Recording - September 2015 - 72

What Pro Tools | First Means To All Of Us
A truly free version of the industry-defining DAW
has the potential to change our world

Guest editorial by Frank Marra
Pro Tools is free. The romantics could
say that it was only a matter of time.
Granted, it's not a full-featured version
of Pro Tools, but still... what does it
mean for the professional audio engineer? Are we a dying breed? Or could
this actually be viewed as a welcome
change to our working lives?
Announced at this year's Winter
NAMM Show, Avid Pro Tools | First is
a free version of the industry standard Pro Tools DAW. It will allow you
to record up to 16 audio tracks and 16
MIDI tracks. It comes with a bunch of
free plug-ins and virtual instruments,
allows you to use four inserts and four
sends, and will let you to store up to 3
projects in the cloud.

And now Pro Tools | First comes out.
Why are bands going to want to pay
even four hundred dollars to record?
Most people don't realize how much
rooms, microphones, preamps, gear,
and experience really matter. A lot of
people think they can learn by watching a few YouTube videos and experimenting, and that is true... you can
learn something that way. But can you
learn enough to make a pro recording?
Sure, there's going to be a big difference between a drum kit recorded
with four cheap mics in a bedroom
and a fully miked kit in a treated
room with awesome mics through
great preamps. That won't stop, and
hasn't stopped, people from recording
and mixing everything themselves in
their bedroom on iPhone earbuds-
goodbye business, hello terriblesounding recordings!
That's one way of looking at this.
But what if the glass is half full? Think
about what a free version of the mostaccepted DAW could do for the industry we know and (mostly) love!

example being a metal band I recorded who wanted their drums to sound
like a much more well known metal
band, but refused to let me use samples or drum edits. When their drums
didn't sound the way they wanted,
they got soured on the studio experience... without realizing that they
were standing in their own way! If
artists can start to see the amount of
work that we do, and what that work
means for their sound, I think they
will be much more comfortable with
paying for said work, and trusting us
to do what is in their best interest.
At first, I thought this was another
nail in the coffin for smaller studios.
But after the initial worry, I've decided that this will be a welcome change
to the recording climate. I want to
believe that musicians will take full
advantage of a free version of Pro
Tools. They will spend more time perfecting their songs. They will understand what recording a song really
entails, and they will come into the
studio prepared and focused.

I think that in the long run, a free version of Pro Tools will
help studios actually get more business, and better business.
As you can see, it is a very basic version of Pro Tools, aimed mostly at
songwriters and people looking to
create demos of their work. Yes, there
will be people who think they can
record their band and make an album
with this software, and depending on
the rest of their setups, they could
actually
make
decent-sounding
recordings. So what does this mean
for those of us in pro studios?
We could look at the glass as half
empty. The cost of studio time has been
declining drastically in recent years. I
remember when some of the big studios in New York City were charging
almost a thousand dollars a day, without an engineer! Now, at Treehouse
Sound, where I am the house engineer,
we get four hundred dollars a day with
an engineer. Granted, we don't have
huge 50 x 50 rooms, or incredible Neve
or SSL consoles, but we have a great
live room with some very nice outboard
gear and preamps. There is also the fact
that we have years of experience in
recording everyone from major label
acts to kids around the corner.
72

RECORDING September 2015

We should be excited that everybody will now have a chance to record
the music they want to make, using
widely known tools. I think that in the
long run, a free version of PT will
help studios actually get more business, and better business.
I have had sessions where the artist
was still writing songs while recording, or the band wasn't rehearsed
enough-they just wanted to see
what recording was like. This is a
waste of money for the artist and a
waste of time for the studio. I think
Pro Tools | First will help make these
sessions vanish. Why pay for a room to
mess around, when you can do it at
home for free and bring the results to
the studio if you stumble on something worth keeping?
Having free access to Pro Tools will
help artists understand what we, as
engineers, are actually doing. It will
help them explain their ideas more
clearly. There have been sessions
where the artist knows what they
want their music to sound like, but
have no idea how to explain it-one

I know that there are a lot of people
out there who will not agree with me.
They see this as ushering in the downfall of the boutique studio and driving
us into the decade of the bedroom
producer winning the Grammy® for
Best Rock Album. I just don't see that
happening.
There is a discernible difference in
the audio fidelity of a song tracked in
a bedroom vs. a song tracked in a professional recording studio. The only
fear I have, the one that we as professionals should be concerned about, is
that some people won't care about the
difference. For everyone else, Pro
Tools | First becomes a tool for getting
good ideas down and taking them to
the pros.
Frank Marra (marra@recordingmag
.com) is a recording engineer, producer,
and songwriter. He currently resides in
Jersey City, NJ, where he is the house
engineer at Treehouse Sound. Learn
more about his studio and work at
www.upinthetreehouse.com.


http://www.upinthetreehouse.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - September 2015

Contents
Recording - September 2015 - Intro
Recording - September 2015 - Cover1
Recording - September 2015 - Cover2
Recording - September 2015 - 1
Recording - September 2015 - 2
Recording - September 2015 - 3
Recording - September 2015 - 4
Recording - September 2015 - 5
Recording - September 2015 - Contents
Recording - September 2015 - 7
Recording - September 2015 - 8
Recording - September 2015 - 9
Recording - September 2015 - 10
Recording - September 2015 - 11
Recording - September 2015 - 12
Recording - September 2015 - 13
Recording - September 2015 - 14
Recording - September 2015 - 15
Recording - September 2015 - 16
Recording - September 2015 - 17
Recording - September 2015 - 18
Recording - September 2015 - 19
Recording - September 2015 - 20
Recording - September 2015 - 21
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Recording - September 2015 - 26
Recording - September 2015 - 27
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Recording - September 2015 - Cover3
Recording - September 2015 - Cover4
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