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Digidesign Session Multitrack Recording Software (part 6)

Once the audio is split up and the segments rearranged to perfection then the next step, assuming that you didn’t need to bounce tracks (which is perfectly possible in the digital domain) is mixing...

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Mixing

Once the audio is split up and the segments rearranged to perfection then the next step, assuming that you didn’t need to bounce tracks (which is perfectly possible in the digital domain) is mixing. Of course, the interest here is mainly in the automation and Figure 3 shows the relevant display. Automation can be performed by moving the faders and pan controls manually (fader grouping is possible - a very important feature) or by drawing an automation ‘curve’ directly onto the screen. Either way it works perfectly well, although I did notice a bit of audible jerkiness if I tried to move the mouse too quickly. Automation data can be edited and copied from one track to another so matching up a stereo pair isn’t a problem. However, I’m not sure that this is the utmost Digidesign (and others) can manage. The problem with creating an automation curve this way is what happens if you need to move the audio in time? The automation does not follow and you will have to take some trouble to move all the break points accurately to match the audio once more, even if you can adjust several break points at the same time. Segment and scene based automation are both incredibly useful techniques that should be incorporated in future versions of Session. Aside from this, the only real quibble I have about the automation is that if something has been recorded at too low a level, there is nothing you can do about it. A normalise function would have been the bare minimum, and it would take the provision of gain change of individual segments to make me totally happy.

The provision of a two band EQ on each Session track is a technological marvel (Fig 4). Don’t forget that everything you ask the computer to do in real time involves extra processing power. According to the range of numbers the software shows on the screen, the scope of the EQ is excellent and either of the two bands can be high or low pass filters, high or low shelf or parametric with gain, frequency and bandwidth controls. Having said that, looks can be deceiving. I tried Digital Performer v1.6 with an Audiomedia card and the same Digidesign Digital Audio Engine software, and although the EQ doesn’t look much different on the screen in terms of Hertz and decibels, it certainly sounds a good deal more powerful. In know that in this configuration only one EQ is possible per card, but I have to say that it is Digidesign’s figures that don’t seem to be corresponding to what I hear.

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By David Mellor Thursday April 27, 2006
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