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 Tracktion 3, Software

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Mackie Tracktion 3

Model: Tracktion 3
The fastest way to create professional music on Mac or PC

If you like sifting through endless menus and windows to make music, Tracktion 3 is not for you. Based on a simple, single-screen interface, Tracktion is the fast, powerful, complete solution for turning your ideas into finished songs. And unlike the competition, Tracktion 3 comes with all the power and plug-ins you'll ever need. So if you want to keep your music flowing--not locked in menus or limitations—you've come to the right place.


Composition is the first part of the music-making process, and it’s also the most important. If you’re like many musicians, you don’t want your audio software to simply document your performances; you also want it to inspire them. So we made sure T3’s interface served up everything you needed to get your creative juices flowing, right at your fingertips.

Tracktion 3’s integrated Loop Browser is possibly the most obvious difference between this and previous versions of Tracktion. This Loop Browser is a big time-saver when you’re writing music. It lets you pull up a massive variety of pre-recorded music loops in the widest possible range of file formats, including Recycle, Apple Loops and Acid. The Loop Browser pre-organizes these loops by “instruments”, “genres” and “descriptors” (single, ensemble, part, fill, acoustic, etc.). You can further narrow by “key” (major, minor, both, neither), and finally via a “search” field where you can type in keywords. So you just narrow your search, then click through the loops to audition them. Once you find the loop you like, drag it into the Arrange Window. To get you started, both the Tracktion 3 Project and Ultimate Bundles include hundreds of ultra high-quality loops in a variety of styles from Sonic Reality. And you can find many, many more on commercially available loop CDs and on the Internet. You can even create your own loops and make them searchable for easy finding in the future.

At first, Time Stretching and Pitch Shifting may seem a bit out of place in a section on “Composition.” But that’s only until you use these powerful tools in action. In the case of Tracktion 3’s new high-quality Time Stretching, it lets you radically adjust the tempo of various loops and samples - or even your own recorded tracks - and bring them into your current creation with superb results. Pitch Shifting lets you put instruments and samples that were originally played in other keys into your song, making it sound as if they were played expressly for your current creation. Imagine taking an old ballad vocal and time stretching it up 20 beats per minute for your new dance track. Or getting your drummer to play that song 10 beats per minute slower - without ever having to talk to him, of course. With built-in Time Stretching and Pitch Shifting, it’s that easy.

It used to be that recording musicians were limited to the actual instruments that they and their friends owned. No longer. The amount and quality of virtual instruments on the market today is staggering. And Tracktion 3, of course, gives you some of the cream of the crop. Imagine auditioning over 200 different simulated analog synth sounds to find just the right one. Or dozens of pianos... or thousands of drums... You get the picture. It’s like having a warehouse full of both popular and ultra-obscure, well-recorded, instruments - literally a few clicks away. Just connect a MIDI keyboard and play away. Both Tracktion 3 Project Bundle and Ultimate Bundle give you top offerings like SampleTank, DrumCore, Garritan Personal Orchestra, Native Instruments Kontakt 2Player, LinPlug Alpha 3 Classic Synth and Cronox 3 Sample Synth, the RM IV Drum Addiction, and more. (Click here to learn about the differences between the T3 bundles and the virtual instruments included with each.)

For recording performance information from an external MIDI device (like a keyboard or sampler), Tracktion 3 features a powerful-yet-streamlined MIDI editor. This MIDI editor - widely acclaimed in the previous version of Tracktion - has been optimized for even greater speed and ease of use, whether you’re recording frantically from your synth or doing detailed editing of a performance with the MIDI pencil tool. And like everything Tracktion, the MIDI editor is a snap to use, so you’ll keep your composition flowing right along.

Because we realize that many new-school remixers and electronic music makers absolutely live and die composing in software like Ableton Live and Reason, Tracktion 3 includes full ReWire 2.0 support for integration with killer applications like these and other ReWire-supporting software. ReWire is like having an "invisible cable" that allows you to connect one application to another so you can stream audio and MIDI to and from the linked programs. Tracktion acts as a master (or "mixer") application to which other ReWire slave (or "synth applications") can be linked; simply enable ReWire in Tracktion, setup a track to receive the output of the "synth application," launch it, and crank out that hit to send to Paris Hilton’s ex-boyfriend’s cousin.

For those composing music for video, Tracktion 3 supports QuickTime video playback. Just select a movie and start tracking - compose music, add effects, replace your dialog, and win your Oscar®. This opens up a world of project studio post-production to Tracktion users. And since both Tracktion and QuickTime are cross-platform compatible, it's as easy to share video projects as it is audio.

