Author Topic: Polar  (Read 1048 times)


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« on: July 31, 2014, 01:47:49 AM »




I thought we'd get this column underway by taking a look at a feature unique to DP, the 'Performance Oriented Loop Audio Recorder', otherwise known as POLAR. POLAR allows live audio to be recorded, looped and layered in a highly intuitive and interactive way. That's because recordings made during a POLAR 'session' don't go on to disk via a RAM buffer as is usual on DP, but go straight into RAM. Amongst other things, this means POLAR can play back a loop the very instant it's been recorded, and as such it allows overdubs and alternative takes to be laid down without ever needing to stop and rewind. Using POLAR can be a creative and strangely liberating experience, and it's surprising just how many applications can be found for it. It's ideally suited, for example, to building up layered backing parts of all kinds pitched and unpitched percussion, guitar riffs and chord patterns, backing vocals or even sound effects. Whatever it's used for, POLAR somehow seems to encourage experimentation, and you'll find yourself trying out things that might never normally have occurred to you.

Both visually and in operation, POLAR is almost like a separate application (see screenshot below), with only its loop length being set from DP's Tracks window. The POLAR window is dominated by the central waveform display. At the top, there are controls for Input and Output routing where you select your recording source input for example, external hardware inputs, a buss or buss pair. The last option is handy if you want to route multiple inputs to POLAR simultaneously or send your signal via some of DP's effects. The rest of the window is dedicated to acquiring, manipulating and managing 'passes'.

Pass is a potentially confusing term, but if you think of POLAR like a 1970s tape-loop recorder then a Pass is analogous to a single loop of tape, which can either be recorded on just once and immediately played back, or repeatedly overdubbed until it contains many layers of audio. POLAR, however, is much more flexible than old loop recorders, allowing you to overdub new passes whilst simultaneously playing any number of previous ones. The choice between overdubbing into one pass or creating lots of separate ones will largely be dictated by personal preference, and by how much RAM is available.

In Use

So just how do you go about using POLAR? Well, to record (say) a four-part backing vocal or live percussion loop, here's how you might proceed. Creating new passes with the 'Manually' option on the left of the window is simplest (although the 'Trigger By Record Gate' option, discussed in a moment, can often prove more useful). The 'Link Play Button To Main Transport' button on the right does exactly what its name implies, linking POLAR's transport with DP's and vice versa. If this is left switched off, POLAR and DP will still be synchronised, but they won't start and stop together. Assuming you have some sort of tempo or beat reference to play to (you could use the metronome or material you've already recorded in POLAR), all you then have to do is use DP's 'Memory Cycle' function to define POLAR's loop length and its position in your sequence. The '7' key on your Mac's keypad toggles Memory Cycle on and off, and its boundaries are easily adjusted by dragging the repeat mark indicators in DP's main Tracks window.

Hitting POLAR's red Record button sets everything in motion you'll hear any parts already present in your sequence, and you can start playing straight away if you want. As you record, a waveform begins to appear both in POLAR's central display and at the top of the pass list in the bottom half of the window. When you've completed your first pass, POLAR plays back what you've recorded immediately, without dropping out of record mode. If it's a good take, you can launch right in with a new layer, which will be overdubbed on top of your first pass. Alternatively, you can click the 'New' button, at which point the previous recording drops down a position in the pass list, and the central display clears in readiness for a new pass. 'Mute Previous Passes' determines if you'll keep hearing your first pass and since you're adding extra layers you'll probably want to. You don't have to stop POLAR for any of these functions, and you can take as long as you like between passes (to temporarily drop out of record you just click the Record button again). Individual volume and pan controls next to the waveform for each previous pass let you adjust POLAR's mix on the fly, and you can mute a pass by clicking and deselecting its green Play arrow. To get rid of a pass, you just select its waveform and then click the Delete button.

If you decide to create new passes with the 'Trigger By Record Gate' option you can pretty much use POLAR hands-free, but it takes a bit of setting up to give you the best results. The idea is that POLAR switches into record once you hit the record button, but doesn't make a new pass until the threshold signal level is exceeded. You can adjust the record gate with the 'Attack Preservation' parameter to ensure transients will not be missing from the start of a pass. However, it's important to ensure that there are no gaps in your recording longer than the record gate's 'Release' time, or you'll find POLAR will create lots of very short passes that eat up RAM and make for unnecessary editing later on

was this a standalone product?
didnt this come bundled with DP?
« Last Edit: July 31, 2014, 04:39:55 PM by chrisNova777 »