Last year, Indaba Music became the first company to offer a full-fledged digital-audio workstation in the cloud. This is a pretty remarkable piece of programming: digital-audio workstations like ProTools and Cubase are the tools of the trade for professional recording, and free equivalents like Audacity and Apple's Garage Band offer beginners a simple way to get acquainted with the basic ideas of multitrack recording. But all of these programs run locally and rely on local computing resources, including storage.
Indaba takes the whole concept and moves it online, letting you record and manipulate files from a Java application in your Web browser. Then you can save your tracks to Indaba's Web servers, where you or other musicians can later access and modify them. For a browser-based program, it's pretty sophisticated--for instance, it allows you to add thousands of real-time, nondestructive effects (meaning that the original pre-effect version of each track is still preserved), and lets you mix tracks down into CD-quality (16-bit, 44.1KHz) WAV or AVI files.
It's a great idea for collaborations among musicians located in different cities, as well as for road-tripping musicians who want a convenient way to record sketches from any computer with nothing more than a USB microphone and a fast Internet connection. Unfortunately, last year's release, Session Console 2.0, which was the first to support real-time recording, had some performance issues.
On Tuesday, the company released what it says is a much more stable iteration, called Mantis. It's built using the Swing widget technology for Java, while Session Console was built on JavaFX. The company has updated the user interface to make it more intuitive, as well.
I've played with Mantis with some demo tracks provided by Indaba, and it's quite easy to figure out, if you've ever used a similar program. Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to do any recording over the tracks provided. But I'm hoping that you can help me out.
Indaba is offering free one-month Platinum trial memberships to the first 50 readers who sign up here and enter this promo code: cnet. Platinum members get access to thousands of built-in effects and sound samples, plus no limits on storage or number of sessions.
Normally, that level of service costs $25 a month; there's also a Pro level that costs $5 per month and has some restrictions. Details are available on Indaba's site.
If you give it a shot, let me know in comments what you think: is this really ProTools in the cloud, or more like GarageBand in a browser?