Server 2019 and more. This tool lets you enable or disable protocols, ciphers, hashes and key exchange algorithms on Windows and reorder SSL/TLS cipher suites from IIS, change advanced settings, implement best practices with a single click, create custom templates and test your website. Available in both command line and GUI versions.
RocketDock is an application launcher with a clean interface that lets you drag/drop shortcuts for easy access and minimize windows to the dock. Features running application indicators, multi-monitor support, alpha-blended PNG and ICO icons, auto-hide and popup on mouse over, positioning and layering options. Fully customizable, portable, and compatible with MobyDock, ObjectDock, RK Launcher and Y'z Dock skins. Works even on slower computers and is Unicode compliant. Suggested by lieutenantcigarette: "If you like the dock on MacOS but prefer to use Windows, RocketDock has you covered. A superb and highly customisable dock that you can add your favourites to for easy and elegant access."
Baby FTP Server offers only the basics, but with the power to serve as a foundation for a more-complex server. Features include multi-threading, a real-time server log, support for PASV and non-PASV mode, ability to set permissions for download/upload/rename/delete/create directory. Only allows anonymous connections. Our thanks to FatherPrax for suggesting this one.
Strace is a Linux diagnostic, debugging and instructional userspace tool with a traditional command-line interface. Uses the ptrace kernel feature to monitor and tamper with interactions between processes and the kernel, including system calls, signal deliveries and changes of process state.
exa is a small, fast replacement for ls with more features and better defaults. It uses colors to distinguish file types and metadata, and it recognizes symlinks, extended attributes and Git. All in one single binary. phils_lab describes it as "'ls' on steroids, written in Rust."
rsync is a faster file transfer program for Unix to bring remote files into sync. It sends just the differences in the files across the link, without requiring both sets of files to be present at one of the ends. Suggested by zorinlynx, who adds that "rsync is GODLY for moving data around efficiently. And if an rsync is interrupted, just run it again."
Matter Wiki is a simple WYSIWYG wiki that can help teams store and collaborate. Every article gets filed under a topic, transparently, so you can tell who made what changes to which document and when. Thanks to bciar-iwdc for the recommendation.
LockHunter is a file unlocking tool that enables you to delete files that are being blocked for unknown reasons. Can be useful for fighting malware and other programs that are causing trouble. Deletes files into the recycle bin so you can restore them if necessary. Chucky2401 finds it preferable to Unlocker, "since I am on Windows 7. There are no new updates since July 2017, but the last beta was in June of this year."
aria2 is a lightweight multi-source command-line download utility that supports HTTP/HTTPS, FTP, SFTP, BitTorrent and Metalink. It can be manipulated via built-in JSON-RPC and XML-RPC interfaces. Recommended by jftuga, who appreciates it as a "cross-platform command line downloader (similar to wget or curl), but with the -x option can run a segmented download of a single file to increase throughput."
Free Services
Temp-Mail allows you to receive email at a temporary address that self-destructs after a certain period of time. Outwit all the forums, Wi-Fi owners, websites and blogs that insist you register to use them. Petti-The-Yeti says, "I don't give any company my direct email anymore. If I want to trial something but they ask for an email signup, I just grab a temporary email from here, sign up with it, and wait for the trial link or license info to come through. Then, you just download the file and close the website."
Duck DNS will point a DNS (sub domains of duckdns.org) to an IP of your choice. DDNS is a handy way for you to refer to a serverouter with an easily rememberable name for situations when the server's ip address will likely change. Suggested by xgnarf, who finds it "so much better for the free tier of noip—no 30-day nag to keep your host up."
Joe Sandbox detects and analyzes potential malicious files and URLs on Windows, Android, Mac OS, Linux and iOS for suspicious activities. It performs deep malware analysis and generates comprehensive and detailed reports. The Community Edition of Joe Sandbox Cloud allows you to run a maximum of 6 analyses per month, 3 per day on Windows, Linux and Android with limited analysis output. This one is from dangibbons94, who wanted to "share this cool service ... for malware analysis. I usually use Virus total for URL scanning, but this goes a lot more in depth. I just used basic analysis, which is free and enough for my needs."
Hybrid Analysis is a malware analysis service that detects and analyzes unknown threats for the community. This one was suggested by compupheonix, who adds that it "gets you super detailed reports... it's about the most fleshed out and detailed one I can find."
