protools

Editing & Mixing: the GRID

After a simply wonderful five days of tracking it's now time to clean things up a little more, map the audio to a grid in order to sync delays and tremelo's and apply noise reduction to some guitar tracks. We only required a click track for one of nine songs so mapping a grid ensures that delay times etc all automatically follow the subtle timing changes of the human performances. Protools gives the engineer immense control but many of these higher functions are derived from the tempo-map or time-line. Mapping to a grid is one of the first elements I cover in Protools at RMIT with my Sound Production students in Advanced Digital Editing. If you are not as yet aware of this mapping process it may well be time to reach for the manual - step one before any editing or mixing for me is "map the grid."

NEVE (neve) & HUI (human user interface)

Ok, so I had a rant about the lack of supporting documents from NEVE on the utilisation of the HUI protocol when communicating with ProTools software. Whilst NEVE have graciously "acknowledged the issues" with their User Manual they have since informed of an "update of documentation." This is welcome news for anyone looking to spend around $100k or more on one of their beautiful consoles. For the rest of us it is a timely reminder that even the high-end companies in our industry have the same issues as those further down the ladder when it comes to Customer Support. Today I sent a sincere email to NEVE in the UK with our setup details for their Genesys console, which we at RMIT have deduced after much frustration due to poor supporting documents in this area. The final result however should not be overlooked and I wish to acknowledge the quality of this console and it's functionality - yes, even when communicating with software via HUI. If a strict startup procedure is adhered to then the Genesys works exactly as promised, although this procedure is one significant omission from the manuals. Perseverance is required sometimes, even when information is not available. Once we finally got a clear picture of the exact way to setup the two devices we were elated to find - it was exactly what we had done! NEVE Genesys and ProTools together form an awesome studio centrepiece. This is, albeit belated, one very happy customer.

ProTools 10, HD-X and beyond

So AVID have set the bar higher again for their flagship software ProTools and their accompanying converters. What this means for high-end users is becoming a little clearer so I thought I'd pop what I currently know into a post for those of you in a similar position.

AVID are offering exchange deals for current HD-TDM cards upgrading to the new HD-X systems, which by the way look simply amazing. Current reports state my HD2 rig will be superseded by a single HD-X card, boasting more than 5 x the power of the current system - woohoo. Also significant changes to the operating bandwidth of the converters and accompanying software; Audio Resolution now up to 192kHz @ 32 bit (floating point), with software running at 64bit up from 48 for the Fader resolutions etc. This is all wonderful, but what gear will continue to remain compatible with the HD-X rigs? Well "Lynx" have made it clear to me today that their beloved Aurora converters will remain fully workable with the new AVID system - so that's a great piece of news. As far as price for upgrades is concerned AVID are almost giving away their new converters in the exchange deals, even willing to accept some 3rd party high-end converters. Before going down this path I strongly recommend you contact your converter manufacturer as I did with Lynx - chances are your company is willing to support you through this transition too.

Either way, it's all on the up. We haven't seen an exponential curve quite like this since we went from 16bit up to 24, and as always there will be teething issues. Still, if we hope to constantly embrace the best possible fidelity we can for our precious audio this is yet another chapter on our journey towards precision. "Quality is not a random event"

Massey DRT

Steve Massey builds wonderful software. Many engineers are already aware of his work with Digidesign and Trillium Lane. Since forming his own company MASSEY Plug-ins have rapidly become essential high-end tools for professionals. The DRT, Drum Replacement Tool is a recent release after an original freebie to registered users caused a groundswell of requests by new customers - now it's here at ToKwerX too.

There are several tools that offer this process of recognising peak-transients from drum tracks and creating either a 'spike' audio or midi-note trigger but I am yet to use one that is this accurate and musical. Demo versions are available from http://www.masseyplugins.com

If you're in need of such a tool check this AudioSuite plug-in for Protools out. In my opinion it's the best and most affordable one on the market.

RAM

I actually remember when 256 MB of random access memory was enough to run both Protools (Vsn 4) and Logic Pro (Vsn 4) simultaneously, albeit a tad sluggish. I upgraded my RAM to 8 Gigabytes from 4 and the performance behaviour is incredibly better. Protools Vsn 8 & 9 has added virtual instruments (a la Logic) but has always been much more RAM & CPU demanding. Although a minimum of 2GB is recommended for these app's to run it becomes very apparent when utilising the virtual instruments that more RAM is essential.

Check out the prices for memory at RAMcity in Sydney. Not only are their prices very low but the services is equally "vaVroom."