Accelerated Boot Time with OCZ Vector 128GB SSD Upgrade

I had another video which I captured just after I installed my OCZ Vector Series 128GB SSD on my ASUS F3JC.

My laptop used to be able to come alive after 2,5 or 3 minutes. Here is the accelerated boot time with my SSD. Highly recommended! Click here to buy an OCZ Vector Series SSD 128GB.

Note that I was only able to connect this drive via SATA rather than SATA3 which is recommended. So it cannot perform at max.

Fixing Laptop Screen Hinge

Recently my Asus F3Jc’s LCD connection had been broken. I left the cover of a USB memory stick on my laptop’s speakers, then I accidentally closed the lid quite fast when the lights off. Here is the result!

Fortunately, I found a skilled computer technician and had it fixed. Cost me a lot! He used a product called PC-Concrete Two-Part Epoxy Adhesive Paste as below;

Obviously, having such result as below requires advanced skills. But it will do the job.

Lemon Oil is not really lemon oil!

This article is about petroleum products that you put on your guitar!

I’ve been always taking care of my instruments very carefully for many many years. Up to now, I have used some commercial products by Planet Waves and Jim Dunlop. After many hours of research on how this cleaning and conditioning could be improved, I found out that there are always pickier people than you could expect!

According to some wise people who own very expensive guitars and gears and are extremely picky about what to apply on their instruments, those commercial products are almost identical. In addition, those “trusted” companies kinda play some tricks with words and make you think that they sell natural products. But it’s mostly not true!

If you do some research, you will find out that these commercial cleaning and conditioning products are mostly by-products of petroleum with some essence (don’t know if they are natural or synthetic) added to them. To be honest, I thought I was always sure that when I bought a bottle of lemon oil, it was the actual lemon oil extracted from the lemon fruits. But it’s not a fact! It’s a big marketing lie!

As you can see from the image above, it says “HARMFUL or FATAL IF SWALLOWED!“. If these products were just true fruit extracts, they would give you no harm and you could actually toss them in your salad and still be safe!

ATTENTION!

Do you think they would sell 100% natural essential oil blends extracted from actual fruits or leaves for very cheap prices? Of course NO!

There are discussions going on about the harm they might do to your instruments on the internet. You can find many if you spend some time.

I don’t want to spend so much time to discuss and also reveal some commercial information on these products. I would rather tell you what I’ve been working on! Is it possible to “make your own natural lemon oil” for your fretboards? Are there any products on the market which are all natural?

As I have access to an essential oil company, an idea has recently come up to my mind. I have discussed this topic with engineers and finally created some blends and done some tests!

Here are some test results! First, we prepared some blends with 100% essential oils. Our first test was on a 30 years old cutting board.

We had four different blends with dominant scents. The blends are mostly a mixture of lemon, orange, oregano, mint and grape seed essential oils which are cold pressed!

As you can see four darker strips, it just worked perfectly! This cutting board was quite clean and dry. However, these blends not only managed to get some deep-seated dirt off but also retained the original colour of wood and darkened it!

We also applied some on a wooden spoon which was thrown in the dishwasher hundreds of times 🙂 Here are the results!

As you can see the lighter strips indicate the degraded colour of wood whereas the darker areas represent conditioned and retained the state of it. Note that we just used a couple of drops for each strip!

I know you’re asking for an actual test on an actual instrument! There you are!

We tested our blends on a Korean made Cort guitar which was abused and never taken care of! Believe me, this guitar had no cleaning and conditioning or ever restringing for the last 4 years! The strings were actually rusted and breaking like glass!!! You’ll see what I mean in a second.

ATTENTION!

Please note that this is the most hardcore test ever! You should never allow your fretboard to suck this much dirty and rust. If you’re such a player, I suggest you give away your instrument and set it free, please!

As mentioned before, you would never allow your instrument to develop this much dirt and rust as it might do serious harm both to your fretboard and your health!

In addition, even if you used commercial products by “trusted” brands, you would have to spend so much time to remove this kind of dirt. So we did the same, applied a bit more than usual and did that twice! We also used an old toothbrush to scratch the sticky dirt built up in wood for four years!

Here are the results of our first attempt!

As you can see, it was not completely clean but it was a huge improvement comparing the initial images! After our first attempt, we applied another coat and got some more toilet paper!