When it’s time to dig in and actually record something is when you’ll realize how different Tracktion 3 is from other audio software. If you’ve never recorded audio into your computer, you’ll be amazed at how quickly Tracktion 3 lets you get going - creating real music within minutes. That’s because unlike most other music software, which is designed around analog mixer concepts and routing, Tracktion 3 is truly different. It uses a simple, single-screen interface for all basic recording and editing operations - with a property panel that follows your every move, providing pertinent information for the task at hand.

The reason Tracktion 3 is so much faster than other applications for getting your music down is because its interface uses a signal-flow paradigm for everything. Inputs are on the left side of the screen; Audio and MIDI clips are in the middle. Effects and outputs are on the right. Want to record something? Just drag the audio or MIDI instrument icon to whatever track you like and hit Record (using the convenient block of transport buttons in the lower right-hand corner). Your audio or MIDI input is then recorded as a “clip” within the track, and can be edited, moved, copied, pasted, etc., much more easily than on other systems. Want to record tons of distinct inputs at once - like say, a full band with backup singers? No worries. Use the “assign all inputs to consecutive tracks” shortcut and you’re ready to roll.

One of Tracktion’s biggest conveniences when recording is simply giving you more recording canvas to work with. That’s because, unlike many other affordable audio recording programs, Tracktion 3 places NO predetermined limits on the number of tracks you can record (or the number of effects you can use). In fact, the only limitation is your host computer’s innate processing power. And since Tracktion 3 takes full advantage of dual core/dual processor CPUs, you’ll finally be rewarded for buying that screaming new Mac or PC - you know, the one that you’ll be paying off for the next four years.

Ever have an assistant accidentally stop your live recording as he went to play solitaire? Or has your cat ever walked across your keyboard to ruin your perfect take? Never again. In the category of “Why didn’t someone think of this sooner?”, Tracktion 3 introduces Safe Recording. With this feature enabled, recording doesn’t stop until you enter a customizable key command. No more babysitting live recordings at the club gig; just start it rolling and ignore until the third encore is (finally) over.


Got a client who can't sing their way out of a wet paper bag? Or perhaps an overzealous lead guitar player? A white rapper? No problem. In addition to normal recording mode and punch-in mode, Tracktion includes "Loop Record Mode" which makes it easy to record multiple passes of audio or MIDI and compile the best of each into the perfect take.


On a technical note, when recording, Tracktion 3 also sounds better than competing audio software. That’s thanks to a High-Definition 64-bit Math mixing option, which improves headroom and eliminates distortion through the summing bus. This feature goes a long way to guaranteeing that the only distortion in your tracks is what you put there - on purpose. Additionally, Tracktion 3 comes ready for 192kHz-compatible audio interfaces like the Onyx 1200F, and Onyx 400F - giving you the ultimate in high-definition digital audio.

Once tracks have been recorded, it's time to see if they cut the mustard. Thankfully, Tracktion 3 has some of the best mustard-cutting technology out there. That's because Tracktion's editing power is as good as or better than software costing hundreds of dollars more, yet it retains Tracktion's hallmark ease of use. As with most non-destructive editing software, Tracktion's editing allows you to "undo" and "redo" your edits to your heart's content - so there's never any fear of messing up your song. Explore some of Tracktion 3's various editing tools here.

For the uninitiated, a time-line provides a series of time divisions against which you can arrange the components and sections of your song, in terms of bars/beats, seconds/milliseconds, or seconds/frames. The In/Out markers are the ways you define a section of an edit to be played in Loop mode. This is how you tell Tracktion what portion of your song you'll be editing.

Once you've recorded or imported audio into Tracktion, it is presented in the arrange window as an audio clip. These clips provide tools for editing them right at the top of each clip, so you don't have to go looking for a separate button to cut or fade your clip from somewhere else on the screen. The squares in the center are used to slide the clip and its contents around while the arrows at either end are for adjusting the overall size of the clip. As a great time saver, every audio clip also has a built-in control for volume fades, performed by dragging the small square with the diagonal line through it to the appropriate Fade In or Fade Out point. To monitor what you're editing, simply double-click the clip, which will cause it to play back; dragging the play head across the clip will allow you to "scrub" it. And with the new Hover Editing in T3, we've sped up the process even further. Just mouse over a clip and click and drag the editing tools that appear.

The tools for working with MIDI clips are basically the same as those for audio clips. But, when MIDI clips are of sufficient size, they display a powerful "piano roll" style editor - with horizontal "lanes" that correspond to the note on the piano keyboard at left. As you can see, this editor also has tools built into the top of it, including: a "pencil" tool for drawing specific notes; an "eraser" tool for deleting notes (i.e., fixing mistakes); a "select" tool for moving and resizing notes; and a "line" tool for drawing lines of MIDI notes, controllers and velocity ramps. Tracktion 3's MIDI editor of course allows for Step Entry mode, as well as providing powerful quantizing features, creating and applying groove templates, and more.

