By Jim Dalrymple Macworld.com | on May 11, 2009
Price When Reviewed: 106 . 176 . 92
Upgrading a pro-level application can be difficult for both the company that makes it and for those who use it. Don't add enough new features and people will say the upgrade isn't worth it, but if you change too much, you run the risk of alienating your core users.
This is the dilemma that Digidesign faced when updating its market-leading digital audio workstation, Pro Tools. Digidesign was very careful when it released Pro Tools 8, giving users a good balance of features and familiarity.
One of the features I was looking forward to the most is comping. Pro Tools now lets you loop record to playlists and then piece together--or comp--the best bits from each take. It's a great way to put together the best parts of a guitar solo or even fix a specific phrasing or missed note.
To begin comping a track you need to put Pro Tools in Loop Record mode and make sure the preference setting is checked to create a new playlist in loop record mode. Click on record and start playing, doing as many takes as you like. You'll notice that each take is recorded onto a new playlist track, giving you the option to use that take or part of the take later on.
I find the easiest way to go through a comp is to do it in sections, listening to each take to make sure you have the best version possible. If you expand the track you'll see all the different versions of what you just recorded. Highlighting a section and then clicking on the promote button will move that part of the take to the main track.
Completing your masterpiece
Once you go through each section of the solo and promote the pieces you like, you have a finished piece of music. Now you can go back and listen to it, making sure there are no pops or other noises where the takes join and that the comp fits your needs. If not, you can always go back and replace sections that you don't like.
Being a guitar player, Digidesign's Eleven Free plug-in was a big draw for me. I use a variety of guitar amp modeling plug-ins when I record, but I must say that Eleven is very realistic.
Unlike some plug-ins that include a variety of amps and effects, Eleven focuses exclusively on the amp and cab models. The great thing is that Digidesign focused on the right part of the gear--if the amp doesn't sound realistic, it's not going to sound good no matter what effects you put on it.