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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

Beta 1.12 is ready for play

Download the latest version of the game from: https://rayfowler.itch.io/remnants-of-the-precursors
New players can watch this tutorial series: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8cNlze3fGQhHiDs-eGpp6asJYdoBcp_n
Mostly minor updates this time, but definitely some incremental improvements.
Beta 1.12 changes:
  • When saving your game, an error will display if the save fails for any reason. This should prompt you to try the save again rather than assuming everything worked fine. This is intended to help cut down on the frequency of corrupted save files.
  • The Exploit tab on the Systems screen now shares the environmental level of systems (Hostile/Fertile/Gaia) in addition to the resource levels. The tab and shift-tab keys can be used to easily toggle between the tabs.
  • The diplomatic penalty for excession expansion has been lessened somewhat. This penalty should come into play but was not intended to dominate diplomatic relations
  • AI Bomber designs will now include ship combat weapons to allow them to blast their way through player-constructed ship embargos. The number of asteroids on the combat map has been reduced slightly as well.
  • AI estimations on the amount of spending required to finish various categories (Defense, Industry, etc) has been improved.
  • Ship Combat will no longer trigger between two bomber ships that have no ship combat weapons.
  • Bioweapon animations will no longer occur when auto-resolving combat.
  • A handful of reported exceptions have been addressed.
Beta 1.11 changes:
  • When starting new games, you can now toggle random events off. This was a hotkey feature supported in the original Master of Orion.
  • For player colonies, there is now a flag that you can toggle on to be red, white or blue. This flag will be visible on the Main map and the Fleet map. You may want to use this, for example, to mark colonies for attention while you are going through the spending reallocation list.
  • When calculating range to fire missiles, the AI will now consider the possibility that the player ship will move out of range before the missile reaches it. Loved the Michael Jordan meme!
  • You can no longer send transports from rebelling colonies
  • The ANIMATIONS: ON/OFF setting has been replaced with a GRAPHICS: NORMAL/MEDIUM/LOW. The medium setting now turns of anti-aliasing for images (which is now the default setting) and the low setting does that and stops animations.
  • AI ships will continue attacking after decloaking.
  • When the AI has initiative at the start of ship combat, there will be a brief pause before it moves to allow you time to ponder the meaning of life before the Space Crystal one-shots your fleet again.
  • Fixed a bug where sometimes the wrong race name was shown for an AI diplomat.
  • Loading and Saving games will no longer reset the background music
Beta 1.10 changes:
  • If ECO spending is set to "Clean" for a colony and unlocked, it will now automatically adjust upwards or downwards to maintain the minimum spending level for "Clean".
  • The diplomatic dialogue screen now tells you which empire the diplomat belongs to, in case you are on a large map where races are duplicated
  • Transports invading enemy systems are now treated as "armed fleets" for the purposes of the map's ship-transport toggle. This means that the transport toggle will now hide transports that are transferring population without hiding transports that are invading systems.
  • Invading transports will now have to run the gauntlet against any hostile orbiting fleet, not just fleets allied with the system they are invading.
  • Corrected some incorrected racial research proficiencies
  • When system spending is automatically reallocated when a project completes, it will shift spending to Industry, Ecology and Defense, in that order, before going to Research. Also corrected some errors in the industry allocation logic. Remember: locked spending categories will always remain unchanged.
  • When retreating, if there are multiple systems requiring the same travel time in turns, the system selected from those will be the one nearest in distance.
  • The AI will probably consider obsolescence with regards to ship weapon technologies. This will hopefully stop them for askign for your Ion Cannon technology 300 turns into the game.
  • In galaxies with less than 100 stars, the space monsters move more slowly proportional the the size of the galaxy (50 stars = twice as slow, 33 stars = 3 times as slow). This should give players more time to deal with them.
  • Corrected some display lag for several of the map overlays during the Next Turn processes
  • During the naming phase of the colonization screen, the game will no longer demand keyboard focus when minimized.
  • Fixed an error where a ship with no ECM had the same missile defense as a shp with ECM level 1.
  • Fixed an [other_race] text substitution issue when the AI agrees to join you in a joint war against an empire that he was already secretly preparing to go to war against.