New to Tracktion 3 are a host of editing enhancements. Folder Tracks allow hiding and showing of groups of tracks in an edit, with support for nested folders. This feature is used in concert with new Collection Clips, which lets you edit all folder contents at once. As a practical example of this, imagine lowering the volume or changing the panning of every element in a rhythm section, without having to go in and select each individual drum and bass sound - a huge time-saver!

A new Marker Track allows display of all your markers in the edit. But Tracktion's markers are special in that you can treat them as clips, much like audio and MIDI. So you can move them around, split, stretch and edit them. Name and color them as needed to identify different sections of your song. And store and recall them using lightning fast key commands.

Mixing, of course, is the art of leveling, panning, EQing, adding effects, and otherwise accentuating individual sounds and instruments to get your song to sound just right. Most audio software accomplishes this through the use of a dedicated "mixer" screen, which mirrors the faders and knobs of a traditional analog mixer. Tracktion, however, has never had - or needed - a dedicated mixer screen, because its users are actually "mixing" their songs throughout the recording process. This is really the genius of Tracktion, and one we'll explore a bit here.

When a track is first created in Tracktion, it comes with a volume/pan filter and a level meter filter, located to the right of the arrange window. These filters are used for setting panning and levels much the same way you would with a knob and fader control on a conventional mixer screen - yet they are infinitely more useful because they can be copied, re-arranged, and applied to individual audio clips, groups of tracks, and more. Nor are filters limited to level and panning; in Tracktion, the term "filter" applies to any effect, native or third party plug-in, virtual instrument, or anything else you want to throw at your song. New filters can be created with ease, or deleted if they are not being used.

Common types of Tracktion filters include: Volume / Pan, Level Meter , 4-Band EQ, Aux Send and Return filters, Effects filters, plus third-party VST plug-in and virtual instrument filters.

Tracktion 3 comes with a full-suite of native effects plug-ins ranging from dynamics to modulation, reverb and more. But it also supports commercially available third party VST and VSTi plug-ins, and comes with a staggering collection of them in both the Ultimate and Project Bundles. These plug-ins are available as filters to place on any track, group of tracks, individual audio clips, or on groups of audio clips. You can even place them across your entire mix (i.e., in the case of that killer compressor that squashes your song just right). Here's the rundown of what's available to you, right out of the box.

Ultimate Bundle
- IK Multimedia SampleTank 2 SE w/ 100 sound sets
- IK Multimedia Amplitube LE w/ upgrade to Duo
- Submersible Music DrumCore TK w/ 2GB drum sample library
- Garritan Personal Orchestra Tracktion 3 Edition w/ full 820MB sound library (powered by Native Instruments Kontakt 2 Player)
- LinPlug Alpha 3 classic synth
- LinPlug CronoX 3 sample synth
- LinPlug RM IV Drum Additction w/ 250 drum kits and 2,000 MIDI loops
- Mackie Mixing and Mastering Tools
- Sonic Reality Tracktion 3 Ultimate Collection w/ 2,000 Apple loops, 200 Rex loops, 1GB multi-track loops
- SWA Video - Mastering Tracktion 3 (almost 4 hours long!)

Project Bundle
- IK Multimedia SampleTank 2 SE w/ 50 sound sets
- IK Multimedia Amplitube Uno w/ upgrade to Duo LE
- Submersible Music DrumCore TK Diet
- Garritan Personal Orchestra Tracktion 3 Lite Edition powered by Native Instruments Kontakt 2 Player
- LinPlug FreeAlpha classic synth
- Linplug CronoX 3 Lite sample synth
- LinPlug RM IV Lite drum machine w/ 100 kits and 500 MIDI loops
- Mackie Mixing and Mastering Tools
- Sonic Reality Tracktion 3 Project Collection w/ 500 Apple loops, 50 Rex loops, 250MB multi-track loops
- SWA Video - Tracktion 3 Quick Start


Mix automation, in the most simple of terms, is the ability to record and play back mix settings at different stages of your song. This makes it easy, for example, to have vocals mixed louder during choruses than during verses, or to have drums really come up at the end of a song. Automation can also be used to handle much more subtle things, like making changes to filter settings or reverb levels on a virtual instrument, for example. These types of automated changes bring life to songs, and Tracktion makes them very easy.

Simply drag and drop the "A" from a track on to any filter. A list of automatable parameters will be shown. Once you choose a parameter, its associated automation curve will be shown on the track. To change the curve, click and a node appears to get the desired parameter to automate the way you want it to over time. Alternately, enable Automation Record to make changes to a filter as Tracktion plays. Your moves are captured and can be edited further until the mix is perfect.

Rack filters allow for the simple creation of complex instrument and effects combinations. They are so named because they allow you to combine filters together and use them as a group - just as you would a rack of effects processors. A rack filter can be applied to a single track or many tracks, processing them simultaneously. With rack filters you can create totally unique effects and instruments combinations, unattainable with conventional mixer-based audio software. And they're also great for recalling complex sets of effects - say a killer female vocal sound with EQ, two types of compression and reverb - without having to go through and call up all the individual plug-ins, one by one.

