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Light, easy multitrack player/DAW for playback only.

Discussion in 'Recording' started by T-bird, May 2, 2014.

  1. T-bird

    T-bird Active Member


    Even with quite a bit of searching and head-scratching, I couldn't find a better suited sub-forum for this specific question so here goes.
    If there's already a thread that adresses this problem of mine, please do not hesitate to kick me into that direction.

    Tldr version first for Your convenience:

    The band I'm in at the moment is in a bit of a rut with a changed line-up and conflicting schedules, we need a way to productively rehearse individually and/or when someone can't make it.
    I would like some suggestions for a (cheap ;)) software that allows ~16 pre-recorded .wav or .mp3 tracks to be time aligned, played/volume controlled/muted for rehearsing purposes.

    The long version for those who have the time to read a DAW newbie's rant:

    The conflicting chedules of the small group of people that I play rock with is hindering our progress. It's also throwing the proverbial wrench into the motivational gears as far as I'm concerned.

    As one solution, I've decided to track our rehearsals with my old Fostex VF16 based rig, transfer the tracks as .wav's (or on another format if there's a better/lighter one) to a system that will allow ~16 tracks to be played without glitches. Preferably that system would run on an old PC laptop running on Linux or XP, or on a modern tablet.
    We all have tablets, but the old laptop (IBM T28 or T30 is available for example) could stay there in the rehearsal space and be ready in a moments notice.

    No editing capabilities what so ever are needed, nor required, the keyboard player has a ProTools studio, any track editing can be done over at his studio if necessary.
    Before anyone asks why not just record there and create "XX is missing today" rehearse backing tracks, we did record a 4 tune "promo pack" there a few months ago, and those tracks can and will be used, but individual track control is what I'm after.
    It's still only 4 tunes out of the minimum of 20 or so we have to get gig-ready pretty fast, so something has to be done to speed things up a notch.

    Those of You who do live mixing as well as studio work probably know well why I want the indiviual track control ;).

    As far as my digital audio experience goes, I started recording as a hobby in the 80's so analog is closer to my heart, but I do have some experience with the runt of the litter DAW Audacity.
    That software is still pretty high on my list since it's the lightest running audio software I have found, not to mention cheapest.
    Even though I'd be only using the system when someone is missing, rehearsing with the Fostex on my own, I'm ready to invest something towards a DAW if I can see a benefit in it in the future.

    Some tablet/smart phone based DAW (-ish) apps seem to be out there, but my general dislike for Apple doesn't make the selection all that great.
    Android based tablets/phones are more popular than Apple over here anyway it seems.
    An android app would be ideal, but that may be too much to ask?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    try audacity ... it's free and should do what you need.
  3. T-bird

    T-bird Active Member

    Thanks Kurt, I'll try that first.

  4. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Reaper is good, and has an unlimited trail period, I'm not sure if audacity is multitrack. I thinks it's only stereo
  5. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    audacity is multitrack. go to the tracks icon on the tool bar and pull up as many as you need.... the main drawback to audacity is no ability to punch in and out and when useing efx and eq the file has to render so it takes a minute or two to do that .... but it's usually included with the freeware included on most computers and if it isn't it's free download.
  6. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    The standard build of Audacity is indeed multitrack in the sense that Kurt describes, but it will only record two tracks at a time, which is probably what kmetal was referring to.
  7. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    po's first post indicates he will be recording initial tracks on a stand alone multi and then x freing tracks to computer for playback ... audacity should function fine for this.
  8. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Apologies, I must have missed that on a first reading. I'm not sure about versions of Audacity for tablets, though. The wiki is vague on this.

    I like your new verb describing how well Audacity should work in this application.
  9. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I get the impression that you think that in order to work on this, together, in different locations, auto sync to one another in time, you need to all be exchanging multi-track, tracks, up to approximately 16? That's not necessary to do that way. That's cumbersome.

    Look it goes like this:

    You've heard people talk about stems? No? Well it's simple. You only need 4 tracks. Not 16. You could even do it with 2. But that lacks a certain amount of drive-through convenience. So with 4, drums is on a channel. Guitars on a channel. Keyboards on a channel. Vocals on a channel.
    Lather, rinse and repeat. Then, comp your tracks, into one of those four, on the fly back to the others.

    In the end... that's when you need the 16. If you're going to mix it? Or you'll need 4x16, if everyone also wants to mix it? But not necessary for your overdubs.

    Just a different way to go about things. Simplifying. Reducing. Faster. More efficient. Certainly less cumbersome. The way to get work done. Quickly and professionally. Nobody needs to be screwing around with 16 tracks when you are trying to do your overdubs. I mean you might want 16 takes of a single overdub, to be comped? But that's on your end. Not on the distribution end between bandmates until it's time for mix down.

