MOTU AudioDesk Software

Sep 1, 1999 12:00 PM, Michael Cooper


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A significant part of the MOTU 2408 Hard Disk Recording System's appeal lies in the powerful AudioDesk software, a sophisticated and feature-laden multitrack recorder/editor.

Transferring dozens of tracks of audio into AudioDesk from a multitrack tape recorder is a snap. Command-click the Record Enable button on any track to enable all tracks except the one you clicked. A second click (sans command key) on the same track's Record Enable button will ready it to record along with the rest. Option-clicking disables all the other tracks. The same command sequences can be used to quickly Play-Enable/Disable all tracks, or to toggle the Volume/Pan Automation on/off for all tracks (clicking on Play-Enable or Automation buttons, respectively). The Assignments command (in the Graphic Editor's mini-menu) brings up a dialog box that allows you to assign all selected tracks to consecutive inputs and voices with a couple of mouse clicks.

It's all too easy to lose your place when editing at the sample level. To keep your bearings, here's a quick way to zoom-both horizontally and vertically-way in and way out: Hold down the Option key while dragging the mouse over a small time range to zoom down to a microscopic view of that region. Then hold down the Option and Shift keys while you click anywhere in the Graphic Editor's grid to toggle between this view and the previous "macroscopic" view.

Here's a great arranging tool: Try substituting one sound bite for another by using the Merge function instead of pasting. This allows you to toggle playback between the original and substitute sound bites. The substitute sound bite will be placed on top of the original one, temporarily replacing it. To then hear the sound bite that was replaced, select the sound bite that was substituted for it and choose Move to Back from the Audio menu. This places it underneath the original sound bite on the display, so that it is not heard. Merging is much more flexible than using copy and paste with Undo/Redo, because you can change your mind at any time and go back to the sound bite you ditched. In fact, multiple sound bites can be merged to provide several alternative arrangements.

MOTU's inconspicuous Trim plug-in (bundled with AudioDesk) provides high-resolution stereo meters that are useful for viewing the output ceiling of stereo mixes transferred from DAT for remastering. Assign the stereo track to buses 1 and 2 via post-fader sends, and set the sends to unity gain in the Mixing Board window. (Double-click on the send knobs to set to unity.) Add a new stereo aux track via the Graphic Editor's mini-menu, and assign its inputs to buses 1 and 2. Then send the aux track "out to get pizza"-that is, assign its outputs to somewhere it will never be heard. We only want to use the aux track for metering purposes. Assigning the Trim plug-in to this aux track's insert will now allow you to view the post-fader levels (downstream from all EQ and dynamics processing) of your mix.

To increase the resolution of the Trim's meters (in the Effects window), drag the triangles under "Range adjust" so that the meters show a range from about -6 to +2 dBFS. This will give you approximately 11/44dB meter increments around the 0 dBFS point and 11/410dB peak level read-outs, for ultra-precise metering of your available headroom. I like to leave around .3 or .4 dB of headroom to give consumer CD players a little leeway.

AudioDesk is just as precise with setting output levels as it is with viewing them. Sometimes dragging control points on automation volume curves may not give you the exact level you require, because the parameter value skips over too big of an interval. No problem. In the Graphic Editor, click on the control point, click on its parameter value read-out in the Information Bar (above the Time Ruler) and type in the exact number you want with your computer's keyboard. Using this method, resolution improves down to 11/4100 dB. That should be sufficient for all you tweakheads out there!

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