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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Napier

Quoth the Raven, No Big Sur (still)


I use Slate's Raven a LOT for my audiobook and podcast production. I don't use it for the "multi-fingered EQ curve editing" or "multi-fader wrangling" you see in the adverts and online videos. I mainly use macros that I create with its editing utility.

What does that mean?

The Raven software has a macro builder that goes beyond what I can find in most DAWs. There is rudimentary editing, an ability to create timed actions, and an ability to have a macro pause and display an input box for custom info during process execution. I use it to encapsulate multi-step editing workflows that I trigger using onscreen buttons.

For instance, ripple deleting sections, backing up before the cut a bit, and automatically going into play so I can hear the edit in context. I do that (and things like it) many, many, MANY times in an audiobook or podcast project. But instead of requiring 4 or 5 steps if I did it by hand, it just takes 2 steps with Raven (define region on a track, hit a button, BOOM). In addition, using the touch screen makes that first step even simpler.

It does all of this without requiring me to use a lick of custom code. It uses the key commands of the host DAW, plus a few pre-scripted actions provided by Slate. (I suspect Slate's developers are able to deploy some macros that hook more deeply into a DAW's API.) The editor is far from perfect (very far), and I'm hoping for some robust improvements in V4.

There are lots of time saving things I use in my Raven set up. Which is what makes exploring alternatives so painful...

So, if it is so painful, why am I doing it?

Because Slate Raven software doesn't officially support anything beyond Catalina (MacOS 10) on a Mac. Raven Version 4 and Big Sur (MacOS 11) compatibility has been promised for over a year now and has yet to appear. Now Monterey (MacOS 12) has been released. No compatibility on the horizon. So that means I have to stay on Catalina.

I generally stay one generation behind in my OS, now Slate is asking me to stay 2 generations behind. That's crazy. And I don't want to do that.

So I've been looking for alternative workflows that could replace Raven temporarily.

Into the Wilderness

There are a couple of DAWs out there that are scriptable within my personal limitations of being able to code/script.

The most accessible in that regard is Tracktion's Waveform. Its scripting language is based heavily on Javascript (which I sort of kind of recall from my web development days many, many years ago). I've been able to throw together some custom actions that go a long way to recreate some of the edit workflows I use in Raven with Studio One or Cubase or Logic.

Next up is probably Ableton Live via Max4Live... the API is open and accessible through Max4Live. I took a couple of online courses through Music Hackspace (highly recommended), and what can be accomplished with M4L and Live is breathtaking...if you are willing to invest the time in that eco-system.

But I was looking for something that unabashedly supported Big Sur and Apple Silicon, had a robust and accessible (for someone at my level) macro / scripting capability and could be customized for editing (repetitive) workflows...

Where it looks like I might end up is a bit surprising...

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