We also waited for some time to let those active ingredients do the cleaning. Here are the results for our second attempt;

I think this is impressive! It just worked perfectly for the worst situation of a fingerboard I have ever seen! Believe me, I had cleaned my fretboards many many times, but this was the worst one!

Notice how it darkened the fretboard a bit and removed the dirt and rust, our blend has also some conditioning essential oil which helps fretboard woods prevent from getting dry a lot!

After I restrung the guitar, I took some photos in daylight in order to show how perfectly our blend worked!

You should also see the aftermath 🙂

I was really satisfied with the results but I wanted to another go on my Ibanez AR300RE which have been excessively abused a couple of months and finally decided to restring it. Let’s see!

As you can see, it could be OK for a couple of weeks more, but it started feeling kinda hardened because of my abusive playing and it’s also summer here now.

I used an old toothbrush to soften the dirt and also an old pair of socks to clean that off. After 5-10 mins of hard work, here are the results!

Notice the darkened texture of beautiful rosewood 🙂 I restrung my guitar with a set of Elixir Anti-Rust 11 – 49 and there you are! It’s ready to rock again!

Conclusion

Note that when I say “darkened”, I don’t mean that this natural blend will change the original colour permanently, it actually retains the original colour. As far as I know, guitar fretboard cleaning products are not applied to unfinished maple boards as it might change the colour. But with unfinished ebony (some apply a thin layer sometimes= and rosewood you can use them safely.

Comparing lots of fretboard cleaning products, the only one I have found is natural and does not have a warning as harmful and fatal if swallowed label is Music Nomad MN105 F-ONE Fretboard Oil Cleaner and Conditioner. It actually goes off in time and you will see how dense and how natural it feels and smells. So I would definitely go for this one and never use any other products if you can not reach essential oils in local stores.

RME Babyface vs On-Board Audio – A/B Test (Raw!)

This is a very raw comparison video of RME Babyface vs On-Board Audio Interface on my ASUSF3JC.

Recorded with iPhone 4S. If you’re serious about music production at home, I highly suggest you save up for this excellent interface and never look back! You can purchase one at Amazon.com here.

Configuration of Windows 7 for Audio Production

In this article, I’d like to talk about the configuration of your laptop/PC in order to use it for audio production. First of all, I must tell you that I’m not an expert on this topic. But I have some experience on recording in the digital domain.

I started recording around 2002 with a shitty PC and a very low budget guitar and an amp. As you can probably guess, those records were one of the worst examples for the time being. I used to record guitars with a guitar jack into my PC’s microphone input and was using GuitarFXBox software to obtain good guitar sounds. Awful times!

During my university studies, I upgraded my PC to a much better one, then a couple of years later I bought an M-Audio Audiophile 24/96 PCI sound card. The recordings I made with this system were much better compared to what I could manage eleven years ago. But I wasn’t using software amps or maybe I didn’t have a powerful enough PC at that time, instead, I was using guitar preamps.

After I came back to my city, I collected some equipment for audio production. As I have mentioned in my previous posts, I’m focused on software guitar amps so it can be said that the core of my system consists of my laptop and my USB audio interface.

I was one of the fools who always thought that the more money you spend on your audio system, the better it sounds. It is actually a fact but for different specific needs of end-users, one must note that it’s all up to how you set it up. So do not always expect a perfectly working system without right tweaks.

My Poor Laptop

I have an Asus F3JC which was bought in late 2006. It came with a 100 GB hard drive and 1 GB RAM, it also has Intel Core 2 Duo T5600 @ 1.83 GHz processor. As I mentioned in my first post, I was going to buy a new and a much modern laptop but after I did a quick research, I completely changed my mind and aimed to get the most out of this machine.

Eventually, I bought an OCZ Vector 128 GB SSD along with 3 (1+2) GBs of RAM. I use Windows 7 32 bit, so I was a bit concerned about doing these upgrades as my laptop was quite outdated. It’s actually recommended to connect your SSDs via SATA3, however, my laptop had just SATA! Even though these upgrades are not able to perform their capabilities at maximum, it still made a huge difference. At first, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I just double clicked and launched a software. It was so snappy! In addition, booting and shutting down times were lowered down to seconds rather than minutes!

