Welcome to Pro Tools Expert a huge community for users of Avid Pro Tools for both music and post production. With over 3 million visits a year, we’ve grown to be the place to come for training, resources, tips tricks and news. We offer advice for users of all versions of Pro Tools both current and legacy formats. We’re independent and are not affiliated with Avid or their associated companies.
Real World Studios in the UK have a job for an Assistant Engineer. They write…
A rare opportunity has arisen to join the Studio team at Real World Studios as an Assistant Engineer, with the possibility of solo engineering opportunities for the person with the rights skills and experience.
Unsigned band, Electric Litany weren’t expecting any response when they sent their first album to one of their musical heroes, Alan Parsons, the engineer behind some of the most celebrated albums of the 20th Century, including the Beatles’ Abbey Road and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, but much to their surprise Alan himself skyped them to say he liked their ethereal, melancholic sound and wanted to help them. The problem was they were 5,500 miles apart and the band didn’t have the money to travel. Richard Simic, the band’s drummer and co-founder.
“The only problem was that Alan was in Santa Barbara and going over to his studio to record our second album would have cost us about $100,000 [£60,000]. That was money we just didn’t have. Alan suggested we record the album in the UK and he would help us using some kind of real-time remote recording software,”
While the band was setting up their equipment at Foel Studio in mid-Wales - a recording venue for bands as diverse as the Stranglers, Scritti Politti and Klaxons - Alan Parsons was monitoring proceedings from Santa Barbara via tablet computer video link, advising on microphone positions, instrument choices using Source-Connect. Richard Simic was delighted…
“It was like he was in the studio with us, getting live feedback was invaluable.”
Rebekah Wilson who founded Source Elements, the company behind the Source-Connect, told us…
“What is unique about our software is that we restore and replace any missing digital packets of data automatically, so there is no disruption to the timeline. This gives the sense of near real-time, live recording.”
As we demonstrated exclusively here at Pro Tools Expert, Source Elements is also rolling out a simple Chrome browser-based version of its software, Source-Connect Now enabling musicians and voice-over artists to record and share high-quality audio very simply. Rebekah told us that monthly subscription costs will eventually be about $10, which will make remote collaboration accessible to everyone.
Mike Phirman contacted us with a shortcut and editing time saver he wanted to share with the community…
Hey fellas, just listening to the “favorite shortcuts” section in podcast 104, and I have two tips that I thought I’d throw in. One’s a proper keyboard shortcut; the other is a vocal-editing time-saver technique thing.
The keyboard shortcut I love most these days is this: clicking inside a track with the alt key down will place a pre-roll marker and engage pre-roll. Really handy when doing a punch-in. Click where you want to start recording, alt+click where you want the playback to start, and Booooooooooom.
The editing tip is this: when I’m editing vocal takes together, I’ve found that the best places to blend from one take to another are on “ess”es and “eff”s, and “emm”s. (S’s, F”s, and M’s) May sound obvious, but as soon as I noticed that, it gave me a jump on getting invisible edits a bit more quickly.
Thanks for everything. You guys are the best. PS. I listen to the show so often, my inner-voice now has a cool British accent.
Mike says - I didn’t know about the pre-roll shortcut, if you have the cursor at the drop in point and then hold down the Alt key and click at the point you would like pre-roll to start then as Mike says, it sets and enables the pre-roll. I regularly edit in mid word as it often produces a more natural sound because in speaking we often run words together and so by editing at the beginning of a word we may be cutting through the transition from one word to the next where as with a hard consonant in the middle of a word gives a good clear reliable edge to edit to.
Look at what we found out about at BVE in London. Avid have qualified Sonnet’s Thunderbolt 2 expansion chassis range for use with Pro Tools HD Native and most importantly Pro Tools HDX. We will bring you more details as we get them but we saw both the rack mount version on the HHB stand and the desktop version on the Holdan stand who are UK distributors for Sonnet.
Sonnet claim they are whisper quiet, which was hard to verify scientifically on a noisy trade show floor but Mike had to put his ear very close to the desktop version to hear anything at all and was very impressed with what he didn’t hear! They use big slow spinning fans and have plenty of natural ventilation all of which will help to make sure they are as quiet as possible.
