|Developer(s)||Tracktion Software Company|
|Stable release||5.3.16 / 2014-10-17|
|Operating system||Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, Linux|
|Type||MIDI Sequencer + Digital Audio Workstation|
Tracktion was originally developed by a single UK designer/programmer, Julian Storer and was first released in 2002 by UK-based Raw Material Software. US-based Mackie, a division of LOUD Technologies specializing in studio recording and live sound products, took over distribution of Tracktion in 2003 and the software was sold in standalone, boxed retail versions as well as bundled with Mackie, Tapco and Echo Audio computer-audio interfaces and digital-capable mixing boards.
Although no official word came from Mackie officials, user understanding was that the project had been discontinued, as no updates, communication or announcements had been forthcoming from the company since January 2008. However, at the January 2013 NAMM show Tracktion was reborn through original developer Julian Storer, who announced that he had re-acquired control of the software and would be developing Tracktion with his newly founded "Tracktion Software Company" ().
User interface and unique features
Tracktion was designed to be as transparent and intuitive to the user as possible. Track object controls and parameters are context-sensitive; effects, MIDI instruments and other software objects can be added to tracks or even applied directly to individual audio and MIDI clips using a drag-and-drop system of filters. Complex chains of filters can be created, stored and recalled for later use as rack effects, which can be thought of as analogous to a saved channel strip setting in a traditional DAW/sequencer.
Tracktion represented a move away from the modal dialog boxes, multiple menus and cluttered windows common to most legacy MIDI sequencers and Digital Audio Workstations, in favour of a streamlined, single-screen approach that presents the user only with the options they need for the task they are currently doing, such as editing audio, adjusting MIDI automation parameters, effects settings, etc. In this respect Tracktion is often compared to Ableton Live, although Live has two separate work areas (Session and Arrange) and does not have fully context sensitive non modal elements that automatically show or hide depending on the task as does Tracktion. However both are notable for the use of a more abstract visual style that does not attempt to visually replicate "real world" recording equipment or effects boxes. As well as the drag and drop based non modal interface and rack filters, other key innovations of Tracktion's, later to be followed by most other DAWs, were the development of "freeze", a way of reversibly converting a midi instrument track to audio to free up memory and cpu, and an inline midi editor that allowed midi to be edited in the track rather than in a separate window or dedicated editor. Tracktion was also the first DAW to adopt a fully vector-based, resizable interface.
Features in version 1.0
No preset sample rate limits (limited only by hardware); on-the-fly sample rate conversion; internal 32-bit floating point math; DirectSound and ASIO support including multi-channel playback and recording at low latencies; WAV, AIFF and Ogg-Vorbis audio file format support; Punch-in and input-level-triggered recording; looped MIDI recording; real-time monitoring; full parameter automation for panning, levels, and effects; support for the plugin and VST virtual instrument standards. QuickTime video support is included to aid in soundtrack creation.
Enhancements in version 2.0
Version 2.0 greatly enhanced stability; this version gained an improved MIDI editor with step entry; a software sampler virtual instrument; optional support for 64-bit math, to create greater digital headroom in the mix summing bus and thus avoid distortion; External MIDI sync, MIDI clock and MIDI Machine Control send and receive; per-track input auto-assignment; optional fullscreen input metering; a newly scalable window; and the ability to import files from Mackie hard disk recorders. Mackie has been drawing criticism in the support forums for its continued supply of version 2.0 with Tapco (a Mackie company) hardware, even though it is not supported with the Windows Vista operating system.
Enhancements in version 3.0
Major additions include more tools for loop-based composition, including a keyword-based loop browser, support for the popular Sony ACID Pro, Propellerhead Software REX2 and Apple Inc. Apple Loops file formats, and an improved timestretching algorithm useful for beat-matching and creating mashups. Core technical enhancements include support for multiple CPUs and multi-core processors; and support for control surfaces including the Mackie Control Universal, Frontier AlphaTrack, Mackie C4, and Novation Digital Music Systems ReMOTE SL series.
Bundles and Upgrade Versions
Tracktion 3 was available in two upgrade and two full retail versions. Such had Mackie's Mastering Tools plugins included.
- Basic Upgrade (updates the core application to T3, provides 'lite' training video; available only online from Mackie)
- Project Studio (T3 core application, IK SampleTank SE lite sound set, Amplitube Uno, TK DrumCore Diet Edition, Garritan Personal Orchestra Lite Starter Edition, LinPlug FreeAlpha synth, LinPlug RMIV Lite drum machine, LinPlug Cronox3 Lite synth, Lite T3 SonicReality loops library, Quickstart training video)
- Ultimate Bundle (T3 core application, IK SampleTank SE, Amplitube Duo, TK DrumCore 2GB Edition, Garritan Personal Orchestra Lite Full Edition, LinPlug Alpha3 synth, LinPlug RMIV Drum Addiction version, LinPlug Cronox3 full version, full T3 SonicReality loops library, 4hr Mastering Tracktion training video)
- Ultimate Bundle Upgrade from any previous or lower version
Enhancements in version 4.0
Tracktion 4 (T4) features the same operational characteristics as the original program but with an entirely new audio engine. This progression is intended not only to make T4 compatible with all the latest operating systems, plug-in and controller technology, but also to create a modern platform for further development. TSC is dedicated to the continued evolution of the product. To be specific, T4 provides support for OSX Mountain Lion to take advantage of Apple’s very latest hardware and operating systems. It also provides support for Microsoft’s Windows 7 & 8. Apple Audio Unit (AU) is supported to open a new world of effects and instruments for Tracktion users and the latest generation audio codec from Microsoft, Windows Media Audio (WMA) is also supported. Windows Audio Session API (WASAPI) is included for optimized audio data management between applications.
Tracktion4 can also run on Linux and is announced to be released officially for Ubuntu Linux 64bit. On Linux it uses the Jack Audio Connection kit via JUCE.
There is also support for 64bit Mac and PC operating systems so Tracktion can squeeze the highest performance out of current computer resources.
Open source library
The underlying C++ code that was developed to create Tracktion's graphic and audio capabilities was later split-out into an open-source library, JUCE, which is still maintained and developed by Julian Storer / Raw Material Software.
- Tracktion product page from new founded Tracktion Software Company (TSC)
- Tracktion discussion forum at KVRAudio.com
- Boot Camp - Creating Mashups for Beginners using Tracktion
- Tracktion 3 Review by Craig Anderton at Keyboard Magazine
- Tracktion 3 Review by Jonathan Wilson at MacUser UK
- Tracktion 3 Review by Peter Wetherbee at Remix Magazine
- Tracktion 3 Review by Mike Levine at Electronic Musician Magazine
- Tracktion 3 Field Test by Jim Aiken, Mix Magazine Online
- Tracktion 1 and 2 Review by David Viner
- Tracktion 3 promotional video (YouTube)
- JUCE Open-Source C++ Libraries