Test Drive: Samplitude Studio 4.0 Digital Multitracking Studio from SEK'D America

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Projects, Objects, and Virtuosity

In Samplitude Studio, everything is a project. A single sound file is a project, and an entire multitrack production is a project. There are three types of projects. When you record a soundfile, you are creating an HDP or Hard Disk Project. Samplitude Studio also gives you the option to record the soundfile directly to RAM rather than on the hard drive. This enables faster editing and processing of the file because it is in RAM, but you must make sure you have plenty of RAM to avoid system crashes. This type of soundfile is called a RAP or RAM Project. (We like the acronym!) When these individual soundfiles or “projects” are pasted onto the multitrack screen, the multitrack production becomes a VIP or Virtual Project.

There are numerous dialogue windows for the various functions of the program, but for the most part, the main windows to deal with are the Virtual Project Window, the Physical Audio Data Window, and the Mixer Window. As mentioned, the Virtual Project Window is where the multitrack work is done. Virtual Projects (VIPs) can be created with preset configurations or custom configurations of stereo or mono tracks. For example, you can create a VIP with 8 stereo tracks or one with 16 mono tracks or one with 100 stereo tracks, etc.. Additional tracks can be added to or deleted from a project at any time.

The VIP screen can be configured in a number of ways, showing any combination of the various tool bars and displays available. There are zoom in/out functions for filling up the window with a single track or displaying as many as thirty tracks or more, depending upon how the VIP window is configured.

To the left of each track are track buttons. Press the ? button to retrieve Track Info, name the track, and more. The = button links two mono tracks in a mono VIP. The M button mutes the track. The S button solos the track. The L button locks the track and prevents editing on that track. The V button activates the volume curve and enables a click/drag function for adjusting levels on a track. Finally, the R button enables the track for recording. Below these buttons are the level indicator, volume fader, and pan fader. Some of these controls and indicators become hidden when many tracks are displayed on a single screen.

When a recording is made to a track, a rectangular “Object” appears on the track with an amplitude waveform visible, depending on the current zoom factor. This Object is only a representation of the actual soundfile, and all editing and processing of this Object is nondestructive. At the same time this Object is created, a minimized window appears at the bottom of the screen and represents the actual “Physical Audio” file. More on this file in a moment. Once an Object is on a track in the VIP, Samplitude Studio’s extensive editing functions can be applied. You get the usual cut and paste editing, and because the actual file is not being edited, things happen very fast. A right-click and drag moves an Object anywhere on the VIP effortlessly. The “snap” function, when active, makes lining up Objects with other Objects or markers a snap (sorry), ensuring tight splices and accurate cut and paste editing.

When an Object is selected (by a right-click), five handles appear around the rectangle. The ones on the bottom left and right allow the start and end points of the Object to be adjusted. The ones on the top left and right enable fast and easy setting of fade ins and outs. The handle at the top middle can be grabbed and dragged to set the level of an individual Object.

Marking areas for editing on the multitrack VIP Window is a simple click and drag process. And, you can drag the pointer over any number of tracks to perform edits across multiple tracks simultaneously. Editing on the VIP Window is extremely fast once you get to know the functions, and once you get familiar with the keyboard shortcuts, hold on to your hats! Need to copy a sound effect on track 1 to track 3? Control-right-click it and drag the instantly-made copy to the desired location. Click-drag to mark multiple objects/areas on the VIP, hit Control-C to copy them into the buffer, place the cursor anywhere on the VIP, press Control-V, and voila! Instant copy. Objects can be grouped, locked into place, individually “normalized” and more. And there are up to 100 levels of undo. Let it suffice to say that once a soundfile is placed in the VIP window as an Object, you can do just about anything you can imagine with it, and then some. Furthermore, several VIPs can be opened simultaneously, and Objects from one VIP can be copied and pasted to another. And, Samplitude Studio will even let you save this multiple project work area as a Session. SEK’D gets an A+ for this versatile, nondestructive multitrack editing interface.

The Physical Audio Data Window is where editing of the actual soundfile takes place. Double right-clicking an object on the VIP window brings up that Object’s Physical Audio Data Window. Here, any editing done is destructive, and probably for the sake of speed, there is no undo. With full editing capabilities available on the VIP screen, there’s really little reason to perform destructive edits on the original soundfile, but you can if you want to. If you want to conserve disk space, open this window to trim unwanted parts of a soundfile. The manual strongly suggests making a backup copy of the soundfile before editing it in the Physical Audio Data Window.

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