From the March/April 2022 issue of Acoustic Guitar | By Doug Young
When it comes to making albums, the trend has increasingly been toward a distributed model, where tracks are recorded, overdubbed, mixed, and mastered in different locations, including home studios—often without anyone ever being in the same room together. But the logistics—communicating with everyone, sharing and keeping track of files, reviewing tracks and mixes—can be challenging, to say the least. A recent online music collaboration tool, Sessionwire, makes the remote recording experience feel more like being there in person.
Sessionwire 2.1.0 is a Mac or Windows application that provides real-time audio communication and the ability to transfer files by just dropping them on the image of the person you want to receive them. It also supports screen sharing, so you can view a remote DAW during an editing or mixing session. The Sessionwire app includes VST3, AAX, and AU plugins (VST and AAX only for Windows), which can be placed in DAWs such as Pro Tools, Logic, and Ableton Live. These plugins stream high-quality audio in real time to all users in a session and can be used to share the audio of any track, or allow everyone to hear the full mix. Sessionwire can also generate URLs for a session, allowing remote users to participate via a web browser without using the application.
In my test run, setting up a session was very easy, much like making a Facetime call. With the Sessionwire plugin placed across the master bus of the other participant’s DAW, I was able to listen to the remote mix with no discernable loss of quality, while being able to interact via the video and a talkback mechanism. Sessionwire is still subject to the vagaries of the internet, and I experienced a few brief glitches. And, of course, remote participants may not have the same quality of speakers as the engineer in the studio. But overall, the remote experience was very close to being there.
There are two pricing tiers—a Creator account is free, while an Artist account costs $15 per month. At least one person in any session must have an Artist account to be able to stream audio. And for brief sessions, there’s a $7 three-day Sessionpass option. It’s true that many of Sessionwire’s individual features can be accomplished in other ways—like using Zoom for video chat or Dropbox to exchange files—but the app wraps these features into a seamless and secure experience, using encrypted peer-to-peer connections and providing high-quality, real-time audio for virtually any recording session activity.
This article originally appeared in the March/April 2022 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.