Back at NAMM in January Tracktion were showing a sneak preview of the new version of their DAW software but they gave out very little information about it. Well, it’s now arrived and Tracktion have gone into full disclosure overdrive. It’s billed as the largest upgrade they’ve ever offered, building on the simplicity of the interface of earlier versions but providing a more dynamic flow and a stack of new features.
Tracktion has always had a unique look and is unafraid to maintain a different way of doing things, the most obvious example being that the track information is all on the right of the track rather than the left. For many people it’s been the single window paradigm that’s a breath of fresh air to the multi-windowed environments of Cubase, Pro Tools and the like. So much so that both Cakewalk and Studio One have followed that concept with their own GUI designs. But keeping to the simplicity of layout can be a challenge when trying to build in more features and so T7 relaxes the single window approach a little bit to allow it to be more dynamic. They’re calling the new look “Blue Steel” – isn’t that a Zoolander reference? The transport bar used to take up quite a chunk at the bottom and was filled with useful information, controls over what is selected and menus. This has now been streamlined to give you more screen space for your project, although all the information is still there and can be revealed on the click of a button. Other side panels can be revealed by moving the mouse to the edge of the screen rather than having to find the right button all the time. This works for the track info on the right and the browser on the left. The browser is also now repositionable along the top where you can tile instances of it allowing you to easily audition samples from different places and then drag-n-drop them all together with a shift-click onto the timeline.
Another new technology is Clip Layer FX which allows you to add effects to individual clips. They seem really excited about it as if it’s something no one has thought of before, but I’m pretty sure every DAW has sample editing and lets you apply effects to individual clips. However, maybe the approach here is different in that they do it in layers and essentially create a stack of processing which you can edit individually and reorder. These are not applied to the audio destructively, they hang around more like inserts and include things like pitch and time, stutter, EQ, normalise as well as any other third party plug-ins. It looks interesting and probably requires deeper investigation to work out why they believe it to be quite so revolutionary.
A couple of other additions include the welcome arrival of Automation Patterns that let you quickly apply preset movement in the shape of sin wave, square wave or ramping to various parameters. An LFO modulator is also included that can be used on any parameter anywhere.
T7 looks like Tracktion are having a real go at staying in the game. But do they have enough innovation going on in an increasingly crowded DAW market? Certainly the price point of $60 leaves many others in the dust but with the likes of PreSonus Studio One, Bitwig Studio and FL Studio offering similar functionality it will be interesting to see how well T7 is received. Personally the T7 Ultimate Pack, which includes the excellent BioTek synth and other bits and pieces for $200, looks quite tempting if I was thinking of changing my DAW.
T7 is available now from $60 for Windows, OSX and Linux.
For more information and lots of videos on the new features: https://www.tracktion.com/products/t7-daw