JustBeamIt is a file-transfer service that allows you to send files of any size via a peer-to-peer streaming model. Simply drag and drop your file and specify the recipient's email address. They will then receive a link that will trigger the download directly from your computer, so the file does not have to be uploaded to the service itself. The link is good for one download and expires after 10 minutes. Thanks to cooljacob204sfw for the recommendation!
ShieldsUP is a quick but powerful internet security checkup and information service. It was created by security researcher Steve Gibson to scan ports and let you know which ones have been opened through your firewalls or NAT routers.
Firefox Send is an encrypted file transfer service that allows you to share files up to 2.5GB from any browser or an Android app. Uses end-to-end encryption to keep data secure and offers security controls you can set. You can determine when your file link expires, the number of downloads, and whether to add a password. Your recipient receives a link to download the file, and they don’t need a Firefox account. This one comes from DePingus, who appreciates the focus on privacy. "They have E2E, expiring links, and a clear privacy policy."
Free DNS is a service where programmers share domain names with one another at no cost. Offers free hosting as well as dynamic DNS, static DNS, subdomain and domain hosting. They can host your domain's DNS as well as allowing you to register hostnames from domains they're hosting already. If you don't have a domain, you can sign up for a free account and create up to 5 subdomains off the domains others have contributed and point these hosts anywhere on the Internet. Thanks to 0x000000000000004C (yes, that's a username) for the suggestion!
ANY.RUN is an interactive malware analysis service for dynamic and static research of the majority of threats in any environment. It can provide a convenient in-depth analysis of new, unidentified malicious objects and help with the investigation of incidents. ImAshtonTurner appreciates it as "a great sandbox tool for viewing malware, etc."
Plik is a scalable, temporary file upload system similar to wetransfer that is written in golang. Thanks go to I_eat_Narwhals for this one!
Free My IP offers free, dynamic DNS. This service comes with no login, no ads, no newsletters, no links to click and no hassle. Kindly suggested by Jack of All Trades.
Mailinator provides free, temporary email inboxes on a receive-only, attachment-free system that requires no sign-up. All @mailinator.com addresses are public, readable and discoverable by anyone at any time—but are automatically deleted after a few hours. Can be a nice option for times when you to give out an address that won't be accessible longterm. Recommended by nachomountain, who's been using it "for years."
Magic Wormhole is a service for sending files directly with no intermediate upload, no web interface and no login. When both parties are online you with the minimal software installed, the wormhole is invoked via command line identifying the file you want to send. The server then provides a speakable, one-time-use password that you give the recipient. When they enter that password in their wormhole console, key exchange occurs and the download begins directly between your computers. rjohnson99 explains, "Magic Wormhole is sort of like JustBeamIt but is open-source and is built on Python. I use it a lot on Linux servers."
EveryCloud's Free Phish is our own, new Phishing Simulator. Once you've filled in the form and logged in, you can choose from lots of email templates (many of which we've coped from what we see in our Email Security business) and landing pages. Run a one-off free phish, then see who clicked or submitted data so you can understand where your organization is vulnerable and act accordingly.
Hardening Guides
CIS Hardening Guides contain the system security benchmarks developed by a global community of cybersecurity experts. Over 140 configuration guidelines are provided to help safeguard systems against threats. Recommended by cyanghost109 "to get a start on looking at hardening your own systems."
Podcasts
Daily Tech News is Tom Merrit's show covering the latest tech issues with some of the top experts in the field. With the focus on daily tech news and analysis, it's a great way to stay current. Thanks to EmoPolarbear for drawing it to our attention.
This Week in Enterprise Tech is a podcast that features IT experts explaining the complicated details of cutting-edge enterprise technology. Join host Lou Maresca on this informative exploration of enterprise solutions, with new episodes recorded every Friday afternoon.
Security Weekly is a podcast where a "bunch of security nerds" get together and talk shop. Topics are greatly varied, and the atmosphere is relaxed and conversational. The show typically tops out at 2 hours, which is perfect for those with a long commute. If you’re fascinated by discussion of deep technical and security-related topics, this may be a nice addition to your podcast repertoire.
Grumpy Old Geeks—What Went Wrong on the Internet and Who's To Blame is a podcast about the internet, technology and geek culture—among other things. The hosts bring their grumpy brand of humor to the "state of the world as they see it" in these roughly hour-long weekly episodes. Recommended by mkaxsnyder, who enjoys it because, "They are a good team that talk about recent and relevant topics from an IT perspective."
