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Sorry for yet another DAW thread.

Last spring I installed Studio 1 Artist, setting it up with an Audient D4 audio interface and AT2020 mic. I got as far as the bare basics before being sidetracked by life circumstances and (undiagnosed) ADD. Now I am ready to get back recording, prompted in part by a friend that wants me to contribute keyboard tracks to his original project. He wants me (and others who live further away) to be able to do this remotely using a DAW and seems to think any DAW (he uses REAPER) would work for this- not so sure about that until I can run it by the incredibly knowledgeable and experienced members of this forum. smile

But even if so, it makes sense, in this case, for me to learn REAPER. He is able and willing to help me with it in person- something that can't be done with Studio 1 as I know of no local musician friends that use it. I know that several here use more than one DAW, and I have already seen how that learning one helps you learn another, as the concepts are similar. I would start out with the REAPER trial version and then gladly pay, if I liked it.

Your thoughts and experience on this are appreciated, thanks for any help. smile

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First, .WAV files are .WAV files. Make sure everybody uses the same settings to record and whoever is compiling the tracks should be able to drop them in and go. 24 bit and choose the highest frequency that everybody can easily record without latency problems. Garage Band will drag everybody down to 44.1khz, that is as high as it goes. There could be other limitations, somebody using a USB 2 based interface without much RAM in an overly complicated system with a slow hard drive may not be able to successfully go much higher. 48khz is common, it syncs well with video software. For that reason, some prefer to record at double that - 96khz.

Another factor is the file format that ProTools uses as it's standard format. It is some sort of multitrack compiled .wav file and other DAWS (Waveform for one) may not be able to parse it. I'm told Audacity can but I've had poor luck with it on a Mac, Windows might fare better or maybe I am just lazy.

Last but not least, ALL tracks should have the same starting point. Best way to do this is have the originator do a scratch track. It should have some sort of click track, I like a drum loop that has an appropriate groove to it. Choosing the tempo often takes me up to an hour. Best to start with exactly the best feeling tempo. When everybody else adds tracks, they should start at the beginning and export their entire performance, including the silence at the beginning.
Be sure to leave enough space at the beginning for people to get into position. If I needed to cut a vocal I would want 20 seconds or so to click Record and get around my desk to my vocal area, put headphones on, etc.

Even laster but not leaster - Many songs are written and played with tempo changes, be they intuitive or compositional. That is a problem I am still working on - Craig has great advice on it that covers many situations.

Start simple, you can all grow together.

As to DAWS, the best one is the one you have, like and use. I've chosen Waveform, others like Reaper or Studio One or Logic (this sentence could be REALLY long!!!!). It doesn't matter much if the above guidelines are followed. You should all be easy to sync up.


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Just to add.

At www.tracktion.com under the Products tab you can download Waveform Free. It is a full featured DAW with unlimited tracks at zero cost.
Pretty easy to learn and it use a wide variety of plugin formats.


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Reaper is a nice DAW. It's very capable and is well supported by the developer, but it invites tweakiness. If you avoid that and use it as a straight-ahead DAW, it will do fine, and most of what you know from other DAWs except for some of the vocabulary is applicable to Reaper. It'll do just about what any reasonable person can do using Pro Tools and WAV files can be imported into Pro Tools (or just about any other DAW) if you have an experienced Pro Tools user in the gang of supporters.

The one thing that DAWs don't do is share their project file formats. This is the file that tells the program where to put all the audio, where and how edits are performed, what processing has been applied, and so on. The way that collaborators mitigate this (other than all using the same program) is to make sure that everything that goes into the track in final form - all the edits, all the EQ, any unique effect processor that's used as part of the sound - is consolidated into a single WAV file that, when played, sounds just like the creator heard when he finally said "OK, that's it, I'm done."

Reaper can do that, as well as most other DAWs. You need to find out what the program calls this operation (Reaper calls it Render if I recall, Pro Tools calls it Consolidate). It means that the one putting the song together from these rendered tracks can't, for example, re-do an edit that the original creator did, or un-do EQ, so you need to make some ground rules.

Now if you want to collaborate in real time, that's a different can of worms and the worms are starting to crawl out slowly. But if you stick with the basics, Reaper is a good place to start, but people can use other DAWs with which they're already familiar as long as everyone understands how their parts will be assembled into a final product.

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Thank you Bros. Kiru and Mike, for the info so graciously provided. It was just what I was looking for and I promise to put it to good use. smile

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Wav file = wav file. With Broadcast WAV files, they're time-stamped so even if you've cut something like a vocal track into a million different pieces, they'll still show up at the same point on the timeline with any program that recognizes Broadcast Wave Files.

