to our first product review. I thought we’d start with a product
that is close to my heart that I’ve been using for a long time.
I’m talking about a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) that you can
use to create your soundtracks. Now, you won’t need this type of
software if you just want to compile CD’s using the supplied
music. If you want to record your voice and/or mix it with the
music, you will need a DAW like this.
This product is
called Pro Tools and is made by a company called Digidesign
based in the USA. Glenn and I have been using this software for
about fifteen years, having started with it when it was only
about five years old and fairly primitive. Even at that time we
could see it was the best software around even though as true
blue Australians, we should have bought a product by an
Australian company which led the world at the time, called
Fairlight. Fairlight actually invented the whole digital audio
phenomenon back in the 1970’s.
Pro Tools is
now the industry standard for digital audio recording, no
question. There are many other products on the market, but Pro
Tools continues to out sell and lead the way. They have
won Grammy’s and Oscar’s for their technical development and
input into the industry, and there’s not many films you watch or
CD’s you listen to these days, that haven’t had this software in
asking, why do I need this professional software? Well you
don’t, but then almost all software today will do more than
use. It’s a question of ease of use, stability and
results. For my money, Pro Tools has it all. With this system
you can definitely produce Top 40/feature film quality without a
huge learning curve.
there are many variations of Pro Tools. You can get ‘lite’
versions. These are much less expensive but still very powerful.
Here’s an example for you. About five years ago, we did a major
upgrade to our Pro Tools systems. That included computers,
software and hardware. Each system cost about $30000.00.
Today I can buy a system that would do almost
that previous system could, for about $7000.00!!!! Guess
how I feel?
The thing is,
the system you need will cost around $500.00. It’s called Pro
Tools LE, Mbox2. There are two parts to the Mbox2. You have your
software and hardware. Let’s have a look at it.
The hardware is
the connection between the real world and your software. With
the Mbox2 hardware you can plug in a microphone or other sound
source. It connects via a standard USB cable. This box also
gives you a headphone output, plus another output if you wish to
connect to speakers. This ability for monitoring your audio
properly is in itself worth gold.
As well as line
inputs (such as a CD player) you have two microphone inputs so
you can record two microphones at once. For instance you may do
an interview with a client or another therapist. These
microphone inputs also have what’s called ‘Phantom Power’. Some
microphones need a special power source, which is delivered via
the microphone cable. This allows you to purchase extremely good
microphones if you wish to which give exceptional audio quality.
The software is
essentially the same as we use on our High Definition system. In
fact to look at the screen they are exactly the same! (You can
actually record high definition if you wish as well) For
the purposes of the chill sessions, there is ample power to do
it all. You can have up to thirty-two tracks playing
consists of two main windows. The ‘edit’ window and the ‘mix’
window. The Edit window is where you can move, edit and
duplicate sound files. In the mix window we can assign various
effects (reverb, echo etc) and mix the volume of each track.
(This can also be done in the edit window).
Pro Tools is
very easy to install. It’s pretty much a ‘plug and play’ system.
They’ve been at this for a long time and they’ve got it right.
So will it do what you want for the chill sessions?
Absolutely and a whole lot more. I think the best thing about
this software is that it is the leader and has been for so long.
It’s here to stay. You can evolve with it.
You may be put
off by the pictures thinking it looks a bit technical. Believe
me, it is dead easy to use.
I admit I’m
biased towards Pro Tools. There are other systems (that we’ll
look at) that do much the same, some even more, but I’ve been
working with this software for so long and I can truly say that
it has rarely let me down. We have recorded hundreds of
thousands of hours of music, television shows and other areas
like theatre and corporate. The software keeps going and
delivers. You can get cheaper packages although remember, you
get the hardware with Pro Tools, and you’ll get used to whatever
you start with, but take my word for it. Pro Tools Rules!
We'll release a
'how to' video very shortly, to help you come to grips with this
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