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Audio in isolation: maintaining your audio passion in the midst of COVID-19

Audio in isolation

There are a couple of bad-health clichés that are associated with a life in music: they don’t call it sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll for nothing. One of the very best things about this business though has to be collaboration. Which, if you’re in self-isolation mode right now, is a little difficult.

Some of the technologies that have been developed alongside our favourite audio products can help us to maintain our passion for the craft and even work together. Much to the chagrin of audio pros, the internet can be the bane of our existence – especially if you’re sending big files around. But, in these unprecedented times, we can also use it to maintain our passion, even in isolation.

Audio in isolation

In this unprecedented health crisis, we have to think outside the box while we’re stuck inside our rooms. Let’s explore some ways to keep working with audio in isolation.

Let’s talk

You don’t need to be an audio type to acknowledge that the internet has revolutionised the way that we communicate. Since the early days of online messaging services, the choice has grown exponentially and the services have only become more sophisticated.

Skype is the most popular choice for video communications, but other platforms like Zoom have more comprehensive conferencing if you need to get the band back together. Worth a shot, especially in an emergency meeting situation.

Hit the books

There are a plethora of ways you can learn about audio and do deep dives into a particular software or skill of choice. YouTube provides an astonishing repertoire of learning materials for any skill you can possibly think of. But, YouTube is also a bit of a lottery.

If you’re serious about upskilling and don’t mind parting with a bit of cash, there are options like LinkedIn Learning or MacPro Video which can accommodate any level of expertise, from stone-cold beginner to professional.

Also, spare a thought for people who work in the live sound industry – they’ll be no doubt hardest hit among all audio professionals. There’s a very helpful Reddit thread where a bunch of live audio folk are throwing around ideas for upskilling while in isolation.Pro Tools cloud collab

Keep on collaborating

Modern DAWs are providing more and more scope for collaboration online. These days it seems quaint to even bring a hard drive to sessions – it’s just so convenient to ship around audio on the internet. Collaborating in real-time on the same session though? That’s a relatively new development.

AVID’s Pro Tools unveiled their Cloud Collaboration in recent times, enabling musicians in remote locations to plug into the same session, record parts independently, plus provide comments to keep the lines of communication flowing within a project.

If you’re on Cubase, Steinberg’s answer to the same challenge is VST Connect SE. It offers video chat, live talkback and support for lossless audio quality.

If you happen to in close enough proximity to share the same WiFi network, Ableton Link can keep the jams going even in isolation. The great thing about Link is that its open to a swathe of mobile apps too – not everyone needs to be plugged into a computer.

Put on a gig

No mass gatherings means no gigs, right?

Most social networks provide for live streaming and artists, who were hitherto touring in the flesh, have wasted no time in bringing the good vibes to you, no matter where you are.

The undisputed king of this form of delivery is the one-man funk sensation Marc Rebillet. The YouTuber was all set to come to Australia before COVID-19 struck. Instead of reneging on the tour, he’s still doing all his scheduled dates – you can tune in to any set you want.

Not working together in the same physical space undoubtedly sucks. There’s no point in sugar-coating it. But to keep working on audio projects, despite our isolation, is now possible with the tools that we have at our disposal.

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March 18, 2020

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