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I'm glad Mike jumped in an added all the important things that I forgot. He is truly a "been there, done that" kind of guy.

Of course Craig will always be able to add important knowledge as well.

While you will do well to take up your friend on learning Reaper, you may want to offer up the free Waveform link to anybody that is using Garage Band and can't afford to get anything else.
Times have been tough and many wallets are thin right now.

I am incredibly lucky to be able to accept a good job offer when there are no more gigs. I've managed to do pretty well all things considered and I am grateful.

Be safe!!!!


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Originally Posted by Mike Rivers
The one thing that DAWs don't do is share their project file formats. This is the file that tells the program where to put all the audio, where and how edits are performed, what processing has been applied, and so on. The way that collaborators mitigate this (other than all using the same program) is to make sure that everything that goes into the track in final form - all the edits, all the EQ, any unique effect processor that's used as part of the sound - is consolidated into a single WAV file that, when played, sounds just like the creator heard when he finally said "OK, that's it, I'm done."

There are two other options, but not all DAWs support them, and the solutions aren't perfect.

One is OMF or AAF export/import (OMF is the older of the two). You can export a project in OMF or AAF format, and the DAW at the other end will load the files, faders, panning, clips, and some other "universal" parameters. However MIDI is not part of the process; you have to export that as a Standard MIDI File, and bring MIDI into a project manually. Also, plug-ins and processing aren't part of the process, either. If you have the same plug-ins, then you can include information on where they're supposed to go, and save/load presets. So it's messy, but it does in fact work within its limitations.

The other is using Broadcast Wave Files, which are time-stamped as to where they go on the timeline. This circumvents having to convert a track to one long WAV file that starts at the beginning of a song. For example, suppose you want to transfer a vocal from Studio One to Cubase. You can drag all the Studio One vocal clips into a folder, then drag these clips into a track in Cubase. Like magic, all the clips will show up where they're supposed to show up on the timeline, even if there are a zillion edits. Again, no MIDI, and no plug-ins. But if you need to send someone a track where they want to make changes to the existing edits, this the way to go. I use it all the time when I want to process a track with a signal processor that's locked to a particular program - after bringing over the clip(s), I apply the processing, export as an audio Broadcast WAV File, and bring it back into the project from which it originated.

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^^^ more cool stuff I didn't know anything about!

Craig and pinkfloydcramer - what I do in Waveform is select the track - whether it's made of clips or not does not matter in the slightest.
Then I click on Export, select "Export only selected tracks" and click Off the "Remove silence at the beginning and end" option. That makes a .wav file that lines up at the beginning and contains all edits in place. Anybody who's DAW can accept .wav files can just import it with their cursor set to the far left and it will sync up perfectly.

I don't know if other DAWS offer that option.


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Originally Posted by KuruPrionz
I don't know if other DAWS offer that option.

Studio One has a "stems" export feature that does the same thing, but can also export mixes of specific tracks. Cakewalk also does a good job with exporting, but pretty much all DAWs can export complete files as tracks.

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I thought it would be true but did not want to state something when I don't have the facts.
Seems like an essential feature.


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Originally Posted by Anderton
There are two other options, but not all DAWs support them, and the solutions aren't perfect.

One is OMF or AAF export/import (OMF is the older of the two). You can export a project in OMF or AAF format, and the DAW at the other end will load the files, faders, panning, clips, and some other "universal" parameters.

I've never used either of those formats because I never had the need and, honestly, wasn't curious enough to experiment. I just looked at Reaper and didn't see an option to export as OMF or AAF. But there are indeed more ways to skin this cat, some more complex than others, some closer to universal than others.

Quote
However MIDI is not part of the process; you have to export that as a Standard MIDI File, and bring MIDI into a project manually. Also, plug-ins and processing aren't part of the process, either. If you have the same plug-ins, then you can include information on where they're supposed to go, and save/load presets. So it's messy, but it does in fact work within its limitations.

Rendering takes care of all of that, with the tradeoff that you can't save all the decisions until the end.

Quote
The other is using Broadcast Wave Files, which are time-stamped as to where they go on the timeline. This circumvents having to convert a track to one long WAV file that starts at the beginning of a song. For example, suppose you want to transfer a vocal from Studio One to Cubase. You can drag all the Studio One vocal clips into a folder, then drag these clips into a track in Cubase. Like magic, all the clips will show up where they're supposed to show up on the timeline, even if there are a zillion edits.

