Q It Up: When the digital world took over our radio production rooms, only Orban’s Audicy was created for “us”, and it had a good run (and continues to survive in many studios), but it is quickly becoming extinct. With the discontinuation of that DAW, we have all been left to work our craft on software programs designed primarily for music and video post production. What are your major complaints about these workstations? What would you like to see in the way of improvements to make them more “radio” friendly? If you could talk to the programmers of Pro Tools, Adobe Audition, Sony Vegas and the others, and could have anything you wanted, what modifications would you ask for?
Dave Cruickshank [dave[at]border rock.com], 106.1 The Goat: I must be far too young for this question. I went from ½-inch 4-track tape, almost directly to Pro-Tools (albeit Pro-Tools 3... yowch!). I haven’t had the ‘pleasure’(?) of sampling Orban, although I’ve tasted DCI, Sadie, SAW, Cool Edit/Audition and Pro Tools... but have used none but the latter in day-to-day production.
I can’t think of MUCH I would ask Digidesign to change about Pro-Tools. Every complaint I’ve ever had (streamlining, adding auto-save, etc...) they’ve added in the next version.
I guess my BIGGEST all-around complaint about Pro Tools is the fact that it ‘bounces’ the full mix to MP3 or .WAV in real time. Other programs create a full-mixdown much faster. In an industry where MP3 rules, and I make a LOT of them (especially when they’re over an hour of audio), it’s a real pain to have to sit there and bounce the audio down in real time, although it DOES give you a chance to have a final listen to your mix (and of course, when you hear an over-looked editing mistake around minute 50, and have to start all over again... you’re almost glad for it! …Almost).
Gary Michaels [michaels[at]wask.com], WASK, WKOA, WKHY, WXXB, WKHY, WXXB, ESPN Radio, Lafayette, Indiana: We use Vegas and Acid. I’ve tried other software but find either of these to be simple and easy to understand. I’ve always said that if Sony could merge some the assets I like into one program, extreme sweetness would result — which they did with Acid 6.0 to some extent. There are still functions I’d love to see merged. Vegas would be my ideal software if, a) you could save a project including all audio into one simple zip file like Acid does; and b) customize the timeline on the tracks like Acid. Acid would be ideal if, a) you could simply drag audio clips from one track to another as you can with Vegas. Acid is our preferred application as you can save everything in a project in one zip file in each production person’s folder. If that could be done with Vegas, it would be our preferred application.
Johnny George [vo[at]johnnygeorge .com], Johnny George Voiceovers: Good question. I’ve discussed this with the Digidesign people in 1995, but they seem to think it was not important enough to work on a solution.
We had an Orban 2000 or whatever it was called in 1994 as a demo. I couldn’t stand it. When we got the option to give it to our sister station and got to try another DWS, we got the chance to try the ADX from Pacific Recorders. What a fun, cool unit. Scott, the Prod. Dir. was quite appreciative to get the Orban and used it effectively for years to come.
The ADX was one of the first automated/MIDI units that you could program the volume, etc. However, my favorite feature was the ability to capture “scenes” by mousing a complete group of audio file wave lengths on screen and saving it in a complete form by naming it accordingly. That way, some of your sweepers or promos that had simple changes with updates could be saved in your audio bin as a complete production, and drag & dropped when needed as a working template. It was wonderful.
Hey Digidesign, are you listening? ...this time?
Sterling Tarrant [Sterling.Tarrant[at] fotf.org], Focus on the Family: Wow - great question! I was just going through a lot of old RAP Magazines and scanning in the old Q It Up columns from when I first started writing it. I also noticed that I was on the RAP Network for sharing tips with other DSE7000 users (the precursor to the Audicy). As someone who’s used Pro Tools for years, the thing I miss most about those old machines were the dedicated controllers, the way the scrub wheel worked, and the way the DSE fast forwarded and rewinded just like a tape machine. And even though I can choose my edit points on the fly on Pro Tools, I still miss those old Source In, Source Out, Destination In and Destination Out buttons. Those were always the first to wear out. I always had spares! The other thing, when I came to my current workplace almost 10 years ago and we were using Sonic Solutions, I thought it was pretty stupid to have to edit using commands from a menu. Those old machines were truly intuitive to the way my old Tascam 2, 4, and 8-track tape decks worked. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!