The Social-Engineer Podcast is a monthly discussion among the hosts—a group of security experts from SEORG—and a diverse assortment of guests. Topics focus around human behavior and how it affects information security, with new episodes released on the second Monday of every month. Thanks to MrAshRhodes for the suggestion.
The CyberWire podcasts discuss what's happening in cyberspace, providing news and commentary from industry experts. This cyber security-focused news service delivers concise, accessible, and relevant content without the gossip, sensationalism, and the marketing buzz that often distract from the stories that really matter. Appreciation to supermicromainboard for the suggestion.
Malicious Life is a podcast that tells the fascinating—and often unknown—stories of the wildest hacks you can ever imagine. Host Ran Levi, a cybersecurity expert and author, talks with the people who were actually involved to reveal the history of each event in depth. Our appreciation goes to peraphon for the recommendation.
The Broadcast Storm is a podcast for Cisco networking professionals. BluePieceOfPaper suggests it "for people studying for their CCNA/NP. Kevin Wallace is a CCIE Collaboration so he knows his *ishk. Good format for learning too. Most podcasts are about 8-15 mins long and its 'usually' an exam topic. It will be something like "HSPR" but instead of just explaining it super boring like Ben Stein reading a powerpoint, he usually goes into a story about how (insert time in his career) HSPR would have been super useful..."
Software Engineering Radio is a podcast for developers who are looking for an educational resource with original content that isn't recycled from other venues. Consists of conversations on relevant topics with experts from the software engineering world, with new episodes released three to four times per month. a9JDvXLWHumjaC tells us this is "a solid podcast for devs."
Books
System Center 2012 Configuration Manager is a comprehensive technical guide designed to help you optimize Microsoft's Configuration Manager 2012 according to your requirements and then to deploy and use it successfully. This methodical, step-by-step reference covers: the intentions behind the product and its role in the broader System Center product suite; planning, design, and implementation; and details on each of the most-important feature sets. Learn how to leverage the user-centric capabilities to provide anytime/anywhere services & software, while strengthening control and improving compliance.
Network Warrior: Everything You Need to Know That Wasn’t on the CCNA Exam is a practical guide to network infrastructure. Provides an in-depth view of routers and routing, switching (with Cisco Catalyst and Nexus switches as examples), SOHO VoIP and SOHO wireless access point design and configuration, introduction to IPv6 with configuration examples, telecom technologies in the data-networking world (including T1, DS3, frame relay, and MPLS), security, firewall theory and configuration, ACL and authentication, Quality of Service (QoS), with an emphasis on low-latency queuing (LLQ), IP address allocation, Network Time Protocol (NTP) and device failures.
Beginning the Linux Command Line is your ally in mastering Linux from the keyboard. It is intended for system administrators, software developers, and enthusiastic users who want a guide that will be useful for most distributions—i.e., all items have been checked against Ubuntu, Red Hat and SUSE. Addresses administering users and security and deploying firewalls. Updated to the latest versions of Linux to cover files and directories, including the Btrfs file system and its management and systemd boot procedure and firewall management with firewalld.
Modern Operating Systems, 4th Ed. is written for students taking intro courses on Operating Systems and for those who want an OS reference guide for work. The author, an OS researcher, includes both the latest materials on relevant operating systems as well as current research. The previous edition of Modern Operating Systems received the 2010 McGuffey Longevity Award that recognizes textbooks for excellence over time.
Time Management for System Administrators is a guide for organizing your approach to this challenging role in a way that improves your results. Bestselling author Thomas Limoncelli offers a collection of tips and techniques for navigating the competing goals and concurrent responsibilities that go along with working on large projects while also taking care of individual user's needs. The book focuses on strategies to help with daily tasks that will also allow you to handle the critical situations that inevitably require your attention. You'll learn how to manage interruptions, eliminate time wasters, keep an effective calendar, develop routines and prioritize, stay focused on the task at hand and document/automate to speed processes.
The Practice of System and Network Administration, 3rd Edition introduces beginners to advanced frameworks while serving as a guide to best practices in system administration that is helpful for even the most advanced experts. Organized into four major sections that build from the foundational elements of system administration through improved techniques for upgrades and change management to exploring assorted management topics. Covers the basics and then moves onto the advanced things that can be built on top of those basics to wield real power and execute difficult projects.