  • Corrected starting year displays for the Bulrathi and Mrrshan
  • The colony panel on the Systems screen will now show the proper turn number for historical events
  • Improved arrow drawing on the Fleets screen
  • For the design screen, added brief descriptions for beam focus specials
  • Handled some errors when logging to stderr and stdout.
Beta 1.9 changes:
  • You can now use the mousewheel on the opening screen to raise or lower the volume for Sounds and Music. In addition, an error caused by attempting to play sounds on a PC that has no sound system (or a disabled one) has been fixed.
  • A message has been added warning when there was a failure with the autosave
  • Pausing Auto-Play in ship combat will now properly end when a player ship becomes the current stack
  • Some issues with stack retreating have been fixed. If unarmed defending ships are still in orbit when a bomber has finished bombing, the bomber will be forced to retreat.
  • The AI will now more aggressively prioritize battle computers when constructing bomber designs.
  • Fixed a bug with not being able to stop rebellions that I incorrectly thought I fixed in 1.8a.
  • AI Opponent limit raised to 49. This should have always been the limit.
  • Spies can now only frame empires that are within economic range of their victims.
  • When the colony capacity is calculated on the Systems Exploit tab, it will no longer consider factories in excess of your colony's maximum
Beta 1.8 changes:
  • Beta 1.8d fixed various issues on the map with selecting fleets.
  • Beta 1.8c fixed a crash caused by the Space Crystal entering an uncolonized system.
  • Beta 1.8b fixed an introduced bug that allowed players to redirect AI fleets
  • Beta 1.8a fixes an introduced bug that prevented players from retaking rebelling colonies with transports.
  • Colonies destroyed by bioweapons now destroy properly so you can complete combat. Bioweapon incident severity is now modified by an empire's leader type, as with Genocide incidents.
  • The AI will now better gauge threats from ships carrying bombs and bioweapons, and will shift targets more realistically in order to protect planets.
  • Empires that are out of economic range will no longer issue warnings or offer praise, although they will still notice the incidents that trigger these. This should help significantly with notification spam in very large galaxies with dozens of opponents.
  • Friendly transports arriving in a system will now immediately join the colony rather than taking their turn with other transports that may have arrived on the same turn.
  • Retreating fleets can now once again be rerouted to any allied system on the turn they retreat. This was broken in the fleet management rewrite between Alpha 5 and the Beta.
  • Similarly, fleets rallied to another system can once again be undeployed on the turn they are rallied.
  • Deploying a fleet on the Main map and then redeploying it to the same system on the Fleet screen will no longer remove the fleet.
  • Deploying ships to another system will no longer join existing deployed fleets if they have a different arrival time.
  • The "Fire All Weapons" button will now change to "Turn Done" even if you have unused specials.
  • A ship armed only with missiles responsible for defending a colony will now retreat when all of its missiles have been used.
  • Rallies to and from a system will now be stopped when the colony in that system is destroyed.
  • On the planetary bombardment prompt, the incoming player transport total will now include those that have arrived and will land on the current turn.
  • The starting ship designs for players are now back to their MOO1 defaults.
  • Fixed an issue where multiple fleets were in an orbit to fight a space monster but only one fleet would actually engage in combat.
  • Corrected the possibility of the Crystal destroying a colony in combat but that colony surviving if the Crystal was later destroyed in that same combat.
  • Stargate construction completion times are now correct.
  • Trap and recover from an error that was causing PulseAudio systems to stop playing sounds and music.
  • On the Design UI, mousewheeling the selected weapon to "None" will reset the number to zero.
  • More sanity checks to prevent a colony from getting a move command (and moving!) when the player is toggling between Auto-Play.
  • Corrected a text substitution error on the Sakkra genocide warning, and also on the AI response after offering monetary aid.
  • Stopped the ability to scroll the main map by hovering over tiny spacings between the colony sliders.
Beta 1.7 changes:
  • Hopefully fixed the Ship Design rename issue that has been plaguing Mac users forever. I am very grateful for fierasforever downloading the code and tweaking it for his Mac until he found the root cause. THANK YOU!!
