Q It Up: Your Multi-track DAW: Likes, Dislikes, Wish List - Part 2

Q-It-Up-Logo-sep95Q It Up: What software or hardware do you do your multi-track production on? Audicy? Cool Edit Pro? Vegas? Something else? What are your likes and dislikes about the multi-track system you use? If you could have any system available, regardless of cost, would you keep the same one you have now, or would you get something else? What would you get and why?

Pete Jensen [PETEJ[at]kxly.com], KXLY Broadcast Group, Spokane, Washington: One Audicy: Very popular. Easy to use and learn, and fast. We upgraded the DSP a while back, and haven’t run out of effects yet!

Three Soundscapes: Very powerful, but harder to learn. Mackie bought this company, and their newest version has a couple of excellent improvements, including a new EQ, which was badly needed. We have a TV station downstairs, and we’ve used the video synch capabilities to do some soundtracks for TV, which was fun. The newest systems give you 16 or 32 tracks for playback (256 virtual tracks). Our older system only has 12 playback tracks, plus we don’t have the DSP upgrade for these systems, so larger or more complicated productions usually require some bouncing if we use many effects. We have the “Dynamizer” plug-in from TC Works, which sounds really terrific. The mixer screen is incredibly flexible. Again, that makes it a bit longer to learn for most of the people here. The people who use it love it.

Personally, I’ve been using Cool Edit Pro almost exclusively for the past few months. I think I prefer using it right now for a very simple reason: I can do a mixdown and save to mp3 very quickly, whereas our other 2 systems require extra steps to convert to mp3. CEP has so many capabilities, it’s a great program. Any program that will restore your production session, complete with unsaved tracks, after 2 reboots, is great in my book. I’m looking forward to version 2.0.

Bumper Morgan [bump[at]bumper morgan.com], Boch Broadcasting, Cape Code, MA: I use Cool Edit Pro exclusively on all of our production projects. I’ve been sold on it for more than three years. It’s ergonomically laid out and makes assembly not only fun but intuitive. I’ve tried other production software, but my praise is reserved for the crew at Syntrillium. Whenever they release a new version of the software, registered users can do an upgrade at no charge. I like that.

On the other hand, a program I use for loops, Acid Pro by Sonic Foundry, charges for their software upgrades, but they offer free samples of their newest loops at www.acidplanet.com/loops/8packs/, which I find to be a real bonus when I’m in a tight squeeze. The debate continues...

Brian Wilson [bwilson[at]dfwradio .com] Brian Wilson Creative Services/KLIF, Dallas, TX: I am very fortunate to have many tools at my disposal, including Steinberg’s Nuendo (1.5) and Cubase (5.1), and Sonic Foundry’s Vegas, Sound Forge 5.0 and Acid 2.0. I use Sound Forge as my “2-track” deck and Nuendo as my Multitrack. Vegas has its place in production rooms, and I love its integration with other Sonic Foundry software, but it can’t hold a candle to Nuendo. We currently run Nuendo on a Dell Precision dual P3 800mhz, and at least 512 of ram is needed to take full advantage of the VST instruments and dozens of effect processors that come with it.

As far as getting any system I want, I think I might have it. I have worked with Pro Tools, and while it’s great, I don’t care for their proprietary software and elitist attitude. We tried Pro Tools LE, and though it got us up and running for under a thousand, we were hit with $300-500 per RTAS plug-in. Just like a drug dealer, the first nickel bag is free... Anyway, I enjoy working in the .wav and .mp3 environment of Nuendo, and Sound Forge allows me to resample downloaded 11k wavs to clean them up for broadcast. Nuendo also rips CDs directly into your project at 12x speed, and exports in 7 common formats, so very little is done in real time these days. And there are hundreds of free or shareware Direct X and VST plug-ins on the internet, so there’s lots of ways to keep things interesting. I am so happy with the system I have mirrored the studio at home, where it all runs on a Dell Dimension P4 1300 with dual monitors. If I had to change anything about Nuendo, it would be its name.

Ric Gonzalez [Ric.Gonzalez[at]cox .com], Cox Radio, San Antonio, Texas: I’m fortunate enough to have four Audicy workstations at my command. Are they expensive? Compared to shareware or Cool Edit? You bet. But in comparison to what you can do with one...no! They are worth every penny! I know because I had to prove it.

These machines are designed specifically for radio stations and an intensely busy environment. That is us. One year we cranked out over 12,200 pieces of production and cornered a large chunk of the market’s revenue. We did this with only 3 radio stations and against other “larger” clusters. I only mention this to give you an idea of how busy we get. The Audicy has no mouse, no multiple screens to flip to and from, and best of all, it comes with individual track slides, just like a reel analog multi-track machine. They don’t get wacky on us, no window error messages, and they have Dean Tiernan! He rocks. No other demonstrator or pitchman has been able to top it. I can train a new jock to use it in less than 15 minutes, and a monkey can learn it in 15 1/2! (Ok! OK! I used to be a jock so I can call that self-deprecating humor.) Anyway, in an industry where people come and go for no apparent reason, that learning curve IS A GOOD THING.

