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Pro Tools


sidereal

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I'm curious what you all think of Pro Tools in the studio. It's in every studio now and has really become part of the way engineers and producers work in the studio.

 

Personally I love it. I track to it exclusively, edit performances, mix, and also compose drum patters with it drum-machine style. From a creative standpoint, it's beautiful. I like being able to relax while I'm playing, concentrate on groove and not freak that I'm going to make a mistake. It's a nice safety net. I'm really not a purist when it comes to recording drums, but I know a lot of drummers feel threatened by it.

 

Any thoughts?

Just for the record.
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Here in my home studio I'm just using the Mackies, which are functional, but anything but ideal.

 

At other studios I've used Millennium, Focusrite Reds and the Presonus Digimax. I tracked to someone's Alesis board once, which I'd recommend NOT doing. Just didn't sound very good, but it could have been the room too. I'd love to invest in some nicer pres for my personal rig, but they're so damned expensive. The Digimax was a nice tradeoff of price to performance and the built-in limiters are a nice touch. I may go with that.

 

I also compose original loops using my DM-Pro Kit, with it's six outputs sent to Pro Tools. Works great!

Just for the record.
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Well sidereal, if the Pro Tools "safety net" helps your creativity and allows you to relax more, no one can argue with that. Personally, our drummer and I are in perfect agreement on that subject: he would shit a brick sideways if anybody ever messed with his parts with digital editing and processing, which is fine because I would never do it and can't imagine ever having to or wanting to.

 

It works like this: if we both do our jobs and don't cop out, everything will be fine. That means: I don't do anything to interfere with his drumming for the sake of engineering "convenience" (like make him put muffling on his drums or make him play to a click track), and he doesn't do anything for the sake of convenience on his end either. If he makes a mistake (which he hardly ever does), we'll do another take. And we might do another take anyway because he might think he can do better. He considers it his responsibility to get his drums to sound exactly like he wants them as he's playing them, and my job is to capture that, period. And I don't ever envision having a problem with that! The way he plays, messing with the performance in any way is only likely to degrade it, not improve it.

 

If you are bothered by "red light syndrome" you might try recording everything you do, even practices. That will help you to relax more as it becomes second nature to have "tape rolling" while you're playing. You can always erase it or do it over. Remember, as I've said a few times in these forums, that it's only a machine, it can't laugh at you! http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/smile.gif

 

Well that's my 2 cents anyway....

 

--Lee

 

This message has been edited by Lee Flier on 07-20-2001 at 06:15 PM

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I don't get intimidated at all by the record light, and I know how to give a great performance. It's not that. What I meant was it's nice to have it *just in case*.

 

I think of Pro Tools the same way Danny Carey from Tool does. It's there if you need it and it's nothing to be afraid of. I see nothing wrong with slight fixes here and there because no drummer, not a single one, is perfect. Capturing inspiration is the important thing.

Just for the record.
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Well sidereal I'm not trying to get on your case personally, if you like the way you're working and are happy with the results you get. But just to play a little devil's advocate here... you say no drummer is perfect, yet lots of GREAT performances were captured on record before Pro Tools ever existed, where the drummer DID play a "perfect" and very inspired part. They HAD to, and so they did.

 

I also wonder whether the knowledge that there's a "safety net" causes people's concentration to go off just a bit. I'm sure that varies with the individual, but it's a possibility that it's worthwhile to question.

 

--Lee

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I would love a PT system but can't swing one right now. so yea, I will be stuck with mackie pre's (which aren't bad IMHO if not overdriven)...sweetwater is trying to get me into a motu 1296 system.

 

I got a video on PT and I liked how easy it was to make/master cd's and I also liked the reverb plug in's (lexicon) where one could just drag and drop the decay time on the wave form.

 

How do you like PT for mastering...that is what I would like to know...I bet it is pretty nice.

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Just and FYI ... there is a 8 channel version of ProTools (for PC) that you can download for free. Might be worth looking into if you want to try it out. I personally use Cubase VST only because I've had it long before ProTools was available for PC. Long story as to why I don't have a MAC, but maybe someday. I've got too much software at this point to merit buying a MAC.

 

 

 

------------------

Bart Elliott

http://bartelliott.com

Drummer Cafe - community drum & percussion forum
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Lee....

 

I agree. The 'safety net' thing would vary depending on the attitude of the person.

 

Incidentally, those perfect performances in the past that you're talking about... they're extremely rare. The overwhelming majority of 'perfect' performances had to be tracked dozens of time to get what you hear on the finished product. A great many were comped together from these various takes using razor blades, and others involved overdubbing. I love hearing a song like "Comfortably Numb" where you can hear the crash cymbal decay cut off at the same exact moment every time. Obviously, each of those cymbal hits were cut together with razor blades. Editing has been going since tape was invented. In my opinion, Pro Tools just makes the process better. The problem is when engineers, editors and mixers overtweak a drum performance, taking the life out of it. But that's the fault of a bad editor, not Pro Tools.

 

It's interesting reading the agreement you have with your drummer. It's great to see how much care and respect you have for one another. But that's definitely the exception these days. There is hardly any single drum performance captured in the studio that doesn't go through at least some light Pro Tools work to clean it up. It's just the way things are done today, and it happens to the best drummers in the world. I know. I talk to engineers and producers on a daily basis about this stuff. Most of the time, drummers don't even know it's going on.

 

 

 

 

This message has been edited by sidereal on 07-21-2001 at 06:24 PM

Just for the record.
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Felix, I love it for mastering... if you have the right plug-ins. Two essentials are MasterX and Analog Channel. AC is a new one and it's incredible. I use it on the drum aux track to give drums that nice sticky tape compression. On the master fader, I add another AC plus MasterX and, used right, the combination gives beautiful presence, warmth and punch.