    Or you can do it just the way you're doing it?

    I think Reaper is a better program than Audacity? I find Audacity, to be a bit clunky? Reaper seems to conform more to the other commercial multi-tracks software? Because it is. Not the same with Audacity. I also think you'll find better ITB effects processing in the Reaper? Though things have changed since I played with Audacity. But that's begware. And Reaper is the real deal of the not so inexpensive, commercial, multi-track program. Why settle for less? And it's so much more intuitive. Conforms more to other commercial software more so than Audacity. I mean what kind of audacity do you have to have to use Audacity? Augie doggie and doggie daddy. They're likely candidates?

    Splurge and get Sony Vegas? Adobe Audition? Steinberg whatever? Pitiful Tools? They make ya feel so much more professional. Instead of being bottom feeders.

    You can never have too many audio software's.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  10. T-bird

    T-bird Active Member


    First, apologies for not replying earlier, work, rehearsals, and the dislike for replying on a cumbersome mobile device has delayed my reply.

    Secondly, thanks for everyone who has chimed in.

    Exactly, plain and simple.

    I may have worded my op badly, the need is only for playing back individual tracks.
    No recording, no processing, no exchanging tracks, definitely not sync'd on-line rehearsing.

    Just a playback device in the rehearsal space to be used whenever it's convenient for any individual.

    The number 16 is only the basis for the limited hardware considerations, it'd probably be less (10 ATM).

    I'll look into the stems You're talking about, sounds like a viable way of doing things but I don't think it'd be the answer in my case.

    With this particular flock of seagulls we are, just 4 tracks for example will never be enough :).
    It'd be all "whine, whine, snicker, snicker".

    I'm actually driving towards an even simpler goal.
    No overdubbing, just rehearsing.
    The inprobable overdubs would be done in the keyboardists studio, and transferred onto the playback system.
    No mixdown either, and that's the basis for the need for all the individual tracks.
    Everyone can mix their rehearsing "session" any way they please.
    Differently every time, if they please.


    If windows media player would support multitrack playback, I'd be using that.
    Or if BIB would support import (which it IIRC at one point it did) I'd may use that.
    If I had an Apple that is.

    I do agree that anything is better than Audacity when it comes down to be what we consider to be DAW today, and I'll probably be installing Reaper on the playback PC to be tried out as well, but even Audacity does heaps more than I require for the software to do in this particular task.
    I also think that the Reaper has grown too heavy for the limited performance PC's I care to leave there.

    If I was able to do with none, I'd be happy as a bumblebee.

    IMLE people have grown too dependent on the virtually unlimited processing capabilities of digital media, and the "doesn't matter how it's captured, we can fix it later" seems to be the norm.
    People don't seem to appreciate or care about the art of tracking anymore.
    I may be wrong though, sincerely hope that anyway.

    I'm probably living in the past that I am too young to actually have been a part of, but having an analog console and a big 'ol 8 or 16 track R-R would be perfect for my individual needs.


    Since: "The needs of the many outweights the need of a few... or one", and sheer convenience, I use a standalone 16(+8) track digital recorder for tracking, and as little PC based recording and processing as humanly possible.
    I do have a skinny 'ol 8 track R-R and old consumer grade consoles that I can dream of using for those analog projects some day :).

  11. doubleJ

    doubleJ Active Member

    I put my vote for Reaper, as well.
    I use it for recording and, I think, it's wonderful.
  12. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    You could also print CDs for each member without their own instrument so they can rehears at home ;)
  13. KDub

    KDub Member

    T-Bird, give this one a try. If I can get it done right with this one, anyone can.

    Get the free version.
  14. Reverend Lucas

    Reverend Lucas Active Member

    The latest version of Reaper is up to all of a 9 MB download. Not that download size correlates completely to efficiency in use, but it's pretty lean, and should work fine on a limited machine. StudioOne isn't a resource hog by any means, but it's not that lean.

    It sounds like Audacity will do what you need to do for free, though. That happens to be my favorite price.
  15. Darth Fader

    Darth Fader Member

    Hi, try Sekwenzer. It's free, lightweight (less than 1 MB), supports MOGG multitrack audio format (rehearse not only with your bandmates, but also with popular bands who "donated" their songs to Rock Band and Guitar Hero), supports WAV, MP3, FLAC, unlimited number of tracks. Windows OS.


    Plus, it doesn't require installation, so you can put it in a self-extracting archive together with your tracks in MP3 format and send it to anyone so that they can just run it on their computer and rehearse your song straight away. Here is an example.

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