Low-cost portable recording

By now, most Pro Tools users realise that "native" versions will always be limited. Whether it's I/O or track count, you have to spend a lot more money on an HD system to get what you want. There is no middle ground. It's $3000 or $30,000.

So when I came across this, I was salivating. That's right... read your way through the first few pages.

An M-Audio ProFire Lightbridge with Pro Tools M-Powered 7.3, 7.3.1, 7.3.1cs1 or 7.3.1cs2 will give you 32 channels of simultaneous I/O, not the limited 18 mentioned in the disclaimer on the M-Audio website.

Thanks to ebay and willing sellers, I have Pro Tools M-Powered 7.3.1 and a ProFire Lightbridge. I can confirm that this combination will indeed record on 32 tracks simultaneously. Since I have no A/D converters, I haven't tried this with actual audio signals feeding the thing.

Pro Tools 8 looks great

I went to a Pro Tools 8 demo at JMC Academy on 8 April. It was run by Digi techster Brent Heber. There are lots of improvements over Pro Tools 7: MIDI Editor:
  • Multiple tracks in one view—events are colour-coded
  • Editing looped or duplicated MIDI segments alters all iterations
Score Editing:
  • MIDI editor has a score editor mode
  • print mode for editing printed scores
  • can export Sibelius (.sib) files, but can only read MIDI files—WTF?
Virtual Instruments:
  • Vacuum—monophonic, dual oscillator synth. Has about half a dozen overdrive controls for distorted everything!
  • Xpand now responds to up to four MIDI channels
  • Boom—a grid-based beat box editor like the old TR808 sequencer
  • Mini Grand—sample-based piano with a 900MB library and reverb effect
  • DB33—a Hammond-style organ with a cabinet effect that can take an external input
  • Structure sample player now allows one to drag and drop regions from audio track playlists. Different versions (free or paid) have different features
Plugins:
  • all the usual DigiRack plugs with a true stereo EQ3,a new version of Sansamp, new algorithms in D-Verb
  • some plugs previously available for money are now free: DFi and Maxim
  • Eleven—guitar simulator. Different versions (free or paid) have different numbers of amps and tones
"Comp" edit workflow is much improved:
  • Loop recording takes can be in one file (as before) or in separate playlists (new preference setting)
  • If in separate playlists, those playlists can be displayed in the edit window below the "main" playlist
  • Can copy selection of region in comp playlist to main playlist
BUT... Digi still hasn't fixed the loop record to include pre- and post-roll in the loop. As before, pre-roll is played before the first iteration of the loop and then only the selected part of the timeline or playlist is looped. I've been asking Brett about this since version 6. For those times when the context of the punch-in is important to the performance—most of the time—loop record is useless. All in all, it's looking pretty good. There are still things one would like to have, like removal of the 18I/O limit in LE, but Digi has demonstrated time and time again, that they won't do anything that would poach the HD market, and they still don't provide an upgrade path with any "middle" ground between LE and HD. It sucks, but what can you do when they have the market power?

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A vanity publishing venture of David Rodger, sound production teacher and wannabe PHP developer

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