Digital audio workstations

There is now a multiplicity of formats with which the audio professional may have to deal, not least of which are the various multichannel surround choices for TV and theatrical film, and the competing DVD-A and SACD consumer formats. An increasing number of systems are addressing these markets, such as the Cube-Tec AudioCube with its CubeDVD-A authoring package.

SADiE offers the CEDAR Retouch for eliminating an unwanted sound by replacing it with audio derived from the surrounding signal.

For SACD, Sonic Studio has three new products, ranging from an eight-channel processor card and Sonic Studio DSD application software, to an add-on processor board that adds a further eight channels and supports DSD-native EQ and dynamics processing, to an SACD authoring application. The Merging Technologies Pyramix also supports 16 channels of DSD, along with a new DSD de-noise plug-in by Purnotes.

The new SADiE Series 5 DSD8 offers multichannel DSD processing as well as being a fully fledged eight-channel PCM editor supporting all high-resolution formats.

For audio post to picture, an increasing number of digital audio workstations (DAWs) now support multichannel surround in one form or another, with useful features such as the multitrack trim of surround stems as supported by the AMS Neve AudioFile.

In addition to loop mixing, waveform editing, DSP effects, mastering and analysis tools, and audio restoration, the Syntrillium Cool Edit Pro includes a multichannel encoder for surround sound. The Steinberg Nuendo supports a Dolby Digital encoder plug-in for AC3 encoding from mono to 5.1, and can also export DTS-encoded audio as a WAV file to directly burn a 5.1 mix to CD. The Digidesign Dolby Surround Tools option allows users to produce Dolby Surround LCRS mixes (not Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes) on both Mac and Windows-based Pro Tools TDM systems.

Multichannel and portable recording

While most DAWs have multichannel operation internally, some are designed specifically for the multitrack recording and playback market. These offer multiple inputs and outputs, sometimes freely routable, sometimes fixed to tracks, and tend to be modular in groups of eight or 24 tracks.

With Digidesign’s Dolby Surround Tools, users can produce Dolby Surround LCRS mixes on both Mac and Windows-based Pro Tools TDM systems.

Among the latest arrivals to this market is the Otari DR-100. This operates as a 48-track at 48kHz or as a 24-track at 96kHz, has a dedicated 48-track remote, waveform GUI, seamless punch-in/out, several DSP functions, a variety of analog and digital I/O, a removable hard disk, and the ability to import sessions previously created on the RADAR-II system.

The Genex GX9000 supports eight channels of 24-bit/192kHz and DSD recording/playback, while the GX9048 accommodates up to 48 tracks of 24-bit/192kHz or up to 48 channels of DSD recording/playback from a single hard drive. A choice of file formats is supported, and a built-in sample rate converter operates up to 192kHz as well as enables conversion between PCM and DSD.

For multichannel portable or location recording, a handful of new products has come onto the market. Zaxcom has launched three hard disk recorders, namely Deva III, IV and V. These range from a six-track model for basic recording to a 10-track model designed for multitrack, high-bit-rate applications. Recording can be to the internal hard disk, internal DVD and external FireWire drive at the same time, with each disk supporting a different file type and sample rate.

Working together

As commercial realities hit home, an increasing number of manufacturers are working on project interchange. At least 20 DAW manufacturers have either already implemented or are planning to implement AES31 so that whole projects can be interchanged with other systems. Many manufacturers are supporting an increasing number of formats for third- party file and plug-in support.

In addition to AES31, SADiE V5 software allows drag-and-drop of DirectX plug-ins onto a mixer strip. The effect can immediately be heard or bounced in non-real time, and DirectX processes may also be chained on the same mixer channel.

The Merging Technologies Pyramix V4.1 includes direct project interchange formats, including AES31, Open TL, Pro Tools and Sonic Studio. The Emagic Logic Platinum 6.1 allows Digidesign TDM users to use Emagic software instruments in combination with TDM DSP hardware on the Mac OS X platform. It also supports import of Akai S1000/3000 samples.

Yasmin Hashmi is a partner in SYPHA, publisher of The DAW Buyers Guide

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