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It's currently suggested in meta that production questions are on-topic: Is Music Production covered here?

However, Music production without low-latency software was closed as looking for 'recommendations for specific equipment'.

Now, I don't think it is looking for 'recommendations for specific equipment' in the sense of 'what's the best virtual analogue VST?' or something like that. Nevertheless, it does mention specific equipment.

To get to the main question: I think it will be very hard for some production questions to be asked in a natural way without at least mentioning specific equipment; quite often, there's a limited number of pieces of available equipment that do a certain specific job in a music production workflow, and it would be expected that they would be mentioned in a question on that topic.

Is there a line that we need to draw more clearly here? Are there any types of questions that we should be directing to another site?

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    In what way is the practice of music production related to specific equipment? The Linux question is asking for recommendation for a specific kernel, and in the 21st century, probably the best category to put a kernel in is "equipment". – Todd Wilcox May 9 '17 at 2:21
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    @ToddWilcox one example of a production question related to specific equipment is 'troubleshooting' questions, where it's possibly harder not to name names than when talking about a generic 'guitar bridge' or 'piano key'. Another is 'cutting edge techniques', where you're talking about a technique that is only practical using a single specific (or a limited number) of bits of equipment. – topo Reinstate Monica May 9 '17 at 7:31
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    Why would troubleshooting or technique questions be marked off topic? I think I misunderstood your meta question. I'm not aware of an aversion to questions about specific gear. But recommendation of specific gear questions are off topic. The reason why specific gear is attached to the recommendation concept is because asking whether to use a dynamic, condensor, or ribbon mic is more appropriate than asking whether to use a U87 or an SM7. – Todd Wilcox May 9 '17 at 12:29
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    Ok I think I see the disconnect. If this is really about the Linux kernel question, then here's my take on that: It's a Linux question, not a music question and not even a music production question. Just because the computer is used for music does not mean the question is about music. Low latency kernels are used for all kinds of things besides music. And most importantly, answering that question requires lots of Linux knowledge, but no amount of musical knowledge will help answer it. Finally the stated VTC reason is not always the actual VTC reason. We only have like five to choose from. – Todd Wilcox May 9 '17 at 12:51
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    @ToddWilcox your last comment touches on areas talked about in comments that were moved into the chat room: chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/58179/… – topo Reinstate Monica May 9 '17 at 14:17
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    Could you give an example of a specific job in a music production workflow for which there are a limited number of pieces of available equipment? I'm coming up empty. – Todd Wilcox May 14 '17 at 5:58
  • @ToddWilcox One set of such questions relates to whenever some manufacturer is first-to-market with some product. E.g. I think if someone asked "I have a finished mix of a song - how do I change the notes and timing of the vocal line?" or somesuch, for a long time Celemony Melodyne was the obvious answer. – topo Reinstate Monica May 14 '17 at 7:29
  • Another family of such issues is where someone wants to achieve X with constraint Y. For example, they have some IR files that I'd like to use as reverb as part of their guitar pedal chain - and there's a limited number of pedals that can convolve. – topo Reinstate Monica May 14 '17 at 7:36
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That specific question is of a kind we have had and closed in the past because at its core it is nothing about music practice or production. It is simply a question on the impact of installing a stable low latency linux kernel. The fact that the end result is to play music is pretty much irrelevant here. So while the close reason chosen was recommendation for specific equipment, it's just not a good fit for Music so other reasons could have been selected.

We do have a number of very good questions on production, and not just that small number tagged and some do even mention specific products, as if that is the only product that can do it, we probably have to name it :-)

My approach is to try and see whether the question is at the "what is best tool for x" end of things, which is always bad, and to do a check on whether it is actually a music related question (see Boat Programming) - in this instance I think it should have been on topic on Linux (but it appears not) and it actually received useful input on Sound Design. So the end result is that hopefully the OP got a good answer, but the core issue around scope boundaries once again is valid.

And as seen on various other sites, the only option is to discuss it here and in chat - the moderators will do our best to make sure things align with the community needs.

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Anyway, what's wrong with equipment recommendation questions? Except that our Founding Fathers decided to make a rule against them. We can change that.