Our friends at HHB are very impressed too, they feel this is the solution that we have been looking for. We are arranging to get a chassis for review as soon as we can arrange it so we can check it out in much more controlled conditions.
The Echo Express II will take 2 cards and is good for an HD Native system and other half length cards, and the Echo Express III can take up to 3 full length cards and is good for 3 HDX cards which would be a monster system. The rack mount Echo Express III also has two 5.25” bays that can put a range of options into including fitting 4 SSD drives into one bay and with the price of SSD drives dropping this again makes for a very powerful and versatile unit to use with all the contemporary Mac computers.
Our friends at HHB/Scrub announced several new products at BVE in London. The first is Nugen Audio’s MultiMonitor, which is a software application that provides up to 16 individual loudness and true-peak meters to monitor mono, stereo, and 5.1 formats for up to 96 individual audio channels. This standalone software is available for both PC and Mac and provides flexible, real-time monitoring in full compliance with global loudness regulations and standards. This rings the software meter into the live environment and also provide a compact solution in transmission control areas. Jon Schorah, Founder and Creative Director at Nugen Audio told us…
Broadcasters throughout Europe are grappling with loudness compliance, which includes understanding where and how to integrate loudness tools in the broadcast chain.
In addition at HHB unveiled the debut of three new additions to TC Electronic’s broadcast sound product range.
Reverb 8 for System 6000 offers up to 16 reverb output channels and is capable of feeding any input signal, from mono to stereo, and 5.1 or 7.1. It can also deliver an infinite number of output channels, making it perfectly suited for Dolby Atmos (up to 62.2 surround), Barco Auro (11.1 surround) or NHK’s multichannel broadcast format Super Hi-Vision (22.2 surround). Multiple System 6000 MKII frames can be linked in a network, offering reverb for virtually any channel-count.
The addition of 16 channels of unbalanced AES I/O to the DB6 Loudness Management Processor means that broadcasters have the tools to pass an entire SDI signal through a loudness management system, or to route only the audio signal through an insert point in their system. This is in addition to DB6’s state-of-the-art upconversion, downmix and lip sync.
The LQL (Loudness Quality Logger) program, designed by RTW as a tool for logging, true-peak data analysis and reporting, is now also compatible with the TC Electronic TM7 and TM9 TouchMonitors and is now available as a free download for customers with a logging licence.
Russ, Mike, Neil & James bring you another packed show of talking points, tips, tricks and questions answered.
- Win a Elysia 500 series X-Filter 500 module on Facebook
- New prize draw - Win A Copy Of BFD3 From FXpansion
- PPMulator XL From Zplane available again- £69
- Iosono AnyMix Pro Surround Panner & Upmixing Plug-in £139 - 33% Off
- EdiPrompt From Sound In Sync For Your ADR Sessions £259 - 40% Discount
- Raft of upgrades and new AAX plug-ins
- Soundtoys Microshift
- Xfer Records Nerve 1.1
- UA release v7.5
- Exponential Audio release v2 of Pheonixverb and R2
- Flux Dynamic Tools now v3
- IK Multimedia ARC 2
- Possible Workaround For Video Problems In Pro Tools 11
- Do Windows Users Get Worse Support Than Mac Users From Audio Companies? Poll
- Revoice Pro 2.3 Beta
- Dealer support and service
- Alan Watson - tip on using tape emulator plug-ins
- Sonnox respond question in Podcast 104
- Liz Scott - Thank you for my Audient iD 22 prize
- Carten Groa - great video on recreating Sargent Pepper album on You Tube
- Mark Holloway - Thanks for the support of Steve Duda and Xfer Records
- Tim Hudson - Help on integrating outboard hardware with Pro Tools 11 native
- William Johnson - possible issue with entering the BFD prize draw
- Jack Priode - help with I/O setup window in Pro Tools
- How to resolve Pro Tools taking a long time to boot
- Issues with delay compensation and T-Racks 3
- Can you install Pro Tools on a Mac and a PC at the same time?
- Are PCIe flash storage drives or Apple Fusion Drives good with Pro Tools?
- Issues with a Rain PC computer and an Akai max 25 midi controller
- How to the clocks in the lower cost interfaces compare toy high end high quality external clock units
Friend of the blog and Pro Tools guru Kenny Gioia has released a new Groove 3 title, Pro Tools Signal Flow Explained.
