" Hey Vin,

Time to release the cat out of the bag now. I have been working with your Stealth Cube for some months now and I feel it is time to put some opinions and factual findings in ink for you as a reference and for your potential clients.

First some background. I established South Austraila's largest recording complex in 1996, Hippo Audio. I had first met Vin during his past life when he was working as a Music Technology Consultant for a Major Retailer.During this initial set up period he supplied me in excess of $150,000.00 of midi, outboard and computer equipment. From memory, the first "box" he built for me was a PII200 with 64 Meg Ram and SCSI2 Drives of a total huge recording media of 9GB. It worked well.
We were a total "linear" recording studio. For those that might not be familiar with the term, it was when you actually recorded to analog or digital tape. If you wanted to repeat a section or do a dub, the "talent" actually had to do the work and deliver the goods. Cut, Paste, editing mistakes and retuning vocals were done as a drop in on tape by the artists. You know, the artists were responsible for the perfect performance, not a person wearing a cap with a spinning propellor spurting off quotes like, "close enough, I'll edit it" and "Just sing the chorus once and I'll cut and paste it!". Saucer of milk over here please! Meowwrrr!

But I digress. The computer was used for sequencing and burning CD's. Thats was it. However, I was forced by public pressure to delve into "nonlinear editing". Called Vin, "Pro Tools my boy", was his advice. "How %$#%& much??", was my response! "Forget it!" "That can buy wonderfull things like Pultecs, Neve modules and another Studer. I can link 2 of them together for 48 tracks of analog heaven!". But after much discussion, a Paris 3 system was purchased and Vin built me a new workstation in 1998. A PIII 450 with 128 Meg Ram, Dual Head Video Card, 40Gig SCSI 2 yada yada. It worked very well. It it introduced me to a whole different world of production. Making really dodgerama musicians sound pretty good! It had its merits. Clients were happy. BUT the whole Paris platform proved less than happy syncing to any external sources, which was proving more and more of a concern, especially when no viable solution was being planned in the future from the Paris Development Team.

Long story short, Paris "left the building" in 2000 after much bantering between several parties. For all concerned, yes, I was very pleased with the outcome and cannot speak highly enough of all the parties involved. So I was free to search the world for a new platform.

Now I was quite up to speed with a Windows operating system now, (you needed to be if you owned Paris), so I was looking for a new package that would offer all the reliable features I was looking for. Pro Tools was again suggested, and seriously considered. But Vin introduced me the Nuendo Platform. After some serious investigation, my PIII 450 was fitted with the Nuendo Core System, RME cards and converters, with an Ardvark Sync Box. I now had 16 ins and outs, rock solid transfer between my DA98's and bullet proof syncing to SMPTE and VITSC. But the performance was amazing for this "old" computer.

The largest project/song that was attempted on Nuendo and my PC involved the following. Some 80 tracks all playing back in real time, with automation and the folling plug ins. 6 or so delays, 2 TC Reverbs, 4 RCL's and 4 Auto tunes. With the DSP load, the CPU would about choke. But it always flawlessly play back those 80 tracks of audio. Not bad for such an old, clunky computer by todays standard.

2001 signalled the end of my involvement in Hippo Audio. The big studio was and still is in my opionion struggling in Australia. The return on investment is so poor that I made a decsion to sell. But what does one do with all that free time and cash? So I caught up with Vin in Melbourne and asked for a system that would totally replace everything I use to do in the analog world on a six figure Amek console! So I sent him on his way.

During this period I also looked back into Pro Tools, and decided that I needed 24 I/O's with TDIF and ADAT transfer, bullet proof syncing and up to 100 tracks of Audio. Well the Digidesign camp wanted a horrific amount of money for this solution. And it was also met by "you only get 64 tracks". But I suppose an industry standard can't be all that bad. I'll just compromise my track usage. Bugger that. I work this way, I'll continue that way. Why would I spend my money on a system that can't deliver what i require form my system. And it was so approaching $80,000.00 that one is forced to question, "why did I sell my studio, if I need to spend this amount of money".

