One of the worst things to happen, in my opinion, is to have material locked in a particular proprietary DAW format. Most DAW software stores its session data in non-interchangeable formats that can only be opened by that particular DAW package. It gets worse when you factor in version changes. Most software is designed to be backwards compatible, but this doesn’t always pan out. So what is one to do when one wants to exchange sessions with someone using a different DAW system or when one wants to ‘future-proof’ their multitrack archives?
The best answer is to ‘bounce’ or ‘consolidate’ each track’s edited regions and re-render all the edits into a single audio file that extends from start (time 00:00:00) to the end of the material. This way one only needs to import these files into a DAW package at time zero and everything will line up sample-perfect. Simple, compatible, and future-proof. Combine this with lossless compression such as FLAC, which will minimize the space taken by all the digital silence between regions in the consolidated audio files, and you’ve got a very efficient multitrack archive.
Back in the early 2000s Digidesign attempted to solve this problem with a much more complex solution: the OMF format. Early signs were promising that they might have crafted a universal format for swapping and archiving multitrack sessions between DAW systems. Digidesign ended up charging their customers hundreds of dollars (!) to add OMF interoperability to their own Pro Tools software and the format never took off. Clean, accurate import/export functionality for audio applications fell by the wayside and the format ended up quircky and unreliable. Shame, really. This is one of the reasons why I try to avoid Digidesign products.