Pro Tools or real Studio?


phillybeatle
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phillybeatle
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01/13/2014 8:34 pm
Looking for opinions/ pros and cons of each
# 1
Douglas Showalter
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Douglas Showalter
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03/28/2014 3:46 am
Are you asking is it better to record at home on Pro Tools as opposed to recording in a recording studio?

Unless you are working somewhere where they only use analog tape or another DAW (both very doubtful,) chances are any studio you record at will have Pro Tools to record whatever is being tracked. I used just Logic (Apple based recording software) for a long time, and this past year I did a session at a studio where we did three songs with a full band and I was forced into learning Pro Tools. I'm really glad I did.

Let's narrow down your question and I am happy to help beyond that.

- Douglas
Douglas Showalter
# 2
bob99
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bob99
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03/28/2014 7:37 pm
Reaper ...
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'99 Historic '57 Les Paul Custom Black Beauty - '14 Gibson LP Studio Pro - PRS SE ZM - Peavey AT200 - Peavey Milestone Bass - Yamaha A3M - Laney IRT Studio - Blackstar HT5RH - Bugera V22 - THR10 - Boss GT-001 - Fishman TriplePlay[/FONT]
# 3
Slipin Lizard
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Slipin Lizard
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03/28/2014 7:54 pm
Douglas, would you have any insight into Pro Tools vs hardware based recording systems? I like the idea of the flexibility of using the computer to record, but well over a decade ago, I kept hearing about all these issues with "latency"... seemed like guys were going through all this hassle and buying extra gear to get around the fact that there's a lag between the time you hear something and the time you record when using a computer soundcard. I hadn't looked at or considered computer based recording for more than 10 years. Looking into it again recently, I was surprised to see that guys are still talking about latency being an issue and something that needs to be addressed when multi-tracking with your computer. I priced out Pro Tools software with an interface at around $1000... yet stand-alone digital multi-trackers can be had for as little as $100, for a little four or six track, to $500 for something like the Zoom R24. In the reviews about Pro Tools, guys are still talking about dealing with latency problems, where as with any of the digital multi-trackers, its not an issue at all. I've heard people talk about the increased audio quality using software, but most of the hardware multi-trackers record at a quality level comparable to what most studio albums were being recorded at not very long ago.

I feel like I'm missing some part of the puzzle... is there a simple, easy way around latency? Or is it something that all computer based recording systems have to deal with. I still get lost when people start talking about DAW's vs computers... I realize "DAW" stands for "Digital Audio Workstation"... but I don't really get what guys mean when they say that. I have a Korg D3200 (unfortunately its in storage while my house is being renovated, but the recordings I made with it sounded great)... is that considered a "DAW"?

I think I would like being able to work, edit, and mix on my computer, but it seems like a road that ends up being plagued with "well, ya gotta buy this.." and "oh, well, ya, the software can't do that, unless you do this..." The little exposure I've had it always seemed like I was trying to trick the software into doing what I needed it to do... to get it to perform as advertised. With both the Korg D3200 and my Tascam DP-004, they just work. I spend my time recording and thinking about creative decisions instead of searching through help files, looking through menus for a command, or trying to magically push the right buttons on the computer to get something to work the way it was supposed to.

As you can tell, I'm kind of jaded on the whole computer recording thing, but I'd love some direction that could possibly steer me around the pitfalls I've already experienced.
# 4
maggior
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maggior
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03/28/2014 8:23 pm
I'm sure Douglas will have deeper insight, but I believe the key is having a good ASIO driver to essentialy eliminate latency. I have a simple 2 channel Yamaha USB audio interface and don't have any latency isssues. The same holds true for my Zoom G5.

I've only dealt with 4 tracks at most (playing back 3 separate tracks while recroding a 4th). I use Adobe Audition as my recording software.
# 5
Slipin Lizard
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Slipin Lizard
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03/28/2014 9:57 pm
Originally Posted by: maggior I have a simple 2 channel Yamaha USB audio interface and don't have any latency isssues. The same holds true for my Zoom G5.


While I appreciate the effort, I'm not certain that we're really talking about the same thing in terms of latency issues. Recording one or two tracks isn't a problem, I've done the same thing myself, years ago. Its when you start adding up multiple tracks with effects that latency issues start to emerge.

The Zoom G5 shouldn't have any "latency" issues from what I understand, as latency has to do with sound being processed through a computers sound card, and then back to a monitor. If you're using the Zoom G5, you're not relying on the sound card to emulate amps and add effects, so its not really applicable here.