There’s no short measures with this video series with over 48 video tutials covering every aspect of signal flow in Pro Tools. In the words of Groove 3;
Kenny starts with the basics of signal flow using diagrams and pictures so you can easily understand the concepts. Next, Kenny reveals the sometimes puzzling I/O Set Up Window and explains each section in detail as well as how to route, name and organize your inputs, outputs, busses, inserts and more.
Track Types is next on the menu and Kenny serves up complete understanding of all the different track types and their uses. Setting up to record is then looked at so you’ll know exactly how to name tracks, prepare inputs, enable tracks to record, setting the right level to avoid clipping and overloads, all the different record modes and how / when to use them, as well as the different monitoring modes.
Kenny now goes deeper showing you all things MIDI, such as MIDI Setup, Input Devices and MIDI Thru, MIDI input Filters, Wait For Note Recording, Click Tracks, MIDI Merge, Real-Time Properties for non-destructive editing, Input Quantize, using Multiple MIDI Tracks, Punching MIDI, and Loop Recording MIDI.
If that wasn’t enough, Kenny goes even further with awesome videos on Mixing techniques utilizing Hardware Inputs, FX Sends & Returns (both Hardware & Software), FX Sharing, Parallel Compression, Master Faders, Submixing, Headphone Mixes and much, much more. Kenny wraps up this detailed series with advanced Insert & Sends videos, Pre and Post Headphone Mixes, Printing Stems and Sidechain Compression techniques.
If you really want to master the ins and outs of Pro Tools, there is no better way than to watch this series… Get “Pro Tools Signal Flow Explained” today.
Source: Groove 3
Another excellent video from our partners at Lynda. Skye Lewin explains nondestructive editing in Pro Tools.
Exponential Audio want to celebrate and in doing so offer everyone the chance to get in on the action. They have announced a Celebration Sale, in their words;
There are lots of things to celebrate at Exponential Audio:
- The rollout of Version 2 of PhoenixVerb and R2. A new GUI, new features and new presets.
- The release of V1.0.1 of PhoenixVerb Surround and R2 Surround with tweaks, fixes and new presets.
- The nomination of PhoenixVerb for a technical achievement award by the Cinema Audio Society (CAS). These are the mixers that make films and television shows seen around the world.
Everything in the Exponential Store will be 30% offfrom February 24 until March 10. The sale begins at 7:00 AM Pacific Time (USA, Los Angeles) on February 24 and ends at 7:00 on March 10. Your local time may be different, so be sure to check so that you don’t miss it.
The gang at Boz Digital Labs have released a FREE plug-in Bark of Dog which is simply a low Pass Filter with Resonance.
However, when we say ‘simply’ that is not to imply it has lttle effect, in facts this cool little plug-in can add so much energy to the low end of a track it should perhaps be called Balls Of Dog!
They say; Bark of Dog is a bass resonance filter that lets you increase your low end without turning up the flab. I like to think of it as a way to boost the low end while still keeping it under control. While the controls are super simple, the effect that this has on controlling the low end in a mix is pretty exciting.
We’ve just had a quick try of it and it is indeed a very useful little plug-in that had a multitude of uses, it can be used in gentle ways or can do some serious damage if you are that way inclined.
Bark of Dog is AAX, RTAS VST and AU for both Mac and Windows.
Here is another community tip, this time from Anthony Dominello, aka ‘The Proposal Guy’. You may remember that Anthony proposed to his girlfriend back in Podcast 80 and she said yes. Anyway back to the tip Anthony has sent in….
I had an experience that maybe others have had, but it was the result of a desperation move for me. I recently cleaned and edited an interview for a podcast I do the mixing on. After removing a considerable amount of background noise and ambient reverb from the interviewee’s side, his voice was clean but sounded quite muffled. I spent quite some time playing with various settings to fix this during the cleanup process, but to no avail. I’m not primarily an audio post guy so maybe someone more experienced wouldn’t have had this issue, but I did. After the cleanup EQ wasn’t working to fix the issue since it’s obviously impossible to boost something that isn’t there.
