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Topic: Freeze vs. Bounce

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  1. #1

    Freeze vs. Bounce

    Apropos to a recent conversation over on the JABB Support forum, here is an interesting thread about bouncing vs. freezing in Sonar over on their forums.

    I had an interesting experience with this tonight. I tried to mix down a scratch stereo mix of a small jazz combo (piano, sop. sax, bass & brush kit). It crashed Sonar when I tried it. Granted, I have issues with my computer.

    So, I decided to freeze the tracks. First, I learned (at least the way I went about it) you can't freeze a single Kontakt output - you have to freeze the whole synth. Unfortunately, that also crashed Sonar.

    Finally, I learned how to bounce a MIDI track - what a pain in the neck! Gary, if it's possible to freeze individual Aria tracks in Sonar, I... I don't know what I'll do, but it'll be really nice.

    Anyway, I bounce my JABB tracks one at a time, but still the brush kit was crashing Sonar. Finally, I bounced the darn thing in real time...

    OMG, I just now realized that I probably could have rendered the whole thing from MIDI in real time and saved myself all the trouble.

    AARGHHHH!!!

  2. #2
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    Re: Freeze vs. Bounce

    Rob,

    I've never had a crash either bouncing or freezing tracks so this is not normal operation. Are you getting a blue screen when crashing? If so, then the system should do a savedump file with info regarding the crash. It could be your audio driver crashing which the savedump file will show. Now the problem with the dump file is that you need to use the Windows Debugger to view it.

    Another place to check for what caused the crash is the Event Viewer. Right click on My Computer, select Manage and then Event Viewer. You should see a critical error in either the system or application logs. Double click the error and it will give you details on it.

    Try doing a slow bounce. There is also an option when freezing tracks to slow bounce. I always have to do this with Kontakt to eliminate pops and clicks.

    Freezing is an option of the sequencer, so ARIA will have the same limitation as the Kontakt Player. Remember that freezing is designed to free up the memory that the plugin uses.

    Jim

  3. #3

    Re: Freeze vs. Bounce

    I have had trouble with every audio/MIDI recording software on the market - with Sonar only a little less so (which is why I am using Sonar). I am still using version 6 because it took me so long to get everything to work I didn't want to upgrade unless I had to. And, frankly, I saw nothing in the newer versions that I needed.

    SOS reviewed all the major players at the time I purchased Sonar 6. Its reviewer noticed that all of them crashed much more often than any other application for the PC.

    That said, the strategy I am using for mixing down in Sonar (on a PC with 2GB of RAM and separate SATA drives for the system software, samples and audio/MIDI files) is as follows:

    - One audio track for each instance of Kontakt or other VI.

    - If I am using Kontakt, one instance of Kontakt for each section (strings, reeds, brass, etc.)

    - One audio track for each vocal, if I am recording vocals.

    - One output bus that all the above are routed to.


    When I want to mix down to my final output:

    - Select all tracks (including the audio tracks that are hosts for Kontakt and other VIs.)

    - Bounce to track.

    - Solo the new, bounced track and select it.

    - Export to WAV file.


    I haven't had any major problems with this method.

  4. #4

    Re: Freeze vs. Bounce

    Thanks for the input, guys. I appreciate it.

    Jim, the freezing operation is not crashing the OS, just Sonar. I do get a diaglog listing the problem, and could write that info down for you if you are really curious.

    I know that the problem is the computer - I had simiar problems trying to "fast bounce" tracks in Finale using GPO, as well. Those problems are non-existent on my laptop, though, which has a much newer processor (same memory, though).

    EJR, I think that your methodology would not work so well in my case, since even when I tried bouncing only a single Kontakt MIDI track, it crashed my Sonar. If I upgrade, I'll remember it, though.

    Also, I think that you may be adding an unnecessary step with the first bounce. Before I was using KP2 tracks, all I ever did (without any problems) was select my whole mix (or deselect the whole mix, both options work) and export to a stereo wav file. Never needed the intervening step. And, I think once I have all the Kontakt tracks bounced to audio files (even if I have to do that step in real time), I still won't have problems with exporting the entire mix without bouncing it to a single stereo track first.

    BTW, as another data point, I did successfully render another song with one JABB track and one audio track without ever freezing the JABB track first.

    Thanks again,

  5. #5

    Re: Freeze vs. Bounce

    As it happens, there's a brief to-the-point article about track freezing in the current issue of Keyboard which is the topic of another thread.

    Rob, it sounds like you hadn't come across the need to freeze or bounce before--? I don't know what I'd do if I was stuck with relying on live playback of all my MIDI tracks, all 20-60 or more of them I generally need in a project.

