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Friday, May 4th 2012, 11:20pm

Thinking of buying a Vrus TI desktop and i have some questions.

Ok, i've been saving up some money and next week i'll have about £1500, but i'm in two minds about what to get. It's down to either a new iMac or a Virus TI desktop.

My setup at the moment is a Mac mini (core2duo) as my desktop computer and a more powerful (dual core i7) Macbook pro as my laptop. Ideally i would like to keep my laptop for live stuff and have it permanently hooked up to my Traktor gear and have my desktop for production. This avoids the hassle of constantly having to disconnect and reconnect my laptop from my Traktor setup and my studio setup. But a Mac mini isn't really designed for heavy production work so a new (quad core) iMac would mean i have more power at my fingertips for general production (and from other forums people have said that you can do everything a Virus can do with a powerful computer and a bunch of pluggins such as NI Komplete, which i have already)

Alternatively, i could get a Virus TI, which would take some of the strain off of the Mac mini's CPU as the majority of the synth work can be done with the TI. And i can wait till next year (when it is rumored the next generation of Intel chips will be released) to upgrade my desktop computer. I also could just use my laptop and just get over the "moving it around" issues that i have. And of course i'll have a TI, which is the "Rolls Royce" of softsynths (VA).

So any advice anyone has about this situation will be greatly appreciated.

I also have some specific questions about how the TI behaves when you use it as a pluggin. It's a 16 part multitimbral device. So does that mean i can open 16 instances of it in separate "instrument" channels in my DAW? Or does it work like Kontakt? Where i have one instance in an "instrument" channel and then route the virtual outs to separate audio channels and have separate midi channels for each of the parts (or 16 "External instruments" in Ableton)? Does the audio routing even work that way? With all the audio coming though the USB into virtual outputs? Or do i have to plug the physical outputs into my audio interface and run them through "armed" audio tracks in my DAW? Same question with bouncing. Can i just bounce a track down like with soft synths, or do i have to record the audio form the TI into my DAW first? Also, how does automation work? Can i pull up a menu in my automation lane and see all the parameters named (like a soft synth), or will i see a list of Midi CC numbers (like a hardware synth)?

In summary, will the TI behave just like a soft synth (but with all the processing done in the hardware instead of by the computer), or will it behave like a hardware synth (with better integration with my DAW)?

Like i say, i have a week until i have the money to spend. I'm really in two minds as to what to do, so any answers to my queries and general advice (what would you do etc..) during this next week will be more than welcome.


Gareth :S


Saturday, May 5th 2012, 9:54am

I can sympathize with you, it took me a few long years to get mine. :-)
The first thing you can do without spending a large amount of money is to harness the power of both your computers by using Rewire over your local network. Distribute your plugins between your computers, run your macbook DAW as a slave and leave it where you usually keep it. This will give you something to do for a week, so you don't get preoccupied by you dilemma. ;-)
The Virus has a soft (synth) heart, but it IS a hardware synth, and despite having an AU interface, it requires all the practices you listed: You will have to create up to 16 MIDI lanes and send each one to a different MIDI channel of one Virus plugin; You will have to bounce each MIDI lane to audio in realtime (not offline); You will not be able to freeze Virus lanes. The Virus has lots of polyphony, but you can max it out pretty quickly if you use certain functions such as unison. On top of voice stealing, I found that its timing becomes less and less stable as the size of multichannel MIDI data increases. And my last word of warning is: get to know your computer's USB architecture before you install a Virus, you will find this knowledge very helpful in the installation process.
The Virus is good for offloading your DAW, but so is Rewire. The real advantage of the Virus over softsynths is that it is a real life instrument that you can take with you on stage and play without needing a computer. If this is this your situation, the answer is pretty clear. You'll get two for one - an instrument and a production tool. If you intend to use a computer wherever you use the Virus then it is tougher to decide, it has more to do with personal taste. Maybe you like to design sounds with knobs and buttons rather than mouse and keyboard?
Regarding automation, you can use both automation and MIDI CC's at the same time which can yield very interesting combinations when used along with modulation matrix routings.
Hope this helped.


Sunday, May 6th 2012, 10:21am

Thanks, that has helped. I've asked the same question on another forum (Dogs on Acid) and have got some good responses too. I'm a little disappointed that there are only three virtual outputs, in kind of makes the 16 parts pointless if you can't route them to individual channels but i guess i can always bounce tracks down to audio or maybe just opting for the Snow.

One thing that does concern me is all the talk of the Virus pluggin being very buggy. I've seen a lot of threads describing constant crashes being caused by the Virus. How common exactly is this?


Sunday, May 6th 2012, 8:46pm

From my modest experience, 45% of the people don't have problems with the Virus, 35% Have trouble installing it, but in time find a setup in which they can use it, and 20% have constant problems. Counter intuitively, the older your DAW (given that it qualifies with the minimal requirements), the better chances it has to perform well with the Virus, because there's a greater chance that any bug it had with it has been ironed out already. And don't forget, you can still work with the Virus without the TI plugin, or even USB - good old MIDI and analog or S/PDIF audio make the Virus just as usable as any other hardware synth.

Before you install, make sure you have all the details about your setup, especially your USB architecture (as I already mentioned before), and cross reference it with the installation guide and all the other documentation. If you run into trouble, ask help from a computer savvy person you know, and if you are one yourself, open a support ticket with Access, describing your problems to the last detail.


Sunday, May 6th 2012, 8:54pm

Ok, thanks again. What exactly do you mean by "USB architecture"?


Monday, May 7th 2012, 7:56am

The installation guide explains this in more detail, but you should bring up your system profiler, and make note of the following:
  • How many hubs are on board? are they mutli-TT or single-TT?
  • Which hub goes to which ports on the cover?
  • What on board devices use each on board hub?
  • Which of your devices (on board and external) are USB2 and which are USB1.x?
According to this information and the installation guide, you will re-distribute the USB devices across the ports, possibly disable ones you don't use and maybe even purchase an external hub, so that the Virus will perform at its best.
Good luck.


Friday, May 18th 2012, 9:16pm

As for the issue with VC there are a common set of known "quirks" with it. Some are USB related and only affect a certain number of users. The actual bugs that come up with using it over USB are still workable, they are mostly workflow stoppers that you can boot cycle through or dis-connect/reconnect to get by. For me I dont mind those issues that much but I would NEVER run the thing in a live performance via VC EVER EVER EVER.
Its pretty much rock solid when NOT using usb.