The SOLUTION for us slow processor Mac and Finale users!
After much expirementing I have found the best method (for me) to get a quality recording of a full orchestra piece on an iMac G4 1ghz processor with Finale 2005, human Playback, and GPO Studio. This does not solve the problem of crackles during playback, that is a lost cause. We just have to get independently wealthy and by the G5. By the time I have the money for that GPO will require an even faster processor, so I will have to make do.
This is for Mac users and Finale, but should work with anything.
1.......Go to http://audacity.sourceforge.net/ and download this excellent FREE multi-track recording and sound editing software if you don't already have something similar. Whatever is used, it must be able to mix multiple tracks.
2.......Open GPO Studio 1.2 and set up JUST the string tracks. Make sure to use only 'dry' sounds. Reverb will be added in Audactiy. It is always better to add reverb post production anyway so it can be adjusted.
3.......Open Finale and load the piece you want to record to file using GPO. Open the Instrument List and click 'Play None'. Then select just the string section to play. Make sure only the strings are set to play. Insert a measure at the beginning and add a single note on beat 1 for every single instrument. this is important for syncing up the tracks. A short note at a loud volume is best.
3a......It would be a good idea here to add a couple measures at the end so the last note doesn't cut off to abruptly, although with reverb off it will sound peculiar anyway.
4.......Reduce the main window to its smallest size and open the playback controls. Set Human Playback to 'Custom' and disable EVERYTHING in the lower half... especially "Automatic Expression". Back under the playback menu switch the viewing mode to "Non-Scrolling (Pre-Scan)". Don't press play yet.
5.......Bring up the GPO Studio window again. Click on the Ambience reverb and click BYPASS. This is important because the 'verb is a CPU hog.
6....... Do a test play of the strings and make sure there is no severe clicking because that will usually result in tempo anomalies. Also this is a good opportunity to check for weird dynamic things that result from Finale sometimes. I am still learning how to correct that myself, so good luck. The best method is still to play the parts on the keyboard and Allow HP to use the playback data. Anyway, on with this instructional thingy:
7.......When you are satisfied with the playback of the parts click over to GPO and select "Record to File" from the Record menu. Select a file name and click back over to Finale. Go ahead and press play, you will have plenty of time to go back to the Record window and hit record.
8.......After it is done open repeat the process above with the rest of the orchestra one section (Woodwinds, brass, percussion, solist) at a time. You might be able to expirement with getting more to each recording session depending on your computer's set up. It's best to expirement, You'll know you have to many when sections of the music cut out.
9....... After all of the tracks are recorded seperately it's time to put them together. Close Finale and GPO Studio. Open Audacity and load the first two tracks. First line up the tracks by the first notes that were added early on. Then comes the hardest part. You have to listen to the entire thing and find places where it goes out of sync and move stuff around until it fits. I just did this last night and the tempo will match up, there just may be a couple places the computer couldn't handle and may have dropped a quarter of a second. You will have to find where the parts first go out of sync, and zoom in tight so you can sync up the parts visually and by sound. It is best to select the entire part from the point it goes out of sync until the very end. Always use the part that plays the least so that it is easier to edit. Last night I worked out a Violin Concerto (1 movement). I first recorded the Strings and Soloist, then the Timpani and Brasses, and then the Woodwinds. I did not edit the strings/soloist part. I used it as a guide. Then added the brass and timpani next, synced them up and then did the same with the woodwinds.
10...... After everything is synced export the file to Aiff or WAV. You can then open the mixed down file and apply a couple finishing touches. You will probably want to add reverb and cut out the extra note and space at the beginning.
It's a lot of work, but it has already saved me $5000 on a new computer. Huzzah! I am actually redoing the Concerto's recording I mentioned above and correcting some dynamic issues. When it is done I will post it on this forum.
Thanks for reading,
DMA Student and Teaching Asst in Music Theory/ Composition at the University of Miami Personal Website