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Topic: DAW Workflow Questions

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  1. #1

    DAW Workflow Questions

    Thinking about the way I work with my studio setup and how I may not be getting the best results.

    Oldish PC with Sonar 8.0 and myriad VSTi's and effects;

    I create a MIDI file with say 8 tracks
    Tidy up the mix so it's how I want it
    Add effects
    Export the whole mix as a two track stereo .wav file

    Looking back at other posts it looks like some people create an audio track for each midi track and apply any effects / mixing then master that to a final two track .wav

    My PC just can't handle running multiple audio tracks with or without effects but I may have a solution. I have a Roland VS2400CD and thought I might press this into service. It's normally used for live recording, voice and instruments.

    My though was to sync this to Sonar and record each audio track one at a time with effects added. Once I have all the audio tracks recorded on the external DAW I could then mix to my hearts content and master on this or send a two track master back to the PC for any final tweaking.

    How does that sound? How would you do it?

  2. #2

    Re: DAW Workflow Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Monaghan View Post
    Thinking about the way I work with my studio setup and how I may not be getting the best results.

    Oldish PC with Sonar 8.0 and myriad VSTi's and effects;

    I create a MIDI file with say 8 tracks
    Tidy up the mix so it's how I want it
    Add effects
    Export the whole mix as a two track stereo .wav file
    Tony,

    That's pretty much what i do. Large ensembles (in my case over 16 tracks) pretty much require creating separate audio tracks from the midi, I use Sonars freeze function for this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Monaghan View Post
    My PC just can't handle running multiple audio tracks with or without effects
    I'm not sure I understand, rendered audio playback requires far less power then the audio rendering of the midi with samples.

  3. #3

    Re: DAW Workflow Questions

    I write the score in Overture and program all the midi there, including mod wheel and humanizing. I then export each track to Ableton Live (but the sequencer doesn't matter, really), possibly use up to 8 instruments (if building a string ensemble) on a single part and then add Altiverb (early reflections) to each instrument group with stage positioning. I then add the long tail to master and do any possible equing there. I also possibly tweak each individual channel with EQ or compression if needed.

    This is my ideal setup, sometimes I also take shortcuts by adding just a stereo reverb to section strings, skipping the ensemble building.

  4. #4

    Re: DAW Workflow Questions

    Hey Tony,
    I'm going to parrot what Mike said. MIDI tracks (and the associated sample playback) requires much more processing power than audio tracks. You should be able to record audio tracks for each MIDI track (muting MIDI tracks as you progress) and then add effects. Maybe you are running out of juice when you add effects, though it doesn't sound like you have taken it to this step.

    A few questions:

    1) What version of Windows are you using?

    2) What make/model PC do you have? (Number of cores, speed of cores)

    3) How much memory?

    4) How many tracks do you typically have in a project?

    The main problem I see with your workflow using the VS2400 is that you are using a VS2400. Sorry, those all in one units don't fit the way my mind works at all! Seriously, the main issue is that the reverb available on those kinds of units are usually very pop music oriented. Hence, not very good for orchestral work. What about selling the VS2400 and using the money to upgrade your PC?

    These are pretty random thoughts because we don't know much about your system. The quality of response will improve with the quality of the data provided.

    -Kevin
    We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams …
    24" 2.4 Ghz iMac, OSX 10.4.10, MOTU 828 MKII, 2 Glyph 250 Gig external drives, Logic 9, Finale 2008 GPO, JABB, Strad, Gro, Reason 4, EWQL Storm Drum, Adrenaline, Symphonic Choirs, SO Gold,All Arturia Synths, Many NI Synths, Spectrasonics Synths, KH Strings, VEPro on a Windows 7 4x 2.8 Ghz 12 gig of RAM

  5. #5

    Re: DAW Workflow Questions

    Thanks for your thoughts guys.

    PC is a PIV 3.2Ghz with 2Gb RAM XP Pro.

    I typically work with 8-12 tracks sometimes more. I've tried recording audio tracks as LFO suggested but Sonar chokes on more than a couple of tracks without any effects - that's muting the midi tracks as well.

    I wasn't planning on using the onboard effects on the VS2400 but to add conv reverb to one track at a time sending it out the external DAW. That way I can have as many tracks as I like recorded with effects on the DAW ready for mastering.

    Will take considerable more time doing it this way but I'm hoping to get better results.

  6. #6

    Re: DAW Workflow Questions

    Hey Tony,
    With a 3.2 Ghz box you should not have any problems. Am I missing something? You say it is an oldish box but the CPU frequency is not what I would call an older rating. 2 Gig of RAM should probably be bumped up to 4 and then your world would totally change. What motherboard are you using? Is PIV a brand name?

