When we purchased our lovely Echo digitalizer we took a hint from the gods and started recording with Tracktion 2, the program which came bundled with it.
Now after using Tracktion for several years we can say it’s plenty good enough. Sure some folks with infinite money may sneer it’s somehow less than “professional”, but we’ve been blown away by its power, and once we’d figured it out, have been quite satisfied with its interface.
That’s what the reviewers said too. All were enthusiastic about the basic accuracy of Tracktion’s sound (its “recording engine”?), though one did note Tracktion gave users less control than Pro-Tools. However being able to play fewer tricks with our sound doesn’t bother us, and of course compared to our old light version of WaveLab, Tracktion is rocket powered.
Our ignorance when we started using Tracktion was astonishing, so for us the manual assumed too much knowledge and left out basic information we could have used. It took days of puzzled fiddling to learn how to select a portion of a file, days before we could properly save and organize our work. But in the end the program did everything we asked of it, and if we never came to understand some of its fancier features, well that’s quite OK…
Tracktion combined with Echo put an end to frustrating years of struggling with prehistoric software. Finally we could record each of our instruments on its own track, and when we wanted to separately record the signal from two mics positioned on a single instrument, it let us do that too. As exciting, at long last we could record and carve a piece down to its finished length and then record on top of it another instrumental or vocal track! Of course now most recording is done that way, but with our previous setup, multitracking had been only a dream.
Another endearing trait of Tracktion is all its editing (including things like deleting and limiting) is done by applying “filters”. In recording jargon this is called non-destructive editing, but setting aside the fancy words, that only means whatever we do the original recorded signal stays the same (though of course what we hear changes as we edit).
This was perfect for ignorant folks like us. We could experiment with filters and push the virtual sliders around without fear of causing irreversible damage. When we didn’t quite understand something, trial and error was a safe way to figure it out.
Our version of Tracktion is no longer supported or sold, and we haven’t had a chance to try its newer versions. But if you’re looking to do affordable sound editing, even if the newer Tracktions turn out to not be less together, last time we looked other cheap or free programs were available which do basic recording as well as the more expensive options currently enshrined as recording industry standards.
To us these over-hyped Pro-Tools type mainstream programs smell like software for people with more money than brains.
Not to mention our one personal encounter with Pro-Tools left us unimpressed. We know many folks swear by it, and that the recording professors all teach it in their classes, but the master made with it from our Sweet Heresy wave files was so piss poor, we had to have it redone by a local studio.
Having said all this good stuff about Tracktion, we should probably add the program occasionally has been a bit skittish. Now and then it’s frozen forcing us to close and reload it. Also once or twice it’s failed to find a short clip, but thanks to our careful saving habits we’ve never lost anything important.
And who knows, even these minor problems could be the fault of our hardware, not Tracktion. Our computer’s early quad-core CPU does sometimes choke when we pile on too many tracks, but it’s done the same thing with other data heavy programs.