Digidesign Session Multitrack Recording Software (part 8)
Theres always someone who want his software to do something slightly crazy (me!). In this case its getting it to synchronise with a multitrack recorder. Other softwares of this type provide continuous resynchronisation either on playback only or on record and play. Continuous resynchronisation on record and play is necessary to be absolutely sure that hard disk and multitrack will always be in step, at the cost of a slight risk to audio quality. Session offers only trigger sync which means that it finds the right place then the two machines go their own sweet ways. In theory even two digital machines will drift due to slight differences in their clock rates. However, I tested Session with my Fostex RD-8 ADAT and sync is as near perfect as makes hardly any difference at all. I couldnt guarantee that it will be the same for you, I might just have been lucky, so make sure you check Session out with your own equipment if accurate synchronisation to multitrack is important to you.
Are all Power Macintoshes created equal?
Check this out with your local Mac guru, but it has been brought to my attention that not all Power Macintoshes have 16 bit audio capability. The internal CD-ROM may do 16 bits, but the part of the computer we are interested in is only 8 bit. This doesnt sound very promising for would-be Session owners so, seeing as the Mac range changes so frequently, my advice as always is to check that the whole system will work the way you want it to before you part with any cash.
Although not strictly relevant to this review, you may be interested in a little problem I had when I installed Session. I allowed the installer to place Session and its associated files on my hard disk automatically and everything worked fine straight away. A couple of days later I wanted to use another hard disk recording package on my computer and found that when I tried to create a new file I got a Mac OS error which sounded pretty grim. I did the normal things like rebuilding the desktop and running Norton Utilities with no joy. I also ran Apple Personal Diagnostics which reported a System error, even after I reinstalled the System files from scratch. The only answer, I thought, was to reformat my hard disk which involved painstakingly removing all the installs of the copy protected software I use (and I nearly missed one!). Amazingly, the problem persisted. Of course I should have realised but the nature of the error message threw me off the track. The Session installer had quite legitimately replaced my Digisystem INIT file with the latest version, which just happened to be incompatible with my other disk recording software. The solution to the problem, I feel, is always to make a copy of the Extensions folder when installing new software, and wait a few days until you are sure that all your existing software runs okay before trashing it. That way you can always get back to square one easily if you need to.