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Tracktion Waveform Pro 12 review

With multiple new features, now could be a good time to try this impressive and competitively priced DAW

  • $149 upwards
Tracktion Waveform Pro 12
(Image: © Future)

MusicRadar Verdict

A surprising number of large upgrades and additions keeps Tracktion Waveform Pro at the top of the cross platform DAW pile.

Pros

  • +

    Revamped, extended audio plugins.

  • +

    Some excellent new additions to MIDI functionality.

  • +

    New audio engine features improved CPU efficiency.

  • +

    Expanded MIDI instrument offering.

Cons

  • -

    More plugin presets please.

Tracktion Waveform Pro 12: What is it?

At a Glance

- MacOS 10.11 or Later. 64-bit Intel or Apple Silicon.
- Windows 8, 10, 11. 64-bit.
- Tested on Ubuntu 18.04. 64-bit.
- Contact: Tracktion (opens in new tab)
- Buy at Plugin Boutique (opens in new tab) 

Tracktion Waveform Pro is a music focused DAW that over time has gradually combined its innovative object-based rack environment with more traditional DAW elements to create a quick yet powerful production system. 

It works on OS X (including Apple Silicon), Windows and Linux and, as we have mentioned before, is one of the most cross-platform-capable DAWs available. There’s also a very decent Free version and a 90-day trial of the Pro version should you want to try before you buy.

We last looked at Waveform Pro at version 11.5, and although this was only a point update, there were substantial improvements, including much slicker menu systems, more shortcut options, improved scripting and better mouse implementation. 

The most significant change was the option to try an in-development audio engine, so it should come as no surprise that Waveform Pro 12 sports a shiny new audio engine, with perfect plugin delay compensation, substantially improved CPU performance and better support for multiple CPU cores. Also, no surprise are the various operational refinements, including many new MIDI features, an improved Browser and floating plugin menu.

Tracktion Waveform Pro 12: Performance and verdict

Beyond this the main headline changes are more in keeping with a full update and include 15 new and refreshed audio plugins, new instruments (BassOSC, Rompler and Micro Sampler), a low latency Guitar IR plugin, improved hardware controller support and six utility tools. As far as the effects are concerned you now have more choice. 

The EQs have been reworked so you have four options including a simple DJ EQ and powerful 8-band parametric. Meanwhile, the reverbs are also extended with new and rather excellent sounding Non-Linear and Natural algorithmic processors. Insert and send effects are also now incorporated into the Drum Sampler and Multi Sampler. 

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(Image credit: Future)

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The six utility plugins include a new Spectrum analyser, Mid Side encode/decode, AB Switch, Mono switch, and two MIDI plugins – CC and Note Name. The new synth additions are all reasonably simple, with BassOSC’s single oscillator offering a decent choice of wave shapes that you can morph through, and the Rompler providing a good set of about 25 core instruments (grand piano, electric bass, Spanish guitar and so on).  

Waveform Pro 12 adds a new advanced strip silence option. Accessed directly in the arrangement area, you adjust the open and close threshold in the floating Remove Silence panel and can immediately see the effect that this has. Further options allow you to tailor pre and post roll and fade in/out. We found it very easy to use… and of course the whole process is non destructive.

Tracktion Waveform Pro 12

Tidy up your audio recordings with the new Remove Silence option (Image credit: Future)

Design 

Waveform’s panel-based workspace is pretty similar to many other DAWs, and – although not a new feature – we particularly like the floating panel visibility manager accessed via the eyeball icon in the top right corner. 

We particularly like the floating panel visibility manager accessed via the eyeball icon in the top right corner

Waveform Pro 12 now expands the visual aspects with a new colour editor and over 20 preset colour schemes accessible from the Settings page or directly in the Welcome screen. Editable options include colour saturation and highlights, and you can also select the primary and secondary accent colours. Panel open/close can also be animated. We found this allows for a pretty mind boggling set of options, and with handy light and dark themes it’s easy to match the look to your working environment.

In a further move away from its modular roots, Waveform Pro 12 adds a dedicated Master track. Visible in both the Arrangement and Mixer panels you now have a quicker route for adding up to 16 processor modules to the mix bus. The Master arrangement track is made visible via the visibility manager, making it easy to hide. 

The Browser is already a key feature of Waveform, but it’s been updated for Pro 12. With the inbuilt categories and favourites, the Search tab is now considerably more user friendly.

Tracktion Waveform Pro 12

Create more realistic sounds with the new MIDI strum feature (Image credit: Future)

MIDI

There’s no doubt MIDI options get a big uplift in Waveform 12, and we found both regular and advanced features add considerably to the user experience. There are simple additions such as the Event List Editor, Drum Grid, and a particular DAW favourite of ours, MIDI fold. 

This allows you to view just the used notes or those in the global key. They’ve even added a MIDI knife tool for quick position specific note splitting either in the MIDI Editor or within MIDI clips in the Arrangement Panel. As you would expect, this follows the selected snap value.

More powerful new features include a Randomize option for velocity, pitch, start point and note length. Also in the MIDI editor you can set the MIDI controller data to follow notes, which is handy when moving notes. For Step clips there is a new Probability option. This allows you to set the playback probability on a note by note basis, which we found was great for creating new ideas from existing beats. 

Finally, we love the new strum feature. Using the mouse click plus modifier (CTRL/CMND) you can quickly spread the note timing of chords to create more realistic playback.

Versions

With the release of Waveform Pro 12, Tracktion has slightly reworked the product offering, removing the Basic, Standard and Extreme tags used for version 11. So, it’s now much clearer for buyers to see that Waveform Pro 12 is available on its own with the core DAW Essentials, Collective, Auto-Tune Access and Melodyne Essential, and that it’s also available with three different tiered content bundles – Recommended, Studio and Everything. 

Each bundle includes more sounds, with extras such as the BioTek 2 synth and RetroMod Collection. The Everything package also adds all the latest sound packs, which retail for about $50 each. You can buy the content separately but this works out more expensive than buying it bundled with the application. Finally, Waveform 11 users can also get a discounted upgrade to Waveform Pro 12 ($99).

Overall this latest version update adds plenty to the Waveform Pro user experience. We also think that given the extensive standard features, the price for the core application is extremely competitive. Weighing up the tiered bundles is much harder as this will very much depend on whether you need what’s included. Either way, Waveform Pro 12 is an excellent DAW with its own way of doing things and a selection of awesome features.

MusicRadar verdict: A surprising number of large upgrades and additions keeps Tracktion Waveform Pro at the top of the cross platform DAW pile.

Tracktion Waveform Pro 12: Hands-on demos

TracktionSoftware

Audio Tech TV

Lismore Music

Tracktion Waveform Pro 12: Specifications

  • macOS 10.11 or Later. 64-bit Intel or Apple Silicon.
  • Windows 8, 10, 11. 64-bit.
  • Tested on Ubuntu 18.04. 64-bit.
  • CONTACT: Tracktion (opens in new tab) 
Computer Music
Computer Music

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