I've used the "put the file in its time stamped position" but only when I'm working on a single project with all of the files having been created within that project. When you copy a file from one place in the song to another place, does it take on a new time stamp corresponding to where you placed it? If it didn't, then they'd all go to their original time stamped place. I trust someone has figured this one out.

I think it was Kuru who suggested that the boss create a project with a reference track that everyone uses as a base on which to build their new tracks. That would at least keep the time references all the same. Do video people still start their time code at 1 hour? Or at broadcast time?

Ground rules!!!!!

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And if it was my project, I'd turn over the parts I wanted others to contribute and let them do their thing. I might want to listen to some preliminary work to be sure they had the right idea for the song, but if the person contributing the guitar tracks, for example, layered 6 rhythm guitars, I'd want him to give me one "Rhythm guitar" track, not six. I hired an expert and I don't want the responsibility of messing up his work. If I'd like to hear something different in his mix, I'd tell him and let him change it.

I'm lazy that way, and I want to be able to trust my collaborators to catch on to what I'm dreaming of and give me tracks that I can mix and, if necessary, edit.

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Originally Posted by Mike Rivers
I've never used either of those formats

You're in the majority smile

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I've used the "put the file in its time stamped position" but only when I'm working on a single project with all of the files having been created within that project. When you copy a file from one place in the song to another place, does it take on a new time stamp corresponding to where you placed it?

Thankfully, you don't have to place them. You drag them to a track, select all, and in Cubase or Studio One, select the "move to origin" command. Then then go to their time-stamped position on the timeline.

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Dumb question but you're just asking about being able to share files back and forth and not actual semi-real-time distance recording, right? If you actually were looking at real-time collaboration, Cubase/Steinberg has their VST Connect program that allows realtime distance recording. The SE version comes with Cubase Pro, but you can buy the program separately as well. Disclaimer, I haven't used it yet.


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Originally Posted by Mighty Motif Max
Dumb question but you're just asking about being able to share files back and forth and not actual semi-real-time distance recording, right?

Yes, in the manner Mike describes- straight-ahead DAW, minimal tweaking. But real time collab (audio only) is something I'd definitely be interested in at some point, thanks.

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Originally Posted by Anderton
Originally Posted by Mike Rivers
I've used the "put the file in its time stamped position" but only when I'm working on a single project with all of the files having been created within that project. When you copy a file from one place in the song to another place, does it take on a new time stamp corresponding to where you placed it?

Thankfully, you don't have to place them. You drag them to a track, select all, and in Cubase or Studio One, select the "move to origin" command. Then then go to their time-stamped position on the timeline.

You answered a question that I didn't ask, perhaps I didn't ask clearly enough. Yes, I understand that I can drag files on to a track and they'll either go to their time stamped position or not, depending on what I tell it to do. So, suppose I've recorded a song and it has the chorus in three places. I decide that the second time through was the best of the the three and I want to use it in place of Chorus 1 and Chorus 3. To make things simple, here's the timeline for a song with each verse and chorus being 1 minute long, recorded in a single take, so there will be only one file:


|---Verse 1-----------|------Chorus 1--------|---Verse 2-----------|------Chorus 2--------|---Verse 3-----------|------Chorus 3--------|
0:00:00 0:01:00 0.02:00 0:03:00 0:04:00 0.05:00


So, if I want to replace Chorus 3 with Chorus 2, first off, I'll need to split the song up into regions so that each verse and chorus becomes its own file, and there will be a list, somewhere, of the file names that I've saved each region under. Each will have a time stamp.

Now, if I drag Chorus 2 from the list to the track, I don't want it to go to its time stamped position, so I carefully locate it to replace the existing Chorus 3 file in the track. Once it's there, does it take on a new time stamp 0:05:00, or does it keep its original 0:03:00 time stamp?

And here's a related question. The example above is really an edit, not a re-assembly of time stamped files from somewhere. Let's say you didn't like Chorus 2 in the first take, so you punched in three more takes of that chorus. They'll all have the same time stamp as the original (assuming you punched in at the same place - they give us Auto-Punch to do that automagically), so now you'll have four files all with the same time stamp. In theory, you should be able to pick the best one, drag it to the track, tell it to go where it belongs and it should go to the right place.

Choose your program and tell me what it does when you do that. And maybe, if you can, using your super powers, move this discussion to a less general forum like Dr. Mike's maybe.