So just to be clear, I'm not new to this, as in "ohhhh.. you can plug your guitar into your computer and record it..." been there, done that. I'm talking about extensive multi-tracking, with effects added... with something like the Korg D3200, using its onboard effects as well as the several rack units I own, I have no issues at all... it works just like a tape deck. Hit record, record a track, repeat until all 24 or 32 tracks are full, add effects along the way, no problem. The Korg still retains many advantages over tape recording that you would expect of a digital unit... I'm just saying there's no latency issues either. There's no "well, we can't add reverb to that track right now because we're trying to record something else..." It just works. I'm sure Pro Tools just works too... I'm just not sure of what the exact lengths one has to go to where problems like latency are no longer an issue.
# 6
maggior
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maggior
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03/28/2014 11:27 pm
Ok. As I was writing my response, I was thinking "assuming you aren't doing real time effects proessing. Once upon time though there were issues with latency just streaming the audio.

effects like dsps and specialuzed hardware. The problem with using a pc is there are too many variables...hd speed, cpu speed, other processes, etc.

I do any effects post processing, not realtime.

still interested to see what Douglass says.
# 7
Slipin Lizard
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Slipin Lizard
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03/29/2014 12:34 am
Originally Posted by: maggior
I do any effects post processing, not realtime


That's my point exactly... I guess I should clarify, I've done quite a bit of multi-track recording in my time... from the early Tascam and Fostex PortaStudio stuff, right up to analog 24 track recording in a professional studio using full 2" wide tape, and then on to the digital stuff through the 90's to present day. So applying all effects post production isn't the norm... it is in terms of creating a final mix, but if you're setting up for vocal tracking, the vocalist is most likely going to expect some processing on their voice, and will likely want to hear more than just a dry mix to sing along with.

A real world scenario was when I did some recording with an Irish Low Whistle. I had a huge delay applied on it, along with some reverb, which really affected the way I played the piece... I was able to listen to the decay and work the effect to get the sound I wanted. That wouldn't be possible if everything was being applied in post-production. A savvy engineer would record something like dry on one track, and wet on another so they would have the option of changing the effect in post, or possibly blending the dry and wet tracks if desired. Point is, you can't do that with a system where all effects processing is applied in post.

You're making my point for me with what I quoted... as soon as you move over to the computer, you're immediately compromising where you wouldn't have to with a hardware based system. From what I've seen online, high end applications of Pro Tools see it being used it with hardware specifically dedicated to recording. The software is just the interface. There is still specific hardware being used for recording audio, and "outboard" effects as well. Which gets back to the OP's question... which is better, Pro Tools, or a dedicated unit for recording? I think the confusion people run into which you're touching upon Rich, is that there's a huge difference between using Pro Tools as an interface, and as a stand alone software based recording platform. People see Pro Tools in a fancy, high-end studio and think "hey, wow, and it only costs $1000!"... What they don't realize is there is a ton of specialized hardware that is also in play, that Pro Tools is controlling. There's tremendous benefits to having a software based interface like Pro Tools... just the sheer ease of editing, being able to import or export files are enticement enough... But there seems to be a point where if you don't have the appropriate hardware, then all you've got is a fancy editing software package on a computer platform that can't keep up. If that's the case, I think the stand-alone multitrackers are then the better call, but again, I'd sure like to hear from anyone with experience with Pro Tools as to where that proverbial line the sand might be drawn, if at all.
# 8
maggior
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maggior
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03/29/2014 10:03 pm
Knowing the limitations of PCs, I would always look to specialized hardware for effects in realtime. I can understand the need for them in realtime. You wouldn't want to play metal licks with a clean tone and add the overdrive later, and like you said, a singer wouldn't want to hear a dry mix to sing over. Saving the dry signal has merit too - the GT-100 Boss pedal can do that.

Any post processing I do is EQ or some reverb - nothing fancy. I use my pedal for all of the guitar effects. I wouldn't rely on my PC to do that.

Anyway, I'll stop and wait until somebody that has actual Pro Tools experience chimes in.
# 9
jasherman72
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jasherman72
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05/04/2014 6:28 am
The latency problems you are speaking of are greatly affected by how much processing power you have. You can also use an interface like the apollo twin or 16 to have real time latency free effects. Basically the better the equipment you can afford the less latency problems you have. A protools HD system would get you there.

Not sure where you would find anyone still using analog tape as a lot of the actual tape is no longer being manufactured.
# 10
Slipin Lizard
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05/04/2014 7:06 am
Originally Posted by: jasherman72
Not sure where you would find anyone still using analog tape as a lot of the actual tape is no longer being manufactured.


If you're referring to my posts, you might have mis-understood.. I've had a fair amount of recording experience including analog tape, but the multi-track units I have used over the last decade have all been digital, either disc (back in the late 90's) or hard drive based.

