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In-depth Feature:  T.C. Electronic PowerCore FireWire
The PowerCore FireWire adds new plugins and faster processors to an already good package - and all in a 1U box.
Hollin Jones writes: .


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Introduction
Since music-making went heavily computer-oriented, the trend has been for manufacturers of music technology to create more and more software-based products, giving musicians a bigger studio setup in a smaller physical space – inside their computer. As we know, complex programs tend to need powerful computers, and loading up virtual instruments and effects is one of the heaviest things you can throw at a personal computer. At some point most people will have run out of processing power when trying to play back or mix down a track. In an attempt to provide a solution to this problem, TC Electronic introduced the PowerCore PCI - a PCI card with dedicated onboard processing chips and an included series of software plugins which took advantage of their extra power. Now they have improved the design, increased the power, stuffed the lot into a rather sleek silver 1U rack module and given it a FireWire interface. No doubt this is to cater to the needs of laptop users, who represent a growing percentage of people making music on their computers.

Overview
It’s not the only ‘bolt-on’ DSP solution out there, (others from Creamware, for example, or a Pro Tools TDM system) but the FireWire interface is certainly alluring. The PCI version was, by definition, meant to live inside a computer, and studio boffins tend to already have a lot of PCI cards – breakout boxes, extra graphics or Ethernet cards – in there already. Also unless you wanted to keep opening up your machine your card was likely to stay inside the same computer. As things have become more mobile and more standards-compliant, it’s no longer strictly necessary to have a single machine with all the data on it and all the hardware bolted on to it. USB and FireWire have become so commonplace that they’re no longer regarded as specialised connections.

Let’s say you record all your audio to a FireWire hard drive. Suddenly you can work on it in a studio, then take it home and carry on. Or record it live on a laptop, then work on it in the studio. Some people use a laptop as their main workstation, or use a slightly older computer. There’s a fair chance they might, when mixing or editing, run out of CPU power as they add plugins and instruments. Sure you can mix down tracks with effects on and them re-import them, but that’s pretty long-winded if you need to go back and change things. Enter the PowerCore FireWire. Basically it plugs in to a FireWire port and you suddenly have the equivalent of a number of CPUs to work with rather than just one. For laptop users especially it’s incredibly useful to be able to ‘plug in the power’ like this, as upgrading native CPUs in portables is not too easy.

More Resources              Articles - full listing
  • PCI PowerCore 1.8 Review
  • More detailed info on included Plug-ins
  • TC Electronic WWW
  • PowerCore @ Zzounds.com

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