My band tracked some songs at a local studio using their Pro Tools rig and I want to mix the tracks at home in Reaper. What’s the best way of getting the session data out of Pro Tools and into my Reaper system?
Dave Matthews via email
SOS Reviews Editor Matt Houghton replies: I feel your pain: we often go through this sort of thing with Mix Rescue projects! The best method really depends on the nature of the project. If it’s just a plain multitrack recording session then it should be a simple case of importing all the audio files to different tracks so that they all start at bar 1, beat 1. You’ll see at a glance which were from the same take as they’ll be the same length. Hopefully, the engineer labelled the tracks/files so you can see which sounds are which.
If you’ve done edits or punch–ins, that adds a layer of complexity, but is still fairly simple. First, ask the studio to ‘consolidate’ all the clips in Pro Tools, to create files that line up as described above. If that’s not an option (or the studio charges you too much for the privilege!) note that Pro Tools automatically time–stamps the WAV files it records and Reaper can read those time stamps. Drag and drop your files into Reaper, select all, right-click on a clip to bring up the context menu, and select Item Processing/Move Items To Source Preferred Position (BWF). All files should line up in the same positions as they were recorded in Pro Tools. Be aware, though, that some DAWs have a default timecode offset (for reasons relating to audio–to–picture applications that you needn’t understand for this task). So you might find, as I once did, that all your files start as if the bar 1 beat 1 position is at +1 hour on Reaper’s timeline. To remedy this, zoom right out to find the files, select all, and drag all files to your preferred starting point
If the Pro Tools session includes more information, such as pan settings, clip gain, volume automation and so on, you’ll need either to bite the bullet and redo all that work yourself, or use another method to transfer the files. Some of that information can be transferred as OMF/AAF files, but (a) I’ve found that these are unreliable and inconsistently implemented by different DAWs and (b) Reaper doesn’t support them! The best bet in this situation is to invest in Suite Spot Studios’ AA Translator software, which reads and writes more project data in a wider range of formats than any other software I know of. I have a copy here under review and have been most impressed so far. It’s Windows only, but with the manufacturer’s help I have it running in Winebottler on Mac OS 10.9.5.
The trickiest thing is transferring plug-in effect or instrument data from one DAW to another. Your best bet is to print those effects as audio. But you should also be able to get the studio to supply the MIDI data from the session to enable you to rebuild any instrument parts.