In desperation, I put a harmonic exciter on to upper end of the interviewee’s voice and to my surprise it worked. The interview itself was recorded over Skype at 16kHz sampling rate, so the quality wasn’t fantastic to begin with, but the slight bit of excitement had the same effect it would have had in a song and brought the interviewee’s voice out so it didn’t have to be pushed so hard in the mix to be understandable. I hope this helps someone, and thanks for all your great work and help!
Mike says - Yes that is a trick I had forgotten about, I have used it in the past and it is great for adding top end where there isn’t any because the exciter creates new harmonics based on existing content lower down in the frequency range. As Anthony found EQ doesn’t work because there isn’t anything to boost.
Session File Backups are one of several tools we can use to get back something we lost, usually as the result of finger trouble as we discussed recently. In this community tip Trond Nedberg explains how he uses Session File Backups…
When the moment comes that you realize you’ve screwed up some editing on a track, the Session File Backup is a lifesaver. Only problem is if you have to go back to a Session File Backup that was saved 30 minutes ago, you usually loose a lot of other work to get one problem fixed. A smoother way to fix things is to use Import Session Data from the Session File Backup (just drag and drop the Session File Backup in the edit-window). This way you can choose to import only the audio from the one track in question (do a duplicate playlist first for safety), only the plug-in-settings, only the automation etc. No other tracks are affected.
Mike says - The number of times Session File Backup has saved my life, or my clients lives, is enormous. It is so easy to do something like drag some audio out of the clip list and drop it on the time line and not realise what has happened until way after you have passed what is in the undo queue. My solution is slightly different to Trond’s in that I would open the Session File Backup session and move the bits I need onto a dedicated track called Export. Then when I use Import Session Data I only import that ‘Export’ track, which means I only have the bits I need to fix the problem.
Flux have updated their range of Dynamics Tools, The Pure Series; Pure Compressor, Expander, DCompressor, DExpander to v3 and they now support 64-bit and AAX Native and DSP.
In addition, the following bundles are now also available in 64-bit and AAX;
- Elemental Pack,
- Pure Pack
- Recording Pack
All of which means they can now on be used on all major native platforms (AU/VST/AAX Native) in both 32 and 64 bits, as well as on the AVID HD-X AAX DSP platform with Pro Tools 11 in 64-bit.
There’s been a few recent announcements for both new audio hardware and software that have caused some Windows users to suggest that some audio companies are not giving Windows users the same treatment that Mac users get.
Product development is complex and at first hand it can seem that Mac users might be getting a better deal than Windows users from some audio companies.
Is this the case? Are there instances where Mac users have not been supported where Windows users have? Are there plug-ins that are Windows only, or have inferior support in their Mac format?
What do you think? Do Windows users have a fair case? Is it the fault of the OS developers, do Apple make development easier? Are you are developer who works on both platforms, perhaps you can give your thoughts on this.
Take a moment to complete the poll and then of course use the comments to add your voice to this debate.
IK Multimedia have announced that their room correction software ARC has now been released in AAX.
ARC 2.2 now features the following changes;
• 64 bit AAX compatibility with Avid Pro Tools 11
• Added compatibility with T-‐RackS 4.5
• General reliability improvements
Pro Tools offers a number of different ways to add effects, one could say plug-ins but sometimes the term plug-in is not entirely accurate. Depending on the way the plug-ins or process is applied in can affect the results and also effect the load on you computer and your Pro Tools session.
Using Plug-ins As Channel Inserts
Perhaps the most common way people use audio processing in Pro Tools is as plug-ins as inserts, this means the plug-in is applied to the channel the audio is playing through. A number of things to note when using plug-ins on an individual channel;
- Plug-ins work live and make no changes to the audio file that passes through them.
- Each plug-in used takes up processing power, either DSP power on a Pro Tools HD system or the computer’s processing (native power) on a native Pro Tools system.
- Some third party plug-ins such as UAD use their own processing either on a PCI card or attached via FireWire or Thunderbolt. Each plug-in you insert will use up that power.
- Plug-ins work in serial, meaning that the audio cascades though each plug-in and is processed. This means for example that if you add a compressor in the first insert and an EQ in the second insert then the EQ is processing the signal as it has passed through the compressor.
- Inserts are pre fader on audio, aux, and instrument tracks, but post fader on a Master track.
- Inserts applied to tracks are not recorded as part of the audio. If you want to record audio with effects then you need to buss the audio out to another audio track and record it with effects applied.
