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Thread: Using Audacity to Mix

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    Using Audacity to Mix

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    I apologize in advance if these are stupid questions. I'm not too good with the technical aspects of recording.

    I was wondering, if you were using a Tascam 2488, can you transfer your tracks individually to the program Audacity to be mixed? And would this be a good thing to use for mixing...or even mastering?

    Thanks for reading.

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    Quote Originally Posted by justinm. View Post
    I was wondering, if you were using a Tascam 2488, can you transfer your tracks individually to the program Audacity to be mixed? And would this be a good thing to use for mixing...or even mastering?
    In order: yes, no, and no. The 2488 can export WAV files that you can mix with anything. I wouldn't use Audacity, though. It is not really a multitracking program.
    Quote Originally Posted by Obi-Wan
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    danny.guitar Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by dgatwood View Post
    I wouldn't use Audacity, though. It is not really a multitracking program.

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    Quote Originally Posted by danny.guitar View Post
    Audacity is basically a destructive editor (despite many claims to the contrary). That means that when you cut out part of a track, the stuff after it slides to the left. This is the opposite of what you want when you are working with multiple tracks.

    For multitrack editing, you want a non-destructive (clip-based) editor. This means that the original files are never modified and the project consists of a series of references to various spots within the file, e.g. "At 6 minutes, 40 seconds, 17350 samples into the project, start playing from the file track1.wav beginning at 9 minutes, 38 seconds, 2301 samples."

    More importantly, with a nondestructive editor, deleting a portion of a track just causes the clip to be broken into two pieces. The portion to the left of the part you cut out is the first piece, and whatever remains after that part is the second piece. Between those is simply a gap.... You can slide these pieces around if desired, change the length of a clip to "reveal" more or less of the original file, replace pieces with new clips for only a portion of one track, trim up the portion you inserted for really precise insert editing (without having to precisely set the "In" and "Out" points ahead of time), insert transitions between one clip and another to avoid a glitch at an edit (even in the middle of a note), etc.

    With a real multitrack editor, you can also nondestructively add (multiple) effects on a per-track basis. With most of them, you can also route all of your drum tracks to a bus and add mix automation so that you can adjust the relative volume of the drums if the drummer is a little too loud in the quiet spots. You can add effects on that bus so that all your drums get the same reverb applied while leaving the vocal track a little drier. And so on.

    It's a completely different editing paradigm. If you try to use a destructive editor for multitrack work, you'll go nuts. It's a lot harder to replace bits, fix that one cymbal hit that was a hair too early, etc. because it really wasn't designed for that sort of thing.
    Quote Originally Posted by Obi-Wan
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    danny.guitar:

    Is Audacity what you have been using? How has it been working for you?

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    danny.guitar Guest
    It records and mixes multiple "tracks" simultaneously, so I think "multi-track" recorder is the right term. Even if it's a destructive editor (which sucks) but it works nonetheless.

    justin - I've used it a little, never transferred tracks from a TASCAM or anything though. What kind of outputs does the TASCAM have? Line-out? Digital out? USB?

    You need to hook the output to an input on your computer. Usually your sound card. However, if it has something like a USB output, then no need for a sound card to transfer them.

    What kind of outputs does the TASCAM have? And if it's USB, try plugging it in.

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    I think Audacity is OK to mix with, as long as you back up all your original .wav files so you can go back if you don't like your edits. Actually I just don't like it because it sounds a bit muddy to me when mixing. I am not sure of the specs of the mixing engine, but there it is.

    If you are looking for something non-destructive that will not break the bank, there are actually several good options, particularly on PC. REAPER comes immediately to mind. For mac there are fewer options, but Garageband is very good now, and you can get it for the cost of buying iLife if your Mac didn't come with it (Garageband '08).
    Sonny

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    Quote Originally Posted by sonnylarsen View Post
    I think Audacity is OK to mix with, as long as you back up all your original .wav files so you can go back if you don't like your edits. Actually I just don't like it because it sounds a bit muddy to me when mixing. I am not sure of the specs of the mixing engine, but there it is.

    If you are looking for something non-destructive that will not break the bank, there are actually several good options, particularly on PC. REAPER comes immediately to mind. For mac there are fewer options, but Garageband is very good now, and you can get it for the cost of buying iLife if your Mac didn't come with it (Garageband '08).
    On Linux and Mac OS X, there's also Ardour.
    Quote Originally Posted by Obi-Wan
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    Yes danny it has a USB. I just don't have a USB connector. I wasn't even aware of programs like this that could be used to mix until just recently. I assume you can't just use 1 USB cord and match it with any device you have can you?

    Thanks everyone for answering.

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    I'll throw a +1 for REAPER. Audacity is great for a lot of things but, in my opinion, is not anywhere near as good for multitrack stuff as REAPER is.

    Technically, REAPER isn't "free" but it's completely functional and non-expiring shareware. It can be free if you want it to be. Not that you shouldn't register it if you try it and like it.

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