So Vin and I had a Pow Wow. Smoked the bourbon and talked about my solution. "Stay with Nuendo farkin'", was Vins initial response. "If it does what you want, why re-invent your wheel" Made sense. "But surely the defacto standard can't be an inferior product Vin?" He paused, "Does it do what you want?" No I said. "Does it fit your budget?" Hell No I said. "Then it isn't necessarily the best option for everyone, is it!" Point taken.

Build me a machine around this then.

December 2001, I took delivery of my Cube Workstation. All built around a Tualatin S 1.26 Ghz processor. I have 2 x NEC LCD screens, Some 160 Gig of storage and a huge amount of Ram. Bit here was the shocker for me. All the storage was IDE. "Where is the SCSI stuff Vin?" "You won't need it, try it, trust me!"

So I returned to Adelaide. I had an RME9652 Core Card, 3 ADI 8 Pros for 24 I/Os, Steinberg Midex 8 and a Steinberg Timelock Pro to connect up. All running with Nuendo and several Plug In Bundles.

All connected up and a 64 track project was loaded in taking 3 passes. With no syncing glitch, sample drift or timecode errors. Worked perfectly! The project was then edited with some additional 20 overdub tracks added. Load on the CPU was unmeasured via the Nuendo Performace meters. Nor was there any load on the hard drives, except the initial flicker at playback start up. this baby rocks!

Time to auto tune, compress, edit add effects and mix. This is the real world test to me. I can do bits and bytes measurements all day, but it doesn't make me any money! So here are the real world measurements of this system and Nuendo Platform. So here you go:

80 X Audio Tracks (12 of them stereo)
8 X Auto Tune Plug Ins
6 x Nuendo Dynamics (Gates & Compressors)
8 X TC Tools Native DX (Compressors)
4 X Waves RCL ( Compressors)
1 X Reniessence Verb
1 X Waves True Verb
1 X TC Verb
1 X GRM Tools Band Pass Stereo
3 X Nuendo Muli Tap Delay
1 X Waves L1 (master L/R)
1 X TC Parametric (Master L/R)

All mixed internally via a Radical Controller over Midi and bounced internally to 2 tracks. CPU load just under "orange" Say about 80% then with no load on the hard drives that was measureable. No crashes. No glitches.

So I know there are individuals around that will have a negative about host based processing. But here is my response. I can only max out my system if I being stupid for the case of proving a point about it. I have only spiked it once, and the fix was just to change a plug in combination. "But the cost for an upgrade Steve?" Well, AAVIM's solutions for a complete new system in 12 months or so didn't scare me nearly as much as the upgrade path from say as Mix Plus system to HD2? Any Digidesign supporters really want to tackle that issue? I'll stay host based because my platform of softwear doesn't need to change! And I have enough money left over for...say a new swimming pool! Let me just think about my decision for a little longer! Moving on!

The whole system also runs under Windows XP. "Windows XP!" Yes, Windows XP. This system has been tweaked by Vin and it works faultlessly. The "Cube" is quiet and I am able to sit it under my desk. I am so use to a machine room for anything with a fan, but this is so quiet, it doesn't even warrant an attenuation box! The whole system is in black, it looks great, and according to my clients who pay the bills, the end product is about 95% on what I use to achieve with $500,000.00 worth of equipment. Yes, mastering fixed my L.F Hz discressions of my home studio. Time to call Peter Brown to fix that one. But all in all. My clients are thrilled with the end product.

So in summary. The Stealth workstation is fautless. I cannot recommend an AAVIM Technology solution highly enough. Steinberg/Nuendo and RME have a brilliant product. It begs 2 honest questions. If you are building a digital audio system based upon a solution, why would you not consider it? And secondly, be really really honest and avoid the marketing hype for a second, ask yourself this- "Is the industry standard then, the best choice for me?"

Don't be scared to try the new players folks. Especially if you are wanting to enter the DAW market for the first time!

I would have never thought that I could replace 90% of my enviornment in the package mentioned above. Front end processing excluded of course. I would have responded a few years ago with this little pearl! "

Steve Smith
Digitrax Productions