Learn Windows PowerShell in a Month of Lunches, Third Edition is designed to teach you PowerShell in a month's worth of 1-hour lessons. This updated edition covers PowerShell features that run on Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 and later, PowerShell v3 and later, and it includes v5 features like PowerShellGet. For PowerShell v3 and up, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 and later.
Troubleshooting with the Windows Sysinternals Tools is a guide to the powerful Sysinternals tools for diagnosing and troubleshooting issues. Sysinternals creator Mark Russinovich and Windows expert Aaron Margosis provide a deep understanding of Windows core concepts that aren’t well-documented elsewhere along with details on how to use Sysinternals tools to optimize any Windows system’s reliability, efficiency, performance and security. Includes an explanation of Sysinternals capabilities, details on each major tool, and examples of how the tools can be used to solve real-world cases involving error messages, hangs, sluggishness, malware infections and more.
DNS and BIND, 5th Ed. explains how to work with the Internet's distributed host information database—which is responsible for translating names into addresses, routing mail to its proper destination, and listing phone numbers according to the ENUM standard. Covers BIND 9.3.2 & 8.4.7, the what/how/why of DNS, name servers, MX records, subdividing domains (parenting), DNSSEC, TSIG, troubleshooting and more. PEPCK tells us this is "generally considered the DNS reference book (aside from the RFCs of course!)"
Windows PowerShell in Action, 3rd Ed. is a comprehensive guide to PowerShell. Written by language designer Bruce Payette and MVP Richard Siddaway, this volume gives a great introduction to Powershell, including everyday use cases and detailed examples for more-advanced topics like performance and module architecture. Covers workflows and classes, writing modules and scripts, desired state configuration and programming APIs/pipelines.This edition has been updated for PowerShell v6.
Zero Trust Networks: Building Secure Systems in Untrusted Networks explains the principles behind zero trust architecture, along with what's needed to implement it. Covers the evolution of perimeter-based defenses and how they evolved into the current broken model, case studies of zero trust in production networks on both the client and server side, example configurations for open-source tools that are useful for building a zero trust network and how to migrate from a perimeter-based network to a zero trust network in production. Kindly recommended by jaginfosec.
Tips
Here are a couple handy Windows shortcuts:
Here's a shortcut for a 4-pane explorer in Windows without installing 3rd-party software:
(Keep the win key down for the arrows, and no pauses.) Appreciation goes to ZAFJB for this one.
Our recent tip for a shortcut to get a 4-pane explorer in Windows, triggered this suggestion from SevaraB: "You can do that for an even larger grid of Windows by right-clicking the clock in the taskbar, and clicking 'Show windows side by side' to arrange them neatly. Did this for 4 rows of 6 windows when I had to have a quick 'n' dirty "video wall" of windows monitoring servers at our branches." ZAFJB adds that it actually works when you right-click "anywhere on the taskbar, except application icons or start button."
This tip comes courtesy of shipsass: "When I need to use Windows Explorer but I don't want to take my hands off the keyboard, I press Windows-E to launch Explorer and then Ctrl-L to jump to the address line and type my path. The Ctrl-L trick also works with any web browser, and it's an efficient way of talking less-technical people through instructions when 'browse to [location]' stumps them."
Clear browser history/cookies by pressing CTRL-SHIFT-DELETE on most major browsers. Thanks go to synapticpanda, who adds that this "saves me so much time when troubleshooting web apps where I am playing with the cache and such."
To rename a file with F2, while still editing the name of that file: Hit TAB to tab into the renaming of the next file. Thanks to abeeftaco for this one!
Alt-D is a reliable alternative to Ctrl-L for jumping to the address line in a browser. Thanks for this one go to fencepost_ajm, who explains: "Ctrl-L comes from the browser side as a shortcut for Location, Alt-D from the Windows Explorer side for Directory."
Browser shortcut: When typing a URL that ends with dot com, Ctrl + Enter will place the ".com" and take you to the page. Thanks to wpierre for this one!
This tip comes from anynonus, as something that daily that saves a few clicks: "Running a program with ctrl + shift + enter from start menu will start it as administrator (alt + y will select YES to run as admin) ... my user account is local admin [so] I don't feel like that is unsafe"
Building on our PowerShell resources, we received the following suggestion from halbaradkenafin: aka.ms/pskoans is "a way to learn PowerShell using PowerShell (and Pester). It's really cool and a bunch of folks have high praise for it (including a few teams within MSFT)."
Keyboard shortcut: If you already have an application open, hold ctrl + shift and middle click on the application in your task bar to open another instance as admin. Thanks go to Polymira for this one.
