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Posts Tagged ‘Pro Tools’

Pro Tools 11 and the plugin Monster…

December 12, 2013 Leave a comment

Just a quick note on some great customer service I received from a software developer today. I’ve just begun a 30 day trial of Pro Tools 11 and there’s a lot to like about it. After 4 days of trying, I haven’t been able to break it. The only negative so far has been with plugins. Avid dropped RTAS and is now only rolling with 64 bit/AAX, and for some, this has been a huge issue. I made the 64 bit jump this summer and dumped most, ahem… *all* of my old legacy 32 bit VST/AU plugins, and thought I had made it through this process unscathed. However, I’m still coming up short in the RTAS to AAX department.

VintageVerb

I discovered a few painful “gotchas” during this eval period, but one of the biggest was ValhallaDSP’s Vintage Verb. Love, love, love it. Silky smooth and all that. I didn’t realize that I was missing it until I went to use it today.

Doh!

So, I shot the dev an email – #1, to let them know how much I love the product, and #2, to ask when an AAX version would be available. To my surprise, Sean responded no less than 5 minutes after I sent the inquiry. Not only that, he sent me a link to a beta AAX version to try. He asked that I let him know if I have any issues, as well as providing me another install of the previous version “if things go totally crazy”.

This is why, more often than not, I’m giving my money to smaller online developers. It’s much harder to get anything from the “Triple A” of software (Apple, Avid & Adobe), let alone a response within 5 minutes and beta version to try.

I try not to come across as a shill in my blog – Ethics Statement: I do not work for any of the companies I rave about, nor am I paid in any way for said raving – but I do like to spread the word on the stuff I use and find helpful.

Today’s rave – ValhallaDSP. They make good s**t, and provide stellar customer service.

Decisions, Decisions…

May 3, 2011 2 comments

I’ve been conducting my own personal digital audio workstation shootout for months, and I have to say that there is no clear cut winner. Logic, Pro Tools, REAPER and Live all bring something unique to the table – making it hard to pick just one app to work in exclusively.

Amongst the four, I find Ableton Live to be the “utility” player. I would never mix a song in it (sorry Ableton junkies), but it’s unique session view layout and workflow make it a good songwriting app. If you’re suffering from writers block, it’s hard not to get the juices flowing in Live. It shines when paired with Logic, Pro Tools or REAPER via rewire – if your into that.

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Logic has been my main app since 1999 (after leaving Sonar) and what can I say? I love it. It was difficult to learn, and after all these years, I only truly know about 60% of the program. I’m constantly learning new ways to work in it, and am amazed when I do. As I’ve said before, it’s the most bang for the buck out there – with it’s sample library, quality effects, scoring and mixing, it’s the full monty. Are the built-in effects Waves quality? Nope. Would anyone other than a qualified mix engineer be able to tell? Nope. Can you make a high quality out of the box recording in Logic? Yep – if you know what you’re doing.

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Pro Tools…. Ah, the de-facto industry standard. I would guess that 10 out of 10 songs you hear on the radio were mixed in it. I didn’t say recorded – as any program can be used for that, but I’d bet dollars to donuts that it was FINISHED in Tools. It’s hard to be taken seriously if you do not own it, or have a firm grasp of how to use it. I love it for editing. There’s nothing better. I even like mixing with it – not as much as Logic (which I find more intuitive), but Tools is hard to beat. That’s why it’s the Gold standard.

Midi composition is where it falls short, and while version 9 has made incredible strides in this area, it’s still a bit cumbersome. Again, Logic wins here. Another strike against PT in my world is stability. I get loads of errors when I run the hardware buffer lower than 256 samples, and the RTAS engine can be flaky with some plugins. PT can sometimes have a mind of it’s own. One day I can record a song from start to finish with 40+ tracks, and the very next day, it struggles to play back 3 tracks without errors.

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After all of that, I will say that REAPER has really stirred something in me. I have that same love/hate that I had with Logic back in ’99. Let’s be frank – it’s a convoluted, overly techie, laborious, monster of a program. There’s probably a key-command to defrost a pot roast, bake it at 350, and serve you on odd Sunday’s of each 3rd year after a quarter rotation around the Sun. It’s that deep. However, it’s the most bloat free, quality piece of music code that I’ve ever seen. Weighing in at only 36.6 MB (OSX version) installed, it’s footprint is so small that you can run it from a SD card or thumb drive. That’s crazy. Logic is 6 DVD’s worth of data, and can take 2 to 3 hours to install (depending on your computer). Heck, a typical Pro-Tools install download is 5 Gig (zipped).

REAPER doesn’t include samples or loop libraries, scoring features or a ton of effect presets. It’s not a suite per se, but it is a very capable no-nonsense DAW who’s rapid development is driven by it’s loyal user base. It’s not uncommon to submit a feature request (or bug report) today, and see it implemented/fixed days (even hours) later.

