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Steinberg Nuendo 2: A Report by Steve Crimmel

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Steinberg Nuendo 2: A Report by Steve Crimmel
A Creative Cow Audio Professionals Report


A Look at Steinberg Nuendo 2
by Steve Crimmel
Painted Sky Studios, Cambria, California USA

©2004 by CreativeCow.net. All rights are reserved.



Article Focus:
Creative Cow's Steve Crimmel focuses on the use of Nuendo 2 in the professional recording studio environment, where full bands are often recorded using 20 tracks or more simultaneously. Steve comes from a pro audio engineer background and his personal experience includes working as a staff engineer for a number of years at Hollywood's famed Ocean Way Studios, where Steve engineered many of the top-selling records of all time -- including hits like those from Lionel Richie, Talking Heads, Neil Diamond and many others. From this rich bed of experience, Steve reports that "...Nuendo goes deep in its capabilities and has spoiled me in many ways." In this article, Steve examines some of these reasons and shows why he's been so favorably impressed by Nuendo 2, so much so in fact that he gives it a 4 Cows rating.



NUENDO 2: Real Multi-Track Power
Within the past couple of years or so, off-the-shelf computers have finally attained the kinds of speeds which allow them to be used as a multi-track recorder even in traditionally analog high-end professional recording studios -- studios where you often have a full band recording simultaneously and you are sending 20 tracks or more to the hard drive at any one moment. In this demanding environment where a system has to be good enough to use day-in and day-out in a commercial studio -- -- you are betting your reputation that your software will work well and have a great sound when the sessions are recorded. Because of these kinds of pressures, many studios still resist the newer digital tools, choosing rather to rely on known and trusted analog systems. But tools like Steinberg's Nuendo 2 may just change some of these minds -- it has done so here at my own Painted Sky Studios where I record a disparate mix of sessions from Jazz to Hip-Hop, Rockabilly to Heavy Metal, Gospel, Acoustic and New Age and just about anything else you can think of.


Nuendo's Timeline Interface:



I’ve been using Nuendo for about four months now as my main multi-track recorder and it works well and its sound is excellent -- meaning that it does not have a characteristic that it adds to the sound but rather, is virtually invisible. This is an important consideration as one of the reasons I've stayed away from digital recording is that some of the other popular systems -- such as DigiDesign ProTools -- have a characteristic sound that they "add" to the session. At times I still use my 2” analog to get that fat sound for rock n roll or rhythm and blues projects. But as soon as we get a master take, the song gets transferred to Nuendo for overdubs and mixing. Nuendo is a very powerful audio recording tool. My setup is probably a little different than most because I usually do not mix in Nuendo. I use my Sony DMXR100 console, which is a beautiful sounding board that gives me a hands-on control surface. There are 32 channels of lightpipe connecting the Sony to an Athlon-based PC using Frontier Design Dakota and Montana sound cards, and two removable IDE hard-drive bays. This works well for our style of music production and I will not hesitate to sub-mix within Nuendo if I need the extra tracks.


Nuendo's Cross-Fade Edit Window:



Some of Nuendo's Powers:
Before getting Nuendo, I used Cool Edit Pro (now: Adobe® Audition™), which was and still is a great program that I regularly use for sweetening, mix-downs to disc and some mastering tasks. But I never use it to multi-track to it in a live studio session. In this use, Nuendo goes much deeper in its capabilities and has spoiled me in so many ways. When a project comes in on ADAT tape, I just tell the client that we need to transfer it into Nuendo. We can just do so much more with it there. I really like that nothing gets erased. You can just do take-after-take of a lead guitar solo, for example, without switching tracks, and they can just stack up on top of each other. When you have enough takes from which to composite your "perfect" lead solo, you can lasso all the takes on the track with your mouse and the click events to part. Now go back and double-click the track and they all appear in their own window on separate tracks in the order that they were recorded. Edit and mute the sections you don’t want, and there you go, instant comp of the perfect lead solo. Way cool! And you can go back and change it around any time you like.


Nuendo's Mixing Interface:


Nuendo Mixing Interface with 5.1 Surround Channels:





Steve Crimmel is an audio engineer whose work over the years has spanned an amazing career. As an engineer at the famed Ocean Way Studios, he has worked with everyone from Quincy Jones and Frank Sinatra, to the Doors, Talking Heads, Kenny Loggins and Supertramp. He has engineered sessions for Ry Cooder, such as the sessions that became part of the soundtrack for the Walter Hill movie, "Streets of Fire." Many of Lionel Richie's hits, both with and without the Commodores, were engineered by Steve Crimmel and the walls of his Cambria, California-based Painted Sky Studios are adorned with Gold Records like the one for Neil Diamond -- whose ''(Turn On Your) Heartlight'' -- was engineered by Steve. Recently, Steve enginnered Charlie Shoemake's "Uncrowned Kings" project which made Billboard's Top 20 Jazz chart and has engineered projects with Jackson Browne, Jude Johnstone and many others.

Steve Crimmel lives and works in the beautiful resort town of Cambria, California, where he is the chief engineer at www.paintedskystudios.com

A Nuendo 2.01 Caveat:
I must point out the only problem that I have encountered with Nuendo 2.01. Sometimes when stacking overdubs, Nuendo will fail to play back the last recorded take, it will play back a previous take -- not the one on top, which is in all likelihood, the one you are looking at. It is not a big deal and there’s a simple work-around. You just mute the previous takes as you record new ones. And it doesn’t happen all the time. Hopefully, this will be fixed in future releases.


How Nuendo Aids Painted Sky:
Nuendo has forever changed the way I work in the studio. Recording vocals flows incredibly fast, when you don’t have to rewind tape. My mixing board has full automation, and now I rarely have to use it. For about the same money which you would spend on a Tascam® or Alesis® hard-disc recorder, you can build a Nuendo-based system that will have a lot more tracks and which will give you lots more power and flexibility -- not to mention a waveform view, editing, and the ability to use plug-ins. Another thing I like about Nuendo, is there are a lot of features that are useful for post production and MIDI recording. The audio process history is great, giving you the ability to replace, change, or remove former processing on your tracks. Unlike ProTools, Nuendo works with many brands of hardware, costs thousands less, and is an excellent sounding, powerful, professional program.

In closing, while many here in Creative Cow work with video and/or in broadcast situations which Nuendo also supports with its video import features -- this review has not addressed these features as my studio concentrates on audio only and therefore to learn more about Nuendo's multimedia capabilities, please see the link below at the bottom of this review
.

--Steve Crimmel



I give Steinberg Nuendo 2 my personal rating of Four Cows. This is a deep program with incredible power, one that can stand up to even the most demanding audio engineers, producers and others who need this program's vast feature-set and capabilities. With its additional 5.1 editing ability and its plug-in interface, there's little that can't be done in Nuendo 2. I might have rated it 4-1/2 Cows had the program not had the earlier mentioned playback bug in which Nuendo fails to always play back the last recorded take, instead playing back a previous take and not the one on top -- while not a major flaw, it would be nice to not have to use the muting workaround described to avoid the problem.


You can find Steve interacting with Creative Cow members in the following forums:


To learn more about Steinberg Nuendo, please visit the company's website at www.steinberg.de


Visit our forums at CreativeCow.net if you found this page from a direct link.





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