- Virtual Instruments only work as inserts.
As a rule of thumb most insert plug-ins are used for processes involving EQ or Dynamics or track specific effects and when you need to process your audio in serial.
Another benefit of using insert based plug-ins is that live automation can be applied during the mix.
Using Plug-ins On Busses
A second way to use plug-ins as inserts is to use them on an AUX channel and then send the audio to that channel for processing, this offers two benefits.
- Using plug-ins on an AUX allows the user the opportunity to send audio from several channels. This is often the case when using a reverb, where the effect may be sent from many channels at the same time. This means one reverb can be used rather than many reverbs on each channel - this will of course reduce processing load.
- Plug-ins can be used to process the audio in parallel, this is a common trick on drums and vocals when using compressors. Parallel compression offers the opportunity to process the audio in a way not possible using inserts in serial, allowing the user to mix both the clean and compressed audio. Watch this free Pro Tools tutorial on using parallel compression in Pro Tools. Some plug-ins offer the chance to mix the orginal signal with the compressed signal, but even if the plug-in you use doesn’t offer mixing you can use the method shown in the video.
Using AudioSuite Processing
AudioSuite processing is an offline process that makes changes to the audio file. A process can be auditioned and then once the user is happy with the process this can be rendered to the audio. However have no fear of doing irreparable damage to your audio, Pro Tools retains the original unprocessed audio should you wish to return to it, find out more about dealing with this here. Common uses for AudioSuite processing are;
- Changes to gain (less used since the introduction of clip gain in Pro Tools)
- Audio repair, such as denoising, declipping or de-hum.
- Processor intense effects such as de-breath or vocal alignment.
Some Pro Tools users seldom use AudioSuite processing, yet AudioSuite can be a powerful tool, it offers processing that is not always possible in real-time, due to power constraints or the process being so intensive it creates latency so high that makes the process almost unusable. Watch this video on using the Normalize function as an AudioSuite process.
Using Standalone Audio Processing
Many manufacturers offer their audio processing as both standalone and also as an AudioSuite process. Often the standalone version offers more features and better results, two products in question are iZotope RX and Synchro Arts Revoice Pro 2.3, both have far superior features as standalone versions. The great news is that both products offer the option to process in Pro Tools, RX3 offers both real-time and AudioSuite processing, Revoice Pro 2.3 offers AudioSuite versions.
Knowing how to process audio can make a world of difference, it will change the sound you achieve, the quality of that sound and also maximise the efficiency of your sessions.
Russ checks out the updated AAX version of Nerve Drum VI from Xfer Records. Does this drum virtual instrument on steroids offer anything extra for those looking to make beats? Find out what Russ thinks in this extended video review.
In part 1 we heard that Paul Sinkovich had told us about a free app - MXF4mac Player from Hamburg Pro Media, which will open and play nearly any flavour of MXF files, even in full screen. It will open most MXF variations. It supports XDCAM HD, AVC-Intra, DNxHD, HDV, Uncompressed SD/HD, Uncompressed Avid 10 bit, DVC-Pro HD, IMX-D10,DV, Meridien, Sony Proxy and more and it is compatible to QuickTime movies and other formats (e.g. .mp4, .mov, .avi, .m4v, .wav, .aif, .aiff).
However the free MXF4mac Player on is own isn’t enough, you need to buy an ‘in app’ purchase (Avid take note) called TC Sync which then allows you through MIDI Time Code (MTC) and MIDI Machine Control (MMC) to sync Pro Tools and the MXF4mac Player together so that you aren’t asking Pro Tools to handle the video and in this part Paul is going to explain and demonstrate with the video above how he uses MXF4macPlayer with TC Sync, over to you Paul.
I’m late to the 500 series party, when I say late I mean really late. For those too young to remember the 500 series appeared at the end of the 1970s, but they made a resurgence as a popular studio format in recent years, but the 500 series format still did not tempt me to dive in. However when a company like Maag Audio offer a pre amp packed with features and with their AIR band included then a rethink is in order.
There are certain actors who could paint a wall and I would watch - I just love what they do. Having both used the Maag EQ4 plug-in and spent some time with Cliff Maag Sr., I can say the same for Maag Audio gear - I just love the sound and the man - so I’m declaring an interest at the start of this review, he also bought me a beer at NAMM so as far as I’m concerned he’s a friend for life!
