Q It Up: What software purchases and/or upgrades have you or your station(s) made in the past year or so for your studio? This could include any software that you find useful in the studio for day-to-day business, such as archiving software or an organizational program; not just audio software. Please provide a brief description (for not so popular products), and give us your opinion of the new product(s) or upgrade(s). Tell us how you’re using the product(s) if that’s not obvious, and add any other relative comments you might have.
Donnie Marion [dmarion[at]104krbe .com], 104 KRBE, Houston, Texas: The one thing I find most useful is my basic version of Sound Forge XP Studio 5. Since so many commercials come to us in the digital fashion, this saves me tons of time!!!
1) I don’t have to convert the .mp3’s or .mp2’s or .wav’s. I click and they’re open. 2) It’s tons of basic tools; I can adjust the volume to make it louder, change the eq, compress, and the trick I find most useful is, I can fade it out at the end. (example: if the tag is not nearly as long as the tag bed). 3) It’s quicker to use Sound Forge than to convert in Pro Tools, plus I haven’t figured out how to convert .mp2’s in Pro Tools. But when I must use .mp2’s in a Pro Tools session, I go to Sound Forge.
We have a program called archive player that all the staff can use, for monitors, retrieving things from air etc. It’s helpful, when I have to monitor another station, I don’t have wake up early to start a tape or stop what I’m doing to start taping at a certain time.
These two are most helpful
Jerry Pulles [jpulles[at]mac.com], SBS, Los Angeles, California: In the past year we have installed iTunes in all of the production rooms. iTunes has a “sharing” option that lets you listen to audio in other users’ libraries (as long as you are on the same LAN), this is not only great for sharing music, but it’s perfect for SFX and Production music as well as hooks for callout research and archiving audio from the morning shows. Think about it, no more lost SFX CDs. Just rip your entire library into one computer and have access to it from all the studios! It has changed the way we do things around here.
Glenn Nobel [Glenn[at]NobelNOISE .com], NobelNOISE Audio Imaging: Probably my most useful purchase has been the Voxengo Elephant. It’s a VST limiter plug-in that I use a lot. You can totally crush a piece of audio with it, yet it still sounds natural. I also upgraded from Vegas to Samplitude7 for multi-track editing. It does more and it does it faster! For the office computer, since Outlook kept crashing, I got Eudora for email. It’s free and it works great! Now I’m migrating all the office stuff to a new Mac. Being the contrary sort, I’m using a Mac for office stuff and a PC for audio. Yep, I’m just backwards.
Craig Jackman [craigj[at]canada .com]: There are a couple of things I’ve stumbled across. Switching from a Classic Rock station to a Hot AC after 18 years, I’ve discovered that disco actually doesn’t suck, and I have to pay more attention to matching beats on the songs. For that I found DJ Beat Per Minute (http://www.sonicspot.com/djbpm/djbpm.html), which is freeware. To help with the effects that I add, I like to match delay times to tempo. I use DJ BPM to find the tempo and then a delay calculator to find what that is in milliseconds. It’ll even calculate 1/4th, 1/8th and dotted notes too (http://synthesis.fap7.com/dlycalc.htm). The last thing I’ve added has already been mentioned in RAP. When I’m stuck for an idea on how I’m going to modify a sound, iZotope Spectron has come through for me every time (http://www.izotope.com/products/audio/spectron/).
Ian Fish [Ian.Fish[at]chrysalis.com], 100.7 Heart FM: Well, the most used piece of software we’ve bought in the last year actually turned out to be the cheapest! An MP3/wav converter from audiotool.net! (http://www.audiotool .net/mp3converter/index.htm).
This lets us convert audio straight from the RCS cartwall mp2 format to wav so we can burn backup CDs and audio from Pro Tools to MP3 (at selectable quality) for sending out to clients. The cost of this software is £11.26.
Other software that I use heavily includes Microsoft Access, the database system that’s pretty common on most Windows Office systems. I’ve designed my own Access database that holds all the archive information for every voice session and piece of production I’ve made in the last five years. It’s fully searchable, so if I’m missing a word or phrase from a piece of production after a last minute change by the client, I can select the voice I want — just put in a search for the phrase and/or word and call up all the old voice sessions that contain the search term. You can imagine how much time (and additional session fees) that saves. I also designed my Access database to store music return information on each production. So when I’m asked for a PRS (music usage) report, I just type in the date range and hit print! I formatted the report printout to match the official forms, complete with logos!
Jeff Berlin [JBerlin[at]jberlin.com], Kiss108, Boston, Massachusettes: My best upgrade this past year: an iPod. 40GB. I use it to shuttle sessions between 3 different studios — a huge timesaver. Before, I’d migrate sessions by burning to disc. Of course, while traveling, I can use it to rock out to groovy tunes.
Johnny George [jg[at]johnnygeorge. com], Susquehanna, Indianapolis, Indiana: Over this past year, we have added larger audio drives to several of our workstations in production (80 gig etc.). However, we are in the process of determining costs of hardware and software to allow us to upgrade to Mac OSX and Pro Tools 6+ this next year. Obviously, due to the lack of support for our current software versions and Mac OS9, we need to make some decisions. Isn’t it fun dealing with budgets within a tight advertising outlook?