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Using SoundTrack Pro
As a Digital Audio Editor
Note: Soundtrack Pro now comes bundled with Logic Studio
Soundtrack Pro is available as both as a standalone product and as part of the Final Cut Studio bundle. I am not going to talk much about its integration with Final Cut Pro (which Apple does quite eloquently at the mothersite) but rather discuss its benefits as a primary audio editor for the Mac OSX platform and an external editor for applications like Logic Pro.
Out of the box, and onto the screen, Soundtrack Pro looks like nothing special. The GUI is rather plain looking. You see the familiar lanes for audio tracks and loops, a video track, and typical controls for volume, pan, setting the output, and record enable, fx, mute and solo. You can customize a single toolbar that is not dockable or movable. That's it? That was my first thought.
So I launched the Apple Loops browser and tossed in a bunch of the new Soundtrack Pro Apple Loops. Not bad. Lots of sound effects for films and some nice additions to your GarageBand library. Plenty to get started with even if you don't (for some reason) have GarageBand. The idea here is to get you into the Jam Packs, which, at a low cost, can give you an immense library of Apple Loops. There's a really nice automated mixer. The usual ability to insert real time effects Automatic crossfades. Good stuff for working fast with audio snips in radio-TV-film production setting and also good for the home recordists who want to make music without MIDI or software synths.
Then I discovered the audio editor opened up in a different tab when you clicked on an audio region and gave a large view of the waveform against a grid. You can choose to work destructively or non-destructively with it. You can go to town with effects, and each time you apply one, an "action" is created in the list to the left of the screen and the waveform is "animated", that is, graphically updated. Whoa, thinks Tweak--that is cool. Returning the waveform back to normal is as simple as deleting the action from the list. This includes cutting and pasting, fades, crossfades, silencing, amp adjustments, normalizing, and adding any effect from your computer's audio units. Once you "flatten" the actions, the changes become permanent. I also liked that I could work on one side of a stereo file and leave the other side untouched.
If you don't own a lot of effects you will be pleased with those supplied. I counted over 50, and most of them look like Logic's effects, same names, yet slightly modified so they work with a "preview" button. Logic cannot do non-realtime effects in its audio editor with core audio drivers yet. So this feature was my first "Hurrah!" In logic, in order to apply an effect in non-realtime (that is, when the sequencer is not running) to an audio file you have to bounce. Now, all you have to do is hit the key command to launch STP from within Logic, edit away, save, and go back to sequencing. So far, all my attempts have been flawlessly executed.
While Soundtrack Pro is not a tool for burning CD Masters of your songs, it can be used to finalize your songs, much like other audio editors. You can do click and pop removal, noise reduction, apply amp and pan envelopes and you get many of the dynamic processes you find in Logic--the adaptive limiter, limiter, compressor, expander, noise gate, Multipressor, as well as the great EQs--the super cool "match EQ" and linear phase EQ are here among others. In short, these are the processors you need to bring your songs up to commercial volume levels. Unfortunately, these processors are not "plugins" per se--they only show up in STPro and Logic, and not in your non Apple editors like Peak, Cubase, etc.
While you could use Soundtrack pro as a stand alone multitrack recorder, its not out to replace Logic or GarageBand. There is no MIDI editing or the ability to record MIDI instruments. Its more apt at being Apple's audio Swiss army knife for all of its applications that can use extensive audio editing.
Of course SoundTrack Pro is designed to work well with Final Cut Pro as part of Apple's Final Cut Pro Studio bundle. From FCP you can instantly launch STP when you edit audio. Just make your tweaks and click save. STP allows you to edit your camera's audio tracks and add loops and music on additional tracks, making the task of building a soundtrack intuitive, hence it's name.
I was able to crash it from within Kontakt 2 (I'll let you guess who's problem that probably is, but it does work from within Kontakt2) and using Antares Filter from FXPansions VST-AU shell will instantly cause the whole application to "poof" (suddenly disappear). But that's nothing to sweat about. Otherwise I found STP quite stable. It makes a great alternative to Peak as your audio editor of choice. I think it could stand up against a Peak and Waves Platinum combination for mastering. STPro might not win in every category against such a $1900 bundle, but it will hold its own in the important ones and add plenty of features neither Waves nor Peak will ever do. For a product at version 1.0, this is not bad at all. I am looking forward to growing with Soundtrack pro.
Discuss Soundtrack Pro at its topic at Studio Central
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