Electronic Wind Instrument Information and More

Aria Software System Requirements - Bullcookies?

The Aria software that comes with the EWIUSB you have to dig to find the system requirements as it's not on the product box, nor is it in any of the advertising. In fact it is only to be found in a Users guide .PDF you can get off their website or off the CD that comes with it after purchase... In fact they seem to have gone out of their way to make sure this information is NOT available, possibly because IMHO these requirements are utter nonsense. Below I've highlighted the sections I consider to be in question.

System Requirements PC

  • 2.8 GHz, Pentium 4/Athlon 4 processor (or better)
  • Windows 2000 (XP or Vista recommended)
  • 1.2 GB free hard drive space required
  • 1GB RAM required (2 GB RAM recommended)
  • 7200 RPM hard drive speed
  • DVD-ROM drive required for installation
  • 1024 x 768 (or better) monitor resolution
  • ASIO-compatible sound card

System Requirements MAC

  • 2.0 GHz, PowerPC G5 processor (or better)
  • Mac OS X 10.4 (or higher)
  • 1.2 GB free hard drive space required
  • 1GB RAM required (2 GB RAM recommended)
  • 7200 RPM hard drive speed
  • DVD-ROM drive required for installation
  • 1024 x 768 (or better) monitor resolution

Why am I calling bull on this? Let's go down the list...

  1. On my 1.6ghz Celeron M laptop with all four voices loaded and playing from the EWI it doesn't even reach 50% cpu use! I've tested it down to a 1ghz P3 and a 800mhz G4 without problems. Also doesn't give them a whole lot of credibility since there is no such thing as a Athlon 4.
  2. The largest sound in the Aria library takes 45megs (one of the synth sounds), even with the four largest patches loaded into Aria it has a memory footprint of well under 200 megs. Being that under XP even a 512meg system can come up with 200 megs of free space, this too is nonsense.
  3. What the devil does hard drive speed have to do with anything?!? Assuming the software has the memory required for audio playback marked as unpageable, the only thing that hard drive speed would effect is load times - and frankly oh noes, it takes an extra 30ms to load that whopping 15megs... The software runs JUST FINE on the 5400 RPM hard drives that you find in 99% of laptops on the market.
  4. The Optical disk I recieved appears to be formatted NOT as DVD media, but as a non-standard high capacity CD that only works on the latest crop of DVD/RW drives. I don't know if it has something to do with the multi-format disk that works on both Mac and PC, but I don't think so since I have other disks of that nature that do not have problems. NONE of my laptops with perfectly good DVD ROM/CDRW combo drives were actually able to read the disk properly, so a DVD/RW appears to be the real minimum needed even though it is a read only disk. I ended up copying everything off and writing it to a REAL DVD format which worked just fine (and put a copy on a spare flash card). Guys, bite the bullet, and use a REAL DVD.
  5. As to screen resolution, the space occupied by the program is roughly 870x460 - if you are willing to live with the 'about' button and some of the goofy graphics chopped off, you could use it on a 800 wide display. Sad part is they could easily have made it 800 friendly if they had spent less time on dividing all their crap up into multiple pages with stupid animated 'knobs' and splash graphics chewing up real-estate. Since the whole thing is skinned in XML, I may try and just re-skin it to make it truly 800 friendly - if for no other reasong than for use with those first-gen netbooks.

From my own testing I've come up with this:

The "REAL" Aria Software System Requirements

  • 1ghz Intel Pentium 3 or better Windows 2k/XP
  • 2ghz P4 or better Windows 7
  • 1ghz G4 or better Mac OSX 10.4
  • 1.2 GB free hard drive space
  • 512Megs RAM Windows 2000/XP, 1 gig RAM Windows Vista / OSX
  • DVD/RW Drive for non-standard 800 meg CD format
  • 800x480 or better display
  • ASIO4ALL third party software for optimal audio performance under Windows if you do not have an ASIO capable audio card.

I really get the feeling that on the software side they just pulled their numbers out of a hat, and didn't bother much in the way of actual testing. Goes with my entire experience though of dealing with Akai. Ask for REAL MIDI specs, get handed off to Garritan who hasn't even responded back after multiple attempts the past month to contact them. Leaves us relying on a printed book 28 pages long, you take out the 8 fingering chart pages and only 4 pages are useful to any one language like this was some junk furniture you put together with a hex wrench... actually, that's not entirely fair... to the particle board furniture

Makes me wish Roland made these things - they at least know how to document a product. I'd kill for one of the 100-200 page reference books like what shipped with a Roland Keyboard or Synth module. While I realize the EWI USB is - from an engineering standpoint - an overglorified game console controller (actually less so, they have more analog sensors and about the same number of buttons these days) something a bit more complete for docs would be nice... From a design, innovation and manufacturing standpoint Akai kicks some serious tail, but their product assembly, software and documentation could use a little help.