    There's some confusion about some things on this thread though. -

    Thanks for linking to the discussion we had about this in the JABB Forum. Over there Haydn said, "...You have to freeze all the tracks on the same audio output though..." And I think what he meant is that if you were having instruments share an audio track, then of course all of them are going to end up in the freeze or bounced file. Bad way to work!

    You need to keep each instrument on its own audio channel. On the Flute track--there's nothing but the Flute, on down the line. Then when you're ready to really mix a project, you have independent control of each instrument. For me, the only way I can get a decent sounding final mix is to work with Audio tracks, not MIDI, because there's so much more that can be done with Audio. The dynamic contrasts between tracks can be much more elegantly come into play when you're dealing with Audio.

    But to the issue of all this crashing, Rob - I'm mystified. I've never had that happen, even when I was using a woefully under-powered computer. I couldn't tell from your posts if there's a wrong turn you're taking at some point--maybe there is? But bouncing is a routine and very fast procedure - there shouldn't be any pain involved!

    I only do slow bounces - the Fast Bounce option too often produces glitches in the Audio, moments in the MIDI where just too much is happening for the computer to accurately render. So I Always leave "fast bounce" un-checked.

    And I always use the single track option - As I said above, I want individual audio tracks for each instrument, so I end up with a mixing situation like in "the old days"---a bunch of raw audio tracks (no effects added!) ready to be panned, EQd and etc.

    Rob, you're right that ejr is adding an extra step which not only is taking him more time, but possibly adding a slight degradation to his tracks.

    Lemme explain, using a C&P of your post, ejr, and inserting what I hope are helpful responses:

    "- One audio track for each instance of Kontakt or other VI."

    Why, when you can get up to 16 tracks of stereo audio out of Kontakt? As long as you have the matching number of audio tracks inside your main app, there's no problem. But if you're concerned about having your computer crash, and your slightly under-powered CPU - then you're just making the problem worse with all those unnecessary instances of Kontakt. Those instances take a Lot of power.

    "- If I am using Kontakt, one instance of Kontakt for each section (strings, reeds, brass, etc.)"

    That's tidy, but why are you doing so much setting up inside Kontakt where it's inside Sonar that really matters? I mean that if you want to group each orchestral section together, why not do that in Sonar - But STILL you don't want all the instruments for one section to be on only one track! Individual audio tracks in Sonar for each instrument, and then all of those instruments can be in a sub-mix through a "Strings" Bus for instance, if you want to have immediate volume control over each section as a group.

    "- One audio track for each vocal, if I am recording vocals."

    And you might as well leave yourself open for 10 tracks, 20 tracks, whatever it takes for the vocals. Record performances of the vocal, then pick and choose the best of each track, mix a master vocal track - More efficient than forcing yourself to stick with only one vocal track.

    "- One output bus that all the above are routed to."

    You mean the Master bus going to your card, right? You could have quite a few other busses before the master, one for each section for instance, one for each reverb you're using - etc.

    "When I want to mix down to my final output:

    - Select all tracks (including the audio tracks that are hosts for Kontakt and other VIs.)

    - Bounce to track.

    - Solo the new, bounced track and select it.

    - Export to WAV file."


    THERE is the extra step that Rob pointed out, and he's correct. When you've mixed down all of your project's tracks to a 2-track master all inside the project itself - that IS your .wav file, your master recording. To then bounce it again out of the project is re-recording the .wav file for no reason. That group bounce is already your master .wav file.

    If you use the "Export" function, then your 2-track master is deposited wherever you send it. Logically you put it in the same project folder. One recording--one "bounce," though this isn't actually a bounce--It's the mix down.

    Having the 2-track master inside your project has the advantage of auditioning it inside Sonar - I think that's why you're doing that. That works OK--but then all you need to do is keep it inside the project. If you want to get at that 2-track to make an MP3, do it with that track soloed inside Sonar.

    But I always export the master because for me there's still a lot of work to do after I've finished the raw mix in Sonar. I open up the exported mix in Sound Forge and go about the business of tweaking it, a process much more efficiently done in a dedicated mastering program.

    Meanwhile - the problem of computers crashing that you both have. Well, having an unnecessary number of Kontakt instances open is definitely a problem. But Rob - can't see from your posts what the cause of your problem is.

    And so forth. I was inspired to type a BUnch in response, hoping some of this may be helpful.

    Randy B.

  6. #6

    Re: Freeze vs. Bounce

    Here's what I've got going on in this particular piece, Randy.