But friend or not, does the Maag PREQ4 really deliver the goods as a pre-amp?
The Maag PREQ4 comes packed in what seems like a custom designed box that offers it the kind of protection usually given to a computer hard drive, although to be frank the build quality of the Maag hardware is so good I’m guessing they could send them around the world in a Jiffy bag and still have them arrive in one piece. It does beg the question… will it blend? I think not!
The PREQ4 (500 Series) is a one channel microphone pre amplifier with AIR BAND® (shelf boost from 2.5 to 40kHz via VARI AIR™), compatible with the API 500-6B lunchbox® and 500VPR rack systems.
The PREQ4® offers the AIR BAND®, 65dB adjustable gain, phase reverse capability, 70Hz high pass filter, +48V phantom power, and -20dB PAD.
I decided to test the PREQ4 with both voice and acoustic guitar and to use the Shure SM7 as my test microphone - partly because the SM7 requires a serious amount of gain - about 60db. The SM7 is the mic of legends, used by Quincy Jones to record most of Michael Jackson’s vocals on Thriller and the voice of Vincent Price too! Legend or not, finding a pre-amp to make this baby sing has filled the pages of many of forum.
The guitar, a Taylor 414 which I’ve owned for about a decade, it offers a balance of tone that makes recording it easy and to be frank if you put a decent condenser on it then you could put it through a $5 pre-amp and it would sound great.
The voice, mine. Which has a nasal quality that can be difficult to get right when tracking, so there’s no better (or worse) voice to throw at the Maag PREQ4 to see what it can do.
The guitar was the first thing to record - the mic was placed around 12” from the front just at the bottom of the neck, this allowed for me to get a nice warm sound without too much excessive boom from the sound hole. Engaging the hi-pass filter also helped to keep the low end under control, the knee starts @ 160 Hz and is –3 dB @ 70 Hz. I decided to add some AIR too, which may not be as required when using a condenser mic, but with the SM7 it was a welcome addition to the sound, I selected 5Khz with about 4db of boost. The sound was clean and smooth, allowing the guitar to breath without sound too hyped.
Then on to the greatest challenge - my voice. The settings were much the same, the HP filter remained in to deal with any low end but with the AIR Band pushed up to 20Khz to give my nasal voice breath without it honking like duck - I decided to leave compression until the mix.
Seldom am I happy with the sound of my own voice (irrespective of what my wife says!) but the PREQ4 is one of the few pre-amps I’ve used that actually achieved what I hoped for - I think the combination of the quality of the pre-amp coupled with the AIR Band was the winner here for me.
The guitar sound was also pleasing - offering clarity without a harsh top end and enough body to ensure it wasn’t too thin, the HP filter also stopped any boominess giving a nice balanced guitar sound that would be at home in rock, pop or country.
A cursory glance on any 500 series dealer site and you’ll find just shy of one hundred 500 Series Mic Pre Amps, with everything from Neve, BAE and LaChapell tube based units right down to much cheaper brands at a few hundred dollars. Choosing a mic pre is a very personal thing, a lot has to do with what sound you like and what you need it to do.
As I said at the start of this review, I love what Maag Audio do, so this Pre Amp would have had to have been very bad for me not to like it. Unsurprisingly the Maag PREQ4 is very good, both in terms of build and sound. In the short time I’ve spent trying it out I feel sure that this will be a pre-amp I’ll be using most of the time - it makes my voice sound good - that in itself is a minor miracle.
If you are looking to join the world of 500 series or the owner of a 500 series rack with some spare slots, or someone looking for a high quality pre-amp, then the Maag PREQ4 should be on your short list. It’s not the cheapest pre-amp you can buy but neither is it the most expensive by a long shot, but this $849 pre-amp with its complete feature set, as well as their legendary AIR band is a something that’s not leaving this studio anytime soon.
The transparency of the Maag PREQ4 helps me to get a great sound with the minimum of fuss, BUT the AIR Band can then help me add that magic shine. It’s great to have both options in one unit and not many other units offer this. Last time I saw Cliff Maag Sr. he bought the beer - next time the beer is on me!