After that, I got myself an RME Babyface USB 2.0 audio interface, I was going to go for a cheaper interface but I eventually wanted to invest the maximum amount of money for the core of my system. The installation was so clean and quick!

As it is shown on this screenshot, I am able to get around a total of 8.4 ms @ 128 samples. It’s the same amount of latency I used to get with my M-Audio Audiophile 24/96 but as far as I can remember, sample sizes were much lower which caused a lot of trouble for direct monitoring.

I immediately started using my audio interface but there was something wrong! In Cubase, CPU meter was indicating (pointed with a huge yellow arrow!) peaks occurring as a red colour on its top part. It was rather random and annoying. In addition, I wasn’t able to record a guitar channel without a glitch or a crackling noise.

So I decided to look for a solution. What I found out it that I needed to use some software to test my system to see if it’s capable of audio production. I came across Native Instruments’ website while I was looking for information on how to optimize Windows 7 for audio production. This page has quite valuable information on this particular subject.

I downloaded that software mentioned on that page. You can also download these here via these links. DPC Latency Checker & LatencyMon.

First, I used DPC Latency Checker and surprisingly it just produced a couple of red spikes because I was expecting a graph with full of red spikes at that rate of audio drop-outs occurring.

This screenshot shows the final result actually and I think it’s supposed to be that way. Imagine the red spikes yourself now! 🙂

If you encounter any red spikes, you should go and download LatencyMon as I did. LatencyMon gives you a detailed analysis on the drivers/factors negatively affecting your system’s audio performance.

Here is a screenshot from the software itself running. It tells you which drivers have the highest execution time. According to NI’s website, if any of these drivers’ “highest execution time” is greater than 1, then you have a problem with them. This screenshot again shows the end result.

I also had another annoying problem. I was getting annoying crackling noises while I was using a web browser (believe me, I have tried everything), it was actually occurring when I was hovering over links with my mouse pointer. Also when I was watching a video and scrolling the page, the same thing would happen.

What I have done so far!

First, I tried to figure out which drivers are related to which part of my system. Then I followed another guide by Tim Carter here and did tweak everything according to his recommendations. I strongly suggest you go and have a look at that web page if you’re looking for a solution.

Although I did everything he said, I’d still have the same problem. So it kinda made me feel a bit hopeless on this issue. I even thought that I should have spent that money for a new laptop rather than an SSD and RAM upgrade. But then while I was looking for a solution, I discovered Black Viper’s website which is full of Windows tweaks. I decided to lower the overall load on my system, therefore I followed his guide and disabled most of the services he mentioned. Again, it’s highly recommended!

Try to read the instructions carefully and never modify anything if you don’t know what you’re doing!

I know what you’re expecting but no! I was still having the same problem! So I started looking for another solution. As many out there who has ever tried to optimize their system for audio production have possibly read a couple of different guides for the process. I even remember disabling your graphics card’s driver! I know it sounds too much for people who would like/have to use a single PC/laptop for both audio production and daily use. I am no different, I can only afford one at this time. So I tried the final solution, I disabled my NVidia GeForce Go 7300 graphics card. I wasn’t expecting this solution would work but hey! Voila! I finally had a system which never produces red spikes and any red signal in Cubase indicating the drop-outs. It was a bit difficult to accept the shitty view of my LCD screen but I think I’m getting used to it.

Here is the final result! With graphics card driver, a lot of services and Wi-Fi disabled, I am able to have a total of 5.5 ms latency @ 64 samples. I even tried going down to 48 samples but it didn’t make a huge difference like it did by going from 128 to 64. And the best part is I have no crackles or audio drop-outs!

What I Have Learnt So Far!

I think one should definitely note that even if you own a modern laptop unlike what I have, there’s always a risk of having an improper set-up system without noticing it. I was actually going to give up and accept my system’s limitations, but while I was researching the topic, I came across many people with similar problems who have much more powerful and more modern computers. It clearly shows that it’s not just your computer but it’s also how you set it up.

I strongly recommend you follow those guides mentioned above as I have gained so much information from them. If you’re like me and want to use your computer as a guitar amp, you have to make sure everything except your audio stuff has to be set to minimum or disabled. Then while you’re testing the results, try disabling your Wi-Fi drivers, your anti-virus software and even your graphics card drivers!

I hope you’ll get the most out of your current system, enjoy!