Connecting Equipment

You can use a variety of audio equipment with Soundtrack Pro for both recording and playback. For information on connecting a specific piece of equipment to your computer, read the documentation that came with the equipment. For general information about connecting a control surface to your computer, see Connecting Control Surfaces.

Final Cut Studio editing systems can be configured to meet the most demanding professional requirements. An advanced editing system can be built by expanding the basic system described in the Final Cut Pro User Manual. The following list includes equipment commonly used in Final Cut Studio editing systems:

Video and Audio Input and Output Devices

An input device is used to transfer footage into your computer. For output, you record your finished movie to an output device. Basic editing systems use a DV camcorder or deck as both an input and output device. Professional editing systems may use multiple video decks to capture and output to different video formats. Although Soundtrack Pro does not support video capture from devices such as camcorders or VTRs, it does support recording from a variety of digital audio devices.

To connect non-FireWire devices to your computer, you also need a third-party video or audio interface. For more information, see Video Interfaces.

Video Device

This is a VTR or camcorder you connect to your computer to capture and output media. The connectors and signal format on your video device determine what kind of video interface your computer needs to connect to your device.

Figure. Illustration showing typical video devices.

Audio Device

This is a device, such as a digital audio tape (DAT) recorder or multitrack audio recorder, that lets you capture or output audio independently from video.

Figure. Illustration showing a typical audio device.

Note: When using external audio devices, it’s a good idea to connect them before opening Soundtrack Pro.

Video and Audio Interfaces

An interface is a device that adds physical video or audio connectors to your computer so that you can connect your Final Cut Studio system to other professional equipment (such as video or audio decks and monitors).

Interfaces provide input and output connectors that aren’t included with your computer. For example, if you want to output multiple audio channels to an analog audio mixer or digital multitrack, you need an audio interface that has XLR, 1/4" tip-ring-sleeve (TRS), AES/EBU, or ADAT Lightpipe output connectors.

You may also want to consider adding a third-party interface to your system if:

  • You need to capture or output many audio channels at once

  • You are integrating Final Cut Studio into a professional broadcast environment that requires SDI, HD-SDI, or other non-FireWire video and audio connections

  • You need to capture, edit, and output full-resolution, uncompressed video signals instead of DV video (which is compressed)

  • You are digitizing video from an older analog VTR (such as a Betacam SP deck) that does not have digital video outputs or remote control via FireWire

Third-party video and audio interfaces can be installed in one of your computer’s PCI Express slots, connected to the USB port, or connected via FireWire.

For more information about selecting and connecting an audio interface for use with Soundtrack Pro, see Setting Up an Audio Interface.

External Audio and Video Monitoring

In the final stages of post-production, external video and audio monitors are essential to ensure the quality of your movie. Editing systems focused on these final phases of post-production are often called finishing systems.

External Audio Speakers and Monitors

You can play back audio through your computer’s speakers or headphone jack, but the audio output may not be high enough for you to evaluate your music at a professional level of quality. Connecting external speakers or monitors to your system allows you to hear the audio output with greater fidelity and a wider dynamic range. During the final mix, it is important to monitor your audio so that it matches the listening environment where the final project will be shown. For detailed information on connecting external speakers to your audio interface, see the documentation that came with the speakers.

Figure. Illustration showing audio speakers.

Setting Up a Proper Audio Monitoring Environment

Room shape and material are just as important as the quality of the speakers themselves. Every surface in a room potentially reflects sound, and these reflections mix together with the sound originating from the speakers. Rooms with parallel walls can create standing waves, which are mostly low-frequency sound waves that reinforce and cancel each other as they bounce back and forth.

Standing waves cause some frequencies to be emphasized or attenuated more than others, depending on your listening position. When you mix in a room that creates standing waves, you may adjust certain frequencies more than necessary. However, you may not notice until you play back your audio in a different listening environment, in which those frequencies may sound overbearing or nonexistent.

Tip: A much cheaper alternative to building new walls is to mount angled pieces of material to the existing walls to eliminate parallel surfaces.

If the material in a room is very reflective, the room sounds “brighter” because high frequencies are easily reflected. Mounting absorbing material (such as acoustic foam) on the walls can reduce the brightness of a room. A “dead room” is one that has very little reflection (or reverberation). Try to cover any reflective surfaces in your monitoring environment.

Amplifiers

If you are recording audio from microphones and are not running the microphone’s signal through a mixer with a microphone pre-amplifier, you need to connect an amplifier to boost the microphone’s signal before sending it to the computer. If you are connecting monitors or speakers that are not self-powered, you also need to connect them through an amplifier.

Mixers

Connecting a mixer to your system allows you to record audio from multiple microphones or instruments simultaneously, to play back the output from your computer through connected monitors or speakers, and to control the volume levels of both the audio input and output. Professional-quality mixers have a number of additional features, including equalization (EQ) controls, auxiliary sends and returns for adding external effects, and separate monitor and mix level controls. Mixers may also include inboard preamplification for microphones, making the use of a separate amplifier unnecessary.

Control Surfaces

Soundtrack Pro supports control surfaces that use the Mackie Control, Logic Control, and Euphonix EuCon protocols. For information on connecting and using control surfaces, see Using Control Surfaces with Soundtrack Pro.

External Video Monitors

When you design and edit a video soundtrack, it’s ideal to watch the video on a monitor similar to the one you will use for the final screening. An external video monitor can display color, frame rate, and interlaced scanning more accurately than your computer display. (For information on connecting professional video devices, see Connecting Professional Video Devices.)

Figure. Illustration showing an external video monitor.

If you are working on an NTSC or a PAL project, you should watch it on an external video monitor that shows the video interlaced. For more information about external video monitoring, see the Final Cut Pro User Manual.