Pro Tools Files - Export to What File Format? Newbie!

OK, I’ve had a little experience with Audacity before but I’m starting over again (Windows environment).

My band had a recording session at a professional studio and we were given a rough mix and all the tracks in Pro Tools files. I would like to import all the tracks into Audacity and do a better mix and perhaps do a little overdubbing.

My guitarist has Pro Tools on his Mac so I’ve seen what all the tracks look like. I am asking him to export the Pro Tools tracks so that I can import to Audacity.

WHAT FILE FORMAT SHOULD I ASK HIM TO EXPORT TO? Wav format is the best but the file size is large? Flac is more compact for transport via thumbdrive or d/l but he may not be able to do this on his Mac. He suggested mp3 but that loses musical info, right? I don’t like mp3 except as a final conversion for use with our website, perhaps.

On his Mac there’s the AIEE format which I think is large but high quality also.

There are six musicians but the drums have 5 or 6 tracks, the bass, the guitar and the keyboardist may have two tracks each. Is that a lot to load into Audacity?

I’m using an HP laptop PC with 8GB of memory, i7-2640M CPU @2.8GHZ, 64bit Windows 7

Thanks to anyone for help and advice here!

pete in oakland, california

It’s called AIFF on Mac. It’s uncompressed, similar to WAV in file size. WAV and AIFF are 10 MB per minute assuming stereo 44100 Hz 16-bit.

You can export FLAC from Audacity on Mac, if you can persuade your friend to install Audacity. FLAC is about 60% of the size of WAV or AIFF.

There are no other options if you want lossless quality.

Gale

Wav format is the best but the file size is large?

Those were the wrong words. If you’re worried about large file sizes then you will never get to versatile, top quality work. All the convenient, compressed file formats create sound damage and the one that doesn’t, flac, may be a standard file format, but it isn’t universally recognized.

So WAV it is. WAV, 44100, 16-bit, Stereo is the format of the music on a CD. It’s “perfect,” but it’s not the best for post production because it was chosen to be the most efficient method to cram as much music as possible on a silvery, spinning disk. That’s not a dreadful way to go, but from here it goes up and the files get larger. WAV, 48000, 16-bit, Stereo is the television and video format. The higher sample rate lifts some of the post production restrictions, but yes the files get bigger. When I did voice recordings for video productions that’s how I delivered the work.

Perfect post production format would be more like WAV 96000, 24-bit, Stereo. There are no quality restrictions in post production and those files can be made into any of the other formats. But. As we pile on all that super quality data density, the computer has to be able to handle all that data—and in real time. An underpowered computer kills you very quickly when you start to stack up multiple guitar, vocal and drum tracks, and it’s really deadly when you start overdubbing, where the computer has to perform perfect recording and multi-track playback at the exact same time.

So until you get your feet wet, I would probably stick with WAV, 44100, 16-bit, Stereo, and pay attention to hits, gaps, stutters, and other signs of the computer not being able to handle the data load.

Koz

Quick note. WAV is recognized on Macs, Windows and Linux. It’s the Audacity default uncompressed file format. I don’t think I’ve ever found the need to create an AIFF, and I can easily convert between that and WAV if I need to. I think AIFF has better labeling or meta-data handling than WAV. The music is the same.

Koz

As I think about things. You don’t have to use Stereo. Mono WAV files work fine for post production.

Koz

Thank you SO MUCH Koz for the quick replies. That was fast and simple.


Are you saying that converting to flac and then back again to wav might/would entail musical loss? I was thinking that maybe my friend could upload his files to Dropbox or some cloud location and I could download rather than using physical thumbdrive.

Each song (jazz tunes) is 5-8 minutes. Possible 12 tracks to load, more with overdubbing. Do I have enough memory on my PC at 8GB??

pete

Are you saying that converting to flac and then back again to wav might/would entail musical loss?

I don’t think there’s any loss doing that. I don’t have good touchy-feely with flac.

Dropbox

Good idea, but note that may people’s UP internet transmission sucks compared to DOWN. I have no trouble watching videos on my down link, but when I send stuff up to my web site, I have time to go get a haircut while it’s moving. I’m a big fan of sending thumb drives with really large works rather than trying to upload them. Your mileage may vary, consult your local listings.

Do I have enough memory on my PC at 8GB??

I have no idea. We have to wait for a Windows elf. As a general rule, you should close or stop as many tasks and jobs as you can when you start to edit. Absolutely do not leave Skype or other chat applications running in the background. I’d probably kill off the internet connection, too, to keep the machine from constantly checking on-line while you’re trying to work.

Audio (and video) editing will tell you right away whether or not you have a powerful machine. You can play tricks with spreadsheets, Photoshop pictures and documents or layouts to make it seem like everything is OK, but the first time your computer has to deal with perfect quality sound management is when the rubber hits the road. Sorry, there’s no time for the machine to make decisions, adjust or clean up. The musical notes are going to happen Right Now and people will notice if they’re damaged or missing.

Do you have a solid-state drive or spinning metal? It’s possible to do production on spinning metal, but a lot of computer housekeeping is much faster and easier with an SSD.

Koz

Are you saying that converting to flac and then back again to wav might/would entail musical loss?

No. FLAC is lossless compression. When it’s decompressed you get back the exact-original data. It’s similar to converting an Excel file in ZIP format, except FLAC is optimized for audio.

Each song (jazz tunes) is 5-8 minutes. Possible 12 tracks to load, more with overdubbing. Do I have enough memory on my PC at 8GB??

RAM is only one factor. Computer speed & “power” are only factors with real-time audio (recording & playback). Mixing, processing, rendering/exporting, etc., are not done in real-time and a slow-underpowered computer will simply take a little longer, but you’ll get the same results.

But you do need to “preview” your mix before exporting, and if the computer can’t keep-up you’ll get glitches in the audio. I don’t expect that to happen with Audacity but it’s hard to predict.

My guitarist has Pro Tools on his Mac so I’ve seen what all the tracks look like. I am asking him to export the Pro Tools tracks so that I can import to Audacity.

Audacity is a great audio editor but it’s not really optimized for multitrack editing/mixing. Pro Tools is probably a better option for what you’re doing. (Or another [u]Digital Audio Workstation[/u]).

Thank you DVDDoug for this.

Posted elsewhere in this thread, I’m using an HP laptop PC with 8GB of memory, i7-2640M CPU @2.8GHZ, 64bit Windows 7 Prof.

As you say, I guess I’ll find out how strong this system is once I start loading tracks and go to Mix and Render!

pett

As Doug suggested RAM is not the only consideration. RAM is not used in current Audacity for storing audio data (it used to be an option in much older Audacity). Some Nyquist effects store audio data in RAM while they are processing, but on Windows, Audacity (as a 32-bit application) is limited to 2 GB RAM usage by the system.

CPU speed and speed of the drive is an issue. The more data in the tracks, the slower Audacity can be, especially with spinning hard disk drives.


Gale

44100 Hz is already sufficient to carry all the frequencies humans can hear, but video production tends to use 48000 Hz audio as standard.

24-bit gives you more dynamic range and less noise in quiet music.

You might find this thought-provoking: 24/192 Music Downloads…and why they make no sense.


Gale