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    You might be able to change that here on the meta, but you'll have to get enough other users to agree with you. I'm not a founding father but I agree that equipment recommendation questions will not help us have an effective Q&A site. Instead they will drive us all crazy. You'd have to convince people otherwise. One challenge will be the plethora of other sites where equipment recommendation discussions are allowed where such questions lead to arguments and no useful answers. So there's a lot of evidence around showing how bad such questions are and none showing they are good. – Todd Wilcox May 14 '17 at 5:55
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  • @ToddWilcox I do agree that there are some kinds of recommendation questions that would (and do!) drive us crazy, I'm not sure they're all so bad. Whether we could sensibly move the line we have now, I'm not sure... could be an interesting discussion though. Perhaps the "recommendations are bad in general" line of thinking is a bit old now.... we have two whole SEs dedicated to recommendations. – topo Reinstate Monica May 14 '17 at 8:01
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    All sorts of threads can go crazy. The criterion for disallowing a thread should be that it HAS gone crazy. Not that it doesn't fit into an approved list of topics. SE seems to like threads that start with a well-formed question and converge on the One True Answer. Music isn't like that. I'm not sure many other subjects are either. – Laurence Payne May 14 '17 at 10:02
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    @LaurencePayne we're set up as a Q&A site for a reason. There's a lot that is very objective that we can talk about like notation, techniques, and maintenance. There are many questions worth discussing in music, but thats not this site's focus. From out tour "Focus on questions about an actual problem you have faced. Include details about what you have tried and exactly what you are trying to do. Not all questions work well in our format. Avoid questions that are primarily opinion-based, or that are likely to generate discussion rather than answers." – Dom May 14 '17 at 21:37
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    @topomorto those sites are really strict on questions & answers to keep it objective over subjective and the userbase has to understand and enforce it. Though software recs is consider a success there are internal problems like only 53% of questions are considered answered which is the lowest of all SEs, which only requires a question having a positive answer, along with more people looking for help then staying around to answer questions. – Dom May 14 '17 at 21:41
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    Again, it's a democratic republic here, so all you need is enough collective will and the policies can be changed. I doubt you're going to get it, and you might question if you really want it. Yes, Stack Exchange is not ideal. And yet we all keep using it. I know I keep using it because the compromises it makes (e.g., on what the focus is and is not on) are both unusual for sites like this and effective at achieving the specific goals here. So, major changes in on/off topic rules could have major unforeseen negative consequences. – Todd Wilcox May 15 '17 at 18:57
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Examples of production questions not at all related to specific equipment:

  • How do I set up the Glyn Johns mic technique and how is it different from the Recorderman technique?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of using a click track?
  • How is it possible that the drums were mixed effectively on the Tool album 10,000 Days without any EQ being used during the recording or mixing process?
  • How do I find the right microphone position for an instrument before recording and listening back?
  • How do they synchronize two analog tape decks to record more than 24 tracks at a time?
  • Is it possible to record MIDI to a track on a 2" tape or does it have to be recorded to a sequencer or computer that is synchronized to the tape?
  • Every time I record vocals, I always get a huge amount of mouth noise and sibilance. When I try to use a de-esser, it either doesn't work or kills the high end of the vocals and they fade in the background. What am I doing wrong?
  • What's the most important thing to look for when selecting a recording studio?
  • How do I make the snare drum really crack like how I hear on professional recordings?
  • How do I prevent fret noise/squeaks when recording acoustic guitar?
  • Can I make a track I recorded mono sound like it is stereo?
  • Why do drummers cut holes in the resonator head of their kick drums and how do I mic the hole? How do I mic it if there is no hole?
  • My keyboard/guitar/drum machine/turntable/theremin/electronic instrument is buzzing so badly! How can I make it stop?
  • The manufacturer of my near field monitors says the frequency response is +/- 3dB from 38 Hz to 20 kHz, but the snare disappears on the near fields and is too loud in my car. What's causing that?
  • I was recording a bass guitar in a small concrete room today and certain notes the bass player played were SUPER loud, and others were too quiet. The recording is a mess. What went wrong? Can I salvage the recording?
  • Do bass frequencies really "need room to develop"? Why or why not?
  • We're all adults here: What is a "crotch mic"? (it seems to be a professional thing, not a joke)
  • What's the difference between 24-bit integer samples and 32-bit floating point samples?
  • I want to record my guitar played through two amps at the same time. How should I position the amps and microphones? (real question found here)

The point being, there is no need at all to "square" music production questions with gear recommendation questions because there is no inherent link between the two. In fact, gear recommendation questions are not about music production at all. Anyone who thinks music production is about selecting gear... well I just feel bad for them right now but hopeful and happy for when they discover how expressive and artistic the art of music production really is.

