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Jan 1, 2013

Bringing an old tune back from the old DAW grave...

I used to use Logic to produce my music back in 2004 (they were then owned by Emagic). That year I wrote a song that to this day I consider to be one of my best.

The song was called "Play With Fire". It had some pretty tasteful guitar riffs along with one of my better vocal performances.

And you know how it is with recordings. When you get that great take, you may never be able to repeat it just that same way again.

Years passed. And as they passed I had often thought back to that song with the intent to eventually get back to it and make it all that it should be.

But then Apple switched to the Intel platform. And when I switched along with it those old files no longer were accessible to me. Or so I thought....

I guess I just assumed the original audio was lost within the actual Logic file format. Wrong!

A few months back I happened upon a folder which surprisingly contained ALL the audio files from my old Logic sessions. Only trouble was that this folder contained every take of every audio track I ever made (both good and bad). We're talking thousands of files.

So in order for me to salvage my original project a painstaking process of listening, categorizing and filtering each file down to the final end takes needed to take place.

Fortunately the downtime that came with the Holidays was just what the doctor ordered.... Well, that and Ableton Live.

I've said this before. Live is not so much a DAW for me as it is a Swiss Army Knife for Audio.

If you need to bring in a lot of audio, preview it, toss it into buckets to reassemble into usable tracks, I don't think there is a better tool available.

Below you can see the list of audio files I had to work with. From there I placed them into their respective instrument columns and titled them to start firming up how they would come together as the final tracks. Live's audio "grid" environment was made for doing work like this!

From there I pulled the audio into the linear format most DAW users are familiar with...

This took a handful of hours. However, I'd hate to think how long this would have taken using the more traditional DAW. With Ableton I was able to piece together the vocals as well as the acoustic and electric guitar parts (both rhythm and leads) in their entirety as complete tracks.

Knowing I now had the tracks compiled correctly just as they were before, I was then ready to export them into Reason.

And this is where the fun could really begin!

I pulled in some professionally recorded multitrack drum performances (one of Reason's Drum Takes) which I felt fit well. Added real bass guitar in place of the synth bass that was originally in the recording. Then finally in the vocal lines and lead guitars, I slotted out the occassional areas of imperfection and replaced them with better phrasings.

I then started beefing up the vocals and guitars further with some light compression and amplification/distortion and replaced the original synth lines with some traditional, 70s-ish Roland Analog patches.

With Refill and now Rack Extension options available, Reason provides a stable, intuitive format with access to a pretty broad selection of tools (see below)..

Last but not least. I mixed my session using automation with Reason's SSL modeled mixer along with its master mixbus compressor. Notice how everything is there for you. No hidden menus. If a row of tools is in your way just minimize it!

The result is "Play With Fire" and is posted below. Hope you like it!

I will probably take the next few days this week to tweak the mix further until I'm completely satisfied with the final version. Once that's done, I'll export it back to Live to treat it with the Slate VTM/VCC and Waves REDD plugins.

I've found this last step rounds off the digital edge to my finished track, giving it more depth.

Categories DAW Finishing old songs Music Tags Ableton Live Propellerhead Reason Play With Fire Ramin Streets Slate Digital Slate VTM Slate VCC Waved REDD plugin Emagic Logic Logic DAW