Saturday, April 14, 2012

Deleting Files From Old ProgramData Folders

Last year a piece of software corrupted the Windows 7 installation on my primary desktop system, and I had to re-install Windows. I ended up putting Windows on a different hard drive so I could preserve the data that was already on the original drive. I thought I had cleaned out all the remnants of the initial Windows installation, but this morning I discovered there was still a hidden ProgramData folder on the old drive. I knew I didn't need it anymore (all of the files inside were well over a year old), so I attempted to delete it- but was annoyed to get a File Access Denied dialog box with a message that said, "You need permission to perform this action."

It was really two specific files that were causing the problem, MpScanCache-1.bin and MpScanCache-2.bin. They are apparently cache files created by Microsoft Security Essentials. It took about 15 minutes to figure out what to do, but I finally managed to delete the files. Here's how:
  1. First, we have to take ownership of the file. Right-click the file in Explorer and then click Properties.
  2. On Security tab, click Advanced.
  3. On Owner tab, click Edit.
  4. Click Other users or groups.
  5. Type your Windows user account name under Enter the object name to select, and then click Check Names. If the name you entered checks out, click OK.
  6. Click OK again. You will be prompted with a Windows Security dialog that says you need to close the file properties. Click OK, then OK, then OK, then OK to close all properties windows.
  7. Now we have to change the file's permissions. Right-click the file in Explorer again and click Properties.
  8. On the Security tab, click Edit.
  9. Click Add.
  10. Type your user account name under Enter the object name to select, and then click Check Names. If the name you entered checks out, click OK.
  11. Now, select your user account in the Security tab and then click Full control under Allow in the lower window labeled Permissions for (username), then click OK.

    Do NOT check any options under Deny.
  12. Click OK again.
  13. Delete the file and rejoice!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

SOLUTION: HALionOne Could Not Be Found

Note: This post also addresses the "HALionOne: Cannot find or load preset" problem on Cubase 5.5.

Beginning with the 5.5.0 update, Cubase includes a Project Assistant dialog at startup, which helps set you up with some default project settings for specific kinds of productions. For example, there's a preset called "Dance Production" which sets up Cubase tracks for percussion and various musical parts, with pre-selected patches from the HALionOne library.

I was eager to try this feature out, but every time I chose one of the predefined projects, I'd get this error:

The plug-in "HALionOne" could not be found for Instrument Track!

This was on a fresh install of Cubase 5.0 which had been patched up to 5.5.0, and I hadn't changed any settings. Where was my HALionOne? Well, apparently, it's not part of the default install. You have to install it separately from the Cubase install DVD. Here's how:
  1. Browse the contents of your Cubase install DVD and open this folder:

    \Cubase 5 for Windows\Additional Content\HALionOne
  2. If you want a 32-bit installation, launch HALionOne_Setup. If you want a 64-bit installation, run HALionOne_64bit.msi directly.
  3. You're not done yet! The HALionOne setup program doesn't install any of the presets that the default Cubase projects need. If you try to open one of the Project Assistant projects that use HALionOne now, you'll get this error: "HALionOne: Cannot find or load preset." In the same folder where you found the setup program for HALionOne, you will see the following separate MSI installers: Expression_set, GM_Drum_Set, GM_Set, Pro_Set, Studio_Drum_Set, and Studio_Set. Run each of them individually to get the complete HALionOne configuration.
  4. Now launch Cubase and attempt to open one of the default productions that uses HALionOne, like Electro Production. The project should open without any errors, and there will often be a pre-populated drum loop on the percussion track to test that it loaded correctly.
When I was looking for a solution to this problem, I learned that some people who had similar symptoms to mine were actually experiencing a different problem. In their case, HALionOne was installed, but Cubase wasn't detecting it properly. They were able to fix it by using Update Plug-in Information in the Plug-in Information window, performing a Rescan in Media > MediaBay, or by toggling the checkmark for HALionOne in MediaBay, under VST Sound > Factory Content > Track Presets > Instrument.

If you are curious about my hardware and software setup, please see my DAW system specifications.

SOLUTION: Groove Agent ONE Failed to Locate Samples

After installing Steinberg Cubase 5 on my DAW PC and patching it up to version 5.5.0, I discovered a problem with any projects that used the Groove Agent ONE drum VST. Whenever the projects loaded, I'd get an error that said, "Groove Agent ONE failed to locate x samples."

The Cause

For some reason, sometimes the Cubase installer places Groove Agent ONE's vstsound files into the wrong folder. It's possible the folder location was correct for Cubase 5.0, but it isn't for 5.5. (I think it might have to do with whether you decide to install Cubase "for all users" or "only me" at setup, but I can't confirm this for sure, because I don't always pick the same thing when asked that question- and I haven't kept track of which option I chose for various programs.)

It is actually VSTSOUND files that are missing, by the way. Even if you see error messages about specific WAV files that are missing, those WAVs are actually embedded in the various VSTSOUND files that shipped on the Cubase 5 discs.

