Avid Pro Tools SE bundles
Avid Technology, www.avid.com/easymusic
Simple to use; compatible with all Pro Tools workstations; high quality; all-in-one solution for beginners; hardware can be used with all major audio programs
Vocal Studio audio automaticall6 routed to the mic
$149 (Vocal Studio); $179 (Recording Studio); $189 (Key Studio)
Avid Technology has released three new Pro Tools SE bundles, hardware-software combinations that let you craft songs and remixes with no prior experience.
The three bundles cover all the bases. KeyStudio comes with a 49-note keyboard; Vocal Studio comes with a microphone; and Recording Studio comes with an audio interface box that lets you attach multiple mics or instruments and outputs to your Mac, speakers and headphones. All are combined with the new, effortless Pro Tools SE software.
Vocal Studio offers all the essentials to create your own home recording studio. In the box you get a hefty, good-quality M-Audio Producer USB cardioid condenser microphone, complete with headphone jack (for zero-latency direct monitoring), metal desktop stand and carrying pouch.
With KeyStudio, users can record a single keyboard track or create a complete orchestral recording by assigning any of the 60-plus virtual instruments that come with Pro Tools SE. The keyboard also works with other audio programs such as GarageBand and Logic Pro.
Common to each bundle is the Pro Tools SE software. Avid has redesigned the interface to give a simpler (and more usable) workflow while still keeping the essential look and feel of its bigger brothers. It also gets a video track import feature and a MIDI score/notation editor.
Launching the program opens a quick-start menu with links to session templates, demo songs and tutorials. For extra information I found the videos on Avid’s YouTube page (youtube.com/user/avid) to be valuable.
You can use easy ‘session’ templates for specific types of recording, such as a simple keyboard composition, a podcast or even a full-scale film soundtrack.
SE won’t launch if the bundled Avid hardware isn’t plugged in, and it sends all output audio to the headphone jack. This is great for vocals as you can listen to the backing track in the headphones while still getting a clean vocal recording, though you will need to change the output if you want to use external speakers.
The software itself is intuitive to use, helped by ‘Learn more about…’ help links. Pro Tools needs all the Mac horsepower it can get, so it helps to disable background applications.
SE is limited to two simultaneous live recording streams, with up to three DSP effects on each of the 16 audio and eight virtual instrument tracks. It’s easy to upgrade, too, as the hardware and session files can be used with high-end Pro Tools versions.
Once you master the basics the fun starts to kick in. Whether you want to record original songs, add narration to a movie or just mix a bunch of high-quality loops, it’s easy to lose hours of your life.
Australian Macworld’s buying advice
An excellent, low-cost way to get started in home audio recording. The hardware is high quality, and the software is simple enough for novices, but powerful enough not to be sneered at by experienced users. For the hobbyist wanting to record vocals or acoustic instruments, it’s ideal.