With Facebook and WhatsApp and FaceTime and Skype, we can be chatting with anyone in the world. Why not also recording music with them, via MIDI or audio?
Steinberg’s vision of bringing Minority Report-style hand-waving to moving your transport controls may or may not be something you’d actually want to do – cool factor aside. But the other announcement this week that echoes science fiction films is a technology for letting you record musicians from far-off places. (Remember video conferencing in 2001? Or that horrible scene in Back to the Future 2? I digress.)
Online collaboration is something many, many tools have tried. VST Connect for Cubase 7 is interesting, though, for its focus: it’s entirely designed for letting you add musicians to a project, regardless of where they are on the planet. Audio and MIDI, sync and record levels, video communication, and sample-accurate sync combine to make the distance studio experience almost as good as being there.
And true to the name, it’s the way it works that sets it apart. Adding another human is as easy as adding a plug-in.
VST Connect arrived with Cubase 7. This week, it goes “Pro” with multichannel support, and – perhaps more interesting – adds the ability to “dial into” sessions from an iPad or iPhone.
If you’ve got Cubase 7, you’ve already got the ability to record real-time through the Internet or a local LAN. (Actually, that’s a point to make, too: you might just use this to take advantage of a network as a way of setting up a control room and recording room where one doesn’t exist.)
The Pro version adds multichannel, with up to 16 tracks in lossless, high-resolution recordings.
The multichannel features may be overkill for some users, but it’s the new companion app for Pro that looks fascinating: any iPad or iPhone can now connect to those sessions, too, with a new app called Studio Pass (see the video here).
199€ including VAT; the Studio Pass app is a free download for Connect Pro.
- Sample-accurate sync
- MIDI send/receive
- Secure transfers (there you go, NSA, you think you’re going to rip off my next hit single? Guess again!)
- 192 kHz audio support
- Cue mix section
- VST 3 support lets you record your VST instruments over the same peer-to-peer connection
“But, wait a second,” you say. “Does this mean I’m free to use studio musicians anywhere so long as … I buy them all Cubase 7?!”
No. The Performer app is a free download for OS X and Windows. So, you send that to your performers, collaborators, and the like.
You only need Cubase 7 for your session – and, of course, this is a pretty good argument for doing that.
The video for Studio Pass isn’t terribly helpful here. (It looks like it’s about to become a video for timeshare.) But the app is nice enough: you can connect from any iOS mobile to the project and give a listen, send feedback, and even connect to one of the recording sessions. They refer to a “client,” but of course any collaborator could find this useful, and the video and interactive recording possibilities give you a pretty big edge over just sending someone a bounce via WeTransfer.
Let’s repeat that: what Studio Pass lets you do is access any mix, with mix parameters, from anywhere. It’s like having Remote Desktop for your studio.