The Solution
  1. Locate the VST Sound files. You'll find them in your computer's ProgramData folder, which is hidden by default in Windows 7. (You can make it visible by going to Control Panel > Folder Options > View and selecting Show hidden files, folders, and drives.) The actual path depends on your computer, but in my case, the path was:

    C:\ProgramData\Steinberg\Content\VST Sound
  2. Copy any VSTSOUND files you find there into the correct location. This location will vary depending on your computer and your Windows user name. The files are stored in the hidden AppData folder. Again, your exact location will vary, but in my case, it was:

    C:\Users\(my username)\AppData\Roaming\Steinberg\Content\VST Sound

    Like ProgramData, AppData is another hidden folder. You can display it by enabling Show hidden files, folders, and drives in the Folder Options control panel, but there's a nice shortcut: In Windows 7 or below, click the Start button, type %appdata% in the search box and press Enter. This will open up an Explorer window inside your AppData\Roaming folder. On Windows 8, just open up an Explorer window and type %appdata% in the address bar. When you press Enter, you'll browse into AppData\Roaming.
Bonus Content

When I first discovered the solution, I noticed there were only two VSTSOUND files (Drum Loop Expansion 01.vstsound and Groove Agent ONE 03.vstsound) when I was expecting more. Where were 01 and 02? Turns out you have to run a separate installer to get those files. Here's how:
  1. On the Cubase install DVD, browse into the following folder:

    Cubase 5 for Windows\Additional Content\VST Sound
  2. Inside the folder you'll find the Groove_Agent_ONE_Content installer. Run that, and if given the choice, select the correct folder to install the files (the one under AppData). If you install to the default directory, you'll have to copy those files to the AppData folder after the installation's done.
Please see my DAW System Specifications if you're curious about differences in our setups.

My DAW System Specifications

UPDATE: There's a newer post listing the latest specs of my setup.

I'm going to be doing a number of posts about producing digital music, and this post just serves to list what hardware and software I'm using for my digital audio workstation, so I can refer to it whenever I need to provide context. As of the time of this writing (April 2012) my home-built desktop DAW PC is a little over two years old. I selected just about every physical component explicitly for its impact on music production. If you manage to accumulate the same parts or better, you're going to be in good shape.

PC Hardware
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-950 @3.06 GHz (Bloomfield family, 4 cores, 8 threads). I'm using the factory heat sink.
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD5. Plenty of room and plenty of slots. Also has Texas Instruments FireWire, which is considered to be the best chipset for digital audio. Socket 1366 supports Intel Gulftown and Bloomfield processors.
  • Case: Antec P183. Quiet and sturdy with isolated areas for power supply and hard drives, to reduce noise. I'm using the fans that came with the case.
  • Hard drives: Three Western Digital Caviar Black drives, at 7200RPM @ 500 GB. Quiet, fast drives. One for operating system and applications, one for samples and VST libraries, and one for projects and recorded data.
  • Power Supply: Corsair HX650. Relatively quiet, with all the power this computer will ever need. Wonderful modular cabling; you only use exactly the number of wires you need.
  • RAM: Two Kingston DDR3 1333 sticks @ 6 GB each, for 12 GB total.
  • Wireless: Linksys WMP600N Wireless-N PCI Adapter with Dual-Band. Reliable connection, with good range.
  • Optical: Plextor PX-B320SA Blu-ray Disc Combo. BD reader, and super multi writer.
  • Video: EVGA NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570. This is a more recent card, and while it's super powerful for gaming, you can probably find quieter cards for digital audio. You can likely get by on a very low-end, fanless card.
Audio Hardware
  • MIDI Controller: Akai Professional MPK49. This controller has nice semi-weighted keys, runs off USB bus power, and includes programmable knobs, sliders, transport controls, and drum pads. It also includes templates for using it with Ableton Live and Cubase.
  • Audio Interface: Mark of the Unicorn (MOTU) UltraLite-mk3. Mine is the pre-Hybrid version that only has FireWire 400. (Even though USB 2's top throughput is higher than FireWire, all the device contention you typically have on a PC with USB keyboard, mouse, and MIDI devices, makes FireWire the better option.) The device draws power from the FireWire interface, but includes an optional power adapter.
  • Operating System: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit, with Service Pack 1. The 64-bit version of Windows 7 delivers the best balance between power and performance, and gives you access to as much RAM as you're able to cram into  your computer. Note that not all DAWs or VSTs are fully 64-bit compatible yet, but you can usually run the 32-bit versions on 64-bit Windows with no problem.
  • DAW: Steinberg Cubase 5.5.3. The curent version is 6.5. I've been a cubase user since the very first release on Mac in 1994, although the Cubase of today is wildly different from the MIDI-only Cubase of the early 90s. I purchased version 5.0 and had to run various patches (5.1.1, then 5.5.0, then 5.5.3) to bring it up to date. I am using the 64-bit version, and most of my VSTs have 64-bit versions.
  • DAW: Ableton Live 8. I got a free version of this with the MPK49, which included a very nice discount for upgrading to the full version. I am a total Ableton n00b at this point, but it's a very popular DAW, and most online digital music production tutorials these days seem to use it. I don't understand why they don't have a 64-bit version yet, though.
  • VST Instruments: Native Instruments Komplete 6. The current version is Komplete 8. This is a suite of the most popular Native Instruments packages, including samplers, synths, and drum machines. It is a pretty mind-boggling and overwhelming set of software, and I have barely begun to comprehend it all. Most of the VSTs offer both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.