Saturday, February 10, 2007
PreSonus Inspire GT
Let me just start by saying that I couldn't win a medal in the Special Olympics of Digital Recording. I've been an analog dog for my entire musical life. My experience with trouble-shooting has always consisted of following cables, shaking non-responsive units, tapping, hitting or throwing, re-seating connections and as a last resort, drinking huge amounts of coffee while a qualified tech fixes the combination of original and "Pete-induced" issues. I find the virtual world of technology daunting to say the very least.Having recently begun to set up a home studio recording environment, I have inundated myself in literature, reviews and manuals concerning all aspects of hardware and software. I've found that trying to keep up with the incredible rate of updates can easily rob me of valuable creative time, so my efforts have been to research and make hardware decisions based primarily on two factors. First, How does a piece of gear SOUND?, and second, Will an Idiot like me be able to figure it out?I have been fighting tooth and nail with a usb audio interface that shall remain nameless. For some reason, input/output assignments were difficult and the bus assignments just wouldn't line up the same way twice. I'm more that willing to concede that the technical issues rested squarely on my inept shoulders. But as to the sound quality, I was not happy. Therefore my criteria had not been met. It sounded bad, and an Idiot like me was not able to figure it out. What to do? I started by putting it back in the box. The second step will involve a Craig's list posting.I work on a 24" intel iMac which has 3 usb ports. With one port for the computer keyboard, one for the Cubase key and one for a Radium keyboard, using a usb interface required plugging and unplugging usb wires. Using hubs and bluetooth devices had proven less than satisfactory in my experience at Shangri La, so I decided to try a firewire interface. What I wanted was a box with holes in it that I could stick wires into so the signal would get to where it belonged. I was looking for a knobless, idiot-proof piece that would get plugged in, put on the desk and do it's job without tapping me on the shoulder every five minutes with stupid questions like, "Where do you want me to send this guitar part?"I found my solution in the PreSonus Inspire GT. This little baby is a five-and-a-half inch square with holes in it that fit the right wires. There are no knobs. I'm used to turning knobs on real gear and have always thought that the knobs on most home-recording devices felt like repairs waiting to happen so this feature of the Inspire GT was welcome by virtue of its absence. The simplicity of the physical design is very similar to the Mac Mini in that there is nothing outside the box that can get you into trouble.The installation happened so effortlessly and was completed so quickly that I really don't remember what I did, if anything. Re-reading the manual, you simply connect to the computer via firewire, insert the driver cd, drag the icon to the hard drive, click, and the bugger shows up on the screen and ready for business! A quick look through the audio preference pane on the iMac showed that the Inspire GT had already checked in to the computer. Cubase set-up was equally as idiot proof.I plugged the audio output of the Podxt into the Inspire GT, and after a few level tweaks, I was recording. Just as simple as that. My second requirement for gear had been met with flying colors...Yes, an idiot like me could figure it out.As to my first requirement, how does it sound, I can only say this. Once I started to record, I never gave it another thought. I'm in the process of learning my recording/sequencing software and have enough to think about. With the other box, I found myself constantly distracted with sound issues. After working for about two hours, I realized that I hadn't thought about anything but the task at hand. The guitar sounded like a guitar and that was simply it. The Inspire GT took care of getting the guitar to the recorder and the sound to my powered speakers. I was free to get confused about all the other things that tend to confuse me, chief among them, why couldn't I hear my fucking click track?!But that safari is for another day. In the meantime, I love this box. It has really cut down on my shoe-throwing.