Impulse Tracker vs. ProTools

February 27, 2006

It seems that one of the average punters’ favourite things about Look Who’s Toxic are the songs we do with backing tracks played from my iPod. Those backing tracks are all written in a program called Impulse Tracker, a program that predates Fruity Loops, Reason, Logic, or any other sampler/sequencer programs that kids nowadays are using — it even predates Windows 95. The reasons we use it are simple: it’s what I learnt on, I understand what most of the features do, and they do just about everything I need.

One of our Impulse Tracker songs, Do The Fetus, is getting another run as the opener on our upcoming EP. Last night, after getting some very solid advice, Rob and I spent a few hours putting a little extra spit and polish on this new version of the song.

Previously, whenever we’ve used Impulse Tracker in recordings, we’ve composed and mixed the song in Impulse Tracker, and then recorded the result as a stereo signal directly from the line out of the computer. Last night, Rob and I spent a few hours sticking a click track at the very start of every channel, recording each instrument individually, synching up the recordings, and then mixing it in ProTools.

The results were amazing. I’d never really noticed how lifeless and dull things sound coming out of Impulse Tracker until now. The ProTools mix has the lovely deep bass notes and little trebly accents I’d always imagined, but was never quite able to get right. My theory is that the lacklustre sounds are a result of some kind of phrase interference and/or optimisation that’s going on inside Impulse Tracker — remember that this program was designed to run on 386es and can do real-time mixing of up to 64 channels — a very impressive feat in my book.

Now I want to go back and do new mixes of all my old Impulse Tracker songs, but I’m sure Rob wouldn’t be too into that. Maybe if he showed me how to do it in ProTools myself I could give it a wack.


7 Responses to “Impulse Tracker vs. ProTools”

  1. neil said


    My drums would eat your pathetic impulse tracker for brunch. That’s right…it wouldn’t even be a full meal.


  2. Andrew said

    Redo Scott. Then make up new stuff.

  3. Matt said

    I have no idea what you were talking about

  4. Matt said

    but it sounds pretty damn nerdy

  5. Andy said

    Two words: Schism Tracker!

    No need to “port” something that’s already been ported! 😉

  6. Andy said

    Uhm, don’t really know how this happened, but I posted on the wrong blog.

    Sorry guys, anyway I did good advertising work for Schism Tracker though.. 😉

  7. obsysteme said

    I love Impulse tracker and still prefer to use it… but that is because my musical project in itself is about the “out-dated”. Old stuff is just more fun for me.

    By the way, I would warn that on 386 and early 486 (25 megahertz) computers… it seems you can’t really use all 64 channels without the song beginning to bug (lack of CPU power).

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