Remote Server Tip: "Critical advice. When testing out network configuration changes, prior to restarting the networking service or rebooting, always create a cron job that will restore your original network configuration and then reboot/restart networking on the machine after 5 minutes. If your config worked, you have enough time to remove it. If it didn't, it will fix itself. This is a beautifully simple solution that I learned from my old mentor at my very first job. I've held on to it for a long time." Thanks go to FrigidNox for the tip!
Websites
Deployment Research is the website of Johan Arwidmark, MS MVP in System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management. It is dedicated to sharing information and guidance around System Center, OS deployment, migration and more. The author shares tips and tricks to help improve the quality of IT Pros’ daily work.
Next of Windows is a website on (mostly) Microsoft-related technology. It's the place where Kent Chen—a computer veteran with many years of field experience—and Jonathan Hu—a web/mobile app developer and self-described "cool geek"—share what they know, what they learn and what they find in the hope of helping others learn and benefit.
High Scalability brings together all the relevant information about building scalable websites in one place. Because building a website with confidence requires a body of knowledge that can be slow to develop, the site focuses on moving visitors along the learning curve at a faster pace.
Information Technology Research Library is a great resource for IT-related research, white papers, reports, case studies, magazines, and eBooks. This library is provided at no charge by TradePub.com. GullibleDetective tells us it offers "free PDF files from a WIIIIIIDE variety of topics, not even just IT. Only caveat: as its a vendor-supported publishing company, you will have to give them a bit of information such as name, email address and possibly a company name. You undoubtedly have the ability to create fake information on this, mind you. The articles range from Excel templates, learning python, powershell, nosql etc. to converged architecture."
SS64 is a web-based reference guide for syntax and examples of the most-common database and OS computing commands. Recommended by Petti-The-Yeti, who adds, "I use this site all the time to look up commands and find examples while I'm building CMD and PS1 scripts."
Phishing and Malware Reporting. This website helps you put a stop to scams by getting fraudulent pages blocked. Easily report phishing webpages so they can be added to blacklists in as little as 15 minutes of your report. "Player024 tells us, "I highly recommend anyone in the industry to bookmark this page...With an average of about 10 minutes of work, I'm usually able to take down the phishing pages we receive thanks to the links posted on that website."
A Slack Channel
Windows Admin Slack is a great drive-by resource for the Windows sysadmin. This team has 33 public channels in total that cover different areas of helpful content on Windows administration.
Blogs
KC's Blog is the place where Microsoft MVP and web developer Kent Chen shares his IT insights and discoveries. The rather large library of posts offer helpful hints, how-tos, resources and news of interest to those in the Windows world.
The Windows Server Daily is the ever-current blog of technologist Katherine Moss, VP of open source & community engagement for StormlightTech. Offers brief daily posts on topics related to Windows server, Windows 10 and Administration.
An Infosec Slideshow
This security training slideshow was created for use during a quarterly infosec class. The content is offered generously by shalafi71, who adds, "Take this as a skeleton and flesh it out on your own. Take an hour or two and research the things I talk about. Tailor this to your own environment and users. Make it relevant to your people. Include corporate stories, include your audience, exclude yourself. This ain't about how smart you are at infosec, and I can't stress this enough, talk about how people can defend themselves. Give them things to look for and action they can take. No one gives a shit about your firewall rules."
Tech Tutorials
Tutorialspoint Library. This large collection of tech tutorials is a great resource for online learning. You'll find nearly 150 high-quality tutorials covering a wide array of languages and topics—from fundamentals to cutting-edge technologies. For example, this Powershell tutorial is designed for those with practical experience handling Windows-based Servers who want to learn how to install and use Windows Server 2012.
The Python Tutorial is a nice introduction to many of Python’s best features, enabling you to read and write Python modules and programs. It offers an understanding of the language's style and prepares you to learn more about the various Python library modules described in 'The Python Standard Library.' Kindly suggested by sharjeelsayed.
SysAdmin Humor
Day in the Life of a SysAdmin Episode 5: Lunch Break is an amusing look at a SysAdmin's attempt to take a brief lunch break. We imagine many of you can relate!
Have a fantastic week and as usual, let me know any comments or suggestions.
u/crispyducks
submitted by crispyducks to sysadmin [link] [comments]