If I had to describe the app in only a few words, I’d say: kludgy, clunky, immense, customizable and powerful. The fan boys will tell you that the customization is the key. You can make REAPER behave the way you want it to. Don’t like the menu structure? Change it. Mixer layouts? Yep. Track and Project Templates? For sure. I spent an hour customizing and creating templates, and can go from launch to recording in 2 mouse clicks. The other hosts don’t come anywhere close to that. REAPER is also skinable, and a huge array of user created themes are available – even one that makes REAPER look just like Pro-Tools. I’m currently using the REACTION v4 alpha theme, which is similar to the Logic experience. Maybe that’s why I’ve been “getting” the program in recent weeks. I’ve also made good use of the Groove3 training videos by Kenny Gioia. They were instrumental in explaining the quirks and more esoteric features of the app.

So what does it all mean?

If I got a paid songwriting gig tomorrow – I’d reach for Logic. It’s what I know, and there’s not much I can’t do with it. Experience with the program counts.

If I had to edit/mix a huge project – I’d reach for Tools. Compatibilty is the name of the game, and the project will transfer to any studio in the world – just bring a hard drive with your files. A caveat: The HD version is 1000 times more stable than the native version. If I could afford the HD option, PT would be my DAW of choice.

If I had writers block or was hired to do live tour support – I’d reach for Live. Period.

For every other scenario, there’s REAPER. I’m learning it, and having a blast. The first few months caused me to pull my hair out, but now that I’ve streamlined the app, it’s fast becoming my go to. Who knows how I’m going to feel 6 months from now. There are grumblings that Logic 10 could be just around the corner.

As I stated at the top, there is no clear winner here. Each has their place, and I’m glad I have them all. At the end of the day, they’re all just tools.

Now, it’s time to go make some music….

Here’s vid of a potential bug in the v4.0alpha that I submitted to the dev team:

Pro Tools – Fixed…

July 13, 2010 Leave a comment

I’ve had DSLR on the brain so much lately that I failed to notice the Pro Tools 8.0.4 update released last week. I know… I’m slipping, right?

Digidesign (now Avid) seems to have fixed a number of things, most notably, that PT didn’t work well on 10.6.4 and the new i5/i7 processors. I was experiencing major problems with some of my plugins (mostly Native Instruments stuff), where PT would stall or freeze after hitting play.

I’m now a happy camper. However, I’ve been using Logic exclusively, and now have a bit of a conundrum. I love the sound of Logic – many will argue that sequencers don’t actually have a “sound”, but I’m here to say that, to me, they do. Logic is darker, smoother and fuller sounding. Tools is crisper, clearer, and brighter. Recorded guitars sound really good in one, where synths and vocals sound better in the other. I guess it depends on the source material one is working with, but overall I prefer Pro Tools.

Editing audio is another bone of contention that I have with Logic. It’s archaic, plain and simple. Again, Tools is intuitive and elegant. However, Logic scores big on included effects – one could go to master with the built in effects alone and not feel bad about it, although Digi stepped their game up with version 8 of PT. The new effect plugins are not Logic caliber, but are much better than previous versions.

And then there’s Ableton Live – great musical sketch pad when ideas are slow in coming, yet its crappy mixing has me transferring everything into Logic to finish – but that’s another blog entry.

They all have their collective strengths. That’s why I own and use all three.

The bottom line – I recorded the bulk of my album in PT, and moved it all to Logic when I began having problems. I’m not going to move it all back. I started mixing in Logic, and I’ll finish it there, but I’ll begin making the move back to Pro Tools with each new song idea.

Categories: Music Tags: , , , ,

Remember, you saw him here first…

January 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Music. Video. Day job – Rinse. Repeat. I’ve been burning the candle at all ends in recent days, so I decided to slow down and do some much needed data cleaning. My hard drives were full of media accumulated over the last few years, and I was running out of space.

I have a ton of video from (what Bunny Nasty and I affectionately refer to as) “That Place Whose Name We Do Not Speak”, and a small portion of it is unedited. There are a host of reasons why a handful of these projects weren’t completed under my watch, but I’ll say for the record, that a lack of time and a chaotic environment were usually to blame. It’s amazing how things get done (and done well) when given the proper time to do so.

Corey Stampley’s drum video was one of those “unfinished” projects. Looking back, it was a lot of fun to do, and it tuned out well despite the limited resources. Layne pulled the main computer from Studio A, we mic’d the kit, and threw some lights at the stage. The performance was tracked and mixed in Pro Tools HD.

I mounted a small Canon consumer DV camera on the lighting grid above Corey – regrettably forgetting to set the 16:9 Anamorphic mode, so we ended up with a 4:3 image. I shot the rest handheld with a Sony HDR-FX1 HDV. I had a love/hate thing with this camera, which is capable of some incredible images under the right conditions, but it’s output isn’t as crisp as a Canon XL1 (or GL2) in most situations. The two resulting video files were synced and edited in FCP using multicam edit. I then added Layne’s PT mix, which has a very direct mic sound – so a touch of sound from the mounted DV camera was mixed in.

Corey’s performance was great, and he’s an extremely talented individual. The kid can play damn near anything.

All in all a fun day, and remember that you saw this kid here first…