 

You may want to consider the Digi 001 over the MOTU box. Especially if you're collaborating with others. Pro Tools is much more widely used in studios, and you can't run Pro Tools with a MOTU system. I'd go with Bart's advice... check out the free version and see how you like it.

Just for the record.
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Sidereal,

 

Having started engineering back in the analog days, I've done my share of cutting stuff up with a razor blade. http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/biggrin.gif And I don't mind doing the same type of thing in Pro Tools if it's really necessary. It's mainly, as you say, that so many engineers process the drums all to hell so they either don't even sound like drums anymore, or so they're all lined up perfectly on the beat and are totally sterile and lifeless, or all of the above. And no, of course I don't blame Pro Tools for that, I blame the engineer. I can work in Pro Tools and not do that!

 

The ONLY time I ever find it "really necessary" to do an edit is if we did a take that was absolutely magic and you know you'll never get it again but there's one little mistake somewhere or something. But I've found that most truly great musicians can USUALLY keep outdoing themselves with successive takes, so we always try another one or two first. Lots of people now just give up trying to do better after they've done a few takes, as long as there are enough parts with no mistakes to edit together. That's sad IMO. http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/biggrin.gif Of course sometimes that decision is economically driven, if you're working in a commercial studio and can't afford the time to get it right. But in a home studio there's no excuse! http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/biggrin.gif

 

I HAVE gotten quite a lot of complete takes of basic tracks in the studio though, that required no editing. And I recorded our drummer at a live gig a couple of months ago. The band played for an hour and half and he was perfect through the whole thing (including singing a ton of harmonies at the same time). But you are right, that's getting rarer and rarer these days. I guess I was just lamenting that fact.

 

--Lee

 

 

This message has been edited by Lee Flier on 07-21-2001 at 08:24 PM

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Spot-on with that middle paragraph Lee! I couldn't have said it better myself. I guess my use of the term 'safety net' was a poor choice of words. The reason I like Pro Tools is along the lines of what you said... it provides an ability to keep any kind of magic that may otherwise have some slight blemish. But yes, it's important to encourage players to do their best to give a wonderrful performance. Anything else and you are indeed using the tool too much as a crutch.

 

I don't think we're differing all that much actually. I think the main difference is that I see PT as a very creative 'instrument' where you're seeing it as a device to fix problems. In fact, it's both.

 

It's sad when things are over-Pro Tooled (overproduced). It's all up to the engineer and the producer to exercise restraint.

Just for the record.
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I usually like to make a drummer shit bricks...before taking them out back and gunning them down. I can't wait for my mix plus to come off ice...Capture the majic...ask questions later..."I'm sorry dude...did that edit hurt your feelings? Good, cause you haven't kicked in any jack for this recording project...you've never kicked in any rent money for the practic room...you owe me 3 heads, a pair of sticks..." Oh, and you for got to bring the beer again...Any tool that I can fit between the bricks and the gun,,,believe me....But you're the drummer, so we need you....or don't we?

 

Sound replacer...Beat detective...how many other tools are there out there...That could help someone in Spinal Tap erase the memory of dealing with babies...

 

P.S. Drummer wanted in Buffalo area... Flush

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Originally posted by felix stein:

jflush-

I feel your pain...there are lots of lame cats out there.

 

Especially in Buffalo! Sheeeshh... http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/smile.gif

 

Well definitely if you have a lame drummer then you've got problems. And then it's time to get a new drummer, not more tools to fix his lameness.

 

However, when looking for a new drummer, remember Lee's motto: only those who truly love drummers, will find a drummer they truly love. http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/biggrin.gif Most of the really good drummers I've known have been in situations where they get little respect or support from the band leader, producer, whoever is calling the shots. So if they find someone who DOES really respect the drummer's job, they will latch onto you and you can't get rid of 'em. Which is a good thing, of course.

 

That philosophy works for me, anyhow! http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/smile.gif

 

--Lee

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Felix,

You could say some of the cats are lame...

Lee,

I appreciate yer philosophy...I'm educated in management and organizational behavior...I strictly believe in the 10 assumptions of authority . I should have qualified myself as a drummer first, whack job control freak second...I my self started taking drum lessons at the age of seven ( I'm almost as proud of that as I am about having seen KISS in 76' when I was eight!!!)....Basically, I come from the last strain of drummers who were in middle school bands back in the day when the band teachers used to beat the hell out of kids.... I now specialize in bringing the most out of the people I play with....I consider myself very tolerant....Ever seen a middle school band conductor smash a Rubick's cube? Now that's funny! My last three drummers have each lasted two or three years in the band...In the last ten years, two bass players...one stuck it out for eight years...That dude was with me for the "O.J. slow speed chase gig" and the "game six of the Sabres in the Stanely cup gig"...that was the first game the dude missed all season...OUCH...NO GOAL!!! ...AH, WHY AM I TELLING YOU ALL THIS??? Oh yeah, to prove Lee's point... a little respect goes a long way! Thanx for your thoughts. Anyway, I want to get back into drumming! That's why I was here in the first place! Anybody got a Ludwig gold sparkle kit on the block??? Flush

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LOL too funny Flush... matter of fact there is a gold sparkle Ludwig kit sitting in my studio right now. But it's not mine, it's a friend of mine's, and if I sold it to you he'd probably notice eventually. http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/biggrin.gif

 

--Lee

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Lee!

It was years before I noticed my "revolving door of drummers" had picked apart the set my mother bought for me when I was eight...I'm down to a hand full of lug nuts...a couple broken kick pedals...some cracked hi-hat cymbals...All I've got to show for it are a couple bad love letters....I'll give you $500 for the Ludwig. Tell your friend you loaned them to a cat to nail some tracks! Flush

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