Craig Jackman [craigj[at]canada.com], Rogers Media, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: A hardware controller that a) worked, without the use of ritualistic dances and incantations in an unknown language, b) didn’t cost more than my first car, and c) didn’t require an advanced degree in quantum mechanical theories to program to use. What else? How about customer support that actually supports the customer? A manual (a software version would be fine) that actually teaches you as it solves your problem. See the difference between the Syntrillium CEP 1.2 manual and the Adobe Audition 2.0 manual for what I mean.
Cooper Fox [fox893[at]yahoo.com]: We use CE Pro 2/Adobe here at Mt. Washington Radio. Honestly, I believe it works very, very well. The only thing I could ask for is actually on the music production side. The whole world, including Hot AC, is going rhythmic. Much of the imaging I produce includes beat matched music samples. I often use Sonic Foundry’s Acid 4.0 to beat match tracks. It’d be nice if I did not have to do that, if Adobe had that feature built in. Also, an inclusive, royalty free, music production program like the one that Macs come with (Garage Band??) would be nice.
Andrew Frame [andrew[at]bafsound works.com], Brandi & Andrew Frame SoundWorks, Lehigh Acres, Florida: Cross platform versions, and a solid replacement contender for Cool Edit Pro.
I have used Cool Edit Pro since early on, after transitioning from Pro Tools, SAWPlus, and the Orban DSE7000FX. I have not “upgraded” to Adobe Audition, since I don’t see what has “upgraded” to warrant the price. Now I see Adobe is rolling Audition into a larger video editing suite, shoving audio shops like ours to the side.
CEP is an excellent piece of software for radio production, IMHO the best on or off the market. We built our entire production company off me and Cool Edit Pro 2.1.
Unfortunately, it only runs on Windows. A Mac version would be nice. Not everyone that uses Apple wants to use Pro Tools, especially for radio production. We’re not making Madonna’s next CD here, just laying in a dozen or so tracks to make her next concert spot. (I’m not dissing those that run Digital Director/Composer.)
If Open Source audio applications like Audacity (two-track) and Ardour (multi-track) can run on Windows, Mac, and Linux, why can’t the commercial applications do the same?
(Side note: For an interesting experience, check out 64Studio, a Debian based Linux distribution, that is specifically geared towards the audio producer. Editors, recorders, drum machines, CD/DVD apps... you name it... all open source, and all quite powerful in the hands of a good user.)
Derek Shetterly [wbproductions[at] charter.net], Wooly Bugger Productions, Medford, Oregon: I suppose I’m stuck in the past, but I learned on SAW Classic in 1995, and use SAW-Pro today almost exclusively, with DSP-FX Plugins. I’ve only recently begun to learn Adobe Audition, which I really like, especially for the effects. But when I want to get something done fast, I turn to SAW-Pro. And I don’t really have any suggestions for Bob Lentini and his crew; I think they did a great job, and the tech support has been tremendous the few times that I did have a problem. I haven’t tried SAW Studio as it’s overkill for the kind of mixing that I do.
As for AA, I wish they’d come out with a tutorial that starts with the basics and works up from there. The only one I’ve seen assumes that the viewer already has a pretty good working knowledge of the software.
Drake Donovan [drake[at]drake donovan.com], Drake Donovan Productions, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: I was just reading Part 1 of the “Q It Up” question on DAWs, and I noticed that the majority of complaints were about Pro Tools and Audition. I’m a diehard Sony Vegas user myself. My one and only complaint about the software is that when you select “Render As” you’re met with 19 different file types. One of the options is even for Scott Studios Wave, allowing you to save info on the spot/promo as you save it to wave. This would be great if we were a Scott Studios facility, but use Broadcast Electronics’ Audiovault. It would be a tremendous time saver if Sony and BE got together to include that as an option allowing Vegas/AV users to input Title/Description/Start-Kill Dates as we’re saving the individual files. Instead, I have to navigate AV and input all of that stuff in later.
Laurent Boulet [kiwi[at]choiradiox .com], Radio-X: A plugin for a Cappucino with a USB 2.0 hot milk dispenser... Well you said anything we wanted right?