I think with computer recording there's a point where yes, if you go to a high enough price range, latency becomes less of a factor and can be readily dealt with. It seems like its that in-between point... not really professional but "better" than a digital four track, where computer based recording struggles. I just hear about guys doing all this tinkering with their computers to get things working ok; meanwhile, I can just fire up the D3200 and be recording without issue. I'd still like to look into something like Logic and see if I could get it working to satisfaction, but at the moment I'm fine with the stand-alone digital multi-trackers I currently have.

Its worth mentioning though that not everything is about the software. I have the ability to record really great vocals, and have repeatedly used my setup to record professional voice over artists for paid sessions... but that's more to do with having a high quality Neumann mic and outboard compressor unit. A cheap mic plugged into a USB interface is not even going to come close in terms of sound quality no matter how much software and processing you throw at it.
# 11
hagstrummer
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10/29/2014 2:07 am
Hi Philly
The main differences between a home set up, and a recording studio are
1) microphones
2) quiet recording floor

If you purchase a pro tools setup, the A To D converters will be decent enough in the 192/003 interface of the Pro Tools hardware to do a good job. The other thing to consider is noise while you're recording. You don't want to be interrupted by the ice cream truck going by, or your mom yelling that its time for dinner ;)
Keep in mind, this is only a concern when you're using microphones for recording, and not a DI (direct input) with your guitar.
Many DAW's can record your music equally well, so the main purpose for going with Pro Tools is the editing, and processing capabilities, mixing your track with automation, and creating a stereo mix of your song.
Beyond microphones, and a quiet floor to record on, the other benefit you'll receive at a studio is (hopefully) and experienced operator to take care of the technical stuff while you do what you do best.....play guitar.
I realize I've jumped around in this answer a little bit, sorry. I work at a studio, and have been using Pro Tools for about 15 years. If you have any more questions, feel free to get in touch, and I'll help out as best I can.
# 12
TheDukeWestern
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TheDukeWestern
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02/17/2015 9:26 pm
I personally use Cakewalk Sonar x3 with a focusrite pro 40 - and its great. I know pro tools pretty well as well - it has different advantages.. I feel that most DAWS offer a different set of advantages etc.

As far as latency goes - thats ironically strictly a hardware issue. If your DAW had its Druthers...(haha) - there would be no latency ever.
# 13
fuzzb0x
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02/28/2015 2:32 pm
i've been involved in a fair few recording sessions now from DIY home recording projects to using one of the BBC recording studios in the UK.
Doing the DIY home stuff latency was sometimes a real problem no matter what DAW we used there was always some sort of issue to overcome, sometimes the equipment we had was better and it was less of a problem. When i've used one of the BBC recording studios they were using protools but all of the equipment was of very high quality and latency was never an issue to be honest.
When using protools or another DAW it really does come down to how good the rest of your equipment is including your mac or pc, it needs to be up to the job for it all to work properly.
# 14
slavic1
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03/08/2015 9:11 am
Any professional studio is going to already posses a recording software.
Its best to record at home using your DAW and converting everything into dry sound stems in separate tracks,than take it to the studio and have it mixed and mastered with the effects.

Always record dry.
# 15
harlandcox
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harlandcox
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08/04/2015 10:37 am
what does 'record dry' mean?
# 16
fuzzb0x
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fuzzb0x
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08/05/2015 9:33 am
a dry signal is one taken direct to the recording with no effects added at all, in a lot of cases if possible they will DI (direct input) the instrument as well so you have a recorded signal with effects and one without which you can add the effects to later, this gives you more options when it comes to mixing the recording as some effects can be very hard to work with in the mix.
# 17
harlandcox
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harlandcox
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08/05/2015 10:40 am
Yes ok.sort of gotcha. Just thought I would ask because I m not up with all the tech words and things but hey, thxs heaps dude ;-)
# 18
fuzzb0x
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08/05/2015 9:19 pm
Originally Posted by: harlandcoxYes ok.sort of gotcha. Just thought I would ask because I m not up with all the tech words and things but hey, thxs heaps dude ;-)


this article may help explain the different options better
http://www.recordingmag.com/resources/resourceDetail/203.html
# 19
nanzivino
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11/04/2015 2:39 am
Studios are great if you have money to burn, but most people don't.. If you can hire someone and afford them to do mixing, etc., that is great, too. But that also costs money. Pro engineers often help out 10's or 100's of other acts, which can potentially come at the expense of what you are personally aiming for.

Pro tools I don't know so much about...but there are many ways to record.
# 20

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