Tranzient VR Collab

The Growth of Remote Collaboration

With isolation and distance being the watchwords of the early 2020s, greater take-up of remote collaboration and long-distance production stands perfectly to reason. But the benefits of remote collaboration go far beyond simply working round an inconvenience. Adopting the latest crop of software can allow all your creative partners the ability to input, 24/7.


Tranzient VR Collab

Though the COVID pandemic resulted in many being forced to find alternative ways to continue work on their music projects, record musicians and meet their deadlines, a groundswell in the take-up of remote collaboration software had been building long before the virus we’d all rather forget reared its head.

For many, the flexibility and convenience of remote software such as Steinberg’s VST Connect, Soundjack, Satellite Plugins and Splice Studio provides professionals with a type of constant, gradual back-and-forth creative workflow which often surpasses time-restrictive studio or tightly scheduled in-person time with their collaborators.

On top of this fluidity, is the ability to not also be restricted by the DAW-choice of the main producer (or a central computer on which you’re working). Many remote collaboration systems work within various different DAWs and allow everyone involved in the project to make gradual interjections in the mix – a far cry from providing reams of notes to a mix engineer (or the pain of trying to articulate precisely what you mean when you’re discussing the fine-tuning of a compressor).

While some of these collaborative tools require a paid subscription, or a one-time purchase, other routes are entirely free. If you want to start fresh, then BandLab serves up a completely free browser-based DAW, and the ability to invite other users in to your projects to collaborate.

Soundtrap offers basic remote collaboration
                      Soundtrap’s straightforward interface

The same can be said for Soundtrap. This Spotify-owned online DAW grants the remarkably slick means to collaboratively idea-build via mobile and desktop apps. If your ideas start to gather momentum, then you can continue to work out the shape of your mix within the app, which features a raft of automation, presets, and other useful attributes, such as in-built Auto-Tune from Antares. While not the most advanced in terms of its feature-set, a track-building sesh with Soundtrap underscores how rewarding and painless long distance working can be.


Since the advent of home recording, people have wanted to open their studios up for remote collaboration. Emailing or file-sharing stems, long telephone conversations and rudimentary video calling provided clunkier methods to work with colleagues across oceans. But, the last decade’s increase in both the internet’s speed and stability enables more complex computer-based work to be carried out concurrently.

One of the earliest examples of no-compromise remote collaboration in-action was Steinberg’s VST Connect. First bundled along with Cubase 7, VST Connect was later released as a standalone Pro offering. The principle of which being that via the locked connection of two separate plugins (to both transmit the project and receive it) two or more participants have synchronised access to the same project. Using this software, users could exchange high-quality audio files without compression, as well as make adjustments to the other party’s plugin and mix parameters. The ability to record 16 tracks at once also opened up the scope to capture drums remotely – an ability that had long been hungered for.

The idea of two plugins working in simpatico is also at the root of Audiomovers’ Listento software. Nurtured by Abbey Road’s Red incubator, the company’s main software is capable of steaming simultaneously to 150 listeners, at up to 32-bit/96 kHz quality, via the Listento Receiver plugin. Unlike the Cubase-only scope of VST Connect, Listento can be used within other DAWs such as Logic and Ableton Live as a VST/AU and AAX plugin. Latency is scalable to each participant’s internet connection.

Avid’s Pro Tools has cemented itself as the industry’s premiere DAW, and is relied on for the majority of professional work in the music industry. Unsurprisingly it has its own in-built cloud collaboration software that works effortlessly. Avid Cloud Collaboration can be activated simply by clicking ‘Start Collaboration’ within Pro Tools’ file menu, from there the project re-opens itself with cloud access now available. Converting the standard Pro Tools ‘Session’ file into a multi-user-editable ‘Project’ required a little re-organisation of the architecture when it was first introduced in 2016, but it presented a genuinely slick way to open up your Pro Tools workflow to collaborators who may be in an entirely different country.


One of the slickest collaborative solutions comes from plugin developer Mixed in Key. The Satellite Plugins 2.0 system is a multi-DAW, multi-OS supporting application that enables ultra-smooth collaboration with minimal fuss. We spoke to the company’s founder, Yakov Vorobyev, about the development of the software. “We created Satellite Plugins so it works alongside your favourite DAW and your favourite video-call software – you can use Satellite Plugins while Zoom is running, and it makes working together super easy.” Yakov enthuses, “Timbaland’s Beatclub has been using Satellite Plugins with lots of people at the same time, and it helps people feel like they are in the same room, working together. What gives it the edge is that hundreds of people can join the same session if they want to watch someone else making music. Or, you can just collab with your best friend remotely and get your music done. The scalability of the platform is what makes it so unique.”

Satellite Plugins - Remote Collaboration made easy
                       A basic remote collaboration within Satellite Plugins

Yakov explains that one of the best applications of Satellite Plugins is whee the software is rolled out to record vocals remotely, and beam back the uncompressed audio to the (potentially many) producers who can then work on it from their own studio vantage points. “There’s a cool use case where someone can be working with vocalists, someone can be comping at the same time, and someone else can be finishing the production. There are also lots of ways to use Satellite even if you’re in the same physical space together.”


Beyond these numerous lag-free collaboration solutions, there are a few people already laying the groundwork for what might be the next evolution of web-based music-making.

Re-configuring the traditional DAW-based approach, Alivein Tech have been melding online music collaboration with VR worlds. Their first product in this domain was AliveinVR, a virtual reality Ableton Live controller that provided users around the world with an immersive, 3D environment which to control clips, play instruments and build up a mix in realtime. Now, the company has developed Tranzient – an evolution of this VR metaverse which handily keeps all the audio within the app, and requires no additional setup from the user. “Tranzient uses peer to peer multiplayer in the same way as games do. So a user ‘goes public’ with their session, other users can choose to view the available public sessions, and will see portals/doors to each active session and can join. They can also be invited to a session, within the given platform (Oculus or Steam)” Alvin Tech’s founder Jim Simons explains. “Once joined, users can chat via VOIP and see each other’s Avatars and interact with the devices and instruments as if they were in the same room. So triggering loops, editing FX parameters via knobs, changing synth sounds, editing steps in a step sequencer, all work in sync and each user perceives this as being within the same session/world.”


Tranzient VR Collaboration
             Working with audio plugins inside Tranzient

Jim explains that real-time actions like hitting a drum will be subject to latency still, but once recorded, they are locked in sync via the internal sequencer. Simons is clear that while this technology is cutting-edge, there are still some problems to overcome, in advance of of VR-based collaboration becoming a new, futuristic, norm “The ping latency between sessions means real-time jamming is not yet optimal (depending on the connection). So two users playing the drums together isn’t usually fast enough. This is one of the reasons our focus is on electronic music where sequencing and looping work well. As 5G systems roll out where 1ms latencies are expected, this will be resolved.” Jim confidently predicts. “As VR goes mainstream and the wider public become used to general social VR/metaverse experiences, collaborative products for the musician will go mainstream and our products will grow along with the metaverse, as it expands.”

It’s clear then, that as the potential for collaborative music production software to evolve increases in tandem with web speed and the uptake of new technologies (not to mention the increasing ubiquity of the metaverse)t’s likely that future generations of musicians will find collaboration with people on the other side of the world a typical occurrence, as straightforward as if working together in the same room.