October 4, 2004
MOTU, Inc. has announced Digital Performer 4.5, the next major upgrade of MOTU's audio sequencer software. DP 4.5 introduces hundreds of new features and enhancements, including the Beat Detection Engine, automated tempo analysis, plug-in latency compensation, the MasterWorks EQ plug-in and a new Consolidated Window feature, which lets users work entirely in a single configurable window.
As one of the few remaining “DAE hosts”, Digital Performer continues to serve as a third-party software front end for Pro Tools TDM systems. Version 4.5 introduces dozens of enhancements for Pro Tools TDM operation, including support for RTAS and AudioSuite plug-ins, full RTAS and TDM plug-in automation, sample-accurate latency compensation for all plug-ins, virtual instrument track support, stereo sends, send automation, automatic voice allocation, QuickPunch support, System Resources Usage window (for monitoring TDM DSP resources) and much more.
Beat Detection Engine
Digital Performer's new Beat Detection Engine and tempo analysis features give users rhythmic and tempo control over their audio, further blurring the line between audio and MIDI data. Employing sophisticated transient detection technology, the Beat Detection Engine analyzes audio loops and audio files that contain rhythmic music to determine where the beats are in the music. Importing Apple Loops, REX files, ACID WAV's and other audio material is just the beginning: as soon as they are imported, or an audio track is recorded, the Beat Detection Engine goes to work. Audio immediately conforms to the tempo of the project and users can then begin applying a wide array of beat- and tempo- related features, such as:
- Align any audio to the correct tempo – Even if an imported loop doesn't have embedded tempo information, Digital Performer can immediately snap it to the tempo of the project. But what about lengthy audio files? How can they be matched to a project's tempo? With the Beat Detection Engine, it's easy. Users just drag and drop them into a track, and Digital Performer takes care of the rest, even conforming the audio to the project's tempo automatically, if desired. The convenient Set Sync Point At First Beat command lets users quickly align the first beat (or any beat they wish to use as a reference) to the sequence time ruler.
- Quantize beats within soundbites – Users can now easily tighten up the timing of audio tracks with Digital Performer's Quantize command, applying just the right amount of strength, offset, randomization or even shuffle/swing. The same familiar Quantize window is used for both MIDI and audio data, which can be quantized together in one operation. Whole audio files can be quantized, with no need to split them up into individual beats beforehand.
- Apply grooves to audio and extract them from audio – DP users have been able to create and apply rhythmic feel – “grooves” – to MIDI data for years. Now they can do the same for both MIDI and audio. Users can apply grooves to MIDI and audio tracks in one operation, including both timing and “velocity” (the relative strength) of each beat. Users can extract a groove from audio tracks and apply it to MIDI tracks, or vice versa. For example, the feel of a drum recording can be extracted and then applied to programmed MIDI tracks for tight, natural sounding composite rhythm tracks.
- Snap edits to beats – Edit grids are commonplace and snap users' actions to a time ruler that may or may not exactly match the music they are editing. Digital Performer's new beat grid allows users to make edits that truly match the beats of their audio, aligned with the placement and feel of each beat. For example, even an action as simple as selecting a two-bar loop can be a painstaking process with just an edit grid. But in Digital Performer 4.5, users can create loops with perfectly aligned end points by just sweeping across the peaks in the waveform with beat snapping enabled.
- Split audio on the beats – For extreme tempo changes and other drastic rhythmic and tempo operations, it's best to split loops and drum tracks into individual beats to minimize extreme time-stretching artifacts. Digital Performer 4.5 lets users do this directly in their audio tracks: there's no need to work in a separate window. They just select one or more tracks and apply the Create Soundbites from Beats command. They can even choose a guide track to apply the same splits across all selected tracks for consistent editing. Since Digital Performer 4.5's editing environment is sample-accurate, phase coherence is maintained at each split point across all tracks, a critical factor when editing drum tracks recorded simultaneously from different mic positions, for example.
- Sample-accurate precision – When it comes to rhythmic feel, timing is absolutely everything. If the beats are sloppy, timing and feel go right out the window. Thanks to Digital Performer's internal sample-accurate precision, the Beat Detection Engine is capable of being accurate down to the sample in finding the true initial transient for each beat, especially with musical material for which this technology has been specifically designed (recordings of individual instruments playing rhythmic music).
- Beat editing – Digital Performer lets users edit both the location and velocity (relative strength) of each beat. It's like having the basic features of Recycle built right in to Digital Performer. Users can tweak beats for the exact feel they're aiming for. Then all beat- and tempo-related features can be applied based on these fine-tuned adjustments.
Plug-in latency compensation
Running under MAS and DAE, Digital Performer 4.5's plug-in latency compensation is sample-accurate — for any MAS, Audio Unit, TDM or RTAS plug-in (including virtual instruments). And it's fully automatic. Users just load their plug-ins and go. Latency compensation is especially useful for users of hardware-accelerated plug-ins such as the TC Electronic PowerCore and the Universal Audio UAD-1.
Inspired by legendary British large console EQs, the MasterWorks EQ delivers the look, feel and sound of the most sought-after classic equalizers. Five bands of EQ filtering are provided, each with four EQ types that provide current popular EQ styles and vintage analog EQ styles alike. Two mid bands (LMF and HMF) include shelf filtering. Two additional bands of variable slope low pass and high pass filtering are provided. The filter response display provides comprehensive control and visual feedback of the EQ curve being applied. The MasterWorks EQ has been crafted and engineered to produce musical results in a wide variety of applications.