    8 Tracks.

    Track 1: Piano MIDI Data
    Track 2: Bass MIDI Data
    Track 3: Drum Set MIDI Data
    Track 4: Saxophone MIDI Data
    Track 5: Kontakt Stereo Out 1, playing JABB Steinway
    Track 6: Output from Dimension LE, playing upright bass
    Track 7: Kontakt Stereo Out 2, playing JABB Brush Kit 1
    Track 8: Kontakt Stereo Out 3L, playing JABB Soprano Sax

    One instance of Kontakt. What Jim (Haydn) said about freezing Kontakt is true in my experience - it's an all or nothing prospect, which makes sense since freezing is all about shutting down the synth to save resources.

    As for the crashing, I believe that the day I am on a dedicated music computer, not the family computer with all sorts of internet downloads and superfluous software, my crashing problems will disappear. Also, if I only slow bounce my synth tracks (or slow freeze, I'll play with that at my next opportunity), my crashing problems will probably also be significantly minimized, if not disappear completely.

    Thanks,

  7. #7

    Re: Freeze vs. Bounce

    Hi, Rob!

    OK, that's a very light project you've outlined there. Just 4 audio tracks - hard to imagine those presenting a problem.

    In the JABB thread referenced earlier, I mentioned that I bounce instead of freezing--Haydn explained the difference, but any advantage that freezing has is still lost on me. It's more limiting in fact, since you are forced to freeze all the tracks in a Kontakt instance so that it can be shut down. If you bounce tracks, you can do just one track at a time if you want--and then when you want to release Kontakt from taking up CPU power, that can be done also, as a separate command. I use as few instances of Kontakt as possible because they're CPU hogs, and try to keep only one instance online at a time.

    "... I did successfully render another song with one JABB track and one audio track without ever freezing the JABB track first...."


    !! I should hope so! Only one track--well, yeah! Hmmmm, I guess it's hard for me to grasp how limited you are on your current computer.

    Anyway---good luck with gettings things more balanced out in your system--keep us posted.

    Randy

  8. #8

    Re: Freeze vs. Bounce

    Thanks, Randy.

    Hey, I forgot to ask - what is it you do to your audio tracks in the audio editor? I'm not sure what advantage you gain there vs. editing right in Sonar. Just curious.

    As for the advantage to freezing a synth vs. bouncing it, convenience. If you don't want to do audio editing to a track, just apply mixing and effects, freezing a track is (usually) fast, painless, and easily un-doable without losing the mixing and effects already applied.

    I know that the last bit also applies to bouncing, but I'm talking convience, here. I mean, there's an option that when you freeze a synth, it's MIDI track will automatically disappear.

    Anyway, that's the thinking.

  9. #9

    Re: Freeze vs. Bounce

    Rob

    As I read all of this, I have been trying to find the specs on your computer and can't seem to find them anywhere.

    So, how fast is your computer, how much RAM do you have and how many processors?

    Randy and Rob

    I have a dual core w/3.0 chips and I have 4gbs Ram but use Vista 32 bit so I don't use all of the RAM.

    My typical set up in Sonar is 1 (sometimes 2) instances of KP2 w/16 instruments loaded. I also have 4-5 instances of Konpakt loaded with 8 instruments each. Occasionally another synth might be added. I pan and add effects thru each individual player for that instrument. Nothing major, just a little here and there. I have between 50-60 midi tracks and have never even used the freeze function.

    I get everything to sound right using cc data and then bounce the entire project all at once.

    If I am not sure it is completed, I will do a fast bounce and rarely have any spikes in it. But for the final mix, I always do a slow bounce and for some reason, I have to do this a number of times to ensure I have no spikes.

    I then add any FX/envelopes from Sonar into the mix and export a wav file. I then take that wav file into Audacity (soon that will be Soundforge) and edit for the final volume and length.

    The only time I have ever had Sonar crash is when my computer decides that it has to do something else that is scheduled, although I think I have finally taken care of all of that. Sonar 8 PE hasn't crashed on me in quite a while.

    I may not do things the right way, but it works for me.

    Ron
    "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." Albert Einstein

    http://composersforum.ning.com/profile/RonaldFerguson

  10. #10

    Re: Freeze vs. Bounce

    Howdy, Rob and Ron - Let me rustle up some replies:

    "...what is it you do to your audio tracks in the audio editor? I'm not sure what advantage you gain there vs. editing right in Sonar. Just curious..."

    I started using Sound Forge on the advice from author Scott R. Garrigus when I read his book "Cakewalk Power." He's still the author of the best manuals available for each version of Cakewalk/Sonar as they come out.

    I think it's a bit "old school" now, this use of a dedicated mastering program like Sound Forge, but at the time when I first started using software instead of hardware sequencers, Scott was talking about the greater sophistication of Forge compared to what was then available in Cakewalk. The two companies, Cakewalk and Forge (owned now by Sony) are still partnered. If you have Forge on your computer, it automatically shows up as a Tool in Sonar. While working on a project you can click on the Forge tab and have a tool copy of a .wav file open in Forge, and after you edit it in there, the new edited version is imported into Sonar. All of that is done without closing Sonar.