Everyone that has come over to test drive one of ours has fallen in love immediately. If I had to build my own studio at home, I’d first go to a shrink to find out what the hell is wrong with me, and then if he couldn’t cure me, I’d buy an Audicy!

Only thing I’d change? Hmmm...the price. Bean counters hate the price!

Johnny George [voiceovers2[at]com cast.net], Susquehanna, Indianapolis, Indiana: We use 2 ProTools 24Mix Plus units, a Digi 001 in our Aux. studio, and still have 2 Spectral units that are to be replaced later this year or next.

Love the Pro Tools units. Wish I had more plug-ins. Seemed I lost a few when I upgraded to 5.1.1. (Sometimes I think I get too busy to worry about “toys” until I need them.)

If I had a “wish list,” it would include a 60 Gig hard drive (for external audio storage) and a faster processor in my Mac’s. I think I’m using a 400 since we got this almost 3 years ago. Plus I would add full networking between all the machines to be able to share SFX and such.

Still using a 001 in my home studio and still love it since the majority of my work is VO only.

Michael McGurk [mmcgurk[at]Empire Broadcasting.com], Empire Broadcasting: Great topic. This could get heated quickly. It would be fun to run this topic for a couple months to provide space for rebuttal. Into the fray...

We use SAW. Started off many years ago with the first 4-track SAW and have upgraded thru SAWPro. We will be upgrading to SAWStudio in the near future, which is like Pro Tools on a PC with several thousand dollars left over to play with. Can you say U-87? We also have Cool Edit and Sound Forge but, with the exception of SF’s time compression, we almost never use either one. SAW is easier to use, more intuitive, solid as a rock, and more powerful than either of the other two. One of the big pluses for SAW (and Cool Edit and Sound Forge) is that no special equipment is needed. Just about any computer anywhere does the trick. I find that a BIG minus for Audicy. We have never had a problem with SAW, not so much as a single computer crash or lock-up because of the program. When you’re in a hurry that’s a big deal. Various third party programs make CD and MP3 production a snap. The native plug-ins with SAW are superb, as is the interface with Direct-X and VST plug-ins. The SAWPro line is no longer being supported (dark and eerie tale) but there is a great news group frequented by very sharp SAW users who are always willing to help. I’ve played with Pro Tools a couple times and, despite its reputation as the industry standard, found it very complicated and overpriced, especially in a radio production context. Since we use SAW almost exclusively, I would have to say it is my DAW of choice.

Jason Ryll [jason[at]cffmthemax.com], CFFM The Max, Williams Lake, BC: Working in a small market station in BC, our station production costs and therefore facilities leave a LOT to be desired. However, having worked independently with a number of other production software packages, I’ve found Cool Edit to be the easiest to learn to use right out of the box. The learning curve is almost straight-up if you’re willing to take the time to use it.

As for the “dream system” you inquired about, having not worked with Pro Tools yet, but hearing nothing but good things and knowing that it is becoming somewhat of an industry (music and radio) standard, I’m eager to give it a go. I’m not sure if you want details on the whole studio dream package I have in my head, but if you do - how much time have you got? Together with sweet mics and studio space, and the small rack of enhancers, you don’t need to blow a wad of cash to get great results.

Mark Fraser [fixitinthemix[at]hotmail .com], Metro Radio Group, Halifax, NS, Canada: Presently we are using SAWPro and are quite happy with it, and although IQS is no longer supporting this product, it still does everything we need it to do for radio production. If we had unlimited $$$, I would love to give Pro-Tools a try as it seems to be the industry standard, and everyone I’ve ever talked to that uses it is very happy.

Todd Carruth [Todd[at]RAB.COM] Radio Advertising Bureau: I have been using Cool Edit Pro to produce our Monthly Marketing Kit CDs and other audio production for about 2 1/2 years, and I couldn’t be happier. The ability to easily move tracks around, adjust volume, pan control, mixdown to mono or stereo, you name it…everything is laid out easily and intuitively. I’ve sampled a few other programs and haven’t found anything that works better for my needs.

Craig Jackman [craigj[at]canada.com], CHEZ/CIOX/CKBY/CJET/CIWW, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: I’ve used Cool Edit Pro for years. I looked at everything else that was available and went with CEP for a couple of reasons. 1) It’s inexpensive as opposed to cheap. 2) It would do what I needed to do on an audio computer. 3) It wasn’t tied to a proprietary piece of hardware, so I could choose the soundcard that was the best fit for my ADAT based studio. 4) I could use DX and VST plug-ins to cover any features that I needed that were not in the original program. 5) I could convince management to pay for it as it runs on PC not MAC. After 4 years, would I still use it? Probably as it’s what I’m used to, and I have very few complaints. Version 1.2a is stable. It runs on the less-than-state-of-the-art computers provided to us, and handles MP3s, MP2s, and every other format I can think of, plus it still does what I need to do on an audio computer. Is it the BEST system out there? Probably not (Pro Tools), but it does a lot of things better than Pro Tools, the software costs about a tenth of the current version of Pro Tools, and doesn’t require expensive Digidesign interfaces. It runs on a PC better than either version of Pro Tools too. I can’t wait to see what the lllloooonnnngggg promised version 2.0 of Cool Edit Pro holds.

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