Is n-track capable of pro quality work

Should I upgrade or buy better card?

A few years back I bought the 2.?? n-trak with compressor and eq.
I have been pleased with the results but I am wondering if I can get much better sound with the newer version?
Is n-track capable of pro quality work.
I hear all this talk about latency in the computer system.
I never get glitches but I only do sterio recording so far.
I am thinking of a new card like e-mu or M-audio multichannel.
I want to set up a 12 or 16 channel live recording system.
Any advice for the dreamer on a buget would be great.

Read this page, it seems that you can, go figure!


Lots of questions there. I’ll take the one on “pro quality work”.

I asked this question of myself, and publicly, many times when I started out. In the end I really had to find the answer myself, and the answer is YES.

This is how I found out: Our church decided to make a cd (guitars, drums etc not organ and choirs), and I’d been recording with N-track for some time, so I demo’d a large selection of the songs. We then went into a “proper” studio to do the real recordings.

To cut a long story short, when I took the first few mixes home, my wife (and most trusted critic) listened and said that many of my demos were better sounding and that I “could do better”.

So I got the tracks from the studio and mixed all the songs in N-track at home. On some songs I re-recorded various bits, and on others I used tracks from the demos because they were just better. So some of the songs are all “proper” studio, some are a mix of tracks recorded in both studios, and one or two are 100% my studio.

The resultant album was professionally mastered and pressed. I think it sounds good and “pro”. Sure it could be better, but all of the reviews have picked up on the songs, lyric, musical style, weak performances and guitar-bias rather than the quality of the sound. Of course, you haven’t heard it but some here have.

Then John B came out with another great sounding album recorded in N-track and answered my question again.

So, there you go. I hope that helps.


Marks work does indeed sound impressive. “pro” sound depends on mics, preamps, room, players, processors, and engineers far more than it does the software. n-Track’s sound may differ just the smallest amount from , say, cubase, but which sound better? Who knows Who cares? You know what will make the biggest differece? the players. And their insturments, and the mics and preamps and rooms. And your skills. What soundcard are you using now? 12-16 channels of pro sound is gonna cost…but 16 channels of very, very good sound is easily attainable - two Delta 1010 cards, e.g., and a board with decent preamps will be more than enough for a few years, until like me you start lusting after neve or whatnot. :) Software should really be the least of your concerns…

I’ve just been using the soundblaster card in the computer.
the best live sound I have been able to get is great for a demo but not fit for radio or marketable cd. I am a drummer and I beat on things with wooden sticks but iI am also a computer fanatic and have been for 24 years. I think the card is the best place to start.
The cost of software upgrade is nothing but I still don’t know what 1/2 of the features do on the old version.
Is there a good book somone can reccomend.
Thanks in advaance.

Quote (Rhythmking @ Jan. 21 2005,10:19)
Is there a good book somone can reccomend.

The manual :)

also check out - there are many clear tutorials there as well as some specific help using NTrack

Being a drummer you might want to consider an electronic drumset before spending on an expensive multiple input soundcard. Using the midi cable and then working with midi tracks and soundfonts, you'll be able to record multiple channels without needing to spend on the soundcard. Unless of course you had other reasons to get a soundcard with multiple inputs such as recording many instruments at once.

As for the software part of your question, Yes NTrack can produce professional sounding work. I've had NTrack for about 3 years and have slowly been building up my arsenal of equipment. The sounds I'm getting are quite good and have turned more than a few heads. As was already stated, the equipment you use is what really makes the difference to the quality of your sound. I doubt that one software sounds better than another. The main difference between them is user interface I think. Physical differences make a difference though. A preamp adds warmth. Decent monitors helps for accurate mixing. The mics each add a different something...

check out audiominds - good stuff there
Is n-track capable of pro quality work, Should I upgrade or buy better card?

1) Absolutely. You need the right gear and more importantly, the will to learn and use it properly.

2) Depends on what you want to do. I've heard some impressive recordings made with $20 Soundblasters and crappy ones made with gear costing thousands. (See #1) :) :)


The difference in pro quality or not is much more in how you do your job than how n-Tracks does its jo. :)

By the way, this is from the user’s page:


“I have endorsements by Logic, Cakewalk, Cubase, Nuendo, and pretty much every other program worth having including the top of the line Pro tools 6.0 and I have to say n-Track is the best for audio recording and mixing. The automation and way editing are truley out standing! Speaking as a Producer/Engineer with 3 Grammys now, 12 Multi Platinum records, and more than 20 gold albums it is the program I recomend most. I am currently producing an Album for Warner Brothers, the sound track for a new season of a prime time show on the WB network (Warners also) an HBO movie feature Presentation, and a one hour special on MTV and I am using n-Track for all of the music sound tracks. I’ve used it for the Music on Jack and Jill, Everyone Loves Raymond, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and several feature films. It definitley kicks the top of the line Pro Tools software’s butt! I tell everyone here in Hollywwod that it is the best music production software anywhere!” - David E. Banta, mixing engineer & author of the “The Basics of Home Recording” video instructional series - Montrose, CA, USA

My advice for a “dreamer on a budget”.

N-tracks can’t be beat with regards to pricing. In fact I’d go as far as to say it’s exceptional value for money. Full 24bit version for US100 approx, for that you get unlimited tracks, eq’s vst plugs, it’s a pretty healthy deal indeed compared with most alternatives, software or hardware.

