One of my resolutions for 2019 was to make more music and thus far it’s all going rather well. One of my new projects is with our very own Paul Drew of Studio One Expert. Paul and I have been working together on a couple of tracks with bass player Dan Hawkins and on a recent session, we had a true 21st Century production epiphany. We discovered a means of working together that is almost as good as being in the same room at the same time. Let me explain.
Listento by Audiomovers
Back in September 2017 Dan Cooper produced a review article here on Production Expert about a new service called Listento by Audiomovers. In the article Dan explained that this is a service that allows you to share your mix over the internet. Your clients receives a link to a Listento web page and they can hear the output of your DAW session. This got me thinking.
For one reason or another on this particular session date, Paul was not able to come over to my studio to help/produce me tracking the drums for our latest song. He had already send me the audio click track and backing track for me to play along with but, as I’m sure you will all agree there is nothing like being produced or coached into a better performance. “Have you tried X or Y on the bridge, or at bar 8 can you try Z”. This is the stuff that can turn a good performance into a great one. I’m totally happy to get on with it but I do believe in the power of many, not just the one.
Paul had agreed to a Skype call to go over what he felt the song required from the drum part and I would DropBox hims a rough mix of some of the better takes. That was the idea until I remembered Dan’s Listento review. I remember saying to Paul “Even though Listento is designed for mixing, why can’t we try it on a tracking session?”
I set up an Aux Bus in my Pro Tools session and did a quick Copy Automation To Send to get the same mix going to the new Aux Bus as was going to my main mix. I then installed the Listento plug-in on an insert in the Aux Bus. I copied the Link from the Listento plug-in and emailed this to Paul and it worked perfectly.
To improve the quality of the transmission I set the latency to 1 second as Paul was not to worried about tracking at his end, he just wanted to be able to give me feedback on my performance and 1 second of latency was really not an issue. Increasing the latency time improves the audio quality.
As it turns out, Listento is not bothered if your tracks are in record ready or input-monitor, it just routes whatever audio it is fed into it, over it’s streaming system. The quality is very good and perfectly adequate for our tracking use.
Paul and I kept a Skype call open so we could talk to one another between takes. I had to remember to mute my Skype mic so not to send really confusing things to Paul and he had to remember to mute his Skype mic so not to get an off putting slap-back, but this was a very minor inconvenience and did not spoil the flow of the session.
Now you might think this was incredibly obvious but to both Paul and I it was a very neat way of being able to work together on a track and Paul have real-time input into the way I was playing, just like we would have had if Paul had been in the room. Listento is very neat, clever and allowed us to get the job done. Yes, we still had to deal with moving audio files around and as we know there are lots of different ways to achieve this but that’s a purely technical problem. We think we could have solved the creative side of internet collaboration with Listento and Skype. What do you think?