What with Tracktion being so fun and easy to use, one could possibly create so many tracks, effects, and virtual instruments, that even the hardiest of computers could choke on all the action. So Tracktion includes a Track Freeze function that renders single and multiple tracks with all their assorted audio files, effects and instruments to a single file on the hard disk. This frees up the computer's CPU for important tasks - like creating more tracks!

Tracktion 3 offers improved support for the uber-popular Mackie Control Universal/Extender Pro and Mackie Control C4 Pro controllers, providing complete hands-on control of a full range of recording and mixing parameters - including plug-ins and virtual instruments. It also supports a wide range of third-party control surfaces including the Frontier Design Tranzport™ and Novation ReMOTE LE. In true Tracktion fashion, it's so intuitive and easy that you'll be enjoying the productivity boost only real knobs and faders can provide - plus they look wicked on your desktop.

Once you’ve recorded and mixed your music, you’ll want to master it to give it that polished, radio-ready sound. Or you may want to send it to a trusted musician or producer friend for a second, or third, opinion. Thankfully, Tracktion 3 lets you easily do both. Tracktion’s built-in Archiving capabilities let you save and send your project to other Tracktion users so they can listen, collaborate, and edit. Of course you can easily export to a variety of formats such as .wav, .aif, and .mp3 to share with those not yet part of the Tracktion Collective. And because Tracktion 3 comes bundled with Mackie’s acclaimed Mixing and Mastering Tools, you can rest assured that the final music will rock as hard - or as soft - as you like.

Mackie Mixing and Mastering Tools comprise a suite of powerful mixing and mastering plug-ins for Tracktion 3. Whether it’s fattening up the final mix with the aptly named Final Mix, or just adding a bit of dimension, these top-notch tools will let you do it intuitively, with results rivaling those snooty plug-in suites costing thousands of dollars a set.

Final Mix
Final Mix enables you to master your sessions like a pro, printing directly to hard disk or DAT, without having to rely on expensive mastering houses or outboard gear. Final Mix can dramatically elevate the quality of your mixes and help you to create your own professional masters.

6-Band Mono & Stereo Multi-Mode EQs
If you need additional EQ in your Tracktion project, the mono and stereo multi-mode EQs are the answer. Each provides 6-bands of frequency, gain and "Q" control with parametric and shelf mode selection for ultimate control. Bands 1 and 6 even offer high- and low-pass filter modes, respectively. Dedicated input and output meters let you keep levels in check while you dial in sweet tone to your heart's content.

Mono & Stereo Compressors
Use the mono and stereo compressor plug-ins to make vocals ride comfortably on top of the mix, achieve perfectly ambient, classic-sounding drums, punch up your bass guitar track, or for punching up the final mix to your heart’s content. Comprehensive controls include input trim, threshold, attack and release times, ratio, and output gain. Their intuitive graphic interfaces clearly display compressor settings, input and output meters, and overall gain reduction.

Studio Reverb
Simulate the effect of playing in a small garage with a concrete floor, or pretend you're the headliner at a concert hall with the great-sounding Stereo Reverberation plug-in. Control features include an independent input trim, stereo/mono blend, pre-delay, room size selection, decay, damping, diffusion, roll off, dry gain, output gain, and metering. Complete with a three-band EQ and a slick graphic user interface.

Stereo Panner Plus
The Stereo Panner Plus plug-in goes far beyond the standard balance stereo pan pot. Boldly use it for Tremolo, Vibrato and Rotary Cabinet effects, or get totally crazy with AutoPan and modulate the stereo panning via an independent multi-wave LFO. Or sync the AutoPan to MIDI clock for hands-free, tempo appropriate panning effects. You can even choose any point in the stereo field as the cycle starting point. Tons of fun, this plug-in lets you "get-your-tweak-on" to produce a virtually infinite number of interesting audible sensations.

Tracktion can create archives that bundle a project file, edit(s), and all related audio/MIDI/video materials into a single file or folder. Archives are convenient for backing up your important work and for transferring projects between computers, or for collaborating with other Tracktion users. Tracktion archives can utilize non-destructive FLAC compression or file- shrinking 16:1 OGG compression. Both are specifically developed for reducing file size while retaining audio quality. With them, you can turn an entire song into a tiny archive, great for collaboration and file transfer via the Internet(s)*.

Finally, Tracktion allows you to save your audio files, songs, and even your final work in a variety of compressed and uncompressed audio formats such as broadcast wav, w64, aiff, or the ever-popular mp3.

* Sorry, couldn’t resist. Don’t get it? Use The Google. We kill ourselves. We really do.


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