MAME 0.209

MAME 0.209

With another month over, it’s time for another release, and MAME 0.209 is sure to have something to interest everyone. We’ve cracked the encryption on the Fun World CPU blocks, making Fun World Quiz, Joker Card, Mega Card, Power Card, Multi Win, Saloon and Nevada playable. Regular contributor shattered has added Кузьмич-Егорыч (Kuzmich-Egorych), a Russian Mario Brothers bootleg running on heavily modified Apple II hardware. In other Apple II news, CD-ROM drives now work with the Apple II SCSI card, and another batch of cleanly cracked floppies has been added to the software list. The NES SimCity prototype has been added to the software list, along with MMC5 improvements to support it, and better emulation for Famicom cartridges with on-board sound chips.
Henrik Algestam has continued his Game & Watch work, bringing Popeye (wide screen) and Zelda to MAME. Chess computer support has been expanded with Fidelity Chess Challenger 3, and additional versions of Applied Concepts Boris, and Novag Super Expert and Super Forte. Newly supported arcade games include Akka Arrh (an Atari title that failed location testing), Little Casino II, a French version of Empire City: 1931, and additional versions of Dock Man and Street Heat. A better LM3900 op-amp model means Money Money and Jack Rabbit are no longer missing the cassa (bass drum) channel, and mixing between music and speech is improved.
Bug fixes include the Rockwell AIM 65 being returned to working order, working support for multiple light guns on Linux from Kiall, corrected screen freeze behaviour on Deniam hardware from cam900, and better flashing characters on the Sinclair QL from vilcans. You can get the source and Windows binary packages from the download page.

MAMETesters Bugs Fixed

New working machines

New working clones

Machines promoted to working

Clones promoted to working

New machines marked as NOT_WORKING

New clones marked as NOT_WORKING

New working software list additions

Software list items promoted to working

New NOT_WORKING software list additions

Translations added or modified

Source Changes

submitted by cuavas to emulation [link] [comments]

MAME 0.209

MAME 0.209

With another month over, it’s time for another release, and MAME 0.209 is sure to have something to interest everyone. We’ve cracked the encryption on the Fun World CPU blocks, making Fun World Quiz, Joker Card, Mega Card, Power Card, Multi Win, Saloon and Nevada playable. Regular contributor shattered has added Кузьмич-Егорыч (Kuzmich-Egorych), a Russian Mario Brothers bootleg running on heavily modified Apple II hardware. In other Apple II news, CD-ROM drives now work with the Apple II SCSI card, and another batch of cleanly cracked floppies has been added to the software list. The NES SimCity prototype has been added to the software list, along with MMC5 improvements to support it, and better emulation for Famicom cartridges with on-board sound chips.
Henrik Algestam has continued his Game & Watch work, bringing Popeye (wide screen) and Zelda to MAME. Chess computer support has been expanded with Fidelity Chess Challenger 3, and additional versions of Applied Concepts Boris, and Novag Super Expert and Super Forte. Newly supported arcade games include Akka Arrh (an Atari title that failed location testing), Little Casino II, a French version of Empire City: 1931, and additional versions of Dock Man and Street Heat. A better LM3900 op-amp model means Money Money and Jack Rabbit are no longer missing the cassa (bass drum) channel, and mixing between music and speech is improved.
Bug fixes include the Rockwell AIM 65 being returned to working order, working support for multiple light guns on Linux from Kiall, corrected screen freeze behaviour on Deniam hardware from cam900, and better flashing characters on the Sinclair QL from vilcans. You can get the source and Windows binary packages from the download page.

MAMETesters Bugs Fixed

New working machines

New working clones

Machines promoted to working

Clones promoted to working

New machines marked as NOT_WORKING

New clones marked as NOT_WORKING

New working software list additions

Software list items promoted to working

New NOT_WORKING software list additions

Translations added or modified

Source Changes

submitted by cuavas to MAME [link] [comments]

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