One of the most intuitive mixing and mastering solutions for the home studio, IK Multimedia has updated their T-RackS software from their previous Classic, Standard and Deluxe to include new functionality with their T-RackS CS Grand that makes it easier to use and gives you even more control and power over single tracks or full mixes.
T-RackS CS Grand
UG Team, on december 20, 2012 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Ease of Use: After just a brief few moments of clicking around in T-RackS CS Grand I started to get the hang of it, and so I immediately pulled up some recent recordings I was working on and started turning knobs. This is essentially a collection of very high quality VSTs in one package that you can open as a standalone program or from your DAW software as a single VST. The first thing is that fresh from the installation you have presets you can load, which are very valuable as far as giving you a good starting place. Once you find settings that you personally like you can also save this as a user defined preset. Playing an audio stem through T-RackS CS Grand lets you watch a graphical/visual representation of EQ frequencies, left and right peak, perceived loudness, and phase. As you work on the audio stem you can see the changes you are causing in a visual display. There is also a very easy to use control for designating if there is a fade in and out for each track, the shape of the fade in and out, and the are of the track over which the fade in and fade out occurs. Each mixing/mastering effect has a control display like an actual rack effect.
A list of some of the tools available through T-RackS CS Grand are: Classic Compressor, Classic Multiband Limiter, Classic Clipper, Classic Equalizer, Brickwall Limiter, Linear Phase EQ, Opto Compressor, Vintage Compressor Model 670, Vintage Program EQ 1A, Quad Comp, Quad Lim, Quad Image, De-Esser, Black 76, White 2A, and British Channel. From there you also can buy expanded options from the IK Multimedia Custom Shop. So far, I haven't ran across options I need that aren't already a part of the program. To give you an idea of how powerful the tools are, I was messing around using the Classic Equalizer to isolate specific drums in my drum track (yes, I do all my drums in a single track that is how lazy I am), such as only the kick or only the hi-hat were audible. I was also able to do a pretty good job of isolating the snare. As an added bonus, there is a meter at the very bottom that displays CPU usage for those concerned with the percentage of their resources a program might be using (which I find is very prevalent attitude with a lot of home studio musicians). // 9
Sound: I'm fairly new to home studio recording, having gone from occasionally recording my guitar practices for the past couple of years to working on actual multi-track recording, songwriting and other audio editing just for the past 9 months or so. Previously, I had been using a huge collection of VSTs I collected on the internet for my mixing/mastering stage of the whole process and in a single swipe T-RackS CS Grand replaces 95% of the VSTs I was using and does a better job. For me this really carried my end product from being an okay amateur recording to sounding close to professional. I personally still have a lot to learn about mixing and mastering, but I feel like T-RackS CS Grand has given me the tools I will need to move forward. // 8
Reliability & Durability: Since beginning to use T-RackS CS Grand I haven't encountered any types of issue with the program. Once you purchase the program, you have a license key which you can use in case something happens and you have to reinstall on a different computer. Re-installing is a matter of downloading the program from the IK Multimedia site, and then going through the license manager to authorize your copy and get access to the full range of options. Since I have been paying attention to the CPU Usage for a friend who has been asking me to, I haven't seen it running at over 10% and that is when I had a lot of tracks going all at the same time with multiple different tools being used at once. Now, my computer isn't amazing either, but it was built by myself about 18 24 months ago and I used mid to upper level components regarding the processor, RAM, etc., so even on a weaker machine I can't see if pushing past 20 30% CPU usage. // 8
Overall Impression: Personally, T-RackS CS Grand was the right tool for me. I have a lot of friends who are into amateur audio engineering, some of them aren't even musicians but are audio engineers in the purest sense of the word. They all suggest different software to use and they are all passionate about what they use, but nothing really worked for me until I tried T-RackS CS Grand. It is easy to use because of the visual nature of the tool, so you are actually seeing what you are doing instead of moving sliders and hoping for the best. There are a lot of tools for multi-band processing as well, which is something I have just now been learning about. This will be my primary software for mixing/mastering moving forward. // 9