In the Time Before, I was a Pro Tools user – got quite good at it, too. That was what my home studio setup was based around. This was with an M-Box and a G5 Mac, which tells you how long ago it was. If you’re under the age of 50 this is probably all letter and number salad so far. I had all the plug-ins, too, thanks to my employment at a main dealer for Pro Tools. And when I say all the plug-ins… anything that could work with my Mac, I had. I also had a bunch of Native Instruments software, um, instruments and various other things.
But that was then. Nowadays, on my M1 Macbook, I’m “reduced” to using GarageBand to record and edit the podcasts I’ve started making. (This is not one of those Best Setup articles, by the way.)
Garageband is all right, but it has some frustrating limitations. For example, something I used all the time in Pro Tools is the Strip Silence command. It was a very quick and convenient edit, something to remove the spaces in between the noises you actually meant to record. With minor tweaks, it could remove most of the background noise, the squeaks, the bumps, the stomach rumbles, and so on. If GarageBand had Strip Silence, I’d probably not be complaining about it at all. I’d prefer a Mixer view, and a way of creating Sends and Returns to reduce processor load, but even Pro Tools has changed its interface a lot in the intervening years.
Logic has Strip Silence, among many other things, and I’ve got a feeling I’ll end up getting it, notwithstanding its price tag. What stops me now is that both it and Pro Tools contains too much stuff aimed at music production, which for various reasons is too much. I don’t need stomp box effects, or flangers, or even reverb. There’s a gap in the market for a piece of multi-track software dedicated to speech. It could be a “cut down” version of Garageband, but one that comes with Strip Silence and some other clean-up tools, noise reduction and so on. Adobe Audition offers a good tool set (although aimed at video production), but it’s even more expensive than Logic. The student/teacher version has you paying £17 a month for ALL THE SOFTWARE. I’m struggling for hard drive space as it is.
At the other end of the market are super-simple recorders like Piezo and other Rogue Amoeba apps. But Fission, for example, their simple audio editor is too simple. As for free software like Audacity, the interface is horrible, even if it does do (what they call) Truncate Silence. Audacity just looks like something from the Commodore 64.
Part of my concern here is that music software in general is an absolute disk hog. Even GarageBand has its loop libraries, which take up tons of space. I’ve found that clicking to download one particular loop downloads a whole bunch of them, and it soon gets out of hand.
But the biggest nightmare of all with all audio software is the shit that gets installed all over your hard drive, deep into the system. Even Rogue Amoeba software requires you to start your Mac in Recovery Mode and override the security settings, so it can install some deep code.
Just out of interest, and because it used to be my favourite software, I just installed the latest “home” version of Pro Tools. What a shitshow! As well as installing a million files all over my system, it looks horrible on a laptop screen, and won’t support 96kHz, which is a bit shit.
And then when I decided I would not be using it (or paying the monthly subscription), it took an hour to find and uninstall all the intrusive stuff it had put all over my system. I’m still not sure I’ve got all of it. Clean My Mac was very little help.