  • The Ship Repulsor special can now be used offensively to move an enemy ship back one space.
  • The AI will now value Battle Computers more highly when researching techs and building Fighter and Destroyer ships. Hopefully their ships will hit harder than before. Noticing things like this and letting me know is exactly how we are all going to improve the AI during the beta.
  • Rallied fleets can now be redirected on the turn they launch
  • In-transit fleets can now be redirected on the Fleet screen if you have Hyperspace Communications. Keep in mind that you still cannot split fleets when using HC.
  • Torpedo weapons can now only be fired every other turn.
  • Diplomatic menus where you trade techs will now show the tier and research cost for the various tech options.
  • The space amoeba now shrinks every time he splits. He now also splits at the beginning of his turn instead of the end. In addition, a bug has been fixed wherein the amoeba would destroy a colony in combat but the colony would survive if the amoeba were later killed in that combat.
  • The "Fire All Weapons" option will no longer trigger your ship specials, and will no longer do extra damage for multi-shot weapons.
  • Fixed an issue with Stream Projector weapons reducing an AI ships' max hits to 1 and then no longer being able to attack them.
  • By request, the "Pop Growth" information on a Colony's ECO slider is always displayed.
  • You can now use F7/F8 on the Main map to cycle through planets are have enemy fleets in orbit or in transit to them.
  • The flashing crosshairs on the Systems screen have been made a little prettier.
  • When prompted to accept the council ruling, you will now see the image of the elected ruler, not the top candidate.
  • The "Completed Upgrade" message for missile bases no longer reflects the type of missile since this could be conceivably two types now.
  • Clarified the descriptive text for Hyperspace Communications to remove the references to transports.
  • Fixed dialogue text errors when you signed a trade treaty or when the AI offers to exchange technology.
Beta 1.6 changes:
  • Beta 1.6a was uploaded to address a combat crash introduced in 1.6
  • Many, many large images in the Bulrathi and Klackon sabotage animations have been resampled down to a more reasonable size. The overall size of the jar file has dropped 20%. I wish I could lose weight that easily!
  • When requesting a tech trade, the AI was using the player's language text file. Yes, Meklars, they were making fun of you. I've told them to stop.
  • When you scrap a ship design, it will no longer clear the design.
  • A significant diplomacy bug was fixed wherein the AI empires stopped caring about the size of your empire once they warned you about it. Now they care again. The players of a lot of these massive saves I've been sent are about to get bogged down in huge wars.
  • The Orion Guardian will now continue attacking player ships once within one square of range.
  • AI ships can now target and attack more than one stack per turn, provided they have the necessary movement and weapons.
  • AI ships firing missiles at you will now no longer retreat until their missiles have landed.
  • When a player loses a ship combat encounter, he will now see the killing blow on his last stack.
  • The "Fire All Weapons" option has been removed from colonies. There are two possible missile options; you can only fire one. This was causing a combat bug that many people reported.
  • Space Monsters will rampage twice as fast through the galaxy, but you'll get an additional turn of warning to respond. Space Amoebas will now destroy 90% of factories (per MOO1), but will also eat all of the waste on the planet. Space Crystals will now leave the maximum amount of waste on the planet (per MOO1).
  • The data lists on the Race->Status tab will now show all races instead of the top 8, and are now scrollable.
  • When you win the game with a Military Alliance, you will no longer see an error pop up before the game congratulates you.
  • Colonies destroyed by the comet event will no longer cause a crash when selected on the Systems UI
  • Espionage warnings caused by a Spy Confession incident will now properly remove the "[framed]" tag from the message
  • A bug caused by hitting escape while your ship was landing on the colonization screen when sound effects were turned off has been fixed.
  • Fixed a error related to the Supernova event
Beta 1.5 changes:
  • In Ship Combat, there is now a "Fire All Weapons" option when hovering over a target. This will attempt to fire all valid weapons, including multi-shots, in order until the target is destroyed or all weapons are expended. If no weapons can fire, it should work as a "Turn Done" button. It's new and not that polished yet.
