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If you’re looking for an alternative to Pro Tools and mostly want to record, edit and mix multiple tracks of audio, then check out Deck – one of the original digital-audio applications developed for the Mac. In its first incarnation, Deck was used as the front-end software for Digidesign’s Pro Tools hardware – until Digidesign got around to writing its own. Since then – the early 1990s – Deck has been through various changes of ownership, until it ended up at BIAS. For many years, Deck has simply had maintenance fixes to keep it working with newer OSs. Version 3.5 reverses this trend, with a major re-write for Mac OS X and to incorporate all the latest developments such as 5.1 surround sound. Deck 3.5 also supports OS X’s new CoreAudio standard, with its super-low latency times and many other benefits.
Deck records tracks, adjusts the level and EQ, adds effects, and mixes down recordings. Deck also offers waveform editing and moving-fader mixer automation. You can now record and playback up to 64 tracks at the same time – and Deck has support for up to 999 virtual tracks. In the Mixer Window, you can insert up to four VST effects plug-in per track, and Deck ships with over 20 OS X-compatible VST audio effects.
Deck is not a MIDI sequencer, but it can replay MIDI files. If you need a sequencer, BIAS recommends running Metro MIDI sequencer. If these two programs are running simultaneously on your Mac, they automatically connect and synchronize. You can use any other OMS-compatible third-party sequencer with Deck, but Metro provides a much greater level of integration.
You get a bundle of extra software with Deck, including BIAS’ Peak LE and Vbox SE, 25 real-time VST effects, and Roxio’s Toast Lite CD-burning software. The Vbox SE plug-in lets you create complex matrix arrangements of other plug-ins and manage these more effectively. Peak LE is useful for mastering, level adjustments, assigning CD-index points, and CD burning/MP3 creation. And with Roxio Toast Lite, you can burn Peak LE playlists as RedBook format audio CDs, with track index points, and custom gap times – or use it to back up your digital audio files onto CD-ROM.
Features such as OMF import, SMPTE sync to external devices, and Chase Positioning – allowing audio to be spotted to video in seconds – make Deck an excellent choice when making audio for video. And Deck is the perfect complement to Premiere or Final Cut Pro. Import any QuickTime movie and add music, narration, and sound effects before exporting as a new movie with its soundtrack mixed down in a variety of sample and bit rates. For music production, you may be better off with Digidesign’s Mbox/Pro Tools LE package, which includes a hardware interface at a comparable price.
Min specs: See BIAS’ Web site.