    One thing I would do is take a look at http://www.musicxp.net and take their advice on optimizing XP for audio. I used their recommendations for three or four years when I was on a Windows box and my Windows box was rock solid and efficient.

    Last of all, and very important, are your hard drives. Are they 7200 RPM or faster?

    I could do much, much more on a 2.4 Ghz XP Home box with 4 gig of RAM, so you should be able to get your Windows box humming along and you can forget (or better yet sell!) the Roland.

    -Kevin
    We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams …
    24" 2.4 Ghz iMac, OSX 10.4.10, MOTU 828 MKII, 2 Glyph 250 Gig external drives, Logic 9, Finale 2008 GPO, JABB, Strad, Gro, Reason 4, EWQL Storm Drum, Adrenaline, Symphonic Choirs, SO Gold,All Arturia Synths, Many NI Synths, Spectrasonics Synths, KH Strings, VEPro on a Windows 7 4x 2.8 Ghz 12 gig of RAM

  7. #7

    Re: DAW Workflow Questions

    When you play back the audio tracks try raising the latency up to at least 40ms and maybe higher.

    It won't affect the mixing and should give you more tracks.

    I used to run more than a couple of tracks without effects on a 500mhz PIII laptop.

    Though The Sonar demo ran very poorly on that computer. Very poorly.
    I got 4-6 or so (I haven't used the laptop in about a year so I don't remember exactly) audio tracks on that computer using Tracktion 1.

  8. #8

    Re: DAW Workflow Questions

    Hummm, I can only echo perplexity already expressed on the thread. Audio tracks take much less CPU to play than MIDI tracks linked to soft synths. If you have 12 or more MIDI tracks playing - you should be able to have triple, quadruple that in audio tracks playing back with no problem. - I don't get it.

    I work up to maybe 6 tracks then bounce to audio, mute and archive the MIDI tracks, then move on - ending up with 30, 40, 50 audio tracks. My old computer used for music, XP off-the-shelf Dell has a limit to live playback of MIDI, but never chokes on audio.

    You're bouncing the tracks, right?--despite some people's misgivings about bouncing - you're not recording these in real time?

    You can see I feel that it's really necessary to bounce tracks to audio before going to a 2-track master. There's so much more to be done after you've worked up the MIDI files.

    Randy

  9. #9

    Re: DAW Workflow Questions

    Tony -

    Something to entertain for the future when there is some extra cash to spend: the use of slave computers to help distribute the CPU and memory workload. Even one "slave computer" could be helpful.

    For my happy little studio, I have up to 3 "slave computers" networked together using midi-networking programs. To be honest, I rarely use all three. I usually use just one. But they're there if/when those big sequencing projects come along. (And, sadly, I haven't the time lately for writing and sequencing those big compositional projects.) It's a stable set-up and I can use dozens and dozens of software instruments from various libraries (GPO and JABB being the two main ones! )

    What was helpful in "creating" this set up was. . . . not having kids! LOL! I also didn't throw away my old Dell computers. So, if you ever decide to purchase another computer, keep the old one!!

    Just tossing this idea out there to you (or to anyone interested). I'm sure you know lots of composers/musicians with similar set ups. I'm just a vocal advocate for the use of "slave" computers as one solution for managing those big sequencing projects.

    Good luck!

    Ted
    Music and humor are healthy for the soul.

  10. #10

    Re: DAW Workflow Questions

    Hello Tony,

    I agree with those who felt you should have no problems with your PC specs.

    Kevin, PIV = Pentium 4 (processor).

    I build my own DAWs and have not long rebuilt and updated mine. My previous DAW was also a P4, 3.2 processor with Sonar Producer and I had absolutely no problems at all with this. My scores often went to 16 or more tracks both MIDI and audio. The difference is that I had 4 MB RAM and you have 2 MB. I agree that adding another 2 MB would certainly be a good move although I'm not so sure it would make that much of a difference in your situation. I would certainly add the extra and try it; the cost of RAM is low at the moment and your computer could do with it. If the additional RAM doesn't spruce things up for you, as I suspect, then, without going into fuller details, your mainboard may be the weak link in the chain.

    Regarding work-flow, I work with MIDI for a lot of the time bringing this to audio for final mastering. All of this is done within my DAW and, as I mentioned at the top, I had absolutely no problems with PC performance at all. Regarding bringing out tracks to an external source then taking them back into Sonar again. Personally I feel that this is not the best work-flow. I hasten to add that this is just my opinion and I realise people do work this way but it wouldn't do for me.

    I hope you try adding that RAM and that you find the optimum work-flow that works best for you.

    Good luck.
    Michael
    Patience is a virtue, sensitivity is a gift

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