Pro Tools SE, or: How Mixcraft 6 Changed My Life
Ok Mixcraft 6 didn't really "CHANGE MY LIFE" but it changed the way I do my home recording. It all started with my old setup: I had a Line 6 TonePort UX1 (now out of production) and Ableton Live Lite. I recorded years worth of demos with that equipment, and some of the tracks that made the final cut of our TACKAPBAND EP actually were recorded at home on that device with that software (Hanna's Bible verse at the end of "You Hold On" and the quick "Close Encounters" keyboard part of "I Googled Jesus"). There were a few problems with that setup, however: the drums were horrid. I was using the drums within the Ableton Live software and they sounded terrible. Not realistic sounding at all. The UX1 won't power a microphone (no phantom power), so my non-phantom-powered vocals were always the lowest velocity (volume) track of the demo, and every other track volume had to be reduced to meet the vocals volume. I could increase the "gain" of the vocal track and make it loud enough, but that distorted the sound. The end result was that all of my demos had overall low volume. Another thing was I only had 8 tracks to work with in Ableton Live Lite, and I was always running up against the limit. I also never really figured out how to do midi inputs on Ableton. I know it's possible but it certainly wasn't intuitive. And lastly, once a track was recorded there was no way to change the sound or add/subtract effects, etc. I couldn't make a guitar sound MORE distorted...or more clean...after I had recorded it. It was what it was, forever after that. If I wanted to change the sound, I would have to re-record. One day I got an email from Musician's Friend about their "Stupid Deal of the Day": an M-Audio Fast Track Pro interface bundled with Pro Tools SE for under $100! Wow! The M-Audio would power a phantom mic, the ProTools came with 16 audio tracks and another 8 virtual midi tracks (24 total tracks vs the Ableton Live Lite's maximum *8* tracks), AND you could add/change effects to the tracks after recording! What a deal! Well it turned out to be a nightmare. Basically Pro Tools SE doesn't play well with Windows 7. There's a bug in the software that makes a horrible screeching feedback static and it is UNFIXABLE. Trust me, I tried. I spent probably 25 hours on Google, message boards and with Avid Customer Service (makers of Pro Tools) looking for a solution. There literally isn't one. No setting or driver will fix it, and there is as-of-yet no patch from Avid to solve it. HUNDREDS of people have this problem with the Pro Tools SE version that comes with the M-Audio Fast Track Pro! This is probably why it's the "Stupid Deal of the Day"! It does. not. work. with Windows. Avid has yet to respond in any way to my open "support case". Total ignore (edit: see 1st "comment"...they did respond later!). It doesn't matter too much b/c from what I read on the internet, they try to get you to change a bunch of unrelated settings (turn off your wifi, disable your antivirus software, take the battery out of your laptop, etc etc) that don't have anything to do with the known software bug, then they finally announce that you probably should buy a Mac. Yes, let me spend $2500 on a new laptop to make my $100 device work /#notgonnahappen. Well shoot. About the time I figured I was gonna ship it all back to Musician's Friend and get my money back, my son (an ATEC major at UT-Dallas) told me to download Mixcraft 6 - another Digital Audio Workstation (DAW or recording software) specifically designed for use with Windows. Great! I'll give it a try. So I downloaded it. It's super great! The distortion was instantly fixed. Now I can use my Fast Track Pro to run a phantom-powered mic, I can change effects after a track has been recorded, the drums sound much better and much more realistic, I have many more tracks to work with, and the midi virtual instruments are SUPER easy to understand and very user-friendly. It's a WORLD of difference from the old Ableton I was using, and it ACTUALLY WORKED on Windows, unlike the ProTools SE. AWESOME! I did have to do about an hour and a half of messing with the configurations and settings to get the best sound from my M-Audio interface and instruments, but now they're all saved and I'm ready to rock & roll again! THANK YOU, Mixcraft for supporting us WINDOWS USERS!! Not every musician is a Mac head. I'm very happy!