  • The Space Amoeba is no longer bugged in a way that required you to use missiles to kill it. That's the good news. The bad news is that you will no longer be able to bomb the Amoeba nor the Crystal, and also that the Amoeba will permanently destroy the ships it eats rather than having them show up in orbit the next turn, albeit with significant emotional scars.
  • Espionage warnings triggered when you are framed by another empire will now blame you in the text, not the empire that framed you. In addition, you will be informed at the end of the message, "[You were framed.]". But you know it's the Darloks.
  • AI Empires will be much more hesitant to enter into pacts and alliances with erratic leaders, as they should. This was causing a lot of unnecessary treaties forming and breaking based on the mood of the erratic leader.
  • When committing sabotage, the galaxy map is now zoomable and draggable, allowing you to blow up those hard-to-reach colonies.
  • Fixed an error on the Design UI where the "S" hotkey would allow you to scrap your last ship design. That's a no-no. Also on that screen, I enabled hotkeys for Clear, Rename, and Deploy.
  • Fixed an error caused when a colony under the effects of a supernova event was destroyed.
Beta 1.4 changes:
  • Stargate maintenance is now an empire-wide expense spread out evenly to all colonies. The colony listing now has an entry for the pct of your empire production that is being spent on stargates.
  • Hovering over the ECO slider will now always show expected pop growth. Previously, it was not showing this when expected pop growth was zero. Some people just want to be disappointed, I guess.
  • When a space monster destroys a colony and degrades the planet type, the planetary waste levels will drop to stay below the new maximum waste levels for the planet. This was causing negative planetary sizes when unclean Silicoid colonies were munched.
  • When a monster eats a colony, every empire now knows there is a new uncolonized planet available for the taking. GNN has a big mouth.
  • In combat, when you are out of bombs, it will say "Out of Bombs" instead of "Out of Missiles".
  • AI Ship targeting has been tweaked to be more likely to focus on enemy fleets that can harm it, as opposed to those it can do the most harm to.
  • Desired range for firing weapons has been improved so that AI ships containing a mix of missiles and weapons won't just hang back until their missiles are gone. These types of ships will move forward more aggressively than before.
  • Weapon and damage animations have been sped up considerably when you are "Auto-Playing" the combat. Huzzah!
  • Multi-shot weapons were doing too much damage. This has been fixed.
  • When your weapon and bomb attacks successfully hit but cannot penetrate the target's deflector shields, the damage message will now say "Deflected" instead of "Miss".
  • In combat, right-clicking the mouse will now more accurately auto-move your mouse cursor to the current stack and highlight the "Turn Done" button. Try this out sometime.
  • The "Pause" button on the Ship Combat screen will never be grayed out.
  • The four random events that give periodic updates (Comet, Pirates, Plague, Supernova) will no longer give an update if it happens to also be on the turn that the event is completed.
  • The Supernova event announcement now gives an indication which empire is affected by it.
  • The problem with a selected colony on the map not being selected when you go to the Colony listing should be fixed. It had to do with the colony listing not pre-scrolling down for colonies further down the list.
  • When scrolling on the colony listing, the colony selection will continue to scroll up (or down) even after the scroll bar has reached its end. This returns the scrolling behavior back to its Alpha 5 state.
  • On the system informational panel in the Systems screen, an asteroid system will now properly say "No Colonizable Planets" instead of "Uncolonized".
  • The range for allied colonies will no longer say "O Light-Years". It will instead say "Allied Colony".
  • The size of the hovering "box" for star systems on the galaxy map will now match the colored "ownership" circle around it. Easier to click!
  • A couple of miscellaneous exceptions were fixed.
  • When you win the Galactic Council vote, the tendency of AI Empires to rebel has been overhauled. It now goes like this:
    If you've colonized Orion - no one rebels. Your allies will never rebel. Those who voted for you will never rebel. Pacifists will never rebel. Honorable leaders will never rebel if you have a pact with them. Xenophobes will always rebel if you are at war with them. Everyone else is a pct chance, with Aggressive, Xenophobic and Erratic leaders most likely to rebel. Pro Tip: Defeating the Guardian is the most direct path to a quick Council victory.