    But the audio editing capabilities of DAWs have become more sophisticated, and so it's possible that I continue to use Forge out of habit - I probably could do all the work inside Sonar.

    Forge now has multi-track capability, but that wasn't true until the last year. It's whole purpose was to make microscopic detail work possible on a .wav file. I like the way the audio file can fill the entire screen. Zoomed in enough, you can draw right on the .wav form to change the sound--easiest way to erase glitches, like the pops on vinyl if you're working on a record transfer project.

    It's a super solid program which has never crashed on me. It's noted for its rock solid stability. But the tools I use, EQs, drawn volume envelopes, compressors, limiters - they are all now available in Sonar. The volume maximizing tool is excellent.

    So, even though I tout the use of Forge, I admit it could be out of habit that I use it. Scott Garrigus recommended it for doing actual mastering instead of just mixing, pointing out that you can work in more detail there --but I'm saying, that isn't necessarily true anymore.

    You can create impulse files for reverb, and looped samples--very cool that points you set in Forge are read as the loop points in samplers.

    "...As for the advantage to freezing a synth vs. bouncing it, convenience. If you don't want to do audio editing to a track, just apply mixing and effects, freezing a track is (usually) fast, painless, and easily un-doable without losing the mixing and effects already applied..."

    Thanks for the description, Rob. I can try Freezing again instead of bouncing--I somehow just had a bad experience the two times I tried it. Suddenly I was locking up and losing data, something I don't usually experiece.

    Bouncing to me is just as convenient as what you're describing. It only takes moments, and is just as un-doable. You just delete it--If you've been adding volume and other automation, you can keep that if you want to add to a new copy.

    But I don't apply mixing and effects applied to a .wav file. I might use some normalization, but otherwise, Audio files I usually keep raw. Effects are kept constantly ammendable, tweakable, as I work on the mix. All of those run live via busses and/or track inserts.

    Part of the theory behind my personal way of working - I want to end up with a line up of bonafide Audio files that I can see. I want the mixing part to be the same as it's been in record studios forever, you know? I got my individual parts, there's the guitar, the drums, the bass, the whatever--now I want to have that Feel of working with solid audio, with the advantage over the old studios in that I can See the audio. I like looking at the mixer and seeing exactly what I'd see if I'd set up a million microphones and recorded a live orchestra.

    Once I have my audio tracks, pushing "M" on the computer keyboard brings up the list of visible tracks--MIDI tracks are muted, archived, and removed from view.

    And Ronald!--thanks for the peek into your studio. Always interesting to hear how people adapt music creation to their own tastes.

    My laptop is Vista 64 bit, dual core, 4gigs Ram--it's the King of the computers we have here now. But I'm still using the Dell next to me for my music projects and it's nowhere near the laptop in horse power. I want to have a permanent set up for music production though, my laptop goes in and out of the room.

    I've been doing Some music work on this, but still rely mostly on the Dell. And so I need to pull a few tricks, bouncing when needed, and saving live playback of some effects until I'm happy with the balances I'm getting.

    "...I pan and add effects thru each individual player for that instrument. Nothing major, just a little here and there. I have between 50-60 midi tracks and have never even used the freeze function..."

    Do you mean you use the pans and effects in Kontakt instead of Sonar? I only use KP2 as a shell, the engine to play the instruments. I pipe those tracks into individual Sonar tracks, and then have complete control of all the project elements inside Sonar itself, since it's so much more flexible and powerful.

    "...I get everything to sound right using cc data and then bounce the entire project all at once..."

    You mean you're bouncing the entire project to a 2-track master at once, not working on the audio files for each individual instrument? I guess that means you are using EQs on the audio channels in Sonar to balance things out that way before the bounce?

    "...I then add any FX/envelopes from Sonar into the mix and export a wav file. I then take that wav file into Audacity (soon that will be Soundforge) and edit for the final volume and length..."


    Interesting--But you don't mean you're adding universal effects to the entire mix, like one reverb setting for the whole thing? Maybe I misunderstood--I thought you were saying you mix everything down to a master first--bypassing the recording of individual instrument tracks.

    And it looks like you're using Audacity for the final mastering, the way I use Forge--But why do that when you're already inside Sonar which is much better than Audacity? Volume work, everything you want to do Can be done in Sonar--as per my stuff above about my habit of using Forge--But I don't get how Audacity fits into this chain when you're already inside a more powerful program, Sonar.

    Now. What were we talking about?

    Randy B.

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