Ever seen one of these before?? Of course you have! Every audio engineer using Pro Tools has maxed out the power of their system at least once… probably more than once… and probably not on purpose.
So what can we do about it?
Is there a way to avoid seeing those pesky three letters, D A E? Wave a magic wand? Wish upon a star? Throw your computer out a 10th story window and head for the nearest Apple Store for a more powerful machine?
While that’s an option for some, most people will just need to find a way to make their session more efficient when they hit the “ceiling” of their processing power. This was originally a question from one of our MixCoach Pro Members, Gary Paquin who has developed into a really great mix engineer. After answering his question, I decided to go ahead and share the help and advice with everyone. So here’s some ideas of what we can do when the inevitable happens…
If you are working in Pro Tools this is a relatively simple process. Every plug-in has a small downward pointing arrow on it, if you click on this arrow you can “Copy Plug-in Settings”. The next step is to pull up the same plug-in from the “AudioSuite” menu and click the same downward pointing arrow and click “Paste Plug-in Settings” Then highlight the files you want to process this way, then click “process” and POOF! you have “dedicated” a plug-in… No printing in real time necessary… Remember to remove the “in-line” plug-in after doing this and you’ve got a bit more processing power to use for other super cool things!
There is another option that’s related to the last one… you can print entire sections of your mix… like Drums, Instruments, and Vocals. This saves you even more processing but it always feel more “clunky” to me. I’m always wanting to turn some individual element up or down after printing. So this is probably a “last resort” situation. The way to do this one is either use busses to route the different mixes to an audio track, or just mute the undesired elements and print them that way.
Lower the Levels of Undo:
In the preferences of Pro Tools there is a spot labeled, “levels of undo”. The interesting thing about these “levels” is that they are stored in your computer’s RAM. So they take up space in your processor. So if you want to squeeze just a little more from your processor you can lower this number and potentially get it. I want to say that this number is set by default to some crazy high number like 30 and if I were wanting to go back 30 undo levels I would probably just re-load a session file backup anyway. Which brings me to a suggestion I have: There is also a preference for how often your session is backed up in the “Session File Backups” folder. I would strongly suggest setting this to 1 minute or 2 minutes. That way if you ever DO need those extra levels of undo, you can always go back a minute or two via the backup files.
Ok so these may not be super magical ways to keep your session from those pesky three letter errors, (D–A–E) but this can help you get that last bit of power you needed to finish that epic mix you’ve been working on.
What are some ways that you’ve saved processing power when you needed it? Share with us in the comments below… we might even feature your comment!