Problems with Soundtrack Pro

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the March, 2011, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]


Chris Mead writes:

Just finishing a major HD multicam project at church that was recorded by the audio guy at 43 tracks. The service length was a little more than an hour. This year I promised myself not to make the same mistake of last year’s SD effort of taking a very boring 2 channel audio file to mix in. I asked for the 43 track and boy I got it.


My eyes were to big for my stomach and in this case my Mac being my tummy. As I loaded the clips into Soundtrack, it kept blowing up. I tried everything to try to conserve RAM (I only have 4 GB of it on my 3.01 GHz iMac 27″.) It wasn’t my machine – it was Soundtrack and its inability to access memory.


Eventually I figured that I had to down mix. I got to 8 tracks on the master with each being a stereo downmix of some specific group such as the drum (8 tracks), guitars (4 tracks) backing vocals (8 tracks) and so on. Although I had to be careful when saving the files, Soundtrack always created a consistent output that loaded perfectly in the master.


When Soundtrack goes 64 bit thus using more memory, I’ll change the workflow. But this worked out pretty well.

Larry replies: Chris has discovered that Soundtrack Pro suffers from the same problem as Final Cut Pro – both applications can only access 4 GB of RAM. Also, due to how the Mac works, both applications need to reserve 1.5 GB of that 4 GB for system frameworks, which means that each application only has a free space of 2.5 GB of RAM for all project data.

43 tracks of 24-bit audio is really, REALLY a lot! And it totally filled, then blew way past, STP’s available memory.

The work-around is to do intermediate mix-downs. For example, to create a single stereo pair of the 10 tracks you have on the drum set.

Memory management is a very weak area for Soundtrack Pro and I hope it gets addressed in the next version of final Cut Studio.

UPDATE – March 5, 2011

Ben Balser writes:

Man oh man! 43 tracks over 1 hour? I’d never touch that with STP. If you go over 12 tracks, IMHO, you need to go with a true DAW. Logic works best with FCP, is very affordable, very easy to use and learn, and supports QT video playback. That project simply needed to go into Logic. STP’s interface would simply be a nightmare to even work with one hour of 43 tracks. Logic Pro/Express would be the way to go here. I do sound, I record music, VO work, mix for video features, and would NEVER dream of a project this size going into STP. I’d strictly keep it in Logic, and export an AIFF mix down for FCP. Just my two cents, once a video producer reaches this level, they need to add Logic into the arsenal.

Larry replies: Ben, thanks for writing.

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