Richard Rogers, founder of Workstation Pros and one of our partners, attended NAMM 2017 and has come away with some interesting thoughts about the computers we use in the Pro Audio Industry. He makes a case for the service of Workstation Pro in a world more an more reliant on laptop computers for audio production.
Last week I attended the NAMM 2017 music technology conference in Los Angeles. I haven't been before, I've wanted to go for so long and be dazzled by the LA bling and also see what all the commotion was around the legendary show.
Of course, coming from England I had to bring the terrible weather with me and was greeted by much of the same as soon as we arrived - apparently the worst rain in recent history in Orange County! Upon getting passes, fuelling up on coffee and entering the labyrinth that is Anaheim Convention Centre it was apparent there was going to be some serious leg work involved, the place is HUGE!
Now I'm not going to bore you with run downs on hot new tech and demos (Pro Tools Expert has covered a lot of what's been going on at NAMM 2017) or bumping into Stevie Wonder, but what I will talk about is the computers, or lack of them. Sure there were more MacBooks in attendance than every Apple Store put together but there were no real, desktop computers. It dawned upon me (and with a slight sinking feeling) that maybe this is the future and we are in it. It's 2017 and the hottest new audio tech in the world is laid out before me and it doesn't involve a workstation, WRONG.
As I went from pitch to pitch looking over manufacturers new wares and having brief chats with them it was becoming glaringly obvious that so many were in limbo over what they can or can't use for when it comes to heavy computing in studios, suites or facilities and most importantly design their applications for. Has it got thunderbolt or USB, Type C, Dante Ethernet, 3.1, what OS will it run, will it support this, will it support that?
Now don't get me wrong, MacBook Pros are great for working on to a certain degree, but when you rock up to the studio, client in tow, you all sit down and all that's up there on the monitor bridge is a laptop, well that's just not cricket, especially when you open the 80 track session in Pro Tools HD with 40 channel strips and compressors, virtual instruments, some sampler instruments and all the trimmings that are part of a large working session, it ain't gonna happen, more power is needed.
As we all know there's only one other Apple box of tricks that can fill this void and it's about £7000.00 away from being used by most along with its seriously outdated hardware and, to be honest, just not what is actually required for a pro situation.
I spoke with numerous hardware and software manufacturers about their thoughts on the Windows platform coming back up through the ranks for pro audio use, of course, there were some haters that just said hopefully something will come out from Apple... But the other 90% seemed very open and had expressed lots of interest and were looking at pushing marketing in that direction, to the detriment that we have no opened up talks with lots of plugin manufacturers to work out preinstalled bundles on our custom HP Z series DAW workstations - watch this space.
I met some great new people at NAMM and came back with a personal wish list of about 500 new gadgets but what I came back with most of all was extra fire in the belly for pushing what we are trying to do here at Workstation Pros and how we can make workflows for creative, power hungry users assist them rather than constraint them when it comes to their next Computer (not laptop) purchase.