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    Of course there are lots of production questions that aren't related to specific equipment - no-one has suggested otherwise - but it's not those that this question is about. This meta question is about those music production questions (real and potential) that are related to specific equipment. – topo Reinstate Monica May 9 '17 at 7:23
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    @topomorto If we agree that production and gear recommendation questions are two differrent types, then I'm confused about what your meta question is about. Questions like "how do I program Lemur to send NRPN messages to DSI synths?" are on topic for sure. There's nothing wrong with asking about specific gear. It's the recommendation part that is the problem. "Which touch controller app is best to control NRPN parameters on DSI synths?" is off topic. In neither case does it matter whether the question is about production or not. – Todd Wilcox May 9 '17 at 12:27
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    The bottom line is that I don't think the line between "How do I achieve XXXX?" and "What's the best YYYY to achieve XXXXX?" is particularly well-drawn on this site in general, and I think it's liable to be a particularly fuzzy line for Music Production type questions. – topo Reinstate Monica May 9 '17 at 14:23
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    @topomorto I take you at your word. I only want to opine that to me, "How do I set up mics for the Glyn Johns technique" is clearly a different question from "What are the best mics to use for the Glyn Johns technique?" Sometimes the line is fuzzier than others, but that line is not only fuzzy for production questions. For example: "How can I make my guitar intonation better?" versus "What guitar has the best intonation?" I could go on, but clearly citing many examples is just overly argumentative. – Todd Wilcox May 11 '17 at 0:01
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    @ToddWicox I agree that the fuzziness doesn't only exist for production questions. I'm just saying I personally think they may be particularly liable to being fuzzy! Also, when I refer to fuzziness, I'm not necessarily only referring to my own logical perception, but the way the questions seem to get treated on the site. "How can I reduce the action on my guitar" would be fine here; and not closed as a specific equipment question. "How can I reduce the latency on my computer" has been closed a couple of times recently. This question also comes from the exchange with Tasos Papastylianou on : – topo Reinstate Monica May 11 '17 at 7:31
  • @topomorto Can you link to examples of closed "how can I reduce latency?" questions? The question linked in your question above does not fit in that category, as far as I can tell. – Todd Wilcox May 14 '17 at 6:01
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    getting an acceptable level of latency was an aspect of this question as originally worded - though it's true that a desire to reduce audio latency wasn't explicitly mentioned, that's surely the main reason that someone using their computer for audio installs a real-time kernel? Plus the OP was asking about "Will I be unable to record / have lag in my recordings? Noise / skips / screetches? Will midi input accuracy via piano keyboard suffer?". As I see it, these are all along the well-word theme of balancing latency with stability. – topo Reinstate Monica May 14 '17 at 7:19
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    I looked for the other question I remembered, but couldn't find it. You and I talked about that one too though (it was a windows one, IIRC) – topo Reinstate Monica May 14 '17 at 7:21
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I very much agree with OP's thrust. I asked a question that seemed to be highly appropriate to this music Stack Exchange, and my question has, in just an hour or two, received three upvotes and one sympathetic comment, but has been placed "on hold" by a Karma King. The sympathetic commenter linked me to here, and everything the people who agree with the gist of the OP's opinions* on this matter make perfect sense to me, so I won't waste time repeating those arguments. But here's the original question, with the reason for the "hold" and my response to it.

*opinions: OH NO! RED ALERT [Isn't that part of the point of Stack Exchange: some answers, by humans, will contain some degree of opinion, and then other members of a Stack Exchange, will vote up or down, based on their... OPINION of the answer.]

PS, Thanks for bearing with me... I was already in a tense mood, so I may have gotten a little overly-perturbed from this disappointing response to my question (:

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