Regardless of other opinion I’d also suggest that the software one chooses to use as the central nervous system of a recording project, is, an important choice. It will influence and determine the workflow used throught each production to some degree or other. Since you have been using N-tracks, you already have a feeling for what is on offer.

A decent soundcard is also a valuable investment because
it will be where your inputs meet the A/D converters.
research, one difference between soundcards of various stature is the quality of the chips used to convert the signal from analog to digital. As well more expensive/pro cards
have better SNR(signal to noise ratio) and better / lower THD
(total harmonic distortion).

They offer better quality inputs
and outputs than standard cards as well, and some offer
other things which are useful for recording ie, breakout box.
That is where you get a box into which you can plug your mics etc which is not actually inside the computer. I just bought Platinum Pro, and the best thing about it is it has a great breakout box.

I think that each bit of gear we use effects the recordings in some way, and the workflow as well, so make sure you spend money on features that turn you on!


I agree with phoo - getting “pro audio” has more to do with your digital audio card, your mic’s & your abilities, than nTrack. I get very good results using nTrack but I have pretty good audio components.

Mr Soul

Hey Rhythmking! I currently use a soundblaster card (Audigy ex platinum) with N-track and get great results, but I go through some outboard equipment first and then into the optical spdif in on the audigy breakout box. I have a fostex digital mixer and have effect send and returns in and out of that (compressor, eq, alesis midiverb 4 effect rack, etc.).
I also have a standalone Boss BR1600CD 16 track recorder that interefaces via usb with my computer and can take tracks from that into N-track and edit, etc. The Boss affords me 8 track simultaneous recording while my setup with the fostex to the SB Audigy is only 1 stereo track at a time.
But N-Track is without a doubt great software, just the specs on it prove that, and it is one of the best if not the best value for the money. It is more important to have good hardware that software. I make sure to have good condenser mics and pre’s. Remember the beatles recorded Sgt peppers with a 4 track! It was their producer (George Martin) and engineer (Geoff Emerick) that worked the miracles with great preamps and limiters and decks and awesome I myself am looking into buying an Emu Emulator Studio X setup to provide multiple i/o and great specs for an interface card and box, plus it has great sampling and hardware effects on the card for no latency recording and mixing. It looks like a great value for the money also! Let us know what you settle on and how it turns out. By the way, Whatever you get, I suggest looking into a card that does 24 bit recording for the better headroom that that provides. The Soundblasters only record up to 16 bit; they will playback in 24 bit though. The Emu’s to 24 bit recording!!!

Yes, I’d gladly limit myself to 4 tracks if I could use a bunch of fairchild compressors etc. :)

well ole limey ere mate’’ yer wantin good quality’’’‘den put yer energies ta hone in on ritin good songs wiv good playas wiv bein a good engineer’’‘lets look at dis werd engr’’‘fer a moment’’‘if yer want tha best yer gonna afta use a pro engr whose been round piccadilly circus a few toimes’’‘yer can do a werld class hit in big n IF YER KNOW WHAT YER BLINKIN DOIN’’‘
n did is where rubbewr hits road mate’’‘some blokes i know culd a gonzo song usin rubbish mics n big N ‘’’‘cos dey know the engineerin stuff backwards’’‘n dont mak mistake o’ lotta newbies n raid yer savings n spend 50k on studio stuff’‘few mics n a non rubbish soundcard n then put yer energies inta engineerin gonzo songs’‘lotsa newbies jus throw too much quids at dis stuff’’‘ENGINEERIN, ARRANGMENT,HOT HOOKS,HOT PLAYAS,HOT SONGS dat cook is where its at’’’ :D :D

OMG…Limey I have a lot of respect for your advices but it always takes me a few reads to fully understand your posts sometimes :D
I know a couple of people from Lacanshire and Manchester that similarily talks the way you do :laugh: Liverpoolians…ill leave that one alone love.

Anyways…he’s absolutely right. N-Track is a wonderful affordable tool to “record and sequence”…it doesnt make music for you.

Good music = good songs + good composition + good production + good instrument playing skills and or good vocals

The next chain is clean hardware equipment from mics to AD converters and between.

N-Track just manages all of these things like a conductor or director very well for a good price.

The other benefits of N is that it teaches you basic sound engineering from an analog perspective in the way mixers and consoles are virtually laid out. I never understood what aux sends/returns and group channels were about etc until i was forced to learn via N-Track.

I basically use N to create rough mixes as a rough draft that i will record at a studio with an experienced producer to save tons of session time there because i have gotten the preproduction done with N-Track.

The mike and the board don’t count nearly as much as the person in front of the mike and the person behind the board.

IMHO, in rough order of decreasing importance:

recording engineering & gear

A terrible job at any of them can ruin it unless some other aspect is so stellar that people listen past the flaws. And, a stellar job in one area can help to overcome a weakness in another.

n-Track is well above the minimum level required to do a good job of recording, mixing, and even mastering (with the appropriate add-on plugins). If the results aren’t good, it aint’ n-Track’s fault.

n-Track is probably not ideal for a very busy recording studio with multiple contracts going on concurrently and with very larg numbers of channels (over, say, 12 or 16). For situations like that, ProTools’s capabilities for handling large numbers of tracks and quickly saving/recalling setups or switching between tasks is allegedly better. But that’s a matter of convenience and facility in a busy studio, and has nothing to do with the resulting sound quality.