Test Drive: Pacific Recorders & Engineering ADX Ensemble Digital Audio Workstation

THE MIXVIEW WINDOW

One very nice feature about the Ensemble is that it can be configured in many different ways to suit your particular tastes. For example, the eight tracks in the Mixview window can be displayed horizontally, like most digital multi-tracks, or the software can be configured to show the tracks in a vertical display that scrolls from the bottom during playback and record. For this review, we'll discuss things in the horizontal mode.

The Cues in the Mixview window appear as blocks with user-definable names on each block. You also have the option to display any or all Cues as waveforms. One complaint about many disk-based systems that display waveforms is the amount of time it takes to draw and redraw the waveforms. No complaints here. The graphics on this system are very high resolution and waveforms are drawn quickly.

There are two zoom icons in the upper left corner of the Mixview window. You can zoom out to see the entire project on the eight tracks, or zoom in for really close work. The entire project is also easily viewed on the smaller Mix Overview Bar above the track display. Cues are displayed as lines instead of blocks or waveforms, but they are distinct enough to see individual cues. Also, you can move anywhere within the project by placing the cursor at any point on this Mix Overview Bar and clicking once. The system locates to the new position and the screen updates almost instantly.

A timecode display is next to the zoom icons. This shows the position of the TimeLine, a vertical line that designates the current "tape" time or position of the "playback head." Below the timecode display is a small set of transport control icons. These are duplicated on the control panel and are seldom used unless you prefer using a mouse instead of dedicated buttons.

Each track has a set of Track Select function buttons (or icons) on the Mixview screen. You get Monitor Input, Solo, Mute, and Record Enable. Again, these are duplicated on the control panel and seldom used if you prefer using the control panel. Next to each set of buttons for tracks 1 and 2 are small level meters. These are the only level indicators on the system and are only on tracks 1 and 2 because those are your input channels. (The ADX Eight Multitrack System is the configuration that features eight input channels.) Two other buttons on each track of the Mixview window are the Track Playback Status button and Slave/Master button. Unless other gear is synced to the Ensemble, it will always be the master unit. The Track Playback Status button is used to tell the system whether or not to load that track into the RAM buffer for playback. By "turning off" unused tracks with these buttons, playback operations are sped up a bit.

RECORDING

The first step to making any recording is to open a project. The Ensemble uses the Macintosh file management format, so Mac users will feel right at home opening new project files or existing files. (Windows users will also get the hang of things quickly.)

New projects are started by creating a new "folder" for your Soundfiles. Name this folder whatever you want. Maybe it's the name of the client or the name of the promo. Each project folder can be stored into another folder. For example, all commercial project folders could reside in one folder titled "Commercials" and all promos in the "Promo" folder. Once the project folder is named, you are asked to name the Mixfile for the project or accept the default name. After this, system initialization takes place, and, after about 20 or 30 seconds, the Mixview window appears and you're ready to record. Click the Record Enable icon on the screen or press the Record Enable button on the control panel for track 1 if you're only recording a mono signal, or enable both tracks 1 and 2 if you're recording stereo. It doesn't matter if there's audio already on these tracks. You won't record "over" anything. An indicator shows how much recording time is left and counts this time down as you record. To begin recording, press RECORD on the control panel or click the icon on the screen. Recording begins immediately. If you press RECORD and PLAY simultaneously, the screen scrolls as you record to indicate how much time is passing. If you just press RECORD, "off-line" recording takes place and the screen remains stationary. You can place the cursor on a specific track and click once on that track; then, when you stop the recording, the Cue is placed on that track. When the recording is done, the Cue of the entire Soundfile is placed in the Mixview window and a default name is assigned to the Cue. This is a good time to rename the Cue if you prefer to have each Cue titled, such as "Music Bed," "Voice 1," "SFX," etc..

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