Adventures In Audio with Audio Masterclass
Recording SoftWare for Blind people. Can anybody Please help?

Digidesign Session Multitrack Recording Software (part 4)



There is no doubt that Digidesign can make good software. But for the reasons
I outlined earlier there is reason to suspect that not every feature you might
possibly wish for is actually included. And perhaps they have put a couple of
red herrings in there that make the job more difficult. Fortunately, except
for one point, the latter is not the case. The only thing that makes the job
harder is the on-screen display. I can’t deny that it is a very beautiful
piece of software. The artist that designed this mimic of a real piece of audio
hardware deserves an award. The only problem is, as you can see from Figure
1, the windows are the wrong shape to tile neatly on the screen. I use a 17”
monitor which is a good compromise between seeing enough information on the
screen and being able to project an X-ray picture of my head on the opposite
wall. I doubt that many potential Session owners have a 20” screen, so
they will inevitably end up endlessly swapping from one window to another. Fortunately
the transport bar (Figure 2) ‘floats’ so it is always visible, as
does the QuickTime window if you want it to. But there is no satisfactory way
to arrange the others so you can get at everything you need instantly all the
time without wasting valuable screen real estate. Recommendation: Digidesign
should provide an alternative mixer window where everything is shrunk down to
a manageable width, and to hell with the aesthetics.

Once the software is installed and the hardware is configured, you are ready
to record. Recording is very simple and the only new thing you will need to
get used to is that the mixer window’s faders are actually two sets of
faders, one for input and one for playback, which position themselves automatically
according to whether a track is in record mode or not. This isn’t any kind
of problem after the first five minutes. When you have recorded some audio,
then the fun begins. I think I can explain the good and not so good points better
using an example. Suppose you had a had a backing track already recorded and
a singer came in at short notice to do a vocal. She laid down a couple of takes
before flying off to another engagement. Both takes were a bit dodgy in places
and she had an annoying habit of dragging behind the beat.

Your first step would be to choose the overall better of the two takes and
decide which parts of the other you would edit in. If you look again at Figure
1 you’ll see that Session automatically draws an overview of the waveform
to make finding your way around easier. Inevitably, drawing waveforms takes
time, so it is possible only to have the ones you are interested in drawn for
you, which is a good point. As you play the recording you will find that you
can have the display stand still or you can have it scroll continuously, which
is probably more useful. There is also a page scroll mode, as is commonly found
in sequencers. Cutting out a short portion of audio isn’t too difficult.
Simply play up to the bit that you want, stop playback and judge from the waveform
where the likely start and end points are. With the selector tool (the icon
to the left of the grabber hand) sweep across the waveform to highlight it,
then hit the space bar to audition your selection. If it’s not right, adjust
the start and end points using your existing Mac mousing skills. This is where
my point about not providing every useful feature comes in. What you can’t
do in this software is scrub. There is no way you can slide the mouse back and
forth and hear audio playing in proportion to the direction and speed of the
mouse. Okay, in some systems the scrub function works so badly it is practically
useless. But I know for a fact that this software/hardware combination could
have had an excellent scrub facility, taking into account that it is mouse driven,
but it has been left out for some reason. Seeing as there is no scrub, I would
have thought that there would have options to play up to the start, play up
to the end, and play from the end, all of which are present in Sound Designer
and which I use all the time. No, I’m afraid. If you have a long selection,
the only way to check the end is to audition the whole thing. Yawn.

David Mellor



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David Mellor