Translated from the video with a few bits of editing:

We’re talking about using Snapper for auditioning sounds while working in Pro Tools, and why you may want to do that. Traditionally the way you would import a sample into your Pro Tools session is to go to this little dialog box. Click on samples, and you can hear them:



In this particular case, I’ve got some whoosh samples which many of them don’t actually make any sound for a couple of seconds. If you happen do be doing work like this and auditioning samples that don’t have any sound at the beginning of the sound file, it’s a painfully long process.

If you go to the actual finder window, we’re kind of stuck in the same boat. With long samples, which we can audition,  it can take three seconds to get to the sound. Three seconds may not sound like a lot of time, but if you’ve got a whole bank of these sorts of things, and you’re trying to find exactly the right sample, this can take a long time.



So enter Snapper (applause). When you instantiate it, nothing really happens because it’s not a GUI based app. It basically works in conjunction with your Finder window. Now, when you click on an audio file in your Finder window, Snapper pops up. The great thing is, you can visually see what’s going on in the sample. And you can start playback from anywhere too:



So as you are going through these whoosh samples, you don’t have to wait through all the space in the beginning of the sample. Just get right to the good stuff, and find out which ones may work.

The other great thing about Snapper, for Pro Tools users, is if you have a spot in your session where you want your sample to go, you can spot directly to Pro Tools from the Snapper window which is a great feature. Very helpful!

Thanks for checking out these Pro Tools Tips.



9 years ago in June of 2005, I was in the thick of building our recording studio, a career and life changing experience. Towards the end of construction, I got a call from the Green Natives who said “We hear you are building a recording studio, and we need to record some music!”. I figured 3 weeks would be plenty of time to finish things up, and get the studio ready. My contractor said “We’ll be done well before 3 weeks”.

Well, we were both wrong.

The night before the session came, and we weren’t completely done (there were still finishing touches and sound baffles to build), but we were at a stopping point. It was 7pm and I was frantically sweeping the floors of studio in a bit in a panic for tomorrows session. The rooms were basically done, but there was no recording gear or instruments inside yet. What to do!?

I called my friend Matt Forger (who helped with the design of the studio), and said “Hey Matt, my first session is tomorrow morning, I know it’s late notice, but is there any way that I could get you to come help me set up the studio?” Thank God and he was not booked that night and the two of us worked for hours getting things set up. We wired up the rooms, brought in the recording gear, mics, stands, drums, etc…We got to recording drum tones around 1am, and miraculously the mic cables and live room input box that I had hand wired all worked, as did the rest of the gear.



It was a modest setup with a PC driven Pro Tools 002 rig, Yamaha AW4416, AIP 3124+ Line 6 Pod, and other gear much of which has been replaced over the years. Except the API.



The next morning, I welcomed the boys with a big smile thinking “Okay, this is it, I hope this all works!”. Thankfully that session went well and the boys were happy.

The reason I mention this story today is that The Green Natives finished one of those songs and just posted it on FB. So here it is from the very first Bright Orange Studios session 9 years ago ‪#‎TBT‬

Most objects usually speak out rhythms and patterns to me as I’m doing these sound design sessions, and with two of the water heater panels in front of me, this rhythm emerged. It will inevitably end up on a future piece of music. Captured by my son on an iPhone:

One man’s trash is another man’s excuse for a sampling session. After dismantling our old water heater (we upgraded to a tankless system), the old enclosure panels were screaming to be heard.

I talked my son and his friend into helping me out, and I quickly put them to work. Grabbing my trusty ‘hazard mics’ (a pair of Tascam TM-78s), and some long Canare mic cables, I pushed record in Pro Tools and let the sampling begin….


The kids had fun banging on metal and making lots of noise.


I of course got to be a kid too, and smashed up some metal and also created some thunder:


Inspired by a twitter conversation with Ian Shepherd

Thriller” by Michael Jackson was the first album I purchased from, and I was blown away by its sound, fidelity, and dynamics.  There is no evidence of any brickwall mastering, the main offender in our digital era loudness war. In fact, if you look at the Billie Jean waveform, you will notice the beginning of the song (where the drums are featured), the mix is actually louder than the rest of the song.


Dynamics like this were commonplace in the pre-digital era, when people bought albums on vinyl, and no one ever said something like “Gee, this album was mastered way quieter than the last one we played“.

Speaking of mastering, I contacted HDtracks to find out info on which mastered versions they use for their releases, and they basically said “We don’t know, we just sell what the record labels deliver to us“. Fair enough, but I think that the people who spend the extra cash for the higher quality versions would like to know exactly what they are paying for. For instance it would be interesting to know if the Thriller mastering is the same or similar to the original vinyl release. If any of you reading have any info, or have compared them, please comment below.

On a technical note: Similar to listening to vinyl albums, where the better your turntable, stylus, and preamp is, the better and more accurate the music will sound, in the digital world, the better your digital to analog (D/A) converters are, the better it will sound too. You can play the HD tracks through iTunes using your computer’s stock sound card, but the to hear it in it’s best possible fidelity, it’s better to have dedicated D/A converters that are a separate piece of hardware. In this case, I’m playing the files inside of a 176.4k 24bit Pro Tools session, and the hardware D/A converters are inside an Apogee DA-16X.

I hope to see more of these kinds of releases in the future as quality DOES matter. I’ve consequently bought HD versions of albums by Daft Punk, The Vicar, Talking Heads, and U2. They too sound incredible.



An excerpt from a recording session I did for composer/arranger John Sawoski. 8:15am is never to early to rock out.

These are raw tracks (no plugins on the individual channels),  with just a little love from the Vertigo VSC-2 Compressor by Brainworx on the master bus in Pro Tools.

All cymbals by Istanbul Agop
All drum heads by Aquarian Drumheads

Instrument: Microphone / Mic Pre:

  • Kick: Shure Beta 52 / API
  • Snare top: Shure SM57 / Universal Audio 4110
  • Snare bottom: Shure Unidyne III / Universal Audio 4110
  • Toms: JZ BT-201s / API
  • Overheads: AKG 451s / API
  • Room mics: Oktava 219s (Michael Joly mod) / Universal Audio 4110