I am a professional session drummer with my own studio, which has mainly been used for teaching. However, I've decided to buy a multitrack recorder so I can record my drums in situ, removing the need for transporting the kit and opening the possibility for the recording of live drums for people who would usually use drum machines. I have good studio experience, and good engineer backup from friends, who have mostly recommended the Pro Tools system. As somebody who has never really used computer‑based recording (hands on), I was wondering if this is the best system?
Obviously, one of the main criteria for the system is that it be compatible with other peoples' systems, so that they can mix the recordings done at my studio later on. If they were stored as WAVs, people withCubase, Logic, Pro Tools and so on could use them. Is there another option?
Assistant Editor Sam Inglis replies: One of the main irritations about the fact that several different computer‑based recording systems exist is that they are not really cross‑compatible. You can't directly load Pro Tools Projects into Cubase, nor Logic songs into Digital Performer, and so on. You can, as you suggest, load WAV or AIFF files into all of these applications, but of course these are only stereo audio files, so the process of transferring multitrack drum recordings from your system to someone else's will be a bit complicated — you'll need to extract the individual parts from Pro Tools, or whatever system you decide upon, name them, burn them to a CD‑R, and give the end‑user instructions as to how to reassemble them into a multitrack drum part within their chosen sequencer. This is certainly possible, but a bit involved.
There are two other methods you might want to consider. Firstly, some software manufacturers have built into their programs compatibility with a standard known as OMF (Open Media Framework). This allows projects to be transferred between compatible systems, complete with effects settings, edit decision lists, mix automation data and so forth, and should save a lot of time. Unfortunately, however, it's mainly available on high‑end systems only at present: I believe OMF is supported by the full version of Pro Tools, but not by the LE version that comes with the 001 system. OMF support is also present in Steinberg's Nuendo (which will read Cubase song files) and is coming in the forthcoming v3 of Digital Performer, but it's not included in the current versions of Logic or Cubase.
The other possible method is to use the Rocket Networks system (find this at www.rocketnetwork.com" target="_blank) for Internet collaborations. Currently, this is supported by both Cubase and Logic, and Pro Tools support will be forthcoming soon. Essentially, the Rocket method allows you to post projects from your chosen sequencer on to a remote server, from which your collaborators or clients can download them. This has obvious advantages for collaboration at a distance, but one of its main plus points is that it provides a way of transferring projects between ostensibly noncompatible applications such as, say, Cubase and Logic, with most of the mix and edit data intact.
As for recording the drums themselves, Pro Tools and any of the other major software sequencers will have the features you need, so long as you can find a recording interface with enough inputs — try to get hands‑on time with as many as you can to find the one you like best.