Many of Digital Performer's features are accessed in separate windows, such as the Track List, Sequence Editor, Mixing Board and Waveform Editor. Digital Performer 4.5's new Consolidated Window is designed for users who would prefer to work in one window, with access to each feature via tabs across the top of the window. Features that opened as separate windows in previous versions of Digital Performer, such as the Soundbites window and Sequence Editor, can now appear as a section of the Consolidated Window, either in the center (main body) or in the left- or right-hand sidebars. Users can customize the sections of the window to suit their exact needs, adding as many sections as they wish and resizing them as desired. Unlimited Customized Consolidated Window layouts can be created and saved via Digital Performer's Window Sets feature. Factory presets are provided for tracking, editing, mixing and other common workflow tasks.
Smooth Audio Edits
Audio edits often produce gaps between soundbites. This is especially true when editing dialog, or splitting soundbites into small slices using Digital Performer's new beat editing features. These gaps of silence can be audible and usually sound unnatural. The new Smooth Audio Edits feature can save hours of tedious editing by automatically filling gaps with “room tone” to mask them, complete with automated crossfades for 100% seamless transitions. Users can create their own room tone or have Digital Performer find room tone for them in the original audio files so that it exactly matches the natural silences in the audio.
QuickScribe Film Cues View
Digital Performer is used world-wide by film composers because of its unparalleled advanced features for scoring to picture. Version 4.5 introduces a new QuickScribe notation view that shows film cues in a manner familiar to film composers, allowing them to see cue points (markers) with respect to beats on a time line above each staff system, complete with SMPTE time code locations, beat locations and nearest beat or half-beat. Meter changes, key changes and tempo changes can be inserted directly on the staff with convenient pop-up menus. Numerous other enhancements have also been made to the QuickScribe Editor.
QuickTime move DV playback offset
Digital Performer 4.5 can now compensate for the slight playback offset inherent in DV video playback devices. Users can now achieve frame-accurate lock-upto picture with QuickTime movies both stopped and during playback.
Bounce / Export to MP3 and other formats
Digital Performer 4.5's Bounce to Disk and Export Audio features can now output directly to a variety of interleaved stereo file formats provided by Mac OS X. In addition, Version 4.5 can now bounce and export directly to MP3's. A wide variety of MP3 export options are provided, including constant bit rate and variable bit rate encoding.
More voices and busses
Digital Performer 4.5 supports up to 99 mono voices, 99 stereo voices and 99 stereo busses. These new maximums provide 297 audio voices (for automatic voice allocation) and 198 bus channels.
Mono, stereo and n-channel busses
Digital Performer 4.5's bussing architecture has been enhanced. Busses can now be configured as mono, stereo or n-channel (surround) busses. The Mixing Board provides the appropriate style panner, depending on the channel format chosen. Surround panners are provided for n-channel busses. In addition, multi-channel signals can be summed to a mono send. Each send also now has a pre/post fader switch.
Digital Performer 4.5 can display up to 20 sends per track in the Mixing Board. Users can choose as many sends as their needs require.
Apple Loop import
Users can drag and drop Apple Loops directly into Digital Performer audio tracks, where they immediately and automatically conform to the tempo of the music.
Pro Tools Enhancements
Digital Performer Version 4.5 includes major enhancements for operation as a complete software front end for Pro Tools HD, Accel, and MIX systems.
- Plug-in automation – Users can fully automate any parameter for any TDM, HTDM or RTAS plug-in. For example, they can draw filter sweeps, sync LFOs to the beat, record track mutes on the fly and other tasks to harness the full power of their TDM mixing environment using Digital Performer's plug-in mix automation features.
- Plug-in latency compensation – Even under TDM, some plug-ins exhibit intrinsic latency. Digital Performer provides complete plug-in latency compensation — automatically. Users just load their plug-ins and go. Digital Performer takes care of the rest, with negligible effect on TDM DSP resources.
- Instrument track support – Users can run all of their favorite TDM instrument plug-ins and take full advantage of Digital Performer's virtual instrument features, such as Freeze/Unfreeze tracks. Timing is accurate, thanks to Digital Performer's native support of Digidesign's DirectMIDI protocol.
- RTAS and AudioSuite plug-in support – RTAS and AudioSuite plug-ins can be used together with TDM and HTDM plug-ins, just like in Pro Tools. Any plug-in that run in Pro Tools can now also run in Digital Performer (under DAE).
- Mono and stereo sends – Both mono and stereo busses are now supported. Users can now add up to 20 sends per track in the Mixing Board.
- Send automation – TDM send levels and panning can be fully automated using Digital Performer's comprehensive mix automation features.
- Automatic voice allocation – Users can assign audio tracks to the new Automatic voice assignment, which allows Digital Performer to manage TDM voice resources from the available pool supplied by the TDM system hardware and DAE settings.
- DirectMIDI support – Users can take full advantage of the MIDI features available in any TDM, HTDM or RTAS plug-in that receives MIDI data.
- QuickPunch support – Digital Performer users with TDM systems can now punch in and out of record as many times as they like during a record pass (up to 200 times in a single pass). They can also now take full advantage of Digital Performer's extensive AutoRecord features.
- TDM plug-in side chain support – Digital Performer provides complete support for TDM plug-in side chain inputs;.
- System Resources Usage Window -TDM mixing resources can now be managed in one compact, convenient window.
- Mute automation – Users can record track mutes on the fly, or program them with Digital Performer's extensive mix automation programming features.
Registered Digital Performer users can upgrade now to Version 4.5 on the MOTU web site. Version 4.5 ships in October, 2004.
For more information, visit their web site at www.motu.com