Beta 1.3 changes:
  • Systems with Iced Tea PulseAudio will now properly play sound files. Jeremy McKay and I both had a fix for this but I liked his change better so he gets the credit. His was done correctly while mine was more of a Gorilla-typing-at-a-keyboard attempt.
  • As a result of the Guardian Ship change in 1.2, every ship entering the Orion system was getting a scan of the planet. This was giving the first arrival some free techs. Your fun has been officially cancelled.
  • If an AI signs a peace treaty with you or another AI, he will respect that treaty for its duration, even if his allies want him to rejoin. I didn't do all of that work getting "war weariness" into the game only to have some needy ally throw it all away.
  • Smashing the "N" key at the start of the game like a madman will no longer trigger Next Turn processing so fast that the game complains.
  • An error triggered when retreating after combat has been resolved.
  • If you are "trespassing" in a system for an empire you currently at war with you, the game is no longer going to alert you that their ambassador is mad at you. We're pretty sure you are aware.
  • AI ships equipping only missile weapons will now retreat from the battle when their missiles are expended.
  • OH. Guess what. A last-minute pre-beta change for the AI to balance a ship's weapons across all 4 slots had the unintended effect (some might call it a bug but I call it guaranteed employment) of AI ships only firing one weapon slot per round. This is now fixed, which means that, on average, AI ships will now hit you 4 times as hard. Grats.
  • When saving a ship design, any weapons that you have added that have zero quantity will be reset to "No Weapon"
  • Can't find that system you selected? Well, the selection circle will now pulse at you. Still can't find it? ok. Double-clicking on the system's graphic pane will now automatically recenter the map on that system.
  • The Human Diplomat no longer has a mysterious black thing on her shoulder while talking. I think it was a tiny Darlok telling her what to say.
  • Gauss Autocannon has a shorter description to play nice on the tech selection screen.
  • You can no longer hover on systems behind the System information panel on the Systems screen.
  • When clearing a ship design on the design screen, weapon counts will now be properly set back to zero. You can no longer accidentally create a ship with 12 nothings in slot 3.
Beta 1.2 changes:
  • Some OpenJDK/Ubuntu systems were not able to start the game because of incompatibilites with Ubuntu's audio system. Jeremy McKay experienced this problem and fixed it for me. Ahhh, the wonders of open source!
  • An error during Next Turn caused by a bombardment between two empires not at war was fixed. They will now properly get angry at each other rather than waiting around while you send me an email with the save.
  • An error caused when using the Fleet UI to send transports from one system to itself was fixed. This is why I shouldn't test my games because I never thought of doing that.
  • An error caused when AI spies were trying to commit sabotage on a system that had just been destroyed. It was being munched by a space monster in the save sent to me. Fixed.
  • The system panel for alien empires will now properly show colony information if you have a ship in orbit.
  • An issue with the Ship Combat prompt showing the incorrect terrain image for the affected system has been fixed.
  • A error ending the game with a military victory was fixed. You will now get the proper game over message. Your fallen AI enemies will now get the Black Screen of Death.
  • The Guardian Ship will now stay dead. Then you can get all of that glorious loot and karma.
  • If you use the Fleet UI override a transport sent on the main map, it will work.
  • An infrequent error caused in ship combat with the Space Crystal is now fixed. You will now get to watch in horror as he mercilessly destroys your stacks of small and medium ships.
  • Speaking of the Space Crystal, he's a little tougher. He won't be such a cakewalk for large ships with auto-repair. His attacks will now gradually weaken both your battle computers and your auto-repair ability, so don't dilly-dally around. Anyone who has faced the Crystal knows he doesn't dilly-dally around. He's always in a hurry.
  • The ship overlay information on the Ship Combat UI will now reflect the selected target's capabilities, not the capabilities of its ship design. This is because some of those capabilities can be altered during combat.
  • When the game is trying to nicely reallocate spending for you when something is completed on a system, it will no longer expect Silicoid players to pay for Soil Enrichment. In addition, when Silicoid players learn the Soil Enrichment tech, they will not be prompted to update ECO spending on their colonies. You know, the ECO tree for the Silicoids just plain sucks.

submitted by RayFowler to rotp

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