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Tracktion Waveform Pro 11.5 review

Could this latest update tempt you to try or even buy this excellent DAW?

  • $259
Tracktion Waveform Pro 11.5
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

Waveform 11.5 tweaks the major advances of version 11 and throws in a new audio engine for good measure to deliver a solid intermediate update.

Pros

  • Improved audio engine.
  • Customisable work space.
  • Three tiered purchase prices.
  • More intuitive menus.
  • Context-sensitive help.

Cons

  • Steep learning curve in places.

Tracktion Waveform Pro 11.5: What is it?

Waveform from Tracktion Software is a music production DAW that combines an innovative workflow with incredible value, and in recent years has grown immeasurably both in features and design. If you want to give it a try, there’s a very impressive free version and you can also register for time-limited trials of the Pro application. 

The full package, Waveform Pro, has just received a significant intermediate update to version 11.5. It comes in three versions – Basic, Standard and Extreme – and these offer tiered plugin and audioware content. As before, it works on OS X, Windows, Linux and Raspberry Pi and now has native support for Apple Silicon, making it one of the most cross-platform-capable DAWs available.

Waveform Free already has some great features including the Pattern Generator, sequencer-style Step Clips, computer keyboard MIDI playback, custom macros and actions, bundled synths (4OSC and Micro Drum Sampler), automation and rendering. But if you want the full gamut of features, Waveform Pro is a must. 

The Pro edition has a core feature set, with the three versions differentiated by their content bundles (see below). It also includes much of the typical stuff you’d expect in a premium DAW such as edit groups and audio to MIDI (Groove Doctor). There’s also integrated (ARA) Melodyne Essential, bundled Antares Auto-Tune Access, timestretch courtesy of zPlane’s Elastique Pro and, of course, full email support should you run into any problems.

Tracktion Waveform Pro 11.5

(Image credit: Future)

Last year’s version 11 added a host of neat features including the Arrange Track, which allows you to copy, move and flexibly restructure your track from one master track. It also added the Edit Overview lane for navigation, zoom and playback. 

A big change was the customisation of the workspace, and the super-flexible panel system includes undocking of the Mixer and Arranger panels, and setup for multiple screens including assigning one screen to open plugins. Custom layouts can of course be saved and recalled. 

Version 11 also added two Quick Action features. The Quick Action bar sits just above the transport bar and allows you to create button triggers for shortcuts and macros, then save them as templates. Meanwhile, the Quick Action Window allows you to create a simple panel more suited to touchscreen use.

For MIDI programming v11 added five new tools – Arpeggiator, Note Repeater, MIDI Monitor and MIDI Filter and Chord Companion with its extensive chord grid, integrated arpeggiator and randomisation features. 

Sandboxing is a feature designed to ringfence rogue plugins. This can be assigned to specific plugins, with a small increase in CPU usage. Nevertheless, if you genuinely have no other choice than to run an unreliable plugin, at least it won’t crash Waveform. 

Processing options were also extended with numerous additions to the integrated AirWindows plugin pack, Artesan, taking its total to more than 180 individual plugins.

Tracktion Waveform Pro 11.5: Performance and verdict

What's new in 11.5?

Despite it being an interim update, v11.5 includes one very significant change and that’s the option to run the new upgraded audio engine. This handles plugin delay compensation (PDC) much better, so auxiliary busses are now phase-coherent; delay compensation is also much better within plugin Racks. It’s currently available alongside the original engine so you can compare the two. In addition to the improved PDC, CPU efficiency has also been improved.

v11.5 includes one very significant change and that’s the option to run the new upgraded audio engine

Next up, right-click context menus are now more abundant and better organised, with multiple options added from the main menus. Said main menu tab has also been rejigged and you’ll find the new layout and accompanying options (File, Edit, Options, Automation and so on) are more in tune with what you’d find on other DAWs. 

Also, the script-running option is now listed as Actions, and in this menu, you can set up the options that will be available on the pop-up Custom menu. On the subject of menus, the plugin selector menu has been improved and includes a favourites category. 

Also consider...

Ableton Live 11

(Image credit: Ableton)

• Ableton Live 11
This performance-focused DAW also offers tiered bundles and an enviable soundware catalogue.

• Presonus Studio One 5
Now also available via subscription, this DAW is very easy to use.

Waveform’s settings page has been overhauled and reorganised with far more keyboard shortcut options available, including nudging of both clips and notes. Also, mouse settings are improved so it’s much easier to position the playback cursor, select clips (marquee-style) and easier to create ranges for editing. 

In fact, the editing options are slicker overall, so once you’ve chosen the modes that best suit you, your workflow should be more efficient. Further 11.5 extras include computer keyboard playback (mentioned above and available across all versions) and native support for Apple Silicon.

Tracktion Waveform Pro 11.5

(Image credit: Future)

Bundled content

Bundled content can really sell a DAW and knowing that a selection of instruments, plugins and sounds are reliably integrated means you can focus on creating rather than installing. Tracktion has spent time finessing this aspect of Waveform Pro and the three tiers offer good entry points. If you want to add further Tracktion Waveform content on a piecemeal basis, that’s also possible via its Marketplace, and you can also get discounts by combining packs using their Bundle Builder.

The Basic tier includes five instruments with associated content – 4OSC, Subtractive, Drum Sampler, Multi-Sampler and the respectable S&S synth, Collective. There’s also one Imagina drum kit loop pack. This is formatted so you can add it in multitrack form, which is a great option. 

Step up to the Standard bundle and you get one more Imagina drum loop pack and 16 excellent plugins courtesy of the DAW Essentials Collection. There’s also the great Biotek 2 sample-based instrument with its cool XY Ring editor. 

The Extreme package is a lot more expensive and much of this cost is the RetroMod Collection, a huge 2,500 preset (40GB) pack of seven sample-based synth instruments sourced from Moogs, Junos, Nords and more. You also get one more Imagina loop pack, MOK Waverazor, Spacecraft granular synth and further synth expansion packs.

Final thoughts

Despite the burgeoning feature set, Waveform Pro still retains its innovative mojo. What’s more, although new users are still presented with a bit of a learning curve, the incremental changes have brought it much closer operationally to other DAWs. 

Despite the burgeoning feature set, Waveform Pro still retains its innovative mojo

Moreover, its content and features are squarely aimed at music production. Once thought of as a bit of an outlier, with its extra customisation, a more industry-standard feel and highly flexible workspace, there’s a real sense that Waveform Pro is truly coming of age. 

MusicRadar verdict: Waveform 11.5 tweaks the major advances of version 11 and throws in a new audio engine for good measure to deliver a solid intermediate update.

Tracktion Waveform Pro 11.5: The web says

"Waveform Pro 11.5 is about offering superior, creative and inspirational workflows in a streamlined DAW that is easy to use."
Music Instrument News

Tracktion Waveform Pro 11.5: Hands-on demos

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Tracktion Waveform Pro 11.5: Specifications

  • SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: macOS 10.11 or Later / 64-bit Intel or Apple Silicon, Windows 8 & 10 / 64-bit, Tested on Ubuntu 18.04 / 64-bit, Raspberry Pi 2, 3, 4 / 32-bit / 64-bit (Sandy Bridge or later) / Raspbian 10 (Buster)
  • CONTACT: Tracktion Software