Test Drive: Ensoniq PARIS - Professional Audio Recording Integrated System

The RAP-Up

As mentioned in the beginning, PARIS is not a "plug it in, go to work" DAW. There are numerous features that would take pages to detail. PARIS is one of those systems that will continue to unveil its power for months after you’ve started working on it. But this is not to say that the PARIS is tough to learn. If you have just a little experience with DAWs, the PARIS will be rather easy to get started on. It’s utilizing the full power of this system that will take some time. For radio production, there are more features than the average user will need. But for the “power user,” PARIS comes ready to keep you in tweak heaven and handle every task at hand. What was most pleasing with regards to the power of the PARIS was the price tag. As inexpensive as PCs are these days, for under $5,000, you can have a DAW that easily stacks up against the high end disk-based systems.  Check the prices on DAWs that come with a controller as elaborate as the Control 16, and you’ll see the gap between the price tags.

I was surprised to find there was no audio scrub, even though the data/jog wheel looks like that’s what it was put there for. Talking with Ensoniq, it turns out several people have requested this function, and it is currently under development for a future version. This will be a big plus for the system, mainly for editing voice tracks. When editing music, with the aid of the grid functions, audio scrub is not as necessary to perform accurate edits. Another feature I thought was lacking was a simple waveform edit window. When I first started playing with the system, I intuitively double-clicked objects hoping to see an “Edit Window” appear with basic cut and paste edit functions, and perhaps some DSP functions as well. As it turns out, Ensoniq reports that this is also in the plans for a future version. With the version used for this review (Version 1.55), double clicking an object does nothing. I’d say that’s a very standard mouse function just waiting for something to be attached to it! Other than these two things, I found PARIS to be a fun and powerful system to work with. With the DSP card handling most of the processing, the system ran quite smoothly without long delays or sluggish editing behavior. This is a system that can handle the projects in a busy radio production studio, and it makes a very nice and affordable system for that back bedroom!

As of this writing, Ensoniq has released Version 1.8. The new software now supports third party Direct-X and VST plug-ins for PC and VST plug-ins for Mac. The new version also offers multi-card support, which enables PARIS to record or play back up to 32 channels of 16-bit or 24-bit audio simultaneously. There are several other new features in version 1.8, and it’s obvious that Ensoniq intends to take the PARIS and run all the way with it. Version 2.0 slated for winter 98/99 plans to include the aforementioned scrubbing and waveform editing features as well as other improvements and features.

Some of the items on the options menu include the ADI ADAT Optical Digital Interface with ADAT Sync ($499) which features full ADAT compatibility and includes two ADAT multi-channel fiber optic connectors, (8 channels IN and 8 channels OUT), plus a single 9-pin D-type synchronization connector. The EDS-ADI allows sample-synchronous digital transfers of up to 8 channels of audio data to and from a chain of up to 16 ADATs. The EDS-D2 AES/EBU MEC Module (target release, December 1998) offers 2 XLR connectors capable of sending or receiving up to four channels of AES/EBU digital audio to or from PARIS. Patching and signal routing to and from the EDS-D2 is accomplished from the Patch Bay Window. An optional sample rate converter is available allowing two of the four channels to apply sample rate conversion to the digital audio. 

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