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I think I understand your question now.

<<So, if I want to replace Chorus 3 with Chorus 2, first off, I'll need to split the song up into regions so that each verse and chorus becomes its own file, and there will be a list, somewhere, of the file names that I've saved each region under. Each will have a time stamp.>>

As far as the program's concerned, it knows where the copied regions sit on the timeline. However, that information becomes embedded in the file only when it's exported.

<<Now, if I drag Chorus 2 from the list to the track, I don't want it to go to its time stamped position, so I carefully locate it to replace the existing Chorus 3 file in the track. Once it's there, does it take on a new time stamp 0:05:00, or does it keep its original 0:03:00 time stamp?>>

As long as this is happening in the program, the file will know where it is on the timeline. If you do something like click "revert to time stamp," it will go back on the timeline to the time stamp it had upon being imported, which will persist unless placed somewhere else and exported.

When you import the file that has the time stamp embedded, it will go to the specified time on the timeline. However once it's there, you can move it wherever you want. If you move it and then export, it will acquire a new time stamp based on its new position in the timeline.

As to the question about four takes recorded at the same time and being exported so they have the same time stamp, with all the programs I've tried they automatically go to different tracks if you try to import them to the same track.

<<Choose your program and tell me what it does when you do that.>>

I did the import/export shuffle between Studio One and Cakewalk this time, but I've also done it with Cubase and Digital Performer; they work the same way.

<<And maybe, if you can, using your super powers, move this discussion to a less general forum like Dr. Mike's maybe.>>

Well, this started as a fairly general discussion about collaboration options. I threw in OMF, AAF, and time stamps as ways to export/import with different programs. If you want to get deep into time stamps, feel free to start a focused discussion over in Mike's forum, but I suspect this discussion hasn't played out yet. There are remaining questions about real-time collaboration, how Cubase's VST collaboration mechanism works, and so on. We also haven't really touched on MIDI.

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I hadn't thought about exporting and importing here, I was only thinking about everything staying in the same project. I suppose you could export a file to the project you're working in, then put it on the time line and let it get a new time stamp.

Thanks for confirming (I think) my suspicion that you can move or paste a file wherever you want it and it will retain its original time stamp - and return to that position if you tell it to,

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Broadcast WAV files seem like the way to go. I'm not too worried about MIDI at this point- I'm so primitive that to me, all MIDI is is a way to use a keyboard to get sounds out of my MIDI module. I don't see myself creating tracks by any other method than real time playing but never say never..

Also, I'm not giving up on Studio 1 by any means- it's intimidatingly deep to someone whose only experience is with 2000's era Boss hard disc recorders- but I know it can also be used in a simple, basic manner. So I'll duck out for a while until I do my homework and continue to follow and digest what is discussed here. smile

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Originally Posted by Mike Rivers
I hadn't thought about exporting and importing here, I was only thinking about everything staying in the same project. I suppose you could export a file to the project you're working in, then put it on the time line and let it get a new time stamp.

Thanks for confirming (I think) my suspicion that you can move or paste a file wherever you want it and it will retain its original time stamp - and return to that position if you tell it to,

Correct. So far, time-stamping changes pretty much relate only to when importing or exporting.

I have to admit I was kinda shocked when I imported a Studio One vocal track into Cubase, and all the zillion edits lined up properly. My main collaborator, Brian Hardgroove, works with Cubase so this is of more than academic interest to me. But, I wish there was some way to at least incorporate EQ and compression settings in OMF or AAF. Isn't a 2 dB boost at 3.6 kHz with a Q of 0.75 the same in all EQs (aside from some potentially minor "character" differences)?

I can dream...

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Originally Posted by pinkfloydcramer
Also, I'm not giving up on Studio 1 by any means- it's intimidatingly deep to someone whose only experience is with 2000's era Boss hard disc recorders- but I know it can also be used in a simple, basic manner. So I'll duck out for a while until I do my homework and continue to follow and digest what is discussed here. smile

FWIW, I just mixed/mastered an album by an LA singer/songwriter named Silvin G. Great songwriter, female vocalist, guitar player, but not a tech head. She had the moxie to record her music as best she could (during a pandemic!) into Studio One...an older version, no less. Regardless, the music came through. I did do some clean up, but the songs were sufficiently strong that they were all I needed.

You don't need to be intimidated by S1. Make sure you choose the right input, then press Record smile It really is that simple. There's a lot you can do after the fact to improve the sound quality, but THE most important aspect is always going to be the performance and sincerity.

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